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Friday, January 22, 2010

I'm baaaack

1832 portrait of English writer and biographer...Image via Wikipedia

So, I took a break from blogging. For more than a year. I think I've been in denial. I didn't want to think about my financial situation every day. Too overwhelming. It was a lot of work and stopped being cathartic. And nobody was reading. Not very rewarding.

But I'm back, although sporadically. I'm going to put down my thoughts occasionally. I'm probably not always going to bother to post relevant pictures or spell everything right. This is for me this time.

This blog is never going to be an income stream for me. Most of the Google ads that are "relevant" are scams targeting people already in financial trouble. Be careful with those.

So what good things have I done for myself financially since last year?

I'm in a payment plan with the IRS and the state revenuers for back taxes.

I'm current on all my credit card payments. Most of my credit card interest rates are 10% or below, though I have a partial balance on an annoying CitiCard that morphed to 28.99% after the bait and switch balance transfer teaser rate expired.

The vast majority of our disposable income is going towards paying down debt, and we are current on all our bills and our mortgage. I have begun answering the phone again. Usually.

In order for the little poorhouses to participate in extra curricular activities I have asked for financial aid, and in most cases received it, despite the fact that on paper our income looks pretty high. We are not the only ones in dire straits, and organizations know it.

Mr. Poorhouse and I are both working at jobs we (usually) love. We both got raises this year. This is a good thing. We have good health care. Would that everyone did.

We are again saving for retirement and for college.

We took a vacation last year--road trip, and cheaped by priceline. It was probably still more than we should have spent, but then again, it could have been worse.

We still have suspended charitable contributions. This feels awful, especially given the current devastation in Haiti. When Katrina and the tsunami in southeast Asia hit, we made very generous donations to the American Red Cross. More generous than we could really afford, to tell the truth. Maybe, though even $10 will help some. We can do that.

We don't buy books anymore. The children's voracious reading habits are being satisfied by paperbackswap.com. All it costs is the cost of postage to mail the books we are purging. Cool deal. I got a Kindle for Christmas (that was a splurge) and am only downloading free books. (And there are so many wonderful free books in the public domain that I'm not missing more modern ones. I'm currently discovering Elizabeth Gaskell.)

I'm getting some counseling to deal with the depression that living under this rock has caused.

That's the good news.

The bad news that being in debt stinks. I can never imagine a day when we'll be free. We are still perilously close to insolvency. All it would take is another layoff, or a serious illness in the family to send us back over the brink. Our cars are in serious need of repair. We put that off. Our home is in serious need of maintenance. We put that off. My body is in serious need of exercise. I'm working cheap alternatives to a health club. Our credit is still damaged, so we can't take advantage of the equity in our house to refinance the debt.

I still have some financial stuff to work on. Maybe I'll talk about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.



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