Monday, September 04, 2006

It's Labor Day!

Finally the big day today. I did my share of laboring this morning, and after work we went to the Labor Day picnic! That was exciting. I won a stuffed dolphin for the kiddo at the ball toss booth, and took many pictures.

I was amused to see a whole booth decorated in the slogan: "Had Enough? Vote Democrat." That is positively the worst slogan I've ever heard in my life. First of all, had enough of what exactly? The world's sordid state of affairs? Do they really mean to suggest that with Democrats in office, the world will sew up its many wounds and everyone will live happily ever after? Of course not. Then, suppose we have "had enough" of whatever it is they are talking about. What, exactly, do they propose to do to fix whatever we have had enough of?

Do they propose to pull us out of Iraq? Bad plan. Just ask the military, because they don't necessarily want to be there, but they can explain to you why pulling out is a worse option.

Do the Democrats propose to fix our nation's healthcare crisis? Perhaps, but I'm sure their solution is something that reeks of Medicare/Medicaid, and let me tell you, that's not the most effective solution. My suggestion is to disassociate health insurance from employers altogether, and just privatize it the way we have with life, home, and auto insurance.

The main problem with the Democratic party these days is that it's branching off in too many liberal directions. People who may be liberal in one area may not be in another, and that splits the entire party up. Politics in this country will never improve until we are given the option of more than two parties, more than two candidates, and possibly an administration with more on the agenda than just getting re-elected.

Anyway, enough with my rant for now. I hope everyone is having a safe, happy holiday. Don't forget to thank a veteran if you see one -- because of them, we are free to celebrate holidays such as these. :-)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ways to Cut Back

I spent the morning going over my August expense report and projecting my September income and expenses. Although my August deficit was -$1372.98 (i.e., I used up my savings last month), my projected September deficit is $166.36. But that's after cutting my grocery budget by $150, paring my household budget, and spending absolutely no money on entertainment, dining out, etc. I still have enough in savings to cover this month's deficit but the fact is, this is going to continue indefinitely unless I change something.

So. My new strategy, obviously, is to step up the job hunt. I don't know how it's possible to even live on what I'm making. My take home pay from work is averaging about $880/mo., and I'm supposed to get $400/mo. from my ex for child support. He usually pays me at least most of that. Altogether, that means I'm living on about $1200 a month, or $14,000 a year. Wow.

FYI: Yes, I'm a single working mother. Yes, I know I qualify for WIC, and probably welfare too. However, I am a republican, and moreover, I believe in taking responsibility for one's own choices. That is why I have always declined to take advantage of these programs. Because in my opinion, that's exactly what it is -- taking advantage of others who may have made better choices.

Anyway. Back to the issue.

Since I've been half-heartedly job hunting for two months now and my efforts have been fruitless, I'm now going to have to focus more intensely on the other side of the spectrum: Cutting Back. Here are the options I've come up with:

1. Essentially eliminating my grocery budget: Last month I spent over $300. Don't ask me how. Except for essentials for the kiddo, who is a picky eater anyway, I can probably make due with ramen and canned veggies for the rest of the month. I will throw a blanket over some chairs and eat underneath, pretending I'm enjoying spoils from a post-apocolyptic raid on Wal-Mart.

2. Pay only the minimums on my credit card debt this month. I know that won't affect my principal balance, but let's face it, I'm in survival mode at the moment. At least I'm not adding to the debt.

3. Gas. Prices are going down -- woohoo! I saw it for $2.39/gal on Friday. However, I'm sure I could do more to consolidate my trips. Also, must check my tire inflation, etc. to ensure I'm getting the most gas mileage possible.

That's about all the areas I can cut back. It goes without saying that this month I won't be buying a single magazine, item of clothing, book, anything. In fact I may consider hitting my mom up for feminine products. (I figured out I spend $94 annually on those...)

What a fun month this is going to be! :-D

Saturday, September 02, 2006

August Finances

Well, it's now September so I braved the Quicken reports to recap what I spent in August, and it wasn't pretty. In fact, I'm not sure how I spent so much -- it was WAY more than I brought in for the month. I spent a lot of my savings paying for crap that my ex still owes me for. I swear, if I have learned one thing in all of this, it is that I don't trust anyone else with my money. Absolutely no one. I know that I'm not perfect at managing it yet, but the main difference is that I have a vested interest in where it goes, what happens to my credit score, and the benefits of my saving it. Everyone I've trusted to help me with money, or whom I've helped with money, has abused that trust. My parents, well-intentioned though they may be, are absolutely clueless about money. I can't believe how much money they have lost for me in the past few years, and even worse, for themselves. My ex, who seemed so good with money when I met him, has turned both his and my finances into a rat's nest. So at this point, although I am still new to the idea of PF, I do know the most important thing, and that is trust no one. No one else will ever care more about my money than I do.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Japan Has Lost Major Points With Me

I just read this article and I have to say I'm kind of shocked. I know I haven't been keeping up with international news as much as I used to but I honestly thought Japan was more progressive than this. The idea that Masako should experience the kind of pressure to produce a male heir that would affect her mentally harkens back to the days of Medeival Europe. Just goes to show, you can't get complacent about feminism. It's really something to hear me say that because I am a conservative, but I know that if I can be a SuperChick (and there are thousands of us out there) then there are definitely women out there capable of being a reigning empress. Just make sure she shaves her legs. :-/

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Batteries, please? Aisle four.

Well, even superheroes have bad days I guess. I'm not really having a bad day exactly, I'm just completely exhausted. I keep going over in my head all of the things I'm trying to juggle, and all of the things I'm trying to accomplish. It almost seems overwhelming sometimes. Generally I try to keep the momentum going to fast that I don't think about it. Once in awhile, like today, I trip and fall, and all the balls seem to come bouncing down around me.

So, in an effort to purge myself of this mental whirlwind, I am going to list all of the things I worry about on a daily basis. Here goes:

1. Money. Not concerned about paying the bills exactly, somehow I always get by. Just the whole idea of managing it, getting out of debt, creating a college fund for the kiddo.

2. Food. My food, his food. Eating the right things, getting enough water, fruits and vegetables. Staying on my weight loss plan. Getting him to eat anything, period. (Picky eater.)

3. School. Somehow managing to scrape by with my schoolwork until I'm done. (I completely hate this one.)

4. Work. Liking my job, not liking my job. Mostly being dead tired after working. Dreading Mondays (11-hour shift.) Finding a new job.

5. Skin. Moisturize, sunscreen, blah blah blah. It seems like everything from magazines to tv and beyond is focused on perfect skin these days. If I don't protect it now I will look awful later...

6. Fitness. Training for a 5k. Then a 10k I guess. Keeping my ankles iced. Stretching. Doing Pilates regularly.

7. Sleep. Actually maybe this is more like #2. I fall asleep constantly. Almost fell asleep walking through Wal-Mart today. Does one ever get accustomed to sleep deprivation? Should I try to endure the headaches for a week or so and give up Diet Coke? (Please say no.)

8. Other people. I miss my dad. I should visit my grandma more often. I wonder if my mom is secretly as tired as I am. I hope my brother has enough money. I wish I had more time for my friends.

9. My house. There are only two of us and yet there seems to be endless dishes. I always have bruises from tripping on toys. I am tired of laundry. I really want to scrub everything in this house. I hate clutter.

Wow. I do feel better. Blogging = yoga - crazy headstands.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

See? Niiiice Vacuum.

One of my girlfriends and I have just been laughing over the amusing escapades of my kiddo. Case in point: He generally likes to turn on his Baby Einstein cd while he's playing in his room. Once he's turned it on he leaves it alone, so I usually don't monitor that whole operation too carefully. Well, the other day he cranked the volume wheel all the way up -- from the living room it sounded like Mozart exploded from his bedroom in some kind of toddler-esque sonic boom. I ran in the room in time to see him running from the stereo in sheer terror. I don't think it's really possible to replicate the look on his face, although it still cracks me up thinking about it. Needless to say, he hasn't messed with the stereo since then.

And of course the vacuum always elicited a similar response. At least, that is, until I decided to adopt it as our family pet. Now we have a petting zoo session before I vacuum, patting the innocent little creature on the head and saying "Niiiiiice vacuum." I'm just hoping it's housebroken.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Have Value to the World! Wahoo!!!

Amazingly, according to Quicken, I now have a net worth of $79.01!!! I am so thrilled. Of course, this is taking into account the idea that if I died and someone sold my car, they would be able to pay off the rest of my debt with my checking account balance and the proceeds from my car. That's only vaguely heartening, and anyway my net worth will probably dip back into the negative here in the next week when I pay rent and all that. But still, for a brief moment, I am basking in the wonderful knowledge that I have value.

One of the good aspects to all of this is that I have gotten a hold on my debt a lot sooner than most people. I put a stop to the increasing balances months ago and have been paying steadily on them. I was shocked to hear people at work (in their mid-20s!) telling me about their $20,000+ debts. At the worst, mine probably topped out at $3,000 and I have since paid quite a bit of that down. (Not including student loans, but I don't really count those at this point, since I'm still in college.)

I am planning on posting a lot more about my finances on this blog, but I would like to first get more of an idea what I'm doing with Quicken, and more of a relative idea of where I stand financially and where I'm going.

In the meantime, I have to figure out how to get a baby spoon out of my garbage disposal.