Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy post-Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend with family and friends. This was our first without our oldest daughter, who traveled several states away to be with her new in-laws. Still, we had a great time with the 10 who gathered around our table.

I wasn't planning to participate in Black Friday, but I woke up very early that morning and thought, why not? I had already gone through the flyers and marked specific items I wanted that were on sale. I got to Target at 6 a.m. In the past, that would have been a move of total insanity. However, this year, it seems everyone really did go shopping after Thanksgiving dinner. By morning, the parking spaces were plentiful and the stores not at all crowded. I hit several stores, got every item I wanted at the price I had planned and was home faster than if I had done my shopping during a regular afternoon! Christmas gifts are easier this year with all the kids older. The list is not long and no worries over hard-to-get toys.

The only person outside of my immediate family who I have continued to exchange with is my BFF, but I asked her this year if she would be interested in just getting together for a pot-luck dinner with my husband and her significant other as a gift to ourselves. She jumped right on that and so one less gift I have to worry about! I'm thankful DH doesn't do any exchanging at work - I think that's the dumbest thing we do. A bunch of little gifts no one really wants from people they may not even like. I do understand the problem if you're the only one who doesn't want to participate and am awfully glad we don't have to face that issue.

As much as I can, I think I've made this a fairly stress-free season. I've even already gotten our free tickets to a local church's Christmas pageant. All that's left is lots of baking, and I truly enjoy that.

I wish for all of you all of the wonders of the upcoming season, free from stress and filled with blessings!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's the little things ...

Yesterday, I had several errands to run. Given that the bank account is nearly empty, I wasn't looking forward to figuring this out. First on the list was CVS for a prescription refill for DS. This particular medication costs nearly $300 a month out of pocket, but because I routinely call the manufacturer and sign up for a loyalty card, it costs me $20. The card is good for three uses and they let me have a new one each time a card is complete. So I'm very thankful that I only pay $20, but I was really going to feel the pinch this week. When my name was called and I went to the counter to pay, the cashier handed me the bag and said "no charge." I'm sure my blank look gave me away, but he repeated that the balance was $0. I just nodded and walked off, my "free" meds in hand. I don't know why this visit was free, but I'm really not in a position to argue.

Next up was heading to Target to pick up a turkey breast on sale for Thanksgiving. Their flyer said 99 cents a pound, which was the best I could find by far. Good thing I went then, too, because there were only four left and the sign said "limited quantities." The sign also had a tag that said $5 Target gift card with purchase. I didn't read it closely, grabbed my bird and headed for the checkout. When it was rung up, no mention was made of a gift card, so I asked whether I got one with the turkey. The cashier asked how much and I said that the sign said $5, but I didn't read the fine print, so I don't know whether I'm eligible. He didn't blink, but handed me a gift card. I later learned that I was supposed to have bought a $29 pan to go with my turkey in order to get the card, but I figure I asked - I didn't demand. I've decided not to feel bad.

All in all, I came home pretty happy. It's the small things, right?


Friday, November 2, 2012

Holy cow - it's Jenny!

Thank goodness at least half of this sister duo is responsible. Well, okay, the other half - yours truly - has been responsible, just not in reporting progress. Or, in some cases, lack thereof.

Sarah relayed some time ago that we were still waiting to hear the results of the bankruptcy decision. After providing additional information to the assigned trustee’s boss, some of which made no sense, and waiting FOUR MONTHS after our appearance in bankruptcy court, we finally received our discharge papers.

The paralegal had assured me that no news was good news, and I eventually stopped worrying about the possibility that the bankruptcy would be denied because of some technicality. That might be one reason I still can’t fully comprehend that it’s over and that I no longer have to keep track of every receipt in anticipation of having to fork it over to someone who seemed to hold a grudge the day of our court appearance.

The result: the weight of the insane credit card obligations has been lifted, and while we could have also included hubby's medical bills, we never stopped paying those. We will now get back to the massive student loan debts for our kids (they are paying some themselves). That will hardly be a cakewalk, but I am relieved to be able to pay on them instead of plunking down insane interest-only payments on the credit cards, sinking further into the proverbial quicksand.

We have managed to start a savings account again; my immediate goal is to save up for next summer's two months without pay and hope nothing major gets in the way (I’m an optimist!). 

The minute the discharge became official, we began receiving myriad email 'offers,' thanks to our ‘improved credit score.’ Ha. I have no idea how low it went and have no plans to check on it in the future. We have no plans to procure another credit card.

While Dave Ramsey claims bankruptcy is horrific and should be avoided, sometimes it’s the only path left. As the other options we investigated petered out, bankruptcy was left standing alone. By the time the papers were ready to file, I firmly believed God hadn’t allowed any of the other avenues to work because not one would have allowed us to start ‘fresh’ (as fresh as a start can be with $$$$$ student loans). The relentless stress of figuring out payments and then humoring collectors far outweighed any stress of the bankruptcy... until we left the courthouse with no resolution in sight for 120+ days (it usually takes 10 minutes). Honestly, being able to unload our dilemma onto an expert and retain the attorney to stop the calls was the first stress-reliever I’d had in years.

So here we are, dedicated to keeping ourselves focused towards a debt-free life. Granted, it'll take a while. Meanwhile, kudos to all of you who have done such a fantastic job on your own with your debt-shrinking efforts, including my terrific sis! It’s most impressive, and I'm proud of all of you :)