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Like an awful lot of Americans, I was living paycheck to paycheck. This is not because I have an aversion to saving money. It's because ever since 1987 or so, when things were such that I finally expended what little savings I had accumulated since the age of 13, I haven't had anything I could afford to put in a savings account. I've almost always been paid abysmally for my work. I just get along. I can't count the times I had to swallow my pride and rely on my parents during periods of unemployment and disability in my 30s. And then there were the times where I didn't swallow my pride and did things like further destroyed my wrists by doing work/trade with my landlord to keep from getting tossed out.

I am still employed until 3/31. My paycheck cycle goes something like this: First paycheck of the month goes towards rent. With just enough left over to buy some groceries and some regular healthcare needs that my health insurance doesn't cover (my providers treat me on a sliding scale). Second paycheck goes for bills, groceries, healthcare and anything "extra" like my car breaking down, membership dues for anything...just anything extra that comes up...second paycheck is when I can even consider affording it.

To get financial aid for a membership to the local Y, one has to fill out a form that includes how much you pay per month in certain categories. One of the categories is "Clothing". And I was completely mystified as to how I'd fill that out. I don't have a clothing budget. When my living situation wasn't so unsettled (so, 3 years ago), I would occasionally buy some fabric out of what was left after paying necessaries and sew something. You don't really save much money (if any) by sewing, but you get something that fits better and is more to your taste. My approach to a clothing budget since joining this tax bracket is that I go as long as possible not buying any. This year, my underwear finally got so full of holes that even a girl who doesn't have to worry about anyone else seeing her in her underwear had to get new ones. I tried finding the kind I like on sale. And it was definitely a budget item that stretched me. A couple of months ago, I finally got new socks for the same reason. I found them on extreme sale at Vermont Country Store and it still felt like a stretch buying them. But it's a good thing I did because I couldn't afford to do so now.

So among all the job hunting things I'm thinking about, I'm also thinking about the fact that one of the only pairs of pants that fits me since I gained weight (also, not coincidentally, about 3 years ago) has 2 major holes in them and a number of abrasions along seamlines that will probably peel the denim right away from the lining in a couple more washes. I've worn them nearly every day even though I'm ashamed to think what my co-workers think of me because it's winter, it's cold and they're the only warm pants I have that fit. I was eyeing LL Bean's site so I could buy another pair. I got close to buying them a couple months ago and then I got a parking ticket. Not for parking somewhere obviously illegal. My house is on a major thoroughfare and people are such assholes that they don't let me in or out of my driveway easily. So that evening I had parked in front of my house meaning to pull the car in the driveway when traffic finally died down. I forgot and got nailed with a $75 ticket for being parked on that side of the street during morning commute time. $75 ticket = goodbye new pants.

I'm thinking about needing to replace pants, I'm thinking of how I'm going to dress professionally for an interview when so few of my good clothes fit me anymore, I'm thinking about the strange noises my car has made lately and how I thought I'd take it in for some preventative maintenance, I'm thinking about the digicam I sent to Konica-Minolta a week ago to get repaired before Konica-Minolta closes their Camera division entirely and what the bill is going to be like when it comes back, I'm thinking about the membership dues coming up, I'm thinking about how I was going to switch banks because Wells Fargo just implemented yet another customer-unfriendly contract and I'm tired of feeding a big corporation that doesn't give a shit about its customers, I'm thinking about the MD shrink that my insurance hasn't covered at all yet and what I'm going to do about his $100 per office visit fee when my current prescription runs out.


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September 2014

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