Outside my means


The time has come for me to make some tough decisions regarding my spending habits. For the thousandth month in a row, I’ve had to dip into savings to keep from overdrawing my checking account, and I’ve had enough of it.

I finally realized I had been paying my bills off like a moron. By that, I mean I would get paid and then start writing out checks or paying online with amounts that were well over the minimum amount due. (I have four active credit cards, including the Care Credit card I use for vet payments, and the everlasting balance on the Sears card I hate and no longer use, ever.) I’ve gotten really stupid when it comes to budgeting out my dollars. I get excited by seeing my check appear in my account, and there I go: overpaying on everything.

I’ve finally stopped doing this. I still can’t bring myself to pay just the minimum payment, though, but now I pay anywhere from $10 to $40 more, and that’s it. (For instance: the Care Credit card’s last minimum payment was $20; I paid $150. Then I was wondering why I was so short on cash later on.)

Paying off your credit cards faster is great, yeah. But when it means you don’t have money for groceries or gas, then you have to re-evaluate what you’re doing. Clearly.

And then, I had moved around due dates so more bills were due on or after the 15th, because for awhile they were all on or before the 10th of the month and I was getting wiped out. I moved my mortgage pay date to the 15th back then… and I haven’t move it back yet. And now that all those bills are also due on the same paycheck as the one I pay my mortgage with, BLAM. No money. From the 15th to the 30th, I am counting out change to eat one hamburger and a $1 drink at McDonalds for lunch because it costs $2.12. So stupid.

Well, my next big goal is to get my shit together and create a working, realistic budget for everything. I’m doing fine with working out frequently and eating better, so that’s great. Now I need to move on to the rest of my life and make positive changes….and being financially responsible is a big one.

I think I’m going to get rid of cable and the DVR, too. It’s something I do love having, but honestly, it would be very good for me to not watch as much TV anymore. It’s a time-sucker at night, when I could be reading or writing my books. I’m going to keep the internet, of course. I plan to get either a Blu-Ray player or one of those Roku boxes so I can watch things like Hulu Plus on my TV. I’ll be fine.

And I’ll save about $100 a month, right there. Sweet.

I know that my expenses are especially tight right now because of two short-term things:

1) Summer. (Much higher electric bills, and water for the plants. And technically, running the treadmill more often since it’s too hot to walk outside right now; and using the electric stove/oven more because I’m trying to save money by eating at home a lot more often.)

2) Physical Therapy. (It’s a $35 copay every time I go, and that crap adds up! At least I am not going 3 times a week anymore. Just twice. Still, “just twice” equals $70 I really do not have, every week. By the time July is over, I will have spent $350 on copays for the month. And tomorrow, I have an appointment with my psychiatrist for a med check, which will be another $50 copay since he is a “specialist.” YAY. It’s sure great to have stuff wrong with you.)

When I go to my next physical therapy appointment, I am going to request dropping back to one time a week. I have to. It’s ridiculous how poor I am right now, thanks to all that extra money going out every week. I’d like to stop going altogether. Maybe I can, I don’t know. I am doing better; each time I go, now, they are giving me new, harder exercises and commenting on how my range of motion has improved and all of that.

Paying all of your bills by yourself, with absolutely no outside help, is definitely tricky. I’m surprised I have done this, for this long, without missing any payments on things or asking for extensions. The only thing I have done is stacking copays, like two or three at a time, instead of paying each and every visit all the time. It can help when payday is right around the corner.

But beginning August 1, things change. I’m just going to start paying my mortgage on the 1st again. And cancel cable (and the house phone line I don’t even use, but Cox insists I need if I am going to pay the ‘bundle’ amount– believe it or not, my bill would be about $14 higher without the phone line). It should really help.

Too bad I scheduled the trip to NJ when I did. I have zero spending money. I’m checking out credit card balances today, to see how much wiggle room I have. I’ll need to charge things like restaurants, fees for anything we do for fun while I am there, and possibly gas– which I HATE doing. Not to mention the car rental I’m gonna have to do… I didn’t plan on that, since my Dad has always had two cars for as long as I can remember, but he recently sold both of his old cars to get one, good one. I can’t blame him for doing that, of course, but it sure does change things when we go back for a visit. We’ve gotten used to borrowing one of his cars to get around. I was surprised when he told me that this time, there was nothing to borrow.

Then again, since I am not planning on doing a whole lot of socializing and running-around on this particular trip, maybe there’s a way I can avoid renting a car. If my Dad and Kristen will drive me around, that is. Too bad Kristen is almost an hour from my Dad’s house. (I’m just thinking/typing aloud, here. Don’t mind me.)

This is the sucky part of being a grown-up, isn’t it? I mean, I know you all have financial troubles of your own right now, too, because this shit never seems to end.


When I think about the bright side of all of this…wow.  At least I have a job and I have been able to make my payments, even if it meant robbing my savings account to do it. I have my health, because the copays are helping me get back to/ stay in a healthy state. Thank God I have health insurance at all. Imagine paying the entire amount myself?! No way!

And my most expensive expense, the house, is wonderful. It has A/C, and I’m able to take warm showers, cook and store my food, and take care of my pets. I have somewhere safe to sleep every night. I will get to fly to NJ to see my Dad and oldest friend soon. I have lots of clothes and STUFF like computers, music, books, movies, home decorations… I’m fortunate.

You know what helps? I’ve been thinking in terms of the apocalypse lately. (Cue ominous music!!)

Hee hee! What I mean is, I think: “what are the things I would truly miss if something happened tomorrow and we no longer had electricity, or working farms and drug manufacturing facilities, or health care…” and it helps me to keep everything in perspective. I feel guilty whining over the cost of all my luxuries and “necessities” when I imagine what it would be like to not be able to have them, at all. It helps me appreciate the big container of fresh strawberries I just bought, with cash (OK, debit). Or that I can fill my gas tank up and drive around in a working car. It’s pretty cool all the stuff we have in our country, and pretty sad how many people lose sight of it every day.

I had to laugh/feel upset last week during one of my cheap-ass McDonald’s lunches. I was sitting there enjoying my burger, and I overheard a man at the counter getting pissed off because it was taking the McDonald’s staff a long time to prepare something for him. He was pacing around, loudly sighing and rapping his knuckles on the counter top. When a worker came over and told him his special-order-whatever-it-was was going to be out in just one more minute, he yelled, “You should tell people when they order that it’s going to take TEN MINUTES to get your food!”

Really, dude? You’re bitching about having to wait a mere ten minutes to get some food?

How’d you like to be in a third-world country, without a McDonalds? Without fresh food, or clean water? How’d you handle THAT?

Has he ever stopped to think about how incredible it is that we have reached a point in our societal evolution that we can get mass-produced, fresh, uncontaminated food and water from providers all over our country, on almost every corner? (I won’t get into the horrors and problems WITH mass-produced food, because that’s a whole post for another day!) But you know what I mean? It’s relatively miraculous how we have access to so much STUFF in this country. And yet, people like that ‘tard are bitching and moaning about having to wait a little longer than usual to get their food.

I wish people like that dude could get a glimpse of a possible, apocalyptic future… just so they’d realize how lucky they are. I think people need to be hit over the head in a lot of cases to get the message.

So, in closing, I guess all I can do is just do my best. And remain humble.

Keeping working and doing the right things, the honorable and fair things, and hold up my end of financial transactions. And keep being grateful for what I do have instead of fixating on what I do not.

And the biggest one of all, keep on talking about the apocalypse and bringing people down. Because people loooooove hearing about that. 😉

Have a good day!


4 responses »

  1. Wow. That dude should meet the table of five who all ordered well-done burgers at the restaurant where I used to work, then griped about how they could “go to McDonald’s and get it faster.” Uh… yeah.

    Kudos to you for realizing how much the luxury of paying for TV costs. Welcome to my life! Now that I’ve adjusted to live with a digital antenna and digital converter box, I wouldn’t go back for anything! There are so many free digital channels out there that you aren’t even aware of until you have to go this route- and most of them rerun episodes of recent popular shows nightly, as well as their share of classic TV and movies. It’s been a great way to catch up.

    I recently read something about making your credit card payment before the due date. It’s supposed to help you avoid paying so much in interest because you’re paying early and on a lesser amount. If that helps… I’m sure you could swing that. I’m just impressed that you were paying so much more than the minimum! But, yeah, you gotta find a balance.

  2. we’re recalculating here too since my unemployment is about to run out. vonage kept creeping up to $28/month, so I just shopped around and we’re switching to Voipo for our “house” line. R also looked into discounts for being a DoD employee and we got some (verizon wireless, comcast, etc.). Once we clean the upstairs DVR off, we’re trading the 2 normal DVRs in for one HD DVR. We ditched the data plan on my cell phone a long time ago. We don’t go to movies or dinner (though we do splurge on food we cook at home sometimes and get the occasional delivery food). We pay more than the minimum every month (significantly), but between taxes and house renovations, we have fairly high credit card bills, though we have managed to bounce them around so they’re always at 0%APR and usually just have a slight transfer fee.
    Isn’t being a grown up fun?

  3. Must be the time to refigure the finances because we are doing it too. We are seriously thinking about dumbing down our phones, getting rid of cable and not paying so much on our credit card too. The huge medical bills have scared us. It’s a lot to pay and we don’t have it so some changes need to be made.

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