A Factory Working, College Grad Getting Out of Debt

Reality-Checks

Reality Check – Paying Rent

So I’m paying rent now.  Yup.. this girl has the life-sustaining job and can now help more financially around the house.  I’m absolutely fine with that as I’ve wanted and tried to help around the house for years now.  For example, the first time I got a real job, I made sure that I was able to take on the auto insurance even though my mother said I didn’t have to do so.  I know that it was only $700 for the year, but we’d just had to take a 43% pay cut in the household because the owners had sold their business to a new one and hard decisions had to be made.  So that measly $700 was a big deal.  And I’ve made sure that I was always able to pay it, even when I was unemployed.

I sat down with my momma and we had a good talk about what was going to happen.  After about five minutes, we’d already had our agreement ironed out and both were happy with the results.

Here’s the deal:

  • Rent = $150/month.
  • This can be paid through home improvement projects.
  • Pay my part of the cellphone bill = $50/month.
  • Pay the remaining balance on my cellphone (long story, and I’ll share it with you soon).

Sounds like a pretty good deal right?  Well let me tell you, I am paid up in rent until December 2014.  That’s right.  I bought my mom a custom made island that we’re hopefully going to hear has been shipped to the store soon.  I can’t wait to see it in the house!  The island has been something she’s been wanting since we moved to this house nearly a decade ago.

I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve that will surprise my momma though.  A few changes have happened recently that reduced the amount of money coming into the house so I’m going to see what I can do in sneaky ways to make it less of a hassle.

Count those Raindrops!

-DecMeadow

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A Breakdown Comparison: A Year of Progress

Last October, I posted the breakdown of my debt.  It was perhaps the most frighteningly personal thing I ever did in my life so far.  I honestly am not sure how I still had the gumption to show you all what I was facing.  However, I knew I had to be honest to myself of where I was before I could make a game plan.

The following November I quit my job because of the work situation there and started unemployment life.  I was unemployed until this August where I (thankfully) started at Chrysler.  I’ve been on a strict budget due to my unemployed status, but I feel that the strings can be slightly loosened now that I’m more comfortable in my life with the fact that I’m now getting a life-sustaining paycheck every week.

So after a year, it’s time to see what progress I made.  Where I am now in my debt, in comparison where I was then.  I’m not anticipating it being a big difference, as I was after all unemployed.  So I’m not going to be expecting a huge difference.

To make the comparison a little easier, I’m going to show last October’s numbers in italics, and today’s numbers in bold.  So it will look like this: Back then / NOW.

Car loan: $4,564.49. / $1,239.02

Credit Cards:

  • Chase: $2,372.37  $1265.37  
  • Pay Pal Bill Me Later: $1,905.10  $2,011.16  
  • Best Buy Store Card: $1,173.54  0
  • Amazon Store Card: $835.25  $655.79  
  • DressBarn Store Card: $480.46  0
  • Capital One:  $516.97  / 0
  • Best Buy Mastercard: $377.15  0
  • Solidarity Visa: 0 / $2310.00  

Total Credit Debt:  $7,660.84  $6,463.28   

Student Loans:

ECSI: $650.00 0

Direct Loan:  $18,862.74 / $19,269.44     

Complete Total Debt: $31,738.07 / $27,334.56

Okay, so that means that over the past year, I have decreased my debt by $4,403.  That’s not too bad right?  Considering that I was unemployed from November to this August right?  I feel a little down now because of it.

I guess I’ll just have to get a little more aggressive and make up for the bad fortune of last year.

Please let it rain!

DecMeadow


Reality Check – More Responsibilities

As some of you know, I live at home with my mother.  I never saw the point in moving out (except while I was away at college) as it would be too much money to do so.  Seriously, $500 a month for rent before utilities and internet?  No thanks.  I already have enough bills to take handle that was accumulated in order to survive through college whilst working full time and having a full 18 credit hour course load.  I also have a great relationship with my mother and she’s a pretty awesome roommate.

However, there’s always been a long standing rule in the house since we were younger.  We as kids did not have to pay rent as long as we were in school full time.  Well, college is over.  I have the two expensive pieces of paper to prove it.  Unemployment is over, and I have a job I enjoy and which is consider life-sustaining. So now that I have that decent paying job, it’s time to pay rent.

Ruh roh ‘Raggy.

Actually, it’s not too bad.  I made a deal with my mother that my rent would be paid through home improvements.  Things that have had to be put on hold because other more pressing things have come up (like that pesky back porch that crumbled away because the guy that we paid to put it in was a complete dumb ass).  This will probably mean that I’m paying more than one month’s rent at a time.  I’m okay with that.  Why?

My mom’s thrilled, and I’m happy to help even more around the house.

What do you think of the arrangement?  Fair?

 

Count those Raindrops!

-DecMeadow

 


Reality Check – Stagnation

I’m finding life a little hard to handle at the moment.  I’m not quite sure if it’s solely due to my prolonged unemployment status, but I’m pretty sure that has a hand in it.  I find that as I’m going through the motions, things just don’t feel the same.  I find myself doing chores around the house, being more aware of my mess and trying to keep things clean, but I blame that on muscle memory after these months of doing nothing but house chores.  Unfortunately, I don’t see myself doing much else.

My art has stagnated, and as such my commission list is suffering as I seem to have hit an artist block and just can’t quite make my layouts right.  This is making me angry, but only just, because it’s more of a “I need to get this done and sent to the buyer” than “you know this crap” kind of thing.

My reading has slowed.  In fact, its at a dead stop.  Perhaps I should consider renewing my library card and finding a few books that will interest me.  I would so love to jump back into my all-time favorite children’s mystery series of Encyclopedia Brown again now that I’m older and see if I can get the clues and know what happen before the reveal.  Yes, I reread books, and yes, I like young adult fiction.  Truly though, if you haven’t read that series, I implore you to do so.  Donald J. Sobol was a genius and I one day hope to get my kids to read his timeless stories.  It’s fitting, that I have this craving to read his series as it’s the one year anniversary of his death.

But I’m digressing… I feel like I haven’t done much, and I feel like I’m not going anywhere.  In truth, this isn’t just a physical matter, as I really haven’t done much and really haven’t gone anywhere in the past eight months.  For a girl who was living a lifestyle of 18 credit hours a semester, 40 hour work week… that’s crazy.  It’s like going 100 miles per hour and immediately slamming on the brakes, only to crawl to a slow and steady pace of 5 miles per hour.  I’m going nuts.

I know this has affected my writing in the last few weeks as well as the stagnation seems to cling to me as bad as this 90% humidity we’re currently having.  I sleep in because I know I have nothing to do that day, so why bother?  I take a nap after lunch because it makes time pass faster.

 

I truly cannot wait to start a job.  I really can’t.  I have always been that type of person that if I don’t have something to do constantly, I end up becoming a total bum.  I lose creativity, ingenuity, willpower.  I lose motivation faster than a leaky bucket, Eliza.  Seriously, let’s get this train a rolling, because I can’t take much more without screaming.

And perhaps that’s what I’m doing here… screaming.  Screaming to the world the frustration of the unemployed.  The frustration of a college grad who cannot find a job.  The frustration of being in debt and knowing that my emergency fund in dwindling.  Just sheer frustration and I’m afraid it’s going to become desperation and I’m just going to take any ol’ job and throw my self-worth out the window.

Ugh.

Count those Raindrops.

-DecMeadow


Reality Check – Shopping for Cell Service

I told you awhile ago that my mother was shopping around for cell service but that pretty much meant sticking with our current provider.  I also told you that we were able to update our service plan, get everything that we possibly wanted (and more) for a cheaper price.  Low and behold, that happened.

I also told you that we were told that we could update my phone for no charge.  Well.. not so much.  In fact, as it turns out, we should updated my phone before we went to the new service plan.  If we had done that, we would have most certainly been given a new phone for free.  I’m beyond upset at this.  Not because I need a new phone, I don’t.  It upset me that we had to deal with someone who had no idea what they were talking about, and lead us on.  My mother was upset as well.

My mother still insisted on paying the $400 over the course of the next few months to get me one however.  I truly love my mother, and when I get a job, I will work my butt off for the next year to make sure she gets every cent of that cost back.  It might take a little convincing, but it will happen.  Anyway, the problems didn’t stop there.  My mother paid a good amount for the phone to be shipped, and we were under the impression that it would it arrive within a few days.  It didn’t.

After three weeks, we called the cell provider once again.  Operator #3 had to hand over her call to Supervisor #1 as my mother was very angry and wanted to know what had happened.  Seems Operator #2 forgot to tell us about an email that we had to answer within 24 hours of us ordering the phone and providing an electronic signature. As my mother never checks her email but once in a blue moon, this never happened so the order was cancelled. Ugh.  I’m telling yah, I do like this provider, I really do… but right now they are just all over the place in their management of their service through their policy transition that people like us end up falling through the cracks and having these stupid little things to follow. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt this one time, as they have always been great before, but if it continues… well I’ll just have to find an alternative if only to get away from this provider.

 

The headache of that mess is now over and has been for about a month, so I can now say that I own a new smartphone.  It’s pretty, and I love that I can catch up on all the wordpress bloggers that I follow with such a simple app wherever I am.  It certainly comes in handy when I need a bit of a pick me up or have a craving for a little bit of reading.

Moral of the story: be careful what you’re doing when you update your service.  If your current service provides free stuff, get it first and then switch to the cheaper alternative.

Count those Raindrops!

-DecMeadow


Reality Check – Always Double Check to See if You Have Hidden Fees on Credit Cards

Awhile ago I told you all about grey charges and the evil they truly have.  I was so proud of myself for having found all the hidden charges on my credit cards.  I was even happier when I cancelled them and no longer saw the crazy looking balances the next month out when I was making payments.  Seriously, how could my balance go up nearly $60 each month when I hadn’t even used it?  Surely that wasn’t just interest!?  Of course it wasn’t.  It was those silly little grey charges.  The hidden fees like Payment Protection plans and Credit Keeper are the biggest culprits.

Sadly, I must confess to you all right now… I missed one.

Yes, that’s right, I missed one.  I missed the Amazon card.  I couldn’t believe that my card was making no progress at all each month and I was paying more than the minimum balance.  After hunting down the statement (waiting every day til the postman left it) I found that I was indeed being grey charged.  And honestly, it enraged me.  I do not remember signing up for that stupid service, and I had to kick myself for not realizing it sooner.

Last week I cancelled the stupid fee and will hopefully start seeing a difference being made on my Amazon balance.  Here’s hoping.

There is a lesson to learn from this though.  Never feel comfortable when you think you’ve taken care of the problem.  In the words of one of my favorite characters from Harry Potter, you must have “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!”  Who knows, you might accidentally click on a link while paying your bill that reactivates the service.  It might happen.  Credit card companies are sneaky sobs after all.

 

Count those Raindrops!

-DecMeadow


Reality Check – Unemployment Misconceptions

Since I’ve been unemployed, it’s been interesting seeing how people view this particular aspect of life.  There have been many sides that I can see and identify, and I’d like to share some of those with you.

Pity is perhaps one of the major emotions that seems to come across a person’s face when you tell them that you’re unemployed.  I truly can’t stand it.  I’m not someone who enjoys being the subject of such an emotion and find it very condescending.  Honestly, pity really isn’t going to help me or anyone else who is unemployed.. unless you have a decent job hiding in your hand, I’d rather not face it.  I have no problem for some empathizing, saying “Man, I’ve been there… chin up, it’s going to work itself out sooner or later, just keep looking and holding out for the best job for you.”  No, I certainly don’t have a problem with empathy, but pity?  Ha.  I can completely understand why those who are unemployed keep that card close to the chest.

The next emotion is contempt.  Pure and ugly in its full form, contempt is probably the one I have most experienced since I became unemployed and did NOT jump straight to a fast food restaurant for a job.  No, it’ s probably also because I actually had a legitimate reason to quit and won unemployment as well.  Yes, that most certainly has to be it.  The possibility of someone like me being on unemployment is atrocious to some people, and they are happy to say so.  My younger brother seems to have caught a bit of this as he seems to think that all I do is sleep, play video games, and watch television.  Now I admit I do this, but I did it when I was working too.  Instead, I spend a great deal of time on the internet searching for a job, I sell things on Amazon and Ebay and am constantly packing and shipping items at least twice a week because things are graciously picking up at a time when I truly needed it, and I clean.  Yes, I am trying to make things better in the house and make it easier on those who live with me.  If my mother has an almost empty pot of coffee, I make it.  If tea needs to be brewed, I do it.  If the bathroom needs cleaned, or if I get a phone call from my mother asking me to run and errand for her.. I’ll gladly do so.

Now sometimes I’m not the best at cleaning.  I’ve admittedly laxed this last week and a half because I’ve been fighting off something (or somethings) that have been brought home from the working folk in my home.  I seem to be sleeping a lot more and find myself burning up, breaking a fever, or freezing the next.  It hasn’t been fun these last few days, and I can’t wait to strengthen the immune system again by going to work.

Sadly, that’s the reaction I always have when someone confronts me with contempt about being unemployed.  I feel I always have to justify myself, and I hate it.

The last emotion that I face is apathy. I find it overwhelmingly comforting and frustrating at the same time.  Comforting in the fact that I am not facing either contempt or pity, but frustrating that the person is so apathetic about the situation that they do not care about the overall picture.  I am not the only one unemployed.  The unemployment rate is facing epic proportions.  Since there are so many out there that have run out of unemployment, they are no longer being counted in the statistics.  I am fairly certain that the unemployment is much higher than people would want us to believe, and that frustrates me.  How can we fix it?  Why can’t we fix it?  If we are truly one of the best countries in the world, why can we not take care of our own?  Why can we not take care of our orphans, our hungry, poor, our homeless?  Why can we not focus on the home front before we focus somewhere else?  The living standards may be different, but that does not mean that our own are any less destitute.  It does not mean that they are going hungry or facing the horrid conditions of being homeless.

How can we fix it?  And why are so many of you out there apathetic?  Why are so many out there not even blinking an eye?

Just.. why?

 

Count those Raindrops!

-DecMeadow