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Settling in

August 21st, 2007 at 03:50 am

We made it. We are moved into our new home, and it's lovely. Too bad it's more rent than we were hoping to have to pay. It's not more than we can afford, which is a positive, I guess. And we are certainly getting what we pay for. Not just in a completely rehabbed 1st floor of a small 2-flat with basement, but in nice landlord above us and nice tenant beneath us in the basement. And nice neighbors in the buildings surrounding. A branch of our bank is right across the street. And the best thing of all: Cheap, coin-operated laundry facilities in the basement AND right across the street, if the basement machine is busy.

We're most of the way moved in. Meanwhile, I'm settling into the new financial situation shakily. Nearly got us into trouble last paycheck, but we're all right. Managed to sell a stroller and a vacuum cleaner we're not using for money to give us a safety cushion.

We skipped out on our last landlady, figuring she has our security deposit, and since we have no other money with which to pay her outrageous estimate of damages, we'll wait and see if she bothers to track us down to sue. She won't have much of a case if she does. She never allowed us to view the damage and never allowed us to verify her building insurance deductible. She claimed in front of a witness (my babysitter) that she didn't need to show me anything. Ummmkay. That's cute she believes that.

Big change in our financial plans: We plan to hold off indefinitely on getting another vehicle. We're getting along very well on bikes and public transportation, and we're preparing mentally and in any other ways we can think of for harsh Chicago winter without our own vehicle. It won't be fun, but we know it'll be possible. And the money we save will be huge, even short-term.

Now to check out things that we've never had before, like renter's insurance, life insurance, funeral planning, a will, stuff like that. Scary stuff.

Just when I thought it couldn't get worse

July 10th, 2007 at 06:02 am

I bought a portable washing machine about a month ago. Cute thing, only washes 4.9 lbs. of wash at a time, but does it really well. Found it on Craigslist and got a great deal on it. I used it probably upwards of 20 times before it flooded the bathroom I had it hooked up in, draining down in bucketloads into the landlady's apartment beneath, and from there into the basement.

Needless to say, we're moving, asap. I have no notion as to why the machine broke down like that, and at this point, I don't care. I just know that we're going to definitely be out our security deposit, to pay for the landlady's deductible for an insurance claim.

On top of that, we certainly hadn't saved up any money yet, not for a new vehicle (which was the first thing on our list to save for - a used minivan before winter strikes), not for anything. Which means we had to go through our list of family members to find out that nobody has any money to loan us. We ended up calling our bishop at church and laying the troubles at his feet. He's promised that if we pay the first month's rent, the church will pay the rest.

Now we just have to find a place... We're in the middle of bankruptcy, so that's not as simple as it might be. And we have to hope and pray that our landlady wants us out bad enough that she won't badmouth us to any future landlord/lady.

Incidentally, she's been after us to pay the full amount of the damages - She gave us an itemized estimate from some company or other in the amount of $2,400. We haven't responded. We will as soon as we've safely landed another place to live. We can then let her know that from what we've heard from a lawyer, all we're responsible for is her insurance deductible. And if she can prove in our lease that having a portable washing machine went against the terms of that lease, she has the right to evict us. But we're leaving anyway, so there wouldn't be much point in her taking that action.

I'm so tired of life socking it to me. I know we'll get through this, but I can't help but wonder, especially late at night like it is now, what infernal force has it out for this family? I mean... Not only are we in the middle of bankruptcy, not only did we manage to flood our building, but on the day of this godawful flood, I and my 4-month-old baby boy were both sick with the flu. Fevers, sore throats, coughs, body aches, etc... So I have to deal with mopping up a flooded bathroom when I'm sick as a dog, leaving my sick baby to scream in his swing. I still haven't forgiven my landlady and her family for not helping me clean up that bathroom or hold my baby while I did. Three weeks later, I'm still coughing my way out of this bug. My energy level is still way low. I've had to convince myself hour by hour that life is still worth living.

I'm unsure whether it's terrifying or comforting to me, but life could still be worse. It can always be worse. Unless you're a prisoner of war in a torture camp, it can always be worse. Or you could be homeless and dying from AIDS. Or you could discover you're the parent of the latest serial killer caught and made into a gruesome movie.

Yep, I'm babbling. Half-insane with stress and exhaustion, I figure I have a right to babble a bit. Specially since this is my very own personal blog!

The bright lining will be a new apartment. This one sucks anyway. I'm sitting here in front of the computer melting in Chicago summer heat, because the wiring in this stupid building isn't good enough to support a sufficiently powerful air conditioner to cool off our main living areas. We can only run smaller, single-room air conditioners in the two bedrooms. Can't wait to get into an apartment with normal wiring. And up-to-date plumbing that doesn't leak, with faucets with good water pressure. With windows that open and stay open. And no cranky landlady that lives beneath us.

My next blog will hopefully share all the lovely details of our new home.

Am not thrifty :(

June 21st, 2007 at 01:59 am

I used to be. I remember growing up so poor that thrift store clothing was a treat! My mom sewed most of our clothes until I was a teenager, and she always bought fabric from clearance tables, no matter what it was like, no matter what color. Naturally, she was drawn to colors that looked best on her. Since she and I had completely opposite coloring, most of the stuff she sewed for me made me look ... shudder.... oh childhood memories. I am so glad to be an adult.

I still love to thrift store shop, don't get me wrong, but I also love fruit smoothies from Jamba Juice. I love buying off the clearance rack at Ann Taylor. I love buying organic yummies from Wild Oats. I just wish I could grow my own organic yummies. We've been living in this apartment for almost two years now, and I still haven't had the energy (or money) to figure out how to grow stuff on our back landing. I'm sure the landlady wouldn't mind my having a few hanging pots or shelves of growing things, as long as they can be easily moved and don't get in the way of other tenants going up and down the back stairs. I just wish I could dig up the back yard, get rid of most of the pretty flowers and ceramic frogs and windmills and stuff, and plant stuff we could actually EAT.

Back to not being thrifty. Today, I bought two fruit smoothies from a downtown Chicago White Hen Pantry, one for me and one for hubby. Granted, we were both pretty hungry and thirsty after an 11 mile bike ride, but those smoothies were $4.59 EACH! They were packed with vitamins and the only sugar in them was from fruit, and mine did fill me up enough to count as a small meal, but I still feel ashamed. I can do better.

I've discovered a lot of my problem isn't just poor money management. It's poor TIME management. If I'd managed time better this morning, I would've packed a lunch, eliminating the need for buying something wickedly overpriced while out and about.

Speaking of time management problems, I'd probably better get off the computer and plan tomorrow's meals...

Beginning in Bankruptcy

June 19th, 2007 at 02:52 am

Yep, that's right. My very first time handling a household's finances, and we're starting out at the bottom of the barrel. At least the bottom doesn't appear to be falling out of this barrel, so I don't think we'll be crashing through into depths unknown...

I've set up a budget in Excel that includes saving for a new (used) minivan, to be purchased no later than six months from now. I don't fancy the idea of biking around during the dead of winter in Chicago. Especially not with two li'l uns! We turned in our car to the financing company, opting for that instead of trying to keep it and not saving a dime toward a bigger vehicle. After all, our credit can't exactly be any more ruined, can it?

As soon as we've purchased the minivan, we'll start saving for the future. Like for kids' educations, retirement, our next vehicle, etc... A whole new world is opening up to me, and I'm getting a little excited. Bankruptcy sucks, but it isn't the end of life. Just the end of life as we knew it...