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Archive for December, 2006

Tentative Plans for 2007

December 21st, 2006 at 02:01 am

I've been spending the past few hours crunching the numbers and the final is sobering, but encouraging.

At my current rate of repayment, I'll need to pull in an additional 3.5k per year for the next three years to be debt free. This doesn't include the money budgeted from my regular job, which is the overage after all operating expenses, including money for both a small emergency fund and a modest freedom account.

To reach that 3.5k, I can continue to work weekends at the Souk, and actually drop some hours there. I daydream about quitting there, especially around this time of year when we are all running around on something less than Christmas cheer (a better term would be sheer determination and loads of caffiene.)

In any case, it's just not a reality for me right now. However, I'm looking forward to cutting my hours back a bit, because one of my goals in 2007 is to do more writing and illustration for pay. I don't have the contacts to make 3,500 by that type of work alone, but to build up a client base in 2007 might mean working less (or not at all) in retail by 2008. This would be ideal. Unfortunately, I'll need to do something spectacular to get the seed money to get this started: currently, I use a public computer, and I'll definitely need to get one of my own. Luckily, I have a trick or two up my sleeve that I hope will prove useful.

Regardless, there's a bit of padding built into the current budget (I shorted my pay by 50.00/month and added money for new tires for my car in the freedom account.) I'm not that great with keeping to a super-strict budget, so that extra will hopefully protect me from the (anticipated) overages.

The additional money I earn (for the beginning of 2007) is earmarked for the Guild, which I hope to enter in January. Life will be crazy, in a crazy kind of way. The rest of the money earned in 2007 will go to recompense Peter, who was held by the heels, shaken down, stripped naked and beaten cause Paul needed milk money. Peter's in a dire state, so I have to show him a lot of loving care.

I guess my overall goals for 2007 are to just follow the plans I've made for myself. I know what to do, but like most of us, I've got some trouble keeping to the path. So we'll see where I go from here.

Later that Same Year

December 19th, 2006 at 04:41 pm

The past months have been...just surreal. To put it plainly for a change, I've been trying to clear an account that had been sent to collections. Since the summer, the collection agency has been stonewalling the application of a settlement offer - which meant, according to the creditor, the account hadn't cleared.

We'd called, emailed, practically sent a message in interpretative dance, but it seemed like luck was against me here. In fact it got so bad that at one point, after I'd called every day for about two weeks straight, a rep from the collection agency hung up on me. Then hung up on the original creditor when they called to see WTF was going on. I think it was some computer glitch, I don't know. But the upshot was that I was in line for some aid that would have covered out the remaining balance of the account -- but only under the terms of the settlement.

With the settlement not appearing on my records, I couldn't get the aid. Without the aid, I couldn't clear the account and that was going to be a hole in my tiny lifeboat.

So we go round and round and round some more: more calls, more emails, more tension headaches and nails bitten to the quick. Not to mention the stomach-churning feeling I got when they reported that (courtesy of the ghost in the machine) my account had been cancelled and reinstated which (due to the rules of the aid) would disqualify me from getting any assistance for 6 months. Cue stress-induced vomiting.

Or when I discovered that they'd overcharged me 3 times after I sent in a one-time-only electronic debit payment. That week's menu: peanut butter, lots of water.

But last week, I get a letter in the mail saying that I just needed to approve a wire transfer from the aid agency to the collection agency. I signed the forms and gave the courier some candy, and then sat, trembling for about 10 minutes.

By now, I felt like Charlie Brown, gazing down the field while Lucy balances the football and looks up with a beatific smile and the promise that this time, she won't yank it away, no really she won't.

So I waited until today to make a phone call.

And they said to me, in a briskly efficient voice, that they've made a wire payment, but maybe I should call the collection agency just to be sure?

And I call the collection agency and they say in a similar tone that while I had a balance with them last week, I don't have one today.

And my head feels kind of empty and quiet right now, which is crazy, because that little number -- that zero, that ending? That zero is a tiny little chance for me to make a huge change in my life. And I don't know if it's an anticlimax or the center of the storm, because I feel like I've accomplished everything but it's coming at a cost and a responsibility that I can't even articulate.

So I'm back from the palaces and the temples and returned to the mundane world. Not quite in the condition I left in, but with some added goals and priorities.

Of course I am still at the souk -- for now.