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Free of bank debt

January 4th, 2020 at 04:58 am

Finally!!! I paid off the bank (this was old credit card and interest debt) Now, I am NOT debt free... part of the money to pay the bank came from loans from the employee cooperative. BUT, the interest rate is half of that of the bank, and, since this is deducted before my salary is deposited into my account, I cannot default on it!
Soooo... this year will be a year of buying a lot of stuff. In the past 5 years, whatever broke was not repaired or replaced. Now there are a lot of things to be repaired or replaced. Starting with the car! (which is now a necessity, since Ale switched universities and the other one is NOT within walking-distance of our home, and, no matter what the government figures say, crime is still thriving -- and I don´t want to revisit our last experience on a bus, where the driver caused Ale to be thrown off the bus when she was getting out... AND, to go to this new university, Ale would need to take 2 buses, and the point for changing buses is the largest shopping mall in the country --and one where there have been lots of muggings and even kidnappings)
What would be our first "free" payment, then, will go towards fixing our car (hopefully, it CAN be fixed...don´t know what we will do if it can´t... we don´t have enough money for a **new** car, and, right now, I wouldn´t be eligible for a loan, not for a year at least)
so, this is where we are.
We made a list of all needs/wants. And then we put all the info on paydays and fixed expenses on a year planner. Once we had that, we prioritized needs/wants, and started slotting them into the paydays where I would have paid the bank. Ale thinks its stressful, but I tell her it should give her peace of mind to know that we know what we can do and what we cannot do (not all wants made it into the calendar)
All income from translations will go into a separate bank account, for a new (to us) car either in June or November (I get 30% of my year bonus in June, and the remaining 70% in November)
The plan is to save $100/month, sell the old car and use the bonus to try to purchase a new car. If possible, we would do this in June, if not, we will do it in November. I know that waiting until November would mean getting a better car, but, even if it can be fixed, I don´t know if the old car would make it to June.
Wish us luck!

broke a filling in one of my teeth!

August 30th, 2018 at 09:27 pm

just chewing gum.... soooo... the good thing is, no pain, since this had undergone root canal treatment back in 1994 (it´s a miracle that filling lasted THAT long, really!)... my options were extraction or a temporary filling. went with the temporary filling, it was not a convenient day for an extraction (it was 3:30, I had to pick Ale after school, I was driving myself, and, let´s not forget that I take a lot of Aspirin for my migraines, not to mention that I need to precertify this sort of thing for the insurance to cover it...) $70 (which is expensive for me, but, I know will sound like super-cheap for some of you!) this covered the X -ray, removing what was left of the old filling, application of a topic antibiotic and the new filling)....AND, I only had $25 on me, so I paid that, and signed for the rest (I have been going to these same dentists since they were students, so they let me do that)... Oh, and Ale says one of her wisdom teeth is coming out, so I need to take her next payday to have it evaluated!

What would you do with $276 million?... or with $351M?

August 15th, 2018 at 04:42 pm

Only in El Salvador!
Believe it or not one ex-president was charged with embezzling $301M.. he has been in jail for 2 years now, and the DA´s office has not been able to find the money trail... So, they offered him a deal: he returns $25M, serves 10 years in prison (of which there 2 will be discounted) and walks free... (it seems that, because of the time that has passed, if they didn´t cut this deal, there was a possiblity of him just walking away with the full $301M, don´t ask me, I´m not a lawyer) So, he keeps $276M of taxpayer´s money.
On the other hand, ANOTHER ex-president made off with $351M. He fled to Nicaragua crying that the investigation into his finances was poitical prosecution, and, Wouldn´t you know it? His buddy Ortega granted him asylum. Put him up in a veritable mansion in Nicaragua (paid by Nicaraguan taxpayers, of course)...Rumor has it the house is now deserted (what with the political unrest, and with him being found guilty), and that he has fled to Albania (apparently, there´s no extradition, and the INTERPOL has no jurisdiction there)
I really... I just hope they rot in hell, I know they definitely have no shame and feel no guilt about this, they probably just laugh at us suckers who paid for all their luxuries. UGH!


August 8th, 2018 at 04:52 pm

We just had a 4-day weekend due to Patron Saint Festivities in El Salvador. As Ale went on mission with her church group, I took the opportunity to do some major decluttering! (hoping that I am able to maintan the order that I have achieved in my room)... On to the next challenge: the living room!

wants vs needs

July 27th, 2018 at 03:47 pm

We made a list a couple of weeks ago of all wants vs needs. I must say I am proud that our Wants list is short, and items are not high-value (most expensive item is about $200)... sadly, our Needs list is kind of long, and items, while not luxury ones, are not cheap, either.

Needs (in order of our priority)
1. new glasses for me --I just realized mine are over 4 years old. The anti-glare coating is gone, and they are a bit scratched. I cannot reuse the frames, which are already very worn, too, because they are permanent use (I can´t walk around without glasses, the world looks fuzzy!).. unfortunately, given my sight problems, even if I go to out local non-profit foundation to get them, they´d be at around $200 --I do not qualify for aid, just the lower-than-market prices.

2. clothes washer: $350-$500, if new. Ours died about 9 months ago. We are washing by hand, which is not so bad for shirts and regular pants, but, is a pain (quite literally!) for jeans, towels and bed linens! My supervisor is about to move from a temporary house to an apartment, and, will not take her washer with her (not enough space for washer and dryer at the new place, she needs one of those two-in-one towers) and said she would sell it to me for cheap, we haven´t discussed prices.

3. New beds - $400 to $1,000 ($200-$500 each). ours are 19 years old and 10 years old, respectively (they usually go on sale in October and February, so we went to see prices yesterday, just to be aware of how much is needed. We might be able to negotiate a better price if buying 2, and paying cash.

4. New living room furniture. $300 -$500 When my sister left the house, she took the living room furniture. This is not urgent, but, would be nice to be able to have company over more often!(as is, we entertain in the dining room only, or at our bedrooms -- Ale´s closest friends, for example) With living room furniture we could have her church group over, for example.

2 purple dresses!

July 17th, 2018 at 03:51 am

My sister is getting married next month. The wedding party is supposed to be dressed in shades of purple (it used to be lilac, but, some of her friends convinced her, since we weren't wearing matching dresses, she might as well be more flexible with the colors to allow for shades of purple from lilac to grape)... SO... we went "hunting" for purple dresses, one for my myself and one for Ale... the first store we went to (which we thought was not as expensive as it turned out to be) had 2 beautiful dresses... and they offered me a discount if I took both... $225 for both... Er.. thanks... We then went to the 2nd-hand stores... at the first we found a beautiful dress in grape purple for Ale for $5. At the second one, we found one in wisteria purple for myself for $20, BUT, they had 50% off all clothes, so it ended up costing $10! We do want to get a rhinestone applique for Ale's, and, mine needs to be cut (at 1.49m - 4 feet 11 inches approx, I'm used to having ALL my clothes altered!), and, of course, they need to go to the dry cleaners (they do look wrinkled!) but, still, after all that, they will still be a lot less expensive than the $225! After the wedding, which is at the end of August, it will be time to start looking for dresses for Ale´s graduation (end of November)... guess where I´m going to look first!!
These are the dresses, although, they look black and gray in the pic... cheap phone, what can I say?

cooking for a cause- proud of my cooking/baking skills

July 12th, 2018 at 02:10 pm

I feel proud of myself. There was a bake sale last week to help a work colleague who maxed out her insurance, and I contributed some lemon bars... the organizers said everyone loved them, and were among the first things to go! (I baked with what I had on hand,mostly, I only had to buy the lemons, and those are not expensive at the marketplace....AND, wouldn`t you know? A friend gave me some lemons from her backyard the next week!- we do use at least 4 lemons every week for meals, and more if we make lemonade)
Also, Ale´s class was in charge of "gratitude day" sales at school (the kids sell food, snacks, refreshments to collect money to give the cleaning staff a school a special bonus), Ale´s friends asked for MY chili (they paid for the ingredients, and someone else was in charge of the cheese and nachos), and, it sold out in 15 minutes!! AND, they needed to sell 60 servings to collect their target amount, and, managed to get 52 servings (and that, because they ran out of nachos and cheese!


July 6th, 2018 at 05:30 pm

we have water...well, the lower part of the house has water! Pressure is still not good enough to get to the 2nd floor, but, hey, we can now wash dishes!!!!

6 days without water!

July 5th, 2018 at 01:42 pm

THE main pipe supplying San Salvador with water broke, and, over half the city has been without water for 6 days now. (More than 1 million people are without water).Some people have cisterns, others, like me, grew up during the war years and we keep water in barrels or containers at home, but, usually, these are enough for 3 days, so, needless to say, we are running VERY low. Classes have been suspended at 300 public schools and many private schools (those without cisterns, or whose cisterns have already run out). Repair work is supposed to be finished by Friday. I really hope there are no more delays.
The cherry on top? the political parties are accusing each other of sabotage. There is a Water Law submitted for review at the national Assembly, and, the left says this is calling for privatization of water, the right denies it. So, the left says the right had someone break the pipe to swing public opinion in their favor. The right says the left did it so it could say the right did it. ...both sides are very capable of something like this, to tell you the truth... the police say they called in engineers to investigate, and that it wasn't sabotage, that the pipe just broke because of the vibrations (there have been numerous tremors this past year), lack of maintenance and water pressure.
ack! just heard someone say the repairs may take until Sunday...we might end up setting those containers in the garden to catch rain (except, of course, there is the typical 15 day dry spell of the middle of the rainy season!)

Ale is 18 today!

June 26th, 2018 at 04:31 pm

this is what I wrote for her...

I can´t believe it´s been 18 years since I first saw you and held you in my arms. This is what we woke up to today at home. I know you like Wonder Woman, but, I didn´t tell you why I chose this theme for this day. Just like Wonder Woman, you are a warrior princess, “beautiful as Aphrodite, wise like Athenea, stronger than Hercules and swifter than Hermes”. You are not a princess “in distress”, but a strong one, one who not only can fend for herself, but also protects and nurtures. Y chose your name right: Protector and defender of humanity. I am very proud of you, and I thank God for the blessing of being a part of your life.

A work colleague made the banner and props... she charged me $5... I don´t think that covers even materials, and I know that this is her gift for Ale... and I went to bed at around 1am to bake the cake without Ale knowing, but, it was worth it, she loved it! (everything! We saved the banner and props for our family celebration on Saturday... She´s not in the pic because she was in pajamas! LOL!

Counting meals

June 21st, 2018 at 02:42 pm

We have gotten into the habit of making menus and "counting meals". We need 45 meals to last a pay period. Most mornings we have cereal with milk, and vary only the lunches and dinners. We were lazy last week and didn´t make our menu. As a consequence, I didn´t purchase enough food for the whole 2 weeks....But, I always have some staples on hand that may be used. One of our favorite meals now is "false chicken" crepes... (I use texturized soy meal for the filling!) We both love them, and they are cheap to make... just some flour, milk and oil + 1 egg for the crepes (and I have learned to make them without the egg, even, if necessary), the soy + chicken base + onion + green peppers + tomatoes + garlic (and, sometimes, bbq sauce for a change in flavor), and, for a gourmet touch, some white sauce (should be butter, but we use margarine + onion + flour + ground nutmet + white pepper). Oh, and today we are having "meatless" lentils... I forgot to buy sausages! Oh, well...


June 19th, 2018 at 04:34 am

I am sorry if this entry sounds kind of disconnected, but, some things are very hard to relive, and so I will try to give you just an idea of what we were going through. Feel free to ask if you want more details, though, I just don´t want the entry to be too long (it will be long enough as it is)
We have had difficult times, emotionally as well as financially. In 2013 I discovered quite by accident that Ale was cutting and starving herself. She was in a very dark place, emotionally, and, I had to refocus all my energy on her. I thought she understood about us sacrificing certain things to pay off debt, but, it turns out she didn’t. She felt that all I cared about was money. She wanted to die, just so I would suffer. She was also being bullied at school. And, my sister and her children moved out (we kept having problems with my nephew´s stealing our stuff) I am guessing it was all too much for her, and she just couldn´t handle it.
I am very grateful for my work colleagues. In truth, we are a small family, and try to support each other through bad times, and cheer for each other’s successes. During this bleak period with Ale, they all offered me some sort of help. From my boss, who assigned me the simplest purchases, so that I would not make any terrible mistakes, to the colleague who read through the whole health insurance policy to find out whether psychological help was covered (it was!).
We went to therapy for one whole year, with little progress. Financially, this meant $120 per week, with the insurance covering 80%, and my copay was $24 per week. On top of that, the psychologist said that, at that point, with the bullying and the situation at home, her only haven was dance school… so Ale stared going there 5 times a week instead of 3, which, of course, increased the price. I really felt that I had no option, as otherwise she would have been alone in the house for 3 hours while I was still working. And I was terrified of that. I kept dreading that I was going to find her hanging from the stairs. It feels awful typing that, but, I really believed it. I knew she was home from school at around 3:45pm, and, from that time until 5:00pm, when my work day ended, I had no peace, and would often cry at my desk.

And all this time I was fielding calls from collection agencies, and, well, I can tell you, fearing for your child´s life really puts things in perspective. I really was paying as much as I could, but, I just couldn´t care enough to agonize over not being able to pay the full amounts they were asking for. I knew this put my job in jeopardy, but, honestly, as long as I could be with Ale and help her, I didn´t care. I could have used my severance payment to settle most accounts, and would have been able to go on with just a call-center job. That was my Plan B. So far, I am still at my old job.

I was trying desperately to get Ale into a church group for youths, but she wouldn´t hear about it. Thankfully, her friends from ballet thought the same, and kept inviting her to retreats. Finally, she told me one of them had invited her, and said the retreat cost $50 (she was sure I was going to say No, and was actually disappointed when I said Yes right away)… So she went, eventhough she didn´t want to… And it was the best thing that could have happened to us. They took her, shook her, turned her inside out, cleansed her, and gave her back to me totally new. This was in 2015, and, to this day, she is very active in her church group, meeting twice a week. She has also gone on missions. (oh, the first time she went on missions she was 16, and everyone was like: You´re letting her go? The roads are dangerous, they might have an accident. They will be walking in the mountains, with strange people, the missionaries might get mugged, she might get raped…. Well, she was 16, and she could have been asking for permission to go to this very popular beach town, and, well, the road is dangerous, there have been numerous accidents there, and robbers place big rocks on the way to make people stop to mugg them, AND, there have been a couple of reports of girls being drugged and raped… SO.. going on missionary work was really not that much dangerous than going partying, right?....They also said: she´s too pampered, she´s going to hate it…Guess what? It was rough, and she LOVED it!)
We also decided to take her out of her old school, and she chose to transfer to a Catholic one. (this meant a 6 month sabbatical, as she also went from the “Northern Calendar”- August to June, to the “Traditional Calendar”, which is February to October) The difference is that, this time, I was not afraid of leaving her home alone! (and, she is graduating this year anyway, except, she will graduate in November instead of in June). The change was also beneficial financially, as this school costs 60% less than the old one. It also is more demanding, academically, so she dropped the dance classes (but not the dance class friends!), so that is another cost that was cut.
The translations for the dubbing company dried out. They started dubbing Iranian films and soap operas, and, they were a much better business for them than the ones from the US. For one thing, these new programs were already translated, so the dubbing company saved some money (they charge the companies based on “on-air time”, and, they also pay all their suppliers that way, so, without the translator, that was one less supplier to pay). It was very difficult at the beginning, and, for almost a year I had $0.00 from translations. Business is slowly picking up again, but, not with them, with other customers, who, by the way, pay much better rates.
We are in a much better place now, emotionally and financially. She used to hate me, and avoided being with me. Now she likes spending time with me, and, even says she loves me spontaneously from time to time. Financially, I have gone from needing the $1,200 pre-authorized overdraft in my account every month, to needing first $800 additional to my salary, to $500, and, finally, as of next month, needing only $100 additional to my salary. Part of my debts has been paid off, and part was just transferred to the employee´s association at a much lower rate.
I still have some way to go, but, I expect I can finish paying off or transferring the debt I have by mid-2019, at the latest. After that, there are many things that we need to buy, we have already made a list (our washing machine broke down 6 months ago, we are washing by hand, but, before buying a new machine, we need to fix the space where the old one was, as it was in a small covered patio, and, the little roof over it leaks whenever it rains… my bed was bought in 1998, and needs to be replaced. Ale´s is newer, as it was bought in 2005, but, it also needs replacement.
We have the same car, a 2001 Hyundai Accent, and, the past few years it has been breaking down fairly frequently, so we should start looking into getting a newer one, but this is not a big priority. Ale wants to go to med school, and, there is one university nearby… Near enough that she could walk there, if necessary… it would take her about half an hour to get there from our house, but it is in a relatively safe area… and, NO, she wouldn´t take the bus. Our car broke down last year, and we were riding the bus the last 2 weeks of school last year… Riding the bus here is dangerous: women get “felt up” during rush hour. You may get mugged -never happened to us, but, one work colleague was, at least once every two months, before she got her own car…and, the last day of school the bus was full, and the driver didn´t bother waiting until we were off the bus, I was still at the door, and Ale was halfway down the stairs, when he started driving again. Ale was thrown off the bus. Luckily, there were no cars coming behind the bus on the lane where she landed, and, all she had were some minor scrapes on her legs…”that happens often”, “it´s so normal, really” people said to us when we told them about it… It may be common, but it shouldn´t be viewed as normal, in my opinion… that day I went crazy… The guy stopped so I could get off, I was screaming so… and after seeing that she was ok, I just started beating the bus with my purse and screaming at the guy: Murderer! You POS! and other things, not fit to be printed, as they say…I broke my phone, btw, I forgot it was in my purse… I really wanted to scratch his eyes out, I have never felt such RAGE and such pure unadulterated hatred in my whole life. I am lucky that I couldn´t get back in the bus, it was so full… I don´t know what would have happened).
But, in 2 weeks she´s turning 18, and we need to get her national ID so she can start her enrollment process at the university (Ironically, she has a much better chance of getting the lowest tuition rates coming from the new school than she would have if she had come from a bilingual school, however small), but, enrollment is not open yet for 2019. Right now, they are still processing the kids of the Northern Calendar. We do know what documents we need, though, so we are concentrating on having everything on hand.

Oh, and my nephew got help, sobered up and he got his US residence through his father. He studied and became an Assistant veterinary technician, and is currently looking for work. Things are still difficult for him, but he is doing much better. My niece paid my sister´s trip last year so she could go see him (we love him, but, we don´t want him to come back and fall with the same crowd again!)

found my way back here!

May 29th, 2018 at 06:28 pm

oh, wow...I haven´t posted in soooo long... suffice it to say: Ale is turning 18 next month, and she graduates high school this year! I will give a proper update later on!