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Posts tagged with: public transportation

Negative Net Worth…

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Buried somewhere deep inside my life insurance application is an awful question…

‘What is your total net worth?’

I calculated my mortgage debt, subtracted my tiny home value, added my student loan debt and my auto loan debt, and then subtracted my liquid cash. The total? An astonishingly huge negative number representing my net worth.

Not wanting to stop at the large, large, large negative number, I added the amount in our retirement accounts (though technically locked up for the next 27 years under mounds of government and ESOP paperwork).

I landed at a number closer to zero but still negative none the less.

I received the following question from my insurer:

PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY YOUR TOTAL NET WORTH IS A NEGATIVE NUMBER.

Yes, they wrote it in all caps. As if I needed a reminder that I’ve made some pretty large financial snafus. Little do they know that if my number landed anywhere close to zero, they’d find me dancing excitedly like a lunatic on top of the bus I take every day.

I sent a long explanatory e-mail to the agent and figured she’d understand. Instead, I received a disdainful, ‘Fine. I’ll alert your Case Manager.’

Certainly I can’t be the only one with an insanely underwater mortgage that throws off my net worth right? Let’s do a poll. Is your net worth a positive or negative number?

And if you see 14 comments after I post this that say ‘positive’ and you’re about to say ‘positive’ as well, say ‘negative’ just to make me feel better.

Have mercy.


Grandma Shoe Investment…

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If you read yesterday’s post, you know I’m ‘grandma shoe’ bound while my foot heals from a tendon injury.

I tried to remember the last time I owned a pair of flats and I think I can pinpoint it to 16 years ago. My mom let my wear my first set of heels at 14. Sure, they were only an inch or two high, but it was the beginning of a love affair.

This morning, after I safety pinned my pant legs up 5 inches, I headed to work. As I walked from the train to my office, I missed the loud click clack of my high heels but…

Holy cow…

Since when is it possible for shoes to feel like this? Each step felt like a hug from a plush pillow! I was ready to write a sonnet about my love for the new shoes! Why has this amazing secret been kept for so long!?!?!

I’m trying to be optimistic about my injury. I’m disappointed at the financial setback (even though it isn’t huge) and the pain is, at times, nearly unbearable but hey, the injury probably kept me from being the only 70 year old sporting stilettos.


Carpooling Dilemma …

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I use public transportation every day. Aside from being good for the environment, it’s good for my pocketbook. It’s not that I can’t afford to drive to work; I simply would rather use my money to pay debt than pay Chevron and Jiffy Lube – plus, the $175 a month parking fee is more than steep. Unfortunately, I’m having a problem and I need some advice.

A co-worker in my department lives 2 blocks from the transit stop I wait at each morning. About 4 months ago, he started pulling over and picking me up on his way to work. I felt guilty about the free rides and my lack of desire to share the expense, so I changed my hours to use public transit again.

A week later, he changed his hours to match mine.

Over the last few weeks, he has started to complain about gas prices. I asked him why he doesn’t use the free public transportation and he responded, ‘Eww. No. I wouldn’t be caught dead on public transit.’ I used this opportunity to tell him that I use the money I save in gas to pay debt. He rolled his eyes.

Yesterday, I told him I was driving to work because I had to meet my sister and needed my car. He snapped, ‘Well, it would be nice if you offered to drive me once in a while.’ I was unsure of what to say so I dumbly said, ‘I’m sorry’ rather than explain myself…again.

I already know changing my hours won’t work. I’ve tried to sneak out of the building and hide at the bus stop but he always finds me and gets offended if I turn down a ride home. He makes my turning down his offer for a ride home to be a personal insult – and then talks about it at work. It appears as though I have to talk to him about it (more clearly than the first time) but I’m not sure what to say or how to bring it up.

Any advice?


Ways to get by while on unemployment…

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My budget was already threadbare but living with 50% less salary and on unemployment benefits has forced us to find ways to somehow reduce more.

First, we cut our dental and vision insurance. This is something that can easily be re-instated but the $25 a month can help me now.

Second, I cancelled all my appointments health related or otherwise. None of my appointments were an emergency and I requested that my doctor renew my prescriptions without the annual check-up since the last 6 years have been clear of any problems. These appointments and tests run in the neighborhood of $500.

Third, I called my cable company to cancel our cable, reduce our internet speed, and reduce our phone service. I explained our situation and was surprised when they offered reduced internet costs, reduced phone costs, and added free services and free channels for a 12 month period. I would tell you how much I’m paying – but I’m afraid they’ll figure out they made a huge mistake and ‘correct’ the discount… or fire the guy who gave it to me. I would have cut out the internet and phone entirely but my husband needs internet for school purposes and job searching late at night when he gets home (free internet at the library is closed) and I’m uncomfortable without a home phone for emergencies.

Fourth, I contacted my student loan company for a deferment.

Fifth, my husband and I contacted friends and family and let them know we’d be available for odd jobs. Since unemployment doesn’t start for nearly a month after a job loss, my husband has done everything from pulling weeds to insulating walls. I have been helping a company with paperwork at night after work. We use this money for groceries and for the important bills like electric and water. At no time should you feel you are ‘too good’ for any type of job.

Sixth, we cut off all our subscriptions and memberships. If you’re like us, you may not even remember you have some of them since they are automatically billed to your credit card and you may not look at each item on your online statement. Some examples: gym memberships, club memberships, magazine and newspaper subscriptions (some automatically renew unless you cancel). Savings – $50 a month.

Seventh, we’ve been using more public transportation. It takes twice as long to get somewhere, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s far from fun, but it saves $50-$75 a month.

It’s not a lot, but each item buys us a little more time.