Money

...now browsing by category

 

In which I compare myself to a bear, a bunny, and a slug

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Well, shoot.

I have been a horrible blogger, emailer, Facebooker, Instagrammer, and all around virtual presence lately.  It seems as though my Internet Self has opted for hibernation (the best part was the eating and eating and eating beforehand).

But it’s not as though my Internet Self is the Real Me, and the Real Me has been busy doing all sorts of things that are real – real like the Velveteen Rabbit.

For starters, I am working my fluffy cottontail off at my job.  Every day is a to-do list a mile long, and if you know me, you know that there is nothing I love more than taking a fat Sharpie and crossing off tasks.  I’m doing all sorts of things that I don’t know how to do, which forces me to just figure it out.  It’s challenging but fun, and I learn more every single day.

But remember when I was so excited to be wearing “actual outfits” to my new job?  The novelty has kind of worn off.  After about a month, I decided that none of my clothes were worth wearing, and the “actual outfits” started being the same 5 pieces in rotation.  I have so many clothes that I don’t wear (or that just shouldn’t be worn), and I’m feeling the need for a wardrobe overhaul.  I wish I had Kendi Everyday to help me.

Really.  Why can I not put together effortless outfits like her?  I do not have the spiritual gift of fashion.  I need serious help and skinnier thighs.

In other news, I mailed off my taxes, glory and amen.  Yes, I owed money.  But given that this was my most complicated financial year to date, the very fact that they’re finished is a victory.  (Of course, it should be mentioned that *I* did not do my taxes – my dad did them for me, and then sent them to me to sign.  I also wrote in my phone number, because I am the champion of doing my taxes.)

Speaking of money, remember how last month I paid off and destroyed my credit card?   Full steam ahead: I JUST PAID OFF MY CAR.  I wrote the final check this morning.  The deed is done.  I have ONE debt left – my student loans – and I’m all over it like a slug on wet pavement.

If I could wrap everyone up in a gigantic bear hug (after all, I HAVE been a hibernator)… I would.  This blog serves as a way to connect with some of my favorite people, and I miss you when I’m gone.  It just doesn’t feel right, you know?  Don’t forget about me, and I promise to not forget about you.

Lately

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Contrary to popular belief, the world has not opened up and swallowed me whole.  Despite my silence in this space, I’ve been out and about, alive and kicking, moving and shaking, grabbing life by the horns (or whatever).

I’m not so delusional to think that my absence from the internet has ruined anyone’s life.  But my mom said that she misses my blog.  So I’m saying hello.

A few weeks ago, I completely paid off my credit card – and promptly cut it up into little pieces.  For me, a credit card has been a crutch to help me live beyond my means, and I just grew tired of having my money already spoken for whenever I would get a paycheck.  I can’t tell you how freeing it was when I got paid the other day to be able to choose where to put my money – which, for now, means throwing cash at paying off my car.  I’m not completely out of debt yet, but after years of feeling like I just couldn’t make any progress, in the last few months I’ve started to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Now, of course, not having a credit card has some downfalls.  I can’t purchase anything that I don’t have the money for RIGHT NOW.  This means that I’ve had to say no to several travel opportunities, which is tough for me.  For the past two years, I’ve rarely stayed in the same place for more than 10 days at a time, and spent a lot of money flying to see the people who are important to me.  But for now, those days are over – and the only tickets I can buy are more of a “sacrifice” than a “given.”

But as you may recall, commitment means freedom, and in the past few months of generally staying put, I have been growing some friendships here in Denver.  I’ve been social – maybe even too social (for this introvert) – and am learning a new work/life balance.

When walking outside to my car this morning, it was 55 degrees and smelled like spring.  Supposedly, March is Denver’s snowiest month, so we’re not out of the woods yet, but… I can’t tell you how hopeful that scent of dry dirt was.

Dry dirt = hope.  Someday I will write poetry.

I’ve embraced a “sort of vegan” diet as an experiment for a month.  So far, I feel like hell and would wring a cow’s neck for a slice of cheese.  Initially, I gave up meat, dairy, and eggs, but have reclaimed eggs with a vengeance, so I am definitely not living a full-on vegan lifestyle.  I feel very scatterbrained and willy-nilly about this whole thing, and while I recognize that our food system is scarily screwed up, I think that there are a lot of ways to “vote with your dollar” and make better nutritional choices.  I’m not sure that I’ll stick with the whole “no meat, no dairy” thing – but I’m giving it a few more weeks to see how I feel.

I’m late to the party on this, but Whitney Houston died.  What a tragic, senseless ending to a life of a woman who, at one point, had everything stacked in her favor.  Didn’t we almost have it all, Whitney?  Ugh.  It’s just so cliché, and so sad.  I ran across this isolated track of her vocals on “How Will I Know.”  She was incredible.

If you’re wondering about how Toad is doing, you should know that she fearlessly and ferociously chased a raccoon off our front yard the other night. She is a champion.

For those of you who I’ve been out of touch with, I’m sorry. I probably owe 80% of my friends some kind of personal communication. Life is different these days, and I’m just trying to find my stride. In the meantime, know that I’m thinking of you (even if I’m not buying a plane ticket to see you), and wishing that everyone that I loved could live in the same place.

New plates

Monday, December 5th, 2011

It’s Monday, December 5th, and I have now been without a car for 20 days.

On a few occasions, I’ve had a friend or two go out of town and bequeath me their vehicle in their absence, so don’t worry: I’m not starving, I’ve made it to the gym here and there, and my December rent check was deposited.  Subaruthless should be ready later this week – hopefully better than new (Subaruthless-er?), and maybe they will have even vacuumed up all of the dog hair on the backseat.

The thieves stole the license plates, so this morning, I went to the DMV to get new ones.  When it comes to car stuff, it’s always more expensive than I anticipate, so when they told me that my total would be “eight-o-six,” I gulped and wrote a check for $806.  The woman looked at it, and then dryly said, “Eight dollars and six cents.”

I kid you not, the clouds opened up and the angel choir sang a chord.

Nothing like a slew of other unexpected, exorbitant expenses to make tiny check written to the DMV the very best way to start your week.

Rent (not the musical)

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Recently, I was at Target, and I saw a stainless steel toilet bowl brush.

The first thing that I thought was, “I want that one – it’s so nice and shiny.”  Then, I thought, “It’s too expensive – I’ll just buy this plastic one for $2.99.”  And I did.

See, stainless steel toilet bowl brushes are designed for home-owners, people who never move, people who do not have to think about spending $15 on something that in a few short months, they will just want to throw away – because who is actually going to lovingly pack up something designed to scrub feces?

I am an unrooted, unfettered, tumbleweed of a girl.  I have never owned a home – at the rate I’m going, I may NEVER own a home – and in the past 11+ years, the longest that I’ve ever stayed in one domicile is TWO. ENTIRE. BLISSFUL. YEARS. in a studio in the Wallingford neighborhood in Seattle (in Washington, in the United States, in the world).  It was a 1920s building, with crystal doorknobs and coved ceilings and hardwood floors.  Shoot, I loved that place.

But prior to that, and ever since then, I have moved every 12 months or less.

My constant moving, nomadic lifestyle, and sporadic homelessness have led to the occasional identity crisis, the random revelation, and the frequent emotional breakdown to my mother.

But while I have a deep soul-ache for a sense of rootedness and home (oh mercy, do I ever), there are a lot of great things that come along with being a gypsy of a renter.

When the hot water heater breaks, someone else fixes it.  When the window needs replacing, someone else does it.  When the horrible neighbors raise their ugly voices, you just move.  When your mom gets cancer, you just head to Colorado.  When the housing market crashes, you just don’t even care.  You never need to talk about the most boring terms imaginable like “HOA” or “APR” or “HUD” because when you ask yourself “WWJD,” you realize he would just wander the earth loving people*.

Some people think of renting as “throwing money away”; I call renting “exchanging money for freedom and flexibility.”

Maybe someday, I’ll find myself in a situation/season/city where buying a home would make sense – and in that event, I hope that the house has a breakfast nook and plenty of closet space and at least one interior brick wall.  But for now, I rent.

And at least this way, I don’t find myself justifying $15 on a toilet bowl brush.  Seriously, America.

*Not solid logic when it comes to renting vs. buying.  But definitely a truth, in and of itself.

Game plan

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

On this little blog, I don’t really talk in specifics about my dating life (do I have a dating life? You’ll never know). In the event that any given romantic endeavor doesn’t work out, I can handle my own disappointment – but the collective devastation of us all? That would just be too much.

I actually approach a lot of things like this. Unless something is a “done deal,” I don’t really volunteer much information about it. I have a secret project right now that will be blogged about at some point, but not yet. I have some upcoming plans that you’ll hear about, but not until they are fleshed out a bit more. I have some big ideas and dreams and such, but right now, they’re just that: ideas and dreams and such. Blame it on the fear of everything coming crashing down, but for now, my lips are sealed.

So with that said, maybe it’s a risky thing of me to talk about something that is by no means a “done deal.” But tomorrow, I have an appointment to go look at a car – one that, from the ad, looks like it very well might be “the one.”

And I have no idea how to buy a car.

And my dad is out of the country.

And I’m afraid of making the wrong decision.

Mike already pointed me toward a very helpful video of Cliff Huxtable and his game plan for negotiation. I plan on showing up looking one step above homeless, and talking about the moment that I realized I was poor (when I started eating the heel of the bread). But beyond that, I’m nervous that I’ll overlook the important things.

So, blog readers, tell me. What is a Carfax? What are the important questions to ask? What repairs should be red alerts? And when all else fails, is “going with my gut” as good a plan as I’ve typically found it to be?*

*Except for that time when I spent $400 on a date at a date auction.  But I don’t talk about dating here.

The saddest day

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

I know.  You have been nervously refreshing the page every moment since last Friday, awaiting an update as to the Honda’s fate.

Well, people, I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that I’m alive.

The bad news is that if oil were blood, my engine would be the beaches of Normandy.

The burning rubber smell of last week was due to an oil leak on par with the BP debacle of 2010 – but I had that under control, and it wasn’t the Honda’s demise.  The unrelated, unexpected, and ultimate downfall came when the timing belt snapped, and there was internal damage to the engine.

The good news is that this happened Sunday morning 8 miles outside of Kansas City, and I’ve been able to stay with my brother and sister-in-law and nephews.

The bad news is that I will never drive the Honda again.

I will never drive the Honda again.

This isn’t how I imagined it would happen.  After all I’ve been through with and in this small-but-mighty car, I envisioned the end to be the engine catching on fire, or hitting a bighorn sheep or something.  I kind of hoped for a more spectacular blaze of glory.  Instead, death came quickly and silently, rolling the Honda to a quiet stop on the shoulder of I-70.

The nail in the coffin was the price quote for a full repair.  Dude, if I had that much money, I would buy Christian Bale to CARRY ME AROUND.

So just after it’s 21st birthday, I am selling my beloved Honda for salvage.  The money I’ll get isn’t enough to cover what I’ve spent in the last 24 hours.  I know, it’s just money.  But still – lame, right?

As for me, I am stranded in Kansas City.

And I haven’t been home for 6 weeks.

I’ll let you figure out how I’m doing.

Rest in peace, old Honda friend.  Here’s to the good times.

In search of motivation

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

I think that the best way to get me to do something is for someone to tell me that they don’t think I can do it.

Actually, here’s how it really goes.  Someone tells me that they don’t think I can do it, and I believe them.  I get sad and discouraged.  I probably cry a little bit.  I walk around with a dazed focus, like I’m trying to solve a Magic Eye picture but to no avail.  I feel helpless and defeated.

Then, I get angry.

Then, I get defensive.

Then, I get motivated.

Then, I get so staggeringly stubborn, there’s no way on earth I won’t achieve whatever it is that someone has said that I won’t do.

So.

Will someone please tell me that they don’t think I can roll over my 403b into my 401k?  It’s been on the to-do list for 3 years now.  I mean, come on.

And while you’re at it, can you tell me that you don’t think I’ll EVER get renter’s insurance?  Or perhaps that I will live without knobs on the top two drawers of my dresser for the rest of my life?  Or that I’ll eat cookies forever, and without ceasing?

Thanks.

And now, for a long story

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

When I was a senior in college, I stopped every morning on the way to class at a coffee shop called the Java Bean.  Every day, I ordered the same thing: a 16 oz. cup of coffee with room.  That’s all, nice and simple.  The baristas recognized me, and I always had exact change for my coffee – $1.89.

Until one day.

I walked into the Java Bean, ordered my coffee, and opened my wallet to find $1.39.  I was 50 cents short – but these people knew me.  They knew I would be back tomorrow.  They knew that I always ordered the same thing.  They would take $1.39 for my coffee today, knowing I would be back in the morning with the difference.  Right?

“I only have $1.39,” I explained to the man at the counter.  I waited for him to waive the extra 50 cents, to tell me that the Java Bean loves me, to say, “I’ve gotcha, girl,” and send me on my way with a wink.  I waited.  I waited.

But this man knew no compassion.  He just stared at me.

Finally, he said, “Well, do you have a credit card?”

I was slightly shocked, but cooperatively opened my wallet and handed over my debit card.  I couldn’t believe that he wasn’t going to let me slide on out of there, cup of joe in hand, but whatever.  I didn’t invent coffee.  I didn’t invent money.  I’m just here for the buzz.

“There’s a $10 minimum on credit card purchases,” he said.

Buzz kill.

But never fear!  This man had an idea.  “You’re here every morning – why don’t you get a pre-paid card for your coffee?  If you pay for 10 cups right now, we’ll give you this punch card.  I know you’ll make good use of it.”  Yes, of course you know I’ll make good use of it – I’m here EVERY MORNING and will bring an extra 50 cents tomorrow – why don’t you love me?

“Well, okay,” I found myself saying.  My card was about to be charged $19.15 – $18.90 for 10 cups of coffee, plus a 25 cent credit card fee – all because I used two quarters in a parking meter, but no big deal.

I watched this man swipe my card, and then swipe it again, and then again and again and again – but the machine wasn’t having it.

At this point, there was a line of about 6 people behind me, stomping the ground like horses.  Come to think of it, they were exhaling loudly like horses, too – that exasperated puff of impatience.  My card continued to be no good, and finally, desperate for caffeine and escape, I couldn’t take the pressure.

“I’ll write a check!” I exclaimed.  “My checkbook is in the car.  I’ll be right back.”  I dashed out of the Java Bean, and returned to scribble a check for $19.15.  I handed it over just to have the man remind me, “Since this isn’t a credit card purchase, it’s only $18.90.”

My turn to exhale like a horse.

I tore up the check, and wrote a new one for $18.90.  The moment that I gave it to the coffee man, his dim mental lightbulb flared as he realized that the credit card machine had not been plugged in.

His “Aha!” moment was my “GAH” moment.

He handed me my freshly punched punch card and a paper cup for my coffee.  I walked to the pump pot on the counter to fill my cup and get on with my life, but the coffee pot was empty.

The coffee pot was empty.  I had just paid $18.90 and wasted 9 minutes of my life to discover that the coffee pot was empty.

I lifted the pot and marched it to the man at the counter.  “I’m sorry, but could I get some COFFEE?” I practically bellowed.

Scene?  Officially made.

I found an arm chair in the corner to sit in and stew as a fresh pot of coffee was being brewed.  I watched the clock on the wall, every ticking second matching the time-bomb in my chest.  My face was scrunched.  I was late for class, I was desperate for caffeine, and I was down $18.90.

“Anne,” the man called.  “Anne, come here.”  He had seen my name on my credit card – Anne Parsons – and was now calling me by my given name that I never go by, because if there’s anything that Annie Parsons is not, it is Anne.

“I’m so sorry for the craziness.  Here’s a coupon for the next time you’re in.”

The coupon?  50 cents off my next purchase.

Horrid, rotten teeth

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

You have no idea what a numb-face I am right now.

Three miserable cavities down.  Many, many more to go.

Oh yes.  The initial number was seven, but they are spreading – spreading like tweets about “Inception.”  This is some kind of mysterious, contagious decay that moves from tooth to tooth, and if I don’t get these fillings, like, yesterday, then my whole mouth is going to fall off.

I had to apply for a CareCredit credit card to cover the cost of this dental work.

I hate it when things feel out of my control – when I’m doing all the right things, being responsible with my health and hygiene and finances, but it doesn’t make a difference.  The shaft cometh regardless.

Damn you, shaft.

(And yes, I know – things could be so much worse.  I am counting my blessings – and I have more blessings than I have (horrid, rotten) teeth.  But I just want to wallow for a second, okay?  A GIRL NEEDS THE OCCASIONAL WALLOW.)

Crave

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

I know, I know.  Things won’t make me happy.  No matter what I get, things will leave me feeling empty – empty like a Kardashian brain.

But let’s just say that it’s Lent, and that for Lent, I gave up frugality.

Here’s what I would buy:

Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life.

This shirt in every color.

Cocktail shaker.

Fingerless gloves.


A tiny clock.  (What?)

A puppy.

A piano.

A Scout.

It’s a good thing I have sensible, prudent things to spend my money on, like cavities and car repairs.  This is saving me from the world of disappointment I would surely discover if I actually got a tiny clock.