California’s rainstorms are making their way over here. Every time a significant storm blows into California, eventually it crosses the mountains and the desert and arrives here. The sky has been threatening to dump on us all day. And…speaking of “dump,” naturally I pick today to work on the financial books.
Not too bright. As it were…
So one thing — the one thing — that appears immanently obvious is that the current amazing budgetary triumph is a fluke.
And: even if said fluke continues indefinitely, as long as I have to make car payments on top of helping my son pay the mortgage on a house he can’t afford on the salary he earns, I cannot make make ends meet. Said salary of my son’s ranks slightly above Arizona’s paltry median household income (and his 66-year-old virtually uninsulatable house is valued right at the Greater Phoenix median cost for a single-family home) — Yes. Well. The one obvious factoid: my RMD and Social Security are not going to support me unless I get rid of the car and the dogs.
That’s even if I were able to keep monthly expenses at the flukish minimum. Which ain’t bloody likely.
Because I hate the recurring budgetary data-entry job, I tend to put it off. So today had to spend two or three hours ripping open envelopes, poring over statements, and entering number after number after tedious number into spreadsheets. And, of course, paying bills.
Engaged in this fun project, I happen to notice that this month’s water bill is exactly the same as last month’s bill, right down to the penny: $99.69.
Last month it did not rain every day or two. Last month the watering system was running — it came on every third day. This month the watering system has been off for at least two weeks (could be longer), and the ground and pots are still soggy from the unending rain. Not once have I had to pour tap water into the swimming pool. And because it’s colder than Billy-Be-Damned, I put off bathing as long as I possibly can.
Soooo…there’s no reason the current bill should be anywhere near as much as last month’s bill. That it would be identical makes no sense at all.
I called the water department to inquire about this anomaly — a hundred bucks being high for this time of year, especially after all the rain we’ve had. I was told the meters are still manually read in our neighborhood. This seemed contrary to the notice we got a couple years ago saying our meters would henceforth be read electronically…but who knows? Anything’s possible. The woman I spoke with, Linda, said I should go outside and check the meter to see if it registered the same as or less than the figure shown on the statement. If it didn’t register more, in order to get the Water Dept to investigate, I would be charged a $23 gouge for the privilege.
The statement says the meter was read on January 3. Today is January 9. Obviously, no one could have read the meter without pushing aside the crusted-on dirt. That much mud and crap would not have weaseled its way in to the covered meter box in six days.
Curious about the condition of the irrigation system, I turned the valves on and then traipsed back through the rain and checked to see if any change registered with the meter. None: it didn’t budge. Evidently there’s no leak in the system, even when the system’s valves are open.
I called back and reached Mario.
He said, in direct contradiction to his agency’s first representative, that the meters are read electronically.
He further said I must have used that much water, and it must have been just an AMAZING coincidence that the two readings were the same despite the fact that I happen to know the irrigation system was turned off, no water was added to the pool (thanks to this month’s rain), and (because it’s colder than a witch’s t**** in December in this house when you can’t afford to run the heating system) I haven’t bathed excessively.
After I hung up from this run-around, I sent a complaint to my city councilperson. An exercise in futility, I expect. WTF.
I’m going to have to find a way to get more money. I simply cannot bear the thought of teaching freshman comp again. Honestly. I’d rather starve.
Which at this unemployable age, I probably will.
Wonder-Accountant has said, in passing, that it’s about time to draw down a “salary” from the S-corp. Well. Yeah: actually, it’s probably way past time.
An extra ten thousand dollars would do the trick. But…there’s only nine grand in the S-corp’s account. Most of its income goes to cover its expenses. It just about breaks even. So obviously, it’s not going to keep any wolves from the door.