Money In, Money Out

Jonathan got paid $400 of the thousands he is owed. While it the saying is true that every little bit helps, $400 doesn’t help that much when you’re owed thousands.

I’m preparing for a yard sale this weekend. I’m fighting the unrelenting fatigue that comes with fibromyalgia and RA after work so preparations are going slow. I’m also planning the sell one of the only electronic devices I have worth selling: the iPad Jonathan gave me for Christmas. I need the money too much not to sell it as much as I’d prefer to keep it.

The only purchases I’ve made recently are medication and clothing. I need medication to continue living. I need to clothing because work suddenly changed the dress code policy so all the clothing I previously wore is now “unacceptable”. The CEO doesn’t think things through when he makes changes like this. Most of us are paid a tiny fraction of his salary and he doesn’t grasp how significant the changes are to our paychecks especially those of us who support more people than just ourselves (he lives alone).

Although I need the clothes, I still feel guilty about buying the clothes – even at 50% off, I feel guilty. That’s another problem with financial instability – even when you purchase things you need, you still feel guilty because the money could have been used for something “more worthwhile”. There is nothing more worthwhile, though. It only feels that way.


Financial Instability is Exhausting

Jonathan hasn’t gotten paid again. This is an ongoing problem. Here I am again trying to stretch my earnings to keep the utilities on. Living in poverty is tiring, but so is constant financial instability. We’re not overspending. We live pretty simply, actually. We garden, we buy used cars, I coupon at the grocery store…we’re still falling behind and it sucks.

I’m working to re-home Dee’s dog which I’ve been fostering since she moved. I cannot afford vet bills and I cannot afford another mouth to feed. I’m also wracked with guilt like I should be able to take care of the foster dog but can’t.

What should I sell this time? All the jewelry worth selling has already been sold. The antiques have already been sold. We wouldn’t get much for our older TV or game system, plus the kids enjoy those.

Tomorrow I take Luke to get his blood drawn for labs. He needs regular blood work since he’s on the mood stabilizer risperidone. I promised him a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit as a reward. I’ll have to raid what’s left of the change jar for his biscuit. I can’t send him to school hungry.

Every monetary decision I make is bad. Well, at least it feels bad. Every dollar I spend on one need takes away from another need. Here’s hoping Jonathan eventually gets paid. Paying all the essential bills this month for things like electricity, phone, and groceries would be a relief.

Super Massive Black Hole

I’ve spent most of today thinking of ways to dig myself out of the financial black hole. I haven’t come up with a sure-fire solution.

First,  I’m going to sell some fine art photography prints and possibly photo jewelry. I can sell prints and jewelry even if I’m struggling with health issues. For the photo jewelry, I can use smaller prints of interesting fine art photographs to create small wearable works of art.

Secondly, I’m going to work on another website to accept paying photography clients. This will be harder since it depends of feeling physically well enough to complete the work after working 40+hrs/week. However, I’ve been feeling a bit better lately so this just might be possible.

I’m also going to immediately start selling some things around the house that are in good condition but rarely used – like the nearly-new jeans the kids have outgrown and some camera accessories I haven’t used in years.

I considered getting a second job, but I can make more with photography than I can with a second job. Also, I have 24/7 rotations at work every 6 weeks so I can’t work 1 week out of every 6.

Speaking of cameras, mine is currently broken. Thank goodness I used it this weekend to document adventures with the kids because that let me see exactly how it’s broken. The sensor is splattered with grease so every single photo I take has fuzzy black dots on the left side of the image. I have a wedding to shoot this weekend and I could have shot the entire wedding before noticing the issue.

Fortunately, rental cameras are available. Renting a camera will eat away at my bottom line from the wedding, but it will also prevent the images from being completely ruined. A smaller profit is better than no profit at all.

Worst. Timing. Ever.

Jonathan got paid today! Well, he got mostly paid. His boss still owes him some money because the bank won’t just full on cash such a large check.

Unfortunately, Jonathan’s payday came too late. The bank made a mistake and over drafted my account by $400. I called today to get the bank to sort out the issue however the bank “can’t” because the electronic payment has already been accepted by the payee. I’m just hoping I can get the bank to refund the $40 fee they charged when my account was mistakenly overdrawn. What a mess. What horrible timing for such a mess too. Ugh.

At least grocery shopping will happen this weekend. For that I’m grateful. Jonathan set aside money for the kids to pick out pumpkins for Halloween too, so we’ll get to have fun. It’s boring to be stuck in the house all the time because your parents are too poor to do anything fun.

I spent the amazon gift card

I spent the Amazon gift card on things we need. As much as I would have liked to keep saving it for boots, Jonathan hasn’t been paid and it makes more sense to spend it on things we need. Toothpaste, tooth brushes, soap, shampoo, deodorant…  I bought a huge pack of guaifenesin and some hair product for myself. I’m almost out of hair product so I hope the stuff I bought works. comes highly recommended.

This evening I made a  list of things I would buy if I had extra money: A rug for the bedroom floor because the tile is freezing cold in the winter, a light winter coat since the one I have now is unraveling, a cheese grater for the kitchen to replace the one that came apart in the dishwasher, a new pair of shoes…

I stopped because the list just made me feel annoyed I can’t afford anything. I didn’t even put anything extravagant on the list; just things I need or would make good sense to have.

Jonathan’s “boss” (the guy who is contracting Jonathan and paying him right now) drove 6hrs to pick up the missing $21k check today. Perhaps tomorrow Jonathan will get paid so I can get paid. None of the money Jonathan gives me goes to shopping for things like winter coats and cheese graters, but instead to bills. Medical bills, utilities, grocery shopping…

If Jonathan gets paid, I can go grocery shopping this weekend. Since I coupon we have a stockpile and I can skip a week or 2 of grocery shopping if needed. We won’t starve, but the kids would miss some of the regular items they pack for lunch. The kids would discover just now little money we have if I skipped a grocery trip, so I’m really hoping not to skip a grocery trip.

Financial Dominos

I’ve said before that life is a series of difficult decisions.

This week it’s one decision after another. Jonathan was planning to pay me for the month. (Jonathan gives me money every month to put toward bills since we don’t share an account.) However, Jonathan’s current employer didn’t get the $21,000 check from a client this week. No $21k check, no money for Jonathan, no money to pay me, no money to pay the bills.

So, here we are. I need to pay a $1,700 bill tomorrow and I have a grand total of $600 to my name…well, and an Amazon gift card that I got to pay for the boots I can’t afford. Do I pay the bill and have no money left to pay any of the other bills? Do I not pay the bill and get slammed with a late fee? Do I pay part of the bill and get slammed with additional interest? Every way to handle this situation has one outcome: I end up owing more than I currently owe and I can’t even cover what I currently owe.

Here’s hoping Jonathan’s employer gets paid soon so Jonathan gets paid so I get paid so I can pay the bills. Sigh…

The Boots I Cannot Have

For 6 months, I’ve been saving all the credit card rewards points to buy boots. I purchase what I normally purchase on the credit card (groceries, phone bill, etc) then redeem the points for gift cards. I planned to use the gift cards to buy boots.

So, for 6 months, I haven’t redeemed any points for anything because I desperately wanted a pair of Dr. Marten’s Victorian print canvas boots in size 9. Amazon had the best price. I’ve longed to have these boots since I first saw them 2yrs ago but never saved up for to buy the boots because there was always another financial priority.

I waited until I wore out nearly every pair of the shoes I had. I waited until I could justify owning $80 boots because I am out of shoes and Dr. Marten’s last forever. Today I received my final gift card. I logged in to make the purchase. The boots have doubled in price to $160. There is no way I can afford $160.

This is why I cannot own nice things…

Stupid FSA!

As if finances weren’t already stretched to the max, the flexible spending account has decided several of our medical expenses are ineligible. Now I have to replay over $500 to the FSA. That’s $500 I just don’t have. $500 spent on glasses for Jonathan and Luke; getting Oliver’s damaged tooth surgically extracted…

2015 is the first year in about 10yrs I’ve used an FSA, and this is why. The FSA always lists eligible expenses, I verify the expense is on the eligible list, then the FSA refuses to cover the expense. Only *certain* vision services are covered (meaning: only lasik is covered). Only *certain* dental procedures are covered (meaning: only adult dental surgery is covered). I’m good with paper work. I’m good with rules. I’m good with lists. Even I can *barely* use an FSA account.

FSA’s are designed to save money by allowing pre-tax dollars to be contributed to medical expenses. Theoretically, this can save up to 30% of the cost since the contributions are pre-tax. The problem is, once the contributions are made, those contributions are forfeit if not used toward an eligible expense. Of course the FSA company comes up with every possible reason not to reimburse claims! That’s how they make money.

You know what I’m not having next year? Another FSA account. This year has been a complete waste of money and a huge hassle. Sure, the theoretical 30% discount sounds great, but in practice, it’s a total sham.

I don’t even know how I’m going to afford this. Do I chose not to buy groceries for a month? Do I chose not to pay the mortgage for a month? It’s not like I’m sitting here wasting my money on cable TV, Netflix, or even clothes for myself and the kids. Hell, I can’t even afford flea medicine for the pets. Where the am I going to get $500???

My Coworkers Earn More

An inch worm measures my seat
An inch worm measures the car seat

My coworkers aren’t struggling like I am. Their houses are more expensive. Most have one stay at home spouse. Most have kids. I’m the only person at who can never afford to go out to eat with the group; the only person who worries about small purchases – like a $14 book.

I estimate I’m making between 30-50% less than my coworkers based on the items they discuss purchasing, home size/neighborhood/price, and the number and quality of vehicles they own. I struggle to keep my car running. They’re buying a brand new motorcycle in addition to their newly purchased car. Also, none of them appear to have much debt or struggle with money. There are always signs when someone struggles with money – calls to banks overheard, inbound calls from collections agencies, bills left out, checking bank accounts before going to lunch…

Since salaries are non-negotiable, and what coworkers are paid is a carefully guarded secret, the only alternative I have is to look for another job. The problem is, I’m not sure that I want another job. This isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Jonathan Has No Jobs

Change Jar
Change Jar

Jonathan has no upcoming work for the foreseeable future. Money is already tight. This just makes the money situation 100% worse. I’m already pinching every penny twice. I coupon regularly and plan out every meal. If it’s not on clearance, or at least heavily discounted, I don’t buy it.

I also know that sitting here stressing about money isn’t going to help the situation. Getting a 2nd job isn’t an option for me right now because I’m expected to be available 24×7 in case of emergency at the day job and I’m also not quite well enough to take on another job. Granted, I feel better than I have in the past, but I’m still low on energy and experiencing quite a bit of pain.

For instance, this week I stumbled on a toy and my ankle swelled to twice it’s size. I couldn’t walk up or down stairs properly for several days. My back has started aching again as well. I was bagging my own groceries at the store today and the pain was so intense my hands started to shake. When I got home I had to take a muscle relaxer and lie down.

This week I’m going to list some unused items on Craigslist to fill the gap. After those items sell, I’ll start considering opening an Etsy shop…or something else which accommodates my not-too-stellar health. I feel like, if I weren’t sick with two diseases that cause pain and fatigue, I would be so much more productive and we wouldn’t struggle so hard.