Coffee heat rising

Back online…sort of

Ooof! Overworked into near silence for the past few days. And incredibly tired: no sleep, to speak of, all week long.

Tuesday an old friend who had dropped off the face of the earth called. It develops that the reason she faded from the scene had to do with some very serious trouble her adult son managed to get himself into, of a truly crushing nature. She’s been trying to cope with that since last November. Now that he’s on his way to the slam, I guess she hopes to reconnect with the world. Heartbreaking…I lay awake most of that night thinking on how devastated she must be.

But otherwise, the workload has been ever so slightly astonishing, so I’ve been working into the wee hours almost every night anyway.

Yesterday it looked like I would finally get a break. I figured if I could just keep plugging away into the evening, I’d get through the last of my share of the stoont papers, and then I’d have THREE FULL DAYS free of drudgery! No class today—Friday—a whole day to myself. Tomorrow my friend KJG, her daughter, and I are meeting mid-town for lunch and then an afternoon concert. And Sunday: all mine.

Or so I thought.

I did get through the papers. But…when I got home from campus, there on the server was a message from my erstwhile client, wanting me to read more copy and get it back by Monday.

Buh-bye, weekend!

And the electrician called back saying he wants to show up to do the repairs on the ominous light switch this morning. So don’t leave town…

These developments required that all the backed-up chores awaiting the first day of the new budget cycle (which was yesterday) had to be done on the way home from campus, pushing bed-time back by the same number of hours that the errands kept me from work.

Among other things, I finally schlepped Harvey back to Leslie’s to be repaired: $80. He’s working again, though, and after a brief wrestle with a pile of beans and strangling leaves from the devil-pod tree, I dropped him back in the water and watched him vacuum up the dirt from the last dust storm. (Yes. We had another one. No where near as dramatic as the one that made national news, but messy.)

The electrician’s visit will probably run another $80. And a notice came in the mail that the car has to have another pointless emissions test and then I have to cough up this year’s registration rip-off. That will run around $100 to $150.

So much mud from the dust storms has accreted in the pool’s DE filter that I’ll have to get the service man back here to take it apart and clean it out again—very prematurely. He was just here a couple of months ago. That’s a $150 job that ordinarily doesn’t have to be done more than once or twice a year.

So. Here we are in the second day of the flicking budget cycle, and I’ve already spent more than I can afford! Two days in, and I’m already dipping into emergency savings to cover the July/August bills.

If these costs had happened in the winter—anytime between November and March or April—I could have afforded them. But not. flicking. NOW!

At any rate, I won’t have time to contemplate that over the weekend (or to clean my filthy house or tend to the bedraggled garden or wash and vacuum the car or puppy-proof the house or track down new puppy stuff on Craig’s List or make a puppy mattress or clean out the storage shed and garden shelves or sit down with my feet up or to read something that I’d like to read) because I’ll be editing copy, a job that quickly expands to fill all available moments.

Oh well.

Likely won’t be posting over the weekend, either. There won’t be enough hours in the days for that.

So, by way of keeping ourselves entertained here in the blogosphere, let’s get a little help from our friends:

Have you been following Frugal Scholar’s adventures in France? She’s been posting off and on as she and Mr. FS enjoy their time there, and it’s been really interesting. Check out today’s rumination on shopping (or the freedom therefrom) and then, if you’re not an FS regular, scroll back through the past few weeks’ posts. Lots of fresh and interesting stuff there.

Revanche has been posting regularly about Doggle. She and PiC jumped off the financial cliff and purchased a Dog Chariot ( 🙂 !), but that’s far from the last of the story. LOL! Looks to me like this hound is what SDXB liked to call Anna the Ger-Shep: a thousand-dollar-a-day dog!

Wandered over to Nicole and Maggie’s place yesterday, while idling time between classes, and came across a call for advice on whether they should monetize Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured.

While perusing the comments there, I came across a cool site by one of N&M’s readers, Clarissa’s Blog. The proprietor of that worthy space offers a lead to her post on an affiliate program called SkimLinks, which looks pretty interesting. In passing, I looked up reviews of SkimLinks and didn’t see much that was negative; this could be worth looking into.

Speaking of the which—quitting the day job to retire on the untold riches pouring in from your Internet business, that is—SVB recently held forth again on that subject. Check out her interesting advice, based on personal experience, on trading the day job for a flexible work schedule.

And speaking of time, apparently some people get some of it to take off and do their own thing. Money Beagle advises on how to enjoy your time off without feeling guilty. 🙂

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff is now a free woman! She’s finally sprung the shackles of the daily grind and taken off into self-employment. This has been a long-standing goal for her. Congratulations, BiFS!

101 Centavos weighs in on the national debt issue with a solidly written discussion of the general hysteria, of the facts, and of the comparative positions of the U.S. vis-á-vis several European nations.

Over at My Journey to Millions, Evan, thinking to some degree along the same lines as Centavos’s (i.e., that managing a family budget is similar to running a government), asks readers if they would ever go past their own debt limits, and under what circumstances.

And speaking of debt, Mrs. Accountability at Out of Debt Again reports that Mr. A’s business is picking up, and that recently they’ve managed to knock down their debt by almost a thousand bucks.

At Surviving and Thriving, Donna Freedman takes on the sticky question of whether and how much you should help family members, a perennial favorite among PF readers.

Welp, I’ve gotta get to work. Later!


10 thoughts on “Back online…sort of”

  1. Sorry to hear about your friend’s son. I’m listening to NPR talk about what is going on in Norway today – such sorrow and sadness in the world. Makes our little problems seem trivial! Take care.

  2. Thank you for the link. I’m sorry about your friend’s son. It must be horrific, knowing your former baby is going to be in jail, probably struggling for his physical safety/life. Nightmare.

  3. Sorry about the dust storm again over there. Gotta suck to clean the whole house again.

    About the subject of helping your family, please let me get this off my chest. I made two loans totaling 340k to two immediate family members. Most of it by getting a line of credit against my paid off house. Long story short, both loans are uncollectable, and I’m stuck with the loan and the payments. Since about a year ago I’ve been liquidating my mutual funds to pay down the line of credit. Now the monthly interest payments are manageable for my meager income(meager income thanks to this ugly recession). I could pay off the remaining balance but that would leave me with very little besides the house. So here I am wondering what would be the best move under the circumstances.

    Anyway, this is a cautionary tale to everyone. Never lend money to your immediate family members no matter how much your heart breaks for them, When they can’t pay you back then there is not much you can do about it.

  4. @ Stephen: Good lord! That’s more than a cautionary tale…that’s a screaming nightmare.

    They say, as a rule of thumb, you should never consider money given to a relative a “loan”; it’s always a gift. Guess your story proves that one right.

    Hm. Can you refinance the remaining loan to bring down the payments? That at least might keep you in the house without having to liquidate more of your savings.

    I also borrowed against the paid-off house to pay for renovations on a house my son and I copurchased. Seemed like a good idea at the time…

    Mercifully, I knew about a year before our office shut down that we would all be laid off, and so I started working on the side and frantically throwing every penny at the home equity loan. I was able to pay it off before my job ended, thank God. My home costs more to run than I’d like, but at least I can’t be thrown out of it until I reach the point where I can’t pay the taxes anymore. But meanwhile, we’re over $100,000 underwater on the co-owned house, if you believe Zillow. The house will never regain enough value to be worth what we owe on it, and so our choices are either to default or to resign ourselves to permanent debt that can never be paid off.

    Meanwhile, the blockheads in Washington apparently have now guaranteed that we old buzzards won’t get a Social Security payment next month, speaking of liquidating savings. It’s pretty clear there’s a large faction of elected (might we say “purchased”?) representatives who are hell-bent to kill off the middle class in this country. They’re doing a darned good job of it!

    It’s extremely frustrating.

  5. Having a 100k underwater house can’t be fun. That sort of thing would be enough to break anyone’s spirit. You are obviously quite resilient. Maybe you should just default on that house. It’s not like you are swimming in money and you can hardly afford to throw away 100k.

    The interest rate on the line of credit is 3.25% right now. Chase line of credit offers the option to lock in the interest rate for all or portions of the loan, so I called to inquire about it. The representative said in my case the rate would range from something like 8% to 13%. It took all of my strength to control myself from regaling her with some choice words. I just thanked her and hang up on her.

    I know the interest rates will go up eventually so I really want to get the loan paid down to about 100k. After that I think I’ll just make monthly interest payments plus some towards the principal.

  6. @ Stephen: OMG. That stinks. What a bunch of crooks!

    Have you thought of taking your relatives to court? You probably could have their wages or welfare garnished. Even if it didn’t cover the entire amount of the payments, every little bit helps.

    When I took out my equity loan from First Horizon, I was given to understand it couldn’t go up to more than about 8.3%. But when I called to discuss it at the time I first realized that sooner or later the university would shut us down, the guy I spoke to said the damn thing could rise as high as 21%!!! The fact was, contrary to what I had been led to believe, the fine print said nothing about any cap on the variable rate.

    That’s when I decided to pay it off as fast as possible.

    There’s no question lenders have been deceptive and evasive with home buyers. I think I’m moderately sophisticated about money, which brings me to the conclusion that I was misled in a number of subtle ways.

    I’ve tried to talk my son into doing a strategic default. He points out that he has noplace else to go, and he’s right. He was living in a dangerous firetrap before we bought the place, which is the reason we decided to go in together to get him a decent roof over his head. At the time we bought the house, the sale price was considered a smokin’ deal — neighbors were furious that the seller “gave it away,” pushing their values down.

    The house is very sweet. It’s perfect for a single person, or for a couple who are much in love (if the blush had gone off your romance, it would make for close quarters).

    If and when he gets a better job or a wife with a job, he can take over the mortgage payments and then he can figure out what to do with the place.

    If he decides to move on, which he dearly would like to do (he dislikes Arizona because you can’t make a decent living here, the political atmosphere is straight from the caveman era, and the place is a cultural backwater), I could sell my house, pay off the mortgage on his house, and move in there. It’s less space to care for and has no pool. Although the power bills are higher, other costs and hassles would be less. The neighborhood isn’t as nice as mine, but…you can’t have everything.

    The other option is to rent it. One Realtor I’ve spoken with says rentals in that area are now high enough to almost cover the PITI on the thing. We’d still take a small loss, but that’s better than having him be trapped in Arizona for the rest of his life. And presumably we could take the loss off our taxes.

  7. I don’t think I could sue them, they are in very bad shape financially speaking. Right now, despite all, I’m still better off than them. I hope this recession ends soon so we can all get back on track. And let’s hope the housing market recuperates soon so your house won’t stay underwater for too long.

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