2008-05-27

Still going strong

Not much news to report at five days to go 'til moving day. I still haven't smoked since I put the last one out two days ago. Let me tell you, yesterday was damn hard. I really would have crashed were it not for the support of my daughter. She's been so great despite the fact that daddy warned her I'd be cranky. I had the worst cravings all day yesterday and every time they came on, my daughter was there smiling at me with such pride. "You're doing great," she'd say. Now, how lucky am I? Still, it's got to get easier from here.

We also found out the J will be able to transfer to a store down in NC and may actually get a promotion and raise out of it, although it's still very low pay and part-time. That is great news for us, though. Of course, he will still be looking for a job in his trained field as that's really where the money is to get us back on our feet. But, it means that we're going down there with some income, even if a pittance, until we've both landed full-time jobs. The other thing is that after the stress and frustration of his last job, it's nice to see him actually enjoying this job. He's happy and that's got to count for something.

So, how's the move going? Slow. I've struggled with motivation and J's been working up until yesterday, his last day. We really need to put the burn on because we've got just two days until the 'rents get here. You know what it's like having someone else messing with your stuff? I'm a relatively private person and it makes me a little bit weirded out. So I'd like to have just about everything, except the kitchen, packed and all that should be left is breaking down furniture, organizing, and loading the truck. Don't get me wrong, though. I am really appreciative that they're coming up to help us. I just don't think they need to be subjected to our mess as much as I can avoid it.

Lastly, a shoutout goes to Pushing30, a new blogger from Canada, who just got started on her own personal finance blog, Pushing Thirty: My Debt Deadline, this month as well. Check her out. She has the dubious honor of being the first to blogroll swimming upward. Thanks a bunch, P30! I'll be watching and cheering for you, too.
2008-05-25

Breathe a sigh of relief

You might notice a smoking counter on the right. It may not look all that impressive yet. Ya gotta start somewhere, right? This is something I've been wanting to accomplish for the significant portion of my life. I have stopped and started many times in the 21 years since I started smoking. And I have always had faith that if I kept trying, one day it would stick and I'd wake up some morning and realize that I am not a smoker.

As I type this, I can't believe it's been that many years that I have been chained to that little box of toxins. I can think of the many excuses that I've made in the past for continuing to feed the addiction. None of them ever convinced me that at some point I would not stop smoking. The question was when. The time has come.

My current focus of becoming improving my financial health naturally leads right into trying to eliminate financial waste. With the cost of cigarettes these days, eliminating that expense is going to make a real difference in the budget. The true beauty of this deal is that as my financial health improves so does my body's health. Yay, me!

My new motto is, "Stop Wishing & Hoping and start Doing & Being." It's not going to be easy. This I know. But I'm putting it out there, here on this blog for all to see, that
I AM GOING SMOKE-FREE TODAY!
2008-05-24

Packing is so...ugh.

I'm having a hard time staying motivated to pack because well packing is about as unfun as it gets. I should be really motivated considering I'm down seven days before we pick up the truck and five days before my in-laws get here to help. I really want to have most of it done before then. We're going to need some time to clean, too.

The good news is I'm paring down as I pack. We made a trip to Goodwill yesterday with a box and shopping bag full of stuff, as well as a big plastic toy organizer my daughter had but really didn't use. I should be keeping track of my donations so that I can deduct them on my taxes, but for lack of time and motivation I haven't been. I am glad to know, however, that I'm supporting a very worthy cause.

A great aspect of the Goodwill organization is not only do they provide affordable used stuff for frugal shoppers, they provide education, training, and career assistance to disadvantaged people. By doing this, they are making a valuable contribution to the future of our communities. Productivity is the heart and soul of our economy and giving people the tools to be productive helps not only them, but everyone.

I haven't historically been a charitable person, so this act of donating the stuff I no longer need serves two purposes: it simplifies my life while contributing to my community. I feel good about that.

How do you contribute to your community?
2008-05-23

Not as bad as I thought...

Recently, I discovered that federal law grants me free annual credit reports from all three reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Referred by the FTC website, I visited annualcreditreport.com and requested the three free reports.

Apparently, none of them have my current address and could not verify my identity, so I didn't get to see any. My first call was to TransUnion to clear up this problem since I somehow managed to register with them. (Note to self: Cancel before 6/10 to avoid a $14.95 monthly charge.) They asked me to verify three old addresses, two of them I haven't lived at for over 14 years. One of those addresses, I only lived at for maybe three months and I couldn't remember the address, nor could I remember getting any mail there as I was subletting. Yesterday, I checked my old tax forms and found that my W2s had been mailed to that address, so I was able to call back and confirm my identity with TU. The two others I ordered by phone and will expect them in the mail in a few weeks.

This is the first time I have ever looked at my credit report. Yes, go ahead and wag your finger at me; I am duly shamed. The good news (kind of) is that it's not as bad as I thought. Presumably, some bad behavior in the past has fallen off it. I've been screwing it up for a very long time, remember? I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. There's a fair amount of guilt there, of course, but what can I do about it now other than change my behavior and make amends with the businesses I know about?

Back to the report: there is no activity other than two collection accounts that are seriously past due totaling $1,906. It doesn't look good to see those items on there and nothing good, so once I'm employed again, I'll be giving both agencies a call to arrange a payback schedule. Fortunately, it really shouldn't take too long if I dedicate myself to it.

I didn't get my credit score because TU reports that there's not enough activity to generate a score. What does that mean? Am I like a blank slate with only two dings? That can't be right. Either way, it sucks to have no credit score at age 37. That's got to be worse than having a bad one, right?

It looks like I have some work to do. Now, to convince J. to order his. I think he's procrastinating, but what can I do?
2008-05-22

And the move is on...

Last year, my husband (hereafter referred to as "J") lost his job of 11 years. We weren't expecting that at all and, as the main breadwinner, it hit us pretty hard. We were already in a world of hurt with no budget, no savings, no plans. I was already unemployed, having lost my job months prior and was in the midst of a deep depression. That year was about the worst it had ever gotten. So many bad things happened that we were in no position to deal with.

Many mistakes got us to that point and we continued to make mistakes. Some things we did right, but not quite right enough to make a huge difference. This year has been a slightly better so far but it's going back downhill fast.

For numerous reasons, but particularly to start over with some support, we've decided to move out of the Ohio city we've lived in together since 1995 and that J grew up in. We're going to NC mainly because that's where J's parents live, but we also believe that there are better job opportunities there, particularly in J's field.

J's parents have offered to help us get on our feet and give us a roof over our heads while we're setting up. I'm so very thankful for that since we've done it wrong for so many years. Though we should be "old enough to know better," I'm very open to accepting advice and support from people who care about us and want to help us realize a more positive future. It's pretty embarrassing, but if I can't find some humility after taking part in wrecking our lives by asking and accepting help, I'm never going to change my attitude.

That being said, I had thought we were leaving mid-June, but after talking with J's parents last night, we decided to bump it up to the end of May. I'm kind of nervous. I've started packing a few things, but we still have a lot to do. At the same time I'm excited because I feel like I've been in limbo since we first decided to head down there over a month ago.

One crappy thing, though, is that we were expecting a pretty decent chunk of change from our tax returns and the stimulus package. That was supposed to cover our moving expenses, pay off the last of our rent and utilities here (which we are both behind in), and provide some seed money to live off of until we have jobs so we didn't have to mooch of my in-laws. We haven't seen a dime of it yet and there's no telling when we're actually going to get it. :(

I feel bad that my in-laws are going to end up paying for the move, even though they say they want to because it will get us started on the path to financial wellness sooner. I really love them and what they're doing for us, but at the same time I feel so guilty. I desperately want us to be financially independent and every time someone else gives us money, it kills me. I hate being a mooch.

So, the countdown begins. 9 more days to moving day. I'm scared and I need to go pack. Now.