10 pounds down 32 pounds to go!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Yeah, it's all falling into place. Of course that place is nowhere near this place."

I just decided that I hate ebay. This waiting for days and days to find out if someone will or will not decide to bid on an item sucks. I'm not a patient girl apparently. I just want these things gone but it seems I want to get some money too, I'm so complicated. The thought that one more day might help me get rid of two bridesmaid's dresses is almost intoxicating. Closet space is like a drug to me right now. I'm "this" close to filling a u haul for goodwill with everything but pet food and calling it good. I feel like this about every two weeks lately, it must be some kind of minimalist phase.

On the other hand, the hand where I keep buying stuff, I just got my tracy anderson video. I always like to do a dry run first, so I know what I'm getting in to, and it looks ok. It looks really good actually. The arm section looks to be about half an hour of holding your arms up but nothing looks actually impossible, just painful. It's mostly standing and working with a chair, the mat work is leg work and is only 15 or 20 minutes. I'm psyched about not needing a mat for most of it because matwork is a pain in the rear with the dog loose and when I confine him the whimpering wears on my concentration. A love as true as ours can be so hard.

Anyway, I'm going to actually try the video this afternoon. I still have about 7 million hours of cleaning to do and a puppy to walk but I'm going to make it a priority. Prioritizing is the word of the day around here from now on. I spent about 5 hours yesterday working on a present for the boyfriends brother's girlfriends child and probably that wasn't the best way to spend my time. Not five hours of it anyway. Next time I'm buying a barbie and calling it good because FIVE hours of my time is worth more than a five dollar toy. And since I spent 30 dollars on the video I need to put a lot of hours into it. It'll be good for me. Hopefully.

Monday, March 30, 2009

"stone cold munchin'"

I am feeling very productive today because a. I finally did my taxes and b. I got all my shoes listed on ebay. I'm now working on bags, I had no idea I had so many purses in storage. They're everywhere. Seriously. They must be reproducing. Which would be awesome, anne klein hobo meets coach wristlet...how cool would that be? Wow, I digress. No, I think you can only digress when you actually have something to say. I have nothing to say so I should probably embrace the digressions, or post pictures.

Happy early Easter!

Friday, March 27, 2009

"That's not a tattoo. That, dear boy, is a tramp stamp."

Matt says we don't need a humidifier. Not even if it's hello kitty shaped. Which is ridiculous because my sinus' are like the desert. I've been hovering over the boiling teapot to try and fix myself, which is way less adorable than hello kitty but my pores are amazing! We're still covered in snow and it was actually raining this morning and yet, dry. Frustrating. I think I have some sort of lazy girl cold because I met my friend this morning to climb blue hill mountain (hehehe) and we only made it like...an 1/8 of the way. There was snow...and we were cold...and the woof would seriously not move his furry feet because apparently LOTS of dogs have spent a penny on that mountain. Baby woof, by the way is celebrating his 43rd pound and is not yet six months old, I'm so proud!

Tomorrow, we're celebrating an anniversary and it's crazy hard to decide what to do. We go out, you know, never so there's a lot of pressure on the decision about what to do. Also we have no money so that's prohibiting. We were going to go to a movie but they all appear to suck so that's off. We're down to bowling and uno at the kitchen table. We'll probably use all the money we budgeted on dinner so it might all work out, dessert! I had planned on making something, which I always do, but it's nice to sometimes have food you didn't cook yourself. I think a nice dinner could make up for playing jenga and watching smokey and the bandit instead of seeing a sucky movie in the theatre.

I'm also hoping for the arrival of my next shipment of inadequate jeans. The last emergency airlift of jeans was awful. The size 14 pair which I was secretly sure would fit because I'm so fat TOTALLY DIDN'T FIT, they were way too big which is good except the 12's were a little too tight. It was distressing. I'm hoping the next ones work out better, but not too much better because hot jeans are expensive. I'm crossing my fingers for one pair, which I will then wear in to the ground and be pissed about in a year but whatever, momma needs a new pair of jeans.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Did I mention I didn't take Latin?"

I think I figured out how to log our hikes. I suspect that Sparkpeople isn't very thorough in their calculating. I suspect that when I enter 45 minutes of a hike up hill that Sparkpeople doesn't consider that just less than half of that 45 minutes was spent going downhill. I don't think they care about the subtleties of physics. Therefor, I suspect that if I enter half of the time I spend hiking with the pup on the Sparkpeople calculator I will have a more accurate count of calories burned. Mystery solved.

In other news, I'm selling my shoes. Trying to anyway. I have finally come to the very difficult conclusion that I cannot wear high heels anymore, certainly not all day at a professional type job which is what most of my shoes are for. For my last interview I wore a pair of new bandolino's I bought on sale which were totally awesome and for which I'm still hurting for wearing once more than a week ago. So it's time. Past time actually but whatever. I'm keeping my boots and a few of my absolute favorites but the bulk of them are on ebay. I'm trying not to be sad about it, I'm going to use the money to buy some new boots, or flats or something to salve the wound. Like chocolate, she jests.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

not possible

I just added my day's food and walks into sparkpeople and according to them I should be dead. Or at least skinny. Knox and I burn almost 900 calories a day on our walks and since I don't sit around all day and eat donuts (did anyone else notice that AskMen recycled that article?) I should be so much skinnier. I had been doing pretty well entering things before I started my temp job and either I'm a sleep eater or they're wack. Or is it whack! I'm trying to enter everything very carefully but I'm not finding comfort in the data. I was happy for about ten minutes after they told me one walk burns 450 calories but we've been taking those walks since he came home with us and I haven't lost any considerable amount of weight.

I'm taking a harder look at what I eat and how I prepare foods. The soup thing is awesome, I know I'm getting more vegetables and protein but also sodium...I tried really hard to not add salt but soup sucks with no salt, there's no amount of bouquet garni that will cover the absence of salt. So I think that's a problem, more salt and definitely less water (also a problem) and I guess I'm just not paying as much attention as I thought I was.

I've been thinking about the super skinny lady from the temp job I mentioned a while back. We talked for a while on my last day. She has undiagnosed celiac disease and recently started drinking these smoothies for breakfast. Frozen bananas, yogurt, other berries maybe peanut butter for protein. It sounds so simple and easy, another of those prep on the weekend and it's nothing to scoop and mix during the week things. I technically have time to make whatever I want for breakfast most days so the time saving component isn't a big deal for me but it just sounds yummy and easy. Protein and fruit and calcium, I'm really interested in trying it so I'm going to work the right things into next week's grocery budget. And also I ordered the Tracy Anderson dvd. I"ll report back soon!

Monday, March 23, 2009

"I said no camels"

Can we talk about the cold? It's supposed to be spring, it is officially spring and yet, in spite of the springiness of now it was 25 degrees today. Last week I was thinking about spring in NH as a kid. It would be freezing in the morning so your mom would dress you in fifty layers and then by lunch it would be 60 degrees and everyone would have heatstroke...the next day you wear light clothes and die of hypothermia. It's been a hypothermia kind of day. I put away my long underwear a few weeks ago when the temperatures were toastily above freezing and that was a big mistake. I feel like I handled the cold very well when it was january and now it really pisses me off. It's not even good for the maple syruping when it's so cold all day.

Now that I've got that out of my system, Hi! I made some unexpectedly good soup today. I usually use kidney beans...for no real reason, it's just what I've been using, and I ran out of them today so I substituted black beans and it came out really great. Sort of a very vegetabley black bean, not as thick as the usual but with more heft than a broth. I packaged it all up in half cup tupperware and I'm ready to roll for another week. You have to have soup when the daily high is only 25 degrees in friggin' march. Soup and hot chocolate. I picked up the hot chocolate for matt, since he's not a tea drinker and warm drinks are a necessity of winter. Anyway, the cocoa I got is Swiss Miss Great Start and it's pretty great. It's not low calorie but it's full of extra vitamins and calcium so it's good for both of us. Which is what I tell myself when I make a cup every morning. At least it has more vitamins than tea even if it does have more calories.

I've been reading about the Tracy Anderson 'method' lately, anyone know what I'm talking about? Apparently she was Gwenyth Paltrow's trainer, and Madonna I think. I've read that it was ridiculously hard but gave results almost immediately which I think would be great for motivation. It's easy to work hard when you see results. Not to say I'm not feeling results of the pilates because I am, I feel really great but I'm no where near the "new" body stage. Sometimes feeling great is enough and sometimes it's not and I've got to say I'm tempted by the Tracy Anderson thing. If anyone has the goods on that 'method' let me know, I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

"he's Canadian, but not the french kind so we're ok with it"

I am CRAZY with the grumpy today. It should be an awesome day because it's the last day of this ridiculous temp job and I told puppy this morning that it was the last day of us being apart and I tried to be happy but I'm just grumped. Last night there were some animal antics that woke us up, it wasn't entirely naughty just bad planning on the human end but I found myself unable to sleep and thoroughly pissed off. Out of nowhere, it was insane, it was a tidal wave of fury. My boyfriend, who loves me, kept moving over on to my side of the bed to cuddle and at 4 am I was hanging on to the very edge of the bed "this" close to beating him to death with the lamp if he put one more inch of skin in my space and then the alarm went off. Then the usual hissing and growling and barking ensued and no one slept until the alarm went off again at 6.

Even before we brought home the woof, chairman meow had to get up with us in the morning. She wakes up with matt at 4 and follows him around and then when he leaves she comes back to bed and waits to get up with me and be my furry shadow. Knoxaroni would be fine sleeping during the human movement but fifteen pounds of meow makes quite a furry thud and that he can't resist so by my reckoning if the cat would just stay the eff in bed I would get two more hours of sleep. Instead, she follows matt and he follows her and then there's hissing and barking and frustrated people saying "nevermind" over and over again.

Right now I'm sitting at my fake job using their totally unlocked wireless and counting the hours until I can go home. NOT SOON ENOUGH but I have a book and I have the blogs and I packed two cheese sticks instead of a cupcake so I'm trying. I'm putting all my feet forward to have a good day and shake this mood and be happy that I have my life back tomorrow. Happy or bust, is where I am now. Happy whether I like it or not. Happy if it kills me. I might just stand in the hallway for the next 6 hours because this is a government building and there's a big ass picture of Obama smiling and that totally makes me smile too. Who needs a cupcake when you don't have a moron for a president anymore.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

all your diction dripping with disdain

So, I erased whatever was here and I'm typing anew. Have I mentioned that everyone at this job is super thin? Well, not everyone but enough for it to be overwhelming. There are two normal, average amy looking women and they're both on diets. One does Nutrisystem with mixed emotions and the other is on some salad eating diet but seems very happy. The person most concerned with sugar and fat is the skinniest lady, she's also the best dressed. I wonder most about her, I must admit. We're all familiar with the never ending diet syndrome of the moderately overweight but her, uhm, diligence is something else. I guess that's the way you have to be, I know you can't do your diet and then turn it off...you have to fight the dark forces forever it just seems like a sad way to live. From she who has a cupcake in her lunch bag, a tasty tasty cupcake.

I haven't properly stepped on the scale since I took this job, I just don't have time in the morning. Which is crazy because how much time does it take to stand still but I'm forever rushing breakfast and shower and then it's too late to get weighed. I have been stepping on it later at night...mostly so I can say to myself "that would be less if this was morning". I suppose when my post dinner weigh in reaches 300 pounds I'll know something is going awry.

I have, in contrast, been feeling really good about the pilates and our daily hikes. I can now run up the hill even in snow boots, which I certainly couldn't have done in January, so I'm getting more fit if nothing else. I'm looking forward to when the snow melts because I'm going to start trail running. I'm hoping that it proves to be better for my knees, because the surface is softer, and I know it'll be safer for me and woof (as long as we don't cross any mama bears). We're going to try it out anyway, I just don't feel comfortable with running on the road. Knox is safe now playing in the yard, he doesn't venture near the driveway, and I just can't bring myself to make him use the driveway and end up on that horrible road. Hopefully it all works out for everybody.

Also I did all the things you have to do to go to blogher. Except packing. Did I mention that already? I've said a few times for different conferences "Oh, I think I'm going to go this year..." but I actually forked over money this time in return for emails assuring me I'll be getting on a plane and sleeping in a hotel and wearing a badge with my name on it. Maybe. So, if anyone out there has also forked the money and gotten the emails and would like to, you know, get together awkwardly and in person do let me know. It'll be just like a high school reunion but with fun!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

slowly going feral

I sincerely need to get out of here. I just got instructions on weighing an envelope on the postage scale. Not only am I not a moron I have also been weighing mail all week and we haven't burnt down yet. I thought doing brainless menial labor would be super easy and painless but it turns out not so much. Like I thought being unemployed would mean that I would spend all day exercising and looking at lettuce for lunch. I should just take everything I think and do the opposite...like maybe vote republican and subscribe to cable. My personal assistant work might be out of the box but I'm never made to feel stupid and it's enough to sustain us. We won't get rich but we won't starve and we'll be able to pick up a second car that won't be so close to being redundant. We're actually thinking of going new, which goes against everything I believe in but if the math works that way what the hell?

So, how have you all been? I feel like I've been on a different planet lately, not having a computer to play on. I'm loving my pilates regimen, I don't think I look any different but I feel better. The positions are so much easier when you have a few sessions behind you, the success feeling is a really great motivator. I wish I had taken better notes as to when I started pilates a day because I definitely missed some days with travel and this insane job. I had such high hopes of charting my progress.

And also the pope goes to africa and says condoms aren't the answer to aids which is another reason I'm glad we stopped going to church. Useless, useless man.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Probably just your garden-variety disaster."

The temp job is beyond boring and my evenings are filled with the very exciting tasks I used to spend all day doing, like laundry. Also my weekend. Saturday I spent a good deal of time cooking for the week. I was going to make soup but I made a last minute substitution for vegetarian chili...which came out really great. It's been hard having to pack a lunch that takes no time but is also filling and healthy and full of protein. I'm hoping to get back into broth soup soon but I might have to break down and buy some. Time is so limited now, it's funny how you forget how to schedule yourself for an eight hour work day. My priorities are walking the woof and getting pilates in every night so homemade soup might have to take a back seat while I'm working 8 hour days.

I'm already tired of the state of my house. I have NO IDEA how I kept up with the cleaning when I worked, I think maybe I had pathetically low standards so it didn't bother me. We seem to have so much going on right now. We're preparing for chickens and we have 40 maples tapped for sugar season. Some of them are ridiculously over tapped actually, because they're coming down after the season and you might as well make the most of their life force if you're going to cut them down in a month. It seems like there's so much to do right now which is exactly what happens when you sit around waiting for something to happen and then all of a sudden you don't care any more and a thousand things happen at once. Aaargh.

Friday, March 13, 2009

"We need to talk about your TPS reports."

So, my first day of full time temping was wednesday. The woman who was showing me my ropes suggested I bring a book...so I did. There was literally no one there on wednesday, one woman and none of the 5 calls I got were for her. So I read most of my book and brought it with me for the very last chapter on thursday. Everyone was there on thursday and still there was nothing for me to do, so, I read my book. The director would walk by every few seconds and say "do you have enough to do" and I would say "frankly, no, it's just not that busy". I get how he thinks I'm wasting his money, but sitting there sans book is equally unproductive and there are no customers...it's just an office...so there's no one to think I'm neglecting them. The girl I'm replacing broke her leg and she's waiting at home until she's well enough to sit at a chair with her leg elevated so she can come back. She'll be back in two weeks or less. There is simply no point in teaching me her job only to fuck it up for her to have to fix and also, for the pay I'm receiving I'm simply not going to kill myself to produce for them...just not going to do that. I guess I can't read a book on the day the director is there...perhaps a deck of cards...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Meow: that girl is leaving, leaving for EVER.

Woof: no, she'd never leave me. She loves me. She's only awake because she's being efficient today. That coat is for the cold...in the kitchen...

Meow: she's NEVER coming back.

Woof: sob sob sob...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Boring with a capital bore. Must schedule labotomy. Stat.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dead like me

So, I have to go to work later. Actual work with phones ringing and papers to file...like Happy Time but less reapery. And I had such plans for today. What a bummer. I'm not entirely sure what to do about my jobs at the moment, this new one is temporary which is great but I'm not sure how it'll work with the other thing. It's not enough money to give up the other thing for but it fits my unemployment requirements, at least for the moment.

I've been waiting forever to get some kind of call and now I have and I'm finding my plans for the week dashed, how annoying! We were going to pick up seeds, and chickens and other things this week. My life as a farmer has been derailed *and just in, a call for a second interview for the previous job thing from last week*. When it rains it freaking pours. I'm suddenly feeling glad I ordered some grown up clothes with my jeans order...all of a sudden there are places and people to dress for and my vaguely professional wardrobe from my bank days is sadly depleted and or a size ten. The trials of working life...

Monday, March 09, 2009


This weekend I made my very first bagels. It was actually easier than I thought but it takes forever, which is something to remember when I'm whining about the price of really good bagels. I was trying to make pumpernickel, which are my favorite and also elusive, but I can't read english so they're more of a golden rye in color. They taste the same though, because they are pretty much the same barring the color.

These are some pictures of the process, boiling, sitting, preparing to bake and after the oven.

They came out better than I would have thought for a first try, maybe a little too chewy. I had intended to make a half dozen but the key to the color in this recipe is using molasses instead of sugar and I added the sugar anyway...so they're half molasses and there are twelve of them...apparently that's how I deal with a cooking crisis, make double of something that could be a waste of time. It's fine though, they're yummy and they're in the freezer. I tried butter pretzels a few weeks ago, which were awesome...and now yummy pumpernickel bagels, and now matt has requested donuts. Heaven help me if they are a smash hit...the last thing we need is a constant supply of kickass donuts.

I'm 3 days into 30 days of pilates. I'm trying out josef pilates' 10 times and you feel better, 20 times you look better, 30 times you're a nubile cheerleader thing. I have to gate up the puppy and he cries and cries, he really wants to do pilates too. I had been trying (ie. not very hard) to get back into pilates but recently my shoulder started to really, really hurt. It did the same thing three years ago before I started doing pilates at all and the exercise made it better so, I'm trying harder to save myself the agony. It also helps with my "tennis elbow", funny the benefits of taking care of your muscles. Anyway, I'll keep you all updated on the nubile cheerleader thing...personally I'll settle for not being in pain anymore but I won't say no to the other.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

"serious shit calls for serious cash and your cash got a sense of humor."

The golden rule of dating is always if someone asks you on thursday for a date friday you're supposed to decline because you're so busy and popular and if they really valued your time they'd have planned ahead. I'm noticing a similar pattern in my job search. I have had two official interviews for two official jobs since I was laid off and every time I get a call to schedule it's always "Hey, can you come in tomorrow?". The calls always come weeks and weeks after the resume is mailed and it makes me think they had the perfect person and that person fell through and they're scrambling. What do you guys think? Am I reading too much in to it?

I obviously didn't get the first job, though I got a great referral out of the meeting, the second job interview was this morning so I'm officially waiting. I'm not sure I want this job, not that there is anything wrong with it...I'm just not sure about it. It's a perfectly reasonable job with reasonable pay but it conflicts with the other work I have accepted and I don't know what I'll do if they offer me the position. On the one hand a stable job with a decent wage is a rare thing and it would be difficult to turn it down. On the other I've been putting effort into making money in other ways and it feels premature to take something so...pedestrian. Alas, that decision is not my problem yet so why worry about it.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"Even slaves get minimum wage"

I am ill. I have a sore throat and a stuffy nose and terrible case of the whinies. You'd think that it wouldn't matter whether or not you're sick when you don't have a 9 to 5 but it does. I'm equally as annoyed as I would be if I had a job only there's no distraction so maybe I'm more annoyed and also I've taken a lot of drugs so my words they aren't making of the sense. I didn't sleep last night so this morning I took one of every pill that said daytime on it and it seemed to work. I'm completely unable to concentrate on how crappy I feel so I'm calling it success.

I'm tragically out of soup. I had been making a batch a week and with half cup servings it lasts a good long while. I should have made a batch yesterday but I had that hour and a half of work to do. You know how work can fill up a schedule. I should be cooking soup right now instead of blogging but probably I shouldn't be handling knives just now. Perhaps I can will the celery to chop itself? And the carrots. Nevermind...about that work I did...I think this part time job is going to be awesome. I didn't actually work yesterday...I just met the client and drank tea and ate cookies. I have an appointment with her on Sunday to eat brunch and go for a walk. THIS JOB FRIGGIN ROCKS! I wonder if I'll be able to handle taking money for hanging out with this lady, that might be the hardest part of the job.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

how come you're not rich?

My response to Lauren's comment got so long I made it a post. The how I got out of debt story, by me. It's really long so, uhm, skip it if you don't give a shit about getting out of debt.

In theory you're supposed to write down everything you spend for a month and then look at it and be appalled. I did it a little bit differently, I added up all my bills and compared it to my paycheck which was relatively stable. It looked awful so the first thing I did was cut off my phone. A big important step is deciding what is and is not a necessity for you. The land line phone was not a necessity for me. I didn't have a home phone or internet for years. I used the library and my cellphone (which I kept for driving safety because I took a lot of long trips in crappy cars). Step two, drive a crappy car. You do not need a new car, not ever, I'm talking to you! You want it and that's ok as long as you can honestly afford it but it's totally a waste of money*.

Another non necessity is cable, I never had cable so I didn't have to cut that but I did keep netflix because it's cheap and I wanted to have something to do that was just for fun. Netflix was not a necessity, fun is not a necessity, but I decided that it was money well spent for me in my life. I also got a lot of movies from the library, and books obviously. I set up a grocery budget and I clipped coupons, and I never ate out, ever. I made a decision that financial freedom was worth more than new clothes and books and pizza...a huge thing was bottled drinks which seem so small in the moment, water or iced tea costs a dollar or more and so does a box of 50 tea bags...you do the math.

I tracked all my spending on a spread sheet, everything, and I used a checkbook register to keep track of spending on my discover card. The books say to always use cash and divide your budget money in to envelopes, if you have a serious plastic problem that's the way to go. I forced myself to pay off the discover card bill every month come hell or high interest so that was a good enough motivator for me but it's probably best to start with real money to get the hang of it. It can be really hard to stop spending. Like it's really hard to stop eating crap. You want it, you deserve it, it's just the one time...NO. The buck has to stop somewhere. If I really needed something I bought it used but it was rare that I spent money on things when I was still trying to really cut my debt.

The above is all about the outgoings and it's pretty simple, stop spending money on shit you don't need. The next of amy's principles of getting out of debt is making more money. I know, it's frickin' rocket science my approach but simple isn't always easy. My first summer of debt crushing I got a part time job. Every cent went to debt. Another way to make money is to sell your stuff. I sold a lot of my school books online, as well as movies and cds (half.com is a great place to sell and buy used items). I didn't have enough things I didn't need to have a proper yard sale but I did sell specific things to specific people. i.e. my extra iron to my old boss' son.

When you have your spending under control and you're pulling in as much money as you can, then you look at your debts. Do you have high interest cards, a low interest student loan (if such a thing exists anymore), make a list with all the information: balance, rate, any special terms. I used to get the no interest or low interest offers on cards I already had all the time. If you have an offer like that which beats your current terms this is the time to call your creditors and say make me a deal. Most people get credit card offers every day and the bank does not want to lose you. You have to be ready to walk though so only play hardball if you have a good alternative. It's not great for your credit score to open or close a lot of accounts but if you only have one card and their rate is insane, it's probably worth applying for a new card (preferably with benefits of some kind).

All of that takes time so begin by paying down the highest interest card while you work on moving things around. Many folks say paying off the smallest balance first is a good motivator but the math doesn't always work that way. Whichever method you chose, throw as much money as you can toward that card while paying the minimums on every thing else. When you have paid off one card or loan or whatever, you take every cent you were paying toward card 1 and add it to the minimum you were paying on the next debt. They call it a snow ball because the payment grows as each debt gets knocked down so by the last card you're putting a lot of money toward it and it's gone really fast.

And what do you do with the now paid off cards? Nothing. If it's too tempting to have them at hand, put them in a safe or the freezer in a block of ice. If the card is new or has a really low limit, cancel the bastard. If the card was your first card DO NOT CLOSE IT. Your credit history (however corrupt the system) depends on having actual history and if you close your older cards your history is permanently shortened. I have my oldest card in my wallet for the few times that somewhere I need to shop doesn't take discover. If you're trying to work on your credit report you want to keep an eye on the old card and use it once in a while and pay it off immediately...just so they don't close it on you. While you have a balance you are your banks best friend...when you owe them nothing they HATE you so don't expect favors from someone you aren't paying through the nose.

There is some debate about having an emergency fund while you're doing the debt snowball. An emergency fund is a cash account that has as much money as you might need in an emergency. A real emergency, not a shoe sale emergency. The idea is that if your car breaks down or you need a plane ticket home or whatever, you aren't adding to your debt to survive the emergency. I operated without an emergency fund and it was fine. I personally saw it as six on one side half a dozen on the other. My personal credit problem came from buying necessities and not plasma tvs so it was easier to halt unnecessary spending than most folks with a spending problem. For a lot of people putting a rental car on their credit cards because their car broke down is a slippery slope into armani and coach handbags. I accepted the risk that I would have to use credit if something very unexpected came up because I didn't want to look at money in the bank that wasn't paying down my debt.

Nothing ever did come up that I considered an emergency. Much like the expensive health insurance I had to have in case something happened. Nothing ever did happen so I switched to cheaper high deductible insurance that would only be valuable in a true emergency. Another thing to keep in mind above and beyond getting out of debt is maxing out your benefits at work. At my old, old job we had a 401(k) (cough) with an employer match (see, most of that money wasn't mine anyway...) health benefits, insurance benefits and fitness benefits. They actually gave employees money to use for fitness equipment. I bought a bike, a stair stepper, and about 10 fitness dvd's and I was one of only a few people in the whole company that used that benefit. Take advantage of your benefits to the fullest there is no reason not to.

*a word from your sponsor about value. It's foolish to assume that you will never have to buy something while you're getting out of debt or ever after. Frugal is about making good decisions, spending your money wisely. I.E. A good used car not only saves you money driving off the lot, you save on car insurance and registration tax too. Of course, you may have to pay for more repairs sooner on an older car but you won't be worrying over every scratch and bump in the road as does one who paid 5 grand more for a warrantee. As with all things, one must do their research. I do not advocate buying the cheapest thing in all situations. I used to work with someone who had way more debt than me and a very stupid husband who had what some call a poor mentality. Poor folks think rich folks buy what they want when they want it all the time, like a Paris Hilton. This is not true of most people who manage their money well. People who manage their money well research their purchases and make careful decisions. The couple of which I speak wanted a couch, they went to the cheapest store and bought a brand new couch, they were having a baby so one day at walmart he decided he had to have a digital camera for the baby, soon after on another spur of the moment walmart trip they bought a computer. When all was said and done they had a camera that wouldn't work with any computer on earth, a computer that couldn't hook up to the internet and a couch that became broken after three months. Buying the cheapest thing isn't always the smartest thing to do, save the money and do the research and buy something worth the money.

If you're so smart...

I just read this thing about the so called "expert of 401(k)'s" taking a withdrawal from her plan to help pay for her sons wedding. Is there any better example of what is wrong with our country in the way we think about money. I'm completely disgusted but I'm extra special sensitive about it because I just paid off all my debts...again...and I did it by closing my 401(k). A while back, I can't find the post to be sure of the date, I paid off every last cent of my ridiculous hand to mouth debt. This is the debt that grew while I was making 9 dollars an hour and paying 600 dollars in rent every month. This is the debt I paid off all alone and in secret because my dying mother in her drug addled state said I was a burden on the family. I'm not making excuses, I could have moved home and I didn't (because obviously) and the decisions that got me where I was were all mine. Alas, I asked for a raise and I sold a bunch of stuff and I stopped buying everything but food and moved apartments. I'm trying to say that I worked really hard to change my life and the way I think about and use money. It was really nice being out of debt.

So, you're wondering what I did to get back in to debt to have to close my 401(k) to resurface. It's very simple. I took a no fee, no interest loan on one of my cards to start an IRA. One of the things about having no assets or children is that you have no write-offs when it comes to doing your taxes. I started an IRA to avoid paying a big ass tax bill to George I'm an asshole Bush. I took a calculated risk. I knew that I wouldn't be fired from my low paying job and I knew that I spent a certain amount to live and the math worked perfectly to do the advance and pay it off before the rate went sky high. Then I got a much higher paying job and my life fell apart.

I recently had to really think about a job that had a starting pay of 8.50 an hour. Do I want the security of having a job or do I want to be worth more than 8 dollars an hour before taxes. That sort of thing happens a lot now that I'm looking for work and I'm having a hard time making the decision. I mention it because making more money was really hard on my budget mentality. It should have been really easy to pay off that IRA loan and I didn't make it a priority because there was so much money coming in. Even when I wanted to quit I didn't make it a priority to pay off the advance. I let go of discipline when I had more money, I didn't just let it go I threw it away, which makes me wonder if I'd be better off at a walmart pay grade.

A few months ago I was starting to run out of time on my free loan and run out of prospects of getting a new job so I closed the 401(k). As part of my calculated risk strategy I knew I'd always have the IRA if the fit hit the shan. I chose the 401(k) instead of the IRA because the IRA is in cd's and can't lose money. It will never make me rich but it won't lose anything. The 401(k) was not only losing money in the markets but was worth so little as to not be worthwhile to hold on to, and it gives me no tax advantages for 2008...so it got closed. 2009 will have the deck stacked against it tax-wise, which is why I'm saving my ass off this year.

I'm looking at it like I made a decision and it went badly and I took the consequences. It's nice to be free again, it's nice to have a second chance to not be a moron. It's against all the rules of being in debt to use retirement money to pay yourself free. It's also against all the rules of common sense to lose money on an investment and a debt at the same time. Suffice to say when my time ran out I'd be paying %16 interest...no investment is making that rate right now with the possible exception of white slavery. Recently I looked at my checking account and there is a lot of money in it. I was forced back into my budget and now I have the cash to make an IRA deposit without using credit, at least enough to lower my tax burden. As much as I wish Mr. Obama good luck, I don't want to pay him 1,000 dollars when I could save it for the future.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

"Just dealin', growin', doin' a little Pilates."

My favorite jeans which I had described as worn are now officially holey and that sucks when it's 16 degrees. I hope the new jeans are made of magic because this is a very difficult loss. The old jeans, they gave me an ass to be proud of...I loved them so. I hope there is some denim in the mail today so I can face this crisis sooner rather than later. I hope I have an advantage in that puppy and I have been hiking every day and my assets might be improving on their own. I have noticed no change in my waist unfortunately but my legs are awesome. I am literally in awe of them. They're hiker legs now. Why does that sound dirty?

Anyway, yeah, I'm getting to that place in my exercising life where I can feel the difference when I don't go for a long, uphill walk. Puppy and I went for a visit to my family and we had a whole two days with no hike and I thought my muscles were on strike. We had two good jogs but it just wasn't the same. We actually spent a lot of time walking around my sister's neighborhood because her poor kids are terrified of the dog. Kids that last spring held boa constrictors and petted alligators wouldn't come within feet of the puppy. Only the baby got close enough to pet him. They actually had some nice moments playing in puddles together and he very gently stole a stick she was playing with. Otherwise the visit was a nightmare.

My nephew has this friend who was very badly hurt by a small dog when he was a baby (you know how people with dogs the size of sewer rats don't think they have to train them because they're so little...well, that's ridiculous and dangerous) and has a justifiable fear of dogs. It would probably serve him well if his parents helped him work on this fear instead of feeding it but that's none of my business. The my business part of the story is that he's convinced my sisters kids that dogs are evil and had my nephew pretend shooting at my puppy and calling him vicious. What happens when he tells all the kids at school that there was a vicious dog at his house? Will we banned from his neighborhood? I don't know but it frightens me. I'm also frightened about the kids reactions to him in general. If they scream and run and kick at a genuinely dangerous dog they're going to be severely hurt. Learning to behave around animals is a life skill as far as I'm concerned, whether they turn out to be dog lovers or not.