The "Get Out Of Your Car!" Fund

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Using the EF for medical expenses

There have been times in the past when I passed up the chance/need to go to the doctor because of money. No money for copays or prescriptions, if they ordered some.

Monday, I went to the doctor and had to go back today for test results. He has prescribed several medications. I will have to go back on Friday or Monday and may get yet another prescription. I believe he is really trying to help me find out why I have shortness of breath, and he carefully looks at all my medical records to see if there are other things I need to be concerned about (like my recurring anemia).

Well, I spent a total of $130 this week so far. Didn't bat an eye - because medical expenses are part of my EF (since they are not a regular expense for me, but they are necessary).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

You need to let that go.

I was thinking about a story that happened to me in January, but I never blogged about it.


It was a beautiful day to be outside, but I was inside attending a workshop by Michelle Singletary, a personal finance columnist. Her advice is awesome and biblical. She has youtube videos. Look her up.

Asana invited me - I knew she was good person to have in my life the moment God introduced us.

Anyway, a comment made in the seminar made me think about Uncle and Aunt Theo and the burden I feel for their financial situation. On our way to our cars, I shared this burden with Asana, and her older sister walked up while I was talking. When I was done talking, her sister said, "This is really bothering you. You need to let that go."

I said, "Yeah, it does bother me because they're family and I care."

She said, "You need to let that go."

I said, "Sometimes I think maybe I shouldn't even go visit..."

She said, "Who says you need to go visit? What's wrong with not visiting?"

I thought about it.

She said, "You need to ask God to take that burden away from you, because it's not healthy. You need to let that go."

She was right. I was way too emotionally involved in their financial situation. Furthermore, there was nothing wrong with me not visiting their house, sitting down, and talking like old times. Staying away would help me avoid wanting to give financial advice or sharing what was working with me (which can create jealousy).

Aunt and Uncle Theo had already rebuffed my offers of assistance 3 times. In November, I shared Dave Ramsey concepts that were working for me. In December, I offered them DR CDs, and in January, I invited them to Michelle Singletary's workshop. They declined all of these offers, and the last time Uncle Theo was very irritated at the invitation to MS's workshop.

It was time for me to let them go.

I told Asana's sister that she was correct. Then I got in my car and didn't stop praying until I felt the burden rise and float out of the window. It was a beautiful day.

Jefferson's Whimpers

June 21, 2014

Jefferson had surgery today. I wasn’t too concerned, believing by faith that all would go well, until I talked with the vet on the phone after surgery and heard him whimper in the background several times just because of the pain. It was a hernia that he was probably born with, but now it’s all repaired.

Well, yesterday I took myself to the doctor to try to find out again why I have chronic shortness of breath. I went because my health insurance premiums have gone up by more than $40 the past year, so I want to raise the deductible. However, before I do that and have to spend more out of pocket for doctor’s visits, let me get the insurance company to pay as much as I can get them to pay. So, I went back to the doctor.

I had to pay a copay ($35) and get medicine ($50). So when I tried to pay the vet today, my card was declined twice. The horror! I haven’t had my card be declined in soooooo looooong! The humiliation still felt the same.

My first thought was that I didn’t have enough money in checking to cover Jefferson’s bill AND my own doc bill, but that’s not right. I got an extra check from my second job for recently completing PD training. I forgot that was coming. It came just in time to cover my medical bills (which would have been covered by emergency fund money anyway). I can’t figure out why Jefferson's bill was declined other than to remind me how it feels to be broker than I am now.  
I went online, moved some money from the EF to checking (even though there was money in there already), then Jefferson's bill went through. Strange.
For the rest of my life I will hear those whimpers and remember that the reason I missed being there for Jefferson today is because I'm committed to getting out of debt.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Financial Fire Drills

There is a term in the financial world that I want to share with you - a stress test.

The purpose of conducting a stress test is to help you recognize situations that would cause you to fail. In the world of financial money management, that means thinking ahead about what situations would cause you to financially fail, so you can try to avoid them before they happen (or be prepared for them). 

In my life, here are the disaster questions I had to ask myself:

1.     How long can I live without income?
2.   If my income goes down, how will I address my debt?
3.   If the bank won't do a short sale on my condo, will I be able to afford to rent the place longer (with condo fees) or will I come out better financially if I go through a foreclosure?
      4.     What is my plan if the car breaks down completely?
      5.     What if I need to fly to Tennessee because someone is sick? 
      6.   Can I pay for a major medical problem?
      7. What if none of my previous brilliant ideas work? 


      1.     I can live for 7 weeks on all the savings I have (including what's in the car fund and baby emergency fund). If I cut expenses during that time (see #2) I can go 10 weeks.
      2.    I have to find another job right away or cut expenses. I can cut expenses by: switch my car insurance from full coverage to liability only, put car payments on hold, put long-term savings on hold, put student loans in deferment, ask Daddy to pay t-mobile phone one month, asked San to pitch in on gymnastics for one month
      3.     I can afford to rent the place with condo fees if the mortgage is $500 including principal, interest, and taxes. However, I may do better just being foreclosed upon and setting up a payment plan for the rest later on. That will defer taxes that I have to pay and allow me to keep renting rooms or living in my car and using current income to pay off debts.

      4.     If the car breaks down today (June 2014) the plan is to buy a used car with a down payment of $1200 and a small loan. 
      5.     We have $1000 in an emergency fund to cover emergency trips home. 

      6. I have disability insurance that will help pay for hospital stays and emergency room visits. I am lowering my deductible to just $1000, so I will have to setup payment plans for anything beyond that up to a certain limit (I think $10,000). 

      7. I still have 2 credit cards and a line of credit I can use to access cash, but I reeeeeaaaallllyyy don't want to go that route. 


Some blog articles that give more info on the topic:

Clothing Shopping Spree for Daddy

I was filling up my cash envelopes today. I usually do that every Thursday, but I’ve decided to start doing it the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month and see how that goes for a while.

I’ve narrowed them down to 5 – food, gas, clothes, hair, everything else (fun stuff, household supplies, toiletries, work supplies).

June 15, 2014

Filling the clothing envelope made me reminisce, and I realized I didn’t tell you about buying clothes for my dad.

In April, before I went home for spring break, I decided to buy my dad some new clothes. For a few years, he has been wearing the same few t-shirts and the same gray sweatpants daily. So, when I got to Tennessee, I went to the mall with my clothing envelope, which had accumulated $120. I bought him 3 new shirts and two pairs of sweat pants. He really liked them.

That same day I invited him to go to my alma mater’s homecoming weekend with me 3 hours away. I expected him to say no – he doesn’t get out of the house much these days. He actually looked down at his new clothes and said, “I could wear these, huh? Yeah, I think I WILL go.”

I was shocked and so was my mom and everyone else who found out he was going.

It felt good to walk in that mall with plenty of cash, and no concerns about “Well, I could use this to pay a bill…I still need gas in my car…what about food?” Nope, none of that. The money had a job to do – buy clothing and that’s what I did, guilt-free.

This morning, Daddy went out to eat for Father’s Day and someone texted me a picture – he was wearing one of the outfits I bought.

I was re-filling the clothing envelope this morning, and I have $120 again. I need new work shoes, but not during the summer, so I’ll wait. However, I would love to buy Daddy 2 more new outfits. It feels good to know that by the time I see him again, I’ll again have the money to do just that and get myself new shoes – guilt free.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Guard your financial situation

So, I talked with Asana to find out her plans for a living space.

I told her that I wasn't planning on paying rent to Jasmine this summer - that I was going to move back in the condo when she announced that she was moving out. I told her that her rent was paying my rent, but this month I had to take the rent out of my emergency fund. I told her that I just signed up to take a Praxis exam (unexpected money spent) and that I cancelled my trip to Tennessee for Jefferson's surgery because I can't afford the rental car and gas now that I paid rent for June.

She told me about a friend who could possibly get me a summer teaching job. I appreciate the offer; however, this thought came into my mind during our talk. I have to carefully guard my financial situation and goals. I don't mean keep it a secret. I mean others can't see the money that God has given me stewardship over as being THEIR money. No one was steward my financial situation with the same concern that I will.

 I'm in a much better place than I was financially one year ago. I'm in a better financial place than Asana. Yet, I can't start being too generous or giving where I know goal-wise I'm not able to be.

I read Dt 15:1-8 this morning that said give generously to the poor and don't resist giving just because they may not be able to pay you back. I believe in that. I forgave her May's rent and may forgive April's as well.

After writing this post this morning, I also read this quote on Get Rich Slowly. One of the tenets of my philosophy is “nobody cares more about your money than you do.” Other people are looking out for themselves. You must take charge of your own situation.
I have a goal to reach and I have to fight against being distracted, even being distracted by other people's emergencies. I think there's room for balance here. I can forgive 2 month's rent, but I still need to get a house renovated and paying rent at Jasmine's place is slowing me down. So, I need the condo rent money for the summer to pay for windows, a storage shed, or a kitchen appliance. There's so much work to be done, that I'm not in bleeding heart territory.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

I take back that last post.

June 7, 2014


The same day that I posted about me moving back into the condo, my tenant Asana called and said she needs to move back in. Due to a domestic assault she cannot live with her new husband right now. 

Well, of course I let her. People have to help each other out, and I currently have a place to stay. 

The bind is - I wasn't expecting to pay rent to Jasmine this month, but now I have to. 
I wanted to go to Tennessee for my dog's operation, but I've decided I just won't. I really need to pay down more debts. I have a car note now (which I'm thankful for because It's forcing me to save), student loan repayment begins next month, and the paycheck will end sometime next month. My budget is about to change drastically. 

The reason it puts me in a bind for Asana to stay there is because she hasn't paid April's rent and now she owes for June, too. However, I'm paying rent when I could be living in the condo for free (unethically, but I'm working on that part with the short sale). 

I know she's having financial difficulty, so I waived May's rent in thanks for her taking such good care of the place and because she won't be getting a safety deposit back since she paid that to the scam company that rented the place to her. However, if she's going to stay there, I want rent.

We agreed to talk this weekend. 

No matter what though, I really want to move out from Jasmine's in October and either go back to the condo or live in my car again to save several hundreds dollars a month in housing expenses.

My debts can be divided into two main categories: student loan and house renovations (for parents' house). I may also have to add taxes and HOA fees. 

Why taxes? - If the short sale is completed, I may have to pay taxes on the forgiven debt. 
Why HOA fees? - I'm at least $5000 behind in HOA fees and the short sale probably won't cover that. 

My primary focus is knocking out the renovations. I need money to pour into that - with gazelle intensity.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Major life changes happening in June

I'll guess I'll be writing more often again this month since more major changes are about to occur.

The short story:

1. I'm moving back to my condo.
2. I won't be going back to this school so I'm job hunting again.

The long story:

1. I've been living with a friend for 5 months in a comfortable room paying bare bones rent and I'm grateful. My condo, which I tried to turn over to a "real estate investment" company, is now back in my possession after that company proved to be a sham. There was a tenant in it when I repossessed it and she's been paying rent.

She got married suddenly in April and moved out. We did the walk through 3 days ago. It was emotional for both of us. For her - she's been there for 2 years and liked staying there so much she considered making an offer for it. For me - it's emotional because I've been gone for 2 years and the place has changed a lot.

I started the short sale process two months ago. I can't expect anything to really happen for 6-10 months. So, I'm going to move back to the apartment and save that rent for 6-10 months.

The condo building now suffers from problems such as rodents, thieves abandoning stolen cars in the parking lot, only 30% occupancy, no money for a pool/security guard/weight room/cleaning crews. That's why I said it's different now.

The apartment itself shows signs of wear. The blinds are broken. The carpet is dingier. The thermostat is broken.

The tenant left her fold out couch, which replaces the futon I gave away when I moved out.

So, I'm preparing to go back to no cable, no furniture, dealing with rodents for an indefinite amount of time. I'll be living a barebones life with at least a roof over my head. But practically speaking, I will once again be a homeless teacher.

2. The non-teaching related paperwork required in this position has gotten to be overwhelming. I don't enjoy my job because 80% of it involves not teaching. Case management is not my skill set, so I keep making mistakes related to leaving out a document here, not faxing in a form there, forgetting to email/call/otherwise communicate with someone, and so on.

So the principal asked me yesterday what were my thoughts for next year because the school was willing to put more supports in place for me if I thought I was up to the job. I don't want support in case management - I want to teach. So I appreciated her talking with me, but told her I won't be back.

I feel relieved having said that. I re-contacted another school system that called me in for an interview in the winter. However, until I have a signed contract, I will be without a paycheck soon.

Monday, June 2, 2014

May Checkup

May successes:

This month, we:

1. hosted a successful graduation reception for loved ones. The reception was within budget and everyone enjoyed it.
2. replenished the emergency fund after car repairs
3. forgave a debt (the tenant is behind in rent by one month, and I decided to waive the last month's rent)
4. named our dollars

Next steps:
1. make a major debt payment this month (June)
2. invest some money
3. get tax refund checks

I feel like I've been stable in the month of May. The debt snowball hasn't rolled since paying off credit cards. I had car repairs to make and started a car fund so that stalled the snowball. I really want to get the momentum up again in June before I have to start making student loan payments in July.

Here's some crazy news, though. I have a credit card that now tells me what my FICO score is each month. It's fun to see, but not crucial since I plan to live debt-free and FICO scores are to help you accumulate debt. However, in March, my score was below 620. I found out that's good because if I do a short sale, I won't have to pay back any money to the bank if my score is below 620. I don't want to cheat them, but I'm trying to control/eliminate debts and get back on track with limited income.

Yesterday, I checked my score and it was 636! That's due to now having no credit card debt. But doggone it, I didn't need my score to go up any time soon.

On the Dave Ramsey blog, Dave says, “Integrity matters - in your finances and in every other part of your life - because a moral breakdown is not a victimless crime. Dishonesty will deeply wound you and those around you.”

I don't want to lie/hide/fudge. I have to trust that situations will work out in my favor. With honest money and honest discourse, you never have to look over your shoulders wondering if you’ve been found out, wondering if you will have to answer to someone for your money.

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase. Proverbs 13:11

A really good post from Dr. Jason Cabler

This post, 7 Ways to Stay Motivated to Get Out of Debt, includes some of the same activities that have kept me motivated for 9 months. My favorites are get mad at your debt, keep a journal, and do a little each day.