I am a thrift shop QUEEN

Winter jacket for My Mom

Snow Pants for The Peach

Winter boots for me

Two long-sleeved shirts for The Peach

All items were desperately needed.

Total…. $9

Yes, as a matter of fact I do Rock.

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Finding “Baseline”

It’s done.

Over.

The monkey is gone. No more scratching, clawing and making our lives a constant uncertainty day after day after day after… You get the idea.

We closed. The old house is gone. In the capable hands of new owners who will love and care for and fit in the house, hopefully for many years to come.

Closing was $550 more than we were expecting.

So we’re that much farther behind. The scratch marks the monkey left behind are deep and raw and still quite tender. Christmas giving is going to be minimal this year. I’m estimating we will be recovered from the shortfall by January.

Just in time for taxes. We may bite the bullet and get an actual accountant this year, Between taxes on My Mom’s alimony, property tax on our house, rental income and expenses on the old house and the sale at a loss, this is going to be even more confusing than last year. BUT, an accountant will cost about $500 so I’m still going to try to do it myself. I don’t know if we can justify the expense when we’re already going to end up paying (probably a sizeable chunk) of taxes based on My Mom’s alimony. Yet again I voice my opinion that it is completely unfair that he gets a tax break on alimony and she has to pay taxes. The judges told her the settlement was inequitable in his favor in the first place, this just makes it that much worse. It’d be nice if he would pay some of the rest of the settlement off, her half of the house and all since she doesn’t have to pay taxes on that.

So anyway. Finances are still a giant clusterfuck and will continue to be for a while. We’ve passed the mess with the old house and survived and eventually, we will be better off.

There are lots of things that need to be done in our house that are just going to have to wait for now. We have to replace the front and side doors. The draft that comes in from the door on the side is enough to blow papers off of The Peach’s little drawing desk. And the front door isn’t much better. The pellet stove that we invested in last year is losing the battle to the drafts and so we are dumping money into both pellets and oil trying to combat the cold. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts this winter will be even colder and snowier than the last. Joy. It’s October 23. It snowed all last weekend. Just flurries and honestly not earlier than usual for our neck of the woods, but still a rude awakening that summer and autumn have flown by too fast and the only thing we have left to show for it are a few tail feathers consisting of an overgrown lawn and a pool full of fallen leaves.

Finances aside, I’m still reeling. I have this nagging anxiety that won’t go away. Like I’m waiting for something else to happen and the proverbial shit is going to hit the proverbial fan and we’ll be proverbially fucked. All the months of living in this constant state of stress and uncertainty have left me feeling shaky and unstable like I can’t get my feet on solid ground. I can’t concentrate. I can’t motivate myself. I am not functioning at my best right now. Which is totally annoying. I’m used to being sharp. On it. Capable. I’m none of those things right now. And it’s not a depression thing. I don’t think. Just this general film of unease that is clouding up my vision and clogging up my inner workings so my gears have to grind in order to move.

I don’t really remember normal. At least, normal for me. But I’d like to get there again. I’d like to find that sense of stability where things go wrong occasionally, but they’re not spirit-crushing catastrophes that leave me hopeless and slightly crazy. I’d like to get back to baseline. Back to a place where I can post in my blog and do my job and take care of my kids and do all those things that I’m normally capable of. Because the monkey is gone. And I want to be me again.

“Where the Eff Have I Been” Part II… The Money Pit

So… we’re selling attempting to sell our house. Not the one we’re living in. The one we were living in before. We’ve been unable to sell it for about 2 years.

We had a tenant for about a year and a half. Honestly, they were great. They always paid their rent on time and kept the place up pretty well. We were still in the red about $200 a month between our mortgage and escrow payment and the rental income. But manageable. The last 6 months they were there, we agreed they would go to a month-to-month lease so we could put the house back on the market. And lo and behold, we got an offer on the house… An offer of about $30,000 less than what we were asking.

We went back and forth for weeks and finally came to an agreement, $115,000 with $5000 from us back at signing. So basically $110,000. On a house I paid $143,000 for. On a house that I still owe $104,000 to the bank on. With the realtor’s fees, lawyer and various incidentals, we’d be out of pocket about $1,500. We decided it was worth it to, as my realtor put it, “get the monkey off our backs.” So we took the offer, signed a contract and hoped for a closing date towards the end of August. Which would work out really well because the tenants gave their 30-day notice 2 days before we got the offer we eventually accepted.

Then the fun really started.

The buyers are getting an FHA loan through Wells Fargo. FHA loans apparently require you to jump through about 500 hoops before they will give you money. As the sellers, we had to jump through a bunch of hoops ourselves.

The first hoop… not too bad. Just had to make sure the siding and skirting was all in place and the front porch didn’t have any peeling paint. No biggie.

The second hoop… Here’s where the trouble started. The septic. The bank required the septic be pumped and inspected. So the guy pumps the tank ($280) and informs us that the tank is “crumbling” and needs to be replaced. $2500. No. Wait. $3000, the tank is oddly shaped and requires extra labor for installation.

About 2 hours after I got the call informing me just how much the septic would be to replace, I get a text from the tenant (who was just getting the last of his things out of the house and cleaning, because he’s nice)…

The hot water heater is leaking and flooding the room

Great. The Zen Master rushes over there with his wetvac and cleans up the mess and waits for the (after-hours) plumber. Hot water heater is done. Needs to be replaced. $1700. Closing is now set for 9/8.

Septic needs to be pumped again before the tank is replaced. Only $260 this time. Closing is now set for 9/15.

Inspection. Not bad.

Appraisal.

Tie downs under the house are insufficient. Additional tie downs needed. $400.

Structural Engineer required to inspect the house and determine that the ramps and porch that are added on are not “compromising the structural integrity of the home.”

At this point I have received several collection calls from the mortgage company wondering why I haven’t paid September’s mortgage payment. Since the closing has now been pushed to 10/8, I bit the bullet and paid September. $1100, that we were planning on putting towards closing.

House itself is fine. Ramps and porch need retrofits to meet specifications. This time the buyer handles it.

Septic. Again. Requiring a scoping to make sure the pipes are ok. Everything is good, Septic company send the invoice with their report to the bank. Nope. Need a letter on company letterhead stating the septic is permitted for a 3 bedroom house and it is in good condition and will be sound given good maintenance. Closing is now 10/16.

Guess what? Septic is not permitted. Permit was never obtained because it was “Grandfathered in.”

So now I’m waiting on our realtor to argue with the bank and plead with the zoning office to try and sort this out. Closing is… I don’t even know if there will be a closing now.

We have no way to pay the mortgage on both houses without a tenant. At this point, if we cannot straighten this thing with the septic out, I will seriously consider letting the house go into foreclosure.

And the worst part? The buyers. They’re a 50+ couple who’ve never owned a home before with a handicapped son. The house is handicapped accessible so it’s truly the perfect home for them. They’ve painted inside and out, pressure washed and stained the deck, and did all the retrofits under the ramps and front porch. They’ve put as much into this as we have and they deserve this home. It infuriates me that the bank is making it so hard for them to buy their first home, all because it was the banks themselves who fucked up the whole housing situation in the first place.

So that’s caused a little bit of stress this summer. Another reason I haven’t posted I guess.

Anybody happen to have about $100,000 laying around and feel like getting this house off our hands?

Didn’t think so.

A Brief Rant

So here’s the news… Both Crazy Girl and my newbie BFF from work… Who still needs a Blog name… Let’s call her… Um… Newbie for now… I’m just not clever enough to come up with a good pseudonym for her right now. ANYWAY, Both Crazy Girl and Newbie are preggers. Due within a month of each other. Both unexpected. Crazy Girl is 37 and had basically just thought she couldn’t have kids. Not that she ever tried specifically, she just had a string of long relationships and wasn’t particularly careful about contraception. Newbie never wanted kids and had a one time spur of the moment “oops,” with her husband mind you, and got pregnant. So I get to live vicariously through their new motherhood and hold brand new babies again without risking death (literally) and getting pregnant again myself.

Crazy Girl is doing okay. Her man is a sweetheart and he has several jobs. He can easily quit one of them and take care of their new babe while Crazy Girl continues to work. Things will be tighter for them, but they’ll make it since Crazy Girl also has a huge family who are willing to come chip in and help.

Newbie? Not so lucky. She’s been spending the past few weeks trying to find daycare spots for December. She’s called about 20 or so. No spots. And the one or two that do have spots are charging $1000 or more per month.

So here’s the rant…

Newbie is college educated, as is her husband. She works with me, secure, decent pay… Job. Her husband is a teacher. Between the two of them, they make a very good wage. But due to the expense of daycare and the fact that our job has no maternity leave, just unpaid FMLA (all that means is you can be out of work for an extended period for medical reasons without losing your job), and she’s due in August, right when her hubby goes back to school, she may actually have to quit her decent-paying, middle class job and get a part-time job at night, just so they can avoid trying to get blood from a stone to pay for daycare and still be able to afford to live. Because they’d actually come out ahead that way.

How fucked up is that?

How is it possible that in this “wonderful, free country,” a country in which friends of mine have fought overseas for, a country that purports to be the greatest nation on earth, how is it possible that an intelligent, college-educated, working couple cannot afford to have a child? How is it possible that the only way Crazy Girl and her man aren’t in need of assistance is because her man is quitting one of his jobs to care for their child? In that respect, how is it possible that a hard-working family of four can’t survive with both parents working at minimum wage without food stamps, medical and rent assistance from the government. How is it then possible that Congress can take away these benefits from these already struggling families, middle class or poverty-stricken and complain about the “Welfare culture” in this country?

It’s unfair. And there’s nothing we can do about it. Because Our government is not For the People, it’s For the Rich. So if you don’t make enough money to buy a couple of votes, you are pretty much screwed.

I told you it was brief.

Wow…

So, I guess I hadn’t finished seeing up my gofundme account and it wasn’t accepting donations. Let’s try this again!
Princess Punk’s Europtrip!

image

You know I’m getting desperate when…

I start posting personal stuff on my blog… Okay, I ALWAYS post personal stuff. I mean personal information stuff.

So here’s the thing. One of the numerous reasons I’ve been lax on posting lately is (yet again) struggles with finances.

I love my house. I really do. It’s in a perfect location and it’s the right house for my girls. But it is costing us SO MUCH GODDAMN MONEY. Did you ever see that movie “The Money Pit?” That’s kind of what I’m feeling like at the moment. One thing after another, after another, after another.

Seriosly.

Seriously.

We got an energy improvement loan and got a pellet stove. Unfortunately, we apparently should have replaced some doors and added some more insulation to the house first. And maybe put the stove in a different location. Because last week, we ran out of oil, a few days before we were due for a fill. Which means we’re actually using MORE oil to heat rather than less.

Granted, it has been painfully cold this winter, like, I-almost-miss-Florida-cold. But not quite. But regardless, the drafts and poor insulation in the house are drowning out the moderate amount of heat the little stove is cranking out. And of course, since the house was built in 1949 with addition after addition after addition put on, the footprint on the main floor has lots of angles and the hot air that is actually beating out the drafts is really only able to heat one room.

So the oil bill is still pretty high and our electric/water/sewer (all in one) is through the roof since we’re having to use space heaters in all the minus-fuck-you temperatures we’ve had the past few months.

My Mom finally got the bill for the divorce lawyer. $1000 for not much of any help at all. Mom did most of the legwork. They didn’t even go to court with her.

We’re desperately trying to sell our old house since our tenants are on a month-to-month lease right now (the only way they would agree to let us have the house on the market), and even if we sell it at the asking price, we’ll only walk away with enough to pay some of our debt down. Like, less than half. I’m basically losing my entire down payment, which was my inheritance from my grandmother. Joy.

Taxes. Oh taxes. oh, oh, OH MY GOD TAXES. My Mom has been getting a good amount of alimony from That Man since the divorce. According to the judges (3 of them in complete agreement) even the settlement she got, which was more than she asked for, was not anywhere near an equitable one, to his advantage. And here’s the really unfair part. He gets to deduct it from his taxes. All of it. He’s most definitely going to get a refund this year. My Mom? She has to pay income tax on what she’s received. Which we’ve put nothing aside for.   Our tax bill could be as much as $5000 (Maybe more? Hope not). But we honestly have no idea. And the accountant is going to cost us $550 just for basics. And unfortunately, H&R Block is, IMHO, not equipped to handle the huge clusterfuck of alimony, rent, property tax, medical bills, medical premiums and various other craptastic stuff. Plus, they’ll likely charge us as 2 households anyway which will be almost as much as a CPA.

Finally… And the reason for my begging and pleading post today….

Princess Punk is going to Barcelona. Hopefully. This is a beyond incredible opportunity for her. And we’ve done a lot of fundraising and belt tightening and no-more-morning-Dunkins-Mrs. Newlife. But here’s the thing… My Mom has to go too. Because of the horrible D-Monster, we need to send a chaperone on the trip who is closely acquainted with Princess Punk’s personal issues with blood sugar regulation, low and high numbers, the effect of sports on her sugar, hormones, stress, travel… Etc. I can’t go and The Zen Master can’t go because of our respective jobs. So it falls on My Mom. It’s $2500 for each of them. Which includes a lot. Airfare, most meals, hotel and entry fees to various tournaments and games. But not incidentals, like say, Princess Punk’s passport. Oh. I didn’t mention the reason did I? Okay. ADD much? Anyway. This trip is for her high school soccer team through the local soccer club. She will have the opportunity to play against European soccer… Excuse me… Football teams. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for her. This is a chance to get her skills up, a chance to make the varsity team for real next year, a high mark to put on her college applications, a chance opportunity that could help her land a scholarship in 3 years. This. Is. Important.

And yeah, I know there are tons of people out there reading this saying, “WTF is wrong with you, save your money for something else… Like bills!” But this is important. I’d even say vital to the future of my Princess. We don’t have money for a college fund. The Princess has decent grades (finally) but not good enough to get a scholarship. She doesn’t test well so a 1600 on the SAT is just unrealistic. This trip is a HUGE step towards her being able to get into a good (even just decent) college. So it’s more important than taxes, or bills, or credit cards, or house repairs. Because this is a step toward a future for my Princess. And she deserves it.

http://www.gofundme.com/Jules_Eurotrip

So here I am. Begging for donations. And I hate that. I hate asking for money. I truly do. Because there are so many more out there worse off than I am. So maybe, IF you decide to take pity on me and make a donation, you can make a donation to JDRF or the American Diabetes Association too. Because that’s the main reason we’re getting killed on this.

JDRFada-75th-anniversary-logo_247-horiz

 

 

 

Thank you!

Another financial rant.

That Man, my father, has yet to pay his alimony this month.

Granted, it is only a few days late and he probably just forgot, but here’s the thing…

Money is tight at the moment. Like, our mortgage is due tomorrow and if The Zen Master and I pay My Mom’s share too, we will be down to about $50 and the mortgage on the other house is due 3 days after that. And we won’t get the rent for the other house until the 15th.

Things have been a little bit squeezed the past two months.

wpid-back-to-school-shopping.png.pngPrincess Punk started High School last week and the amount of money we had to lay down to get her ready was ridiculous. She needed new clothes. Not like, “I just have to have something new for school Mom,” but Holy Crap this girl has put on about 10lbs of pure muscle, her body shape has changed again and the jeans she has look like leggings, assuming she can actually zip them. And I promised her that there would be minimal thrift shop deals this year. I actually like shopping at the thrift shop. I like getting compliments on my clothes and being able to say, “This? 2 bucks. No, seriously. Great find right?” Princess Punk, not so much. Especially considering the difficulty shopping for her body shape anyway and the fact that she actually wants to be more individual and have her own style. Which I really can’t argue with.

So clothes, binders, pencils and a new backpack (the old one is busted and the other ones we have are apparently too small).

Then soccer. She did NOT make varsity, but only because there are not enough JV players. She has been playing with both JV and varsity so it’s clear that the coach still recognizes how awesome she is. Oh, and the coach and the sweeper, who is currently a senior, are “grooming” The Princess to be sweeper on varsity next year. Meaning she will pretty much be running the defense as a sophomore. Fucking-A, that’s MY girl. Unfortunately… She generally has practice or games 6/7 days a week. Practice consists of a 2 mile run and then an hour-long (or longer) practice. She needed running shoes. New cleats. New shin guards. And, since the uniform didn’t include socks, a pair each of white and green soccer socks. $10 per pair. Seriously.

Oh, and don’t forget the first $200 installment for the Girl’s Soccer July ’15 trip to Venice. Granted, she doesn’t have to do that, but it is such an amazing opportunity and if we do some fundraising and participate in the team fundraisers which get split evenly amongst participating girls, we can scrape together the $3200 for her to go. Plus we’ll have to come up with another 3 grand for My Mom, since I am SO not comfortable sending a diabetic 15-year-old to Europe without a family member. And it’ll be nice for Mom to travel. Her half is likely to come out of her rapidly dwindling 401K though.

Grocery shopping… With school starting and Princess Punk busy from sunup to sundown between high school homework load and 12 hours of soccer a week plus travel to away games (yesterday’s game was in St. Johnsbury, easily an hour each way), we have decided to provide her with as much “on-the-go” food as humanly possible. Because of the D-Monster, she needs to make sure she has food available all day. And making PBJ sandwiches isn’t particularly realistic since they 1. get mashed and 2. are not a fast snack for a kid with braces. So a $450 trip to Costco for the basics (TP, paper towels, sugar, splenda, etc.) and a shit-ton of pre-packaged granola bars, muffins, cheese crackers, protein bars and microwave meals for her to scarf if she has 5 minutes between school and practice. And lots of PowerAde Zero.

I'd say it weighs about 6oz?

I’d say it weighs about 6oz?

Because Princess Punk her insulin pump is the size of a pager (remember those?) and is attached to her infusion site on her arm or leg with super-thin tubing, it can get yanked out, or even hurt other girls while playing. So she is not able to wear her pump during practice or a game. so 2 hours without an insulin pump = blood sugars in the 4-500’s. Since her body knows that’s totally fucked up, the first thing it does is pull all the water out of her cells in an attempt to flush the sugar out of her blood. It’s why diabetics have to pee a lot. It’s also why she gets dehydrated when she plays.  Blood sugars in the 4-500’s + hot and humid weather = a 32oz PowerAde and about a half-gallon of water (if possible) every day.

So there’s that. Then the super-high electric bill (not enjoying the pool, but at least everyone else is), various expenses here and there and I FINALLY got the bill for my responsiblity from the jaw surgery I had a year-and-a-half ago. Four. Thousand. Dollars. After insurance.

wpid-pro-obamacare-photo-1.jpgBut universal healthcare is a bad idea. Fuck you Michele Bachmann.

And in that same vein… I have recently started Abilify. Which is freaking amazing. Like wonder-drug amazing. But thanks to Big Pharma bending us over the pharmacy counter and sticking it to us in a not happy way, my co-pay, after insurance is over $400 a month. I got my first month free and there is some kind of coupon to pay up to $200 (I think) of refill co-pays, but that’s still over $200 a month. For a drug that actually works. So far, anyway. not sure what I’m going to do when I run out of my first month supply.

My Mom’s healthcare premiums for her multiple medicare, medicare supplemental, prescription and prescription… whatever, are an arm and a leg, which I suppose means they can just get more money from you after they amputate. On top of all that, her prescription co-pays vary so much, we have no idea what to budget for, but it seems they are at least $200 a month.

And My Mom… My Mom seems to be having some kind of blood pressure reaction to one of her psych meds. So the idea was to wean her off of it. Simple right? Not so. A few days after dropping just one of her 3 doses in a day threw her into a downward spiral that was honestly quite terrifying. She saw her therapist and my (and now hers too) medication APRN yesterday. She is most likely going to go to the hospital for a week just to get her off this stupid drug that makes her BP drop 10-15 points when she stands up. And hopefully find something to replace it with. Because titrating down the medication at home is a scary prospect given the fact I had to have Our Therapist call her and confirm she wasn’t actively suicidal.

That last one wasn’t exactly financial. Except for the fact that I may need to cut back on OT in order to make the childcare schedule work. But honestly, I need My Mommy WAY more than I need an extra $200 this month.

 

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