Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lifting the Burden: On Money, Footwork, and Blessed Relief

As it turns out, my lovely daughter is taking the semester off from school, which means I have some extra money for the next few months. Isn't that nice?

What's more, I've decided to spend it on me. Specifically, on cleaning up my credit, and then socking away enough money for a small downpayment on a condo or small house. Prices and interest rates are low, and I'd like to take advantage of it.

My chaotic financial history is replete with the usual stuff and wreckage of addiction, even though I was sober when I was creating this mess. Unopened mail. Utilities turned off because I didn't have the money. or because I just forgot to pay the bills. It's probably the part of my life that's been most resistant to change. Likewise, it has brought me the most shame and misery. That, and the food thing.

I happen to know that some of my readers are very stable, sensible people who may not get it. Why not just take care of this shit so you don't have to worry so much? Just stop eating. Exercise, for god's sake. Quit bouncing checks. Pay your fucking bills, dumbass. Duh!

Of course, you're absolutely right, and I've known that all along. But I discovered that it's a lot easier to maintain good health than to try to regain it once it's ruined. I was hemorrhaging money, and I didn't know how to stop the bleeding. From late 2008 until the middle of 2011, there is not a single month in which I didn't have at least one overdraft. My average was about seven overdrafts per month, at $37 a pop. In my worst month, I had fourteen.  From December, 2008 until May, 2011 I spent $8,535 on overdraft charges for over 230 checks. Since May, 2011 I've had just one overdraft -- a slip-up in November.  My credit rating has gone up by about 60 points since then.

In any event, it took a shitload of time and effort and pain for me to get this patient stabilized, and now I've got an extra thousand bucks to toss around every month. I say this not to brag, but to express my suprise, relief, and gratitude for a turn-around that can only be described as miraculous. 

Anyway, this addict still thinks it would be a swell idea, now that things are in some sort of order, to shake things up a little and buy a house. That has led me to a realtor, who has led me to a very nice mortgage broker who told me I can't buy a  house until I get my credit up a little more, and then told me exactly what to do to fix it. Although he probably doesn't know it, he's showing me how to work steps four through nine around money.

So in the past three days, I've gotten into action. I've arranged for the release of a tax lien that was paid long ago, and I've settled four small accounts that were in collections. One of these transactions deserves special mention, and I'll post about that tomorrow. There is still much to do, and some of it is going to be tough.

In the meantime, though, it's a great start, and I'm pretty damned pleased with myself. I really, really am.


  1. Good for you. If you're like me, money issues are freighted with all sorts of emotional stuff, and it isn't as simple as "pay the bills, duh." There have been times when despair over money issues has been worse than despair from addiction back in the day.

  2. You're the real deal, aren't you? Good to hear you.

  3. Anonymous12:59 AM

    Congratulations! That shit is hard, no matter who, no matter what. It takes a lot of courage to unfold your financial misdeeds to an expert, and a lot more guts on top of that to follow-through on the advice. You're so completely doing the right things.

  4. This was such 'in your face!' post for me, because I'm about to go through the same thing. I'm so proud of you! I can totally understand the trouble it's been. :)