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Tax rebate check vs Income Tax vs LIFE

January 24th, 2008 at 06:32 pm

Well the government is going to start giving out rebate checks in May. I just glanced at it, but I think I'll get close to $1200.

I under-paid the Feds and I owe $1770. I'll have to reconcile my W4s. I think I messed up because my kid turned 17 and I lost his child credit. Oh well live and learn.

I claim 0 on my State and will get almost all that I paid out back, plus enough to cover the Feds and I'll have a small amount left over.

I applied for the Pell Grant this year. Every year they deny my oldest daughter because I have to file with her. Well I completed the forms and it looks like I was approved. I still have to verify information. Nothing asked for her income on the form, so I'll take her tax forms with me. It doesn't seem right that her income is not counted. I'm thinking I did something wrong. I'll verify everything before I take any money. The last thing I need is to owe someone else money.

All bills are paid so far this month. So far so good.

Next month I start paying on the car that was wrecked.

Death and the Other Parent

January 9th, 2008 at 08:24 pm

I didn't know it then, but the moment my Pop died, I started a new chapter of my life. It is titled "Death and the Other Parent".

The chapter starts with survivor's benefits. Mom got to keep my Pop's check, but hers stopped. You get to keep the bigger check. Mom's income was cut by almost a 3rd. She now has $1057 per month to live on. Not enough to cover her bills, rent and food.

Then there is the helplessness factor. Mom no longer cooks for herself. She expects my brother to cook for her - which he dutifully does - then she complains non-stop about it.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that - my brother started taking total advantage of Mom. He lives with her or I should say "off her" as he does not contribute to anything. He paid $300 rent each month before Pop died. Mom complains to all of us about this, yet does not want anyone to step in and talk to the brother. After all "he pays $400 per month child support". When I explained that he makes MORE money then me and my MONTHLY EXPENSES are $3700 per month - it didn't seem to phase her at all. I've already been paying $50 per month to the MOM fund which is to cover her funeral, durable medi-cal equipment, gasoline for the doctor's trips, etc. (My other brother keeps this fund. It used to be the Pop fund.) Then last month I gave her $400 to cover her for the remainder of the month. Which, by the way, is something I just couldn't afford to do.

The end of the chapter closes with the question every adult child dreads hearing: "How much are you willing to step in and take control of the other parent's world with or without their blessing?".

There are two last chapters to this book. Neither has been written yet. The titles are: "Bringing Mom Home" and "The Brother Who Finally Grew Up".

I'll let you know how it ends.

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.

What's on your list?

November 3rd, 2007 at 04:22 am

I'm a pretty simple person. I don't want a lot. A roof over my head, a car to get me around, food to eat, health, a job, and happy kids. When I look at that list it's really not a whole lot. Looking again, maybe it is everything.

I wonder what other people have on there list and I wonder if it is enough for them.

Do other people go home and say "I really don't want to eat chicken soup again today?" Sometimes that is exactly what I do. I know I'll have to eat it eventually, but maybe, for just today, I make grilled cheese and ham sandwiches. Or do they always stick to their list?

I wanted to go on a cruise this year. It is still on my list. I also want to go to a theme park with the kids and get a family picture taken. It is still on the list. The family picture has become much more important now that my Pop has passed away.

I wonder what it would be like if I had money - like the Hilton family. Would my life be so different? Would my list change so much? I can't imagine it really being that much different. I guess maybe my house would be bigger, the kids would dress better and I wouldn't have to always take that one serving of leftovers to work the next day for lunch.

I don't know. My kids being happy is pretty high up on my list. I don't know if having it easier would make them that much happier. Just in case I'll keep playing the lotto every once in a while. Embarrassment)

I guess, overall, I'm pretty happy with my list.

Sometimes I feel like the little train that was barely hangin on.

November 2nd, 2007 at 06:06 am

I did my budget for November and December yesterday. There is not a whole lot left over, which shouldn't surprise me, but it did anyway.

I will have about $400 left each month for food, gas and my kids school lunches and bus passes. Life is actually easier when they're in school.

I just don't know how I make it month to month sometimes. My stupid debt is now less than $11,000. I should be overjoyed, instead I still see that $316 monthly payment going out month after month.

I did do some things which I am proud of. I am now giving my brother $50 per month to help out with my mom. I also paid the entire six months of car insurance so I wouldn't incur the $30 late fees for three monthly installments. I am also puting $25 in a savings account each time I get paid. I just started this, still, it is a step in the right direction and one I wish I could have done months ago.

The car insurance company wants to settle on the car. This will still leave me over $1,000 in the hole. The finance company wants their money right now. I'm hoping they will settle for what I get. To catch everyone up - my daughter did not have insurance on a car that I financed for her. I am afraid I will be sued. My daughter has not made a payment since the car was wrecked in June. I've tried talking to her, but she will not listen to me. I am holding on to being angry about that and I can't seem to let it go.

I went to see my Pop's grave yesterday. There isn't any grass yet or a headstone. Just a maker. For a little while I felt better. I think it is going to look really nice.

Yesterday I went home after just a half day of work. My daughter had her ortho appointment and I asked for the rest of the day off. I'm wondering if I just went back to work too soon after he died. He was just laid to rest on Monday and I went back on Tuesday. I stayed home all last week. I thought that that was enough. Maybe not.

I'm thinking about trying to publish my story I wrote. I don't know if I could take rejection right now. Maybe I'll wait a while.

I'm thinking about writing a blog on "How I... Maybe I'll win the $25.

So many things to say

October 25th, 2007 at 05:52 pm

My father passed away on Saturday, just before 6:00. He was an awesome father. He went into a coma and I asked the nurse to turn off his heart medicine. The nurse called the doctor and he said okay. My mom, brothers, sister and her husband, and my oldest daughter were with me. He died an hour and a half after we stopped his heart medicine. The day before he slipped into a coma, he asked my mother to turn off all of the machines.

He told us that it was going to be okay.

My mom held his face and my sister held her had over his heart. We all were touching him. He slipped away very very peacefully.

Cost of funeral = $5900 / $1475. No insurance and I will be taking some of this out of my deferred comp.

During one of his moments of incoherency, he called my brother Lou Gehrig. My brother wrote a tribute to my father. He said that my father was the luckiest man in the world, and he can only hope, that when it is his time to go, that his family will be as brave and loving with him as we all were with my Pop.

My mortgage company doesm't want my house back. They are going to try to restructure the loan. If that fails then I'm going to take out all of my money in my deferred comp account. You are allowed to make emergency withdrawals.

Cost to restructure loan = 2333.00 (includes one month payment)

Even though my puppy had 3 of its five first puppy shots, he still got Parvo. I was devistated. Somehow, he managed to pull through, and by the 3rd day he came home with lots of medicine. He came home the same day my father went into ICU.

Cost $1800.

I am putting my mortgage checks into the bank to pay the $2333.00. They won't take them anymore except for the full price owed.

Hopefully this is the end of a really bad year that started in November of last year.

I don't think I can manage another year. I feel like before I can get over one thing, something else happens to me.

For instance, I went to the doctor today because of my neck (see many articles below about my neck)..... I also have a ganglion cyst on my wrist, that is spreading sideways. So I had to go and get x-rays. They are going to refer me to an orthopedic surgeon. I guess I might have to have surgery. I feel like a half empty glass that never gets the chance to fill all the way up. Every time I try to get better, something comes along and shakes the glass again.

Doctor put me on an anti-anxiety medicine. I didn't even ask for it. He said it also might help my neck and my headaches, and maybe help me sleep again. Who knows?

Walk in peace

$100 raise per month., and blah, blah, blah.

October 7th, 2007 at 09:37 am

I just realized that our union negotiated raise of 3% will be on my next check. I am so happy. Struggling over my daughter's braces payment will finally stop. I forgot all about that raise until now. I probably wouldn't have waited to start her braces anyway.

New credit card balance is $11,259.47. I pay $315.36. It will be paid off in December 2010. This makes me absolutely sick considering my interest rates are 12% and 7%. Which I guess is not too terribly bad. I'd rather be buying a new car, or pay my house payment down.

Since I started the debt management program, I have not put aside any money. Now I will try to do this each time I get paid again. I'm in a much better position now. That $100 really is going to help. Also I have two collection accounts that I want to pay off. They don't total much.. less then $300. I do want to pay them off.

I have also been trying to figure out my income tax refund. I think I should get back a little over $1,000. I'm going to try very hard to just set this aside in a savings account. My money market has been empty for almost a year. I'm surprised the bank still keeps it open for me. It would be nice to have a little something in there again.

Lots of things have been happening to me latey. I got behind in my mortgage again, my father was diagnosed with terminal liver failure, my daughter wrecked the car I financed for her and didn't have any insurance, I had to put my other dog to sleep and I adopted two more, and I think my mom is going to come and live with me when my dad passes on. I had a lot of money fires to put out and that is why I got behind again.

The car insurance for the girl that hit my daughter hasn't settled yet. Chase bank has been extremly nice about this.

Maybe my most important money decision that I have finally made up my mind to do, is to not help my oldest daughter anymore with ANYTHING. I made her pay me rent for one month and she moved out again. My exact words to her were "My door will always be open to you; however, each time you come back home, you come back a wreck and it takes this family 4 months to recover. This can't happen anymore. You are 23 years old. You need to make it on your own. You always say to me that you are an adult. It is time you started acting like an adult and taking care of yourself and paying your own way. I love you. I expect that this time you will not come back home when things start getting hard, I expect that you will work through your problems like adults do.

Yes I scripted it out and tried to remember it. When I had a moment to say it to her, I almost said it verbatim. Was she shocked? Oh yeah, she just took it for granted that she could come and go as she pleased, whenever she pleased, and always have me to fall back on. I wasn't paying my bills so that I could help my daughter. My little kids were suffering. The final straw was when the car got wrecked and she didn't have it insured. What a mess.

Anyway, I can still see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is a long way off, but I still can see it and it's not as dim as it once was.

Walk in peace

Time to let go..... memorial to my little Giz

June 1st, 2007 at 09:22 pm

My cat Gizmo got really sick and I put him down yesterday.

He was such a good cat, but always he had something physically wrong with him. He bumped into things, never really rough housed with the other cats or dogs. He sometimes acted like he was blind or deaf or both. He never jumped on things. He purred all the time and slept with my son. He was such a good cat.

He'd been a little wobbly lately. Almost not walking. I took him to the vet last week Friday. He got vitamins and super food paste and prescription food. He had been getting a little more thin and dull looking and a little more wobblier than usual.

This last week he stopped walking. Wednesday he stopped eating. Yesterday morning he was stiff, except for his head and his big yellow eyes that would follow you everwhere you'd go. His little tail barely moved.

My son held him in his lap on the way to the vet. I told him what a good pet he'd been and how much we all loved having him with us. His head kept falling down and my son held it up and he looked right at me like he understood everything I was saying.

My son didn't want to go in so I took him. Before the vet released the tourniquet on his arm, I kissed him on the temple and told him how much I loved him. His little paw opened up and kind of wrapped around my finger...

I love you Giz. Rest in Peace.