Which is my latest catch-all phrase to remind myself that others have it worse off than I do.
But first some knitting! Well not really. Just finishing.
You might remember my trials with the Beyond The Grave Sweater that my grandma sent me when she was cleaning out her deceased sister’s stuff and came across a fully knitted, but not seamed together sweater. Mom told her that I knit, and it was soon shipped off to me.
Months ago I messed up seaming it. Yesterday afternoon I ripped apart the sleeves and shoulders and re-seamed it.
Chunky’s getting better at his photography skills don’t you think? He hasn’t discovered the zoom button and therefore you don’t have to see how awful I look in this sweater.
I’m starting to think that Great Aunt was on to something by not finishing this sweater.
It’s very bulky, the 2X2 ribbing hugs all the wrong curves (I think it makes me look four months pregnant! I’m not, and I know I haven’t put on any weight because all my clothes still fit!). And the shoulders are just weird. There’s no way you could wear that sweater and not have the shoulders slip down.
I take that back. This sweater would look great on a svelt broad shouldered girl with no c-section induced pooch for the ribs to cover.
Ok, onto starving kitties.
We received some shitacular news in the mail this weekend.
The IRS says we owe them $2400.
I’ve forwarded this notice to my accountant, but I’m prepped for the worst.
If you’ve been reading, you’ll surely remember listening to me whine about still being in debt from our stupid dual moves seven months apart.
With my recent raise, and trying to pay $600 a month on both credit cards, things were looking decent--we were on schedule to get out of the red by Christmas.
Obviously this blow from Uncle Sam and his butt monkeys (no offense to any IRS beancounters—I know you’re just doing your job, you’re just the messengers, not the ass clowns that make the tax rules) sets us back to about April when we’d start seeing the light. And despite the fact that I have the maximum amount of deductions taken from both our paychecks, I can just see Uncle Sam telling us to grab our ankles come April tax time when we are free of our credit card debt.
After emailing my accountant, I immediately went online to see what belt-tightening tips I could find.
Most of them I do already.
We never eat out. I pack the boys both a lunch as well as one for myself.
I don’t have an air conditioner and the appliances I can unplug during the day are already attached to power strips to turn off completely during the day when we’re at home and school.
I don’t have a mortgage.
I only drive my car to work, the train station, and to school. Well OK, I take that back. We drove to the car twice to the shore this summer. No more of that.
I already bundle my cable, phone and internet. I pay $100 a month for all three of those combined. That’s a real deal. And that’s unlimited long distance calling in there too. I was easily paying $60 more a month for those three services when I didn’t have them bundled.
What to do?
First off I put Netflix (that I had just reinstated a few months ago after cancelling due to Dr. Mad Scientist’s Texas unemployment!) into hibernation until Thanksgiving. There’s $12 a month I can save.
I cancelled an old email account I had from back when we had dial-up service and had been paying $6 a month to keep the email addresses active because I had been using it as one of my core emails that family and friends used. Stupid I know. But now there’s $6 I’m saving a month.
Third, I’ve started “line” drying our clothes. I have been “line” (I use quotes because I don’t really have a line, I just dry it around the house) drying the jeans and bath towels for about five months now. Now with Uncle Sam not providing any Vaseline with his violation of our finances—I’m “line” drying my whites and colors. You should have seen our apartment on Saturday night—there were shirts hanging from the chandelier, underwear on the windowsills, and pants draped on chairs. I was pleasantly surprised that despite it being very freaking humid Saturday night, by Sunday morning the clothes were pretty much dried and could be put away. It took a little bit more time to hang everything up, but I saved 75 cents drying our clothes. That’s $3 a month I’m saving there.
Fourth, I had Dr. Mad Scientist hand me his credit card and debit card. I also relinquished my cards. No more charging gas, I’ll have to figure out how to pay for it in cash. Dr. Mad Scientist will get his credit card back at the beginning of the month to pay for his monthly subway pass. He does get reimbursed for those expenses up to $100 a pay period pre-tax through his work though.
Fifth, I’ll be giving up my Sunday paper and bottle of Snapple that Chunky gets when he walks up to the corner store with me each Sunday. That’s $3 a week saved, or $12 a month.
Sixth, it was also time to purge. On Craigslist I’ve got Chunky’s old Gymini playset for sale, on Ebay I’ve got some yarn and an old vintage (at least I think it is) dress I bought a few years ago and wore once to a wedding for sale. I’ve got plans to sell off the bike trailer (Chunky’s getting too big for it), the high chair, and probably the sewing machine that my mom gave me that frightens me so much.
I also did what had to be the worst part of this. I decided I can’t go to Rhinebeck. Which really freakin’ sucks. Part of moving to Jersey was the excitement of going to Rhinebeck with the NYC and NJ knitters. Sigh.
What I would really love is to get second job. But with Dr. Mad Scientist working at least one, if not both, days of the weekend as well as sporadic evening hours (many nights we don’t see him til midnight), a second job out of the house is kind of out of the question.
Chin up though right? I’ve actually proposed to Dr. Mad Scientist a radical plan.
Call it Poverty Challenge 2007.
$2400 is one two of our bi-weekly paychecks (actually a little bit more, but go with it for now). That sounds like a lot of money to be making in two weeks doesn’t it? But keep in mind our rent is $1200 a month, daycare is $600, gas is…well you get the idea. Living in New Jersey is much more expensive than it was in either Texas or Michigan. Therefore, the pay is relative to the expenses.
My Friday paycheck will go towards September’s rent, and then I’ll budget out $450 to go to daycare.
The first two weeks of September is where it will get interesting. I’ve proposed to Dr. Mad Scientist, that we take those two paychecks and we pay off fuckin’ Uncle Sam in one fell swoop. (I believe the notice said we had 30 days to do it if we agreed to the amount they determined.)
I will pay the minimum amount due on the credit cards for September, and on Dr. Mad Scientist’s student loans (which honestly isn’t as big as you would think they would be for a PhD—these are his undergrad student loans we’re paying off.)
Luckily September will also be a month where our power bill won’t be “estimated” either. I just paid $100 to them for a wildly inflated estimate of what our gas usage should bee for this month. Keep in mind we use gas for cooking and heating hot water (showers and dishes only—no laundry done here!) There is no way that 95% of my utility bill should be going towards cooking, showers, and dishes when the last month they actually read my gas meter the bill was only a total of $38. Jackasses as PSE&G. But what they’ll do is subtract what we did use from what we overpaid last month and charge us that—if at all.
What will Poverty Challenge 2007 mean for us?
Well lots of things.
It will mean eating less at dinner so we can have leftovers to eat later in the week.
It will mean instead of going meatless once a week, we’ll have go be doing it more than once.
It will mean eating what we have in our pantry and freezer instead of buying groceries. I will however go to the grocery store to buy Chunky his yogurt for lunches (but maybe a tub of yogurt that I can put in a washable cup instead of those cute little cups of yogurt). I will also stock up on rice, beans, and potatoes. Nice cheap staples.
It will mean no more $40 a week allowance for me. We’ll see how much money we bring in from the sale of this junk. I’ll use that money to give Dr. Mad Scientist his $40 a week allowance. Maybe less if the junk doesn’t sell too fast.
It will mean no more peanut butter sandwiches using 2 slices of bread for me. I can get by on just folding one piece of bread in half. That will make a loaf of bread stretch longer.
It will mean no more soda for me and Dr. Mad Scientist. I don’t drink a lot of it, but it’s like coffee for me—there’s nothing more satisfying than that morning diet soda on the drive into work!
It will mean timer-showers. No more enjoying myself in a hot shower.
September will be very lean. Very lean indeed.
But it will be fun right?
Like I said at the beginning of this post. Life could be worse. One of my bosses called in today with unborn baby issues. Gah. I’ll take being $2400 in the hole to Uncle Sam over that crap any day.
Of course any ideas for scrimping money or making money you’ve got—lay ‘em on me. Chances are a lot of them don’t apply or I’m already doing them, but more often than not, you guys come up with something I hadn’t thought of.
Poverty Challenge 2007! Woo!! Stay tuned! Will we make it?
Labels: Beyond The Grave Sweater, Poverty Challenge 2007