The "Get Out Of Your Car!" Fund

Monday, December 21, 2015

December update

Dec 21, 2015

I am decluttering my basement apartment.

I found $15 in rebates that have expired and a check for $5.50 that has expired (said cash within 60 days).Lost $18 in recycled ink rebates. This is a reminder that being cluttered costs money.

 I just paide a speeding ticket that I got 60 days ago. I thought the amount would have doubled by now, but it didn't.

Life has settled down at my day job so I can breathe and declutter at home.

And my work looks GOOD!

I can find so much now. I'm ready to start studying Chinese again. I'm ready to start scanning papers and tossing them because I can see the amount of paper in my life (instead of it being hidden away in storage).

Did I mention that when I closed the storage account, the cashier said, "We won't be seeing you here really early in the morning anymore?" I said, "Oh, you noticed." I almost told him I was homeless. I thought that might be a new, intersteting fact to him thta someone could be homeless and driving a car and dressing nicely everyday. But I may need to go back there in the future should I need to stay in my car agian, so I decided to guard that secret.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Preparing for a budget with real housing expenses

Nov 28, 2015

The year is almost over. I've taken a long break from gazelle intensity although I still have debt. I don't want to be in debt forever and never want to go back to where I was (hungry and penniless at times).

So, here we go again. 2016 will be a different year because I want to get my own apartment again, mainly because I plan to get my dog back and finding a room/basement to rent with a dog is almost impossible. So, I'll have to manage the money with less going towards debt because I will housing expenses.


I'm making my December budget in Every dollar and updating my finances.
1. I got everything out of storage saving 110 a month.
2. I am canceling the gym membership.
3. I am contributing to the car fund again.
4. I am tithing this month.
5. I am simplifying the envelopes to just 4 (I had 6) - food (reduced by $100), clothing, gas, everything else (used to be fun, household, hair). Instead of thinking about them in terms of how much I spend each week, I think in terms of the month.
6. I will eat simply and start cooking at home more starting this month to save money on food.
7. It looks like the student loan is not moving at all. Let's pay off the personal loan then throw money at the student loan until it becomes a tamer monster.
8. I haven't finished paying off the HOA loans, but I will. It's not priority right now.
9. I'd like to buy a newer car in December. The heat and defrost have stopped working in my Honda - just in time for winter.

I was looking over old bank statements and they tell a story that only I can decipher. Like the two storage units I had for a time because I suddenly lost a job and needed a place to keep all the items from my classroom. Or the first time I opened my po box account and gym membership.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Not homeless anymore

It’s official. I am not homeless anymore. For the past 2 months, since I got back from the South for the summer, I have been renting a friend’s basement. It’s large and spacious. I sleep on the couch bed with the same memory foam mattress that I used in the back seat of the Honda. I am going to move the rest of my things from storage and cancel that monthly payment. I am going to cancel my gym membership since I can shower at home now. I don’t like the extra $700 I pay in rent, but it’s the cheapest around, and my place is clean, large, and shared with a loving, Christian family that I trust and feel like care about me. The only drawback is that they don’t allow dogs here. Yet,


My emergency fund and car sinking fund are fully funded. That reminds me of this: 
There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up. Proverbs 21:20. 

I updated my financial records. Since the short sale was successful in August, I was able to throw out a lot of old forms related to the property I used to own. My financial bin got lighter. 

My parents’ house is almost complete. New kitchen coutnertops are coming and the last big piece will be installing carpet. My mom has been moving furniture around to prepare for the carpet installation. This summer we started painting rooms. I cleaned all the walls and dusted thoroughly. Mom threw out a tremendous amount of furniture.

I hope that by next summer, when I visit the South again, I can pick up Jefferson and bring him to a new apartment with me. 

My new job pays 10% less than the other. However, that means a dent in my extra savigns, or not beign able to apply so much to debt each month. What it doesn't mean is that I have to reconsider eating, wear clothes past their usable point, or worry about money at night. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Breaks from Gazelle Intensity can be good

July 21, 2015
Things are moving slowly. 

a. I still owe money to the HOA, and they won't release a lien without a large lump sum payment (I'm not comfrotable with the amount that they're asking for, but they have rejected my counteroffers). 

b. My parent's kitchen has been gutted and we will order cabinets next week. I tried to save money going from granite to laminate countertops, but the amount saved was less than $1000. I'm disappointed. (Granite is expensive, but it's a tiny kitchen, so I may switch back to granite since the cost savings are so little). 

c. I had to pay $700 for condo documents and I wasn't expecting to pay that much. 

d. I went on a trip to San Antonio this summer while I was visiting the South. I wanted to visit Denver while I was out and about, but the funds were too tight. I'm glad I canceled that leg of the trip, but I did reconnect with my Denver family on FB and over the phone. I'll hit them up in the future. 

e. My plan was to rent a portbale storage unit for the month and clean the house out while we paint and put down carpet. The storage units were too expensive. That's ok. We have moved all furniture to the middle of each room and are preparing to paint ourselves. That will save a few thousand dollars. 

Being gazelle intense about debt really helps you find creative ways to get things done. I'm not as gazelle intense as I used to be. Here's how I see things. I started gazelle intense, then I think I've been taken small breaks during the summer months, then starting up again when school starts. Even during the breaks, I don't splurge - I create monthly budgets, I use cash, I'm mindful when I spend adn I say "no" more often than in the past. However, when I create a budget, I might take some debt paydown money and use it for something that is important to me but not necessarily urgent. I think it's been good to take breaks to keep me from getting totally and completely exasperated with the gazelle intensity run. 

debt is 
HOA = $11,000
LOC = $8,500
NAV = $45,000

Total - $64,500

Friday, June 26, 2015

No house, no problem (not for me, anyway)

June 24

This month I have been staying in my old condo with no electricity. There's no point in turning it on when I will need to turn it off any day now. In fact, I'm supposed to sign my closing documents tomorrow and drive down South. The buyer will sign his documents later and I hope all goes smoothly. 

In my devotional today, I read about what problems teach us about ourselves and God. This was from Pastor David Jeremiah's magazine Turning Points (March 2015).

When it comes to my housing, Idon't see a problem. (Do you have a problem with that?)

He writes "Problems say a lot about our character, our strengths, and our weaknesses."
I hope my housing "problem"says that I
-am grateful in every situation
-am focused
-believe in my self and am self-reliatn
-trust in God's ability and willingness to protect and provide for me


June 24
Yesterday at Kenya's house, I met one of her friends, Ismael. He and his wife are separated although he hopes to recondile with her. In the meantime, she has kicked him out of the house. He slept in his truck two nights ago. Because it was hot, he had the windows down. He heard a sound and opened his eyes i time to see 3 young men running off with his wallet, phone, and keys.

Kenya and her husband said Ismael has a good heart and works well and is talented. They believe if her were around the right people, he could really flourish talent-wise and maybe financially.

Because it has been so hot at night lately, I offered to pay for a hotel for him for the night, but he politely declined and said he was sleeping in the garage where he works. He stayed with Kenya's family for a while, but the arrangement was not a good long term solution since they have kids. They also couldn't sublet the basement to him because their lease forbids it. Kenya's husband didn't feel like he would be a good friend offering to let him sleep in the driveway.

I went ahead and told Kenya that I slept in my car for a while when left my Uncle's house. She was in disbelief that I didn't tell her at the time. But I told her I needed the money to pay down debts, so Icouldn't pay any friend rent. I didn't tell her that it is a big sacrifice for people to let you live in their homes, as they learned by trying to help Ismael, so I didn't want any friends to go through that for me. I know it would make people uncomfrotable if I slept in my car in their driveway. While I would love to be able to do that, I know I couldn't ASK anyone to do that favor.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dog Sitting Weekend

This weekend I am dog-sitting for a friend. She live in a spacious house less than 5 years old. Everything feels so new. Some of the furniture and plants still have tags on them. I am pretending this place is mine.

I have air conditioning, a bed I can stretch my legs out on, and a refrigerator to store food when I can't finish it in one setting. It's AMAZING what you learn to be thankful for when you make financial sacrifices.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I can legally sleep in my car

June 3, 2015
I finally got the question answered that I’ve been wondering about. I teach Engish in the evenings, and tonight an attorney, a public defender, as a guest to the class. He mentioned that if you have been drinking and you fall asleep in your car, you should not leave the keys in the ignition. I told him after class that I have a friend who is staying in his car to pay off debt and he heard that it is illegal to sleep in your car. He said confidently several times absolutely not. He said if your car is parked legally you can sleep in it in the state of Maryland. He actually didn’t seem surprised that someone would sleep in his or her car to pay off debt.
I wasn’t very concerned about being arrested anyway. It just makes me nervous to run into cops period. I don’t want to get in any trouble. My plan all along was just to explain to cops why I’m sleeping in my car. They will probably suggest some reousrces, such as homeless shelters. If I get caught on hospital property, I’m sure I will have to leave and never return. However, publics streets are open game.

June 13, 2015
update: I went to a community forum this week and spoke to a public official who is an expert on local parking issues. He laughed when I asked if it was a problem for someone to sleep in their car to get out of debt. Like the attorney, he said as long as the car is parked legally, sleeping in it overnight is not illegal.

Back in the condo

On May 31, I slept in the condo for the first time in 2-3 years. It was filthy at first, as I expected it to be. But I immediately got a carpet shampooer and vacuum and cleaned the carpet from 8:30 to 9”30 that night. I was tired and hot. I thought abut pausing and resuming in the morning, but I persevered instead.  Then I took a shower in the dirty shower. The tenant left a couch, which I covered with a comforter, then I slept there and had a good night’s rest. It felt good to sleep with my legs spread out. My ankle swelling was gone in the morning. I think I’ve had poor circulation in my legs and that’s why my ankles are swelling. Drinking water appears to help.

The next day I planned to shampoo and vacuum one more time after work, but when I returned the power was off. I thought that would happen. So I didn’t get to clean the carpet a second time. I didn’t get to clean the kitchen and bathroom while there was still light. That’s ok. I don’t plan to use the kitchen and bathroom much anyway. I just need a place to sleep at night that’s clean, and the living room is now clean. I’m not even there during the day during the week.

Also, praise God, the weather has been cool – even in the month of June, I’m using the heat in my car again sometimes. In the apartment there is no heat or AC but I keep the window open all the time to keep it cool and fresh smelling, and I use a comforter at night to keep warm. I love sleeping with an open window. Not to mention. I just feel very safe sleeping in a building at night.

The plan is to stay here for 3 weeks and travel for 8 weeks during the summer. When I return I will need a place to stay. I can stay in temporary housing for professionals. 

Making the Envelopes Electronic

June 3, 2015

I’m going to try something different instead of envelopes. The cash is building up in my hair and clothing envelopes because I don’t spend much in those categories. I don’t like having all that cash in storage or in my car. So, I started a checking account in my online bank. I’m going to use the check card for all envelope expeneses (food, clothing, hair, household, fun money). I’ll use cash for gas because gas stations offer discount to cash customers. Instead of taking out a few hundred dollars every payday for the envelopes, I wi;l transfer the cash to a checking account.

I just need to remember to log every transaction in the right categeroy in Evernote so I keep an accurate account of where all the money goes. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

more updates on May car living

Ijust reread my New Yera's Day post. Ipredict3ed that the jounry of living in m y car would end in 3 months, that was 6 months ago!

I aso mentioned the condo  being in short sale status. The tenant is supposed to move out tomorrow. I plan to stay some nights in the condo  when she's gone. The short sale has been approved by the bank and closing is set for the end of this month.

Ihave trouble wit hmy ankles sweling up this month. Ithink it's dehydration. When Istrat3ed drinking more water, the swelling went down .Iwent 5 days not drinking water adn the swelling came back.

Updates on May

I just created my June Everydollar Budget with the Dave Ramsey software. I set aside money for traveling down South and for Father's Day.

 I'm sitting in my car in the shade. It's 72 degress outside - very hot sitting in the sun. But there's a breeze in the shade. I managed to make it through the month of May without paying for housing. Ihave 3 more weeks befroe I head down South so I nee to keep cool and safe till then. I have a back up plan for June. I found an agency that rents rooms (like a bed and breakfast, but without the breakfast) by the day, week, or month. They cater to traveling professionals. If a rather hot week is predicted in June I will call them up ( or call them up again, Ishould say. I aldready got a tour of their properties).  No lease involved. In fact, no security deposit either. It's like staying in a hotel, but cheaper. $800 for a month.

Ihaven't stayed at the hospital in weeks. The last 3 times Iwent, there was a cop sitting in his car. One night he left shortly after Iarrived, but still. Istarted to wonder if soeone had report3ed a lady sleeping in her car there and the cops are trying to scope the place out a little more rigorously. So, I've only stayed in my former apartment neighborhood. One night when it was too hot to sleep under covers in the back seat, I slept in the front seat, windows cracked, in an IHOPparking lot.

Ihave a new debt popping up - past due HOAfees from the past. They are about $11,000. I'm negotiating a payment plan with the HOA. This sets me back on my goal thermometer, since that did not include this debt. However, I'm still running like a gazelle.

Two nights ago, I went to storage after my evening job - 9:45 pm. I had a trunk full of items from my classroom that I've started cleaning out and I wanted to take them out of my car. Once there, I decided it wasn't worth the safety risk to be there at night alone, so I started to crank up and leave. Just then, two different vehicles with a total of 4 other people pulled up. I asked one guy how long was he going to be there. He said "for a while." I toldhim Ididn't want to be there by myself, so I was glad they all showed up. So I decided to stay.

Another guy complimented me several times on how organized my unit looked (has to be when you live out of there!).

I appreciated the compliment.

After a few minutes of reorganizing and getting everything out of my car, I finally decided to just toss the last few things in there and scram before the other people left. As i walked to my car, the guy who told me he would be there for a while made it a point to come find me and say he was leaving. Right on time! I thank God for sending those folks!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Getting my opportunity fund ready

"Good things come to those who wait, but better things come to those who hustle."

This quote is attributed online to Abraham Lincoln, but I learned it from Marcia Griffin, the founder of HomeFreeUSA and one of my early mentors. I admire the fact that after 10 years (when I met her), her business is going stronger and stronger.

I want to hustle and find investment properties, but I insist on being more ready this time. I don't resent investments failures from the past. they were learning experiences. I just won't make the same mistakes this time around.

I need funding: Kristin Wong mentions having an "opportunity fund" for investment opportunities that come your way. My investor friend Alex told me to get approved for a loan before I make offers on properties. He referred me to two people. I'm also going to call in a loan. Fortunately, I've already set up an LLC but I've never used it. I'm ready to use it now. I've gotten some landlording experience with this current tenant (the unpleasant kind of experience). I'm more ready to be a landlord.

In the meantime, I'm still setting aside money for future debts that I know are coming. I want these investment properties to pay for themselves. I don't want to use debt snowball money for investing.

I want to own a house - but not pay for it

I was concerned about how living in my car would work in the month of May. The weather is a lot warmer now, but becasue of the really cold winter, this spring has been very mild. So far, sleeping inthe car is very bearable temperature-wise these first two weeks of May.

I went on Craigslist and found rooms for rent. I found a place I'm willing to rent. It rents rooms by the week or month to people who are traveling on business. That sounds perfect for me. The house wasn't upscale at all. It was old, but decent. I didn't call and reserve a room because the weather has still been cool, but I like knowing that they are there as an option.

Maybe I'll call them later this month.

I went to visit a new apartment complex in a community I really like. Studios are $1500 a month! I battled with not feeling jealous about residents who were walking in and out. I kept reminding myself that probably are debt-strapped. this apartment complex sits in a college community - I'm sure it's full of college students letting Sallie Mae pay their rent. That doesn't make me jealous.

Others may be working but readily using credit cards not being off each month. I have no credit card debt. So, I walked away. I would like to go back one day just to tour the apartments and imagine myself in one just for the fun of it.

In the meantime, I decided that I want to buy a house someday and have someone else pay for it. Buy a 4-unit and let someone else pay. Or, buy a rooming house and let the tenants pay for it.

I will invest in real estate differently this time. This time I will have my own debts paid first and have emergency funds for my personal life. I will also have emergency funds for business. I also have friends (2 in particular) that I will call on to mentor me through the first few purchases.

Therefore, I've been looking at potential properties both down South and locally. I'm going to visit a property today, just out of curiosity. I got in touch with a former investor friend who I thought was ignoring me - it turned out it was a miscommunication. (Getting out of debt has made me a bolder person. I'm glad I reconnected that friendship. this is the second time getting out of debt helped me reconnect with friends).

This friend referred me to two lenders and gave me his opinion (a thumbs-up) on my ideas for purchasing a rooming house.

Can a debt snowball be overwhelming?

I was listening to an old Dave Ramsey talk show call in where a woman with 220,000 in debt said the debt snowball felt overwhelming. That's because she was looking at what she owes. DR told her that with serious lifestyle cuts, she could pay it off in 2 years, 3 years tops.

I don't know how long it will take her to pay it off. I know she's looking at the wrong numbers though. Don't look at how much you owe - look at how much you pay each month and how the balances decrease.

I know for me, I have paid off $8K in small debts and credit card debts, saved $10K for a used car, set aside $20K for house renovations, and paid down at least $5K in other long term debts. I've also managed to stay on top of my bills and pay for car breakdown needs, classroom needs, medical expenses, etc as I went instead of turning those expenses into debts. That's more than $40K towards debts/potential debts/savings in 20 months. I earn a lot less than the caller and her husband do.

Like DR said, you have to make serious sacrifices. Like another person said, you don't ease out of debt - you break out!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

No Fear

I signed up for Dave Ramsey's Every Dollar Budgeting Program. I love the layout and it's quite user friendly. You should try it.

It shows me visually and numerically what percentage of my budget falls into different categories (housing is 6% for me - unreal!).

It allows for sinking funds and shows me which baby step I'm on (not that I didn't know). I want to start reading the blog (but I have to find it first) and get motivation from others.

I'm starting over again with step 2. God and I have done incredible things these past 20 months. We've saved up the money to pay for renovating the parents' house. It's livable and comfortable (nothing fancy, but nice)

We've completed a car sinking fund (which I totally wasn't expecting to do when I started this journey). We've paid off all credit cards and small debts. Now I'm down to 4 very large debts - two of which I didn't know about till I got the courage to face ALL of my creditors, so I couldnt' include these amounts in the initial goals that I set.

No fear. It will all get paid. I'm taking the car payments I was making into the car sinking fund and setting them aside for when I have to start paying on these last two debts.

Those 4 debts are
1. a line of credit
2. student loans
3. past due HOA fees (new debt)
4. taxes after this short sale is done and I will be taxed on whatever amount the bank forgives. (new debt)

These debts will total an estimated - 89K.
Again, no fear.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Here are more websites about living in your car. However, tonight I am not living in my car. I am back down South visiting family.

I have to brace myself for some upcoming changes in my finances. My school is being taken over by another and I will get a decrease in salary. I want to give more to my church, and I need to pay off some past due HOA fees to sell that old condo of mine. After the short sale, I will probably owe the bank some money. That means more debts that are not a part of my current debt-paydown plan. (Well, giving is not debt). In the midst of all that, I need to start saving for retirement, which means investing in real estate.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

cleaning up credit reports

Two days ago at Kenya's house I had vegetarian meatloaf, cabbage, couscous, and cake with tangerine mango juice. I love her home-cooked meals! All week I eat cold store-bought food (like cereal and fruit cups) or fast food.

I'm participating in Budgetnista's Live Richer Challenge (Kenya introduced me to it). Sign up here.

Every day the Budgetnista talks about a new task to do to improve your finances. I have not found it very helpful because I started this journey about 18 months ago and have done everything she is suggested to do already. However, this week she focuses on improving your credit.

Dave Ramsey doesn't focus on credit building since that's a resource used by people who plan to be in debt (I know some people need it for jobs, too, but most of us don't). Some people need it for renting an apartment, but my poor credit scores (less than 620) have not kept me from renting in the past. So, I haven't been concerned about my credit score.

But, just to humor Budgnetista, I decided to go ahead and order my credit reports and work on cleaning them up.

I get my credit scores through the Discover It Card because Discover updates my credit score every 3 months. It was 619 one year ago before I paid off the credit cards and it was 629 today. By getting rid of debt, I have improved my credit score without even trying.

Sandwiches heated on engine block

I made sandwiches in my car. I heated separate ingredients on the engine block of my car, then assembled the sandwich in my car. Takes about 10 minutes to heat when the engine is very hot.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Post almost a year late


Aunt Theo came over recently and saw my new room. I slipped and almost gave myself away. I told her I've been here since September, but then I told her Jasmine's mother-in-law came to visit in October and that this is her room when she visits. Oops! So, where did I sleep in October when the mother-in--law was visiting??? Well, Aunt Theo didn't ask.

My tenant is moving out, so I'll lose that income. More importantly, I don't want to lose her friendship. I appreciate her being there for me. She and her aunt gave me a place to stay one night so I wouldn't be in my car, then they went looking for me one night when it was really cold. (I was in Jasmine's house that night).

Without that rent, I have to take another look at snowballing my debt, but it's all good. I'm still way ahead of where I thought I'd be back in September.

I guess I'll move back into the condo, but Jasmine assures me that there is no need to rush out.

I haven't diligently been working on summer employment. That's strange for me. I hope I'm not slacking up.

Lately, I've been thinking about how to support my parents in their golden years and the best ways to invest money. I've been researching the stock market again as well as considering investing in real estate, but this time as a lender first. I want to save up the money for my next house and buy a really decent house and not the cheapest thing I can find. I want to have money going in - not trying to do the no money down, use OPP method. Tried that, now I'm past that.

Car productivity on a snow day

Thursday, Mar 5

Today is another super snowy day. School is cancelled and will probably be cancelled tomorrow, too. So that makes it a four-day weekend. Ihad not planned for that. Four days in a hotel is too much. Idid it last time because Ineeded the leectricity to do a project.

So, today Imade myself productive by adding oil and colant to my car (it was smoking last night, and Ican't afford for it to catch fire - this is my home). I bought some household supplies, made some business calls, empited the mailbox (Icheck it about once a month), showered (haven't done this in about 2 weeks, so that felt good).

I also made myself eat home-cooked food instead of eating out. I'm really trying not to buy fsat food, but to stick to the food envelope. Iran some errands although the streets are horrible. It's not the best thing to do with the streets looking like they do, but there's not much eslse Ican  do.

I've spent some serious time reading Think and Grow Rich, so that was productive.

That's waht Idid on this snow day.

snow day Musings about safety

Sunday, Mar 1

It's been raining and sleeting all day. Since the roads are bad ,I chose to not travel around much, so I've spent all day in my car in a grocery store parking lot. I've gotten out twice so far to buy groceries. I made sandwiches and heated them on the engine block. They were delicisou! I also heated frozen veggies (a vairety I have never tried before). They were pretty bad. 

This is my last month in the car. I need to get into an apartement some time in April. In warm weather car creimes increase, people hang around outside longer increasing the chanes of me being discovered, and it's too hto at night to sleep comfortably.

On the news, there is a guy who was charged with randomly shooting people. He's a former police officer going through a divorce. He said voices in his head told him to shoot randome people. He injured a 60-year old.

The #1 fear Ihvae of sleeping in my car is a mentally ill homeless person. It's not about someone trying to rob my car to steal something - they don't necessarily have murder on their minds. A homeless person thinking about hearing voices or sees me sleeping and think I'm the government spying on him. My biggest fear is that one of them will see me in my car and do something crazy.

Fears of getting arrested are way, way at the bottom of my list. At lesast officers are not out to get me. They may have a bad attitude but not necessarly crazy. 

Ihave made good use of today. I'm reading Think and Grow Rich and researching investing in Hud homes. I also caught up on the Live Richer Challenge which my friend invited me to join. We are accoutnablility parneres and we shared our goals yesterdya. Ihave to remember to ask her if she acted on her goals this week. 

 also on 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

online articles about living in your car

Every now and then I do some online research on how to live out of your car. Like personal finance, even if you've read everything you think there is to read (or watch on Youtube), it's good to do a review and even learn some new insights you didn't know before. Here are some new articles I've discovered.

Guess where I am

Guess where I am?

For the first time since being homeless I actually rented a motel room for two nights.

 A snowstorm hit yesterday. There were accidents and cars sliding all over the metro area.

 My options were to rent this motel room or sit in my car with it running all day while doing nothing productive.

Instead, I brought the tape cassette project to this room where I have plenty of electricity and I've been digitizing cassettes FOR HOURS. One good thing about this project is that I'm listening to some sermons from John Nixon so it's a spiritual experience as well as an organizing experience.

 Another alternative was to work on this project in my classroom, but the school turns the heat down on weekends, so I would be miserable and cold in the classroom, then I would have had to leave at night and drive in dangerous conditions to my sleeping spot. So, yeah, this motel room was a good idea this weekend.

 It's an average motel, but the cheapest in the area (cheaper than some hotels that were related below-average online). I got a discount because I found the deal online. The room is so warm and the sleep last night was awesome. The only drawback I have is that the tub is brownish on the bottom, so the idea of soaking in the tub is OUT!

 Actual time in room - 38 hours
Cost - less than $150
Amounts to = <$4.00 an hour for warmth, electricity, comfortable & private sleep for 2 nights, cereal, shower

 While being productive, I also applied for a new job, cleaned up my Yahoo account (simplifying it according to David Allen's GTD principles), and watched very little television. I even fell asleep during Arrow (I shocked myself - I love that show).

The second morning that I woke up, I found two bedbugs in the bed. I had been itching throughout the night, but thought I was having a bad dream. I took a picture and showed it to management.

Still don't regret the decision to stay there. If it had been a more expensive hotel, I would only have stayed one night and not gotten as much done.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Discovering David Allen's GTD philosophy

I've been researching David Allen's GTD plan while digitizing cassettes. Some people described his systems as souped-up lists, but actually it's a philosophy. The biggest takeaway I've gotten so far is that only time-sensitive items need to be on my calendar - that's keeps the calendar from becoming a to-do list. That means I'm more likley to notice the time-sensitive items that are not cluttered with other tasks. Also, I need to create a someday/maybe list to have a place to put these projects that I want to do but not right now. I also researched GTD specifically for teachers. I see a way I can use Evernote to do that. While planning I started to see things come together and declutter themselves already. This is a good year for me teaching-wise. I'm really growing into being a more organized teacher. Maybe I should transition from this blog to an organized teacher blog when I move into my new apartment.

It's fun to live in my car.

In the past month, my dad went to the ICU. Both nieces have been to the ER for sports injuries. My school may shut down next year. Both nieces will be ok. Dad is out of the danger zone although still in the hospital (going on week 4). My school may be taken over by another charter school, so that's good news for next year. The temperatures have been in the single digits at night for the past 2 nights. With the wind chill, the temperature has been in the negatives. Last night, I got cold after 5 hours, so I let the car run for about 20 minutes, then went back to sleep for another 3 hours. I dared to sleep reclined in the front seat because I knew the windows would frost up during the night. It's more comfortable to sleep in the front seat than to sleep in the back seat. The debt snowball is still rolling. I haven't had any offers on the condo and it's still in foreclosure status. For the first time in 10 months I actually thought this week that living in the car is kind of fun. It's easy to clean and cheap to keep heated. I don't have to think about furniture. It's so inexpensive. I'm worrying less and less about being seen at night. I still pray each night, "Lord, please make me invisible to all people - both good and bad." However, I'm learning that people are so busy with their own business (and so cold due to the weather sometimes) that they don't really look around and notice others.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Daddy's in the hospital

One side effect of living in my car is it has helped me work on being more organized with time and belongings. The project today is eliminating old cassettes and floppy disks (yes, I said floppy disks). I started digitizing my old cassettes 3-4 years ago, saving old songs onto my computer. However, I stopped for two years. Now, that I'm doing it again, I realized that many of these songs were popular and on Youtube or Grooveshark now and they are NOT going away. There is not point in digitizing them. That revelation is saving me a lot of time. I'm focusing on saving old sermons, recordings of me and my siblings when we were children, and other hard-to-replace audio. One thing that is more important to declutter than my car, storage unit, or classroom is my soul. I read an update on Sandy Patty's blog that reminded me of this ( I have to decide what to keep, toss, or donate from my life. I need to work on throwing away wounds, slights, wrong decisions, adn broken relationships. Which brings me to a more important matter. My dad went into the ICU Wednesday because of diabetes complications. I researched flight options and informed my job that I may be taking off some days. Then it dawned on me that I could use technology to visit him in the hospital. I didn't mind spending $640 dollars for airfare plus more for a rental car, but my mom and Sasha assured me that he was getting better and better as the hours passed by so I chose the technology option. However, Google hangouts is terrible. After several hours of failing to get it to work, Aunt and Uncle Theo and I just downloaded Skype on our devices and practiced making Skype calls so that we can all visit with Daddy. Video chatting with him was my one goal yesterday, and it didn't even happen because the folks down South didn't have it and couldn't figure out how to get it in time. They were also busy with other tasks throughout the day. No one realized how much it hurt me not to be able to see Daddy yesterday. I cried before I went to bed. This morning, I'm over it. I'm thankful that I have my dad here still, and if I didn't have technology, I would be happy to just hear updates from people (Daddy can't talk, so that's another reason video-chatting was so important 0 so I could SEE him). So, I'll still be content. I'll also be focused on the day when there will be no need for hospitals and virtual visits.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Things I'll forever do differently after living in my car

Jan 14, 2014

 Some things I think I'll forever do differently after living in my car:

 1. wash coloreds and whites together if I don't have enough for full, separate loads.

2. I may or may not go back to ironing clothes again.

 3. Use dryer sheets to freshen the car.

 4. Never eat out again when I get my own kitchen.

5. Have a dedicated ready-for-bed routine.

 6. Give family an updated list of my friends to contact in case of emergency.

7. use to use current ingredients before they go bad

8. Get rid of credit cards

 9. Get rid of cable.

10. Save money for what I want, including business opportunities.

11. Live like I'm poor.

Things I'll forever do differently after living in my car

Jan 14, 2014

 Some things I think I'll forever do differently after living in my car:

 1. wash coloreds and whites together if I don't have enough for full, separate loads.

2. I may or may not go back to ironing clothes again.

 3. Use dryer sheets to freshen the car.

 4. Never eat out again when I get my own kitchen.

5. Have a dedicated ready-for-bed routine.

 6. Give family an updated list of my friends to contact in case of emergency.

7. use to use current ingredients before they go bad

8. Get rid of credit cards

 9. Get rid of cable.

10. Save money for what I want, including business opportunities.

11. Live like I'm poor.

Looking forward to an apartment

January 10 Last night was down in the single digits, but I was warm in my sleeping bag. Woke up at 6 o'clock - started the day doing laundry, gassing up the car, and running some errands. 2 hour delay at school. Tonight I went to the hospital to sleep. it was full of snow plows pushing snow out of the way. I sleep right next to a parking garage that is for doctors only. snowplow was pushing snow off the top of the garage right onto the spot where I usually park. I didn't hang around to see how long it would take them to finish and leave. there have been nights when I've been very sleepy driving around looking for a place to sleep either because there was a problem with the hospital or my old neighborhood. So, I decided to go ahead and sleep somewhere else (not the hospital) while I still alert enough to drive safely. I really look forward to being back in an apartment in April. I don't look forward to spending 1200 dollars for an apartment. I'm seriously considering just coming back and living in my car every winter. 6 months in an apartment and six months in my car. that's like giving myself a 7000 dollar bonus every year.

I missed a tow - close call

Dec 10 It's tough sleeping in my sleeping bag when I'm on my period, because I don't want to have an accident and stain the bag. I go to sleep slightly worried. Yesterday I slept in the front seat because I didn't want to risk an accident. I chose a new parking lot to sleep in - in the old neighborhood but not on the street. I didn't want to be caught in the front seat in one of my favorite places.Then I wouldn't be able to go back there. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning - I don't know why. Ten minutes later, a tow truck came and towed the car next to me. I thank God for waking me up just in time. I had turned on the heat because I was cold and was sitting there probably looking like I was waiting for someone. This month I got a new tablet to help me be more organized. My finances are the most organized area of my life. Now it's time to really bring the physical stuff and my time management up to par. The tablet allows me to keep notes up to date, plan better, and keep up with notes without losing them. One of my resolutions was to keep an "Everything journal" - which I did this year - yay, me - but lost each journal at least once. I don't think I'll lose this technology. It's too expensive to mindlessly leave somewhere. I expect the technology to help me be more organized and paperless in the classroom, too. Maybe the problem is not that I'm not organized, but that there is too much paper. Using technology helps tame that. I'm happy to be enjoying this day with family and Jefferson down South.

Knocking off the student loans now...

December 19, 2015 I just discovered a great new idea - get dressed at night in whatever clothes I plan to wear the next day. Up till now, I’ve been sleeping in whatever I wore that day. I changed in the morning in my car sometimes. However, if I change I night, I’m less likely to be seen changing. Short sale – the bank is doing stuff and so is my realtor, but I have no clue how this will end. We've paid $1600 in student loan interest this year. That should max out my student loan interest deduction this year. It feels good to hit my finances on two fronts like that – paying down debt and making a smart tax move. We have used 22 months of forebearance and have 14 left. with forebearance no application is necessary and I am responsible for interest on subsidenized loans. With deferments, the government pays inters with subsidized loans and there is no limit to deferment time when I am in school.

New shower curtains!

January 5 Great news! The gym got new shower curtains - cloth ones. Suddenly, the shower water tastes warmer and better, my own shower towel felt softer to the touch, and I was completely hidden in the shower - unlike before. I like the curtain so much I think I could stay in my car for the rest of the year! Nah, just kidding. I worked at my school for 9 hours tonight not leaving till 3 in the morning, I needed a place to nap for 2 hours and I wanted to sleep in the front seat. I couldn't risk staying in the hospital or my usual neighborhood because I might be discovered and then I can't stay there anymore. So I drove to a 24-hour IHOP. I went out of my way to get there. So why were there 7 police cars in the parking lot? Fortunately, there was a hotel next door. I parked in the space between the hotel, IHOP, and some other businesses. I gave my family a heads up that I was coming back to fetch Jefferson in April. I look forward to being back in an apartment. I could move in now, I suppose, However, it makes no sense to move in in the dead of winter. I would spend so much unnecessary money just keeping warm. It's much cheaper to heat up my small car.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015!

I didn't think it had been a month since I wrote. Nevertheless, Happy New Year! 2014 was a powerful year for me. In 2014, I - started the year unemployed, but got a new job earning more. - helped parents fix up the floor and the gaping holes in the wall in their house. - paid off credit cards and began saving for a car - lived in my car for 4 months - decreased paper in my life by digitizing all of my past tax records and some of my job-related work - faithfully kept an everything journal (which I am now digitizing) - gave to causes that were important to me - paid extra on student loans - got caught up filing all of my taxes I only kept one of my New Year's Resolutions from last year. I don't feel discouraged, though. In fact, I'm ready for 2015. Here are my resolutions for 2015. 1. drink a bottle of water a day 2. pray/meditate 15 minutes a day 3. read a book each month 4. publish an article 5. use less paper in my life 6. contact friends and acquaintances the first week of each month 7. save for retirement When it comes to using less paper in my life, I really want to be more organized this year. That will help a lot with not getting into financial trouble again. I went to ChikFilA with family tonight and my mother (who is also disorganized) handed me 4 coupons that expire today. I was supposed to buy dinner for the nieces and nephew. While standing in line, my sister pointed out to me that the coupons were for BREAKFAST. I asked if I could use them anyway, and the cashier let me. If she hadn't, that would have been $12 down the drain. (One coupon was forgotten at home, so that one actually did go down the drain). That's an example of a small leak, but small leaks are just signs that there are bigger leaks somewhere. I know this is true in my life. So, becoming more organized is very important to my financial health. I have started using Evernote to help me be more organized and particularly to get rid of paper. This journey of living in my car to save money and get financially stable will end in about 3 months, when the weather gets too warm to stay in my car. It has been exciting and I've learned how strong I am. The condo property is still in foreclosure/short sale status with a buyer. I'm really interested in seeing how this all works out.