Well it is official. My old car is gone! Towed to lord knows where and who cares for what future! What a huge relief to be done with it after all of this time. I am still surprised to learn there is a statute of limitations for auto loans because I always thought they were kind of like student loans.... will haunt you even after death lol. I have a three day weekend so I think I will use it to relax and not think about finances. Then I see where I am at and figure out what to work on next.
Remember that 2nd job? Well I have been extended until the end of June! Yes the long days are tiresome and some days I feel like quitting, but given all the financial/legal matters that have popped up this year the extra money has been a blessing. The job was supposed to end mid-March, but they extended me until the end of April because half the team had quit because they found full time jobs with benefits. Even though I am only part time I was trained on all of the products and my process speed is high so it was cost effective to keep me. Well then the only other team member who knows everything I know went out on family leave and will not be back until July, so now they really cannot afford to let me go.
Congratulations to me! I finally settled on a renters insurance policy and yes it is for actual replacement cost and includes additional coverage for my computer. I also got a discount because they are partnered with my auto insurance company. Part of this process was inspired by some new gal pals, who happen to be lawyers that were talking about how the personal liability coverage works. Prior to my struggles I always had renters insurance, but I clearly did not understand how the personal liability portion worked otherwise I would not have scrimped on it. Well scrimp no more! The deductible is a bit lower than I would have liked, but my EF is not where I would like it to be yet so this made sense.
I can also add a separate rider to cover business property at any time. That came up because for my job I am being asked to travel to multiple locations and I have to take the company laptop. Perhaps I am paranoid, but I do not trust the company to take care of it if something that is not my fault happens and I may not have whatever absurd amount of money they claim it is worth lying around either. On Tuesday I will contact our IT person and get a value from him so they can give me a quote.
I also made major headway on that legal matter that crept up sooner than expected. I was able to just get a free legal consult and did not have to hire an attorney, thank heavens! The amount of paperwork was kind of ridiculous and the time spent in the courthouse was lengthy, but everything was completed correctly and filed. The actual cost ended up being a bit less than I expected, but it still would have been nice to funnel that money into my EF or toward debt repayment. Now I just have to wait for a judge to review it and give their approval, which can take a couple of months. Thankfully I have only had to miss one day of work to deal with this and do not anticipate missing any more. What a relief it will be when it is all over!
Wow. I am making progress in an unexpected way. Remember when I mentioned my neighbor asking about buying my old car (even though it is a piece of junk) and how I was not sure where I stood with it financially. Well one of the wise members here suggested I get a report to find out if the lien holder is even still listed. I did that (and it cost me $3 *eye roll*) and it turns out the lien holder is still on there. I had no interest in trying to deal with them so I decided to get some legal advice on what my options were. I really just want to be done with the matter and am happy to make payment arrangements if that is necessary.
I am not exactly in the know when it comes to lawyers so I used the Employee Assistance Program at work to ask for a referral. That turned out to be a wonderful idea because they connected me to a firm that specializes in debts and collections and told me I can have as many consultations as I need on any number of matters for free. Yep FREE! Can you believe that?! If I ended up needing an attorney to represent me they could provide that for a fee, but I was hoping not to get to that point.
The experience was actually quite pleasant despite how embarrassing it was to explain why I wound up with an unpaid and now non operational vehicle. After all of that I was given surprising news. Apparently it is past the statute of limitations to collect on this debt, which is why it is no longer showing up on my credit reports (I just thought they made a mistake lol) and why I was sent cancelled debt forms to file with my taxes a few years ago. Basically the cancelled debt forms were the lien holder’s way of settling their books since they cannot pursue me any further. This also means that the vehicle is the lien holder’s property because they possess the title and they will take possession of it if I call them and tell them where it is. Apparently this will happen fairly quickly because they will not want the city to tow it and have to deal with impound fees or whatever.
I will admit I was stunned by this information and did not do anything for a week or so. A part of me was relieved that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but another part of me feels bad about not paying like I intended to. I did not want to be in this situation and I certainly was not looking for an easy way out. I have more than learned from this experience however, and am doing everything I can to never be in this situation again. Continuing to stall does not change anything so today I placed the call to the lien holder. I did not identify myself or provide my contact information, but gave them the vehicle’s identifying information and location. I even told them that it will require towing, how nice of me right? That was also a pleasant call despite the circumstances. Now I just have to wait and see how long this all takes. The firm told me to contact them immediately if I have any hassles from them, but hopefully it will not come to that.
Wow what a great choice it was going with stainless steel cookware! I am so in love with it I could quit my job and just cook all day long =) I have not used every single pot or pan yet, but that will come in time. The slow cooker is probably my current favorite since I tend to throw everything in before I go to bed and the food is done by morning. I know I can have it cook while I am at work, but somehow it freaks me out to not be here just in case. I also have not used any oil while cooking and nothing sticks!
I actually thought I ruined the rice cooker because after using it, I washed it and then noticed a strange rainbow colored stain all over the inside. Apparently this is common with stainless steel and more likely to happen when cooking starches. Harmless, but still annoying. A little web searching indicates I can clean it with vinegar or Barkeeper’s Friend.
As I continue to shift from constant dining out to meal planning and cooking at home I expect my food budget to shrink. So far the savings are minimal, but I am inspired to keep at it =)
So here is some good news....
I passed probation at my day job despite all of the headaches with my boss. She is still making it very clear that she dislikes me, but I have not given her a reason to write me up or get rid of me. Passing probation means a raise which is nice, but I am still keeping my eyes open for other opportunities.
I also expected my 2nd job to end in the middle of March, but here it is the end of April and I am still there. I appreciate the extra money so I am trying not to let the long days get to me.
My expense tracking is getting back on track and it is amazing how closely I look at receipts now. One of the things that stood out to me looking at the first few months of the year is how much money I spent on water. I am on the go a lot so it has been more convenient to buy bottled water whenever I am out. Well at some point I brought that habit home and started exclusively drinking bottled water at home too. Thinking back I realize I have done this for maybe 2-3 years! Judging by the water purchases this year I estimate I was spending a few hundred dollars a year which is pretty ridiculous. I purchased a new water pitcher and filter and fill up my 32 ounce bpa free water bottle (got it free at an event) daily.
I also settled on a smart way to adjust my finances to accommodate that annoying legal matter. I did not stop my debt repayments, but instead reduced entertainment/dining out costs, have temporarily stopped funding my EF and am using the portion of my tax return that I allocated for a secured credit card. All of that should be enough and once the courts do their thing this should all be over in a few months.
And one piece of not so good news.....
Rent is going up $60 per month. I get that building maintenance and common utilities are expensive, but on the other hand I feel like I should be rewarded for being a quiet, non-destructive long term tenant. Even with the increase I am still paying a below market rate which I know I am lucky to have. It is just a little annoying that I am finally starting to get ahead and have some breathing room and then this happens. It would be too costly and inconvenient for me to move at this time so I am going to eat the increase and keep focusing on my goals.
Ok so maybe my progress train has derailed a bit or maybe I am over thinking it. Here is the rundown of what has been going on.
1) Day job... It is terrible. The work itself is boring, not challenging, and despite what I was told in the interview process I am not actually using any of the skills I developed in my graduate program although they are paying me for those skills. My boss hates me and has made it clear she is not impressed with me or my work. I am doing exactly what my colleagues are doing and yet they get raves from her. There just do not seem to be any great options to try to make the situation better without winding up in a her versus me situation and her longevity winning. I am still in my probationary period and cannot afford to just walk away so I am trying to tough it out, but am also keeping my eyes peeled for other options just in case.
2) 2nd job... In February there were more hours available and we lost some team members so I expanded my schedule a bit. The extra money is good, but this on top of my day job and everything else is just tiring and made me realize that I do not want to work like this until I retire. I think for the longest time I just assumed I would have no choice but to work like this, but with my career change it will not be necessary since my earning potential has increased. March has slowed down which is nicer.
3) Spending... I have not gotten out of control here likely because I have been working so much. I am still eating out more than I would like due to the long hours, but my new cookware has arrived so hopefully I can change things soon. I have also treated myself to tickets to a few upcoming performances and arts related events, but had no problem saying no to shows that I thought were just way too expensive.
4) Expense Tracking... This I have totally slacked on. I have pretty much all of February’s receipts to enter and those from the beginning of this month. I know I did not go over budget because there is still plenty of money in my checking account, but I miss the organization of seeing everything on the spreadsheet. LOL! There is something I never thought I would say.
5) Debt Repayment... Ummm I have not done anything here since paying off that payday loan. I did call to take care of the second one, but their system was down so they could not process it. Then I just got too busy to call back during their business hours. I just feel kind of directionless in this area, but maybe I am just tired. I keep having the strangest thoughts..... What will I do when all the debts are paid? Of course I could use that money for other things. But what other things? What if I run out of other things? Maybe that sounds stupid.
6) Savings... I have slacked off on the 52 Weeks Savings Challenge and adding to my EF. There are plenty of funds sitting in my checking account, but I have to move them and I just do not feel like it or that could be me being tired again. Sometimes I feel as if I cannot remember why I wanted to save in the first place. This could be because I did not outline a purpose for the 52 Week money and because the things that would normally be emergencies that would create debt I am now able to comfortably afford.
7) Surprise!... A minor legal matter has popped up and no it is not debt related. It is something I expected to have to deal with at some point and apparently that time has come now. Thankfully I can handle the matter myself and will not need to hire an attorney. It will just be a pain to have to go down to the courthouse to get everything squared away. The fees are a bit more than I expected so I am considering pausing my debt repayment to take care of this. Or maybe I should pause my saving? I do not know.
Today I decided to pay off one of my smaller debts with a portion of my tax refund and settled on an old pay day loan. I did not want to risk dealing with an inexperienced employee in the store so I just called the corporate office to find out how to proceed. Well surprise surprise they were able to take my payment right over the phone for no extra charge and cleared my account immediately. Worked for me!
Then I got a second surprise when she mentioned another outstanding pay day loan, but from a different company. I knew about this one and figured I would deal with it next month, but I was not sure how she knew about it. Turns out the other company is their sister company, which means they should not have given me a loan because I had an outstanding one with their parent company. Their bad. The upside is I can deal directly with the parent company to clear that one as well for no extra charge and the amount due is much less than I thought it was.
I knew getting out of debt would be a slow and somewhat emotional process, but it was really nice to not be hassled regarding this account. I expected there to be rudeness, snarky comments about my being irresponsible, and some ridiculous hoops to jump through just to get them to take my payment. How nice to be able to just pay and move on.
New cookware is on the way! After plenty of research and comments on this message board I finally settled on stainless steel. The set will have all the pots and pans I need and has a good warranty in case there is a freak accident. It should be here in a week and I expect to love it.
While I was at it I decided to replace my aluminum rice cooker that long ago became scratched up and also makes my food taste a bit off. I found one with a stainless steel insert and it has already arrived. I even found a pressure cooker and crock pot combo that has a stainless steel insert and that should be here in a week as well. I could also use it to make rice, but I am one of those prepare many things using every single pot, pan, and gadget at once kind of cooks. Waiting to free up something would just get on my nerves.
I grumbled a bit about the cost of everything, but this is more of an investment that should last quite awhile. Plus I am hoping the savings on takeout will lead to it paying for itself soon. Now I just need to decide on bakeware.
Yesterday I checked my mail and was surprised to find the title to my vehicle properly signed off by the title company and a final statement confirming that I am paid in full. What a strange feeling I had while looking at it. When things got really rough I did not think I would ever pay off that loan or see the title again, but here it is. Today as I went about my usual routine I finally figured out what that feeling was.... relief. I cannot remember the last time I felt that so strongly. Now I feel ready to pick up the pace and resume meeting my financial goals, instead of the lag I have been feeling since paying off that loan.