January 2, 2014

It’s Been an Interesting Year. Time to Let Go and Move Forward.

Posted in Finances, freelancing, Health, Life happens, personal finances at 3:33 pm by otherdeb


As some of you know, my health took a huge turn toward pear-shaped in 2013. In February, I went through congestive heart failure. In April, I was referred to a cardiologist. In August, I was finally diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that had lain dormant for over 55 years, and now had become something of a time bomb. In December, I had another round with my old enemy, cellulitis.

The interesting news for the purposes of this blog, however, is pretty good. Except when health issues have gotten to me, I’ve been doing freelance stuff all year. I haven’t looked yet to see if it has earned enough to be called a living, but I do know that it was better than the previous year.

I also took a course from Ed Gandia, of the International Freelancers Academy, called the B2B Business Launcher. I had sat in on one of Ed’s webinar’s, and walked away with so much actionable information that I knew I wanted to do the course. It did not disappoint, either. I now have a functional professional website, to which I will soon be connecting my writing blog. If you are looking at freelancing as a career, I highly recommend any course that Ed is teaching, and please feel free to tell him that I referred you. He really is one of the good guys, and he’s a heck of a nice guy, too boot.

I am setting one major financial goal for this year: to create an emergency fund for myself and get it funded so that when the next emergency strikes, and I have no doubt it will, I don’t have to scramble so badly to get things dealt with.

My other main goal for the year is to get back to blogging on a regular basis. I consider that part of taking back my health, and it’s been far too long.  For now, I am planning to stick to my long-established schedule: the food and weight blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; the knitting blog on Tuesday, this blog on Thursday, and the writing/grammar blog over the weekend. We shall see how well I can stick to that.

Other than that, I am hanging in. There is some rough family stuff going on, but we all have families so we all have family stuff. I will get through it. It will involve some tough decisions that I never wanted to have to make, but I will make them. It’s also clear to me that I am going to have to really fight to get the proper resolution for my health issues. This is the kind of fight I totally hate, because I am not a medical expert by any means, and I am going to have to fight the arrogance of surgeons who refuse to see beyond chart numbers and risk profiles. But I am nothing if not persistent (Yeah, Glasser, you can say stubborn…..), and I will keep at them until what is done is what gives me the best chance of getting my life back.

So, that’s where things are at right now. What the future holds is anybody’s guess, and I’ll be just as curious to find out as everybody else.

Finally, I wish each and every one of my readers a 2014 that is filled with joy, good friends, family of the heart, health, love, and prosperity.  You all keep me going, and I am grateful for each of you, whether I know you in real life, just from the Web, in comments, or even by your silent presence here. You are all important to me, and I thank you for being there.

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April 11, 2013

It’s Being One of Those Weeks…

Posted in Life happens at 11:37 pm by otherdeb


…and today just added to the craziness.  Got up early to meet the tech for the new Internet provider, which will reduce our bill by about $100/month.  After that was done, I was in a webinar from 1 pm to 2 pm, then I packed the computer and ran into Manhattan to talk to someone who is looking at doing some freelance writing/editing. After that it was meeting a friend for dinner, then trying to get hom, despite the best efforts of the MTA in time to deal with T-Mobile.  That is finally all done, but I still have two articles to write before bed, and Weight Watchers in the morning.

Add in a relative who is having panic attacks over the upcoming hurricane season, and life just keeps getting interesting.

 

March 28, 2013

Things Being Organized Allows You to Do

Posted in Being kind to myself, Life happens, Organization, Recovery at 8:52 pm by otherdeb


One of the upsides of being organized is that I have the time to take on some freelance work, which is all to the good, since I really hadn’t worked from last June until mid-February. Another is that i can pretty much assess how much work I am able to do in a given time period, so I’m a lot less likely to burn out than I was before.

It also has allowed me to get together with people a little, something that I still have to be careful when doing, because my energy is not fully returned, but it means that i can do things like have dinner with my sister (when she’s talking to me), or take a seminar.

And, in fact, I have gotten a business coach.  I attended a webinar by a guy whose articles I had been reading and enjoying for a while, and walked away with eight pages of notes on how to begin to get my business to the next level. He has the pieces that I didn’t learn when getting my business degree (and, yes, I actually have a Bachelors in Business Management). The seminar is nine weeks, two session a week, with a lot of work to be done by me in between sessions.  There are also three one-hour consultations that I can use during the seminar, question and answer sessions, and even office hours on a first come, first served basis. It feels good to be challenged again, especially when these challenges will propel me in the direction I want to head.

Another thing that being organized has allowed me to do is to entertain a bit.  I love having company, and cooking, and it’s nice to be able to invite friends over for either a casual dinner, or for something as a Seder. In fact, the roomie and I did make Seder the first night of Passover — for four of us (it would have been five, but one person was ill and couldn’t attend). Being organized allowed us to divide up the work so that neither the roomie nor I was overtaxed, and we had everything done and ready when our guests arrived.

Don’t get me wrong — there is always room for improvement. We still have major decluttering to do, and things we need to get (we each need new beds, but it’s not an emergency, so it can wait), and the house does not yet look the way we want it to, but that will come.

February 21, 2013

Work, Work, Work!

Posted in Life happens, Organization at 11:16 pm by otherdeb


I tell you, it’s either feast or famine around here.

For six months, after I had the cellulitis, I could get no work whatsoever (not that I was – by any means – trying all that hard).

This last week, I got enough work to constitute full-time hours, even though I am still recovering from the congestive heart failure of two weeks ago.

I am keeping abreast of things, although I find myself having to stop and take naps more often than I normally would, and I am still having to remember to step away from the computer to do things like eat, walk, and read books.

Organization has taken a backseat this week, mostly relegated to culling about a dozen books from the ever-overflowing bookshelves, and giving away about four and putting the others into one of the two freebie boxes we set up.

The roomie inherited her mother’s television set, which necessitated getting another cable box. The service call cost us $40, and the additional service will cost $5/month, but now she has real reception. Our Landlord dragged the old tv (with the remote taped to it) out to the sidewalk for us, and we are hoping it vanishes the way the old air conditioner did.

The bad news for the day is that I had to call the ex and borrow money for a payment to Weight Watchers, to prevent my account from being cancelled. The problem the roomie had about six months ago, with two debt collectors breaking their agreements and taking out the full balance of her debts from her bank account has meant that we have been largely living on my overdraft privilege. There is an end in sight, but it has been rough (which is why I am delighted that I have the work referred to above).

Anyway, deadlines wait for no woman, so I need to get back to writing and editing.  See everyone next week!

February 14, 2013

Recovery, Jigsaw Puzzles, and Work

Posted in Life happens, Organization, personal finances, Writing at 10:32 pm by otherdeb


The good news is that I actually have some work coming in. The bad news is that I’m too damned tired to do much of anything. However, we need the money, therefore, I will do the work.

We got more books out and on the shelf yesterday. Got a bunch of magazines tossed out.

Mostly, I’ve been up to doing jigsaw puzzles, both online, and the excellent ones that Delia Sherman gave me a while ago. They are about as good as it gets when I wake up with my brain fuzzed.

Today’s project was going to the doctor for a follow-up appointment from my hospital stay. I was able to walk there just fine (it’s four and a half blocks away), but I decided to walk home the long way – for the exercise – and that was a bit problematic; my neuropathy acted up, and my leg was asleep for almost the whole walk from Avenue X to Avenue Y. Fortunately, I’m not diabetic; unfortunately, when I gained back the weight I killed the nerves in one leg, and once you kill nerves they are not gonna recover. So I am told that I will have to put up with this in varying degrees for the rest of my life.

Anyway, the doctor liked my blood pressure (120/70), and was happy that the Furosemide had eliminated my ankle swelling. He took some blood (well, his nurse did) so that he could make sure the Furosemide was not damaging my kidneys. But, overall, he was pleased with my progress.

Anyway, organizing my life and my home continues, albeit slowly. The roomie’s sister and her husband dropped off their mom’s old tv, which is – at least – newer than the one Sue had. Cablevision can’t get here to put a box and wires in for it until next Thursday, sadly. So the old tv is sitting in our living room until I can get my Landlord to drag it out to the curb for us.

Anyway, that’s where things lie at the moment.

February 9, 2013

Catching Up…

Posted in Life happens at 1:07 am by otherdeb


Organizing continues, although not so much this week. Being in the hospital will kind of slow you down.

It’s a long story, with mix-ups and other absurdities, not the least of which was having a night nurse named Igor (those of you who read Pratchett will get this – if you don’t, feel free to ask), and a mistake in the notes that ended up meaning I had to wait two days for a room.

But I am home now, and greatly happy to be in my own bed again, even though the frame got broken when a Cablevision repairman put his full weight on it. However, it’s mine, and it’s at the right height, and my pillows are the way I like them, and the sheet doesn’t come off if I turn on my side, and, and, and…

I am still planning, despite the weather, to host a housefilk on Sunday, and have gotten several confirmations from people who plan to attend. Just having friends over will, no doubt, help me feel better. Will run a full list of thank yous after the housefilk, but so far I want to thank Marc Glasser, Naomi Moslow, Josh Kronengold & Lisa Padol, and the roomie for help above and beyond this week.

Will be back to regular posting next week.

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?  

 

December 6, 2012

Teeth! And Money! And a Broken Economy!

Posted in Finances, Health, Life happens at 9:34 pm by otherdeb


I need to have some dental work done.

This is partly the result of having rotten genetic, and partly due to having not paid attention to my teeth when I was younger.

I needed one extraction (a fragment left from when the Union dental clinic refused to treat me), and I need either another extraction or a root canal/post/crown.  And I also need some periodontal work.

I have dental insurance under Medicaid, but…

It covered the first extraction completely, and would cover me if I have the second extraction instead of the work to save the tooth.  For some reason, while extraction are considered important, saving the tooth is considered cosmetic.  Makes no sense to me, but I don’t make the rules.

So.  The tooth that needs the root canal/post/crown is not at an emergency point yet.  The problem seems to have just started.  The dentist even noted that I probably was not yet in pain from it (true).  So I have a little time.  Fortunately, my new dentist seem to have reasonable price for such things.   Unfortunately, it’s still more than I can do on the pension I get.  I have decided to do some knitting to try to raise the money to get the dental work.

My situation is, sadly, becoming more and more common, as the economy worsens.  People in my age cohort (and in others) have managed to amass debt that, while they were working, they could handle.  Then some emergency raises its ugly head, and the debt starts to snowball out of control.  First, one payment get missed; then one or two more;  eventually it becomes a question of “Do I pay my rent and eat, or do I pay my bills?”

Given that it is often taking people significantly longer to find work than it used to, thing continue to get wore, and the next thing is that you are dealing with collection agencies — some reasonable, some not-so-reasonable.  Then the credit rating slip, and it become harder to get a job because employers think that a credit rating shows whether or not a prospective employee is reliable.  (HINT:  It doesn’t, but – again – I don’t make the rules.)  And the longer one is unemployed, the less likely one i to find work, because HR department seem to think that a bad economy is no reason for a person to not be able to find a job.

The plain fact is that the system is broken.  And there is not much those of us at the bottom can do to change it.  And, when YOU need them, the protections that have been taken out of your salary all the years you did work might not be there for you.

This, my friends, is the new normal.  And so long as the CEOs can legally get away with paying less taxes than their secretaries, it will continue to be vastly broken.

What we really need to do is to stop listening to the rhetoric, and tart looking at the actions of those who make our laws.  Look at their voting records.  See who would destroy programs designed to keep peoples’ head above water.

And protect yourself.  Build an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of unemployment.  Start socking away money for your retirement.  Do not assume that your kids will be able to support you in your old age; the way things are going, they will be lucky if they can support themselves and their immediate families.

Do not live above your means.  No one else really cares if  you have the latest, shiniest toys.  And if they do, unless they are willing to help you acquire them free and clear of any strings, you are better off finding other company.

Further, take what steps you can now to improve your health.  With the rising costs of medical care, it’s really the only edge you will have  against the depredations of time.

From the perspective of a 60-year-old who has found the American Dream she was raised on to be akin to a nightmare in some very significant ways, you need to do this, or you will regret it down the road, when reality comes back to bite you.

 

November 29, 2012

I Hate Having More Month than Money

Posted in debt, Health, Life happens, personal finances at 11:19 pm by otherdeb


This month and last month have been extremely tight, as the roomie and I are battling to reduce the fees I am getting charged for using my overdraft privilege to cover the money she shorted the household account in October.  Checks that didn’t get paid then caused bounce fees, and then — when they cleared in November — caused November payments to either be paid by overdraft or to bounce, incurring fees either way.  I am going to be paying very little other than rent this month, in an attempt to hold down fees.

I also visited the dentist today.  The news there was mixed.  I need one extraction (the fragment of a fractured tooth that the union dental clinic left there after refusing to treat me), and a different tooth needs a root canal/post/crown or to be extracted.  The dental insurance I have covers extraction, but considers the  root canal/post/crown treatment to be cosmetic and will not pay for that.  The dentist and I would prefer to save the tooth, but it will cost $525.  Not unreasonable, but not doable at the moment – partly because of the hole from the bounce fees.  The other thing that makes it maybe doable is that the dentist won’t do the root canal until the extraction is healed in order to prevent the infection that is there from spreading and to prevent any infection in he tooth that needs the root canal from spreading into an open area. So it will be at least four weeks after the extraction before he can do the root canal.  If anyone out there can toss a few bucks toward the root canal my way, or if, instead, you want a pair of handknit socks, a hat, or fingerless mitts, I would be happy to make them for $25.   Your custom would be greatly appreciated, and remember — handknits make great winter holiday gifts!  Please contact me at otherdeb (at) gmail (dot) com for details.

I am feeling more than a bit depressed over the whole fees/dentistry thing, to put it mildly.  I do know the depression will pass — it’s not really my nature to be depressed, thank the Goddess.

Between the reduction in my income, and the mounting problems caused by the roomie’s inability to deal with collection agencies, I decided to apply for food stamps.  Spent part of the day after Thanksgiving going to the Food Stamp office in Coney Island to deliver the documentation they wanted after the phone interview.  I’m waiting to hear back from them.  I really hate having to do this, but it’s either this or succumb to the roomie’s way of eating — mostly carbs, mostly stuff you can nuke out of boxes, or lots of pasta with tasteless sauces.  Since that would send my weight skyrocketing, I bit the bullet and applied for assistance.  It was unpleasant, not because of anything the folks at the office or on the phone did or said, but because all of my adult life I have never needed to ask for this kind of assistance.  To say it’s humbling does not do the feelings I’m experiencing justice.

However, I am a survivor, and I shall get through this.  I know this because I have survived everything else that has come my way.

November 23, 2012

I Know This is a Little Late, but I was Having Thanksgiving with relatives…

Posted in Life happens at 3:06 am by otherdeb


…and it took three hours to get there and three and a half to get home.

That said, it was a lovely meal, and I got to see my aunt from Texas, who is here until 4 December.

Since I technically missed Thursday’s post, I will try to get one done at some point between now and Sunday.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend!

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