The "Get Out Of Your Car!" Fund

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November monthly reflection

I think I skipped October's monthly update, so here's an update for the past TWO months:

1. saved money by cancelling private health insurance and using the jobs benefits.
2. organized the car trunk so the whole car is cleaner and more organized and less embarrassing or attention-getting. Keeping a cleaner car was also a New Year's resolution.
3. Created a menu plan, consisting of foods I can reasonably keep and prepare at school and in the car, as well as a list of inexpensive, relatively healthy carry-out options
4. My old condo is set to be foreclosed upon on December 3rd. It might be postponed. my real estate agent is really working with me and really working hard. I'm thankful because he is the fourth person I've gotten to help me in the past 4 years, but he is the only one that has been able to truly help me. 6. I'm counting the months until I can move back into an apartment. In about 5 more months my parents should be able to move into their own place, I will have two thirds of the money I need for a new car when this one dies, I will have no credit card debt, and I should be able to pay the current debt payments until they are paid off completely. I will have to save up money closer to apartment move-in date to buy furnishings. If the foreclosure happens or the short sale happens and I still owe debt as a result, that will drastically change things. I may consider staying in an apartment short term and returning to my car next winter. That's a whole year away so let's see what happens in the next 6 months.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Day thoughts

I'm really mad at myself for waiting to the last minute to buy a plane ticket. I looked up prices on Sunday but didn't buy a ticket till Wednesday. the prices have doubled. I spent an extra $200 that I can't afford to spend. instead of beating myself over the head about it I decided to get angry at the situation- angry enough to do drastic things like I did last fall when I get angry enough to do drastic things about my finances. I've got to improve my ability to get things done exponentially. today is Thanksgiving and I have plans to be thankful for. -safety at night while sleeping in my car - a place to relax and have fun with my friend and her extended family - all of my relatives are live so far this year. both of my parents are in decent health. - I have a loving relationship with my brothers and sister. we are there for each other no matter what. - I'm thankful for each of the 50 something people I just texted to say I'm thankful that you're in my life. on Black Friday I bought very little. I threw out my 7 year old printer. I was hanging on to it just for the scanning capability, but last week it stopped doing even that. I slept in a store parking lot Thursday night to Friday morning because it was Black Friday and people were everywhere. I feel safe with lots of people walking around all night. besides it didn't look so strange for me to sleep in my car what such an event going on around me.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Greedy Man in the Bible

September 14

I was sitting at a red light, and moth flew over and sat on my car window. When I drove off, she didn’t fly off- she squeezed into the space between the car and the window. I jokingly said, “Get off my window! Stop trying to smooch a ride!” But she was trying to find a place to live temporarily and so am I.

The tenant is 3 months behind in rent and always evading me. I think if she had a better place to go (with relatives or whatnot) that only charged several hundred dollars a month instead of a thousand, she would have gone there already. I think she really doesn’t have options.

I keep thinking of the story in the Bible of the person who asked a king to forgive his debt, but then he turned around and refused to forgive someone who owed him a whole lot less. So, the king then took back his forgiveness and placed this greedy man in jail. I think about that story with Asana. I want to work with her. The bank has not forgiven me any debt, but I’ve been financially blessed in other ways, and I don’t want to be unmerciful and then other people are unmerciful to me. I want God to show me mercy and the mortgage debt and offer me a fresh start while I pay off other debts.

Working From "Home" Today

November 9, 2014

This morning I went to the Dollar Tree and got boxes and organized the trunk. That trunk has been an embarrassing headache since I moved back into my car in August. I also got bungee cords and tied the foam mattress so I can roll it and keep it in the trunk during the day instead of in the backseat. That way, I won’t be embarrassed when people ask to ride with me and wonder what that thing is.

I’m proud of my time management today. I woke up and went right to work organizing. I have food in my trunk and I threw a few food items out. I bought some items that were on a shopping list and put them to use immediately (like put batteries in the flashlight immediately instead of later).  I found my car freshener in the trunk and finally looked at some flares that someone gave me so I could see how to use them. The car looks cleaner.

If I were in a an apartment this morning, I’d be watching the DVR or getting distracted by Internet headlines.

I didn't go to my school like I usually do on Sundays. It really seems to bother some people that I stay at work late or come in on weekends. The assistant principal asked that no one do schoolwork this weekend (part of the reason is because we had several reports due last week, but she seemed to glance at me when she said it so I take it personally). One of the security guards makes comments like “Are you coming back? I bet you will.” I guess they feel I don’t have a life and they feel bad about that, but if they only knew how much I could use the comfortable environment of my classroom on the weekends. 

Anyway, I decided not to go to the school this weekend. I brought enough schoolwork-based projects to work on this weekend without going to the school building. I’ll try to leave school earlier each day and just take projects with me, and if I go on Sundays just limit it to two hours. In fact, I may only go to do things like prepare lunches for the week. Spending less time at school is not caving in to pressure. It’s part of being stealth and not drawing attention to myself by coworkers.

Back to being organized...I simplified the way I organize my daily hygiene process. I have a large gym bag that I think draws attention to myself when I walk in the gym, but I’m only there for 45 minutes. Sometimes, I need to wash up at school, so I have to sort through the gym bag every time and take out just what I need. However, I realized that I have several drawstring bags, so I took one and put the basic essentials in it (deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, face wash, shower towel). Now I can take just that bag only into the gym or even into school and it draws no attention. I keep the larger gym bag in the car for when I need perfume, maxi pads, hair supplies – then I'll take that bag out.

Growing My Character

November 7

Living in my car has helped me grow in a lot of ways, but life is still not all about money, being organized, and survival.

A week ago, I had a disagreement with a coworker  - she thought I was rude to her, I thought she was rude to me.  I know of several incidents with others who don’t get along with her, and some people think she should be reported. I talked to her 1-on-1 this week and she was very responsive and reflective. Having that kind of conversation is not usually my style – I’m not confrontational. However, I care about her and felt that she needs to know that others are thinking of reporting her so she can adjust her ways and keep her job. She ended the conversation with, “Maybe it was God that arranged for us to meet like this because I was supposed to go home 30 minutes ago, but I happened to stay late.” I agree with that.

That conversation was on Nov 3. On Nov 7, I asked my assistant principal to mediate a situation between me and my teachers’ assistant. that was even touchier for me because we work in the same room together. However, the assistant principal wants me to talk to her 1-on-1. I think she has confidence in me and also wants me to grow in this area (or maybe she heard how I talked to the other coworker). I don’t know, but I accept the challenge and my coworker and I will talk this week.

Foreclosure date set, rain, and muscle cramps

November 6

I have a foreclosure date set. My realtor may have a buyer. I’m excited about this information and I hope it all works out in my favor. I hope the bank allows a short sale and we can finish this mortgage issue  in 2014. If I have to pay off part of the property, then I have to add it to my debt thermometer. If I don’t have to pay after the short sale, then I can focus on returning tithes and giving offerings, paying off current debts, and supporting aging parents.

One of my adult students asked me if I like the rain, and I said, “No, it makes everything sticky and wet.” However, as I drove away, I realized I love the rain because it makes it harder for people to see inside my car at night. Every night as I drive to my sleeping place, I pray, “Lord, please make me invisible to everyone – good and bad alike.” 

Over the past two weeks I’ve had two muscle cramps. I had the same thing happen back in August when I started new medications. The pain was so bad that I walked outside for 10 minutes at 2:00 in the morning but I was ready to call an ambulance if it didn’t subside. So, I haven’t taken those new medications recently, but I've had the same muscle cramps recently, and now I think it’s do to iron supplements.  I don’t want to have muscle cramps while in my car, because that may mean getting out of my car quickly and suddenly in the middle of the night and blowing my cover. If I’m in a hospital parking lot, I could try to play it off by walking to the emergency room, but if  a guard actually sees me get out of the back seat of my car he will know that I was sleeping there. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

House renovations - seeing the finish line

Mama said she would like to get back in her house by the end of the year. Wow, I didn’t think she was expecting it so soon! Since last summer I have not heard her be really unhappy about being at my sister Sasha’s house. I think that’s because she has hope now that she will get back in her own house. That’s the fuel that keeps the fire going.

Truth is, getting back in before year’s end is quite possible now. I can see the finish line.  I just wasn’t rushing it. Again, there won’t be central air conditioning or heat but we grew up using kerosene heaters and a wood stove (which is no longer in the house). My parents are strong and they are survivors, so they will find a way to be comfortable.

They also won’t have regular appliances. They may have to use a cooktop, dorm fridge, and 20 year old microwave. Appliances are expensive (and Mama just likes her 20-year old microwave).

I didn’t want to do any work on the house that required taking out a loan, but it looks like I will have to.  That’s the best way to get work done soon and quickly and still have at least $3K in the savings account at all times for contingencies.

Peace is something that cannot be bought. Peace is something you get when you’re living right. 

When I can buy something and know it’s ok to have it,that's peace. When I can spend money on something expensive and know I have the money to have it, that's peace. 

If others try to convince you to have it, remove yourself and consider what they said, but make your own decision. Don’t make a decision until you feel peace for yourself – a peace you can defend and speak up for. If you have to rationalize a decision, you’re not convinced about it yet. If you have to keep explaining it away until you can convince yourself, then that’s not a peace-filled decision.

Life: Weather, Stealth, Dreams, Hair, Hotels


It’s time to get the sleeping bag and wool socks out again. Last night was bearable at 51 degrees, but temps are dipping into the high 40s which means I’m pushing it. I have Theraflu in my car and I must remember to act fast at the slightest hint of cold or flu symptoms.


I dared to put a lock on a locker at the gym and store my things there for a few nights. The gym has signs saying locks will be removed nightly and contents of the locker donated to charity, but I’ve been paying attention and some people are keeping locks on for days or weeks. Well, after about 2 weeks, I showed up one day and my lock had been removed with a sign saying that locks are not allowed overnight. All of my belongings were still there, so I went ahead and took them home.

Two weeks ago, I pulled up to the hospital, sat, and looked around as always. Some people walked by so I waited. Just before I started to climb in to the back seat, I thought I saw movement in a black SUV parked diagonally from me. It was sitting in a darkish area. I paused and waited around. Sure enough, there was some movement. Security was in that black SUV. I cranked up and drove away. I never saw security parked in that particular area before. My paranoia kicked in. Were they on to me? Do they know where I park when I sleep there and they were waiting to catch me?

I don’t go there very often now, and when I have gone, I go early in the morning, like 2:00 am. Hopefully, they have decided that if I’m not there by 11:00 then I’m not coming and they move on. I hate to lose that parking spot as a sleeping option.


I had a dream last night that two men broke into my car and started to drive off while I was asleep in the back seat. I woke up, quietly called 911 on my cell, and then sat up and explained that this was my home – please let me have my car back while the 911 operator listened on the other end. They didn’t give me my car back - they kept driving. The police traced my cell and caught up with us. I woke up.


I started letting my hair grow last year because I wanted to do different styles with my hair. while I liked my latest hairstyle (cornrows), I didn’t like the way the stylists man-handled my hair. I treat my hair gently. So I decided to twist it myself yesterday and got lots of compliments.

I think I’ll keep twisting it. In the past, I got tired of boring twists, but I think I’ll experiment with different accessories to spice things up – scarves, headbands, flowers, clips. What does that mean financially? Well, I still save $10 a week towards haircare, and it’s cheaper to do my own hair and accessorize than to pay hairstylists, so I should be able to keep a surplus in that envelope.


So,sometimes I really do long to be back in an apartment again sooner rather than later. Sometimes I just want to get a hotel room for a night just to stretch my legs all night, watch a marathon, or shower in a private area. I might check in to a hotel one day, but only when I can be there a full 24 hours and really get my money’s worth, like on a holiday weekend from noon Sunday to noon Monday. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

October living

I got a memory foam mattress off Freecycle several months ago. I sprayed it with Lysol and washed the cover. then I cut it down to size so it fits in my back seat. It was comfortable sleeping in the back seat anyway, but the mattress makes it even better.

Every morning, I roll the mattress up and fasten it into the seat using the seat belt so it doesn't unroll. anyone who parks next to me at work can see this white rolled-up form in my back seat. I wonder what coworkers think.

I have been washing up more at sinks the past two weeks because I get tired of working out at the gym just to take a shower.

This morning I found out that eating baingan bharta (an Indian eggplant dish) when it's a little colder than room temperature is actually not a bad breakfast. I bought it yesterday evening, and ate the rest for breakfast today.

The rain is my friend. It makes it harder to see inside a vehicle and people are less likely to be looking around anyway - they are trying to get out of the rain. So no matter where I park on a rainy night, I feel safer and less noticed.

Several times a week, I wake up and think, You just saved $40 (by sleeping in my car).

I have no good place to iron my clothes right now. I went back to my old apartment complex once recently to iron. However, my job requires shirts with the school logo on them, and I have two of those. So I wear the same shirts repeatedly and that helps me not to NEED to iron so much. I have been taking whatever I wear to work on Friday and wearing it to church on Saturday, rather than going to storage and trying to find a dress that doesn't need ironing.

The food eating situation has not gotten better. I still eat out too much and don't have a way to cook. I have two aides working in my class with me, so I really can't bring out the electric skillet like I did at my last school. I think, though, that I could go in on Sundays and cook with the skillet, chop fruits and vegetables, and prepare some lunches/breakfasts for the week. I could keep them in lunch bags in the school fridge.

I could cook and store rice, mixed vegetables, spinach, and soup. I have 3 lunch bags.

Life is good.

Monday, September 22, 2014

No financial worries

The third of 4 expected refund checks came recently and that went straight for house repairs. That -plus this month’s debt snowball payment - caused us to pass the 25% mark in debt payoffs in one year (approximately).

Which leads me to today’s thought: It is more important ot know where you are going than to get there quickly.

Other than that, there is not much to report. I love my new employer - this is not the same place where I worked in the spring. I share the lounge fridge with the whole school staff so I can't really keep food in there for cooking - that would take up about 3-4 different lunch bags to conceal condiments, fresh veggies, soymilk, etc. like I did at my old job. 

So, I eat out more than I used to. I'm a bit too tired to tally up the cost right now, but I know it's cheaper to eat out than to rent (at least for me it is). 

I sent Jefferson and his cousin-dog stuffed animals today. I've been holding the animals occasionally while I drive to make sure my scent is on them. I kissed them before I put them in the packaging to send home. Jefferson is the wallpaper on my laptop. I sure do miss him. 

Not being concerned about finances has led me to thinking about other areas of my life that need prayer and attention - like some legal issues I'm helping my sister with, spiritual guidance concerning the kids I teach, and people in my life who are ill and need healing. 

I know that sometimes hardships draw us closer to God. I don't know if my financial hardships really did that, but I feel (and have been feeling) like they just drained me and made me too tired to pray about or think about anything else. All of my prayers and needs seemed to center around finances. I didn't like that. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Meals for $5?

What a difference 8 months makes! Pizza Hut and FedEx Office both offer free wi-fi now. Taco Bell, one of my former “go to spots” is closed for renovations. The gym has rearranged equipment and the televisions are out (so I can’t watch Judge Judy). 

Without refrigeration or cooking facilities like I had at the old school, my diet is pretty restricted. Whatever I buy, I have to eat. I can put food in the school fridge that is shared with 60 other employees. 

So, that could mean my food budget blows up. Don’t want that to happen.

So, I’ve been looking for places where I can get a good hot meal for $5. One $5 meal a day leaves money for fruit and staples to keep in the car. Then I will I stay in my food budget. There are some foods I will be able to cook in the microwave when school gets into full swing (baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, scrambled eggs).

Here are some ideas of go-to places: 
KFC has new $5 meals
BK veggie burger meal
Pizza Hut personal pizzas are $5 (Little Caesar’s has $5 pizzas, but too big to eat in one sitting)
Ledo broccoli and cheese soup bowl
Olive Garden soup and breadsticks 6.50
Celeste personal pizzas (frozen) - $1

That’s enough to frequent a new location 5 days of the week.

Sleepless and Sweating

August 31, 2014

Yesterday evening,  I couldn’t get my car window to roll up. I’ve had trouble with this window before. By 11:00, my eyes could barely stay open, but I needed a place to sleep that had security. I needed to feel safe sleeping with one window all the way down, but not fear getting caught. If I went back to the hospitals, a security guard would notice the window and come over and take a look.

I went to a parking garage where I could park 2 hours for free. The plan was to set my car alarm, nap, and drive out after 2 hours. Then, I would turn right back around and come back in. However, there were so few cars parked in the garage that I couldn’t blend in. I was sure the security guard would notice me leaving and entering repeatedly because there were so few others there. So, I slept the first 2 hours and left. 

I drove away trying to figure out where else I could go. While driving, I drove past a Laundromat in a familiar neighborhood. It’s open 24 hours and there is a regular police presence in the area. People were coming and going. So, I parked there and slept in the front seat. I may have looked like someone who fell asleep while waiting for the laundry to get done.

I’m happy that this summer has been atypically cool and I didn’t have to worry about mosquitoes.

September 6, 2014

So, last night was the most miserable night I’ve tried to spend in my car. Even the weather forecasters described the weather as “brutal.” It’s hot and humid. I woke up drenched in sweat after an hour. I drove back to the Laundromat and went to sleep (still sweating, but not as much), with the windows cracked. In the morning, I drove to an above-ground garage, where the temperature was much cooler and there was actually a small breeze. I stayed there for half the day. Now, I'm at the library trying to keep cool and stay awake (since I didn't sleep comfortably). 

Storms are predicted for tonight. I can’t wait. They will bring a cold front with them. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Today's thought: 
Your struggles give you a testimony to  help others. You can't be a student forever. Be a teacher.

August 31, 2014

This is my anniversary. One year ago today, I was preparing to spend my first night in my car.

What we have accomplished:
- eliminated credit card debt
- begun renovations on the house
- begun paying down student loans
- established an emergency fund (and it has come in handy!)
- given to others
- learned survival skills (cooking on a grill, staying warm)
- become more disciplined  (more punctual, more organized, better at planning ahead)
- learned that I have some courage and dedication that I didn't know I had before

This upcoming year’s goals:

1. One year from now I want to be back in an apartment with my dog Jefferson back in my care.
2. I want my parents’ house to be fully renovated with them living in it (they won't have full-size appliances or central air conditioning, but we will all celebrate nonetheless).
3. I want to be current on student loan payments.
4. I want to continue to have an emergency savings fund (it won’t be complete by then, but I don’t want to raid it).
5. I want to give to causes I care about.

6. I want to still be at this current job contributing at least the minimum to the matching 401K. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Someone visited my world of one

A few days ago, someone made a donation on my blog. I felt a very strong sense of pressure mixed with anxiety.

I feel so accountable to use that donation wisely and stick to the plan of renovating the house and getting out of debt. That donation was like listening to a cheerleader. I really appreciate it. 

I write this blog to help me organize my thoughts and release emotions. I don't share the information in this blog with anyone I know personally. No one in my life knows about this blog. So, for a stranger to come across the blog and offer some encouragement - I feel like a visitor just stepped into my world of one. 

Thank you, donor!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How do you know who the rich people are in your life?

August 14, 2014

On the Get Rich Slowly blog today, the topic was about asking people you personally know for financial advice if they are where you want to be. Someone brought up an excellent question in the comments section – how do you know WHO is where you want to be? It’s taboo to talk about money!

While I still have a lot to learn about PF and a long way to go to get where I want to be (about 4 years according to my spreadsheets), I still think I’ve learned enough to share with others. The challenge is finding the BEST WAY to share. With immediate family I can easily bring up the topic of personal finance without sharing too much about my situation (unless I want to). With friends, I found it’s easiest to mention Dave Ramsey or Michelle Singletary and how I’m following their advice – not how I’ve arrived. Two people have been receptive to that so far.

It’s easier to talk poor than to talk like I’m doing well. I think that’s because I’m surrounding by so many other struggling people that talking like I’m doing well without offering to help others out seems insensitive. 

Also see my post on 7-27-14 along the same lines of this subject. 

Locked out of Storage Unit

August 14

Today I left the gym and headed to storage to change my clothes. Then I remembered that I left the key card to the storage building INSIDE my storage unit! I still had on yesterday’s clothes. No department store was open at 7:30 am so I could at least buy a different shirt to wear to work.

I decided to go and see if somehow I could get in. Maybe another customer would be there, or the staff would be empathic enough to open their office doors early for me.

Plan B: wear the same clothes to work that I wore yesterday. I would divert coworkers’ attention from my clothing using my charming and bright personality, enhanced by engaging conversation and eye contact that just takes in the soul!

As it turns out, the storage office opens at 7:30, so they had no problem letting me in.

But, man, I’ve got to keep up with the key card better. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


August 12, 2014

I’ve had 3 weird dreams 3 days in a row. The first dream I had while still at Jasmine’s. I dreamed that her brother-in-law saw me moving out the last of my things and said to me, “You need to pay your debts and get your finances in order – stop depending on other people.” I was offended.

I can’t remember the second dream which I had during my first night back in my car, but I woke up feeling scared/anxious. I think I dreamed that someone caught me sleeping in my car, or that I was close to being caught. I dunno. If I remember, I’ll come back and edit this post.

The third dream was last night. I dreamed that someone was walking their dogs and the dogs sensed something in my car, so they came over and started sniffing. The owner then looked in the car and said, “There’s somebody in that car!” There were other neighbors around, and 3 ladies walked over. One of them was a teacher from a former school of mine. She looked puzzled, but rather kind and sympathetic. Some kids went in their houses and brought out blankets to give to me. Another brought some books. They were happy to help the homeless lady living in her car. I felt a little embarrassed being discovered by this former coworker, but glad to have help, even though I really didn’t have room in my car or storage for extra books or blankets.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rethink how important credit scores are

Today, the company that created the famous FICO credit score announced that they are changing the way they calculate your creditworthiness. They made changes to help people with medical debt, no credit history, or debts sent to collections. Of course, the bottom line is that bankers and lenders want your money and your less-than-ideal credit scores were getting in the way.

A lot of emphasis is placed on having good credit scores. Do you know what the purpose of a credit is? The purpose of the credit score is to help you get debt. If you have a good credit score, you can get the best interest rates on car and mortgage loans. That measn you will still pay thousands of dollars in interest, just not as much as the next guy.

You know what’s better than a credit score? Paying cash.

Maintaining a good credit score requires some work (checking credit reports for errors, getting credit cards (but not too many and not too few), using the cards without maxing them out, etc, etc). Before you go through a lot of trouble to build credit scores, determine if you want to focus on credit scores or if you want to focus on being debt-free. According to the verse above, it has always been God’s will that we would be lenders and not borrowers.

Some people who work for financial institutinos, the military, or the government need good credit scores on their jobs, but that’s by far not most Americans.

If you’re still concerned about a less-than-optimal credit score, just keep this in mind - by becoming a better steward, paying off debts, and paying bills on time, your credit score will improve anyway.

1. Ask yourself what you think you will need credit for in the near future? A new car? A mortgage? Some other loan (furniture)?
2. Think of ways you can prepare to make future purchases without needing a loan and credit score.
3. Ask a banker what is the process for obtaining a mortgage without a credit score (using manual underwriting). You may be surprised to find that it is possible to get a mortgage without a credit score.

Starting night school

Today was good. First day at work - teacher's retreat.

Last night was comfortable. The gym has changed a bit - equipment was moved around and the locker room seems a little rundown. The television didn't work and one sink was clogged. I made it to work on time with a snack for breakfast.

Now, I'm at the library working on classwork. I set aside some of the money I earned this summer to pay for CEU courses that I have to take before the year is up, so I'm taking both courses now - before the evening job begins in September. It's a lot of work taking two courses while starting a new teaching job, but the last time I lived in my car, my discipline improved significantly so we just might make this work. (BTW, it feels so good to say I set the money aside ahead of time. I didn't know exactly when I would sign up for the courses, but it felt good to know the money was there for whenever I was ready).

That said, I just blew the first week by not getting a paper turned in tonight. It took a while just navigating the new layout of the courses. That's my excuse. I think I'll just start on week two assignments...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Back on the Streets

August 10, 2014

So, here I go again. I spent the day reading Dave Ramsey’s book Total Money Makeover and watching Youtube videos from Debt Free Squad as well as cleaning my bedroom and the bathroom.

I took the last few things to storage. I am shocked. Everything I own fits in storage except my bedding, food, computer, gym bag, and cleaning supplies. Those items fit in my trunk. I didn’t think it was possible. I had considered getting a second storage unit temporarily until I settle into my classroom, but it’s not necessary.

I also cooked some tofu and made a smoothie – trying to use up the last of the refrigerated food that I have before I leave Jasmine’s place. I’ve been thinking about how tomorrow’s routine will go – revisiting the gym for the first time in 2014, getting to work on time and dressed appropriately after changing clothes at the storage unit.

I didn’t think I would be as nervous about this as before, but I am. The same risks are there even though I’m more skilled at it this time around or at least I know what to expect. I still have the risks of getting caught sleeping in my car. I still have to live by the 3 rules – never be hungry, never be tired, never be dirty. I still have to be stealth and invisible. I still have to make it all count. I have to keep up the gazelle intensity and make sure I’m not sleeping in my car for nothing. The goals the first year were to pay down enough debt to not live paycheck to paycheck anymore – to have a little cushion. That’s done.

The goals now are to renovate parent’s home and to make these new financial habits solid. I don’t want to ever end up where I was before – at least not by my own fault. God can use financial hard times to cause us to grow and learn, to sharpen our character. However, sometimes we bring these times on ourselves and that’s what I did. I don’t want to do that again.

Wish me Godspeed.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Moving Out and Moving on Up!

Moving Up

I am so excited. Yesterday was new employee orientation on my job. I met new, interesting, fun people. We also spent 2 hours filling out paperwork and listening to presenters talk about insurance (health, life, vision, dental , short and long term disability) and retirement, and other benefits (travel assistance, EAPs, on and on and on). It was information overload, but it feels good to have affordable benefits again.

I wasn't even interested in retirement at this point (though I know I should be). I contributed a little by default to  my new 401K at the last job, but last night I actually read the whole booklet about retirement plans and signed up for a new 401K with my new job. It was actually interesting to read and think about.

I have had private health insurance for 4 years because my job situation was not stable and I wanted to ensure that I was always covered. Well, my premiums have been raised twice in the past year and I recently got a letter stating that my plan will be discontinued Dec 31 of this year. This job health insurance costs less than mine, has great benefits, and came just in time. I haven't had my eyes checked in maybe 7 years. Now I can get them checked and afford new eyeglasses.


Moving Out

Well, Jasmine's mother-in-law is moving in around the beginning of next month, so I've been preparing to move out since the end of July (after summer school ended). I think today will be the day. Pretty much everything is in storage again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How to track financial progress

When you have a big goal (like finishing school, improving your finances, or being healthy), it’s good to find more than one way to measure progress. When I was trying to lose weight, the scale eventually reached a plateau and it seemed like I was not making progress. However, my stomach continued to look flatter and flatter and I was able to fit into my old clothes better and better.  Those were other ways of seeing progress.

When paying down debt, it can seem to take forever. Here are different ways to track financial progress. 

1. Amount of money in savings – Track how much money you have in savings each month. Even though my focus is on paying off debt, I send $100 a month to a long-term savings account. Even if the debt doesn't seem to budge, I can look at the slowly growing savings account for comfort.

2. Amount of debt paid – Track how much debt you have paid off total. I keep a list made in Microsoft Word that lists this information. I also have the thermometer and the little bug thingy at the bottom of this screen.

3. Bills paid off/accounts closed – When you start paying off debts, you should list all of your debts from smallest to largest. Then begin paying them off in that order. I paid off 7 small debts in the first 2 months. I got several pieces of mail that said, "Account closed," "Balance $0," or "Paid in full." I could have wallpapered my wall with those letters - but I didn't have a wall since I lived in my car. The point is, crossing those accounts off my written list was a way to track progress. 1/2 of my debts were eliminated in 2 months.

4. Things you can do now that you couldn’t do before - I use to frequently look at calendars to see how many days till the next payday. Now I don't look at calendars as regularly for that information. I used to drive to my hometown for visits because it was cheaper than flying. Now I have a choice.