Coffee heat rising

These Tips will Help you to Get Your Finances Back on Track


If you feel as though your finances are in ruin, then you need to know that you are not alone. It’s not easy for you to know how you are going to find the money to pay for everything, but at the end of the day you have to make sure that you don’t panic. If you are collected in the way that you approach your debt and if you do everything you can to stay on top, then you shouldn’t have many problems to contend with.

Pay Less Interest on your Credit Card

Credit card debt is bad. It doesn’t matter whether you have debt that is left over from Christmas or whether you have booked a holiday on your card because it can easily take a long time for you to pay it down. This is especially the case if you are paying interest. If you can, you need to move it to a 0% interest card. If you want to get the biggest benefit from this, then you need to pay it down as much as you can earlier-on. If you don’t do this, then you may find that you end up struggling and that you end up in the same situation again when your payments go up again. If you want to really benefit but you are not able to take out a credit card then why not look into: When you do, you may find that you can pay off your debt and then just pay interest on your loan.

Pay More than the Bare Minimum

Another way for you to pay less interest on your credit card would be for you to try and pay off more than the basic amount every month. Minimum payments are normally set at very low levels so if you pay this off every month then you shouldn’t have a problem. That being said, if you can afford it, you have to pay more than this if you can. When you do, you will soon find that you can clear your balance with ease and that you can also come out on top with ease.

Shift your Store Card Balance

When you look at your store card, you may find that they charge a very high-interest rate. You may find that sometimes they are as high as 29%. This can really hurt your finances, so if you want to get around this then you need to try and swap your debt to a 0% card. When you do, you will be able to transfer your balance and you can also really take advantage of the savings. Again, it’s super important that you try and pay down your debt as much as possible during this time.

Pay Less for your Overdraft

Paying interest on your overdraft? If you can, you should try and switch to a current account. This won’t charge you and you may even find that you can save a considerable amount of money too. An alternative would be for you to try and use a 0% money card. This will give you the chance to move money from your credit card to your current account. If you need some help here, then it is more than possible for you to hire a financial advisor. When you do, you can trust in them to help you with anything you need, and they can also give you the advice you need with your overdraft in general. Some can even find you better deals with your credit card too, so keep that in mind if you can.


Tips for Working Out Your Budget When Buying a New Car

Do you want to buy a new car? Maybe you just want to make sure that you are getting the best deal but don’t want to spend too much time pondering over the finer details. Either way, you can find out everything you need to know right here.

Work out the Running Costs

The first thing that you’ll need to do is work out the running costs. If you need some help then you should know that there are some running cost calculators out there that you can use. When you have found out how much you can afford to pay towards your car, you then need to make sure that you can actually afford to run it. A used car will always cost more in fuel, servicing, maintenance and tax, not to mention that you will also have to worry about the value depreciating as well.

If you buy a new car then you won’t pay as much across the board, but you will pay more for the car itself. That being said, although a used car costs more to run, you have to know that the new car will lose most of its value during the first year, so unless you plan on keeping the car longer than this time period, you’ll certainly lose out more when you sell. If you need some help covering the costs then remember that some of the best installment loans for buying new and used vehicles will give you very good interest rates from the get-go.

How to Find the Right Car


You have to make sure that you don’t let your heart rule your head. If you know that you cannot afford your dream vehicle then you may want to think about getting a nearly new or used car. You can look in car magazines or you can look at cars on the road if you want. When you do, you will soon find that it is easier than ever for you to make the best purchase without having to worry about a thing.

Questions you Need to Ask Yourself

Think about it; what length of warranty do you need? Is the car that you are buying one of the safest on the road? Do you want a car that is going to hold its value well? When you ask yourself questions like this, you can then begin to make the best decision in regards to your car and your purchase in general. If you just don’t know what car you need, then you need to try and talk to your local garage to see if they can advise you. When you do, they should be able to tell you about the cars that they get in for repairs the most so you can choose a car that is as low maintenance as possible.

Take into account your Fuel

Another thing that you need to do is work out the fuel costs. If you don’t then you may find that you end up paying more in the long-run and this is the last thing that you need. If you are concerned about running your car on fuel that is expensive then you should know that electric cars are the most fuel-efficient cars on the market, but they are very expensive to buy. The diesel variant of a car will give you better mileage for long journeys, but it is not as ideal for short journeys. If you want to get a good result out of your car then you need to make sure that you account for this as much as possible.

Gasoline in the Age of Covid

Wow! Just ran down to the Costco to fill up on gas, the word from On High being that the state will “re-open” in two days. That is much, much too soon. It’s as if our honored governor is saying, “Please, God, give us a resurgence! Maybe it’ll kill off my political rivals.” But whatever: it is what it is. Or will be…

So I figured I’d better get gas now, before a) the endless waits in line are back and b) the prices go soaring back up.

Cruised right up to a pump — no wait, zero-point-zero zero! Hot dang…a first in the history of Costco shopping.

The car needed less than half a tankful. It was 2/3 full when the covid quarantine came crashing down on us. Over the past two months, I’ve burned less than 1/8 of a tank driving down to my son’s house and making a verboten run on AJ’s. That’s it. No drivey, no buyee gasolinee.

Price? A dollar a gallon less than I paid the last time I filled up. From $2.85 down to $1.85.

You can be sure they’ll raise the price at least back to what it was before the shut-down. Probably higher.

Have you looked at food prices in your favorite grocery stores? I’m not usually very sensitive to prices — I tend to buy what I need and not worry about what it costs. But… $22 a pound for beefsteak did get my attention.

One of the weirdnesses of being locked up for two months is that you forget routine stuff that previously was so internalized it was like breathing.

For example, I failed to recall that Costco does not take American Express anymore, no way no how. Because Costco is a membership deal, to buy gas there you have to insert your membership card in the pump before you insert your credit card. First time I went by there, a few days ago, I forgot the membership card annoyance and so, in disgust, left without pumping gas. Today I dutifully ran the card through the reader (twice…). Then stuck in a charge card.

“Get lost! We don’t take American Express,” quoth the gas pump.

This negated the transaction, so now I had to drag out the membership card and jump through that hoop…again. Then stick in a debit card.

The fill-up cost $17.

Refilling that vehicle normally costs just upwards of $30. That is, yes, about $60 a month for the privilege of driving around the crazy-making streets of Phoenix.

It occurs to me that some important penny-pinching lessons are to be learnt from the covid adventure. One is pretty  obvious:

The less you drive around, the less you’ll spend on gasoline.

Okay. But there’s a corollary.

The less you drive around, the less you’ll spend on anything.

The less you spend on groceries, for example. Why? Because if you can spare only a limited number of trips, then you will plan your meals and your grocery lists more carefully. You’ll diddle away a whole lot less on impulse buys and afterthoughts at the grocery store. And you’ll spend lots less on restaurants if you have some reason not to go driving around to get a meal that can easily be prepared in your kitchen.

You’ll ask yourself things like Do I really need a haircut right this minute? Can I go for a week or two without it? Or can I wait a few days or a week before running to the [grocery store] [drugstore] [Target] [Costco] [whatEVER]? Or Why am I schlepping to a restaurant when I can get a delivery service to pick it up for me? Or Do I really need to drive to a movie theater when I have a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription?

I suspect the shape of America’s economy will indeed be changed permanently, as some pundits speculate. And that will happen because we will have figured out or remembered truths that we have forgotten.

I Are a English Major…

…I are not a accountant! Gaaaahhhhhh!!!!!

Ugh. And Yuch! At the end of last year (that would be about four weeks ago, no?), after I downloaded and itemized an entire year’s worth of data from three credit-union accounts (each of which had several sub-accounts) and two American Express accounts, then itemized the tax-related entries, a halcyon idea fluttered into my by-then dangerously fevered little brain:

If I were to download this garbage once each month, the task would be a LOT less annoying, less exhausting, and less frustrating. Then  come next January 3 or so, the job would be done! I wouldn’t have to sit here for hour after hour after un-fuckingENDING hour struggling with that brainbanging tedious job.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Even, we might say, sensible.




This morning I sat down to whip out the January transactions.

Three hours later…

Y’know…this stuff shouldn’t be that hard. But it is. It is, because anything that is touched by computer technology is fucked up.

Example: It should be simple — right? — to download a month’s worth of data from the credit union into a boring Excel spreadsheet, the avatar of simplicity.

And it is…if you like your data bass-ackwards. For reasons utterly incomprehensible to the 20th-century mind, the credit union insists on presenting transactions in reverse chronological order. There’s no way to make the things appear in a sane order online. So you have to download all that crap into an Excel spreadsheet and then have Excel flip the order.

Not very hard. Annoying, but not hard. EXCEPT…when you’re dealing with half a dozen accounts. Then you have six times the annoyance factor, and that does present a problem.

American Express, which used to present data in normal chronological order, as I recall, has decided it must do the same.: bass-ackward So…there, too: an extra layer of hassle. Extra layer x 2, for two accounts.

The last time I did the annual tax-prep task, I had no trouble downloading data from the AMEX site. Today…no chance. I could NOT see a simple way to download the current statement to disk. Asked their customer service bot or whatever she/he/it is. Got an endless, brain-banging series of ditzy instructions. Told it that I thought life would be much easier if I simply typed the data from the printed statements into Excel. Which is exactly what I did.

Took about 10 or 15 minutes, less than the amount of time I spent grinding my teeth and wrestling with AMEX’s inscrutable website.

Unstuck in time, is what we are. Sorry, young pups: but this 21st-century world you’ve inherited is some precinct of Hell.

Green Hemorrhage

Wow! The long greens have been washing out of the Funny Farm like a flash flood! I’m freakin’ going broke here…but oddly, most of this results not from impulse buying or budget-free living but from a weird confluence of bureaucratic gouges and house-related expenses. Some of them pretty hefty expenses. Most of these were either for things that had to be done or for things I figured were better attended to now than put off.

First, of course, we had the blinding $2500 property tax bill. Put that on a charge card. The statement just came floating into the mailbox…so that has to be paid forthwith. With any luck it will elicit a little kickback from American Express…more, I hope, than the gouge the County charges for the privilege of putting it on a card.

Then, the pool fiascos…holy mackerel!!!

After the $10,000 replastering job, as you’ll recall, the pool was absolutely gorgeous for a week or two…then it filled up with green London Fog. For $100+ per visit, Swimming Pool Service & Repair’s redoubtable Aaron came over and tried to beat the stuff back. Repeated visits and a $125 filter cleaning did nothing. Finally, after I remarked that I was thinking about simply filling the pool in, enough being enough, already, they came over and tried again a couple of times. Much to no avail… The green fog just came right back. (3 x $100: $300, + 125: $425)

You’ll recall that at the outset of this adventure, on the advice of WonderAccountant’s pool guy, I was pouring two gallons of chlorine into the drink: $13 a day…that would be $390 a month. This doesn’t count the soda ash and assorted other chemicals or the new test kit I had to order from Amazon.

Finally Aaron proposed that they should drain the pool, power-spray it with chlorine, and sanitize the pump, the filter, and any other equipment. Hoping against hope to save the pool I agreed to this: $350.

And indeed: they did a wonderful job! The water was sparkling clear and it stayed clear with little or no work on my part.

The job racked up not only the $350 for the work, but something over $100 charged by the city for refilling the pool after they drained it.

Then about two weeks later, along came the palm tree guys. They proposed to trim and clean up the four neglected palms — those trees hadn’t been trimmed in three or four years — and also “skin” the palm that never had the dead palm frond stumps removed: $250. This was a job that really needed doing, and the price was about what Gerardo would charge…only they’d do it now, not sometime whenever Gerardo & his guys get around to it.

I told them they absolutely must not drop the palm fronds into the damn pool! Right. “Sí señora…no palm fronds in the pool.”

Couple hours later I look out there and the damn pool is FULL OF PALM FRONDS!

I go out and say, “I asked you not to drop the palm fronds in the pool!”

“No problem, señora! We’ll pull them out!”

He didn’t understand what I was saying when I said “no palm fronds in the pool.” He thought I meant “please don’t leave dead fronds and leaves in the water,” not what I really meant, which was “throw the palm fronds over the wall into the alley and onto the street, and then from there load them into your truck.” And of course he had no clue that palm fronds harbor, among many other pests, billions and billions of mustard algae spores.

Of course, they pulled the fronds out of the water, which was exactly what they planned to do. Then, after I taught them how to do it, they cleaned the remaining debris off the bottom of the pool.

They charged $250 to trim all four palm trees (cleaning out at least 3 years’ worth of neglected debris, still clinging to the tops of the 30-foot trunks) and to skin the one inadequately maintained tree. It was miserably hot, they damn near killed themselves working like acrobatic climbing mules, and then they spent another hour shoveling out the pool. Amazingly, they engaged this last annoying chore with good cheer. I gave them a $100 bonus, given the vastness of the job I’d foisted on them.

Understand: Gerardo charges $50/tree: $200 per job, and the unshaven tree would be left unshaven. Over three years, that’s $600…so I came out ahead on that one, and got the neglected frond stubs cut off that one tree at no extra charge. (You don’t even want to know how much Gerardo proposed to charge to shave that tree!)

I poured some more chlorine into the drink. Once again, to no avail.

Within three days, the pool was a murky green swamp again!

A-a-a-n-d once again, I call Aaron in despair, pretty much determined to drain the pool and fill it in. Yea verily, I get the name of a pool demolition company, whose guy gives me an estimate of $12,000 to $14,000. Installing a deck over it with a pump in the bottom to keep mosquito puddle dry would come to about the same.

Aaron sends his colleague Don over. He dumps in some chemicals that, after about 12 hours of run time, sort of clear the water. That bill has yet to be presented. He also suggests that instead of fighting the thing myself, I should hire a pool maintenance guy to come in once a week to do battle with it.

I remark that during the Year of the Surgeries indeed I did do that, to woeful result. It was a total waste of $80 a month and and a total waste of time. He says maybe I should try someone else. So far I haven’t seen the bill for that visit.

Determined to give it one last chance, I ask the neighbors on the ‘Hood’s Facebook page if anyone can suggest a pool guy. And lo! Some woman warmly recommends the Pool Dude of the Century. Another pool dude is also recommended.

I reach the second guy first — he wants $120 a month. Right, pal. We’ll be calling the demolition guy back next.

Finally the first guy returns my call. He comes over, inspects the mess, and says he’ll do it for $85 a month. Weekly visits, chemicals included. Welll….ohhhkayyy…I figure I can always can him when (not “if”) this doesn’t work: “You’re on!”

So he, that very morning, applies three chemicals that he happens to carry on his truck. “You’re gonna have to run the system overnight,” he says. “It’ll take about 24 hours for this stuff to do the job.”

That evening I go out and look at the water: still murky. Another lost cause, I figure, and plan to call the demolition crew the following morning.

But lo! Comes the dawn, I stumble out to the poolside and by golly, the water is as clean and sparkling as it was after Swimming Pool Service and Repair worked their chlorine-washing magic!

He came back the next day, brushed everything down, and it looked incredible. Then he came back a couple days ago for the first of his regular Wednesday jobs. So far, he has yet to present me with a bill, but he did say clarifying it would be about $20. Sooo…$20 + $85: $105.

Okay, so the $2500 for the tax bill did not come out of the day-to-day living funds, that’s so: It was in the Tax Savings account. But the rest of it most certainly did  come out of the grocery budget: $1,715.

Just the beginning.

Then there was the $125 for the closed-toed black shoes we’re required to wear to choir on Sunday. Of course I have perfectly fine pain-free shoes bought specifically for that purpose…but the new director demands closed-toe shoes. You understand: I buy and wear these expensive shoes specifically because my feet hurt as a direct result of wearing shoes designed to please men! Some years ago, after deciding not to have risky surgery on my feet but instead to wear Birkenstocks until my feet eventually stopped hurting at every step (took about three years). At that time I made a considered and very deliberate decision:

I will NEVER AGAIN wear shoes that hurt just to please a man’s taste.

So strongly do I feel about this that I have seriously considered quitting the choir.

But eventually I thought better of that, drove out to Tempe, and plopped down $143 for a pair of black clogs. Wore these to church and found, yea verily, they’re uncomfortable and hot! Very, very hot. I’ve never had my feet actively made hot by a pair of shoes.

A few days ago, I was back out in Tempe to meet The Kid at a restaurant next door to the store. While waiting, I perused the store’s goods again, and mentioned to the clerk that I hated the shoes I’d bought. She said well, I could bring them back if it’s been less than two months.

Truth to tell, I’d have to figure out if it’s been that long or not. This whole week has been one long, hectic whirl, and I certainly haven’t had time to make a 90-minute drive back and forth to lovely downtown Tempe. But…if they’ll still take the shoes back, maybe I can trade them in on something less…clunky.

Yes. Believe it or not, they had a pair of black closed-toe CFMs! 😀

Such a temptation… {cackle!}

God lord, no wonder I’m broke…there’s more. Endlessly more:

  • Chuck’s Auto Service: $96, car maintenance
  • State of Arizona: $17, auto emissions rip-off
  • State of Arizona: $280, car registration rip-off
  • Maricopa County: $53 rip-off for paying $2500 in property taxes by credit card
  • Mayo Clinic: $80 not covered by Medicare or Medigap
  • Plumber: $143, replace worn-out part, fix annoying toilet
  • Gerardo: $150, yard work plus dig up ungodly vicious plants
  • All Saints: $25, choir folder

And the beat goes on…

Dog(walk) Days of Summer

Summer is tentatively turning its golden-locked head toward fall. Nights are growing longer, days shorter, and the other day’s violent storm knocked the temps down a few degrees. As I scribble, it’s only 98 out here on the side deck, just fine for breakfast, coffee, and computerized time-wasting.

You think I jest? Yes, it is “only” 98, by comparison balmy with recent days whose mornings have started out at 102. It’s a little drier than it was the other day, too: Wunderground pegs the humidity at a mere 38%, as nothing compared to yesterday’s 64%.

The endless doggy walk…

Ruby-Doo and I got a late start on the morning’s trek — didn’t leave the house till 6 a.m. But to my surprise, we hardly ran into any other dog walkers: only three dogs in a good two-mile perambulation. Which is like…the Twilight Zone, where you wake up one day and discover you’re the only person in the whole town.

What explains this Great Absence? I figure it’s Labor Day: this is the last big three-day weekend of the summer, and anyone who has the means flees the city for one last fling in the cool(er) high country. If you can take off Friday — which lots of people can — you wangle a four-day weekend. And if you work for a government office? Well!

At Arizona Highways — which is run by the Arizona Department of Transportation, making everyone there a state employee — we used to store up our vacation days so they would straddle a three-day weekend. So, for example, my boss would take four days off right after Labor Day, giving himself a week, and two weekends away from the office: (saturday.sunday.monday.tuesday.wednesday.thursday.friday.saturday.sunday) nine days off for the price of four vacation days.

Ultimately, this was remunerative, because the State of Arizona was required to pay you for unused vacation time when you retired. There was a (very generous) limit to the number of days you were allowed to stash for this purpose, but you can be sure that by the end of any given fiscal year my boss was always maxed in that department. 🙂

Didn’t do me much good, because my husband was in private practice and was expected to…oh, you know…show up to work? That kind of unreasonable demand. However, I still got enough vacation days to take off on the junkets he liked to indulge himself in: Hawaii and waypoints.

At any rate, whatever the reason, it was mighty quiet out there between 6 and 7 this a.m.

Susan-B.-Anthony-DollarIn the lengthening shadows of (financial) winter department, I discussed the current budgetary horror show with WonderAccountant. She pointed out that because I never owe any taxes and I get a large refund every year, it’s unnecessary for me to have the feds withhold income tax from Social Security. Cancel that! said she.

Well. Easier said than done.

After some fiddling around on the Internet, though, I finally found a form online. ONE LINE in an entire page of bureaucratic fill-in-the-blanks allows for a “Do not withhold” request. Checking the box and signing at the bottom requires fiddling around with downloading and then printing the form: duly done. then the page suggests you can either mail the form to a Social Security office or drive to an office near you and submit it in person.

So I figured I’d drive up to the SS office in Paradise Valley today and drop this thing off.

But on second thought: There’s no “dropping off” at that place. Dollars to donuts, I can’t just hand this thing across the counter to someone. I would surely end up having to take a seat and wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Depending on the time of day, wait times range from 45 minutes to three hours.

To turn in ONE FUCKING LINE??????????


Now the plan is to drive this over to the post office, stand in line there (almost as interminably, but surely not for one to three hours), and send it Return Receipt Requested. What a nuisance!

Well. The $300 a month that SS is now extracting from my paycheck will re-fund the empty Emergency Savings account, thereby taking up some of the slack.

That will still leave an $8870 shortfall, per annum.

But, noted WonderAccountant, now that we’ve converted The Copyeditor’s Desk from an S-corp to a sole proprietorship (and paid last year’s taxes!), I can take money out of that without tax consequences.

This year.

But then what?

It looks like the choices are…

  • To get a paying job. (Right! Know anyone in the market for a 74-year-old female employee? Har har!)
  • To cut every expense possible. (Done. Now what?)
  • To hustle up at least net $10,000 worth of business in the coming few months.

Ten grand is an awful lot of amateur novels and Chinese scientific treatises.

Truth to tell, the amateur novelists are paying one helluva lot more than the Chinese scientists. This is because a budding author’s draft magnum opus typically runs upwards of 30,000 words. At 4 cents a word, that’s $1,200. Or more. Usually more. The last two authors who hired me paid over $3,000 apiece. But even at only $1,200, that’s…what?  Three amateur novels would yield $3600, leaving a mere $6,400 in the shortfall. This would require about 20 Chinese scholarly articles to cover.

And that ain’t a-gonna happen. It might be workable if I could extract $3,000+ from every wannabe novelist. That is the going rate – 4 cents a word – if you look it up on the Net and you believe what other editors publish on their websites.  To make enough to generate at least 10 grand a year, then, I’d need to land three or four budding Herman Melvilles. Or Isaac Asimovs…most of them dream of writing science fiction.

The only way I could make that happen would be to really hustle the editing bidness. This would mean showing up at every local club of wannabe writers in the Valley — and showing up regularly. And handing out professionally written and laid-out marketing junk at every meeting. It has to be said that the last two novels I picked up came from members of the West Valley writer’s group.

That outfit meets in Tolleson, almost an hour’s jaunt from my house. It’s a horrible drive, and then you have to sit through three hours of palaver. The members are very nice and a delight to socialize with. But because nothing very useful — for my purposes — is said, it feels like an aching waste of my time. Especially if I have paying work in-house.

If I’m having to go to four or five such groups’ meetings, we could be talking about 12 to 15 hours a month of achingly boring time suck…plus drive time. I cringe! Surely there must be a better way??????