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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!


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!

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!


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!)

Time to part ways! ***WARNING: LONG BORING RANT!

April 24th, 2010 at 04:24 am

Ale and I REALLY need to get out of this house. Things have gone from bad to worse (in my view)...Dont get me wrong, I knew things wouldnt be easy when I accepted my nephew in the house (recovering addict). While he is no longer doing drugs (that we know least, there are no noticeable signs, nor paraphernalia or anything like that) He is just completely irresponsible.

I know that that is in part because nobody (except myself) seems to have any real expectations of him... All my sister expects from him is 1. that he stays alive 2. if possible, that he doesnt do drugs...

Besides those 2 things, I expect him to be productive, to have a job, any job or, at least help around the house and, definetely, I expect him NOT to steal stuff from the house!!!

He keeps stringing my sister along, after all, we believe what we want to believe!... He looks for a job, finds a job, keeps it for about 2 weeks to 1 month, then loses the job and goes back to looking for a job (the cycle is 3 months/ 2-4 weeks/ 3 months), when hes "looking for a job" (no doubt praying not to find one), sis doesnt want to kick him out of the house because "he's looking, he has nothing, he'll go back to the streets and back to doing drugs" and, once he lands a job it becomes "I just want him to have at least 2 months at work so he has enough money to pay rent somplace else so that hes not back on the streets/doing drugs"... which, of course, never happens!!!

ENOUGH! On top of everything, he eats A LOT (sometimes, when he craves drugs, instead of doing drugs, he just eats like a ravenous wolf, ok, I understand that, but... does he have to be dirty, too? Sis doesn't see it, since Ale and I are the first ones to get up in the house... I refuse to eat in filth, otherwise, Id just leave the dining room looking like a pigsty so she could see, but, eating next to crumbs, or even chunks of "midnight snacks" just turns my stomach!)...I think the last straw was that hes been drinking Ales soy milk!! (I buy the individual boxes for her to take to school, as it is more convenient. I tried using reusable containers, but, she just makes an awful mess!)...what infuriates me is that I buy a six pack, I instruct Ale NOT to touch the individual packages, and, she actually obeys me...what kind of message am I sending when all that happens when HE drinks it is that my sister goes out and buys a replacement?? Oh, yes, everyone else can get away with it, but YOU must obey! I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE that! You have no idea how mad I get!!!

Oh, sure, sis yells at him and then he acts all offended (You never TALK to me, you just YELL at me!!!!!!!"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)...

Really, I cannot take it anymore. I know it wont be easy, but, really, between the food bill and the power bill (both my nephew and my niece leave the computer and all the lights on at all times, no matter how many times I ask/tell them not to!) I know I can afford to live in a slightly more expensive house (it will even out). It might be good for sis, too, because she wont be paying part of the nannys salary anymore. Plus, it would be good for her "children" (at 25 and 21!!!) to see that she REALLY cannot afford the lifestyle they live! (No, its not "luxurious", but, HE doesnt work and, SHE works, but does not contribute to the house! I suspect she is saving that money in a cojoined account with her boyfriend)

As you can see, Ive truly HAD IT!!!....
I have about $800 and, I need about $400 more to leave. I think I can get $200 cash, but, even if I have to borrow the other $200, Im getting out of here!

I know my sis will have a cow, and I know shell cry and plead, but, right now, for me to consider living together, either my nephew and niece would have to PROVE that they are no longer leeches. How? Well, he would have to keep the same job for at least 1 year and, she would have to contribute at least $50/month for a whole year, too.

I would also consider living together again if my sister kicked them out of the house and they STAYED AWAY for a whole year! (shes kicked him out of the house at least on 3 separate occasion, he is always back within 15 days!... he comes back with crocodile tears "I cant make it on my own, I need my family, I know I acted, please take me back...I dont want to do drugs again..." and, of course, she takes him back and we go back to that cycle described above....

SOOOO...since I cant honestly expect my sister to kick her children out of the house just because I think that would be best (and, if she did, I know things would really be broken between us, she would never forgive me...even if she understood my reasoning, she would always resent me!)... then I need to leave...

((sigh)) Ok, rant over....
tomorrow Ill contact a real estate agent and, I will start quoting the stuff that I might NEED (we have 2 fridges from when whe joined houses, but, we have only 1 stove and 1 washer, 1 dining room set and 1 living room set.... in very bad shape... both came from my house, originally, but, when we sold our parents stuff-- they lived with her-- that went towards paying things in the house, so Ill leave her either the dining room set or the living room set...this, however, is NOT urgent...the stove or the washer are, though!)

May is a great month for quoting, because thats the sort of thing on sale for mother's day and, the sales last the whole month...

The amount quoted above would cover 2 months rent at the new place, plus either the stove or the washer, as well as my part of repairs on the house we currently rent, so that, when we return it to the owner (sis cannot afford to keep this house!) it is in the same state in which we received it.

Sooooo...please wish me luck and/or send prayers and good vibes so that I find an affordable house/apartment in a safe area!


December 23rd, 2008 at 08:28 pm

Well, I have mentioned that nephew is now living with us... he's been with us since the end of October, after being released from his evaluation at the psychiatric hospital. The psychiatrist adviced against putting him back in rehab, said he's reached a point where what he truly needs is a home environment.
Needless to say, we have all been kind of on the edge about this...
Sis gave him 15 days to find a job... he started working at a warehouse about 2 blocks from home... the night shift...was there for a 15 day trial, but they didn't hire him because he "couldn't work as well after 2 am" (shift was 8pm - 5am)... they didn't pay him, either...since it was just a trial (he agreed to those terms prior to starting, so...)
Anyway...he had already applied (twice!) to a call center, and went and tried a third time (same call center)... the HR person noticed him and said: "you ARE persistent, aren't you?" and signed him up for a 2-week initial training... he passed the final exam and was offered a permanent position starting Dec 15 (sister's b-day... her best present ever!)... he was paid his first salary yesterday, and gave my sister $50 for house expenses... ANOTHER first!, her best Xmas gift ever, too!...
Yes, we still have twin heart attacks when he goes out with friends... yes, our hearts still stand still whenever something goes "missing"...then resume beating when the items are found!... He's been behaving really well...having the occasional spat with my sister, of course... he's still not very good at following rules...particularly rules he finds useless...and sis is still trying to controll so many things, it's difficult...
The other day, for example, he went out with friends... he returned at around 12, and asked sis for money to pay for a cab ($7) because his friends had started drinking and since he wasn't drinking he decided it was no fun and took a cab to come back home... sis started scolding him for going out with these friends in the first place, knowing full well they were most probably going to start drinking... from where I'm standing, though, he made a responsible decision... 2, actually...not drinking and not riding with someone that was drunk... yes, it would perhaps have been preferrable (and cheaper!) if he had stayed home...but... he's 24, we can't put him on a leash or keep him locked up!... he HAS to learn to deal with this type of thing!
So, anyway... as stressful as this has been, so far, it seems like things will work out right! Smile

Going into frugal mode come 2009!

December 23rd, 2008 at 05:15 pm

Well, we went off frugal mode in November- with the Xmas bonus at the office...
while a lot of the $$$ has been going to things that were needed/not urgent (like painting the outside of the house and the living room) some has also gone to mindless spending (not bringing food for lunch... useless trinkets for Ale, etc)... I wouldn't say it's BAD, but it certainly could have been better used (yes, you do need to have some fun once in a while)... anyway.. I've already warned Ale that, come January, we will NOT be going to the malls anymore, unless it's for school-related items (like shoes...she desperately NEEDS new school shoes, hers look like she took them out of a dumpster already! I noticed it early December, but decided that, since her last day of school was the 17th, they'd HAVE to last until then!...and, I will wait until the last possible moment to buy, given the way she's growing!)...
I also told her we will not be eating out as much or entertaining as much, unless we find free/almost free fun!
Wish me luck!

Xmas shopping!

November 16th, 2008 at 03:34 pm

This year I have found a couple of things that I liked for my family, but, unfortunately, didn't have the $$$ at the time to be able to buy (to curb the temptation of spending the "extra" money, I pay it towards debt as soon as it comes in!)...
So far, I only have Ale's gift (it was expensive, but am sure she'll love it!)...
I have decided all others will get gifts from the craft fair that will be held next week at the office (that's where I saw the stuff I loved for them, at the last 2 or 3 they held, and it's always the same artisans, so I know I may not find THE things I liked, but I can find similar ones... This is so convenient...1. they come to the office, 2. I have a very wide selection in one place. 3. NO CROWDS!!!! 4. They don't take cc's!!!! (for some, this might be a setback, for me, it's an advantage: I cannot spend more than what I have allocated, and I cannot put a purchase on a cc!!!)
So.... I will only have to hit the stores if I DON'T find something for everyone...

Went to the circus

September 23rd, 2008 at 04:50 pm

...there's a circus in town, and Ale wanted to go. I first told her I didn't think we could make it ($$), but then got an unexpected translation job, so I decided to surprise her...I didn't tell her until it was actually time to go there...I got us some tickets that while not the most expensive ones, were also not the cheapest ones (mainly because children were $10 no matter where they sat, so the difference would be only in my ticket's price), and took out $30 for "spending money".... I'm happy to report we spent "only" $20!! ...
The part that really made it all worthwhile was Ale's essay (I always look over the work she has done in school)...
"There once was a little girl who wanted to go to the circus, but her mom said no. But then, one day,they went to Tihany (the name of the circus), and it was a wonderful day".

So, it was a spendy day, by our standards, but if she feels it was important enough to write about it at school...

Steps to freedom - update

September 5th, 2008 at 07:32 pm

Well, things aren't going as planned, in that I haven't been able to make the payments I had estimated/ save as much as I wanted...(car maintenance, medical bills)..but I still think it's doable -it's only been 2 months!...and at least I got both the house fund account and the "tax" account set that is progress...Also, what I did was more of an average, so that, in the end, things might still work out...(I can use a larger portion of the Xmas bonus for this, for example)...if all else fails, I'll aim to be debt free by:
Xmas of the year I turn 40 (so, December instead of July 09), or, worst case scenario: before Ale turns 10! - so, June 2010!!)

The dream is alive!!!