“An optimist is one who figures that taking
one step back after taking two steps forward
is not a setback, but the cha-cha.”
— Robert Brault.
This quote just so happens to be posted on the wall at my favorite local coffee shop temporarily serving as my internet headquarters, and it is a lovely summary for the second month of my year of austerity/debt repayment/unnecessary expenses fast. (If you recall, I started out calling this something else, which was inspired by Anna Newell Jones’ blog And Then We Saved. I quickly learned that the name has been copyrighted, so I can no longer refer to it by that name. It really shouldn’t matter, but I kind of want to find a catchy, descriptive name for my own plan that won’t put me at risk of copyright infringement. The last thing I need is to be sued for money! So, any ideas, dear readers? Austerity plan sounds a little too much like the financial disasters in Greece and elsewhere, and I’m looking for something more hopeful and motivational.)
OK, back to February, which is quickly passing into March. What qualifies as my two steps forward took me about two weeks to accomplish, despite repeated and persistent attempts. I just have to say that bureaucracy is a HUGE pain in the ass, particularly that of the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loans. I started my attempts to contact them on February 5th, or at least that is when I began in earnest to document my many attempts. No, seriously- I got so irritated and bored waiting on the phone that I recorded every single automated “we are experiencing a high call volume at the moment, your call is very important to us, blah,blah,blah…”, but I’ll spare you the nasty details. It took me until February 20th to finally reach a human being who was able and willing to discuss my 6 student loans which are now in default. Thankfully, I got lucky that day, and the woman I spoke with was incredibly helpful, patient and willing to answer my bazillion questions, after asking if I would be paying the full amount due, of course. Hey, she had to try, right?
To make a long story short, I owe a total of $24,796.84 to the D.O.E., of which $1666.62 is interest at this point. I’ve entered into their monthly payment loan rehabilitation program. This means I must pay a minimum of 1% of my balance on time monthly for 9 months, at which point my loans will be removed from default and my account will be back in good standing. I have to admit, it was pretty painless, considering other interactions I have had with creditors. These loans were the last of the loose ends in my debt repayment plan, and it feels soooooo good to have it back on track. Obviously, I’m not proud of having let it go that far, but it feels good to be doing something about it now.
So that was my two steps forward. The one step back has been further vet bills for my cat, Jack. Unfortunately, his eye infection is taking a really long time to heal. It’s heading in the right direction, but did require more laser treatment and tests to help the process. Again, I have to admit, I’m glad to be in a place financially that I am able to pay for these things. It has just been a good reminder that the best laid plans don’t always work the way you expect, and you need to take the unexpected into account.
Less admirable has been my realization of how addicted/dependent I am on my piece of crap smartphone! Remember my goal was to cancel my Verizon service in order to save money? Well, I still haven’t done it. I have some really great excuses, like my new metroPCS dumb phone is horrible for internet access, and I apparently have little to no reception in my house, even for texts, rendering it pretty much useless. You get what you pay for, I guess. However, I am still determined to simplify and find ways to save. So, I plan to buckle down and just cancel the damn thing, go without daily/hourly facebook and craigslistand Grumpy Cat access –oh my!!- and use the money I save to order a landline/internet bundle for my house. So, I may have sporadic internet access yet again, but in the end I think I’ll be happier and so will my bank account. Wish me strength. I can do this!