December 13, 2012

Perspective is a Funny Thing

Posted in Life happens, personal finances, Perspective at 11:13 pm by otherdeb

In November, I filed for the SNAP Program (food stamps).  It’s not something I’m proud of — I have never taken handouts before this round of unemployment.  But getting on Medicaid in June made me realize that these were benefits I have been having deducted from my salary all of my working life, so why should I not take the hand, now that I do need it.

I was approved, with a partial award for November, and a set amount beginning in December.  The thing is, I know that many people struggle with that amount to make ends meet.  To me, that amount seems like a fortune.

My food budget has been between $75-125 a month for so long.  And I have managed to make more-than-do with that — mostly because my diet has been changing.  Mind, thi bounty doe not mean that I will be having filet mignon every night, by any means.  But it means that I can have a more balanced diet, which is one of my goals.  It also means that more of the house money can go to paying down my debts, which is a good thing.

It might also mean that I can get that root canal/post/crown procedure sometime before the end of 2013, which would be a very good thing.

I also got a lovely email from one of my credit cards.  I am on a payment plan with them, and they realize that I also am in an area nominally affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Therefore, I have the option of not making a payment until March of 2013, with no hit to my credit report.

This is especially good news because, while my overdraft privilege has been covering the shortfalls in the budget, we are still feeling the fallout from when the creditor broke its agreement with the roomie.  This will give me a better chance to start cutting down on the overdraft payment fees, and get my bank account back on track.

So, even though it has been a rough year financially, I am getting some hope for the future this month.  We shall see if the good things really work out, but hope is a heck of a lot better place to stand than “I’m in over my head with no way out.”

Are you  afraid to ask for help (be it from friends, family, or the various agencies that are there to help people?  What is the block, if any, to asking for help?  Are you even aware of what help may be available in your area?  Are you entitled to help because of your age or economic status?  Some other factor?  Where can you turn to find out?  What hopes do you have that keep you going when things get rough?  




  1. Janet Wilson said,

    While I’m willing to apply for anything official that I think I’m qualified for, I don’t see asking for help from friends or family, these people being in much the same financial position as I am. I really appreciate help from credit card people, such as I’m glad to hear you’ve been offered. All I seem to be able to do with my card debt is take advantage of any balance-transfer promotional offer of low interest, and I do that whenever I can so that my debt hops from card to card and as much as possible of my monthly payment goes toward the actual debt. This way I have hopes of paying off the debts in about 6 years, by which time I’ll be 75 and, who knows, maybe able to accumulate some savings. Barring the unforeseen, of course.

    • otherdeb said,

      Have you tried negotiating lower rates with your creditors? i have heard of people doing that with great success. I would be very careful of transferring old debt to new cards, because part of one’s credit rating takes into account the number of credit accounts one opens. It would affect your credit/earnings ratio. And, of course, when you do that, you need to watch your dates like a hawk, so that a new higher rate does not creep in eventually. Also, are you aware that the low rate only applies to the old debt, and that any new purchases may be charged a higher rate of interest?

      I know the above is not what any of us want to hear, but — honestly — one thing the creditors count on is that people will not watch accounts they have transferred old debt into like hawks. Nor do they expect people to realize that the low rate only applies to the transferred debt, not new debt.

      Me. I’m using the concept of the debt snowball to climb out. I am paying the current payment on my accounts, and trying to make bigger payments each month on the account with the smallest balance. When that is wiped out, i will transfer the money I was putting toward that account to the one with the next smallest balance, rather than assuming I now have that money to spend on new stuff.

      Anyway, if not exactly good news, I hope that some part of the above is helpful.

  2. Janet Wilson said,

    I agree on all counts. I wouldn’t open a new card now — and, as it is, I have frequent reminders about that from Capital One, who are constantly trying to get me to open a new account with a lower credit limit and a higher interest rate than the ones I’ve already got. I’m amazed at how dumb they must think I am. As for new purchases, well, there are very, very few of those. And yes indeed, I watch the dates like a hawk. Several hawks.

    I like the debt-snowball idea, and try to incorporate something like it into my strategy. But I’d never thought about trying to negotiate a lower rate with the creditors. I’m going to do some thinking about that. Thanks!

    • otherdeb said,

      You are most welcome. If you do decide to negotiate with your creditors, please let me know what happens!

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