"Idiots on Wall Street Kicking Sand in the Face of the American Taxpayer"

Monday, October 6, 2008

Time Flies When You Can't Pay the Bills

I didn't realize how long I have been away from this blog. All I can say is "My how time flies when you can't pay the bills!" It's true. I know I just got my monthly credit card statement. You know, the one I haven't paid in several months. And I know I just got the past due notice not two days ago, and here it is DUE DATE again. Irresponsible I know, but I don't even open it anymore. Can't bear to see that HUGE interest rate, along with the over the limit fee and the late fee added to that progressively rising balance. But I derive some comfort from watching the news because I know I'm not alone.

The good news is we worked out a plan with the mortgage company to get our house payment back on time. The bad news is we can't afford the increased payment we worked out. Hell, we couldn't afford the payment before we worked it out. And I'm beginning to realize why so many people are losing their homes to foreclosure. You begin to see the mortgage payment as a big black hole sucking up what little money you are making each month. The money you need to eat and pay medical costs and clothe and educate your children. The money you need to buy gas for your car to make sure the oil companies can keep gorging themselves on those big profits. The money that should be going into your shrinking 401K?

So the government has bailed out the big boys on Wall Street and we are supposed to be comforted to know that hopefully (all fingers and toes crossed) the move will free up the credit markets so my husband will continue to have a job and a paycheck. So you, if lucky enough to still have a job, can keep it and continue to have your paycheck.

Otherwise, freeing up credit won't help our family one iota. Because when you don't pay your bills on time, YOU CAN'T GET CREDIT!!!!! It is a big Catch-22. The mess on Wall Street led to my job loss, and we can no longer pay our outstanding obligations. Therefore, we are losing whatever little credit standing we had. And if we lose our home, our credit standing will be further damaged. Yes, my husband will hopefully still get a paycheck, we just won't have anywhere to live. Because who is going to rent to someone with crappy credit???

Suggestions anyone?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Discouraging Words

So I applied for a job on Tuesday. A local magazine was seeking someone to distribute their publication. One job. Over thirty applicants. Haven't heard back from them. Not surprised!

This morning, in honor of the last day of school, I let my son sleep in and I drove him the 8 miles to school as opposed to his catching the very early bus. Passing the gas station, I noticed the price of one gallon of unleaded gasoline: $3.90.

My husband got paid today. I paid the bills. Some of them were late and we got stabbed with those extra service charges. But, we have water, electricity and cable for another month. Woohoo! And we have $220 left to hold us over for another month. Hmmm... trying to figure out how to divy that up:
-Medications? (one daughter with no insurance = $200.00/month for prescriptions)
-Doctor visit? (daughter has to go to doctor this month = $100+ ).
-Food? Son is out of school for the summer so that means three meals a day at home. (Have you fed a growing boy lately??)
-Gas for the car?
I just can't decide which of these luxuries to splurge on....

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Truckers United

As the price of gasoline inches toward the $4.00 per gallon mark in our neck of the woods, with every drop put into the tank, I want to stomp my feet in protest. And I can do that. But what's better. I can stand up with the truckers and say, "hey, wait a minute..."

Perhaps my ignorance is showing, but could someone answer me this:

Why are independent truckers barely staying afloat while big oil companies post record profits?

Could it be the same reason why many families are losing their homes to foreclosure while the government bails out the big banks?

I don't know. That's why I asked.

Drew Carey Tells Us to Stop Whining

Drew Carey tells us Middle Class Americans to stop whining because, according to him, we actually have it better than ever. Seems Mr. Carey thinks our bare cupboards are merely an illusion brought on by media brainwashing.

Thanks, Mr. Carey. I'll serve that information to my family tonight at dinner. Right along with the spam.

Eeking Out A Living

I've been away from this blog for several months, and you want to know: Where have you been? Well, you will remember back in January I was on the brink of losing my job, and I did. I lost my job. So, for the past several months, I have been eeking out a living.

Here is how I'm doing it. I fell back on an almost-forgotten skill I learned as a child. I have been... sewing! Yes, I said sewing! How did I get from there to here?

First of all, the prospects for a job in my field in the area where I live were not good. So I didn't even go in that direction. And I decided that if I was going to change the way I make a living, I was really going to change the way I make a living. So I figured, well, I'll just work for myself. And I'll work from home. That way, I don't have to buy gas, I don't have to buy nice clothes, I don't have to eat out, I don't have to stress over a "real" job. So, I started sewing. From about 7 in the morning until well into the night, handbags were flying off my sewing machine. And I was selling them - to my family, to my friends, to my neighbors, to my former co-workers. And was actually making a little money. Then I realized I needed to expand my customer base, so I found an internet site for selling handmade items and signed up in January. And guess what? I'm actually making a living... sewing! And, I have learned a few things along the way:

-Middle Class America may be broke. But it is still spending money.
-Middle Class America may be broke. But Middle Class (Other Country) is not.

I've also learned that there remain people in the world who appreciate handcrafted items. People who actually prefer handcrafted. And are willing to pay a little extra to buy something that isn't mass-produced in a factory. But, there are still some people who just don't get it.

Example: I have put some of my hand-stamped market bags for sale at a local outdoor fruit and vegetable market. But they aren't selling. Reason? The shoppers comment that they can purchase a market bag at XXXMart for $2.00. Why pay $7.00 for mine? Yes, you can. You can support the big corporation headquartered out-of-state by buying their mass-produced, imported bags, or you can support a local resident by buying a bag handcrafted right here in the good ole' USA, right here in your own community. Your choice. Unfortunately, I've found most will go with the XXXMart bag every time. And the funny thing is, they are purchasing fruits and veggies from locals to support the local farmers and the local economy, but they don't apply this theory to other purchases. Go figure.

So that is where I've been. And that is where I am. I wish I could tell you my endeavor as an entrepreneur has alleviated my financial woes and has taken me out of Middle Class Poor, but it just ain't so. And I don't foresee that happening. But I will tell you this. I feel more grounded than ever before because I am confident we will endure the hardships of living Middle Class, and I know we will survive. And in the meantime, we are living a little lighter. We aren't using as much fuel; we aren't making extravagant purchases; we are choosing to spend our dollars on local and handmade goods whenever possible; and, we are helping save the earth. One bag at the time.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Spend Less, Save More? Right.

The date of my final paycheck is fast approaching, and we continue to examine ways to cut back on spending. Always one to consult the experts for needed advice, here's what I've found. Most financial experts advise to spend less, save more. But as I scour the grocery ads while dutifully clipping coupons, I have to ask - just how realistic is this advice?

How can you spend less when there is less to spend? With more and more of our income going toward food and fuel, how do we spend less? On what? Our thermostat is set at 68 degrees, we keep the fireplace burning as needed. We don't eat out; we use coupons and shop wisely for food, and the food continues to run out before the paycheck comes in.

We don't spend money on outside entertainment. We don't buy anything that is unnecessary. We don't crank the car unnecessarily. We don't go to the doctor unless an emergency or life-threatening illness. We shop yard sales and thrift stores for clothing and other needs.

So where should we cut back? Stop buying milk? Bread? Or maybe completely turn off the utilities? Sell our home and look for more affordable housing? Sell? Are you kidding, to who? Affordable housing? It doesn't exist around here. A month's rent is the same as a month's house payment.

Yup, this little piece of advice can be filed under "Nonsense." And the next piece? The one about save more? It clearly belongs in the file marked "Outrageously Ridiculous."

How can you save money when you don't have money to save? I don't know about you, but given a ten dollar bill and the choice between spending today to fill my rumbling, empty stomach or saving for the future - I am going to eat every time!