Life thru the haze of cat hair.

Category Archives: Money Money Money Money

Oh hello! Yes, I’m here again so soon. The tea is fresh. Help yourself.

If you’ve spent any time here at all, you know that I am ridiculously hard on myself. My self-esteem hovers near non-existent. And generally speaking, I am lazy. I have posted before that I need to make a change and I get lonely, and blah blah blah… until even *I* am sick of myself.

Well, I also spend a lot of time trolling around on other people blogs and clicking links to things they like. By doing that, somehow, I had come across this. Over the summer, I even signed up for the 40-day cleanse. But, continuing a familiar pattern, I didn’t follow through because I wasn’t held accountable by anyone. (Not even myself.) And I hadn’t told anyone that I was doing it.  Part of this website talks about the Inner Mean Girl Reform School. It’s a 10-week program to help you stop being so hard on yourself, enjoy your life, and to feel successful. BRILLIANT!!

Yeah, except, again, continuing a familiar pattern, I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY FOR IT. GAH!!

And then.

I have a birth mark on my forehead that is usually not visible. It used to be when I was little, but very rarely now. It’s in the shape of an angel. When I was little, I thought it was to remind me that I have a guardian angel protecting me. But as the mark faded, I forgot about it. And I forgot about my angel. On Sunday, as I was getting ready for my weekly visit to my parents, she was back. My angel was back. She is still faint, but I could see her again. I wondered if she was back for a reason, but then set that aside and went on with my day.

I found out on Monday why my angel appeared again. She was reminding me that I do, in fact, have angels working for me.

How do I know this?

Monday evening, while sprawled on the sofa watching (very likely) another NCIS* repeat, I got a Tweet from an angel. She wanted to know if I would attend the Inner Mean Girl Reform School with her, as her guest. It would be her gift to me. (I would tell you who it is, but I’m not sure she wants that, so I will keep my angel’s real name a secret. Henceforth, she will be referred to as Angel.)

I immediately burst into tears. And almost fell off the couch. Here was this woman, whom I have never met IRL, offering to in essence GIVE ME MONEY TO CHANGE MY LIFE. What? Really?

WHO DOES THAT???

Angels do.

Angel and I have “known” each other only for about a year. We Tweet frequently. We have spoken on the phone occasionally. We have read each other’s blogs often. I wouldn’t say we know each other well, but evidently, Angel saw something in me that told her I am worth her time and money.

I. Was. Floored.

No one has ever done something like this for me before. And as anyone who knows me knows, I don’t typically accept things like this. From anyone. Sure. Buy me a coffee or a lunch once in a while, (and I will reciprocate), but this? Normally, it makes me uncomfortable.

This was different. I didn’t get that feeling of “Oh she just feels sorry for me” or whatever. I just knew that she sincerely wanted to give me this gift, that it made her happy to do so. And it felt right.  I know that if I were a better money manager, this is something *I* would offer to do for someone, but I didn’t know I was worth it. (And someday? I will do this for someone. Pay it forward. It’s the right thing to do.)

So I said yes. And cried some more. (It’s what I do. Apparently.)

So, starting tonight, and for the next 10 weeks, I will be back in school. Reform school. What am I hoping to get out of it? I hope to be able to tell my Inner Mean Girl to STFU (nicely of course… *batting eyelashes innocently*). I want to stop hearing all the negative things that go on in my head. I want to find the motivation to get off of the couch and walk. I want to replace all the negative cuck (It’s a word. Shut up.) with positive stuff. And remind myself that I am worth it.

Part of this process is to solicit support from people. So, instead of hiding on my sofa, in front of the computer, here I am. Putting it out there. I am going to Reform School and will be making positive changes in my life. I am going to need your support. (Yes. I’m looking at you… and you.) I will slip up and I need you to call me out. (But kindly, please.) And I would like to share with you what I’m going through. I hope you will help me and accept me and support me. (And if you can, join me! Sign up, too!) (No, I didn’t get paid to say that…. le sigh.)

Anyway. That’s what is going on here. And in about a week, I get to meet Angel, in person, for the first time. She is coming to visit me! And I’m sure I’ll cry again.

Thank you, Angel, from the bottom of my heart. You have given me a gift that I can never repay. I hope I am worth it. And I hope I deserve it. And I look forward to going to Reform School with you.

*One of Tony’s lines has stuck with me. And I think it’s kind of appropriate here: If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. If you want something different, you need to do different.

Who knew Tony DiNozzo could be so profound?


Oh, hello! Come in. Have some tea. And I finally filled the candy dish again, so have at it.

I’m pretty sure that I have stated on here before that I SUCK at managing money. (I would go back and put a link to a previous post, but I’m too lazy. So, you can either look back, or just take my word for it. I suck.)

I have a few theories as to why it is that I suck at it so much, but I won’t go into those here. Suffice it to say, if I have cash in my wallet (or tossed in the bottom of the suitcase I call a purse), I will spend it. On what? It doesn’t matter. Anything. Everything. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you what 2 days later. It’s really pathetic.

About a year ago, I cut up my credit cards. It was traumatic and scary and hard and horrible and the best thing I have done for myself in a long time. (I still had balances, mind, but at least I could no longer ADD to those balances. Just go with it.) Honestly, if I had to do it again, I would. But I would keep one card. Because it is really hard to live in this world with no plastic.

What that little exercise in self-control has taught me is that if I don’t have the $ in my checking account, I can’t buy it. Whatever “it” is – food, entertainment, whatever. I am not always successful at sticking to that rule, and the amount of money I have actually given to my bank in the form of overdraft fees is staggering, but I am learning and getting better at it as I go.

So, why this story of woe on a Friday morning? Well, last week, I think it was Wednesday, I discovered that, yet again, I was overdrawn. And I had $1 in my wallet. Literally, one dollar. Oh. My. Goat. What was I going to do?? I couldn’t buy a coffee, or lunch, or stamps, or groceries. I had 10 days before I got paid again. Have I mentioned how much I suck at money? S.U.C.K.

With no choice, I had to eat whatever I had in the cupboard/fridge/freezer. I had to resort to the free coffee at work (with that powdered creamer crap) (which, BTW, GROSS) or nothing at all. There were no snacks, no nips to the cafe downstairs for a muffin or scone or salad. So much for my new goal of eating more healthful foods and cutting down on carbs and starches. I lived with a hunger headache and a rumbly tum. I dug deep into the bottom of my suitcase purse for spare change for an emergency Hershey bar yesterday.

But I made it. Today, I was able to walk into the grocery store across the street to get something for breakfast and know that I had the cash to pay for it. It was exciting. But, do you know what? I didn’t want most of it. I had a new perspective on the overwhelming number of options. I still have to go grocery shopping tonight, to stock up on food, and to replenish my larder, but I think my choices will be much more carefully made.

There were some good things to come out of this inadvertent experiment:

  • I was finally able to clear out all the stuff in my freezer/cupboards that I had purchased, but didn’t feel like eating. You know the stuff. Pasta, rice, popcorn, whatever leftovers you may have frozen to “have later”.  CLEAN START!
  • I lost 9 pounds. That, right there, should tell you something. Clearly, I was eating too much.
  • I learned that I really didn’t have to eat if I was bored/sad/depressed/stressed/happy. I could really only eat 3 meals a day. No snacking. And? I DIDN’T DIE. I didn’t (couldn’t) use food to mask those feelings. I ate when I was really hungry (read: dizzy and headachey), and that was it.
  • I learned that I didn’t need to eat so much. I had to eat smaller portions in order to make the food last longer.
  • I learned that powdered coffee creamer? Just as gross as I remembered.
  • I learned that I don’t *have* to have dessert. But I just wanna.
  • I learned that I really can live, and do it maybe not well, but sufficiently, without spending every last cent. It’s okay to NOT go to the drug store and buy magazines or whatever. Or to turn on the Kindle and download the 36 books that I have seen recommended lately that I now want to read. I can read the books I already have (that I haven’t read before) and discover “Oh, yeah! That’s why I bought that!”
  • Oh, yeah, and I’m all set with carbs and starches for a while. Thanks.

So, I know this post started out about money and ended up about food. But, I found that the lack of one really impacts the other. This past 10 days has been hard and while I wouldn’t recommend anyone letting themselves get into the position I did, I would recommend trying to not spend money for a week on those little things that seem to so easily add up. And also, go through your stores of prepackaged foodstuffs and use that stuff up. Start over without all that stuff that really isn’t good for you. Maybe it would be better to just toss it, or to just NOT buy it in the first place, but you know what I mean.

And that cup of Chibani yogurt this morning? SO. FREAKING. GOOD!!!!! (If you haven’t tried this stuff? Holy crap. The best Greek yogurt out there, IMO. Seriously.) And it filled me up. I never thought I could be satisfied with just a yogurt, but I am. (If someone put a plate of bacon and eggs in front of my, I wouldn’t say no, mind. But I’m comfortable with just the yogurt for now.) This may be the start of something big for me. *fingers crossed*

Oh, and that dollar in my wallet? Yep. I still have it.


Oh, hello! Come on in and have a glass of wine. (Or whine. After today’s post, whine makes more sense.)

Me at the end of my day

I just finished another day at the Gas ‘n Sip. Another unfulfilling, suck day. I know, I know. How many times am I going to complain about it before I do something??

The point is, I *am* trying to do something about it. I have had my resume redone by a “Certified Resume Writer”. (Did you even know there was such a thing? I didn’t.) I have applied for no less than 5 jobs within the Gas ‘n Sip in the past 3 months. Nothing. I have applied for at least 5 outside of the Gas ‘n Sip. Nothing. I have even indicated that I will relocate. I don’t necessarily want to do that, because my parents are getting older and I would hate to miss something. But doing something is better than doing nothing.

*****

Recently, I made a reservation to go to Toronto for 3 days of meetings. I did this *after* confirmation that the meetings were set and to go ahead. The first day of meetings was scheduled for Monday at 9am. Therefore, I had to go up on Sunday. Pain in my… kneecap, but okay. I’ll do it. That Sunday is also the last hockey game of the season. F***!! But again, okay. It sucks, but I’ll do it. I called Herb, and told him that I wouldn’t be able to go to the game and he should give my ticket away. So, flight booked. Hotel booked. (You know where this is going, right?)

I get in today to an email telling me that “Oh, the meeting has to be changed.” M#(*^% F(#*^%@&$!!!!! YOU TOLD ME TO BOOK THE TRIP. YOU CAUSED ME TO CHANGE LONG TERM PERSONAL PLANS. AND NOW YOU TELL ME “Tee Hee! Just kidding. Come 2 weeks later.” Well, guess what. I THINK YOU SUCK! YOUR TIME IS *NOT* MORE VALUABLE/IMPORTANT/WORTHY THAN MINE.

I decided to *not* call them today to confirm a new date. I thought it might be less than constructive, given the steam coming out of my ears, and the fact that the top of my head had blown off.

*****

Also today, I went online to try to take another loan from my 401(k). I took one at the end of the year 2009, in a time of need. I’ve reached that time again. Well, turns out I can only have 1 loan at a time, and if I want a loan, I have to pay off the first one. Well, hmm… IF I HAD THE MONEY TO PAY OFF THE 1ST LOAN, I WOULDN’T NEED A LOAN, NOW WOULD I??? So I called them and asked if I could just increase the amount of my current loan? No. *sigh* Great. Well, no groceries for Kitten until next payday. And just ignore those overdrafts.

*****

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on other blogs about people getting frustrated with branding and statistics. It makes me sad that so many people are affected by that. There is a small part of me that would love to have a corporation sponsor my blog – see the above rant about needing money – but given all the angst that these other well-respected bloggers have to deal with, it might be a case of “be careful what you wish for.” I hope these bloggers don’t stop posting. I love their posts and their words and their ideas.  Personally, I am so tickled when I get *any* readers, that I know I won’t have to worry about any of that for a long time (if ever).

*****

One of the posts I referred to above mentioned contests on Twitter that no one seems to win. I’ve noticed that too, and it pisses me off. I have participated in a couple of contests, but I think I’m done. It’s all a scam. People suck.

*****

Okay… I’m done whining and complaining. I’m sorry about all the yelling up above. I’ll be better soon.Nothing a good night’s sleep won’t help. But if you know anyone who wants to sponsor my blog and pay me pots and pots of money so that I can stop selling my books for extra cash, have them email me at seamusandmaggie(at)yahoo(dot)com. (*heh*)


Oh, hello! Come in and have some coffee. I think there are bagels over there, too.

I just had the strangest feeling come over me. I don’t really know what to do with it.

I know I have posted before about my love of spending money. If I have $10 in my wallet, it WILL be gone before the day is over. Admittedly, since I cut up my credit cards almost a year ago, I have been better, but still. I cannot be trusted with cash.

So I filed my taxes already and have gotten a refund. (WOOHOO!) Not as much as previous years, but a good amount. And it is burning a hole in my pocket, so to speak. I really want to shop. Buy pretty things. Girly things. Whatever.

However, (and this is where the weird feeling comes in to play), I just went to get tea and as I’m walking back to my desk, I’m wracking my brain trying to think of what I want and which website I can go to get it. (That’s the other thing. I love to spend money, but I HATE going to stores. If I can’t get it online, I won’t get it.) The feeling? I don’t think I want anything.

Go ahead. Noodle on that. I’ll wait….

::filing nails::

::goes pee::

::checks “doneness” of tea::

Ready?

I KNOW!!! WTF is wrong with me? I cannot think of a thing that will make me feel like a kid at Christmas and will be pretty and shiny and end all my problems. Can you even imagine?? (I can’t. This is a first!) Yeah, I know I could buy a dress or a necklace (I would really love pearls, but too expensive.) but I’m not feeling it. Even shoes. (I KNOW!!) Just not there. I even went to Amazon to look at books to buy. (I know about the Macmillan thing, but, whatev. Don’t start, please.) I found a couple of free ones for my Kindle, but I DIDN’T EVEN BUY ANY BOOKS!!  THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME!!!

There are plenty of “things” that I want. But in the end, it’s all just more “stuff”. And since my goal is to eliminate stuff, I guess that seed has taken root and I’m going with it.  I don’t know if this will last and become a way of life for me, but I guess I’m going to ride this out for a while to see how I feel about it. It’s new and scary and uncharted for me.

I’ll let you know.

*****

COMPLETELY UNRELATED: I read an interview with a very famous blogger yesterday, and something this person said stuck with me and I don’t know how I feel about it. This blogger has way more readers than I do, or will, and I am a HUGE fan. This blogger was asked about how someone gets started with blogging and what if there is “nothing to write about”. The response? Something to the effect of: put it in a draft, re-read it, and if it’s not something you would want to read 5 years from now, don’t publish it.” Obviously, I’m paraphrasing, but that’s what I took from it. If you know to which interview I am referring, and took something else away from it, don’t yell at me. I’m hoping to be all philosophical and stuff, so, shhhh.

What bothers me is this: I haven’t even been doing this for a year yet, but what I wrote about when I started? I wouldn’t publish that today. And 5 years from now, this post will be dreck. (Well, it really is NOW, but you know what I mean.) I would like to think that 5 years from now, I will have grown and changed and developed as a person and as a writer so that things will continue to improve.

I guess I look at this site as a brief snapshot of my life at that moment. I will get better at it. I will get better, period. 5 years from now? Who can say.


Oh, hello! Help yourself to coffee.

Last May, I shredded my credit cards. I still have balances, but I now have no plastic. Well, other than my debit card. Yay for me, but OMG, do you have any idea how difficult it is to live these days with no credit card?

Why did I do that? It really had become not a choice, but a necessity. For the past several years before I took this drastic step, I had come to rely on my plastic in a really irresponsible way. In fact, I was living well beyond my means and had felt myself sinking and sinking. It got scary. So, now, almost a year later, I am sucking it up, buying only what I can pay for out of my checking account, and paying down my debt.

Looking back, I think I have been a “spender” for as long as I can remember. I am definitely not a saver. I wish I was, but I like pretty things and shopping used to make me feel better. I’m sure I could come up with some deep psychological explanation about my childhood, and blaming my parents, and the mailman, but guess what? It’s my fault. I can’t blame anyone but myself for being in the situation I now find myself. I wanted to have the nice stuff and all the clothes and blah blah blah. I’m sure it made me feel better to have people comment on the nice bag or blouse or shoes.

So finally, in May 2009, after I hit a fabulous sale at Cole-Haan for my birthday – I got a $400 purse for $59! (I love coupons!) – I went home, plugged in my shredder, and bzzzzzzzzzzzz, my cards were gone. I was sad and scared and excited and freaked all at the same time. What do I do now??  Again, I needed to suck it up and grow up.

So that is what I have done. I called the credit card companies, told them to close my accounts, negotiated a lower rate, and have picked away at the balances. A few have been paid off already. (YAY!) A few will take longer. Either way, my goal is to be debt free by this time next year.

How am I doing that? I am selling my stuff. On eBay. On Amazon. To anyone who wants to buy it. No, I’m not getting nearly what I paid for it, but selling stuff is doing a few things for me. It is bringing in some money, while at the same time, thinning out all the “stuff” I have in my house. As much as I would like to think otherwise, I was a really materialistic person before. ( I say before, because now, I can’t buy anything! hee hee). Some of the stuff I have let go has made me sad to part with. Some of it had really good memories or a story attached to it. Other stuff? Seeya! Good riddance. What the heck was I thinking.

Would I change something if I had to do it again? Would I do it again? Of course, hindsight what it is, I wouldn’t have gotten myself into this situation to begin with. But, yes, I’m glad I shredded my cards. I find myself thinking about each purchase now – is this something I *need* or want? Is it something I absolutely love? Will it improve my life? Will it be something I will have/use/love 3- or 6- or 12-months from now? This sort of screening process has really cut down on impulse shopping. I can actually go into Target now without coming out with bags full of stuff that I “had to have”. I get what I need, and move on. It’s nice.

What would I change? I would actually keep one card, for emergencies. Or travel. Recently, my job responsibilities have changed and I need to travel and that involved booking plane tickets and hotel rooms. One would think that the Gas ‘n Sip would give corporate cards for those who need to travel, but that’s not the case. We have to use our own, then get reimbursed. And, while it may not be an issue for some, I don’t typically keep $1,000+ in my checking account on the off-chance that I might need to go somewhere. It has made for a couple of awkward phone calls. So I wish I had kept 1 card for that type of thing. But otherwise? It’s nice to not dread checking the mail. Or to leave a store and think “Well, okay, how am I going to pay for that when the bill comes??”

Growing up is hard! Oh, and by the way. The purse I bought myself at Cole-Haan last year? I still have it, still use it, still love it. It’s been the only one I have used, mostly, for almost a year. So that was a great $59 I spent! \o/