Anxiety Doodle

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Yesterday’s journal page – an anxiety doodle done throughout a very stressful day.  As everything worked out well by the end of the day, I cut up the “anxiety” and glued it to a page.

The day started out rough.

First off, I noticed all the little things that were undone around the house and began by wondering if taking the time for art was worthwhile.  The dishes undone, the laundry undone, the trash the dogs got into strewn around the living room, and the half-finished decluttering and organizational projects all about.

Next, we had to deal with the car issue.  Our credit isn’t great,  we had a limited amount of money to work with, and we really don’t want monthly payments.  Also, sharing my daughter’s car with all of our schedules is impossible.

I like shopping for cars almost as much as I like hanging out in the DMV or the phone store.

In other words, not at all.

My family pulled together, started the search and headed out to solve the problem while leaving me at home to make peace with our home.

(and find peace for myself)

They can be simply amazing!

By the end of the day they had purchased a good, solid used car well within our budgeted car repair fund – newly established by our recent windfall.

It’s not even ugly! It’s a sharp-looking Volvo station wagon type vehicle.  Lots of room for our lifestyle, but not too big to drive comfortably.

And although the house doesn’t look significantly better than it did this morning:

  • we have enough clean clothes to make do
  • there are some clean dishes to eat off of
  • the trash is gathered and to the curb for pickup tomorrow
  • and, most importantly, it looks like home through my eyes

Anxiety dealt with and disasters averted.

Life is good!

Peace

Be Kind

 

 

Still feeling under the weather, but plodding along anyway.

Journal page done and posted.  Yea me!

A check we have been waiting on finally came in a few days ago.  I’d done lots of math in anticipation of its arrival in order to make the best use of it.

A few things were paid off and an emergency fund established.

And yesterday, our car (which had been struggling) let it be known that it was done for.  A check-up at the mechanic’s verified what we had feared – the transmission is shot.

Sigh.

One step forward…

and two steps back.

It’s an old car and really not worth the money we would need to put into it to fix the transmission.  It also needs some work on something that makes the front wheels and the back wheels go round and round together.

I know that was a pretty technical description of the problem, but let me put it in simpler terms…probably well over $500 for that fix.

And the air conditioner doesn’t work.

So, it looks like we will go car shopping.

Yea.

Sigh (again).

On the bright side.

We have an emergency fund.  We only had it for a couple of days, but it still counts, right?

It’s not enough for a car, but it’s something, right?

It’s all going to be okay.

I think.

Maybe.

Nope, it’s definitely going to be okay.

Peace.

Knowing vs. Worrying

 

There are many changes happening around here.  Change can be challenging when you are the type of person who likes to believe that you have it all under control.  Change can mean admitting that everyone is not okay and that there might be a better way to do things.

Change can mean that “growth” is taking place and changes are in order to accommodate that growth.

It would appear that the current art project is a reflection of that.  The glass jar is now obscured, although we all know that it’s there…buried under several layers now.  The house has evolved and will continue to do so, I expect.  The roots appear inadequate now as a foundation for the house.  They worked for the jar, but need to grow to support the new structure.  What’s it all mean?  Good question.  I’ll leave that up to you.

The biggest change around here has been our new attitude towards money – specifically the purchase of the new window unit.  We all agreed that change needed to happen.  We would be most uncomfortable living in a home without air-conditioning when the temperature is 95 degrees and it’s June.  It’s only going to get hotter.  We briefly considered attempting to get a loan of some type to solve our problem.  That would be solving one problem and adding to another one.

We are committed to getting out of debt.  We managed to not add to our debt and purchase the air-conditioning we needed.  Less than a year ago, we would not have had the information we needed to work through this issue in a responsible manner.

Because we started a budget (You Need a Budget) and started using Dave Ramsey’s Snowball Debt Reduction Plan, we are better equipped to make responsible decisions.  I recently found another tool, UndebtIt.com, that is also helping.  This site calculates our debt accounts, payment amounts and projected payoff date.  I love having programs that do the math for me.  I do not have a head for numbers.

I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed the brutal process of getting our finances in order.  It was hard to face the amount of debt we had versus the income we have.  It was a shock to see how long it will take to pay off everything.

But now we know.  We know how much money we really have and it’s not the amount on the paycheck.  Now, when I am shopping, it’s easier to make the distinction between want and need.  There is a goal in place to work towards.  Knowing, even when I don’t like the information I have, is better than not knowing and doing nothing to improve the situation.

We have the beginnings of a savings account to handle true emergencies.  I know how much we need to pay on each debt monthly to reach our goal.  Unexpected things can still happen and throw a metaphorical wrench in our plan, but I’ll be on top of the situation and have a better idea of how to deal with it.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading about debt.  I’ve read the advice of experts and personal blogs discussing specific stories and solutions.  I don’t normally give advice here – if someone finds something of use or inspiration here that’s great – but I don’t have any great insights or answers (just my stories).

In this case, I’m going to make an exception.  If you are struggling financially, in debt, and spending way too much time worrying about money, it’s better to know the facts.  It’s better to have a budget and a plan.  It’s better to face the facts right now and start the process of fixing the problem.  Denial doesn’t help.  I have shed many a tear over our finances.  I have blamed myself and everyone around me for our problems.  I have ignored the situation and pretended that everything was okay.  We have paid out money in bank charges and late charges and interest.

Not any more.  Now, I know where we stand.  There is a goal, a light at the end of the tunnel and hope.  It’s easier to make financial decisions when I understand the consequences. We no longer are living a life where it seems like the current situation will never end.  Things are going to get better.

Knowing that simple fact makes everything easier to deal with.

Decluttered the last few days:

  1. a ball cap
  2. a small shelf
  3. some old records
  4. a bank for spare change
  5. a cookbook
  6. another ball cap
  7. some more socks with no mates
  8. some textbooks
  9. curtains
  10. expired medication

 

Losing It!

Last week ended on a rough note. I kinda lost it. I was so frustrated with life that I just blew. All the little (and some big) things that I’ve been dealing with pretty well, just started to seem like insurmountable hurdles…

The washer?  I’ve been okay with waiting on a new one or a new to us one and have been pretty patient – maybe not happy but working on a plan to get a new one. Until – Matilda the Basset Hound ate a whole lotta cream cheese that she stole off of the counter and threw up all over the sofa. Every stinking sofa cushion. And the stinking is an adjective in more ways than one. Yuck. The washer may sound better with our “poverty fix”, but it’s not washing very well. Yuck. I could only wash a slipcover or two at a time and even then they didn’t look or smell much better. I confess that I took the stick out that holds the washer at the appropriate angle and tried to beat the washer to death.  Didn’t even dent the washer – shattered the stick. Might have scared a few family members in the process.  Sorry guys.

The bad mood continued for two days. Bad moods aren’t productive. They happen because we are human, but they don’t solve any problems. They just create more – like guilt, anger, hurt feelings and headaches. I’ve gotten back to work on the three biggest issues that are causing our life to be less than perfect – the three main obstacles to a simpler, more intentional life:

  • Clutter and it’s contribution to an untidy, less than serene home
  • A diet and exercise that contributes to better health and to us feeling better mentally and physically
  • Financial well-being which includes better money management, a savings account and paid-off debt.

On Friday, we went to Houston to help our second daughter move into her first home post-graduation from college.  She moved from a suburb of Houston to almost down-town.  She did a lot of research and found a cute little apartment in a great neighborhood at a reasonable price.  Very proud of her.  Did I mention that it’s on the third floor?  She decluttered a lot of stuff, but the apartment is still on the third floor. A big thank you goes out to family in Houston that dropped everything on a Saturday and came to help haul stuff up. Up to the third floor in case I forgot to mention it.

She has inspired me to come home and recommence the decluttering effort. I can’t imagine (and don’t want to) what it would take to move us at this point. More has gotta go.

Anyway, I’m working on trimming down the budget some more to increase our debt snowball plan. I went back to look at the totals when we first started so I could feel a little bit more encouraged about the whole process and we have made some!

I’ve re-subscribed to The Fresh 20 meal that we used to use. I’m not advertising here, but I find it to be really helpful. I got an email for 40% off the subscription and it seemed like a good omen. I like it for three reasons:

  1. It helps limit the amount of groceries I buy. I tend to overbuy and we waste some food or just have too much in the pantry. I’d rather have just what we need and use the extra cash to pay on a bill.
  2. It includes a lot of veggies and fruit so we eat healthier. It’s reviewed by a dietician so I feel better about our diet.
  3. The main reason. I don’t have to figure out what we’re going to have for dinner.  That’s less stress for me and we are less likely to eat out at the last minute because I didn’t have a plan.

I’m getting closer to an actual budget (as opposed to a spending record).  I’m using You Need a Budget  which I find to be very friendly for a non-numbers person like me. The subscription is $5 monthly which is worth it for me because it helps keep me on track (and does the math for me). I just found out about Mint which is a free online budget. I’m trying it out, but am struggling with it a bit. It doesn’t track debts as well that are closed credit accounts or medical debts. It links to open credit accounts and automatically tracks payments, interest, and balances. Once again, not an advertisement – just information on what’s working for me.

And that’s why this post is titled Losing It.

Last week, I lost it and had a complete meltdown.  That sucked and was not helpful.

Now I’m to lose it in a good way:

  1. Lose more stuff!
  2. Lose food waste, unhealthy food and lose weight!
  3. Lose unnecessary budget expenses and debt!

Life is all about choices.  I’m going to keep trying to make good ones.

What Can I Do With $5

Before you read this post you have to promise not to laugh at my lack of financial prowess.  I’m a reasonably intelligent person who is more inclined towards the liberal arts than the sciences – or economics evidently.  I think I have a general grasp of how loans and interest works.  It was with extreme anxiety that I signed the seven thousand pages (rough estimate) of mortgage documents years ago.  It was just what you did – you bought a house.

Over the last many months, I have come to be at peace with my house.  It’s not my dream, but we are making it so.  I’m excited about our current home improvement projects and I’m very happy with my mortgage payment (especially considering the area we live in).

But yesterday, as I was paying bills and working on our debt payoff, I got discouraged.  Budgets are so black and white…okay, and red sometimes.  Paying off our credit and medical debt is taking forever it seems.

And then I started looking around the bank site that holds our mortgage information.  Sigh.  I’ll be in my eighties when our mortgage is paid off.  Honestly, maybe dead.  Talk about discouraging.

And then I saw this little section called “Early payoff calculator”.  Yea, right.  I’m barely making progress on our other debts.

But, what the hell.  Turns out that if I pay only $5 extra a month on our principal, I can pay off our mortgage two years earlier.  What?  Really?  Are they kidding?  I entered the numbers a million more times.  Same answer.

Now, I’m learning a lot more about mortgages and paying them off.  My head hurts.  I don’t like math.  I really don’t like math.  At all.  But, I do like getting out of debt.

So, I’ve given up my Sonic Drive-In unsweet tea with blackberry.  I started drinking it to quit drinking Diet Coke after my health scare a year or so ago.

I love my tea.

But I had no idea that $5 was that powerful.

Water is tasting pretty good right now!