On Being Poor

I just found this article called The 5 Stupidest Habits You Develop Growing Up Poor: http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-stupidest-habits-you-develop-growing-up-poor/ and found it quite interesting.  I expected it to be funny… instead I realized that I’m not as far from feeling poor as I pretend to be.

For those readers who have not experienced being poor the article might come across as sarcastic or stupid… for me it was eye opening.  I do every. single. one. of those 5 Stupid Habits!  It is not so much that we grew up poor… it’s that trying to learn how to be a self sufficient adult in the worst economy since the Great Depression is hard.  I frequently feel poor.  I finally found a job that makes enough money that I shouldn’t feel poor, but in the year that I’ve had this job my husband has quit a job, been laid off, and been let go… Now he is having a hard time finding another job that’s not in a call center, and he’s not going back to a call center because that’s what he tried last year and obviously it didn’t work! We have been getting by with a hairpin tight budget and the help of our credit cards, which are there for emergencies after all.

I was quite fortunate when I graduated college not to have any student loans.  I managed that by:

1) Having a scholarship with so many requirements that  it felt like a job but also paid incredibly well and gave me great opportunities.

2) Working one-two jobs the whole time I was in school until my last semester.

3) Going to a State University instead of the far off expensive University that I couldn’t even afford to apply to, let alone attend without a full ride scholarship like I had always dreamed of doing.

What I didn’t manage to do was find a job in CollegeTown after graduation that paid enough for me to stay.  So I tried for five months and accepted the first job that was offered to me… and it was in another city, so I moved into a garage so I could work there.  In one of my earlier posts I mention that the animals I took care of ate better then I did… I wasn’t joking.  They had fresh rotisserie chicken, rice, and gourmet dog food.  I had pot pies, dollar bags of pasta, and ramen.

Like the article explains when you finally begin to crawl your way out of “being poor” you, well I, found that I wasn’t well equipped to live with money.  If I get money for a birthday or a holiday, I use it to buy something “I wouldn’t buy for myself” because I can’t rationalize buying the new clothes/books/games/or fancy dinner when we’re living so close to the edge.  It sucks to buy your groceries on your credit card because you’re afraid you’ll need the cash in your account to make your car payment.

We are trying to get better about budgeting and such but it is quite discouraging how fast credit card debt climbs and how slowly it goes down.  I had a credit card that was over $3000 when I moved to BigCity.  We finally paid it off recently!  We did it with the generous financial contributions of our tax return, holiday money, and a mentality of JUST PAY THE DAMN THING AND EAT RAMEN FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS!  We did it! Woo!  FINALLY! We spent a blissful four days dreaming about how fast we were going to pay off my husband’s car now that we had so much “extra money.”

And then of course life hit and now that same card has crept back up to $1871.46 in less then 6 months.  It’s not that we go out all the time and buy frivolous things… it’s that after years of “not being able to afford to go to the doctor or dentist” we finally went and SURPRISE: I needed 2 root canals and 4 fillings and my husband needed 7 fillings.  I had one root canal and am getting the fillings done next month and my husband is getting his fillings done this month.  Also, his car broke down again.  I hate playing what I call “Car Roulette.”  Car Roulette is when your car breaks and the mechanic spins a giant Repair Wheel before telling you how much it’s going to cost to patch up the car this time.  Bonus points:  routine maintenance that should get done soon.  Add to that the rising cost of electricity now that it’s summer… We’re hoping he gets a job soon!

Bright side:  The dentist I found was EXCELLENT and it was the best root canal I’ve ever had.  (For the record, it was my third root canal.)  It was so not-as-awful-as-I-expected, that I’m not as scared about the next one (which I will have when we can afford it).

Another Bright Side: This too will pass.  We have made it through tougher times together and someday we’ll look back on all this and laugh.

Downward Spiral

I think of myself as a writer.  I want to write.  My whole life, writing is a job I’ve never wavered from.  Now, I’m still unemployed and people keep telling me what a great opportunity it is for my writing.  It seems to be and yet I’ve done very little writing.  I’ve done lots and lots of reading and felt inspired to write, but the words get tangled in uncertainty before I get them down.  I just read a quote from Robin Hobb that writers always write what they know.  Maybe that’s my problem?  Maybe I’m feeling so low, uninspired, and uncertain that the writing could only share it?  I don’t know.  I know our money is running out.  Realistically I haven’t been looking for a job in the last two weeks.  I’ve dabbled in job searching and waited for something to come to me.  I had an idea about trying to get on at that study abroad company.  It seems interesting.  Really, I’m super worried about money.  I think I’m depressed.  I don’t want or care about any jobs I see online anymore.  I’ve lost my passion and my believe in myself.  I hope I find it again before things get really bad……

I’ll Become a Hermit!

Still don’t have a new job.  I’ve been on a few interviews but either didn’t get he job or I didn’t want the job.  I finally experienced having an interview and not getting the job.  It really sucks and I could have done without that particular experience.  I had two phone and one in person interviews with the study abroad company I wanted to work for.  They instead went with some guy instead of me.  I don’t know why.  I’m telling myself it is because he studied at one of their programs but I don’t really know.

In other news…Fiance got fired.  It happened a couple of days after my official last day at the call center.  His boss, the store manager was a nice about it since the order came from the district manager.  He “let” Fiance quit instead of being fired.  Now we have our savings, last paychecks, taxes, and too much time.  At first I tried to tell myself it must be a sign from the universe.  If it is, then I’m not sure what we’re supposed to be doing.  I wish it was to move to another country but with my family’s health the way it is, I just can’t see that happening.  I feel so lost. I don’t know what I want to do other than write.  It also sucks because I’ve really lost confidence in myself AGAIN.

The jobs that seem the most interesting feel so unattainable.  Maybe I should look at getting my Master’s Degree.  But in what?  See, I lack direction and confidence.  I just want something I can be passionate about.  There’s so much I want to do in life but I just feel like I’m settling into dissatisfaction and regret.  I don’t know how to change my situation, or even if I want to.  What else would I do?

LIFE IS SO HARD!  I’m not sure I like being a grownup…

Also, I’m terrible at managing friendships.  I just ignore people until they finally forget about me.  I don’t know why I do that.

Maybe I really should get a cave in Peru?  Then I might just disappear though… Escape into my cave library with internet access and just diffuses into nonexistence.  I need my confidence back!  I need to believe in myself again!  I don’t need to move to a secret library lair in a cave and become a hermit.  That’s probably not the best idea I’ve ever had… even if it does sound the most appealing… I would have red and purple and orange cushions and soft rugs and a view of the ocean from my cave.  And a postal service that delivered ancient books and manuscripts to me whenever I wanted them.  And an ice cream machine.

Laid Off

So much has changed between entries… I should really write more often.  The job turned out to totally suck!!!  I never did convince myself to believe in the company so I wasn’t very good at convincing people to go thousands of dollars in debt to go there.  Despite how unhappy I was, I made great money so I decided to try and get students so I could stay at the job.  It was so terrible to keep trying and to keep not being successful.  It was really frustrating because I constantly asked for more training on how to do better but never received it.  I tried studying on my own after work too and it just ended up getting me in more trouble because I was using “unapproved language.”  There were a lot of trainings that were required for everyone, but none of those trainings were specifically to help me.

I read between the lines of the company and it looks like they’re going to go on accreditation probation status in April.  I knew cutbacks and layoffs were coming but I didn’t think it would be me because I was really trying and I was doing much better as I got more experience.  It ended up being a game of “does my student count yet?”  The answer was never the same for two students in a row.

What happened was this – I was told I have 30 days to meet specific standards or I would be terminated.  Or, I could choose to take a buyout option.  That option means I’m still getting paid and I’m still an employee but I don’t go back to work.  They definitely made it seem like they wanted me to stay and had all these plans for how they were finally going to help me and get me more training.  Instead I took the buyout option and cleaned out my desk!  🙂

My stupid boss cried and hugged me when I left!  I couldn’t believe it!  She was so useless and now she’s cried on me! Ugh!  Bitches keep crying when I leave their teams!  My old boss teared up too and she seemed to hate me but I thanked her for the experience of working for her and for giving me a chance with the company when I left.  I will never understand people.  I told this boss that I wished her well and good luck and she teared up and told me how nice I am and that she hopes I can find a job I’ll enjoy.

I’m excited I don’t have to go back! I’m terrified of what will happen now though.  I don’t know what I want to do for work anymore either.  I know I want to write but when I left the warehouse job my boss kept all the writing I had done so I don’t have any business writing in my portfolio.  I definitely want to stay the hell away from call centers though, that’s for sure!  The clock is now ticking and I’m praying we will be ok financially.

I’m sure I will find something but I hope it is soon…

 

End of the Inventory Chapter

I have reached the end of the Inventory Job chapter of my life!!! FINALLY! I stuck it out and was successful and learned a ton and made many new friends.  Tomorrow is my last day!  Only ten more hours to go!  I am SO excited!  I’m also a bit terrified… Additionally, I’m a bit sad.  I will miss a lot of my old coworkers.  Many of them were nice and it was really the people there that allowed me to stay with the job as long as I did.  I’m relieved this chapter is over though and I’m so glad it’s had a happy end!  June was a great month for me!  I got engaged!  I moved out of the ghetto and into a wonderful apartment!  I had a job interview and was offered a new job!  I am now an Admissions Person with A Private Online University!  That sounds SO MUCH better then Warehouse Person!  My degree is finally worth it!  I’m almost literally making twice what I did at the warehouse job.  My new job starts on 7/25.  Despite all the drama, despite all the shenanigans – I MADE IT!

I really am amazing!  I am so proud of myself for continuing to try and for not settling or giving up.  I’m proud that I’ve maintained my integrity and my friendliness and my smile.  I still see the world as a magical place and things are finally going according to my plans!  All we need now is for Fiance to also get a great job and to get a dog!  And maybe a house!  I don’t know about the house yet though.  I’m excited for the future but I’m also excited for the present!  I can finally look around and be content, at least for a while.  I think this new job will teach me many new skills and I think it will be a place where I can grow!  I can’t believe my Inventory career is over!  It’s so overwhelming!  I hope I don’t cry tomorrow.  I’d wanted to make some people cards… but I didn’t… Everything will be okay.  I just need to keep on smiling and everything will be okay.

(Author’s Note: LoL Irony!  End of inventory indeed…  Also notice my excitement about this job? Yeah, turns out I wasn’t helping anyone go to school.  Nope.  I was a phone salesperson who had to call upwards of 300 people a day and try to get them to apply to get into an online degree program.  They didn’t need school? Nonsense, I just wasn’t able to “overcome their objections.”  What I learned from that job was that there is no way to actually be removed from a call list.  Instead those people are trained to just set a call date for a few months down the road so someone else can have a shot at convincing you.  I only lasted at this job for 6 months.  It was a million times worse then Inventory but at least the money was great!  I had planned on working there to pay for the wedding but they were doing layoffs and I was offered a buy out or a chance to keep an awful job I hated.  I TOOK THE BUY OUT! ALL RIGHT!  I then had a couple months off work to be unemployed.  I used some of the spin selling techniques I learned at this job to spin being unemployed to, “I took a few months off work to plan my wedding.” BAM! And realistically… it totally worked!  I got another job the second week in May (lol a combo Inventory/Office Worker job) and on the first we had an incredible wedding that was well planned and way more affordable then it could have been because I found all the best deals in my spare time. But that’s a story for another entry.)