Ah, that consumer lifestyle…

This makes an appearance at the reservoir every year. Is it a dredger?

This makes an appearance at the reservoir every year. Is it a dredger?

Or, the way I used to be, but no more!!

Four years ago, I paid out about $3K per month and that was before I had eaten. How, you ask? Well, $1250 for rent, $900 for my half of a mortgage payment, and $900 in student loan payments. Yep, that’s a whole lot of cash going out the door. It left me with about $500 for the month, and that was to cover food, utilities (I mean, CABLE was a must!!), car repairs, etc. Not to mention that I was also fighting through the stages of unmedicated clinical depression, and add in the turmoil of a marital split after 11 years together, and you don’t get a frugal person. You get someone who doesn’t want to sit home because then that forces you to sit with your thoughts. And who wants to do that when all you feel is guilt, a heavy heart and lots and lots of self doubt? No, you want to go out and shop. Continue reading

Little Things for Which I am Thankful

Oh my God, thank GOD it’s Friday, people. I am just exhausted this week. Could be the working of many jobs has caught up to me, or the 90-some degree heat we had this week, or the walking of my bike yesterday in the heat when it got a flat tire, or the fact that I have been leading tours to new LLM students all week, but I’m definitely a tired lady right now. But it’s been a good week too.

1. I paid $300 on my student loan and was rewarded with seeing that damn bastard LAL Loan balance go below $15K. Whooppee – that’s about $6K paid down on it in 11 months. While that may not seem like a lot, I’ve paid off a total of about $10K in debt over that time period while also saving a fair amount. When I add the two numbers together, it makes me really happy. It tells me that I am capable of really cutting my expenses and prioritizing, especially when the situation warrants it.

2. You read above that I got a flat tire on my bike this week. Yep, that kinda (ok, it really) sucked. It was really hot out I was not super close to a bus stop at the time. But I am thankful that (a) it was not out of the realm of reason to walk to a bus stop and (2) the fact that a bus was even an option. In a lot of other cities, I would have been royally screwed, and had to walk the bike for miles.  Also, something told me before I left to not worry about the extra weight that a bottle of water would give me – just to go ahead and fill it up. Thankfully I listened to my gut!

3. I’ve gained some new readers this week, and it’s definitely making me feel like I’m more and more part of a community out there. A community of people who have decided that maybe the “expected” way of life isn’t necessarily the only course you can choose. It helps to keep this in mind as you explain to others who know you in your regular “sticks and bricks” life that don’t quite necessarily grasp why living in any other way might be desirable. Not that I care what others think, mind you – if they don’t like the idea of living in a motorhome or think it’s “trashy” – well, they’re entitled to their opinion. Doesn’t mean I have to listen to it or allow it to have any effect on me. (It’s so freeing when you finally don’t care what others think!)

4. There have been a few very hot days this week but the others have been, well, just amazing. Very low humidity and such gorgeous breezes. I just sat down by the reservoir with Baby O on my lap yesterday and thought of how lucky I was to be able to enjoy it.  And, of course, she brought smiles to the faces of many people walking by. One person even said “thank you!” to me.

5. My Bonkers is feeling a thousand times better this week. Took him back to the animal hospital this week so a doctor of internal medicine could check him out, and they retested him for anemia. Luckily, the anemia he had last week seemed to be gone – his body had just slowed down making red blood cells while it was fighting everything else going on.

Not sure why, but I’m not questioning it but I woke up this morning in a really good mood, even though I’m working on the day before a long holiday weekend and am working this Sunday. Some people might hate to work, and I do love my free time, but every day I work now, I just keep telling myself, it’s money I can set aside for the future. For my new life, when I likely won’t make anything close to what I am making now, but will be more free to follow my heart. I can’t wait!  In the meantime, I will just be very envious of my older brother and sister in law – check out their blog – It’s Not a Slow Car, It’s a Fast House – they are going to be living in their van, Alta, starting in 35 days!!

By the way, in case you are curious – I’m going to be shopping for a scooter this weekend, and this is one of my possible choices (isn’t she pretty??!!):

Sym Fiddle II 125

Photo courtesy of Alliance Power Sports

Photo courtesy of Alliance Power Sports

If you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, or join me on facebook! And I love hearing from you, so please do leave me a comment! Have a great Labor Day weekend if you’re in the US and if you’re outside the US, just have a great weekend then!

 

I want to do this..wait, no, that…wait, no this!!! (Decisions, decisions)

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When you tell someone you have this dream of living in an RV, you usually get a few of the expected responses. Some are afraid for you, because, as you already know, you’re a single person. How will you support yourself? How will you stay safe? How will you drive it? You’re a little person after all!  Even last week, a friend of mine said “why can’t you just move into an apartment somewhere new? You won’t have a guy with you.” I was like “um, you’re telling ME that I won’t be with a guy, and that’s why I should be worried….” Of course this friend of mine , who I love dearly, watches a lot of true crime shows. As a single person, more specifically, a woman, I don’t need to remind myself of all the sickness in the world. All I can do is prepare myself as best as I can for whatever each day throws at me.  And well, my friend must have momentarily forgotten that I can be like the Tasmanian Devil as one of my friends nicknamed me. But in a good way (of course.)

Others are very excited for you, and some are even wistful, maybe wishing that they could do the same, or at least experience some of that feeling of freedom from the drudgery of the routine of day to day life. Now, before you think I have gone off into la-la land and think it’s going to be all roses and petunias, trust me, I don’t. I know there are going to be problems along the way. I know there will be times when I worry about money (ok, I already do that….), and repairs, etc. But I also know I can’t wait forever. I guess it’s kind of like what they say about having kids – if you wait until you are ready and have enough money, it’ll never happen.

So, I keep reading RV blogs and RV forums, etc., and watching YouTube videos of people living in their RVs, trying to learn as much as I can. I’ve subscribed to the Dreamers portion of the Workampernews.com website so I can learn as much as possible about that way of life and see if it’s viable for me. I like the idea of being able to work some place seasonally, see the region and learn different skills that I won’t get by sitting in an office every day. But at the same time, the idea of not necessarily being in one place all year round is a bit scary. Will I be lonely? Will I be able to secure enough work for myself far enough in advance and even more important, will it pay enough to allow me to pay for my expenses?

I know that I would like to be able to either work outdoors or work in an area that is beautiful and has places I can escape to on my time off. I know I want to be more connected to the natural world than I am now. So, I think about going to school for something like that, but then I hear from others that it is more important, sometimes, to get on the job training rather than learning a lot from books. And a big part of me agrees with that. And what if I spend all this money on more schooling and don’t end up making any more in some job than someone who didn’t spend all those bucks?

I have been thinking of attending an outdoor school but the price tag is a bit scary at $10,350. That’s about 2/3 of the balance of the LAL loan I’ve been fighting so hard to get rid of. (Oh, and drum roll please, with my most recent payment, the balance should be BELOW $15K!!!!!!!!!!)  I cannot tell you how much I want and NEED that loan to be gone by the time I go on the road. It will make such a huge difference, and be a great weight off of my shoulders. To have part of my law school education paid off, FINALLY.  It’s a loan I thought I would have until I turned 54. Can you imagine? Yes, it is like a freaking mortgage, but let’s not get me started going down that lane.

I do have a concern about getting work – when I tried to get out of the legal law firm world many years ago, I faced so much hesitation on the part of employers. After all, I had this law degree….why would I ever not want to do something in that world? Wasn’t it such a glamorous life?? (Um, in a word, NOOOOOO). And not all lawyers get paid the big bucks like everyone thinks.   But that fear is again creeping up – I am worried that people will think I wouldn’t possibly take a job that pays less than $15 an hour, or who knows, even less… (Many workamping positions don’t pay highly because they are something akin to entry level positions.)  But can I be honest? It would be REALLY nice to leave my work at work, both mentally and physically, for a change. And if I could spend some of my time living in a gorgeous area of the country, say, the Olympic Peninsula, or the Grand Canyon, well, trust me, I can find stuff to do that’s not going to cost me anything, or very little.

So, as you can see, I feel like I am all over the place. I like the NW but wonder what kind of seasonal jobs there would be to had, if I went that route? And what happens if I start having to pay more on my federal loans? How will I afford them? What about the fact that I will be taxed at a higher bracket for 2015 than I will in 2016, but not making the same type of wage I am now making in 2014? (My thought on that is to save extra for the tax bill while I am working in my full time and part time jobs so that I don’t get stuck when filing my 2015 taxes.)  So, yes…I am a planner. But from what I am reading online, that’s a trait that will help me when my home becomes an RV.

By chance, I came across an interview on youtube the other day of this blogger, at Interstellar Orchard and I’ve been reading through many of her posts, because it seems like every question I might come up with, she has had to deal with. She makes it on seasonal employment but she didn’t start out with the debt that I have. But I know she knows of others who have. I just like her very pragmatic approach to tackling problems and the type of lifestyle she is  leading. And she seems very down to earth. If you are even considering this lifestyle, I suggest you head on over to her blog and check it out.

Anyway, this post has already grown much longer than I expected it to, so thanks for listening/reading if you’ve made it this far.

 

Musings and Memories (and little things for which I am thankful)

My Bonkers/Bonk-Man earlier this week at Angell Memorial. He looks so sad....

My Bonkers/Bonk-Man earlier this week at Angell Memorial. He looks so sad….

I meant to write my usual “little things for which i am thankful” post last week, I really did. But between working all of my three jobs, and taking a motorcycle class this past weekend (ahem, I passed!!) it just didn’t happen. So, yes, that was a really exciting weekend for me! Met a lot of nice people and had a lot of fun. And I survived!!

So, um, why did I take a motorcycle class?? Well, I want to buy a scooter (which technically is a motorcycle, just one with an automatic transmission). In MA, if you want one that is more than 49cc, or goes faster than about 25 mph, you need to have a motorcycle endorsement on your license (if you’re like me, and already have the regular Class D one.) I saw the class was being offered this past weekend when by luck, I didn’t have to work either day, and I signed up. Yes, it was $285, but it was money well spent. You spend about 9 hours on the bikes out of the two days (which is a lot, trust me) and the instructors are so patient and helpful.

So….musings….I was thinking as I was on my way to the class this past Saturday morning – just what would my ex-husband say if he saw me now? Or my ex-boyfriend? Neither would probably believe it. And that’s important to me because it shows how far I have come! :-) I am so NOT the person either of them knew!

A favorite song of my ex-boyfriend was Pontoon by Little Big Town. I had completely forgotten that I had it downloaded on my iPod until it started playing on Monday morning while on my run. And you know what? It was bittersweet. And that tells me that I am healing or more possibly accurate, have healed from that time in my life. I remembered the good times, how he used to turn the stereo up a lot louder every time it came on and how he used to smile when he heard it. (He may have been born in the SW part of the US, but he is a southern boy through and through!)

But that’s it – I only thought of happy times with him, and while I was sorry it didn’t work out, I know it’s for the best. My heart and my mind are in tune with each other on this. It was when I started dating him that I realized there is a way of living without debt.  And he introduced me to Dave Ramsey and his philosophies (of which I agree with many, but not all), so those are two really good things that  came out of that relationship. He also taught me that yes, I am loveable, and can actually care about someone again.  That’s saying a lot because after my divorce, I was worried I wasn’t worthy of anyone else’s love, and that I was destined to be alone for the rest of my life. The difference between now and then is that these days, I’m ok with being on my own for what will probably be the foreseeable future.

You will see from the picture above that my Bonkers, my elder statesman, made the acquaintance of some doctors at Angell Memorial Hospital, which is very well known in this area for their level of care. I took him to my vet on Monday, thinking all he needed was an enema (lovely, I know.) I was bit worried because his bum looked sore and he had just had an enema two weeks before. So, long story short, he needed to go to Angell, where he could be sedated and looked at by a few doctors, one being a surgeon, to see if he had a hernia. Thankfully for him (and my wallet), he didn’t have a hernia. So instead of looking at what could have been a bill for $3500-4000, I got one for $1680. Relatively, a bargain!

But, it’s all worth it in my book to see him sitting in his cat bed and looking out the kitchen window. It’s amazing how even just one day at home and he looks so much more relaxed than he did yesterday when I picked him up. He knows he’s home. (He needs to go back for a check up next week just to make sure everything’s healing ok – he also had a rupture) but that’s just a quick in-and-out visit. :-)  I am so glad he was taken care of, and he’s feeling better. I’m so grateful for the amazing care they took of him, and also that they called to update me on his progress at least twice a day. This picture was even texted to me by the hospital on Tuesday night – how sweet was that? It came with a note that said “good night from Bonkers.” And I’m so grateful to his regular vet for having called me tonight to check on his progress after she got the report from Angell about him.

My author is now on vacation until the beginning of September so my work will die down in that area just as the school year ramps up. She was also very pleased with my work that I did over the past few weeks, which always makes me feel good to hear. And, I’ve been given a few extra shifts at the gym through the month of September, which definitely comes in handy with Bonkers’ vet bills. And last but not least, I am very grateful that I have taken care of things in my life so that when this emergency came up, I wasn’t panicked about how I was going to pay for it. I knew I could. A few years ago, when my Chloe got sick, I was worried about if she would need surgery and how I would find the funds to pay for it. (Luckily, it didn’t come to that.)

My apologies for not posting my weekly gratitude post last week – as you can see, it’s been an insane two weeks! But, it’s all good. It’s all forward progress, even when the obstacles are thrown into your way. It’s just a matter of how you deal with them that changes. With that, I wish all of you a great weekend.

If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, or drop me a line below! Thank you for reading!

Little Things for Which I am Thankful

Sorry I’m late in posting this today – it’s been a busy week, and I expect to be busy through the weekend. Yes, I’ll be working a lot, but I don’t want to let my author down. I’m lucky she has a lot of faith in me and my work product, and I’m not about to disappoint her.

Without a thought to his own safety, my boy Sebastian (with his buddha belly) protected me from the big, bad, paper towel roll!

Without a thought to his own safety, my boy Sebastian (with his buddha belly) protected me from the big, bad, paper towel roll!

1. TGIF. This was my first week back after vacation. Got paid today so I can afford to pay off Bonkers’ most recent vet bill. Almost $400 but he’s feeling better and that is all that matters.

2. Like I just said above, it’s pay day. Thank you, God. I decided to sign up for a motorcycle safety course, as I want to buy a scooter and if it’s over 50cc, in Massachusetts, you need to have a motorcycle endorsement on your license. Since I’m looking forward, I know I will likely need more than a 50cc to travel the roads out in Washington.  I plan on taking and hopefully passing the permit test this coming week, so that if I successfully complete the safety course, I can get my  license right then and there. From what I understand, I can ride a scooter at the course if I so choose, and that’s the plan.  They also provide helmets if you don’t yet own one. I figure this way, I can also test out which scooter or what type of scooter I can work best with.

So what about the electric bike you ask? I plan on keeping it for the time being until I buy a scooter. My plan is to buy the scooter toward fall when people tend to mark them down, price-wise, and don’t want to have to store them for the winter.  I won’t likely ride it much in the winter, if we get a lot of snow again, but I’d like to have it for the spring when I get the motor home (if all goes to plan.)  What I am thankful for, though, is that I could afford to sign up for the course, and also that it is held at a location that I can get to via the commuter rail and then a short walk. And I have next Sunday off because they need to do repairs at the gym!

3. I’ve had my apartment back to myself this past week.  It allowed me to deal with stressors as they came up in a way that is hard to do when you have a roommate. Some people just do better on their own, and I guess that’s me. And I found I was able to focus more on my freelance research, and be more productive in the mornings. I wish my former roommate well if she’s reading this.

4.  I received a notification that the newest issue of Motor Home magazine, to which I subscribe, was available. Yes, I’m that much of a dork. And here’s the great thing – I really don’t care what anyone thinks!

5. An online friend of mine has a son that just graduated from high school, and he’s in an area of California that is facing those horrible forest fires. So far, he’s safe, so I’m thankful for that.  It might be the last thing mentioned in today’s post but it’s the most important.

I hope you will all have a safe, or productive, or lazy-daze weekend – whatever it is you want for yourself! If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe below, or drop me a line!

 

 

Getting Rid of my Debt (What # am I up to now?)

Shhh...the baby is sleeping....

Shhh…the baby is sleeping….

I seriously have lost count. I know I have not been talking about the Debt Killing much lately and that’s because it has slowed down,while my savings has really ramped up. Now that I know I definitely want to move to WA state by September of next year (and possibly as early as August if I get accepted to the Outdoor School I mentioned in my last post), I have figured out how much I need to save to feel comfortable when making the move. I want to have at least 4-6 months living expenses saved up, a scooter (which I estimate will cost me about 2K), and have planned on saving up about $3K for the move. I figure the motor home will cost me probably about $1200 for gas alone, and I’m thinking right now my budget for the motor home purchase will probably be around 10K. I’m not expecting to get the latest model but want something dependable, and I don’t mind putting in some sweat equity to make it my “home” Ii.e. my goal is to make it feel “beachy” by probably painting the walls, and possibly the cabinets depending on what color they are to start with.) Continue reading

Little Things for Which I am Thankful

The reservoir, looking surprisingly green!

The reservoir, looking surprisingly green!

This has been a vacation week from my full time job, but I’ve been keeping busy. I’ve covered an extra shift at the gym, and my author has been giving me more final work to do on the chapters, so I’m keeping my brain active too. Continue reading