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Home > Archive: December, 2007

Archive for December, 2007

The Christmas Present

December 23rd, 2007 at 07:10 pm

Several years ago, I pretty much stopped indulging in Christmas for my kids. I never really had much, but I always managed toys from the Salvation Army or something. There would be so many presents that they would not all fit under the tree. The kids all got something that they really wanted even if I had to charge it. I remember several years ago, they all got IPODS. Wow, was I ever stupid.

About three years ago, this all stopped. It all stopped because of a conversation I had at work.

The girl's name was Tracy. My mom would have called her an old soul. She knew more then most people would ever know in their lifetimes. She had a lesson to teach and I listened.

Tracy had six kids. Her lifestyle was very similar to mine. Her husband was abusive. Like me, she finally left and bought her own home. Unlike me, Tracy really knew what was important in life and one day, she sat down to tell me.

Tracy told me how her family celebrates Christmas. She said that they would get up early on Christmas day and they would all dress up and go to church after breakfast. When they came home, she would cook dinner and only then, would the kids open their presents. The three oldest at home would share a present and the youngest would get one of his own. To her family the presents were the least important thing of the day.

I had never had an epiphany before and if you never had one, it kind of feels like a feeling in your stomach when you realize that you got an answer that you weren't quite ready to hear and mine almost made me sick.

I suddenly realized that I had it all wrong. Somehow, all the presents I got for my kids symbolized to me what Christmas was all about.

That year I bought each of my kids three presents. The difference in what I spent and what I budgeted for them, they got back in cash. This they couldn't understand. I didn't explain. Maybe I got something wrong.

The next year they got clothes and one present. Yes, they were absolutely shocked. It would be the first with the clothes and still, they didn't understand. It still needed some work.

In year three, I did not get them anything. I was having a hard time last year and there just wasn't any money. The charge card did not come out. Their sister bought them gifts and that was that. I told them in advance, that other then dinner and some candy in their stocking, there wasn't going to be any gifts from me. They accepted it very well and I think it was one of the more special Christmas' that we have ever had.

This year, I have not received one Christmas wish list from the kids. My youngest asked me if they were going to get a stocking for Christmas this year. I smiled and told her yes. I have received more questions about what I'm making for dinner and who is coming then about the big empty spot under the tree.

Maybe this year I finally got it right.

I'm sorry. What did you just say?

December 20th, 2007 at 07:10 pm

I couldn't believe it. I know I've been paying my bills on time .... but I still owe $7100 to a collection company for the car my kid wrecked and about $11,000 on credit cards and loans

Okay let me start over. I called my bank and told them I was coming in to take out some cash and I would need it in $20's. I give them notice, because if you don't...well the bank doesn't always have the denomination you want.

As always I had to give them my account number and name and I guess up popped on her screen that she had to ask me if I wanted to make a credit card transfer to my bank credit card.

I was shocked. I said "I'm sorry. What did you just say?" and she explained it to me.

Now I am going through a debt management company in order to pay all my debts off. I am struggling to do it, but I'm doing it.

"No thank you I said." Shaking because I'm not supposed to incur any new debt or open any new credit cards. I gave my word.

So I went and picked up the money and I gave some to my mom and went to Target. Well I got to Target and ... now get this... I was moved to an ATM/Credit card checks stand only where the ATM slide wasn't working. NOW have any of you ever heard of this???? All I wanted were a bunch of $5.00 gift cards and I had cash. There was no way I was moving again.

I presented my ATM/Visa to the checker and was informed that I am pre-approved for a Target Visa. "Would you like to put your purchases on your Target Card?" Huh??? What???? "No Thank you. I don't want a Target Visa".

Can my credit score really have improved so drastically just by going through a credit counseling service and paying all my bills on time for the last year? Is that even possible? I paid one of the accounts in collections. I'm paying the other Saturday and I'm starting on the car in January.

Scarey ain't it?

I remember Christmas...

December 19th, 2007 at 09:33 pm

Homemade popcorn and construction paper garlands wrapped around a tree with different colored lights that took my Pop hours to untangle every year. Mom cooking Karo syrup into candy to make popcorn balls and chocolate squares. Real matchless crocheted stockings hanging over the radiator heater that shook the whole house every time it turned on. Hand knitted slippers. A turkey that got bigger every year. Home made corn bread stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes with real turkey gravy. Two or three homemade pumpkin pies. Mom stewed her own pumpkins and I can still remember the smell and the sound of the bubbles as they broke through to the surface of the sauce. We opened our new toys and posed for the family picture. Christmas cards were strung around the house. Seasons greetings from every family and friend that could and couldn't make it to our house for dinner. Santa would appear with a present that was ear marked for just one kid. The one toy we didn't have to share for one whole day. We got to stay up as late as we wanted and Pop would pick us each up and carry us to bed while we pretended to be asleep. He'd pull the blankets up to our chin and tuck them in all around us....

Budgets completed through February...

December 8th, 2007 at 04:40 am

and things don't look any easier.

The insurance company settled with me for my daughter's car. I owe 7100. They settled for 5100 because their insured actually hit 4 cars including my kid. I've started paying them $125 per month. They call all the time and drive me crazy. I've asked a few money wise people what to do. Some of them told me to call and offer them a settlement others tell me just to keep paying them each month. I'm always scared that if something else should happen to me that I won't have any money to cover it. I barely have enough money to pay my bills and put a little money into savings for bills that don't come every month like insurance and propane. The only reason I can even pay them is because I got a $1.00 an hour raise a month or so ago. I don't know what to do.

My daughter is paying for the puppy that had parvo. I only paid $400. So I am thankful for that. She considers him her dog and feels responsible. Did I mention that she moved out again? Things are kind of stressful between us because I'm paying for that car and she's not. I was never going to mention it to her again, but she brought it up to me a few days ago and I told her that I was making payments on it. She asked about the settlement. At the time I didn't have it yet and I told her so. I'm almost afraid that if I mention to her that I got it she might ask me for money. When we argued about who's responsibility the car was, and I realized that she was not going to keep making the payments, I told her to never ask me for money again. She's never asked out right for money, but she has hinted at it. I'm not going to give her money.

My loan for my house is still in the restructure stage, but they told me it has been approved.

I still have most of the last couple of mortgage payments. I used the first mortgage to catch up on all my bills, pay the $400 for the dog, pay my car insurance for 6 months and the registration on my car.

I did take another $1,000 and get new tires (bald), brakes (90% gone), oil change, alignment and a couple of other things for the car. One of my tires was flat every morning. Lately I've been worrying about the car just holding out.

This means with the settlement that I have $8,500 in my bank account in my money market fund. So why am I still very, very worried?

I'll tell you why. I did my budget and I barely have enough money coming in to pay my bills and buy groceries and pay my mortgage which I was told would be increasing 'just a little' with the restructure. What the heck does 'just a little' mean anyway?

I figured out that to feel comfortable I would need to make $300 more every month. That means that I would have to earn 4% interest on $8500. I can only earn that in a CD, which would tie up my money for no less than 3 months at a time. I am not willing to put it into my deferred comp that invests it. I lost money there anyway and it is too hard to get to if something should happen. So there it sits in my money market earning 1.7 % interest each month.

I think I'm just tired. I do all I can and I just can't seem to make ends meet. Every month, it is something else.

Christmas is coming and my oldest daughter asked me to go in halves on a Nintendo video game for my son. Last year I didn't buy them anything, because I didn't have any money. This year I have $200 saved up. I have three kids at home. I told her "no". My share would be $125. I told her that I thought that was too much for my son to ask for. She said she told him that but that is all he wants. I still said "no".

I am also having Christmas at my house this year for the family. We always pot luck it so it's not so hard.

My youngest son who is seventeen, desperately needs to go into his second phase of braces. I'm hoping on getting just a little bit of income tax refund. I claim 14 and I haven't paid my mortgage in 4 months. I hope I don't end up owing money.

On the good side, I am now owe $10,899.41 on my credit card debt. I can hardly wait until that is gone. I thought about paying a big chunk towards this too, but if I was going to do that, I might as well pay on the car. I think I'm better off just making payments and saving the money for an emergency.