Ugh! My desk is groaning under the piles of paper that have flowed in over the past three weeks. Did most of the bookkeeping to update this month’s budget, and now, thanks to a $205 pool repair bill and the $180 for the (discounted!) air conditioning contract, I’ve got all of $140 to live on between now and the 20th.
Emergency savings, set aside to cover the constantly recurring pool bills and similar little urgencies, are down to $1,300. That account normally hovers around $2,000. So I’d like to avoid having to draw more money out of that during this budget cycle…especially since, on the 21st (first day of the March/April cycle) the car has to go in for an oil change and to figure out why it’s tweeting out of its left front wheel. That’ll be another $200 to $400, you can bet.
Power, electric, water, food, taxes, and gasoline bills are all up—yesterday a little over half a tank of gas set me back $40—but my income certainly isn’t. Social Security rose a few dollars last January, but that was it. Adjunct pay never increases.
Luckily, this week is spring break, so I won’t have to drive around very much. Enough food is stashed in the fridge and freezer to last a week or ten days (I think…). Thursday I’m driving out to Sun City to meet SDXB and drive up to meet our friend La Maya at her weekend place in Yarnell. We’ll take his car, since I’m afraid mine won’t make it up the 2,500-foot climb. I wouldn’t take it into the desert at all these days, much less up Yarnell Hill. We’ll fly up to the old mining town, schmooze with La Maya for a few hours, and then fly back down the hill to his house, where we’ll meet his friends for a dinner of pasties, which he’s been planning for some time.
And that will be my only excursion for spring break. Or for anything: it’s been months and months and months since I’ve gotten out of this place.
Dang, but I’m tired of pinching pennies! I want this job so bad, so I can have just a few more years of a normal life. So many things I can’t afford are piling up: a new(er) car, paint jobs inside and outside the house, orthodonture on the twisted teeth…just to be able to get one of those things done would help. And I’m tired of being cooped up in this house. A walk around the park a vacation does not make.
But have to be realistic about my financial future: the likelihood of the school hiring me—an old lady already on Social Security—into a handsomely paid full-time faculty position is nil.
The accountant is about done with my taxes. I’ll only get about $1,800 back, from which I’ll have to pay her bill. Usually I get around $4,000, and I was counting on that to help refill the Survival Savings account. February’s RASL payment brought it back up to where it was eight or ten months ago, but that was the last of the three annual payments the state owed me for unused sick leave. So without that and with income taxes increased by $2,200, Survival Savings will last about eight months, at which time that little fund will be drained to zero. Then I’ll have to start drawing down retirement savings to make ends meet. Social Security covers less than half my base monthly expenses—significantly less than half, with all those increased bills.
Though net worth looks pretty good, certainly compared with that of most Americans, there’s really only $546,000 to support me through my dotage. And that’s likely to be quite a while: women in my family have lived into their mid-90s—and they were Christian Scientists. They did 100% without medical care. Imagine how long someone with those genes could live into the 21st century, with passing medical care, a lifetime of good nutrition, and no really grinding work. Assuming, though, that I only live to 95, starting a drawdown now is likely to run me out of money before I die. And a 4% drawdown is about $500 a month short of the amount I need to stay in my home and cover my present pared-down expenses.
The real estate class starts next week. That’s gonna make for five weeks of Tuesdays and Thursdays from Hell, but at least it will get over quickly. Relatively. I sure don’t look forward to having to sit in a classroom taking coursework. I spend enough time in classrooms, thank you. And to have to race home from class on T-Th, bolt down dinner, and race back out there to listen to someone drone on into the night does not appeal. However…one does what one has to do. Unfortunately, the other semester of this regimen isn’t offered during the summer, at least not in the junior colleges. You can take all three courses required for a license at a propriety school, to the tune of hundreds of dollars. But since my tuition waiver gets me into each class for $15 apiece, that seems counterproductive.
On the other hand, the longer I have to string out these courses, the longer it’ll take to give myself a shot at some other job.
Not that there’s much promise in those precincts. My mother had a real estate license. She sold exactly zero houses and earned exactly zero dollars. In the course of this career, she sandblasted the paint off the Mercury, driving through windstorms between Long Beach and the Salton Sea. God only knows how much she spent on gasoline to get back and forth between those two armpits. And she spent untold numbers of hours sitting in open houses, bored stiff.
So. I don’t have much hope for this endeavor. But…nothing ventured (etc)…
Image: Abandoned, salt-encrusted structures on the East shore of the Salton Sea. GregManninLB. Wikipedia Project. Public Domain.