There is a vote today in the City of Houston to rescind the HERO Ordinance. Fear mongering has boiled the issue down to men being able to use women’s restrooms and hurt you or yours. This is simply me saying, no, it’s not about that. Rape, murder, and assault are still against the law. This ordinance is not about empowering criminals. That is all.
I’ve hired my friend and huge blog supporter, SherryH, as an occasional staff writer here at BFS. ? SherryH lives near the coast of North Carolina. Her family consists of her husband, their two adult sons, and the requisite writer’s cats. In 2013, Sherry survived a brain tumor that destroyed her eyesight. She’s determined not to let that slow her down. She recently started blogging at http://www.blindnotinvisible.wordpress.com/.
I’m tired, you guys. I could use some support or a few words of encouragement.
MrH and I have always had our financial ups and downs. We’ve been in deep financial water before.
In the mid-90s, we got into credit card debt. A lot of credit card debt. By 1996, we owed nearly $16K spread over several cards along with two car loans and a mobile home loan.
At the time, MrH was making just under $20K a year, and I was an at-home mom of a toddler and a preschooler.
Somehow, we pulled it out.
Conquering Crisis #1
We went to a credit counseling service and got a repayment plan. The budget we set for ourselves was absolutely draconian. There was nothing for clothing or entertainment. No room for retirement savings or even an emergency fund. I’m kind of surprised they let us put that budget through at all and incredibly grateful that they did.
It was rough, especially at first. We scrimped. We saved. We ate a lot of cornbread, dried beans, and rice. Even today, I won’t cook dried beans if I can help it.
When my parents sent us Christmas money, everyone got new socks and underwear, and frequently new shoes, though we always got something fun too.
Gradually, it got better. When we paid off one debt, we snowballed that money into another. When we had to get into more debt, like when my husband needed a new computer for his business, we took the opportunity to consolidate debts and leverage our way into a lower monthly payment.
By the early 2000s, things were better. We were still paying off debt, but the boys were in school and I was able to work and contribute to the family budget.
In 2005, I went back to school full time. We were gambling that MrH’s business could support us for the two years it would take to earn my degree, and then I’d be in a better position to earn more money.
In my second semester of classes, MrH’s two major clients retired within a month of each other. He took a job near Raleigh, three hours away from home, staying with relatives in the area.
After I graduated, while we were trying to figure out how to move closer to MrH’s work, his job was downsized and he instead returned to the coast.
MrH began freelancing while he looked for another job, and ended up opening a new drafting service instead. Meanwhile, I was now homeschooling our sons, now teenagers, and planning to return to work once they graduated high school.
Once again, money got tight.
Rallying from Crisis #2
Once again, we rallied. We scrimped and saved. I couponed for a while and started a garden. We ate a lot of chicken leg quarters, rice, and homemade bread. To this day, I have a hard time buying or cooking chicken leg quarters.
We might not have made it at all if not for two windfalls. First, my mom decided to sell a piece of land she and my dad had owned, and sent me and my sister each a substantial check. Second, one of my husband’s relatives left him a small inheritance. Once again, things began to get better.
From Bad To Better To…Blind…
In 2013, my vision began to deteriorate rapidly. I was convinced we couldn’t afford an exam, but eventually agreed to see an optometrist, who recommended an MRI. The scan revealed a massive tumor pressing on the front of my brain and strangling my optic nerve.
I was transferred to another hospital, where a wonderful neurosurgeon and his team removed the tumor. A single radiation treatment a few months later polished off any remnants and made it unlikely the tumor will ever return. Unfortunately, the optic nerve damage was permanent, and I was left blind.
The months right after my surgery were scary financially. The hospital bills were astronomical, and MrH refused to tell me the totals for quite a while, because we both knew I wasn’t strong enough to handle the information. He missed quite a bit of work to take care of me and bring me to medical and other appointments.
Rallying from Crisis #3
But this time, things worked out. Emergency Medicaid paid the majority of the hospital bills, and the hospitals forgave a large part of the remainder. MrH was soon able to return to work, and there was plenty of it for him to do.
In 2013, I began receiving disability payments. They weren’t huge, but that roughly $366 every month really helped. In 2014, thanks to a stipend from the Affordable Care Act, we were able to get medical insurance for ourselves and our younger son. Somewhere in there, we made our final payment and received a clear title on our mobile home, though it’s still on a rented lot.
When we wound up owing about $2500 on our state and federal income taxes, we went to our local credit union for help. As it turned out, we had very little overall debt–about $7K–and excellent credit ratings. We borrowed enough to pay the taxes and consolidate some other minor debts, and because we used our car for collateral we got an excellent interest rate.
By the end of 2014, we’d even saved up an emergency fund of about $1500, a first for us.
If 2014 was the year everything went right, 2015 has been the year everything went wrong.
MrH’s annual slow period ate through our emergency fund, and we still got behind on some things. Our health insurance premiums nearly quadrupled, and our federal taxes more than doubled. One of MrH’s clients has had some health issues and hasn’t had as much work for him, though he’s doing better now.
Once again, we turned to the credit union. This time, they raised the limit on our credit card. That let us pay the taxes and gave us a little breathing room–but the money still has to be paid back, and I’m sure next year’s taxes are already piling up.
No Idea What To Do
We were so close to getting out of debt, and now we’re moving in the wrong direction! I don’t know what to do any more.
I’ve spent the last two decades saying, “We’ll get through this. Things will get better. There’s got to be a way.” And then I’d figure out that way, and we’d do it.
But now I can’t see the way out. When does it stop? Every time we get a little bit ahead, we end up right back where we started. I don’t have frugal fatigue; I have frugal exhaustion.
I’m not sure I have the strength to pull us through again, and that scares me.
How are you doing with your budget goals? Ever been in a spot where it feels like you just can’t make progress? What do you do when it seems like you can’t get ahead? Inspiration? Commiseration? Please share.
From Crystal: Holy moly. That’s a lot of shit to hit a fan. My normal suggestions for extra income are usually online work like blogging or staff writing, which you are already doing, yay! Do you have the time to staff write for more people?
Mr. BFS and I were craving Chinese last night, but our favorite place is closed on Sundays. So we called our 2nd favorite and ordered our norm – General Tso’s Chicken and Chicken and Broccoli for pickup. And now, I doubt I will go back.
Picking Up the Order
This part wasn’t so bad. I walked in, waited for the person in front of me to finish paying, and asked for my order. I handed them my credit card to pay and saw him bring out one of those old, mechanical, credit card copy machines. He explained that the normal machine was down. I didn’t mind, but took back my credit card, and handed him the last of my cash. That covered our meal and a nice tip even though I was picking up my own order.
The Main Issues
When I drove back home and handed over the food, Mr. BFS had his General Tso’s Chicken, but I had Beef and Broccoli. I really do not enjoy their beef – it’s spongy. So I called at 5:50pm and explained that I received Beef and Broccoli instead of chicken like I ordered. I then asked if they could just make a note so I could order it for free a different day since I did not want to drive back out again.
No, they wouldn’t make a note. I had to drive back out to pick up the correct order. So, my first question:
Why didn’t they offer to deliver my corrected order?
I didn’t think about this until later, but that would have been the appropriate way to handle this.
So I waited the time they quoted and drove back over. It’s now 6:15pm. The woman in front of me pays by credit, so that process with the old card copier takes 7 minutes. It’s now 6:22pm. Then I get to the counter and ask for my corrected order. The guy acts surprised that there was a wrong order, but I handed him back the Beef and Broccoli minus the few bites I took to make sure that I couldn’t just suck it up and eat it.
He sends his younger coworker to the back to have my corrected order made. What?! I had called 30 minutes earlier!
I ask the younger guy why my order wasn’t remade when I called 30 minutes ago and he says that he wasn’t working the phones. So I look to the older man, and he just gives me a blank stare. No explanation and no apology. So I wait for my new order and finally make it out of the place by 6:40pm. Still no apologies.
I seriously wanted to ask for my earlier tip back. These shenanigans make me an hour later than I wanted to be to pet sitting. Luckily, Pendek and Zim, my current awesome pet sitting pup and kitty, are fine when I get there. No accidents.
Not Going Back
Now I don’t want to go back for two reasons:
2. It happened 2 visits ago too! My friend and I were eating in the restaurant and I ordered Mongolian Chicken with steamed rice. I received Mongolian Beef with fried rice. First I noticed the rice, and they brought out steamed. Then I noticed it was beef, and they asked if it would be okay. I tried to eat it, but the beef was spongy as usual and the Mongolian seasoning made it worse. So I asked for Chicken and Broccoli instead. I blew off this experience since I did end up happy, but along with yesterday, I know that this Chinese place doesn’t care enough to read what they write down or to follow through well when they make mistakes.
I’m a little sad because their seasonings and sauces are good, plus they are much closer than our favorite place. But they cost 50% more and their customer service stinks. So, their loss.
Do you have any bad customer service experiences to share? Come on, vent away!
I am using today’s post to vent. If that’s not your thing, please feel free to click on yesterday’s post instead.
Wednesday was an awful day for Mr. BFS. It started with a dentist appointment (periodontal maintenance 3 months after the uber-work was done). That was followed with 2.5 hours of purely wasted time.
Mr. BFS was recently elected to be a representative for his division of the Texas Association of Sports Officials (TASO). It’s a volunteer position, takes more time, and the only benefit seems to be networking. But Mr. BFS is excited about it and ready to work.
His first order of business was to pick up some supplies from the previous rep…easy, right?
The previous rep asked Mr. BFS to pick up the stuff from his office, so they made an appointment to meet after the dental appointment. Mr. BFS drove the half hour and arrived as agreed upon, but the other guy wasn’t there. His staff asked my husband to wait a little while for the guy to pop up…and continued that request every 15-20 minutes for more than an hour. My hubby finally said he couldn’t wait any longer, the staff convinced him to stay for another 15 minutes while they tried emailing the guy again, and then they all finally gave up and my husband headed home. Altogether, that wasted 2.5 hours of driving and waiting of our work afternoon.
On that drive home, the rude guy finally called. Apparently an “emergency” popped up, he quickly apologized, and he asked if my husband had left the office already. Since he had, he asked if Mr. BFS would come again on Thursday instead for lunch (his treat). Mr. BFS agreed and picked up his stuff and ate Subway on Thursday.
Okay, so my husband got the stuff and the guy quickly apologized. BUT, why didn’t he call my husband or even his own staff if he couldn’t make it?! Even if he had done that after Mr. BFS arrived, it would have saved time. AND, why would he ask my husband to come back again? Isn’t it common courtesy to drop the crud off yourself if you stood someone up for an hour and a half?
Why is it okay to waste someone’s time?
In my opinion, time is priceless. Not calling to give my husband a head’s up is literally the same as wasting part of his life. We all waste time in our lives voluntarily, but wasting other people’s time is theft. That line of thinking may seem extreme, but is it incorrect?
A 10-15 minute wait here and there seems to be a normal part of life, so we all have ways of coping. For example, games on your phone or bringing a book. But my husband wasn’t prepared for any sort of wait – especially one that lasted more than an hour. He could have knocked out a ton of work in that hour if he knew to bring his laptop. Or he could have caught up on a good book. No warning and no updates literally meant he was sitting there twiddling his thumbs once the battery ran down on his phone.
The long and short of it – DON’T WASTE MY TIME.
I would have left way before my husband. Mr. BFS never even brought it up again the second visit. Maybe that makes him better at keeping things mellow than me. But it also means that more people will take advantage of his time. Everyone in my life knows how important this is to me. Overall, this has led to way less time wasted and way more goals accomplished.
What’s your hot button issue? How angry are you when someone wastes your time?
PS I was thinking about this after I wrote this, and I remembered a scene from a 1980’s B-movie, Krull, that has always been one of my favorites. When this sand of life flows away, the side hero in this scene will die. So will the woman being guarded by the spider. This tells us two things:
1. Time is fleeting and priceless.
2. B-movies can be awesome!
Net neutrality died yesterday – http://news.yahoo.com/u-appeals-court-kills-net-neutrality-152413671.html.
Let me boil it down in my own words:
Your internet provider can now pick and choose what sites will get what sort of connection for you.
Yep, my AT&T internet provider can now make sure that I have a crap connection to Comcast.com or Netflix if they decide to mess with their broadband settings to their competitors’ sites. And the US Court of Appeals decided that since I could simply change internet providers if I didn’t like what mine was doing, then giving them all that power is okay. It’s not.
It’s not right on any level.
What about the people that don’t have any real choices?! In many small towns throughout the USA, there aren’t 15 different companies that you can use. There’s one and now they can mess with everyone’s access to knowledge in that town.
And even if you have multiple options, who wants to switch providers just to be met with the same problem but to different sites?
Keep an Eye On Your Access
Please, for the sake of keeping what rights we still have, keep an eye on your access when online. You need to keep in mind that we no longer have the legal right to net neutrality…this is a form of censorship that large corporations will now control. This should worry you.
I don’t support censorship. I definitely do not support the idea of giving my internet provider any control over what I can reach or how fast I can reach it.
That’s a harsh word. But I mean it. But now that this has been ruled upon, it can only be overturned by the Supreme Court or Congress can pass a new net neutrality law (that’s our check and balance system at work). Since we can’t really connect to the Supreme Court, we can only pursue the Congress route.
You NEED to contact your congressmen (your representative and senators). Let them know that they need to pass a law mandating net neutrality. You can find your congressmen’s contact info here – http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml. You can enter your zip code to find out who to contact.
Unless you want companies like AT&T and Comcast to have more control over your access to knowledge, CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSMEN! Let them know that this is unacceptable and all parties should come together to pass a new law that mandates net neutrality.
This takes 5 minutes and is truly important to us all. Please do this right now.
I emailed mine yesterday and may make it a weekly tradition. Here’s the email that I typed up while still fuming…feel free to edit and use it as a starting point for your own letters/emails too!
I just read that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia just killed net neutrality. This is unacceptable and all parties should come together to pass a new law that mandates net neutrality.
Just think, if my internet provider leans one way or another, they can now slow down my connection speed / my access to the other parties’ sites. They can make it hard to research competitors. They now have control over all of our access to knowledge.
This is HUGE. We all need net neutrality. I am demanding/begging/shouting for Congress to pass a new net neutrality law as soon as possible. All parties should be able to agree on this one.
Please let me know that you understand and will do everything in your power to make this happen.
Today’s post is venting. Feel free to come back tomorrow for Happy Crystal again.
Stop Being a Baby!
I am freaking sick of some people right now! Specifically, people that go out of their way to be offended.
Now I understand that some things are offensive – like calling a redhead a tampon if you are not Tim Minchin (seriously, click that for a really awesome song about prejudice). But I could barely hold back a laugh while I wrote that, so obviously even that is not too offensive to me. But I do concede that some things are just offensive, the way they are said are offensive, and that the people saying them are flat-out douches. I will not argue that being offended is impossible.
But stop TRYING to be offended! It’s stupid. Here is what set me off…
Apparently, a gray dress at Target was being offered in “Dark Heather Gray” at some sizes, but “Manatee Gray” in the plus sizes. Okay, so I laughed right off the bat, but a bunch of people were not amused. But it wasn’t an intended offense. Manatee Gray was a standard color in lots of other stuff too, not just plus sizes, but one group of marketers for the regular sizes picked one color name and the other marketing group picked the other.
BUT, even after Target apologized profusely, explained the mistake, and even all of the activists decided they didn’t really suck, there were hundreds of offended people threatening to boycott Target. STOP LETTING PEOPLE OFFEND YOU THAT EASILY!!!
I am a 5’2″ woman who is chubby at my current 165 pounds. At 180 pounds in 2010, I was fat. I do not see “fat” as a derogatory term. It was just a description of my roundness. Whatever. Thin, chubby, or fat, that whole situation should be HILARIOUS to you! If it’s not, ouch. If the term “Manatee Gray” makes you want to strike against Target , then you must spend a lot of time being very mad at the world. I mean, if that little thing can really tick you off, what’s traffic like for you? Or family reunions? Or most comedy shows? Or anything anybody says to customer service reps? The world is filled with way more cutdowns than “Manatee Gray” and those are intended.
Mean What You Say and Say What You Mean
I accidentally offend people a lot. I usually say pretty much whatever pops into my head. I would think that is a good thing since you always know where I stand. No mysteries here. BUT, I still seem to get misunderstood regularly. It happens pretty often – someone will read into something I said and get really sad or angry. Then I have to explain that I actually only meant what I said and sort of apologize. Then I get mad or sad because I feel like I have to walk on eggshells not to piss people off. That’s no way to live. So here it is:
I MEAN WHAT I SAY and I SAY WHAT I MEAN. Period. Please don’t look for ways that I might be trying to make a dig. I make my digs directly. You’ll know. I do not have the time to be passive-aggressive. At least, not to anyone but family, lol. I am sarcastic, but I try to make that really obvious. That means that if you think I am fussing at you right now, nope. This is a general vent meant for the world at large, nothing specific in mind except for the Target issue. Promise.
What do you think? Are people just looking for ways to be offended? Do you ever wish everyone would just be way more transparent and then you could just use a sense of humor to handle most of the stupid stuff?
WARNING – Today’s post is not from perky Crystal. It is from frustrated Crystal. It is a rant. Check back some other day for happy and peppy again, lol.
Our roommates are awesome. I mean, sharing our home with anyone was obviously going to be a little tough, but our two friends that live in the guest bedroom try really hard to be considerate and helpful while they work their way through college. They are great.
BUT, one of their mom’s hates me. No worries, the feeling is mutual.
Why I Don’t Like Her
There are many reasons that we don’t like each other, but here is what it boils down to:
- She is mean to her future daughter-in-law (our roommate).
- She tries to constantly emotionally manipulate her son (our other roommate).
- She is sneaky…she literally “stole” a bag of chips. I mean, she didn’t pick them up and eat them like a normal person would. She carefully palmed a bag and put it in her lap to eat later when she thought I wasn’t looking. That sneakiness worries me. I don’t care about chips, but what else would she take if she thought she could get away with it? And why did she feel the need to sneak away the chips? That is just weird. This is why she actually is no longer allowed in our house after her first two visits. They visit her at her place instead.
- She has no drive. She does have tons of education, thinks she knows everything, but any time an opportunity pops up, she turns it down. Despite that, she whines to our roommates constantly about how much her life sucks.
Why She Doesn’t Like Me
According to my roommates, when I am not around, here are several things she says about me:
- I run an “oppressive household”. (I like things to be picked up in an area once people are done with it…like trash being thrown away in the kitchen after your done eating and leaving the area for the night…)
- I’m arrogant. (Ummm…everybody is allowed their opinion)
- I spoil my dog. (Mr. Pug eats expensive vegetarian dry dog food because of his allergies, but she thinks I am coddling him)
- My roommates think her biggest problem with me is that I have money. Money I worked for and budgeted with, but she is not well off, and they notice that she tends to resent people with more money than her.
Point of this Post
I will never apologize for having savings. It makes no sense to have money guilt. I sympathize with anybody suffering through bad times. I try to help anybody I can, strangers and friends alike. I have volunteered with Meals on Wheels and now volunteer weekly for the local hospice. BUT I will never feel guilty for what I work for, invest, and save.
My point of view is simply that we all have something to work with. During bad times, we can use our brains to see how we can make them better. During good times, we can put money away for bad times. And in all of the time in between, we can all use our own available resources towards our priorities like needs, then savings, and then wants. Overall, even when I was a broke college kid, I made the best of what I had AND NEVER held it against anybody else around me for having more. I am in charge of me and that’s it.
So, that said, yes it sucks that people are starving unnecessarily. It sucks that bad things happen to good people. It sucks that some people were born into absolutely horrid circumstances. Feeling bad, whining, and venting are all valid ways to release emotions. BUT, stop whining if you refuse to do anything about it. AND stop holding it against me if you are jealous. Jealousy is normal, being a douche about it is not.
And that’s my rant for the day…
Anybody else need to let anything out?