Moving… cleaning up…and budget craziness

February 17, 2012 at 7:00 am (budget, moving, mr. maven) (, )

My life is a whirlwind of activity and will continue to be so until March. I’m just going to post a hodge podge of activity financially related that have been impacting me this month:

When ex-mr. maven left, he also left a lot of crap for me to deal with. I may not have mentioned it previously, but he was a bit of a pack rat/scavenger. He would collect odds and ends that he would want to use for building a house, or furniture he wanted to refinish at some point, etc. etc. He also is an artist/photographer like me, so he would collect and hoard frames (particularly large ones) for projects, most of which were not used, particularly since we could get them for free from my job. So when he left behind his sh*t, I was left to pick up the pieces. Literally. Luckily a good friend (of us both) offered to help, so she helped me pick up a rental truck, and haul all the crap into the truck. By the end of the day, here’s what we did: 3250 lbs of refuse, one 14’ rental truck, PACKED TO THE GILLS with trash, 7 hours of labor, $239 for the dump fees, $46 for the rental, $8 for the gas (plus a meal for us both, I bought her breakfast for her help). You can bet mr. maven will pay me back for this. This unfortunately had to go onto my BECU credit card, until I have enough to pay it.

I’m pretty close to the edge with my finances right now. I pretty much have my paycheck fully spent and apportioned by the time I get it (including paying myself first into my mini-fund savings and debt payments), so I don’t often have a lot left over for additional spending. Thus, unexpected things like the dump fees go straight onto the credit card until my next paycheck. As long as it gets paid off before the next statement, there are no fees.

Ex mr. maven just got hired, yeah!!! He has a service job and will be making 15.50/hr…to start. Not bad! His expenses will be relatively low, plus he’s less than 5 miles from home, so his travel expenses will be low. They provide him a uniform, so no expensive suits. He will hopefully still pursue work in the legal field and continue to look for higher paying jobs. As he is able to pick and choose employment more easily than most places in the US (due to the oil boom there), he should continue to try and move up the payscale ladder! I fully expect him to repay me for the costs of getting rid of his garbage.

Ex-mr. maven also mentioned he wanted to pay me back for some of the missed expenses while we were living together. I can’t remember if I mentioned it, but the last 3-4 months of him living with me he paid at most $100 towards rent per month. It was a major sore point. Financial inequality like that really causes friction and resentment. It did little for our relationship, and we did have heated discussions more than once by the end of that time period (and just before he told me he was leaving). I won’t hold my breath, but I hope that he will at least give me $300 for the dump/uhaul.

Tonight, whoo hoo, I get the keys to my new apartment! I have already packed a bunch of stuff and will try and bring a car load of stuff every evening to reduce the difficulty of a) finding enough packing materials to do it in 1 go, b) lower the time/energy expenditure to carry ALL MY STUFF into the truck, IN ONE DAY, UP ONE FLIGHT OF STAIRS and c) reducing the time commitment of all the people who are offering to help so it’s not such an onerous activity. Plus, I’ve been having bad luck getting free supermarket fruit boxes, so I don’t have a ton to go around. I hope to unpack the boxes I bring over so I can reuse them. It may be a little challenging to put them places, when I don’t have furniture there yet, but there should be enough room to stash stuff/pile it, plus all the closets I have! Update: I’ve now hauled 2 car loads of stuff and the piles of stuff is a bit unnerving, but what else can I do? Most of my furniture won’t fit in my car! Plus I can’t move it myself, safely.

I have made a big pile of stuff to get rid of. Rather than put it in the dump or just take it straight to a donation truck, I want to try and recoup some money for having purchased all that crap in the beginning, or for my time and energy in cleaning up after mr. maven’s departure (a good portion is his!). So this weekend I’m having a yard sale. Rain or shine! After all, I have a covered back porch. I have been making signs to post, which take time, and I have to post photos and details to craigslist tonight. Since you only get 4 small images per post, I’m going to post a few times so people get a sense for what I have. Whatever doesn’t sell I will donate. I can bring most of it in a car to the donation truck, which sits every weekend, in a parking lot 3 miles from my house. There is a large piece of furniture I need to get rid of that I may not be able to sell. It’s too big for my car. That’s the only iffy part that I’m not looking forward to.

My company has a nice relationship with a local trucking company – we lease a fleet of trucks with them, so they know us and offer good discounts to employees on rental trucks (particularly for me, since I call them regularly!). Uhaul charges $30/day plus .99/mi mileage. Let’s just say that I am getting a screaming deal. They will let me rent, with a Friday pickup, for a whole weekend, for 1 day, $20, plus only .1/mile. I doubt it will cost more than $35, plus the cost of fuel. I will need to use the truck for a dump run/donating large bulky items that won’t fit in my car, if needed.

With all the stuff going on, moving, packing, planning, yard sale, organizing, did I mention packing? All by myself… well, let’s just say that I’m having difficulty focusing well on food and food preparation. My energy level is hit and miss, so I am not preparing food quite up to the standard I usually do. I bought lunch out today since I didn’t plan and make enough food for dinner and lunch. I expect this behavior to persist for the next 2 weeks. I’m not going to sweat it. If I eat out lunch 3+ days a week for 2 weeks, so be it. It’s good for my sanity, if a minor hit to my budget.

My finances are still haywire and probably won’t be normal until April. I still have expenses from January that will hit me in the February budget (since they are on my credit card, which delays payment by a month). I had to spend more on my deposit/first month rent. The total for that is $1270. Rent ($695), extra week of rent prorated ($175) for access in February, the storage space ($50), and my deposit ($350). Luckily I had already paid my last month’s rent for my current place in the beginning, so it wasn’t a double overlap of rent for 2 places at the same time, just a few hundred extra. I was able to cover it on one paycheck, but it didn’t leave much extra for anything else. I will have an additional truck rental for the move to pay for this month, too, and the $300 dump run fees from mr. maven – I will get that back, but it may be a month or two after I pay for it (to avoid credit card fees). In March, I won’t have rent to pay, so all my “rent” will go to debt (yeah!!!), so that will skew the March budget in a strange way. I’ll also get back some of my deposit from my current place by end of March, so that will be extra income. And I should get some snowball money from the yard sale next weekend. So you see, nothing will be right or normal until April.

Time for work…debtmaven out!




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Major changes/starting over fresh in 2012

January 18, 2012 at 10:59 am (Improving Financial Health, mr. maven)

It’s been some time since my last post. my life has totally changed in the last month, so I’ll bring you (briefly) up to date.

Mr. maven has been unemployed since March 2010. He has never fully paid his full share of bills or rent (sometimes rent, but never on bills). Last few months he stopped even paying rent. Immediately after christmas, he told me he was moving to North Dakota to pursue work (and stay with his family). So the maven household is now a single Ms. Maven. There’s a lot of emotional upset of course. He took my kittens with him, which leave me totally devestated. We are still friends, just no longer cohabitating or sharing our lives so intimately.

What this means financially is that I am now the one and only breadwinner, ie, rent payer. I have no backup to rely on helping out with bills, but it also means that any expense are mine and mine alone. I don’t have to worry about buying alcohol and having it drunk before I have a chance to have any of it. I don’t have to worry if there is inequity when buying groceries or eating out. But it means no sharing, either.

I’ve been single one week and 2 days so far. I’ve been discussing with my BFF/girlfriend getting a house together in a few months and splitting rent/expenses. She’s a professional working woman so she is fianacially stable, and we have been roommates before (it’s how we met after all!), so I know we will be compatible. The problem is now finding a place she will live that we can move into together (the market for 2 bedroom places in the $1200-$1300 range in a nice neighborhood in Seattle is very slim!). So That may change. Until then, I’m solo and living in  my house all by my lonesome (there is both good and bad in that!).

I’ve been updating my debt totals periodically, even without posting. Currently, I have 2 debts:
SBA loan – $16073
BECU Car loan – $8447

At the minimum, I am paying $253/month on the car loan, but nothing extra. For the SBA, which is at a higher rate of 5%, I have an automated $100 every second paycheck. I put a debt payment calculation together for myself, and if I can pay an extra $300/month towards the SBA, I will be debt free by December, 2013. That is if I remain frugal, have no major expenses, don’t travel, don’t move to a cheaper place/get a roommate, and don’t get a part-time job. I think it’s doable, but it will take vigilence and dedication. This also assumes that my full tax refunds for the next 2 years (about $700 or so) are fully paid towards debt, which again, shouldn’t be a problem – it’s what I’ve done the past 2 years.

So. Here I am. Still focused, chugging along, head down. There have been ups and downs, mostly downs, in the last year, and even more recently, but no actual derailments. I’m going at it slower than I wanted to 6 months ago, but that’s my new reality. Until I move/get a roommate, this is the pace I can maintain.

I’m glad I got my used car in April 2011 – it added an extra $10K of debt to my total, but it’s a much better and more reliable car than the truck I had before (and with 100K less miles on it!!!). I recently purchased a few pieces of furniture, which I may not have done if I knew I was about to be single, but they are nice pieces and work better in my house. That temporarily stopped debt payments for 2 months. I had to buy some additional items when mr. maven left – a new rug, lamp, and kitchen gear, to the tune of $500, but that is ok, I needed them, and having a gorgeous 8×10′ rug for $200 is pretty awesome. I’m also in the process of downsizing some of my stuff, and selling it on craigslist. That should give me some extra snowball payments, which are fully going towards debt. I’m also pursuing personal friendships more than I have before. Being single/alone makes it really obvious that you have to work at extablishing and nurturing external relationships, when you don’t have a default one to fall back on at home. So, again, lots changing, but actually, it’s kinda the same as always.

Here’s to 2012 – it’s all uphill for me from here!

Best wishes,

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Picking up Mr. Maven’s share, and a status update

October 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm (Being Frugal, mr. maven)

What’s up with debtmaven? Not much. Same ol’ same ol’. Still chugging away paying off debt. I have slowed down some. The lack of employment (since March ’10) caught up with mr. maven and I’m now covering his portion of the rent fully (he had been paying $400 towards our $900 rent). Now I’m down $400/month on rent, which I now have to cover. That has certainly put a dent in  my debt payoff efforts, but I’m trying to at least put $500/month towards my SBA loan debt, both the principal and interest (interest is down to about $70/month now, so $430 is pure principal, which becomes more every month, yeah!). I pay the minimum on my car loan, $253, and will continue to do so until my SBA loan is gone. Why? The SBA loan is at 5% interest, and the car loan is at 3.99% interest. Not only is it a higher rate, but I detest big banks, and want to destroy my relationship with Wells Fargo – it’s a bad relationship that must end. They don’t deserve any more of my money!!! My car loan is with my local credit union, by the way.

What else has me fully paying for rent done? Well, I have become much more stringent about buying less. I pull out the “I can’t afford x until I get paid next week” card all the time. We eat out even less than before. I think my eat out budget is less than $100/month now. Also, any extraneous expenses fall on him and I no longer offer to pay half after the fact (when he brings it up to gripe at the expense). If we are out of something, he has often been going to the store and buying the $20 of groceries, which I consider budget busters to the nth degree! Also, we recently had a big vet scare with one of our kittens. He got a case of struvite crystals in his urine (making it hard to urinate, possibly life threatening), requiring 2 vet visits, IV, brand new food (and a total diet change for the rest of his life). Plus both cats were due for 2 vaccines – mr. maven ended up picking up the tab, to the tune of $400+. I didn’t pay any of that. I think that’s far, as he owes me a lot more for utilities/bills that he pays no share of, and the lack of rent. I have become much more resistant to picking up any groceries on my own, as I never get reimbursed afterwards. If I want it for me, I get it (often if it’s for lunch at work only though). If I want to buy groceries, he has to come with me. I refuse to go on my own. Lesson learned from the last 2 years of his unemployment. I’ve gotten over having my heart set on a certain food item for dinner; now I put up with whatever is at home. I just do without or scrounge out of the fridge. It’s odd, but I feel like I’m really being more careful with my food purchases now, because of that, almost as if I’m living hand to mouth, while I get paid $53K a year!

Money is still a big issue in our household. I basically gave up discussing it and trying to be fair and equitable (with my large paycheck with which I am trying to pay off debt, and his lack of funds and his refusal to pay anything beyond half of the big food groceries). It causes stress, and while I’m in my relationship with him, that’s how it’s turned out to be. Some days it’s intensely more frustrating than others, but I”m dealing with it. I try to keep front and center what it means to him to support him, but other days it’s a lot more of a challenge for me to keep a good attitude about it. Am I bitter? Yes. Is it going to change? Probably not. At least not until he gets a job, and that is becoming more of an issue as time goes on – as he approaches the 2nd anniversary of his unemployment, he is going to have to get some kindo f employment, even if it’s only $12/hr!! I can either be frustrated and fight, or accept that this is the status quo and move beyond it to appreciate the other reasons I enjoy being in a relationship with him.

I’ve been having some issues with going to the gym and soreness in abused muscles, and have been seeing a physical therapist. That’s a whole bunch of $20/visit copays. So far I’ve done 4, and am trying to minimize the expense. This shouldn’t last for more than 2-3 months, I hope. I haven’t done any trips anywhere, and have no plans except for a drive out to North Dakota during thanksgiving, to visit his family (and he really wants me to go). He’ll need to pay at least 50% if not more of the expense.  Other than that, I’ve been in high frugal mode. No new clothes, only steeply discounted clothes from the department store, or all from the thrift store. I’ve been trying to drive less, and consume less gas. I question every purchase, making sure I want it for several days before I give in (and that has saved me from several purchases!).

So I’m putting up with my situation, even while I’m not totally happy with it. I’m paying a little less towards debt than I otherwise would, but I’m trying to buy less, be more careful with my spending, and just be consistent and plan, plan, plan. It will get better. It has to. If it doesn’t? Well, I have a good job, it pays well, and I will just pay off my debts as much as I can. It might take a little longer, but I’m making good headway – see my stats on the right. I’m now up to 49% paid off, almost on the other side!

Take care all…debtmaven out.

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Different spending priorities

December 5, 2010 at 9:27 am (holiday, mr. maven, sharing expenses)

My bf and I are pretty sympatico with our socializing tastes. However, there is one main area in which we digress. He loves to throw dinner parties for people. Big meals that cost money to make. He has a very close friend that he wanted to have Thanksgiving with. Due to her having to work *on* Thanksgiving, he wanted to have it earlier, the Tuesday before, but due to the big snow we had, no one dared travel anywhere in Seattle and we cancelled it.

He still wants to have it and is planning on this Tuesday. Pumpkin chocolate caramel torte, Chicken roll with pancetta and mushrooms (he doesn’t like turkey), dressing, cranberry compote, vegetable of some kind, crostini with roasted garlic and carmelized onions, probably something else. Wine of course. At least 5 people are coming over.

This time around he is going to prep, buy and cook everything during the day, as he doesn’t have work this day. I’ll be working late since I have to close, so I should be home about the time people start coming over. This time around he is going to buy most of the items on his own, without me, so I won’t be responsible for paying for it. Is it crass to be happy that I am not stuck with the bill? It wasn’t my idea, and he wants to do it.

He is a middle-aged grandmother when it comes to holidays. He loves them. He loves buying the decor, putting up lights, buying ornaments and wreaths. Me, I like it too, but for holidays that are a single day, like Halloween, I don’t feel the need to go knee-deep (or chest-deep in his case) into celebrating. For non-xmas holidays, it’s pretty easy – if he wants to buy something, he does and I don’t pay for it. Just like he doesn’t buy home stuff when it is something I want to get.

Christmas turns into a different situation. There’s a tree, and lights, all of which I enjoy. He wants to get a big, real, extravagant tree. I want a tree, but maybe a little more modest (say $30 cheaper). I absolutely cannot bring myself to say I will only pay half of a modest sized tree and you get the rest (ie, pay for the upgrade to the large tree). So I pay half on the xmas tree (and only grumble a little in my head). After all, I will love it as much as him.

Due to us having 2 very young and very large cats, one of which is a feline version of an olympic athlete, we decided we would not have any dangerous ornaments on our tree. No glass, no ceramics, nothing that could fall/break and be a danger to eat or to lacerate paws. Last year his huge stash of red bulb ornaments was out so we had to get new ornaments and we discovered the woodland themed brush ornamnents (animals made out of natural materials). Non-breakable and oh so adorable! J bought a lot. I bought some. Same thing this year, he bought a bunch, but I didn’t buy any (I’m waiting until after xmas). We started to put up our outside lights yesterday, but he couldn’t find some of the lights we had bought last year. He bought an extra $35 in lights instead.

I consider a lot of his purchases extremely frivolous, though I would never say so to him. I also buy things I shouldn’t, if I am really going to concentrate on getting out of debt. But they are not things I want to give up (primarily art), so I haven’t. I’m paying off debt slowly and steadily, but my way. I’m not sacrificing every single thing for that extra $175 per month that all the Dave Ramsey families seem to do. I don’t have a second job, since I don’t think I could handle it. I like a mocha when I go sit at the bookstore to read a book (instead of buying it). I like getting a chunk of expensive cheese when shopping at the market. But I don’t want to buy someone else’s splurges, and sometimes I am able to avoid paying for them, but sometimes I can’t avoid it. This is the season that this is going to happen most. I think my gift/xmas fund is going to be more than I truly need for gifts, so I guess I’ll dip into it for the tree, dinners, etc. Wish I didn’t have to though, but I guess that’s part of being in a relationship/partnership with someone – compromise.

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Musings on my bf/money relationship

November 25, 2010 at 10:44 am (mr. maven) (, , )

There have been some changes lately with J that have eased our financial relationship. Since March, he has been on unemployment. He finished up paralegal studies in spring, and had an internship that turned into a 1-2 day a week paid gig. He has received recommendations from that small firm for other positions, of which he is in the middle of applying for. He has been interning (no pay, experience only) with a bankruptcy lawyer, and got an additional/temporary 1 day a week position with a lawyer in the same office for a few months. I haven’t seen a big spike in his income levels lately (he only works 2-3 days, and gets a percentage of unemployment still). He also started to legitimately seek additional employment.

J is an interesting person. He is extremely giving and loyal. He grew up on a farm, can build and make things, knows how to cook, live off the land, and has a serious artistic slant. But he isn’t what modern society would call a go-getter, accomplished, or an achiever. He is ok with lower-paying jobs. He doesn’t ever expect to go beyond the $10-$15/hr salary or think about himself in a high-paying job. He continue thinks about what he could do to survive if he had to, totally the wrong mind-set for achievement, advancement, and a higher salary. Having a paralegal degree is a great start, for the first time he is able to get $15/hr minimum, more as he gets more experience.

Since he was layed off and became unemployed, he has been paying 1/3 of the rent, with me paying 2/3. He has also not been paying a lot of utilities or other bills. Recently, he settled a lawsuit due to an accident we were in 2 years ago and got a settlement for several thousand dollars. We had tentatively discussed having him pay back rent and other expenses. I’ve calculated them at about $1,500 (on the low end, my fault for not keeping track). But that didn’t happen. He is saving that for a down payment on land, in some rural area that he can build a house himself and live off the grid.

This has been a bit upsetting to me, and I’ve tried to broach the subject several times (without success). I’m a bit shocked that he doesn’t consider it a responsibility to pay me back, as if the bank of debtmaven will not ever become due. Basically, it comes down to him not wanting to use that money frivolously like every other time he has ever had money, so he set a limit to just *not* use that money. Instead, he plans on paying me back monthly, as his income increases.

Ok, so that brings things up to date. Because of those multiple conversations, and my asking questions about his plans for work (in the most non-confrontational/helpful way possible), plus my requests to have him start paying equal shares on rent on multiple  recent occasions, his spending habits have changed lately.

This month for the first time, he gave me half the rent. He’s still not paying other things like cable, water, electricity, or gas, but it’s a great start and one I’m very happy with. I can handle the rest. Up until now, when I’ve been frustrated or upset, I’ve looked at my situation as if he is a room mate. If he wasn’t around I’d be paying a lot more out of pocket. Up until now, that has had to suffice, but it hasn’t me feel positive towards him, and I’ve very glad it’s finally changing.

Rent is not the only thing that has changed, either. I’ve previously written about my decision to not go food shopping solo. If I do, I pay 100% and never get his share back, even if I tell him the total. He just doesn’t make the connection between “the total was $80, could you give me $40?” with the action of actually giving me $40. So I only go when I absolutley have to and buy the minimum (“could you pick up a bottle of wine on your way home” equals just that, a bottle of wine and maybe $5 of other stuff, no more, even if we’re out of coffee, butter, olive oil, and if they have a great sale on something we use regularly). I wait to buy all the necessities we are out of when we are together.

Lately, J has started paying for small purchases himself, even when I’m with him, rather than doing the 50/50 thing at checkout. That has been the biggest ease of all the changes. I don’t have bitter, unhappy thoughts when it’s an $8 purchase – not worth the effort to split it, and so I’ll just pay for it. Now I know he frequently gets the small $20 purchases on his own. It’s made me more casual, less angry, and more generous towards him. That financial inequality is becoming more balanced on a daily spending level, and now also with rent. It’s been a huge relief.

Previously, when we would eat out, J would want to get an appetizer and multiple drinks. I’d get less. When the check comes, his portion would be higher. Previously, when I said I was paying my portion (which was less than half), he would be snippy and annoyed and hold a grudge about it. After a bit of this, it became easier to just split it, even with the inequality in our orders. Was I being petty to insist on paying less (since I’m trying to save money here by not getting expensive alcoholic drinks and pay off my debt) over a few dollars? In the past 2-3 months this has become a non-issue. He has started offering to pay more, or leave all of the tip when we do split it. If it’s a few bucks, it’s not worth it. When it’s $10 or more, I let him. Either way, that has also been a really nice change.

If you’ve read all through this you probably have a few choice words to say. Yes, we have a communication issue. I don’t like confrontation. He has serious serious issues with money and doesn’t like discussing them. He gets angry, and shuts down. I try and be forthcoming about my expectations, and he thinks I’m telling him what to do in a dictatorial fashion, and it causes fights (based in money, but actually about communication styles). I’ve become hesitant about the subject, and bring it up obliquely. That allows him to ignore it, not answer, or deflect the subject more easily, and I let him.

Yes, I have a bit of a dysfunctional relationship with money and my boyfriend. But it’s getting better.

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Ups and downs the past 2 months

June 29, 2010 at 7:41 am (mr. maven, things I bought, truck)

It’s been mostly downs when it comes to money, but things are certainly looking up going forward. You’ll notice that my mini-funds are mostly exhausted (on the right). Here’s an overview of what’s been going on:

Vehicle Issues
One night leaving work my truck refused to stay running and started chugging in fits and starts. Luckily I was able to limp to the mechanic and catch a ride home with a coworker without having to get a tow. A $175 diagnostic later, and a $475 Nissan specialized part later, my bill came to $777.87 for a new mass airflow sensor. That cleaned out my meager $360 car fund. The rest (more than $400) came out of what should otherwise have gone towards debt.

J’s continued unemployment
J finished his 2 year paralegal program earlier this month and he is DONE! However, he has continued to remain unemployed in order to have time to complete his 2 final classes. Now that he’s done he has decided to be self-employed and try to find several lawyer clients to do contract paralegal work for. He has one person lined up and is in the process of getting another. However he wants to stay unemployed through the summer if possible to finish getting his business house in order and to help study for a big paralegal exam. So for a while he is going to continue to pay less than his normal share of rent and expenses. That is a direct impact on me, as I have to make up the difference, which means less money to pay towards debt (to the tune of $150-$250/month).

New art purchases
I couldn’t help myself. I bought another sculpture from my favorite artist. I am helpless when it comes to this person’s art. Damage: $240. I still don’t feel bad about it however.

Hiking, more hiking, and supporting REI
I made a pact with a good friend of mine to go for a hike every Saturday. Except for one weekend she was out of town for a trip (and I still went without her), and last week when I had strep throat and was in bed for 5 days straight, we’ve not missed a weekend in the last 3 months. We’re doing this to get out of dodge as well as get good rigorous exercise. To really make this possible I had to replace my nasty ill-fitting hiking boots (they gave me such a bad blister one weekend that it took me 3 weeks to heal the skin on my heal), buy some gear, some hiking books, and clothes. Damage: $270 for new hardcore boots (which fit like a dream), $275 for wicking shorts/convertible pants/wicking tops, $40 for 6 hiking books (all used!!), and an extra tank of gas every other week (driving 2 1/2 hours outside of Seattle to get into the mountains); $30 for an annual trail pass, $30 for an annual Mt. Rainier national park pass, $60 for a pair of used trekking poles, and a bunch of other misc. items. I did pay for this partially with my clothes and health fund – I’m considering this an investment on my health and well-being.

I’ll definitely be paying more in the future as I have a few more items to get (a good day pack to replace my cheesy $10 target backpack for example), but I still have most of my camping gear. I don’t know if I will need a new backpack, as the one I have is expensive, but I don’t like it very much. Maybe I will return it to REI for a refund, I think it was in the $300-$400 range. Tent, check. Sleeping bag, check. Cookware and stove, check.

I’ll also be planning a few backpacking trips for overnight or multiple days, and hopefully a week-long trip in September or October where I plan on hiking every day.

I could have neglected to buy the new art and not invest in hiking gear, but I don’t think I can maintain not hiking or buying new art for another 4 years. Marathon, not a sprint, remember! I’m in this for the long haul, and want to enjoy my life as I get out of debt in a maintainable way.

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I’m back, plus a few updates

April 17, 2010 at 8:57 am (budget, credit cards, mr. maven, work) ()

Well, my angry financial episode is mostly behind me and now I’m just picking up the pieces and moving on. I’ve been sticking to my budget, with a few budget busters that I’m paying off this month on my credit card (to keep up my 100% payoff every month on new debt): some majorly expensive garden supplies to get our newly built beds up and running. I’m also getting $300 from J towards rent, down from $450 – he’s able to still contribute, though in a smaller capacity since his unemployment income is much less than when he was employed.

Let’s see, what else is new?

Car Insurance
My next year’s policy is about to start. I’m going to change it to be a monthly automatic withdrawal from my checking account – no extra fees for this, but I won’t have the last 3 months with no payments due either. My overall car insurance budget will decrease from $90 to $66. This will start in May.

US Bank Credit Card
My 0% offer ends at the end of May. The new rate will be about 12-13%. I’m going to transfer about $1,500 to my SBA and max that out (since it has the smallest interest rate of any of my debts), and place the remainder into my personal line of credit, about $4,000. The line of credit has 10% interest. I’ll then be down to 2 debts, and my focus will be on the line of credit until that is paid off.

No More Balance Transfer Credit Cards
I decided that I’d like to keep things s imple. I’m not going to go after any more 0% offers right now and rather focus on getting all my debt down to just the SBA loan. I may, however, open a credit card with my credit union – I’m going to be losing my oldest credit card in the next year due to my opting out of a credit hike, and I’d like to open one I expect I’ll be using more longer-term to replace it. Not sure when I’ll do so, maybe in the next month. If anyone has an opinions on this?

Job Furlough
I’ll do a separate post about this, but my required alternate Fridays off is about to end (next Friday may be my last Friday off), and it has nothing to do with the economy!

Mini-Fund Savings
I’ve continued to put money away for those bigger expenses while my debt payoff has slowed down. I’m on track for christmas spending, car repairs, clothes (I expect I’ll be using a big chunk as we get in to summer – I will need a $130 pair of summer sandals). I just hit my $500 goal for the kittens and I’m reconsidering if I should just keep contributing. Who knows what will happen down the road, big accident/surgery/medical care. $500 is not that much, not when we have 2 cats and twice the risk. They are not even 2 yet. Maybe I should stop and focus on debt, and recontribute when the debt is gone? I’m not sure. I’m not sure what to do with my health/medical fund. I think of it as the lowest priority, and with my income being reduced right now on 2 fronts (J’s contributions and my reduced hours), I have elected to stop contributions until one or both change.

Anyway, I hope to start plugging away in a higher capacity with my debt payments this month going forward. It’s looking better than it was a month ago, now that things are settling in to a routine and I’m getting some money from J, less than before his layoff, but more than I had expected he’d give me. In response to that, my outgoing expenses are fluctuating a little, up in some categories (groceries, gas), and down in others (coffee, liquor, restaurant, entertainment).

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Layoff at the maven household

March 23, 2010 at 12:23 pm (garden, mr. maven, work) ()

Sorry for the long absence. I’ve been a bit preoccupied and disgusted lately with financial matters. Mr. maven got the boot from work (we work together) on March 3, with a 2 week severance. I’m still relatively on track, but there are a few changes because of it – his ability to pay his portion of the rent has been delayed by a few weeks, and my expenses have gone up. I’m paying more for groceries and other sundry items that we had planned to split.

Another side effect of the economic slowdown hitting the small company we both had worked for (I am still employed and as I’ve mentioned before, that should not be impacted), is that I have been asked to take one day every other week off. In effect, my salary is being reduced about 10%. Which sucks.

The silver lining to all this is that mr. maven will be finished with his 2 year paralegal course by summer, and he is happily charging ahead on studying for a big certification (like the bar, but for paralegals). I’m not 100% sure what it’s called, but he’s plodding away on being able to practice on his own, eventually.

This past weekend we got our 6 cubic yards of garden soil and compost for our raised beds and rototilled soil. Whew, 3-days of back-breaking labor, $282 dollars later, and while we’re at it, let’s throw another $110 on for an herb garden, flower bulbs, some pots, etc, from the nursery. Whew, this is going to be an expensive month. Luckily I’m having some larger paychecks (despite 2 forced days off) this month with lots of OT that I’ve been trying to squeeze in.

I’m still mostly on track with budgetting. I’ve been a little frugal with buying groceries, and haven’t eaten out in a while (for a change!!!). A recent trip to Macys for clothes buying was within budget, $50 for 4 dressy tops (I love mega-sales, all 70% off, with an extra 20% on top of that for VIP shopping days!).

So I’m not gone, or off the debt-repayment bandwagon, I’ve just been taking a little break. I’m almost over the upset about the process (and I know a little bit more about it since I’m management at the company). When I get my head fully over it, I’ll start reading everyone’s blogs, commenting, and posting again, my heart just hasn’t been in it lately.

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Responsibility, frugality, and saying no

February 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm (Being Frugal, mr. maven, truck) (, )

Being the responsible one in the relationship has the potential to cost me money. I’ll give you a prime example. I have a ’98 Nissan Frontier truck, which I got to transport art (most artists I know own a truck or vanagon-type vehicle for that very same reason), or to go camping/sleep in on long trips. It’s also my primary commuting vehicle. Not the most fabulous gas mileage, I think it gets between 19-22 average. But it’s the only vehicle I’ve got, so I have to use it. I can’t afford to own two vehicles, nor would I want to.

J has a very inexpensive, very old Honda. The thing is perpetually on the edge of falling apart/needing to be retired. The latest issue is the battery – it has outlived its usefulness and needs the occasional jump. But it’s a great frugal gas-sipping machine. And until it actually does break, J can’t afford to buy a new vehicle (nor is he beginning to save up for one, though I have repeatedly recommended he do so).

This weekend J wants to go to Portland (2.5-3 hr drive) for an event. We’re going to keep it to 1 day, and avoid a hotel (and having to bring our cats, which for the record, you should consider them as dogs – they cannot be left alone, they need daily walks, yes I am serious, and they are major attention hogs. Their feelings will be hurt if we leave them beyond 7 pm alone and bereft without company or heat until we return; an overnighter is simply out of the question). With my gas mileage, that’s a tank and a half of gas, about $60. That’s almost double what J’s car would cost. But since my vehicle is much more reliable, in good working order, and is up to date on any repair issues, we’re taking the truck. I mean, who wants to get stranded hours from home??

J knows that I make more money, and while I can afford it, that I am being very frugal in my spending habits (outside of food, liquor, and restaurants that is). This is something that he wants to do, with me accompanying him. So he has offered to pay for it. I’ll probably pay some of it of course, since I am attending.

I get asked all the time if I want to do certain activities. My answer is always “how much does it cost?” or “if it costs money, no.” I’m not always the most fun, but those activities (a day at the firing range, taking a boat ride, gas to Portland for a quick jaunt) can really add up. I’d rather save up and do something unusual every few months, like rent a cheap cabin on a deserted Oregon beach for 3-4 days or splurge on a big underground dinner at $125 a pop (our splurge kitty is at $120 and still unused!), or buy a high-end ice cream maker just before summer ($240, I’ve priced them out!).

I want to buy some household items for our new rental house, and now that the xmas recovery period has ended (ie, all of January), and now that the new rental deposits are done hemorrhaging my checking account, I can get back to spending limited amounts on necessities that I’ve been putting off (IKEA curtains here I come!)

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A slow news day at DebtMaven

January 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm (moving, mr. maven)

I’m having what you’d call a slow news day in the newspaper industry, so I’ll update on you on bits and pieces of my life, RIGHT HERE and RIGHT NOW. (wow, doesn’t that make it seem ultra-exciting?!)

I’m paying the second half of my security deposits plus rent this month, so am waiting for the dust to settle: my entire first paycheck is going straight to my landlord. I have a little extra left over in my checking account, and I still have to be paid some money from J for rent. Once I get that I will have spending money for the next 2 weeks.

I paid my SBA and personal line minimum payments at the start of the month as part of December’s budget, and all of my bills are paid up as much as humanly possible, so I don’t have too much to worry about until later in the month, when the second round of bills get due. I won’t have to worry too much once I’m into February’s budget; my rent will decrease from $1540 to $895, since all deposits will have been paid by then. I can then get back to normal with debts and bills and my regular budget.

I have a piece of art to collect on one of the islands – I’ll have to take the ferry over now that the show the work was in is over. Luckily, it is already paid for, otherwise I’d probably not buy it! So that’ll be something fun to do this weekend, going over to Bainbridge Island and seeing the town (at least the portion that’s walkable from the ferry terminal!).

I have all the liquor I could drink for the next 2 weeks, and while we could use some food staples, J can buy that next time we go shopping, he owes me a little in that department.

I tried to go shopping this past weekend at Macys – I thought I’d check out their sales and I have a bunch of coupons for being in their membership program (ie, having their credit card, which I always pay in full whenever I do end up using it). I didn’t see too much I wanted, but I made J go clothes shopping. All of his pants have holes in them!!! Bigger than your fist holes in each knee. He climbs around on tyvek and racks as part of his job and it has trashed every single pair of jeans he owns. Even his carharts are wearing then!

I made him try on winter coats, since he doesn’t have anything nice and he’s about to interview for his paralegal internship next week (finally!!!! Wish him luck!). I kept pushing him to try stuff on until we found him a really nice one, a black wool pea coat (the double-breasted kind sailors always wear, or whatever they’re called). It had a sweater pull-up liner, very dashing and blue-collar looking, not too fancy, which isn’t his style, all for $78!!! Score. I made him get 2 pairs of pants, and told him I’d buy him a pair since he wasn’t going to get more than 1. He didn’t have much extra cash, so I put it on my Macy’s card and he will pay me back later.

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