The "Get Out Of Your Car!" Fund

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Two Deposit Slips

Here are two  receipts I was about to throw away recently, but I wanted to share the change that financial discipline makes.

In September, when I started following Dave Ramsey's advice (also the advice given by Michelle Singletary), my bank account balance was $6.65! By mid-November, it was $2,000. All past due bills were paid up and I had $1000 in an emergency fund. This is tangible evidence of the difference that having gazelle intensity can make.

I have since added another $1000 to the emergency fund, deciding that $1000 wasn't enough for a car breakdown or emergency trip down South or doctor's visit. With my final paycheck, I have enough to cover expenses for two months (if I'm not paying rent). It feels good to not be in such dire straits as I once was.

Job Interviews

January 15, 2014

Since I’ve been back from down South, I’ve been at Jasmine’s house. I’m thankful she’s letting me stay while I have no job. I don’t know if I will move out as soon as I have paychecks coming in. The reason I didn’t move in earlier is because I really want to put all income towards debt and renovating the house. I’m sure Jasmine, like all normal people, will want some help with the bills if I stay a long time and have income.

Since I’ve been back, I can’t find the storage key to one of my units. Recall that in December I had to rent a 2nd unit really quickly to store my school supplies, then I packed up and went on a trip. Well, that first unit had some church clothes, tax-related papers, letters of recommendation, and snow boots. I can’t find the key to it. It will cost $50 to have the lock broken, then another $15 to buy a new one. I really don’t want to spend that kind of money, but it’s been 10 days and I can’t find that key anywhere.

Since I've been back, I’ve had 2 interviews. One went great, but I didn’t hear back after the school system found a flag on my personnel record. That flag came from a poor observation score that I got a few years ago when I used to work for them. I praise God for that score, though, because I wasn’t sure that I want to work for this school system again anyway, so I consider this His way of keeping me out and protecting me. The school would have been in a rough neighborhood, and the principal mentioned “discipline” problems 4 times during the interview.  The other interview was iffy, and the school has high turnover, so even if I get the job I should only realistically expect to be there till the end of the school year.

Since I've been back, I have no schedule anymore and I think I’m feeling a little depressed. I got my last payout from my job and I haven’t listened to any Dave Ramsey seminars since I can’t do anything related to paying down debt anymore. I’ve struggled to keep up in this online class and my current grade is a 50%. My eating habits are not very healthy right now. I’ll try to pick myself up today and apply to more places today. I prefer not to sub because I don’t like the idea of having to adjust to a new situation every single day. Besides, the irregular income from subbing will making it harder to stick with a debt paydown plan.

For now, thought, it feels so good to be in a bed again, to have a comfortable place to work, to have television (with Chinese channels, cool), and to be able to cook and refrigerate food. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Been Down South and Back

December 20, 2013

My last official day on the clock. I am in the South where I don’t have to think about being homeless for a while. I can stretch out on beds, air mattresses, and couches for the next two weeks. Cooking and laundry facilities are readily available.

I brought back all food that was in the refrigerator at the school. I packed the food in 3 different insulated lunch bags. The cabinet food filled up one suitcase (30 pounds). I started eating food that I brought in the lunch bags and cooking with some of the ingredients that I brought down South. No one asked me why I brought food with me. 

January 7, 2014

I spent Christmas break with the family in another state down South. It was a great break. I caught up on the assignments in my online class. So far, my score in that class is a 50%. I really got behind with the whole job-lay off. However, during the break, I worked on some future assignments.

I left my car at Aunt and Uncle Theo’s house. I asked Aunt Theo and that was ok with her. I didn’t ask Uncle Theo to look after the car. I didn’t offer him the car keys in case it needs to be moved. I didn’t ask him to keep an eye on the plastic I put over the dent in the trunk so rain doesn’t get inside the trunk. I didn’t want to ask for anything.

I’m happy with the work being done on my parents’ house. Now my parents have gotten a notice saying they have to go to court about a property they own that’s been vacant for years. The city may tear it down, then charge them for it. I wish I had the means to help them with that property, too.

I won’t say a lot about the stay down South since this blog is mostly about my experiences living in my car. Now, I’m back up north and I’ve been staying with Jasmine for two nights. A historically chilling weather pattern has passed across the country and the temperatures where in the single digits last night. Jasmine and her husband were worried about me and invited me to stay, and I’m not crazy. 

I have nowhere to go during the day (when I would normally go to work). My plan during this layoff was to hang out at fast food restaurants, libraries, parks (with the car running), and store parking lots (same). However, I am thankful to be sitting her in my pink-flowered long johns and bare feet on a queen size bed with cable tv across the room.

Silver Linings

(I started this post, then forgot to post it). 

So, trying to find some good stuff in this lay-off, and it's not hard to find. 

I started recording sessions with my kids. One school district wants recordings, and, to be honest, more of them might want that as well. Also, recordings help me to be a better teacher. Without this layoff, I would not have made that a priority in my teaching growth. It takes practice to get it right and get kids used to being taped. I had to start early as possible and do some retakes.

One of my coworkers just showcased this great website that she built for us coworkers in November (then she was laid off). I've started creating an online portfolio using the same website that she did. I've been wanting to create an online portfolio of my teaching, so that's an idea that’s overdue. It will make applying for jobs easier than trying to carry around a paper portfolio. Many places want some things sent online anyway.

I applied to 2 schools online. I see that they are asking for student achievement data. I don’t see anyone asking about samples of student work. It's good that I noticed this early on so I won't waste time gathering information I don't need and neglect to get the information that I DO need. So, I sat down with the educational specialist yesterday and we analyzed the data and crunched numbers. 

As a sped teacher, my successes may involve examples of one student here and one student there, so I need to find a format for putting together that information.
I need to get the information together and one big binder (I was using two before). I need to scan evaluations and ditch the originals. I can scan student achievement data as well. I need to keep original test scores and transcripts, student work, license, Also post on the website my resume (not references). I keep a file of answers to essay questions people are asking. I also need my teaching philosophy. I need to publish an article, or  need to create learning materials and setup my self as someone other teachers come to  in order to purchase helpful resources.

This is tiring, and filling out applications was boring. I have college coursework that’s due on Sunday. I really need to work on that. however, the support I’ve gotten from my school is so overwhelmingly supportive it makes this a lot easier.

I prayed in Septmeber, “God, I’ve done all I can now to help msyefl financially. I’ve given up a place to stay – there is nothing more I can do. Nothing more I can give up or cut out of the budget. I need You to step in and help me now.” Maybe this is His way.

If I get a good-paying job, I’m so tempted to just get an apartment and stop the car-thing, but I really need to persevere until the end with the whole debt-paydown thing. I don’t want to be in this situation again.

I don’t think I’ll apply for anymore jobs until I file unemployment because they want to see that I apply twice a week, and I need my efforts to count for something (like an unemployment check). I mean, if I get a decent job offer then that makes up for it all, but I can’t accept the first thing that comes along. I’m putting $50K on my applications as my desired salary. That might make them scoff. What would the unemployment office say if I turned down a lower salary than the one I am making now?

Month 4 Review and New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions and end-of-month-4 review

In 2013 I

-gave 4 kids the summer of a lifetime
-paid $2000 in debt and saved $1300 in emergency savings
-lived in my car for 4 months
-lost my job
-learned a new program for helping kids visualize when they read
-unsuccessfully tried to find out why I have breathing trouble
-lost 15 lbs and kept it off for more than 6 months.

In the month of December, I faced major stress events by taking a deep breath, coming up with an action plan, and remembering nothing that happens to me is as bad as losing Trystin. I put my financial snowball on hold while I dealt with being in crisis mode. In my job search, I realized that I am pulled towards schools that are dysfunctional because I know the bar for me as an educator is low. I decided to stop thinking like that. I will not shy away from schools that are high performing or job descriptions that seem demanding - I can do it. I am a capable teacher. 

2014 New Year’s Resolutions
1. plan more social events rather than just responding to invitations
2. pay off all credit cards ($7K)
3. keep a clean car with nothing in the cab and anything that is in the trunk is in a container
4. use up the art and craft supplies that are in storage
5. faithfully use a time management system
6. weigh 135 lbs
7. get new eyeglasses
8. drink one bottle of water a day
9. eat fresh fruit daily
10. complete a Spanish workbook