Monday, September 22, 2014

Pastures of peace



It's a little dull around my world lately.

Our personal finances are on track.  Once payday hits and I've done the exciting things like pay bills, play with the excel tracker, and put cash in our fun envelopes, it's boring until the next payday.

I'm back on the nothing-but-protien wagon after a summer of excess.  It's going well, already dropped a couple pounds (again, the same pounds over and over) but meat is boring.

I'm still not drinking.  21 days - 2 weeks!  But not doing something is sorta boring - wonderful. good, yes yes - but boring.

I've gotten 43 things listed on Ebay, 1 sold, 2 pending close of auction.  Boring.

Boring is hard to get used to.  And in fact, boredom can be easily confused with PEACE.

I remember feeling like this after I started reading all of these ACoN blogs, and dealing with the STORM of emotions that came up.  It was as if all the angst left inside me from my fucked up childhood and subsequent lifetime of bad decisions got squeezed out all at once and then my life and my world calmed WAY down.  My time living in Maryland was all about learning to live with no drama, learning to live in a life that was finally QUIET.

It's taken me about 4 years, really, all things considered, to learn to live a quiet drama-free life.  I still struggle with peace.  To learn that boundaries, MY BOUNDARIES, are actually very quiet things.  Inert.  Just like a wooden fence, actually - my boundaries of no narcs, no drama are the most calm and solid thing in my world.  The fences, as I think of them, are out in a big green field.  Far from me.  And every day that passes, they move (quietly, no fuss) a little further away from me.

My calm safety zone just gets bigger and wider - and more precious, more beautiful.  And the narcs may be talking about me.  They may be saying mean things about me, smearing my name all over creation.  In fact, I do believe in the case of Jeff's family, that's probably what is happening, since I did the unthinkable and walked away.  But you know what?  They can stand at that fence and jaw and talk all they want.  I can't see them, I can't hear it, and all that expanse of lovely quiet farmland grass is between us.  I love the buffer of it all.  The best part of it is that I forget about my mother, my childhood, all of it for lovely delicious chunks of time.  And those times that I completely don't think about any of them, where they don't enter my mind, get longer and longer.

That's the thing about going 'no contact' I think.  It's so very DECISIVE and causes SO MUCH DRAMA.  It's yelling and screaming, whether in person or via phone messages or even emails and texts.  It's flying monkeys and bullshit and PTSD attacks and guilt.  For a LONG time.  And then, slowly, it starts being QUIET more than it is noisy.  (altho, MY decision to go NC caused more angst inside my own head than it caused with my family.  I have the ignoring type of narc mother, not engulfing, so my journey was a little easier.  Still a lot of mental gymnastics, but not so much outside drama.  But I understand this is the case usually.)

The further you move into it, the better it gets.  Sure you're still beset with the mental agony of living a lifetime among the crap, and furious righteous anger at them and then guilt for leaving and second-guessing - but it's quiet and very still, now, so you can begin the work of peeling them off of you. (You can't possibly start peeling crap off of yourself while you're still sitting in crap.)  The loud screechy banshees are finally quiet and you can fucking THINK for whole thoughts at a time.  You write, you think, you dust your neglected house, you throw stuff away, you clean out your head and your surroundings and you just THINK.  And it's glorious.

And soon your boundaries start moving a little bit away from you.  You aren't fighting them at hand-to-hand combat anymore, it's 5 feet away from you.  Then a block away.  Then a mile.  And so it goes.

It's then - when the boundaries get far away, and the quiet spaces get so lovely and big, that people stop writing their blogs (I think).  Or go a different direction.  Because the narcs aren't taking up all the room anymore, and more wonderful amazing things can get in.  LIFE can just be there.

So many blogs told me what I now know to be true.  The only way to actual peace from the narc drama in your world is absolute unflinching no contact.  I know you don't want to.  You still want the round peg to fit into the square hole.  I know you want to keep trying.  Birthday parties and Christmas (oh my god christmas is coming *shudder*) and all the "reasons" to play at being a family that isn't poisonous.  But it will never fit.  And it IS poisonous.  And I'm telling you, the way others told me - it is so amazingly wonderful when you just walk away.

You CAN choose peace, you know.  You can choose it for yourself.  You get to pick.

The only way to win is to refuse to play.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Second Hand Rose

I know I have been in this place before, this 'excited to save money let's get out of debt save all the pennies' place.  I feel like I cycle around to the same freaking posts every year or so.  But - you know what?  *shrug* whatever.  It's probably so boring to read, and this blog is SO all over the place.  I'll do posts about the woo-woo again but for now this is what's bubbling to the top of my brain/life, so this is what I write.
I did not buy this but I should have dammit.
CRAP I'M SELLING ON EBAY:

Vera Bradley Backpack New with Tags (NWT)
Found this brand new with tags still attached yesterday at the Am Vets.  Bought for $5, listed for $78.  No action yet, but comps are selling for $85 or so, so I have hope.  
Why sideways, Blogger?  WHY?
One of my Coach bags - listed on auction starting at $35 + $10 shipping.  Already has a bidder, so SOLD.  5 people are 'watching' it, so the price could go up.

Charm off of a Coach purse I gave to Mike's girlfriend - the purse was too 'used' to sell but she loved it.  I ganked the charm before I gave it to her, har har.  Listed this charm on auction at $4.99 to start.  It's already been bidded up to $6.24 with $2.00 shipping.  So, SOLD, with 10 people watching.

Another of my purses, already sold and shipped it.  Sold for $80 + $12.50 shipping.  I had bought this used off of Ebay 8 years ago or so - nice!

And lest you think it's all purses up in here, behold:


Ann Taylor skirt.  Bought for $2.00, already sold and shipped for $20.

Brands like Patagonia, Lands End etc sell like HOT CAKES (yum, pancakes).  If you have thrift stores in your area it's a totally easy way to make a few bucks.

Also, I buy our own clothes at thrift stores!  
Jeff in silk embroidered shirt I bought for $5!
Jeff's bday present this year - ack-shoo-lee bought used on Ebay for him, $50 but Tommy Bahama is HUGE collectable
Next post - the Magical Giving Dumpster of Love.  That thing is like unicorns and hobbits all wrapped up in pop tarts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Micro Burst - San Diego, 2014

We got hit with a very strange storm yesterday.  There is a hurricane down south, been causing heat and nearly unbearable humidity this last week.  Triple digits in part of the county, and I live right on the river bed so the air is still and THICK  - but typical San Diego blue skies.

Yesterday it started to get cloudy.  Which is WEIRD here.  Half the sky was dark like a thunder storm, half was blue sky.  10 minutes later this happened. (this is my patio)

video
Mike and I are the ones talking I suggest you turn your sound off, lol.  This little video ends because I realized THIS IS A HURRICANE shit was FLYING around us and I am on the third floor.  Mike reached up and *yoinked* my wind chimes/hummingbird feeder/plants off their hooks, we were tripping over patio plants that were flying over and NO SHIT we ran into the house and shut the door.

Down below at the pool area umbrellas were sent soaring, tables turned over and the glass shattered, chairs were tumbling around.  It lasted maybe 10 minutes and it was - scary, actually.  I was very glad Mike was here doing laundry.

Directly after the storm cleared, the air was full of the sounds of sirens.  Fire dept, emergency rescue - some of the homeless guys in the river had a very scary time of it and as of last night one was missing - he either got to a shelter or got swept down stream.

these pics are from just now - blue sky day!  mosquitos everywhere.  when you go out it feels like someone tossed a wet warm towel over your head.

Can't imagine what this sounded like during the storm

Trees are pretty stripped of foliage now
My patio looks like someone shook it and stirred it with a stick.

At the small airport just north of here, planes were tossed over.  The damage in the rest of the county, especially east of here, is huge.  Well, huge for US.  I have a new respect for tornado and hurricane survivors.  This was a teeny-tiny little bit of a taste of what a REAL storm must be like.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Paying down debt - you really can I swear

(day 14 two weeks no drinky)

Like, no shit this is how we are lately
I've been selling stuff on Ebay for years.  I go to thrift stores and painstakingly (ugh) comb the racks of clothes for items worth selling.  It's time consuming, and it can be disgusting and a bit difficult for an introvert (crazy people are all! over! thrift stores!) but sometimes I find an amazing item to sell.

[Remember the movie Flashdance?  (were you alive during the 80's?) Jennifer Beals wore these fancy designer branded jeans - Marithé et François Girbaud was the designer.  I happened to miss that fad (I was wearing Levis at the time, har) but evidently ALL THE GIRLS in Jr Hi wanted those jeans.  I found a dress at a thrift store for $5 by that designer

From my Ebay ad
I have it listed at $95.  There are 3 people 'watching' it right now - I'm hoping it sells soon.]

I just sold an Ann Taylor skirt (bought for $3, sold for $20), a Lilly Pulitzer top (bought for $1, sold for $10) (both boughten at thrift stores) (boughten is TOO a word) and I also sold one of my old Coach purses for $80. (getting rid of my stuff, I continue to be so over having stuff)

On average, on any day in the Am Vets or Goodwill store, I will find 10-15 Ann Taylor pieces in fabulous condition.  I'll maybe buy 3 of those, they need to be either in fashion or sort of timeless, and in pristine condition because I suck at sewing repairs.  I also find stuff like Ralph Lauren men's long sleeve shirts with the polo pony embroidered, I find these by the dozens.  I am taking my time to learn more about men's shirts because I have discovered it is a THING and they will pay big bucks for certain brands.  I take a written list of brands I am looking for with me into the stores.

I concentrate on clothing because it is easy to ship - lightweight and foldable.  (Shipping charges are no joke and you need to research that shit VERY WELL before you decide to start selling stuff using the USPS.)  I only sell the higher end stuff (Ann Taylor and above) because I refuse to store a bunch of used crap I am trying to sell for $5.  (I have maybe a dozen pieces hanging in my spare room closet awaiting selling/shipping right now, and that's about my max for storing stuff.)  Plus thrift stores charge a lot more these days than you maybe remember.  $5 is pretty average for a top or a skirt (which is ROBBERY).  So if I can't triple my money I don't play.  They always have sales too - one day it's the red tags, one day it's the yellow tags...  So I only buy that color tag on that day, unless it's a screaming amazing deal.  Sometimes I leave with nothing (nothing but a raging case of I NEED TO TAKE A SHOWER, anyway.)  (I also wash everything when I get it home.  I cannot stand the smell of thrift stores and I refuse to sell something that's been kicked around closets/yard sales/back rooms of thrift stores over and over.  It takes time/detergent/electricity but my broken brain can't take the thought of it otherwise.)

What I'm saying is, if you need some extra money and you have the time, this is one way to go.

The other thing I'm doing?  Like selling that purse, I am getting rid of more of my own crap.  I moved across the country twice and some stuff is still in boxes from the first move.  That shit is going down next to 'The Magical Giving Dumpster of Love' (I'll do a follow-up post on that) or it is going to be taken down to the the concrete picnic benches along the river for the homeless (I give them any clothes I end up not selling on Ebay too, along with shampoo/soaps from hotels and our old shoes when we buy new) OR I am selling it.

Ladies - you know how when you buy cosmetics from a fancy brand, like Lancome or Clinique, you get those 'gift with purchase' items?  I sell all of mine on Ebay also.  They go for at least $5 each, and hey, it was free to me and if I'm not using it, I sell it.  You would be shocked at what people will pay money for!  Jeff brought home a 'One Dinar' bank note from Bahrain the last time he went.  It is worth .86 cents at current exchange rates.  I can sell it for $5 on Ebay.  I KNOW, RIGHT?

Like I said above, if it wont sell?  I give it away.  I'm not only interested in making money, I want to get rid of my crap.  CDs are not ever going to sell anymore, not worth the time and trouble - especially the ones I listen to.  Plus with internet radio, why have CDs?  I am going to make a pile of the ones I don't listen to anymore (Martina McBride?  Steely Dan?  Squirrel Nut Zippers?  anyone?) and just put them next to the dumpster.  Someone will want them.  I could donate them back to the thrift store too, but I like the instant karma I get from that dumpster.

I also signed up for this survey site, Swagbucks.  (I'm not posting a link because you are smart, you can find it.  I ain't selllin' you nothin'.)  You earn points using that page to do your internet searches, or watching their short commercials or taking surveys and all that crap.  I start one of the commercials, turn the sound off on my computer and open a new window and ignore it - they just play while I do other stuff.  Then you go and click the next one.  I use the search feature until it pisses me off then I open another window and use Google.  I RARELY qualify for their surveys, but anyone with any health problems, or who is in a younger age bracket/different ethnicity/different income bracket will probably fare much better.  You can really score points on those surveys, and all they take is time.  It's BORING and everything, but you rack up points using all those different ways on the site and for 450 Swagbucks points you can get a $5 amazon gift card.  I've gotten 4 of those in the last month or so - $20 for doing nothing essentially.

There are several kinds of survey sites out there, just search for one.  I haven't had a problem with this one, YMMV (your mileage may vary)

I am in FULL ON debt pay off mode.  That is what this post is about.  I am reading personal finance blogs and researching debt snowballs and just working it.  By this time next year I want to be able to save at least 75% of Jeff's paycheck - only using 30% to live on and pay bills.  Then after that I'll work towards 80%.  I wish I had started this 20 years ago.

No more credit cards, no more interest payments, no more loans.  NONE.  I want all of our money working for US.  I have no clue about investments, or 401k vs Roth IRA or any of that crap.  I suppose once I have money to invest I will learn.  I'm not interested in day trading or buying gold coins or swapping money from one credit card to another with zero interest for 90 days - that sounds like rigmarole to me and I HATE RIGMAROLE.

How I'm Helping Us Pay Down Debt:

1.  I created a payment tracker, took over paying bills, and made certain that every dollar is assigned a job.  Mine is a ZERO SUM payment schedule - pay bills, pay envelopes, snowball pay one debt as much extra money as you can, the rest goes to savings.  I leave $40/$50 in the account to float over to next payday, just in case.  But that's all that sits in that account.  I take cash out for each of us, for groceries, for rent, for entertainment, and for a wee tiny emergency fund (currently empty as dogs went to groomer it was a total emergency of the smelly variety.)  We have money in savings now, an unheard of thing really, and are on track to pay off our first loan by early October.  I take this 'job' very seriously these days.  I bought NEW fabric envelopes to keep our cash in because the paper ones disintegrated
Very Serious Cash Envelopes for our budget (not our actual envelopes)
And by 'very seriously' I mean 'damn this is dull how can I have fun with this'?  Those envelopes are awesome, btw - very sturdy.  We will be using this system for another year at least.  They were $20 for 6 of them.  WHATEVER I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA

Having a CASH ONLY system is the bomb, btw.  Both of us have turned into miserly frugal Scrooges. Out to eat?  nah, we have groceries.  Plus the gas.  (Jeff takes each car once a payday to the base where he works to get gas.  Here in San Diego, cheap gas at the base runs us $3.65 A GALLON holy crap.)

2.  I shop for groceries at a discount food store.  It sucks ass, frankly.  I used to be able to get a Starbucks coffee INSIDE the store, to sip on while I perused the deli cheeses and various marinades.  Now?  I have my mp3 player going, I keep track of every cent on my calculator app, I make certain I don't go over my cash allowance, I shop with a list, and I don't dilly-dally.  The discount stores aren't air conditioned very much, they have minimal variety (except of like, sugary breakfast cereal and packaged pasta meal crap), and you have to bag your own groceries.  I pay cash out of my little envelope and walk out with a shit-ton of food for not much money.

3.  I am working on bringing in any income at all - I started taking our recycling in for cash.  It is not fun, not one bit.  I tend to wait until the trunk and the back seat of my car (poor car, poor poor pretty car) are full of kitchen trash bags filled with cans/plastic drink containers.  I also will gank any recycling from the dumpster as I walk past - beer bottles, cans, plastic water bottles, anything with the CRV logo on it.  At 0.5 cents per, I absolutely will take it.  I know, I know - it sounds scroungy, but it's free money.  I also will pick up every single coin I find while walking, heads up, tails up, whatever it's free money.

All change goes into the change jar.  Our bank has a change counter machine - it deposits the total directly into your account with no charges, how cool is that?  I used to use CoinStar - and I still would if my bank didn't offer this.  Yeah, they charge a fee but far better than me counting and rolling all those coins.  (Yes, I'll dig cans out of the dumpster and shop in thrift stores but I wont count my own coins.  I am bat crap crazy, we have established that.)

3.  I sell stuff on Ebay:  I have about $180 in my paypal account right now.  Scheduled purchases include ink for the printer, and part of a birthday present for my grandson.  I plan on listing another purse (it's an illness, I tell you, I need to STOP WITH THE PURSES) and I have updated my other listings so that they refresh in the search engine on the site.  This is a fun side business for me but it runs feast/famine so there is no guarantee of any amount of money.  PayPal will deposit any amount of your funds directly into your bank account, so you can use it as cash to pay bills.

4.:  I use that survey search engine site:  I now have about $35 in amazon gift cards (they never expire.) Amazon has everything, and offers free shipping.  No option for cash but with birthdays and xmas shopping you can't lose here.  Free money, hellz yeah.

I guess this ties into my woo-woo tin foil hat stuff - I think debt is a created way for TPTB (the powers that be) to keep us tied into the system.  Keep us working at jobs so that we can buy a new car, a new tablecloth or outfit for fall, a new phone, all with contracts or interest payments.  Even buying a house ties you to an area, keeps you in a stranglehold so that if you DO have an opportunity to switch jobs to a higher paying one you cannot go without a big pile of rigmarole.  I have been half in/half out of this merry go round for years.  I wear thrift store used clothes but buy fancy purses.  It makes no sense, I was letting my greed and vanity tell me I needed a certain bag to compete.  I now understand the whole 'hipster' thing very well - I can't afford what you're selling me so I'm going the OTHER direction and buying a used 1974 volkswagon/carrying a canvas bag/staying in Motel 6.

I mean SERIOUSLY what is up with the 'December to Remember' Lexus commercials, does any normal person get a brand new $40,000 car as a gift?  If jeff went out and bought a new $300 tv without telling me I would whoop his ass.  Much less a car with a loan that ties up our income for 10 years!!  Or the diamond commercials at valentine's day.  (and PS those chocolate diamonds?  they are the crap of the diamond world.  Remember such terms as CLARITY and COLOR?  historically only the white diamonds (Elizabeth Taylor!) are worth anything.  The diamond companies CREATED a market for their trash and people are buying it!)

Take a look at your next credit card bill.  There was a new law passed that says they have to disclose info about interest you pay - there is a box on there somewhere that will tell you how long you will be paying if you pay the minimum payment.  LOOK AT IT.  You will never, ever, pay that bitch off.  Not without upping the payments.

Anywhozle - if you are thinking of paying down your debt/paying up your savings, IT IS POSSIBLE.  Maybe only a dollar at a time, but it is possible.

TL:DR - do what you have to do to get out of debt.  The end.





Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Woo woo vibes and NPCs

My dog Charlie - well, he's special.  And by that, I mean the completely non-PC version of 'special' in that I joke he needs a helmet and a short bus.

I SAID I KNOW IT'S NOT PC.  It's just that - he's kind of *stupid* and aren't dogs 'sposed to be wicked schmaht? <--Good Will Hunting ref.

Aside from being a dumb-ass (but!  SO CUTE!  LOOKA MY DOG!)

But aside from that, he seems to give off this vibe.  Other dogs (both male and female) just sometimes HATE Charlie.  It doesn't happen with Fiona - just this one poor Charlie Dawg.  It's weird.  And see, I think I do that too.  I give off a vibe that some 'people' pick up on.

******************

In video games, there are 'people' called NPCs.  That stands for 'Non Playable Character' - they are there, and walking/standing around, but they are run by the game itself (the Matrix, if you will).  They don't do anything but they will interact with you if you click on them, activate them.  this guy is a fishing trainer, just hanging out at the end of a pier
He'll be there no matter when you come by.  Once you walk up and click on him, you then can interact and (in this case) get trained to fish.  So these 'people' only come to life when you 'talk' to them.

Same with some of the beasts you have to fight - there you are, walking along a beautiful moonlit road like this

and if you go off just a little bit, *yikes* out comes some fantastical creature to smite you.  You walked too close, see, and you triggered it into action.

************************

So, all of this to explain how in MY life, some 'people' react to me like other dogs do to my Charlie.  They sense my vibe.  Some of them seem to just be there like the fishing trainer, empty until I interact but still harmless.  And some are bat crap crazy enough that when I walk past them it triggers them to attack (usually mostly verbally, but it's been physical a coupla times in my life.)

Por ejemple:  a coupla weeks ago, Jeff and I were walking back across the street from happy hour at Lazy Dog.  There is a strip mall right across the street from us - Lazy Dog restaurant at the far end, and then as you walk closer to our house there's uh - a Trader Joe's, then Old Navy, then Marshall's - etc.  We are holding hands walking past Marshall's and we get close to and then pass a big middle eastern man, loudly talking on what I believe is his Blue Tooth headset because I noticed him when we passed (I notice everything it's fucking exhausting) he didn't have a phone in his hands.  He's wearing like, docker pants and a polo shirt, dressed like business casual Friday.  As we passed him he was LOUD - but unclear, I couldn't understand what he was saying and I didn't care.  I just *shrug* assumed he was one of those blustery LOUD big men, all 'looka me how important I am* etc.  Jeff holds my hand a little tighter, cos this guy seemed volatile?  Angry.  LOUD.  We get maybe 10 feet past? and I suddenly start understanding what he's talking about  - like all of the sudden he starts speaking English instead of jibberish (what it sounded like to me, not Arabic and not that I would understand another language anyway, but at first it was like a radio coming in loud and NOT clear, like it wasn't tuned right) - something like 'change or you will die' or 'believe or you will die' and at that point my brain said 'wha...?' and a glanced at Jeff and he glanced at me and our eyebrows kinda raised up because, that's some conversation right there!  We get another 15 feet maybe, the sound doesn't fade.  Like, we aren't getting further away.  I'm a bit boggled at this point, it's all LOUD and IF YOU DON'T CHANGE RELIGION YOUR BELIEFS YOU WILL DIE and I'm also getting irritated because I really really hate that shit - that talk very loudly so I seem important shit.  We are about to cross the parking lot and I glance behind me and the guy has been following US and uh - HE IS YELLING AT US.  I squeeze Jeff's hand and pull and we stop for a sec and Jeff looks back and our eyes just kinda bug out and we both kinda laugh the way you do when you're startled, and the big hairy loud middle eastern guys IS STILL LOOKING AT US and YELLING AT US.

We are across part of the parking lot by this time and I said HOLY CRAP and Jeff said WTF? and I said so much shit happens to me and he said well stop it! because it's a joke between us now that shit always happens around me.

Somehow, that guy, that normal looking business man, was (the way I see it in my woo woo glasses) an NPC.  And just by walking by I triggered him into action, and it turns out he was reacting to me like I was Charlie Dawg.

I dunno man - weird shit just happens to me.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mjölnir (Thor's hammer)

(Blah blah sobriety 8 days <--golf clap ONWARD)

You know what else has been going on this summer?  BTW - anyone else feel like this summer has lasted a year already?  I feel like time slowed waaayyy down.  Like, not 'lazy hazy crazy days of summer' slow, but I mean woo-woo slow.  July and August lasted so long - I couldn't believe it when it was STILL only August 8th and man.  I know it sounds crazy (you ARE reading my blog, remember?) but anyone?  *tap tap* is this thing on?  only me?  ok then.

SO.

At the very first of July, I took over our finances.  I have been meaning/threatening to do this FOR EVER.  I was doing it in Maryland, and then we moved back to SD, and REASONS.  Let's be clear here - Jeff is ACES at paying the bills.  Everything was current, never late, never forgotten.  But we had no savings (I mean, ZERO) and the last day before payday was always sort of harrowing.  San Diego is so fucking expensive - our 2-bedroom apartment is $2,100 A MONTH (yeah, thinking of moving to cheaper.) And I finally got the courage (?) to *yoink* the reins away from him and take it all over.

And, y'all.  I DON'T WORK.  I mean, aside from the half-assed myopic dusting I give this house every now and then, and the weak pale ennui-like vacuuming I might do (trailing a tragic scarf behind, talking in a soft Southern accent the whole time) - what the hell am I GOOD for?  har.  So we discussed, and Jeff sort of didn't want to let go, and I sort of didn't want to FIGHT about it, and then I finally said I'M TAKING CONTROL and he said FINE BUT I'VE GOT MY EYE ON YOU and we both crossed our arms and 'humphed' and I went to work on a budget tracker.

This tracker.  OH MY.  It brings a tear to my eye, it is so pretty.  Excel finance trackers are what I did when I was working at the clinical trials management place.  Absolutely rudimentary formulas - nothing beyond what a 4th grader could understand, but so functional.  Color coded, even.

My goal was a zero-balance budget.  Meaning, every single dollar is assigned a job, and that is that. Jeff gets paid at weird times - his retirement comes in on the 1st, then his company pays employees on the 7th and 22nd - I ASK YOU.  Whut in the hell kind of dates are those?  So I had to get the absolute due-date for each of our bills, and then assign it to whichever payday needed.  I split our rent out among all 3 paydays and allotted some to a SAVINGS ACCOUNT <--(I'm flushed just thinking about it) and left a balance in checking of about $50.  Enough to keep the account floating but not enough to spend on anything.

Whatever isn't paid through the bank/websites, comes out in cash.  We each get an allowance.  There is a grocery budget.  There is a 'fun fund' for dinners out.  and that is that.  I bought colored envelopes for our cash - like these:


and wrote "GROCERIES" or "JEFF" etc. on each one that we needed (we have spares, lots of spares I didn't need 20 of them but thanks, ebay seller!) (it does not escape me that I bought special envelopes for saving money THAT'S HOW I ROLL YO).  Once the money in say, my envelope is gone?  It's gone, no more until next payday.  I have had to learn to budget myself too - like pedicures or hair appointments or fancy shampoo.  There is nothing but what is in your envelope.  (It's hard, so hard, to learn delayed gratification at 53 but good news!  it can be forced down your own throat).  Jeff has to pay for haircuts and his gas out of his own allowance, stuff like that.  We are absolutely NOT using credit cards at all anymore.  I want all loans/credit cards paid off and ShUT DOWN except for possibly one, for Jeff's work travel and car rentals, and for emergencies of a huge nature.

The grocery thing was sort of tough at first.  We went whenever we needed something.  Just sort of decided what to eat for dinner that day and went and bought it and of course extra stuff.  So I needed a plan.  I tried the commissary on the base, but it's sort of far away and with the gas to get there and the surcharge they charge (altho we pay no tax on base) it didn't work out to be much savings.  Walmart for groceries is surprisingly skimpy.  Lots and lots of packaged food like Pop Tarts but almost no meat department!  At least, the one near my house.  Plus, Walmart.  So I straightened my spine and made sure my phone was charged up (Pandora radio, the introverts best friend) and soldiered my way into Food 4 Less - a low-end grocery store.  It is awful.  And wonderful.  I made a list, kept a running total on my calculator app on my phone, avoided the bat-crap crazy people as best I could, and man.  I take back MOST of the bad things I said about Food 4 Less.  I can get almost a month's worth of beef/chicken/pork PLUS all the other stuff for under $200.  It's not organic.  It's not top butcher AAA quality.  But it's food, and it's 'fresh', and you know what else?  IT'S FINE.

I come home and portion out the meat and freeze what I'm not using right away.  I started buying more frozen veggies like green beans and brussels sprouts because I always bought fresh with the best of intentions, and then wasted more than I cooked.  This way, no waste.  I can get back to organic/fresh/healthiest once my budget is healthier.

ALSO - I started recycling our cans/plastic water bottles etc. for the cash.  THAT is not a fun day, let me tell you.  The line at the place can be LONG with lots of uh, ripe crazy homeless peeps but they are polite in their insanity! and I get between $15 and $20 every month or so, and I add that into the grocery budget for a steak dinner surprise for Jeff.  I have turned into this weird frugal person - if someone leaves a bag of coke/beer cans near the dumpster in our parking garage, I grab that mo fo YOU BETCHA.  If there is a case of beer bottles near the top?  GRAB.  The trunk of my pretty car smells like HELL but you know what?  I DO NOT CARE.  I almost (almost) have no pride when it comes to this.  I'm working my way out of debt, and I am WORKING it.

(for an example of frugal craziness - I have started saving all my chicken bones in a zip loc in the freezer.  With that I also toss in tops of onions that I cut, any veggie trimmings at all, tops off garlic cloves, etc.  Carrot tops, whatever.  Once the baggie is full, toss that stuff into a pot, cover with water add spices/salt/pepper and simmer for a bit, bones and all.  Cool, strain and et voila!  You have home made chicken stock FOR FREE.  I freeze it in a cupcake tin, and then store those in a separate zip loc and I then have easy peasy stock for steaming rice or making gravy or whatevs.  See?  FRUGAL like a cheap bastard, but I love it when I get something free.)

We already have almost $1,000 in savings!  I have been paying a HUGE chunk to one loan, and it will be paid off (PAID OFF) on the 7th of October.  The battery on my car went out last weekend and we had cash - WE HAD CASH - to pay the guys at Firestone to put in a new one.  I am so proud of us.

I have projected our bills out to the end of next year - which is funny because life always slaps you on the back of the head if you try and plan TOO far, but it is much better to have a plan than to just flail through life.  And the fact that we have savings now, and will continue to add to it every payday (sometimes only $50 a payday, but it adds up!) means we will be prepared to handle most emergencies easily.  And the fact that I am paying down the balance on our credit cards with Thor's Big Fucking Hammer means that a BIGGER emergency isn't going to send us off into a tail spin.
(Thor is HAWT but has crazy eyes.  Picture my debt there where that poor guy's head is)
We don't need a fabulous credit score.  Ours isn't bad anyway - but we aren't going to buy a house ever again.  And that's the only thing I can think of as a reason to really worry and worry about debt-to-income ratio and credit-limit-credit-balance ratios.  In a month or so I am going to get a secured card in my name only (you open a savings account with X amount of dollars, they give you a CC with that amount of credit on it) because in case something happens to Jeff I will need to have some kind of credit history, but that's it for credit cards.

While I was still in Maryland, I started decluttering my life and apartment.  I keep sorting and tossing and weeding out.  I wish we were mechanically inclined at ALL, because I would love to buy an RV/motor home and live in that.  I am so done with stuff.  And this ties right on in with that.  I don't shop for 'fun'.  When we went to Vienna, I did buy some nicer vacation clothes, probably (likely) too many, but those will last me forever.  Especially since A: I don't work at an office job (or, you know, any job that pays a paycheck) and B: San Diego weather is pretty consistent.  I can wear a sweatshirt with my new-ish capris in the 'winter'.  Plus, C: I love thrift stores and Jeff is the proud owner of many a silk embroidered Hawaiian shirt boughten for $5, and my addiction to Ann Taylor can be fed nicely at the Am Vets down by the airport.

This is long so I'll close with this.  This is just another thing asshole parents do to you as a kid.  They don't teach you anything USEFUL in life.  Nobody ever sat down with me and discussed IRAs and interest rates and pitfalls of credit cards or how to buy a car and never buy a NEW car or anything remotely useful.  They only want to hobble you.  Teaching you how to spend or save money, how to actually CLEAN a house, keep to a budget, check the oil in your car - there are a million ways they keep you down so they can laugh and sneer at you later.  Keep your chin(s) up, if you're just starting the path to freedom.  You aren't alone.  And you aren't crazy.  They did it on purpose.

They did it on purpose.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Magic Spell for Sobriety


As a practicing witch (I DO TOO practice, I practice all the fucking TIME) I'd like to offer all of you who are looking for sobriety, the following magic spell.  It is absolutely GUARANTEED to get and keep you sober for 100 days.  I am not kidding, and you shouldn't either.  But you have to follow it exactly.  ready?  here it is.

By the light of the waning moon, gather 200 teabags of your favorite tea.  (Or lots of coffee.  Or possibly 400 bottles of San Pellegrino sparkling water.)

At the very next sunrise (or as close as you can after sunrise, like maybe 8:00 am or so), brew a pot of tea/coffee and pour a cup with a shit-ton of sugar/cream (just me?  ok then) or pour yourself a water - use your nicest tea service/coffee cup (the one with OOH RAH USMC is a nice choice) or most expensive crystal for water.  (Or a plastic pool cup, my personal favorite.)  Light candles (scented of course) and sit yourself down on your sofa, placing the liquid reverentially in front of you.  Draw in a cleansing breath, and repeat this charm:

North, East, West, and South
no more liquor in my mouth
Blast you spirits, wine and rum
But not blast like, MAGIC SPIRITS, dum dum dum

Then sip slowly from your potion.  Repeat this spell every day, morning and night, for 100 days.  You will be 100 days sober at the end.

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING:  You cannot drink any alcohol for 100 days!  Alcohol in any form will absolutely break all the magic of this spell.  As a professional witch, I recommend you stay at least 10 feet away from any container of alcohol (unless it's rubbing alcohol and you have an abrasion, then yeah.)  No fooling, alcohol will RUIN this spell and then you have to start all over.

I personally 100% guarantee you will be 100 days sober at the end of this spell!  You may repeat as often as necessary.

Please send me $50 for each use of the above spell.  I take PayPal.  I will know if you use the spell and don't pay me, you don't want to fuck with me I'M A WITCH.

P.S. 5 days

Thursday, September 4, 2014

2 days, 59 hours

Labor Day weekend, 2014.

I know y'all would never say it, but you were all right.  You knew you were right.  

I knew you were right.  

I'm done practicing.