30 June 2010

It was your heart on the line

I am now the proud owner of a savings account. Woo!

Brief story- two of my friends have had a debate of sorts about North American Savings Bank (NASB). One insists that when she enters the bank the women who work there are cold, unfriendly, and hardly accomplish their job without giving her a dirty look. She then sees her boyfriend and his father walk in, and the women perk right up, conversing and damn near flirting. I was going to perform a social experiment and see if, when opening my savings account, the cute female employee would offer herself to me sexually. I decided against it because I already bank at UMB. You might note I didn't say UMB Bank like much of their signage- because UMB already has the word "bank" in it, thanks.

The woman who helped me open the account was a super nice lady named Linda who, as I learned, has grandkids at CHS who I didn't teach, but she still thought that was really neat.

I'm going to completely interrupt my own train of thought to point out, again, how much I hate the Education Connection commercial that airs on Adult Swim between Family Guys. I hate the song, it is arhythmical nonsense, and I can't stop watching the commercial for some stupid reason.

Moving on, Linda helped me set up the savings account. Now I have $100 saved! And I went to the Farmer's Market, Olive Garden, and Baskin Robbins on just $20. I had a good friend in town, and who am I to say no to her desire for delicious Italian(ish) food and ice cream. I'm also trying to eat better, you know, and I made better decisions at the eating locations than I normally do. Then I went for a walk outside tonight because it's nice.

Finally, thank you for your clickin' on those ads. The money it "estimates" I've made is something like 25938% more than I thought it would generate. So I'm assuming the "estimated" amount I've earned on there is wildly inaccurate. In any case, KEEP CLICKING! Keep visiting! Also, if you would, "follow" me on here. I guess it helps too! I love you guys :)

29 June 2010

I was only gone for a couple of hours

The point of this blog is to chronicle my experience with bankruptcy and the aftermath thereof, so when I saw the "monetize" button above my last entry, I got an idea. I should totally make money on this! So that's why you see ads here now. You should click on them. I get money when you click on them. I don't know if it tracks how long you're on the website and if that compensates me differently. I don't know how it works at all, actually. I would probably just click a link and leave it open for several hours while you're doing other, more interesting things. Here is a short list of things you could be doing while you have a link from my blog open:

-Play Mario Kart Wii
-Watch a plant perform photosynthesis
-Visit The Tap Room in St. Joseph and not be served for nearly two hours while failing to inform them their Chiefs flag is upside down (and the Chiefs training camp will be here in about a month... hope they catch it!)
-Turn on the radio and change the lyrics to the song playing to being about how Vanessa Carlton is bisexual (this works especially well if the song playing is "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton)
-Clean my apartment
-Visit Penn Street Square in St. Joseph and see the Nazi memorabilia case
-Be horrified by that case
-Go to The Gothic House and have lunch with me (So I drive by this place nearly every day, and I saw a commercial the other day and it looks fancy and delicious. Therefore, it will be closed in about a week. WE MUST GO NOW.)
-Read an important book
-Watch funny videos on The Onion

I'm about to do that last option now. Thanks in advance for your support!

23 June 2010

I can do a backbend- I will not call you back

I had the much worried about MEETING... OF... THE CREDIT-ORRRRSSSSSSS last Friday. I imagine that being said in the voice of James Earl Jones... or Darth Vader, whichever reference works best for you. The morning started by me waking up earlier than I wanted to, which has been the norm for the summer. My body is like, "Hey, I know you're done teaching summer school and all, but wouldn't it be awesome if you woke up every morning at a ridiculous hour even though you don't have to work?" I know, it sounds hilarious, but it actually really blows when you've stayed up until 2:00am watching the Behind the Music about Courtney Love. She's sort of a fascinating creature. I'm awed by her resilience and confused by her decision making process. That all being said, Live Through This and Celebrity Skin were two of my favorite albums in the 90s. Luckily for me, the night before the aforementioned M.O.T.C. was spent sleeping.

I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm and hopped in the shower. I had waited to shave until that morning so I'd give the judge/whoever the impression I was a clean cut professional even though, in reality, I dress with the minimum amount of professionalism to not get in trouble at my job. If I had my way (I'd eat peaches every day... no, not the recording artist. I'd never eat her) I'd wear shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops every day to work. Anyway.

The photo on the left is the aftermath of my shaving recklessness. I cut my nose. I have never in my life cut my nose shaving, but, of course, the day I have to go to court to convince people I'm going to start being responsible, I cut the hell out of my nose. It hurt really bad, too. If anything, it woke me up. Then I proceeded to cut my neck more than I ever had shaving before. As evidenced by the following photo:

It's like my razor decided to make me look like a meth addict.

Anyway, I begged my father to come with me for moral support. He obliged, thankfully, and he gave me a ride to the aforementioned 1940s style intimidation building. Pictured here.

I sort of felt like I was on Mad Men or something. Although, to be honest, I've never seen Mad Men. I just know John Hamm went to Mizzou and that makes him great. And his great work on 30 Rock.

I figured out how to get upstairs- it's in the world's oldest elevator. When we got up to the second floor there was a large waiting area dotted with other people. I was relieved to see they weren't dressed up because I'd immediately assumed they were all there to yell at me about my poor spending habits. As it turns out, they had all also filed for bankruptcy. There were probably ten cases there with me. My lawyer showed up at the last possible second (or in plenty of time, whatever). It felt like I sat outside the courtroom forever, then inside the courtroom forever, before he showed up.

I was second on the list. The first thing the judge (I guess he was a judge) did was try to scare everyone about what would happen to us if we lied. You know, that jail thing. The first couple that went up, we discovered upon eavesdropping on their conversation, had just filed for bankruptcy four years previously. I thought that was illegal or not allowed or something. In any case, he talked to them for a long time and asked them some really hard questions they visibly struggled to answer. It was potent in scaring me.

He called me up and my attorney and I made the long walk up. There was a woman sitting at a nearby table on the other side of the partition who I assumed was there for me because I'm paranoid. She wasn't. This was almost exactly how the discussion with the judge went:

"Where are you employed?"
And I answered.
"What kind of car do you have?"
And I answered.
"*some comment about my lawyer not being specific on the form*"
I did not answer.
"You plan on keeping the car?
And I answered.
"You don't own real estate now, but had a home foreclosed upon in March?"
And I answered.
"Did you think it had any equity?"
And I answered.
"All right, then, I abandon all interest in this case and wish you good luck."
And I sat for a few seconds longer than I should have, and my lawyer ushered me out of the court room.

That was it. It literally lasted about three minutes. No one was there to yell at me. No one questioned my love of Taco Bell's Crunch Wrap Supreme. It was a tremendous relief.

And now, in two months, I will get a discharge notice, and I will be DONE WITH THIS WHOLE PROCESS! And, most notably, I'm done paying for it. So summer school ended, this bankruptcy thing is ending, and things are really looking up.

The battle to be less of a fatass isn't going as well, but that is a much larger and more intimidating process. It's a daily battle, and I've lost the last two days. There's always tomorrow. Unfortunately, I'm house sitting for my parents, and their food is good. Like there are pizza rolls filled with cocaine in the freezer. Not literally. They're just addicting. I'm making a really smart joke. Anyway, hooray for positive changes. Aww yeah!

16 June 2010

You've Gotta Let Me In

I changed the layout around here, and now that background is hilariously topical. Look, it's money, and I write about money on here. It's really clever and works into your subconscious. I'm so funny.

Anyway, this Friday is the meeting of creditors I have to go to at the Federal Courthouse downtown, which is much scarier than the county courthouse (so much scarier that I felt the need to capitalize the words). It's at the building downtown that also houses our post office, and it looks like a building that should be in a bigger city. It's very 1940s stylistically, and it makes me wish I was going there for less terrifying reasons. I don't even know how to get upstairs; I've only been in the mail part downstairs. Maybe I can ride in one of those little tube-y things they send mail through. That'd be cool.

The meeting is at 8:00am, and I don't know much else about it. I'm going (and hopefully dragging my father along for moral support); that's about all I know. They're probably going to ask me a lot of questions like, "Why did you need to have six credit cards?" and "Why are there so many charges for Taco Bell on this credit card?" and I'm not going to have sufficient answers. It will likely be something like "I paid for school with some of them, but I also paid for living," and "I really like the Crunch Wrap Supreme." I have to pay my lawyer the final $300 at this meeting as well, and hopefully that will end the seemingly endless amount of money I have to pay to file bankruptcy which is a public declaration that I have no money. It's certainly a sacrifice I'm willing to make, though, for financial freedom. I'll be sure to update on the goings on at the meeting.

Required before this meeting, however, is a post-filling credit/financial counseling course I was able to complete online. It required a minimum of two hours with the material. There were eight chapters, some much shorter than others, and I was crazy paranoid that I wasn't going to come close to meeting that time requirement. I set the stopwatch on my phone to help me, but it turns out the website kept track for you. I kept thinking "I'M READING TOO FAST!" while going through it, but, to my surprise, it took me precisely 121 minutes to complete the course! Woo! The content was about 75% really helpful and good and 25% stuff I already knew. What's frustrating sometimes through this process is the fact that I know some of this already, I've just made stupid decisions. Certainly a learning process to use my knowledge better! One of the most enlightening things in the course was a fresh look at budgeting. For so long I didn't budget because every penny was going somewhere, and it was overwhelming to realize that there wasn't enough money to go everywhere. Now that I've done the course, I have an actual budget that allows me to put $100 in savings each month. Did you know that I don't even have a savings account? It's ridiculous and stupid to say, but I'm happily going to open an account with my next paycheck. $100 isn't much, but I hope it will add up.

The budgeting process I went through focuses on three different levels of goal setting- under $500, $500-$2000, and over $5000. My goals were fairly simple, some more specific than others, but they suggest keeping the goals on a card I would keep in front of my debit card as a friendly reminder to not spend money on stupid stuff. I'm going to try it!

06 June 2010

Consumer Rapport

Now that financial stability is in my future, I'm beginning to consider replacing items that were stolen from me, broken, crappy to begin with, etc. Step one is replacing a digital camera. My dad subscribes to Consumer Reports, so I'm going to start there. When I bought my last digital camera almost four years ago, I was looking to step toward a semi-professional camera, and this caused the purchase of a nice but cumbersome camera. It was huge and bulky, making travel with it ridiculous. I am blessed to have not been mugged in New York wearing that monstrosity around my neck. It also was great at taking still shots, but if my Shaky McShakerson hands moved a half millimeter the photo was blurry. So this time I'm definitely looking for something more cost effective- the last one was nearly $400. I'm not hoping for anything super professional, just a solid camera that takes clear pictures that fits in my pocket and/or messenger bag easily that costs in the $200 or less range.

Step two is replacing a television. I had two televisions stolen last year, so I'm looking for something fairly nice. My current television is terrible, unclear, and sort of huge. I play my 360 on it from the loveseat, literally five feet from the screen, and the details cannot be deciphered. I'm looking for something in the 36" range I think- nothing ridiculous. I don't want a plasma screen, that's not needed, but something that is visible across the vast expanse of my one room apartment would be nice. I'm not nearly as sure about price here, but I'll have to save for awhile for this after my vacation this summer. It's clearly not bothering me enough to do something about it immediately, I'm just... considering the future I suppose.

Step three would have been a new laptop, but God smiled at me and my employer gave its teachers brand spanking new laptops to use, and it has been miraculous to use a nice computer at home. I only wish the internet at my building wasn't awful. The internet at school is fast, but it blocks facebook. I know my way around it, sure, but it's annoying nonetheless.

It's a beautiful day outside, and my friends and I are going to play foursquare and swing on some tire swings. Should be fun :)

04 June 2010

It's Been Awhile

Okay, so I haven't updated in a month. My excuse: it was the end of the school year. That essentially translates into my complete exhaustion and schedule explosion. Some developments in my financial life include:

-There is now a date set for my "meeting of creditors." Essentially, it's a terrifying time where I have to talk to my creditors face to face and explain... God, I don't even know what I'm supposed to say. Ideally, I say nothing and my lawyer says everything. I have to complete post-bankruptcy filling credit counseling before this meeting, and it costs $75 or something. Then I have to pay $300 when I go to the meeting. Filing bankruptcy is an expensive thing. I always heard people talk about how divorce was expensive, and I never quite got it. I get it now.
-A beneficial development of the bankruptcy is actually having money now. Because I've been allowed to stop paying the things the bankruptcy is dealing with, I actually have money to pay my bills, buy groceries that aren't under one dollar, and have a little extra to pay for things like graduation gifts, writing retreats, Chiefs tickets, and road trips.
-I'm teaching summer school. It's extra money, and I'm going to use it to pay for my yearly vacation so I don't have to take any of my actual paycheck out to do that. I'm going to New York again, and I'm excited to hopefully avoid being blown up by a car bomb!

In other developments, I'm working on being less of an unhealthy blob who plays his 360 all day after summer school. It's been moderately successful. That being said, I've won a world series playing MLB 2k10.