No. of Recommendations: 54
Update #1: http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=23782088

SUMMARY:
As you may recall, I am stretched thin. My budget, with high utility costs, high student loan payments and a few unfortunate CC balances, is a bit uncomfortable for me, leaving a piddly $60 a month for groceries.
Suggestions included taking on a roommate, moving in with my parents and renting my home, cutting my utils, etc.

REMINDER about me:
I am a family of one, 29-year-old female, plus two beloved cats. My FT job nets $1,632/month or $408/week.

Unfortunate events of the recent past that have contributed (but not completely caused) the current situation:
- breast cancer diagnosis of late 2003,
- a poorly-planned foray into the depths of law-school student loan debt,
- old/bad relationship with a man who lived above his means and encouraged me to do so as well

As of 2006, the breast cancer is gone (but the bills aren't); law school is gone (in its place is a degree I love/hate), and the bad LAYM relationship is gone.
I am a reporter.
I have moved to my beloved hometown.
I bought a very inexpensive house that I love (2 city lots, fenced yard, one car garage, full basement, 2BR, 1 BA, great condition, new roof, new siding, new AC, new furnace, all appliances came with it for a grand total of $73,900 - it appraised almost $10K higher).

I work part-time at a nursery/greenhouse - at 11 hours a week, I am bringing in $300 a month.

My monthly net income is $1,932 ($408 per week from Job 1 and $150 bi-weekly from Job 2)
I have tweaked my budget as you can see, below.

TODAY:
I used my tax refund ($1,588) in the following way -

- $798 brought my delinquent student loan debt current
- $500 went into an e-fund (my ING account)
- the remaining $290 is on hold for the moment while I decide the next step


Here's my updated budget (after some discussion with medical collections):

BILLS:
Due 1st through 15th
Mortgage - $575 (1st)
Oncologist - $10 (1st) payment plan (totaling over $9,000)
Surgeon - $10 (1st) payment plan (totaling over $850)
Psych - $10 (1st) payment plan (totaling just over $200)
Citibank (CC) - $20 (6th)
Water - $33 (6th)
Capital One (CC) - $95 (7th)
Verizon (Phone/Internet combined) - $70 (9th)
Chase (CC) - $66 (10th)

Due 16th through 31st
Electric - $70 (17th)
Gas - $150 (17th)
Student loan 1 - $129 (19th)
Cell phone - $55 (20th)
Student loan 2 - $284 (21st)

NEEDS:
Fuel - $65
Groceries - $200

TOTAL --- $1,842

What remains is $90.

I think I should put part of that toward my e-fund each month and part toward my highest interest CC.
Anything I am able to earn above that (if I work 14 hours at my PT job), I put toward highest interest CC.

I am not going to get a roommate, because of the added stress level.
I am not going to move in with parents, because...well...because. I love 'em, but...

I can do it I think. It requires organization, but I can do that. I am paying my medical bills, now. It is not difficult to work 11 hours a week PT.

I could have used my tax refund to pay off that Citibank balance ($996), but then I'd still be behind on my student loan and I didn't want to be behind on that. So, now I'm caught up, I have an e-fund, I have a nice binder with all my bills, their due dates, the websites where I pay them (with usernames and passwords so I don't have any excuse to put it off), and what each weekly check is supposed to go toward. I was also able to increase my grocery budget.

I have to get back to work now (I'm on dinner break). I'll come back to fix it if I've missed anything.

Thank you all, for your support.

CG

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CG, I think this looks great. Your fortitude and patience is admirable and I have no doubt that it will be rewarded in the end. Hopefully you don't hate me too much for suggesting that you move in with the folks, and I am pleased to se that you are going to be able to avoid such a drastic measure.

I also hear you about the love/hate relationship with the jd. I am doing legal work, but the pay is terrible. The upshot is that I absolutely love going to work, and I am helping people in just the way I had imagined when I set out to law school. So, I know this is a thing you have struggled with, but if you ever feel like you need encouragement in that realm as you gear up again for the bar feel free to e-mail me privately.

Good luck!
mhiccup
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Hi! Kudos to you just for being so - well, amazing. Strong stuff, you are.

Just a couple of thoughts that I didn't see in the first thread, so forgive me if you've heard these before...

- Will your employer allow you to expense your cell phone? At least it's a tax write off, right?

- Is your home heated by gas? If so, did you lock in your therm rate last summer? I've been told that the best time of year to lock your therm rate is in late summer / early fall. That might help your heating bill next year.

Piddly recommendations, I know, but hopefully the vote of friendly support helps, too. You sound like you have a lot of people out here who care a lot about you. - lynndawg
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ClabberGirl,

My very first thought upon seeing these items in your list:

Oncologist - $10 (1st) payment plan (totaling over $9,000)
Surgeon - $10 (1st) payment plan (totaling over $850)


was stupendous relief that while I was undergoing cancer treatment I had full and complete health coverage.

I'm also glad that your doctors were willing to work out a reasonable payment plan.

You have a very organized looking budget plan, and I think it will work. I'm glad you decided to put the money toward the e-fund; when minor things happen it will help to have the money available and not have to scramble for it. Are you also putting money aside for car and homeowner's insurance and property taxes? You don't want to be strapped when those bills show up.

I don't suppose you'd be willing to fly out and organize my life for me, would you?;)

Nancy
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stupendous relief that while I was undergoing cancer treatment I had full and complete health coverage.

Me too -- only for me it was hip replacement last month, and I'm still getting bills and insurance statements. Medical insurance is more baffling than anything else I can imagine. The first hospital bill was just over $35,000 -- the most recent showed an insurance adjustment that knocked it down to $16,000 something.

My kudos to CG for her organization and her strength, and my sympathy -- I have a suspicion that she's somehow subsidizing others who can't/won't pay.
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Any chance of trimming the verizon bill?

Or do they require you to take some $30 phone service to get DSL?

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CG, have you looked into income contingent studnet loans? You might be able to drop that number to a do-able amount.

Ask on the Paying Back Student Loan board. They know more about it than I.

b
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Outstanding update CG,

Just a thought, adding another exemption to your W4 (Employers HR department should have copies or you can google a copy) may give you a little extra cash per paycheck. I believe www.paycheckcity.com has a few withholding calculators that might help out. I used one to figure out my last pay raise and it was very close once I had to tinker a little with the SS withholdings, and medicare a bit.

~
Roy (You are a very good writer :0)
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ClabberGirl,
My very first thought upon seeing these items in your list:
- Oncologist - $10 (1st) payment plan (totaling over $9,000)

- Surgeon - $10 (1st) payment plan (totaling over $850)

was stupendous relief that while I was undergoing cancer treatment I had full and complete health coverage.
I'm also glad that your doctors were willing to work out a reasonable payment plan.


What was really lucky was that I had financial assistance and charity for most of my hospital/oncology bills.

I had cruddy student insurance at diagnosis. It covered a total of $750.

I had over 30 accounts at one time, and a grand total of well over $100,000. (Each chemo treatment was around $8,000). You add in doctor visits, radiologists, medications, anesthesiologists, tests, tests and more tests...augh.

They have knocked off a LOT of what I initially owed. A lot. And if I was trying to get out of paying that piddly $10,000 or so...well, shame on me. It's interest-free; it's no fun, but it was no one's fault that I got sick when I did.

CG
who has no idea how the health care system is "supposed " to work

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CG, I was so happy to read your post tonight! You've managed to work out a good plan without having to resort to drastic measures. Hurray! :)

shirehobbit
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I can do it I think. It requires organization, but I can do that. I am paying my medical bills, now. It is not difficult to work 11 hours a week PT.

Greetings, Deb, you can do it, I KNOW - you are already doing it and are doing it well. One foot in front of the next, and the next thing you will feel is breathing space and see is clear blue sky!

Here's a big hug just for sitting there to figure it out:

(((((( ClabberGirl ))))))

And it's but just a start; it gets better and better with each payment. Hope you are also loving your work at the nursery; it sounds like a soul-soothing place to be for 11 hours of your week. Please keep coming back here - you are looked forward to and are missed when you are away.

xraymd

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Depending on your cell provider you may be able to switch your account from a personal to a business account and thereby get a volume discount of some type. The same goes for some alumni associations. Either way you may be able to get a percentage discount off your monthly bill.
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Yay you!!

FoolishRage
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Hi clabbergirl,

good to see you are making progress.

I would suggest you look closely at your

Grocery bill: $200 seems too high. In my estimation it should not be more than around $120 per person per month. (Is cat chow included?)

Can you get rid of the Cell phone? go to a lower plan?
Any way to reduce Gas/Electric Bill?

Keep trying to trim away at the fat. Slowly and surely you will get there.
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>> I would suggest you look closely at your

Grocery bill: $200 seems too high. In my estimation it should not be more than around $120 per person per month.

_____________________________

If you think $200 is too high, I can't wait to see how you react to my end of the month post when I share how much I've spent on food for one person. *grin*

I think food budgets are like mad money budgets/buckets -- one size does *not* fit all.

shirehobbit

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If you think $200 is too high, I can't wait to see how you react to my end of the month post when I share how much I've spent on food for one person. *grin*

Oh Shire, you are so leaving yourself open to a post on food budgets and hobbits cost of second breakfast and lunch. I will not take the bait :0)

~
Roy
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>> Oh Shire, you are so leaving yourself open to a post on food budgets and hobbits cost of second breakfast and lunch. I will not take the bait :0)


I didn't even think of that! *laughing* Actually for the first in my life I'm proud of how I'm doing in this area. As you know in the past I spent all my money until it was gone. Since I knew going into this experiement that food would be my biggest expense; I am buying sale items and not eating out every week. I even decided on a food budget amount for the 28 days -- $10.00 a day. I know some people will gasp at this high amount, but it is a darn good start. If I hit my target for this period I will lower the target amount for the next 28 days.

shirehobbit
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I must chime in as well I remember your first update when I was lurking. Your post and dedication to the process is one of the reasons why I wanted to be part of such a great group. Keep it up, we are all cheering for you. You can do it!!

-Z
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If you think $200 is too high, I can't wait to see how you react to my end of the month post when I share how much I've spent on food for one person. *grin*

I think food budgets are like mad money budgets/buckets -- one size does *not* fit all.

shirehobbit


All those elevensies?

Cromely.
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Hi CG-

Glad to hear you're going to make it! & that you can do better groceries! : >

I've been looking at your details, and I have a reminder for you- as a pet-mom myself- even aside from food & litter, you have to budget in for when the cats need their annual, that's probably $60 to $80 each depending on where you live.

Also, it's cheaper to maintain your car w/ timely oil changes than to try to stretch an extra 1,000 miles between (in case you're tempted, but not that you are).

Rooting for you-

p1



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{{{{{Deb}}}}}

I am so happy to hear that your grocery budget went up. No, really, I would be at the grocery store, looking for something, and I'd randomly think, "I really hope Deb is getting enough to eat." :-) So big yay on that!

I think your plan sounds great, and I'm glad to see that your student loans and medical debt isn't going to end up in collections and cause you grief. Most of all, I want there to be a respite from grief in your life. (okay, not entirely true, mostly I want that and for your ex to suddenly regret treating you the way he did. And some other stuff I told you in SEC. :-))

Big hugs! Yay ClabberGirl!


--Booa
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Booa,

Go to bed! It's 3:20 in the morning!

Cassandra
wishing I *could* sleep right now (upset tummy)
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CG, have you looked into income contingent studnet loans? You might be able to drop that number to a do-able amount.

Ask on the Paying Back Student Loan board. They know more about it than I.

b


Hi, bleplatt, she *has*. This really is the lowest payment plan she can get. Play with numbers on the D of Ed website if you don't believe me. I didn't believe it either, but the ICR plan had her paying *more* than this plan. :-(


--Booa (hi, bleplatt! Yay, bleplatt sighting!)
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When you are willing to scrafice to this level...OF COURSE YOU WILL MAKE IT!!

I might suggest you pay min's on all medical bills and save up as much as you can-when you have about 50% of your total medical bill saved up-offer that as a cash settlement-paid in full-You will be suprised at what the hospitals will be willing to write off.
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I might suggest you pay min's on all medical bills and save up as much as you can-when you have about 50% of your total medical bill saved up-offer that as a cash settlement-paid in full-You will be suprised at what the hospitals will be willing to write off.

I can't wait until SeattlePioneer reads that comment.

If you read this from another of her posts on the thread, you will realize that the doctors and hospitals have already been incredibly forgiving. She believes in her obligation to pay what remains. (HMO Blue paid my bills, to the total of several hundreds of thousands).

What was really lucky was that I had financial assistance and charity for most of my hospital/oncology bills.

I had cruddy student insurance at diagnosis. It covered a total of $750.

I had over 30 accounts at one time, and a grand total of well over $100,000. (Each chemo treatment was around $8,000). You add in doctor visits, radiologists, medications, anesthesiologists, tests, tests and more tests...augh.

They have knocked off a LOT of what I initially owed. A lot. And if I was trying to get out of paying that piddly $10,000 or so...well, shame on me. It's interest-free; it's no fun, but it was no one's fault that I got sick when I did.


Nancy
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{{{{{Casswoman}}}}}

And here I am again--okay, going to bed now.

Hope your tummy feels better.


--Booa (big ol' Cassandra fan)
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