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Yeah I’m Kinda Poor

[This post is being REVISITED]

I wrote this post awhile back, but, since I will be celebrating this “holiday” today, I wanted to share it with ya’ll again.

[warning, this is a very long winded post]

Since I am forever a broke ass and because that is one of the oh-so-many thing(s) that are plaguing my current mood, what would be better than making fun of my own situation? Nothing! I know a lot of you will be able to relate to this.

I don’t like to write about money, because for whatever reason it seems to attract a multitude of spammer comments. (I will be doing a whole lot of deleting) I also don’t like to write about money because we all have money problems. Nothing is ever enough. So, I want to preface this with, I am only writing about it, to make light of it.

Instead of celebrating YOM KIPPER, (which is a Jewish holiday that only comes once a year) I will celebrate “Yeah I’m Kinda-Poor” (cuz that’s a ‘holiday’ you can celebrate every day)

Unless, I am, in fact, the only person on the planet that lives like this?

Let’s embrace the fact that I have ZERO net worth, and take a peek into my mundane financial situation, because spitting fire gets me nowhere!

Most people with responsibilities, homes, or children, have been in tight situations at one time or another when it comes to making ends meet. More often than not, living paycheck to paycheck is a normal way of life for us. That so-called normal way of life can be full of stress and constant fear. Things can be most taxing when a single paycheck isn’t enough to cover half of your living expenses. Impending doom consumes your every thought. There are solutions; some are simple, while others require strategic planning and a momentary lapse in morals! (I am not suggesting ya’ll try these!)

If you ever find yourself in any of these circumstances, please be advised that panic attacks may occur, and without warning!

For instance, one of the factors in having a self-induced nervous breakdown [insert panic attack] is getting the mail. I hate to get my mail; I have gone weeks, literally weeks, refusing to open that metal box, especially when I know there are over due bills. I am fully aware of all the bills that have piled up in there because I have been thinking about it for days. I just haven’t built up the nerve to open the box and face exactly how much I owe and to whom! How can I get my mail when I know I can’t pay what is being demanded? Solution, do not get the mail as long as you possibly can. This means do not get your mail until the post office leaves a note on your door asking if you are away on vacation and should they hold your mail until your return? Yes, yes! I am awayΒ¦ I am on vacation. I am in da nile, who knows when I am coming back. They should hold my mail; they should hold my mail, forever, all of it. (Except for that check from Ed McMahon)

When I do get the mail a new level of anxiety sets in. Opening the mail. Opening the mail sends me into violent uncontrollable spasms. Lots of throwing things afterwards. Inevitably, there is a shut off or late notice from one of the many bill collectors I have been dodging.

[insert fetal position and spoonfuls of icecream]

I don’t know what it is about opening the mail. But I am convinced it sends a signal to the bill collectors. It notifies them I am aware of the amount I am supposed to pay. And they want their money, like now. Because after I open the mail, the very next day, I always see the cable, or the electric, even the phone, and all the other utility trucks on their way down my street.

Open bills = see all the service vehicles for any of the utilities suppliers, in my own complex.

[insert heart attack]

Internal Dialgue:

“UH OH. Uuuummmmm, Why is that cable guy on my block?” [insert involuntary twitching] “Should I stay here and wait to see what house he is going to?” [rapid succession lip movement by pressing my lips together, back and forth really fast like I am smoking a cigarette, even though I am not] “Shit, I am already late to work… I have to go, I can’t wait!”

Yes, I talk to myself out loud in the car.

“Damn it, I wish I knew why that cable guy was here. But, I can’t do anything about it anyway. FUCK!

[insert scenes from the movie Sybil]

Driving into work, white knuckling the steering wheel is an understatement. That’s when I start thinking about the shut off notices and methodically eliminating service providers while trying to remember the dates on each bill. ‘Okay, the electric bill was due..when?” [yes, still talking to myself out loud in my car.] “Is that what is getting shut off? Or was it the cable bill?”

Then, when I cant remember my own name let alone the due date on a shut off notice, I just pray out loud, “Please don’t be going to my house! Oh g-d NO! Please don’t be shutting me off today? please g-d! please g-d! Please…please…please.

Concern albeit paranoid, is not without foundation, as I have had first hand experience in being shut off. Shut off experiences are horrific.

I will never understand why I act so surprised by the fact that something is shut off. For some fucked up reason, I tend to act like I have been blindsided.

[insert bad acting, or William Shatner over acting]

WHAT! THE CABLE IS OFF? [insert fake confusion] How dare they do that! I didn’t receive any of the 15 warnings they sent me?

Perfect example; I finally fall asleep at night, despite the mounting pressures, with my TV on. But, when I wake up in the morning I find the TV is off. Of course, I don’t realize the CABLE has been shut off.Β  No, I think, something must be wrong with the TV. That is until the xanax haze wares off, 18 different attempts with 15 different remotes, all of which will fail to make the TV come back on. Finally it dawns on me the cable company wasn’t kidding about that shut off date. Oops. I guess they didn’t think sending in a church prayer card with a mere 25 dollars was nearly as funny as I did.

(No, the cable, and phone and electric company do not find that funny. Not even a little.)

When things have gotten that bad, even a simple thing like taking a bath / shower can be nerve racking. Consider a sudden change in the water temperature. My first thought is, ‘Oh shit! Damn it! They got me too, there goes the hot water!’ Luckily, I will hear the sound of the washing machine switching cycles in the background and sudden relief comes over me. I thank the lord above and promise myself to make that payment 1st thing in the morning.

[insert broken promises]

I go into random threats, I mean promises, much like the ‘I will never drink again if you just make the spinning stop now.’ I start making up bullshit like ‘I will never spend again, if you just make the bills stop coming’ [and yes, still talking to myself. I have issues. I know.]

Here is a little irony for you….

Did you know? It takes money to avoid paying money?

Problem: Needing to avoid bill collectors.

Solution: Don’t answer your phone. Either check caller ID, or, let all phone calls go to voice mail!

Irony: Caller ID and Voice Mail are additional charges that cost you MORE money on your phone bill, probably even one of the bills you are trying to avoid paying.

Now, you know things are REALLY bad when the bill collectors STOP calling. Either because your phone really has been shut off, or because the ‘Window of Negotiation’ has now been closed! That’s when you are truly fucked. There are no more payment arrangement options at that point.

When you are finally beaten down and concede to defeat, next comes the game I like to call ‘Who can I borrow money from?’ That’s a really fun game, because it requires a vivid imagination. Usually I end up on some imaginary tangent where I have hit the jackpot in Vegas, or won the power ball exclusively.

[insert major delusions]

Alas, there may be some solutions; which can cut corners, or save you a few bucks:

1. Try to share household products:

A) Use house hold products for the original design, but be bold! Be creative! Don’t be skeered! Try using the same product for another UN-intended use. Example: Do your laundry with shampoo. Add conditioner for the fabric softener! It cleans; it smells nice and makes for some fun suds.

B) Or, you can try doing your dishes with your laundry detergent. Be advised, there is one draw back to washing dishes with laundry detergent, it tends to cause sever cracking of the skin, worse in the winter months.

[insert bleeding]

C) Wash the floors of your house, with the same cleaner you use on your windows. Windex! Isn’t just for windows! Windex multi-task kicks ass on crappy linoleum and bathroom tile. Clear / Plexi-Glass shower doors will sparkle like never before! I think it was made specifically for us poor people trying to keep from having to buy multiple products to clean house.

2. When you need a NIGHT OUT:

When everyone in the house is sick to the point of vomiting at the idea of yet another variation of pasta, and, when there is nothing other than ketchup and pretzels for diner, make it a ‘Night Out’. Mc Donald’s has the Dollar Menu. But you will need a dollar. Or two. Or ten. Worry no more! I have ways to obtain that!

A) Look through every purse, pocket, and secret stash for change of any kind including any Canadian coins. I always find money that is shiny in my laundry room. Justin always leaves his lunch money change in his pants pockets. Ha! SUCKA! (you may have left the change in your hiding places last time you were in there and went digging for the long since gone crumpled dollar bills)

B) Organize your pennies, nickels and dimes into neat piles on the kitchen table. This will keep your mind off how hungry you are and give the experience a fun and buried treasure like quality.

[insert poor illusionist trick]

C) Run out to the car and check under all the floor mats and under the seats for more change. (If you have already quarried the ‘good luck change’ you threw in when you got the vehicle, skip this step and go directly to step D)

D) When you come back into the house, add the car change to the existing piles of change on the kitchen table. Be sure to keep the Canadian coins mixed in with the US coins in order to make them less noticeable.

E) If you can’t scrounge up enough change in your own house, may I suggest checking for change in pay phones (eeeww, but effective) OR visit friends’ unexpectedly / uninvited to search their sofas. (Please try not to be obvious when searching due to the public nature of these alternative sources.)

Usually you can get a great deal of food with the change you have been able to excavate. Voila dinner is served!

3. In the event your electricity / gas IS shut off:

It is survival of the fittest, some of the trickier solutions are not always the right thing to do. But, at times, the wrong thing, may be the ONLY thing you can do! Here’s a solution that requires prior stalking, because you will need to obtain your neighbors schedule.

A) Wait until you know the neighbors are either sleeping, out for the night baby-sitting for their grandchildren, or best case scenario, away on vacation.

B) Use the longest extension cord you have (if you do not have an extension cord, maybe? your neighbor has an unlocked detached shed? Just swipe one. And by swipe one, I mean ‘borrow’ one.)

C) Take said extension cord, hook one end up to the space heater you have inside your house.

D) Go outside with the other end of the ‘borrowed’ or owned extension cord and run the electrical wire. It’s best to run the wire out your back door, through your yard, army crawling all the way, until reaching your next door neighbor’s outdoor patio outlet.

[insert camouflage gear]

E) Plug in the cord to your neighbor’s outlet. QUIETLY!

F) Run home, hurdle hedges and turn on your space heater.

Eureka! You won’t have to worry about anything until the next morning. Feel free to enjoy a few moments of heat. Aaahhhhh

* A little tip, be sure to have a battery-operated alarm clock, prior to executing any of the above. Set that clock before going to bed. Make sure it will wake you up without waking anyone else up (even your neighbors). In the morning, repeat the process in reverse and unhook everything before any one gets out of bed. Viola, you made it through a blistery night with no electricity or gas!

* This also works in the summer months, when you have no electricity if you need to gain access to a working industrial sized osculating fan to dissipate the stifling heat, into more of a stagnate breathable sort of air.

4. WHEN to pay a bill and how to choose WHO to pay:

More tricky solutions come with tough choices, especially when you are getting by on the skin of your teeth. Some choices demand well thought and detailed scheduling.

A) One solution, also, happens to be the one I use. It gets the whole family involved. Good clean Friday night family fun. I simplify the whole process by putting all the bills into a single hat. We all take turns shaking the hat, we argue over which family member gets to draw the lucky winner out of the hat, and then I pay the minimum allowable amount. (Less fifty dollars!) It’s like the bill lottery. Who ever gets picked gets paid.

B) Second solution: Other people (who I will not mention) have chosen a more inventive way to satisfy bill collectors. This is planning and scheduling can be delicate because the weather becomes a major factor in the success or failure if the plan can be executed properly.

1. When winter comes, you best hope for a bitter cold.
2. If the winter is cold enough the gas and electric company cannot shut you off during the months of December January and February.
3. During the three month gas & electric moratorium, you can use the opportunity by paying down some of the other accumulating debt.
4. Three months of income combined with the elimination of two bill collectors affords you this once a year opening.
5. Try to pay down the phone, water, cable and rent, so there is a ZERO balance.
6. One night, maybe even splurge on a meal which includes all four food groups.
7. When February is coming to an end, you will need to call the gas and electric companies to make a DEAL or payment plan.
8. Make a promise to make timely payments (X amt of dollars on the X day of the month).
9. This buys you just enough time to get to March or April when your much needed tax refund arrives in the mail (the one time you enjoy going to your mailbox).
10. Then you can use your refund to pay off the electric and gas bills in full.

However, there is one catch to the plan. If you find yourself having a MILD winter, your chances of gas or electricity being shut off will increase 10 fold, and such a plan like the one above, will be destroyed by a west wind. Mother Nature can be temperamental!

I could go on and on about this forever, oh wait, too late! I already did!

In the long and short of it all, being a broke ass builds character. I have become a better person, because I truly appreciate the simplest thing. (like new underwear, toilet paper, or fresh socks. bu the best is finding a 5 dollar bill)

Who? needs new clothes when you have character!

It’s hot to wear the exact same outfit every Monday, the exact same outfit every Tuesday, the exact same outfit every Wednesday, the exact same outfit every Thursday, and alternate sweat pants outfits on Fridays. for THREE years IN.A.ROW.

(except not)

Who needs food when you have Crohn’s and you can’t eat it anyway!

One day? I will be able to relish in all the memories of eating canned beans and calling it a meal.

Until then, where did I leave that camo gear? I’m feeling a little hot, and I need some one else’s electricity to cool my place!

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  • Sorry to laugh at your pain bt that gave me a really good laugh! I was just thinking this morning about working on a “how to be a cheapskate” post.
    We’ve all been there πŸ™‚

  • Meleah

    Jason: Glad you laughed! Don’t feel bad, I am not in any pain, I have to laugh at the whole situation. (or I would drive into oncoming traffic)

  • LOL Yes, I’m there and doing the whole “who do I pay” portion. Hopefully I’ll land a better job soon!

    And you’re correct…small amounts of hardship build character.

  • JENNIFER

    yeah i can still laugh at this.
    its just still so fresh in my mind.

  • Mereb, We have ALL been in similar situations, and I will say without hesitation that money problems are the most difficult to deal with emotionally and psychologically. I mean, its your survival! …and I can’t imagine how horrible it must be when you have a child.

    By the way, I’m brainstorming for my guest post for MELEVISION. Just need a little more time. …and, OF COURSE I linked to it on my blog. I’m a very loyal buddy, blogging or otherwise! πŸ™‚

  • Great stuff. When my wife was staying home with the children and not working (ages birth – 6) I was broke. Your post reminded me exactly how I used to feel. lol

    Thanks for the laughs.

  • I loved when you used, “skeered.”
    I loved the tongue-in-chic way you make light of it…especially the bill/hat party.
    It wasn’t too long, I read to the end.
    And most of all, I love that your post let me know that I’m not alone in the land of brokey-broke.

  • That was great!! Relatable items: Windex as a clean-all, IOUs from kids piggy bank, pasta month!! [sometimes we’re vegetarians by force, not by choice!], bill lottery, and penny line-up. Good times, good times…Loved it! Thanks for the support and words of encouragement in my blog, btw. I was floored by the love!!

  • Meleah

    Dazd: ahh… my partner in suffering!

    Jen: πŸ™‚

    Holly: Thank you! I am so looking forward to your post on Melevision, and you ROCK for blogrolling it.

    Bowrag: Your Welcome!

    Laurie Ann: the word Skeered always makes me smile, and Thank You for reading the whole thing. (hang in there with me fellow broke ass!)

    SomeGirl: Hey YOU! I’m glad that you can relate (wait… that doesn’t sound right…I AM NOT GLAD that we have to struggle, but you know…) having done the same things as me [pasta month! IOU’s ect…] not only helps me laugh at it, but helps me to feel better knowing I am not the only one. (besides the shame we can feel about it -must be turned into something funny!) That’s also why I come to YOUR blog. Sometimes you verbalize exactly what I am thinking or feeling, and could not have expressed the way you do so eloquently.

  • Been there…was raised “without.”

    Some more tips…Don’t ever put dish washing liquid in your dishwasher. And dragging 2 young boys to look at model homes on the weekend is free. They get to flush the toilets, and you get to wax over how much you can’t afford the house you’re looking at.

    Ahhh….yes…doing without.

  • This is truly sound financial planning.

  • You are so funny! When I was reading this, I thought about how “Zero Net Worth” would be a good name for a website. Bet it’s already taken though.

    I know Ramen is one of the food groups. What are the other ones?

  • Meleah

    Blog Grrl: yes, zero net worth is taken…but “itchy zits and glossy whiskers” is NOT. (long story). but hurry and snatch that one up. (or I might)

    um… well aside from Ramen, and according to Greg’s Brian, whom I agree with: VODKA AND CHOCOLATE should be part of the food pyramid. However, broke asses drink cheap wine, which can inspire a turn of phrase, but the headache ramification, lessons the experience value.

  • I just “bought you a beer” with paypal.

  • Meleah

    Goldy: Marry Me!

  • Meleah…welcome to my nightmare. I stack the bills on my desk and give them dirty looks for a couple of weeks before i open them. Then i play eenie meenie miney moe. Of course i never claimed to be normal πŸ˜‰
    One thing i do insist on though….i never say i’m broke or poor. Nope. I am Financially Challenged!

  • Meleah

    DAWN: Only YOU (and our little crew) will know just how MEANINGFUL the words “financially challenged” are. Love you doood. πŸ™‚

  • Olly,

    Who? needs new clothes when you have character!

    MEL THAT’S IT IN A NUTSHELL
    TRUELY
    I SHIT YOU NOT THAT MAKES MORE SENSE TAN ANYTHING I HAVE HEARD ALL DAY.
    BLESS YOU !!!!
    XOXOXO

  • one problem i really don’t have right now is money… and for that i am eternally greatfull… i don’t have any… so how could it be a problem?????

  • Only if I can convince my wife that polygamy is in.

  • Paisley… you have a great attitude!

  • Oh Meleah!

    I really don’t want to laugh at your expense – but that was hysterical!!!
    Hilarious!!
    I really am the world’s worst bill payer. For no other reason but rebellion.
    It is my own private revolution.
    It is sad. I will leave it til I get a disconnection notice before I pay.

    What are you doing for lunch tomorrow?
    I’m picking you up and taking you out.
    All on me. With wine. Of course !!!!

  • Meleah

    MINKS!!!!! Its all in good fun,….. but I will take that lunch and wine. (exclusively with you.!)

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