Unwanted Help – Dealing with Parents

It’s confession time: I’ve lied about my situation to someone. That someone is my mom.

Making excuses or explaining why really does matter. But, a story about how to deal with unwanted help (especially from people like our parents who are so vehemently protective and loving that all they want to do is dig us out of the holes we have dug ourselves into) does matter.

In a conversation about going to graduate school (something my mother does not support), she wanted to know how much debt I had. I didn’t want to lie and tell her I had 0 debt, and I didn’t want to lie and tell her the full amount (partially because I didn’t know the full amount at the time and partially because she would have a stroke at the number). I told her I had $4,000 worth of credit card debt.

Immediately, she is demanding, not asking, that she gives me the money to pay it off. I’m kindly refusing, stating that this is my battle and it is my problem; that I love her and understand why she wants to help, but I don’t need that sort of help from her right now; that she should trust that if I need help, I would come to you. And she is getting angry, very angry, at my refusal to accept her help.

Now, how easy would it be to just say, “Ok, I’ll take the 4 grand!”? Very damn easy. Painfully easy. Too easy. It also opens the door for chastising and negativity in the future when/if I do go to graduate school: “After I dug you out of debt, you’re going to accumulate more!?” and I refuse to put both of us in a situation where she is saying that sentence to me.

A month later, she is still not dropping it. She’s is on Facebook, messaging me about interests rates and numbers and “doing the math”; about how she isn’t mad at me, but mad at the numbers. I spend an hour on Facebook messenger kindly and lovingly declining her offer for help and she will not drop it. Eventually, I had to set a boundary:

Jenn: I love you. I love that you want, so desperately and passionately to help me. It’s part of why everyone loves you, but we can not continue to have this conversation. If I need help, you are the first person I will go to, but I do not need help in this right now. If you continue to talk about it, I will have to stop talking until you talk about something else.

This was the first time I had ever set a mature boundary with either of my parents. And, I had to follow through as she did not let up. It was a small achievement and a good lesson, although heartbreaking.

LESSON LEARNED:

You’re an adult. It is completely in your right and realm to establish boundaries that are loving, honest, and that protect yourself, regardless of who that boundary is established with.

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A Personal Note: Mindset and Spirituality

I tend to sprinkle in some things about my mindset and spirituality throughout my posts and in defining my values, but I think I owe it to myself to fully document what my mindset and spirituality actually looks like to date:

  • I’m a new-agey hippy type, not yet fully acclimated to or invested in movements like “sustainable living” or “intentional communities”. I do see myself fitting into those things very nicely when the time is right/when I decide the time is right. I also believe I’m not in the correct geographic location to fully live out this type of life right now.
  • When asked about my religion, I tend to say that I will be a Buddhist one day. For now, I’m working on simple breathing meditation and actively seeking opportunities for mindfulness while de-cluttering and simplifying on the material plane.
  • I actively (once a week) see a therapist. Our work together focuses on parts healing and me remembering who I am and what my truth is.
  • When asked the question, “Do you prefer to talk about big things that matter?” I responded with, “Well, let’s first start with what actually matters?”
  • I believe that we are souls and have bodies to host those souls in this life. I believe we all have a purpose, a truth that we must decipher and act out until this body deteriorates and we move onto the next one.
  • I am still very terrified of death, but I’m working on it. I recently read an essay that remarked sleep is a practice for death. This helps calm me down because sleep is one of my favorite things!
  • I try to act in kindness, especially in kindness to myself first and foremost. I have been in situations where I’ve not only been abused, but let myself be abused. I do not wish to live that life any longer.
  • I believe humans can benefit and advance more by asking “Why not?” instead of “Why?”
  • I don’t necessarily value being an entrepreneur. However, when I reach my freedom, I will only allow myself to work for someone or something that I fully support and see as being a benefit to the planet or society. If that someone is me and that something is a thing I developed, then so be it!

I’d like to extend this to anyone out there who may come across this post somewhere in the future. Someone very close to me spiritually, mentally, and physically offers this saying to me on an almost daily basis. You should take this kindness and give it to yourself:

You are great, and you’re getting better.

Unexpected Help – Telling Your Story

A single day after giving myself permission to go on this journey, I walked into work a new person. Sipping on coffee, I made small talk with people who have become something in between coworker and friend, and mentioned my situation:

I’m young and in debt. Almost all resources I find start with “My husband and I…” or “My wife and I…” and it is infuriating! I’m not married, I don’t have a family, and I don’t want either of those things (and I CERTAINLY don’t want them out of convenience to get out of debt/fix my situation).

Almost immediately, I received two resources from two people. It’s amazing what can happen when you open up and have honest conversation with people. Of course, resources are no good if you’re not willing to take the advice and insert it into your own, personal life and template. I’m looking forward to finding out if I can use any of the advice these resources give as I adjust and grow my relationship to “money” and “wealth” and sharing the results!

RESOURCES

  1. Patrice Washington (http://realmoneyanswers.com/).
  2. NPR program called Marketplace Money (http://www.marketplace.org/money) currently scheduled on Sundays at 1pm on WBEZ Chicago.

Cutting ’em Up!

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On 6-30-14, after talking with my therapist, I cut them up. All three of them.

I wouldn’t necessarily say it was hard, but I did have 10 seconds where I looked at my highest balance card and felt a sense of fear. Fear about not having a “back-up” plan; not having something to pull out in an emergency. But, then I remembered it was maxed out and I couldn’t use it in an emergency anyway. For the past however long, I had been carrying around 3 cards that I a) can’t use and b) are a symbol or talisman of what is holding me back. I reminded myself of my value, “Do things out of love, not fear.” and reaffirmed that I love myself enough to get me out of debt.

It feels good, folks. Try it sometime.

 

 

Rookie Mistake #1: FORGOTTEN DEBT

A bit into my private life: I do have a boyfriend. When I moved into my current place, I had mix of odd furniture that didn’t include a bed or mattress! I also had only $2000 from my tax return and income to pay first month’s rent and deposit ($795 + $795 = $1590). This left me with $410 to rent a uhaul, go to Ikea, and buy a bed and mattress at the very minimum (although, I did have an air mattress I could have used while saving up).

My boyfriend stepped in and demanded I be able to get myself enough furniture to make myself a nice home that I feel comfortable in. I ended up with a new loveseat, end table, coffee table, living room lamp, storage/book shelf, dresser, bed frame, mattress, two rugs, and another side-table lamp with a couple kitchen mats for the floor. My boyfriend lent just over $1800 to make sure I was comfortable. A coworker-turned-friend gave me her old La-Z-boy recliner for free and another coworker-turned-friend supplied me with a patio set for free as well!

However, as one of my values is making mistakes and one of the blog ground rules is being honest… I have to tell you all that I forgot to include this debt in my initial totals of consumer debt. To date, this debt has been paid down to now owing $524. This bumps my current consumer debt to roughly $9,630 total.

I suppose it’s good I rounded up to paying off $10,000 worth of debt.

LESSONS LEARNED
Estimate high when it comes to debt, estimate low when it comes to income.

Don’t be ashamed or become frustrated when you find debt you forgot about. Roll with it, baby. Part of this journey is to become adaptable. Forgive yourself and take action to adjust.

A Rough Sketch

So, I had a few ideas on how to accumulate $10,000 in a year to pay off my consumer debt. 4 to be exact, but they need some fleshing out. Some REAL (or real enough numbers) tagged to them. So, I developed a rough sketch as follows. It didn’t need to be perfect down to the decimal, but it needed to be something to give me an idea

WORK
I have a merit raise, based on performance review, and a possible title promotion (read: more hourly income) to take effect by September. While this may only bump me from $17.20/hour to somewhere closer to $19.00/hour (I’m personally hoping for $20.00), every extra bit helps. I have also been approved to work a full 40 hours/week, instead of the allotted 37.5 hours/week associated with my job description. This is an extra 2.5 hours of time and a half (currently $25.80).

Roughly considering taxes (estimated math, not exact), this gets me an extra $150-$180 per month or $1800-$2160 per year.

SELL
I have two pieces of jewelry to sell: an old engagement ring (estimating value at $450 without appraisal) and an old promise ring (estimating value at $100 without appraisal). Other odds and ends (books, DVDs, electronics, clothes) should total to another $150-$200.

This gives me a rough extra $700-$750 (which would pay off a single credit card)!

SIDE JOB
I have editing/writing/proof reading/design skills that I can market for extra, supplemental income from home. More on this later in this post.

TRANSPORTATION/CAR
1.3 miles from my front door is a FREE shuttle that travels to and from work, dropping me off right infront of my building. There is no excuse to not take it. My city also has a very workable public transit system. There is no excuse to not take it.

The entire idea (and a scary one at that) is to eliminate the need of a car for 2 reasons.

1. Save Financially (duh):
Right now, I spend anywhere from $50-$100 per month in gas and $70-$80 per month on insurance. My city sticker to park on the street costs $100 per year and renewing your license plate stickers costs $101 per year. Oil changes range from $40-$50 every 3 months. I do not have a car payment as the car was a gift at graduation.

At best, I spend $2,000 per year on my car. That isn’t including any repairs, maintenance, tires, or extra road trips, parking, or the inevitable city-living parking tickets (“Wait, does that sign mean 12 noon or 12 midnight?”).

2. Be mindful of your carbon footprint and seek intentional, alternative transportation:
I can take the bus/train/carpool/or ask to borrow someone’s car.

The next natural question that popped into my head was:

What does successful independence from a personal car look like? What would I have to do to prove I could be independent of a vehicle in my current situation.

I decided to define it as:

  • Travel to/from work for free 90% of the time.
    There are roughly 250 working days per year, with consideration of holidays. 90% of that is 225 days of free commuting with 25 days of admitting the use of a personal car (weather, emergencies, etc…).
  • Trips to see my family or personal travel do not need to include using a personal vehicle. I can train home, or I can rent for personal travel.

But then I came to an impasse. What about emergencies? What if there was a family emergency I needed to go home for and I couldn’t rely on Amtrak or I didn’t have the funds to rent a car? This lead me to ask myself, “Do I keep a car for emergencies only?” I allowed myself to sideline this question for now and focus on immediate action: taking free and public transit. I also researched and KBB quoted my car at $7,200 selling independently.

XXXX

OK! That is a lot of numbers and planning! Including the option to sell my car, I’m resting at a nice $11,700 potential. That’s $1,700 over my goal! WHOA!

But… We’re not done yet. What if I don’t sell my car? Or, what if I keep it for emergencies only? At best, then, I’d be saving $600 per year on gas and that brings my total potential down to $3,100 and that simply isn’t good enough.

How much could I potentially earn with a supplemental income? I’m still missing $6,900 towards my goal. I would need to make an extra $575 per month to make up that difference. This is a red flag, but not necessarily impossible with proper planning and implementation.

Giving myself permission to consider selling my car IF I prove to myself, based on the above measurable goals, that I can be successfully independent of a car? A scary, but firm, “Yes!”

Giving myself permission to seek ways to make an extra $575 per month? An even scarier and quieter, “Yes.”