The "Get Out Of Your Car!" Fund

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chitchat about money

December 1, 2013

Yesterday I told Uncle Theo that I have repossession of the condo and that the current rent doesn’t cover the mortgage. I didn't tell him that I have a surplus each  month in my budget and 'm paying down debt despite the mortgage situation.

He told me that he has started using Title Loans and check cashing places. He was looking in the mail yesterday for a check that didn’t come as anticipated. He wanted to cash it that night.

It feels so good to not live paycheck to paycheck, although the trade-off is living in my car. I’d rather live in my car and be more free than go back to being a slave to the paydates on the calendar.

Dec 6

Mama sounds so excited about the work being done on the house. I hope it’s a good quality. they have a storm going on down there right now, so we’ll see if the roof is really patched up. I wonder what Daddy thinks about the work. She has had trouble sending me pictures. I also hope she hasn’t used up more than $5000, (just wishful thinking).

Uncle Theo's 180

Sept 14

I told Uncle Theo today that I lost my  job. He offered me his place and said I have a place until I get myself on my feet. I just looked at him. 

Did he realize that just 3.5 months ago he raised the rent on me, wanted to charge me by the day to keep my dog, and told me that he felt I was taking advantage of him? Then he added that he used to think I was just holding back money. Sasha thinks he's had some time to rethink things and now he's having a change of heart. 

I told him I started my emergency fund and paid off all small bills in October. Maybe later, I’ll tell him when I’ve paid off credit cards and about the work being done on my parents' house down South.  I’ll have to tell him that I made tremendous sacrifices to pay off on bills and maybe tell him that I didn’t have to pay Jasmine rent (which would be true). 

I shared with him about Dave Ramsey’s teachings. He said he was in crisis mode because of two bills that have come up, but that’s not crisis mode. Those are ongoing things that he knew were on the back burner. I asked if he had a budget. He thought about it (which means no), then said, "Yes, the bills that they send me." So, he doesn’t know what a budget is and what crisis mode is (or a real emergency). I want to lend him and Aunt Theo Dave Ramsey’s CDs and encourage them to listen to them. 

My coworkers are probably more stressed about the lay-offs and reductions in hours than me. People have mortgages and rent. I don’t. People have car notes. I don’t. People don’t have savings in the bank. I didn’t either 4 months ago. Even though I’m living in my car, and that’s a gigantic trade-off, I know that in January, I will still pay my bills and eat. Nothing much will change. Even with unemployment, I may have enough to pay bills and eat, especially with the second job and Asana’s rent

I know that when people seem to be ok, that’s not always the truth. We tend to live up to the amount of money we earn. Even when we earn nice money, we tend to spend more. So, many coworkers probably live on every penny that they and their spouses bring in and can't handle a reduction.

I went ahead and called credit card companies, and one of them won’t charge late fees for 3 months. The other said I can’t skip payments, but offered to lower my interest rate to 13%, then they realized, it’s already 13%! Then the lady on the phone asked “Is there anything else we can do for you?” Yeah, allow me to skip payments! 

I will put student loan on deferment for 6 more months. I will live on the back pay owed me. That should last 2 months, and I will file unemployment.

Looking Middle Class While Living in a Car

(This post may seem random, but I've been intending to post it for some time. )

Concealing Homelessness

When I’m in public, I want to look like I’ve stepped out of a vehicle – not slept in a vehicle. In the morning, I want to look like I washed up at home. So I work hard to keep myself clean, hair looking good (not matted down). Since I've been car-camping, I keep my hair braided quite often. 

I keep the car clean and try to keep the inside uncluttered to not draw attention. I used to try to make the bed and covers in the back seat lie down flat during the day. Now that I have a mummy bag, I just stuff it into its bag during the day and leave the whole bag in the back seat. 

I try to keep the number of objects in my car down to a minimum. I want to keep the windows clean and  car vacuumed in between washes, but I haven't been so great at doing that. I was trying to get to the point where I leave work daily as soon as work is done at least 2 days a week.

I’m very mindful of how much time I spend in one place using my computers. I don’t get kicked out of restaurants because I take my laptops and papers and I set up an office space and stay busy. People don’t bother working professionals or students who are studying. One day a McDonald's worker walked over to a guy who was sleeping with his head on the table and told him he can't put his head on the table. He looked like he was so in need of sleep, that I wondered if he, too, was homeless. He wasn't even there as long as I had been. 

To blend in, I may pull up to a sleeping spot and if people are walking around, I will take out my phone and pretend to talk or actually call somebody. I make up excuses for people who are wondering why I was at McDonald's when they called me two hours ago and I’m still there. Or why I need to warm up food in their microwave rather than at home. Or why my trunk is so full.

Aunt Theo rides in my car more than anyone else. I wonder sometimes if she notices anything – trunk full (or how I avoid opening the trunk), houseshoes under the drivers seat, gloves and hand warmer packets in the back seat. Last week I showed up at her house with pants on under my skirt. She asked what was going on. I laughed and told her I refused to get sick this year and it was a cold day that day. I took the pants off once we got to church. I reminded her that I got the flu last year around this time. She laughed and agreed and encouraged me to do whatever I have to do to keep from getting sick. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

no taxes

Wednesday, Dec 4

I went to HR Block thinking this was going to be the last time I do my taxes and I could file tonight and look forward to a refund. However, the tax guy I spoke to this time was very particular about me needing certain documents. I think I will go to storage and find ALL the past tax documents and take him the whole box until we finish all the the taxes for  last year and any previous years I’m having him look at.

It was really discouraging to leave there and not make any progress. I went to get some food to eat to cure the stress, and found out KFC has really tasty green beans. 

i lost my job yesterday

December 10

Yesterday I lost my job. I’ve been at this school 3 years with great relationships with teachers, students, and parents. The principal raves about me. I turn in my paperwork on time and generally error-free (if there are errors, they are nothing major. The company has never complained about my paperwork). My evaluations have been glowing for the past two years. I participate in meetings and collaborate with coworkers in other schools. Yet, today I was told that the company was letting me go. They refuse to offer any explanation of their decision rubric or what factors came into play in their decisions.

They are retaining people who just walked onto the job in August. 

I have found one other coworker, Layla, who is being laid off. She believes, as I do, that we costs too much. I just applied for tuition reimbursement for the $1800 worth of CEU classes I just signed up for. I’m up for a $10,000 pay jump next year. Layla is at the top of the pay scale, and is being reimbursed for taxes that they calculated incorrectly in the past.

I cried profusely throughout the day yesterday. My biggest cause for crying was not a loss of paycheck, but the loss of the work environment. I love this school. I love people’s attitudes here. I love the conveniences that I have since I live out of my car. I am growing professionally every single day.

People tell me, “God must have something better,” and my response is, “But it doesn’t get any better than this!” (then we all laugh). I believe and trust in God’s leading. But as Liesl said, “When one door closes, another one opens, but it’s hell in the hallway.”

So, right now, financially, I’m in what Dave Ramsey calls crisis-mode.

I have to cancel my credit card auto-payments and extend student loan deferment. I can’t add to my long-term savings each month (however, I have an emergency savings fund). My spending has already been tightened as tight as I can make it.  I had to rent another storage unit to store teaching materials. Money from storage may have to come from the credit card payments. I need to go to the unemployment office and find out about that process.

My head hurts from crying on and off all day yesterday.

I won’t have a way to cook food other than using the park now. I won’t be able to use the school to access the Internet or work.

I’m not worrying – I’m praying.  Whatever happens next is more of the adventure of living.

Dave Ramsey's Envelope System

December 1, 2013

I know some of these posts are out of order, but I record my thoughts onto my cell phone, then type them up when I get a chance. 

On this day (the date above) I spent several hours at a “new” McDonald’s mostly listening to Dave Ramsey CDs. I created my envelope system with cute envelopes with pictures of dogs on them. All 8 envelopes fit inside a fabric bag that also looks cute - makes using the envelope system less of a drag. Instead of carrying paper to remind me of my financial decisions, I decided to take pictures of my debt snowball plan and store in my phone.

More "God Spoils Me"

More God Spoils Me

Today I went to REI for their garage sales. They said they sell lightly used items for half off! Maybe I could score a mummy bag, some cooking materials, some wool socks, or other items. Well, when I arrived (after Sabbath) it was over. TB!

Anyway, I wandered over to the sleeping bag section for the second time this week. Just browsing. I wanted a 0 degree bag – which were as little as $239 on clearance.

The weather on Thursday is supposed to dip below 20 degrees for the first time this season. The last time it got to about 23 degrees, my big toe on my right foot was numb. I knew then that avoiding frostbite would be a real concern for me if I want to keep saving money like this.

Eventually, I would have to bite the bullet and pay the $$250 or so for a life-saving bag. The fact that 3 people froze to death in California yesterday was helping to push me towards making a purchase.

A salesperson came over and asked if I needed help. I told him the length and comfrotb level that I wanted. He found one in stock that fits me (it’s 5’6” and I’m 5’2”). They don’t come smaller than 5’6” it appears. He let me try it out by getting insdie and zipping it up. He told me how to care for it, other accessories (compression bag, liner) to help make it compact and easier to carry (I asked, he wasn’t just trying to get my money), how NOT to care for it, and all the features of it that I needed to know. I feel like I just took a class in winter sleeping bags.

The price was…$99, on clearance.

And it’s a lovely pink color on top of that (I wasn’t too impressed by the colors that I saw on the sleeping bags that were on the rack. He pulled this one off a different shelf).

I feel spoiled. I wasn’t planning on purchasing anything unless the garage sale was still going on. I definitely wasn’t planning on spending $100 or buying a mummy bag just that night.

So tonight, I’m zipped into a mummy bag and the temp is about 28 degrees. I am cozy warm. My feet get cool when pressed against the door or propped up against the window, but I don’t think forstbibte is a concern. I;m not even wearing long johns, gloves, or a zipped up coat. I feel ready to tackle the 17 degrees that is supposed to come this week.

While at REI this police officer was looking at me really hard, but I guess because I was staring at him.  I was watching because the last time I went to REI there was a police officer and police car parked out front, too.

I think this experience is another example of God preparing me. He led me to visit REI on Tues so I could go aahead an dstart thinking about what I would buy and the price. I could see my options. When it was time to buy, he led me to a color I love so I wouldn’t walk away wondering if I should have waited to find something better I like.  

Job is cutting hours

December 8, 2013

My job is cutting people’s hours drastically. One lady’s hours were cut from 35 to 12 per week. No, that’s not a typo. Monday I have a meeting with my boss to find out what my new hours will be.

I just paid for CEU online classes and I need to hang in there with this company long enough to get reimbursed, which may mean until the end of the scool year.

I’m on a 4 year plan to pay off all debts and another half year to build up 6 months of emergency expense money. It would be fun to find a group of people to talk about financial independence with. I won’t talk to friends or family. I feel like I have the opportunity to make more serious financial progress than anyone I know. Not trying to take away credit from my friends, but I don’t want jealously or resentment to find a foothold.

I was hanging with Uncle and Aunt Theo this weekend. Uncle Theo was telling me that he now uses check cashing and title loan places to help get by. (He may have been using them all along, Idk). I shared with him about my tenant and how she’s paying rent but it doesn’t cover the old mortgage payment. I don’t want it to seem like I’ve got it easy now and racking up money. I believe that’s what he thinks I was doing while I was renting from him.

God Spoils Me

December 1

Two weeks ago I was ironing at the Laundromat when 2 ladies walked over and told me I couldn’t iron there anymore. One said it was a fire hazard (I don’t believe my little iron is a fire hazard in a Laundromat). The other said ironing uses up electricity and customers don’t pay for that.

Anyway, for two weeks, I’ve been wearing shirts that don’t need ironing. My pants weren’t too wrinkled after taking them out of the dryer.

 Well, today I had the idea to go to my old apartment complex – the one that I lived in this summer. There is a laundry care center in each building accessible from the outside. All of them have accessible outlets. I went into one tonight that was not being used and it had a brick wall outside the front door (so no one was likely to pass by and happen to peek in). I ironed clothes for the week and a dress for Sabbath, and I even hemmed (with hemming tape) some jeans I bought at the thrift store yesterday.

I was not rushed or watched. There are no security cameras on the property that I noticed all summer or tonight. In fact, it doesn’t even look strange for me to walk across the parking lot with clothes in my hand or on hangers. Because of the layout of the parking lot and the laundry room, no one can really tell that I came from the Laundromat and not my own apartment. I only need to go there once a week, and since there are at least 12 buildings, each with a clothes care center, it will be easy to rotate and not be noticed. I may not use the same building twice for 3 months!

While I don’t like using the electricity when I’m not paying for anything there, I appreciate the fact that God introduced me to that particular apartment building just this summer. It was a big help tonight. Unfortunately, my ironing is nothing to brag about, and it gets worse trying to iron on top of a dryer. My clothes didn’t look too much better after ironing than before! I guess I’ll get better over time.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I asked my sister, "What if I told you I was living in my car?"

San told me that one of her friends, Max, moved to Nashville and claimed to have a job waiting for him, but after he arrived he started living in hotels and with other people, renting rental cars, and holding at least 3 jobs. This all happened within a few weeks or months.

Then we talked about Braxton living between his own apartment and Taylor’s. I asked her, hypothetically of course (wink, wink), “What would you see if Max told you he was living in his car? What would you say if I told you I was living in my car?”

 She said, “Oh, I don’t know…I don’t even know what I would say.”

I wonder if she got the feeling that this was NOT hypothetical. I didn’t take the conversation any further.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

More Attempts to Stay Warm At Night

Last week, I bought wool socks and hand warmers. 

The first night, I put the hand warmers in the socks, went to sleep, and woke up sniffling. I drank TheraFlu to stave off a cold. 

The next night I bought houseshoes just for wearing to bed - pretty pink to match the pink wool socks. I added hand warmers to the socks. That night, it was 28 degrees. The handwarmers inside the wool socks didn’t work - they were cool when I woke up, but I think it was the househoes that kept my feet from getting cold. 

The rest of me was toasty warm under my blankets and it was very dark under there, too. I’m usually surprised when I take the blankets off in the morning how much light there is outside.