Sunday, March 29, 2015

I'm writing this from bed. Shhhh. Don't tell...

My original plan was to get back to writing three times a week. This past week has not been a great one to start that up. With DH suddenly home, I'm caught between wanting to spend time doing whatever he's doing (usually bead work) and doing what i should be doing (usually house work) and the fabulous new laptop has pretty much been a Pandora music streaming machine.
That's all about to change, I swear!

Ok, swearing isn't polite, but I assure you, next week will be full of writing and stuff. Maybe even photos!
I just figured out that my phone CAN actually handle posting directly to my blog site, so even if I'm stuck somewhere NOT home, i can at leasmake small posts here and there.

So, watch out world!

Deb "Mobile" Lollar

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

There is no part 2

I was hoping that Thursday's post would be this awesome cliff hanger. I would end it by saying I had to go car shopping and then I would be able to post a picture today about my new car.

That's not going to happen though. The Universe has other plans.

Before DH even got home from work Friday evening he got a call from the contract agency that his awesome job that he loved so very much has ended his contract.

That was a punch in the gut I was not expecting. I had anticipated a million different things that could have gone wring with the car shopping. I thought the car deals I was finding were too good to be true, and I was worried that may be would end up spending too much money buying the car and we would end up more broke than we wanted to be. Or maybe the dealership would pull a bait and switch routine and we would have to leave without the car we were promised. Or maybe the lenders would pull out at the last minute and we would be denied financing and we would be stuck looking for a cash car instead of a new one.

In all my worst-case scenarios, I never imagined that we would be cancelling the appointment entirely because we are going to have to make our little windfall stretch as far as possible for bills instead of buying a second vehicle.

Right now, we have one vehicle - a 15 year old mini-van - and we are going to have to repair the A/C that just went out so that DH won't show up to interviews hot and sweaty. At one point over the last week I had thought that maybe we could trade it in and put that money toward a different used vehicle for DH to use as a commuter car. That's not going to happen at all now. Instead of providing us with a little bit of a down payment, the van is going to cost us a chunk of change that we really need to save.

Of course, I'm still looking for the positives here. It doesn't change the fact that I am just, plain mad as hell. I'm thankful that DH got the call on the way home because if they had waited until Monday to tell him, we would have gone to the dealership and bought the car and it would have been too late to back out. I'm glad that we do actually have money in the bank - enough to pay the bills for the next month, at least. I'm thankful that the insurance is paying for a rental car until Tuesday so we had a few more days left of having two vehicles. That also means we will have a car to drive on Monday while the van is in the shop.

Now, in spite of the bad news on Friday, we still had plans to go out of town this weekend. DH was Head Man for a powwow in Houston and LH was Head Lady. This is the first time DH has been asked to be Head Man and he was very excited. It's a huge honor, especially for someone like us who was not born with Native American blood, but was brought up in the traditions by an "adopted" family. There was so much good that came out of being there, surrounded by people we know and love.

I'm thankful that we still had the rental car to take to the powwow in Houston this weekend. It was tight with all three girls crammed in the back seat of the tiny car and we barely had room in  the trunk for our suitcases but it was safe and got great gas mileage. I'm thankful that because DH and LH were both Head Staff the organization even paid for our hotel room down there. The organization also gifted both of them cash for their positions so all the gas and eating out that we had to do did not actually set us back. We, incredibly, came out ahead.

Hopefully by tomorrow I will have a bunch of pictures to show off from the weekend, but tonight I am tired and sad and I have to make plans for all the things than need to happen in light of the changing job situation. We've got places to call research to do and I've got to figure out how long I can make everything work around here with one car and no income. As usual, all prayers and good thoughts are welcome and appreciated. I know we will get through this, just like always. I mean, our survival rate for job crises so far has been 100%, so we have a good chance if surviving this too.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Silver Lining pt 1

Wow, when I got into that "little" fender bender a few weeks back, I had no idea what was in store for me. Frankly, I still don't, but today, the possibilities seem a lot more positive than they did. I saw this dark cloud roll over me and I wasn't sure how long the rain was going to last. In the last few days, I really thought it would stick around a lot longer, too. Today, though, the sun started shining just a little bit. I think I might be seeing that silver lining after all.

For so many years I have operated on the assumption that any little problem would turn into a crisis that we would not have the resources to deal with. I feel like we are always "behind the 8 ball", constantly playing catch-up, never having enough to go around, always halfway between "just got paid" and "just about to be broke." At this time 10 years ago, we had lost our house, our car, and the tax return we did get that year went to our landlord to keep us from being evicted. Since then, we have not had a steady climb back into financial security, as I would have hoped, but things are so much better than they were. 

We have worked hard to get out of the kind of hole you find yourself in after one spouse has been out of work for more than a year and the other gets too sick to keep a job for more than a few months at a time. We budgeted. We scrimped. We "made do". We moved houses and even cities, trying to find a way to make it only on what we had from monthly income. When we had no working vehicle, we accepted help from family and we drove an older vehicle. That vehicle is the 15 year old van that is still sitting in our driveway. The windows don't roll down and the A/C and heater don't always work, but we keep fixing it when it breaks, because it is paid off. However, the cost of repairs are starting to outweigh the actual worth of the vehicle. Still, we keep driving it because it means we don't have a car payment.

Because of our credit history, we don't get all the fun stuff that it seems like everyone else does. We have paid ridiculous deposits for utilities. Getting a cell phone without decent credit means that we had to go through a pre-paid company and we don't get the benefit of bonuses and rebates for all the newest gadgets. Instead of "Shopping" we go "Treasure Hunting" and we come away from the Thrift Store with what we need instead of going to the Mall for what we want. Sometimes our bills have been more than we had in the bank and sometimes we ate beans and rice for too many days in a row. I have lost count of the money that was wasted in late fees and bank fees and "Your credit simply sucks" fees. It often felt like The System was designed to make poor people even more poor by punishing them with more fees just for being already broke.

Now, we could have joined in the Great American Pastime of buying stuff with credit that we really couldn't afford, but I already knew what a terrible thing a credit card could be. Right before we got married I was blessed with three different credit cards. Within a year we had run them all to the max paying for wedding things, but they just seemed to stay maxed out even months and months later. Once things started to get really bad, I realized they were more of a burden than the life boat we wanted them to be. When I got laid off, I used my severance to pay off and and close every credit account we had, knowing that if we couldn't be sure we could afford the monthly payment every single month, we weren't in a position to have a credit card in the first place. In fact, the only new credit I have had in the last 10 years was the car I paid off just a year ago.

That was the car that I paid too much money for. Not only was the price tag disgustingly inflated, but the interest rate was so high, I'm actually embarrassed to admit I fell for it. I was desperate. I HAD to have a vehicle for work. I didn't have enough  cash to buy a car outright and I couldn't afford to sink cash into another lemon. I had to have a reliable car. So I paid for it. But that was also the first car I ever paid off, completely. I had been saving this purple fairy sticker for five years and I put it on the back window to help me find my car in a crowded parking lot. This was the first car I had felt was truly mine since the Dodge Neon I drove 20 years ago when I got my first full time job.

This was the very same car that I was in when I rear-ended an SUV in the snow, on the way to pick up the kids from school.

Sitting there in my busted up car, all I could think about was how we had just gotten our tax return and now I would have to spend all of it to fix my car. Well, honestly, I had a thousand things going through my head. Thank God no one was injured. DH is already on his way home from work so he can pick up the kids so they don't have to walk home in the snow. So thankful I decided to keep Full Coverage insurance on the car, even after it was paid off and I was only required to keep Liability. I really hope I don't cause another accident in the backup from THIS accident. If my car is still running, should I move it out of the traffic, or leave it here until the police shows up? Please, Mr Police Officer, don't give me a ticket for the expired registration. I've been trying to get it updated for a week. I just paid to get the radiator replaced LAST WEEK, and now the NEW radiator is probably destroyed. If I spend all my extra cash on fixing this car, how am I going to pay the cheer fees for Tiny Dancer. They are due next month if she she makes the team at the tryouts next week. How is she going to get to tryouts if I don't have a car? Hey, the engine is still running! Since the engine does still start up, I should drive it back home instead of waiting for a tow. I should be able to make it since I'm only a few blocks from the house. I'm sure the tow trucks would be needed more somewhere else. Let them help out some poor person who is wrecked and too far from home and can't drive at all. If we HAD to have an accident, at least we had it while we actually had money in the bank to cover the deductible. Thank God I'm ok. Thank God everyone else is ok. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God.

For the last two weeks, I've been driving a rental car that is covered by my insurance. Again, THANK GOD, because have you ever tried to rent a car without a credit card? Not easy. It's taken longer than I thought it would, but finally, yesterday my old car was officially determined to be a Total Loss. I met with the adjuster, signed over the title, cleaned all my personal things out of it, and said a final goodbye to it. That was WAY harder than I thought it would be, by the way. I  get entirely too emotionally attached to physical possessions. Anyway, something else positive happened that balanced out (a little) of the sadness.

I got a CHECK for the value of the car. It's like a last little gift from the car I've driven and taken care of for the last five years. Now, it's nothing to brag about, considering it was a base model Kia that was nine years old. But, it's more than I thought it would be and it is enough to help me actually replace this car with another car. At this point, I have the choice to use it all to buy a "cash car" (ie a junker that may or may not make it through the 30 day warranty) or I can maybe use it as the biggest down payment I've ever put on a car before.

But either way, now I have to go car shopping. 


Monday, March 16, 2015

The REALLY Short Version

Let me see...
How do I explain 6 months of insanity all at once without droning on forever and losing your attention 1/4 of the way through. OK. To put it all in perspective, let's try this:

  • Last March - I got fired. Again. That's ok. I didn't like that stupid job and their dumb requirements to "show up" and "be on time." Sissies. I'm just going to crawl under this blanket for a few days. Or maybe forever. Forever works too.
  • April - My computer broke down and never recovered. By May my Cloffice was just a closet again. No Office. No where to write. 
  • August - I finally realize I HAVE a computer to use, and it's right in my own bedroom. It's  just that it's DH's, and in the middle of all HIS stuff. I'm unable to work up the energy to clear his stuff away enough to write. 
  • September - That's the beginning of cheer season around here. Two practices and one game per week. And band stuff. And other school stuff, and, and. AND.
  • October - The world decides to implode. DH loses his job. I wish I could say I handled it well. I did not.
  • November - Since DH is home all the time, we bond over bead work and get to do whatever else we decide we want to do. But mostly it's bead work. SO MANY BEADS GOT WORKED. I'm suddenly looking forward to my retirement years... Also, I decide to begin weaning myself of the FM/Depression meds I've been taking for the last 8 years. I can't afford them and I soon realize they have been doing more harm than good.
  • December - Because DH was Laid Off, not fired, he got a Severance back in October, which we immediately used to plan ahead. Christmas is actually pretty ok and not even a little like the scene where Tiny Tim's mom tries to use tiny plates to make it look like there is more food than there really is. Then, DH lands a new job!
  • January - DH's new job requires him to work 6:30 AM to 3:30pm. Yes, as in 6:30 IN THE MORNING. DO YOU REALIZE WHAT THAT ACTUALLY MEANS!!!! It means I have to actually get up and be a human in the morning and drive my children to school by myself. Also, I decided to continue on this whole "Get myself free of addicting substances" and I quit smoking too. January was not my favorite month.
  • February - It started off awesome and ended about as far from awesome as you can get. Because of Tax Returns, we got bills paid up and I was feeling pretty good and secure and comfy and stuff. Then the sky opened up and decided to snow all over Texas. A Lot. We lost a full school day because of ice, and then we lost an afternoon because of snow. While driving to pick my kids up in said snow, I rear ended a big ol' SUV. My car was totaled. Even though no one was hurt and mine was the only car damaged, this was still the third worst thing that happened that day. BOTH my mother's father in law AND Leonard Nimoy passed away. Some days it's just not worth it to chew through the leather straps to escape, I tell ya. 
  • March - It's only half over but so far it has been a HUGE improvement over February. First, I had full comp and collision on my nine-year-old econo-box of a car. So I have a rental to drive until the insurance finishes up gathering the incredibly tiny total on my old car. Now I get to go find a different but equally old and tiny econo-box. But hey, it will be New-to-me!
  • Because of all the crappiness that has flooded our lives lately, DH and I decide to do some very responsible things. Like take the entire family to the North Texas Irish Fest and Buy Awesome Things. Yeah... when I say "responsible", I might actually mean "Something to make us feel better even though it was not totally 100% responsible." But, hey, we are grown ups, and dammit, I want new toys! So, instead of sticking ALL the tax return away, we use a little here and there to spoil each other. It's my birthday and I offer to share it with him as his half-birthday because, well... go back and look at October again. The man deserved a treat, if not a freaking Gold Medal for overcoming obstacles and dealing with my crazy ass. So, he got a casual kilt in the Leatherneck Tartan because he's wanted one since the Tartan was released. And, even though we were able to score some older laptops for the kids from his new job the amazing man saw clear to buy me a new one! With a touch screen and a full 10-key pad and all sorts of awesome built in. I tell you, I love that man.
So, here I am. I've got my own computer, which means I can write wherever I darn well please. I feel like I might be able to get back into a regular schedule of updating and stuff. Maybe I'll even get to post pictures and stuff and I can pretend to be a real Blogger! Maybe.
Or perhaps I'll start looking for work again. Or maybe, I'll enroll in college, like I've been threatening to for a while now. Maybe I'll just start focusing on the housework I always put off and then I'll find a way to keep it all done and POOF! I'll turn into a successful and happy Home Maker.
Or monkeys could fly out of my butt. Maybe.

Deb "Not Housekeeping" Lollar