A few years ago, a coworker of mine got a job at Groupon, which is headquartered here in Chicago. She wrote me a note asking whether I was interested in teaching an editing workshop to the Groupon editors. Sure, I said; my fee would be $400 for a two-hour workshop. Then I didn’t hear back.
This afternoon I got a message from someone else at the company, asking whether my fee would still be the same & whether I’m available/interested, & what topics I’d want to address. They’d like to schedule it for late April but can flex.
I wrote back & said yes & yes, & the topics can vary according to whether they are more interested in training in grammar or in Chicago style (capitalization & punctuation). And late April should be fine.
I’m laughing at myself because just last weekend I had to wrestle down my aversion to writing curriculum. But still, isn’t this great? And filling up just two hours will be much easier than deciding on material for a whole course. $400 will be very good pay – so much more per hour than I would make editing a book. Yay! 5 days ago
This week I checked my credit reports & scores. For the first time in years, my three scores are all well within the “excellent” category (“better than 98% of Americans!”). There were no exhortations to lower consumer debt so as to improve my score.
I still have a chunk to pay off, but it’s lovely to have encouragements like this along the way! 2 months ago
I paid off a nice chunk of debt in the past year while paying cash for having my home completely rewired & for a number of significant purchases like new pots & pans (I was concerned about possible toxicity from my old nonstick ones) & smaller purchases like clothes & shoes.
But in 2014 my tax refund will be smaller; for one thing, I’m paying lots less interest on my mortgage because I refinanced last spring & got a 15-year loan. And I want to minimize freelance editing so as to concentrate on the curriculum writing for my online class. Can I handle these changes while still paying an average of $1,000/month on the debt?
I will try! I’m going to tighten my belt a bit. My closet is full & I’m not going to buy clothes, even when I see a good deal. I’m actually deleting daily-deal e-mails instead of glancing through them. I’ll keep up my good grocery-shopping habits (mostly vegetarian, usually only what I can carry on foot) & continue to eat out only a couple of times a month. Entertainment is not much of an expense either. I go to the movies only very seldom; Netflix serves me well. I do occasionally get discounted theater or concert tickets to attend with a friend; those events feed my soul, so I won’t cut back there.
I want frugality & debt paydown to be sources of joy & pride. 2 months ago
Haha, that sounds like a quote from Lord of the Rings, but it’s my own. The bank that holds X’s evil debt on the organizational credit card has not pursued the matter with me. Some days after they called me, I called back & left a message requesting the past three years’ worth of statements, or a link where I could access them online, since the charges were without my knowledge & I have no documentation of them. Then I waited. And nothing has happened. No calls back, e-mails, or snail-mail packets.
A friend’s lawyer son, hearing about this, told her that usually after divorces banks don’t go after both partners to settle debts unless the sum of $$ involved is really large. Of course $23,000 is huge to me, but to a bank it really isn’t, & it’s clear that X made these charges, not I. So I am finally exhaling.
I noticed recently that X has almost completely erased himself from the web. Probably a smart thing to do when you have run up tons of consumer debt & then skipped the country. 2 months ago
I’m making progress – but this a.m. I got a call from the bank that holds a credit-card account for the tiny organization I used to run with X. I had been the original account holder, at his instigation, but he had always managed the account; he was essentially president and treasurer. So when he departed I eventually cut up my card and sent it to him along with my resignation letter. If I had remembered that I was primary cardholder, I would have just had the bank close the account, but I forgot.
X still had HIS card, and turns out that, on top of all the other debts he ran up, he used this account for personal spending. The organization wasn’t active at all in the past few years, but the card now has a balance of $23,000+. And the bank wants me to pay it off. Did I mention that X has left the country?
Needless to say, I have my lawyer on it. She is looking at the language of the settlement to see if it addresses such situations. The fact that he failed to disclose these debts to the court is also fraud, and using the card for personal expenses is fraud as well. But the law can’t do anything to him unless he tries to reenter the US.
I don’t know if I can get free of the whole obligation. Very possibly I’ll have to settle with the bank. It’s distressing, as I’ve already been struggling with exhaustion because of working so many hours to pay the whole original debt. (That too is in my name, though he ran up a large percentage of it. And when it became clear that he wasn’t solvent and had run up major debt on his own, I just bit the bullet and agreed to take responsibility for all of it.)
I have been so naive. I knew that such people existed, but I couldn’t imagine that a progressive leader who seemed to live frugally at the time we met would end up being such a narcissistic leech.
Just needed to vent. 5 months ago
If I’m going to get the curriculum for my online class done, I’m going to have to cut out some other work. This means that I won’t be able to continue taking on freelance editing projects piecemeal & willy-nilly. And I have to plan out my work on the curriculum with time set aside and clear deadlines.
The program coordinator has consulted with someone in the payroll dept. to OK my request to bill for the curriculum prep in three installments, rather than waiting to pay me the whole amount in November 2014, when the finished curriculum is due. We have even agreed to work out the payments so that I’m not being paid for teaching my class and completing a segment of curriculum in the same month. That’s so that a little less is withheld from my paychecks for taxes. (These “extra service payments” are included with my regular paycheck at the end of the month when I teach; the system responds as if I were suddenly receiving a super-high salary and taxes me at a high rate. I get a nice chunk of that $$ back after filing my income taxes the following spring, but it would be nice to have a little more of that along the way.)
So this weekend I’m going to sit down and sketch out a plan. It will include space for a few editing projects in the in-between months, but mostly I’ll be focused on the curriculum. Hopefully I can use my time really well so that I end up getting a good per-hour rate.
All of this is to keep up my current schedule of putting $1,000/month toward debt payoff. 6 months ago
I’m having a struggle with this right now. Specifically with the initial steps I need to take to prepare curriculum for the online class I’ll be teaching next year. The program coordinator has sent me some documents and links; she wants me to start exploring the curriculum already written for the basic class (mine is advanced) and to agree to a list of deadlines for various parts of my curriculum to be done.
The problem is, I just don’t want to think about this right now. Curriculum writing is my least favorite part of teaching. And I worked really, really hard in June, and I’m tired.
But I promised that I’d have some time to start the process this weekend. And it’s anticipated that in the 2014-15 academic year I’ll teach the online version twice and the in-person version only once. So I’ve made the commitment, and I’ve got to buckle down to this.
Consolation: by June 2015 I should have the debt all paid off. So if it turns out that I don’t like online teaching, I can quit at that point.
I already got a good chunk of promised work done for another client today. I think I’ll put on my athletic shoes and go out for a brisk walk to clear my head. Then I’ll come home and have a quick supper and get some good work done tonight. 8 months ago
at the beginning of July. Easy because there wasn’t a large balance left on it. I was also able to pay $1,000 on the third card, and with other payments coming later this month, more will be applied. It looks as if I can accomplish this goal within two years, barring large unforeseen expenses. 8 months ago
A check for a freelance project arrived today, and I decided to get some exercise by walking to the bank to deposit it this evening – and then I came home and went online to pay off the lowest-balance (highest-interest) credit card.
Woohoooo, does that feel good!
Now I have to get back to work, though, to get the next freelance job done. Life is just a bit too work-crowded these days, but it won’t be this way forever. 8 months ago
I AM keeping very busy with extra work, and sometimes it feels like drudgery because it prevents me from doing all the fun things that catch my eye. But I remind myself that this is my life right now, whittling the debt down, and I do get to do fun things pretty often.
Actually I’m kinda overwhelmed by the goodness in my life these days. Being able to pay $4,000 cash for the rewiring of my home in April was just amazing. This month I got a refund from the escrow account of my former mortgage, which was like being paid for editing a short book. I just billed for seven months of editing the literary journal – I tend to put that off because that university’s system is really old-fashioned and a hassle; the nice thing about billing for so many months of work is that the amount is like editing a BIG book! And this week I’m going to teach my class again, which will mean a nice extra chunk at month’s end. And I have another short book to hurry through this week, and payment for my last freelance book project should be arriving any day now.
I just totted it up, and July 1 I’ll be able to pay off two small credit card balances and also pay $3,000 toward the last one! Woohoo!
I can’t always work at this pace, and my classes aren’t normally spaced quite so closely (April and June, and then again in late September). But with the online course being added next year, I’ll definitely be teaching three times every year, and that makes a huge difference. 9 months ago
In February-March I saved $$ toward closing costs for my home refinancing instead of paying extra on debt. And in April my extra earnings went to pay for the rewiring. All well spent, and now I’ll get to focus on paydown again.
I’ll be teaching my class in June and September (having just done so in April). That always gives me a nice chunk of extra $$. And in between I will have plenty of freelance editing to do; two companies are feeding me book projects pretty steadily, and the literary journal managing editor sends me at least one short piece to edit each week.
Because my refi involves a 15-year mortgage in place of the 30-year one I was paying on, and because I’ll need to carry mortgage insurance for a while, my monthly payments will be a little higher even though the interest rate will be much lower. So the financial benefit there is long term and won’t contribute to immediate debt paydown.
Still, I’m hopeful that within three years, or even sooner, the only debt left will be the mortgage. That will feel fantastic! 10 months ago
The program coordinator ran the schedule for the 2013-14 academic year by me this past week. Indeed I will teach again in the fall, and also in the spring and summer of 2014. So if enrollment continues stable, I will have good freelance income for debt paydown in the coming couple of years. 13 months ago
This weekend the other guy’s insurance company sent a check to cover the damage to my car in the Dec. 26 accident. That will go straight to the credit card account to which I charged the repairs. I’m supposed to get something soon from my mechanic and his supplier too, as the part that failed had just been installed in July; hopefully that will pay off the rest of the repairs.
And selling my ring provides $130 more that goes to general debt paydown.
Yay for shrinking debt! 13 months ago
I decided to use New Year’s Eve afternoon/evening to assess my goals and make a budget. I’ve done a spreadsheet and entered my best estimates of expenses and income, but I’m sure I’m still missing a few items. Over the next month or two I’ll refine it to make it more accurate.
Basically I want to be even more frugal in the coming months. I am not making a category for clothing, for example; laundry soap, very minimal dry cleaning, and occasional small purchases are included under “sundries.” My closet and drawers are bulging with clothes, including some recently acquired winter gear; I really don’t need anything else. I’ve budgeted $100 for entertainment, but besides Netflix I don’t expect to spend that much most months. I’ll eat out even more seldom than I do now. To spend time with people, I’ll mostly invite them for dinner at my home.
I’m currently scheduled to teach my class twice, but I think the fall schedule hasn’t yet been put together and will include a third session. If that’s the case, and if I get a fairly steady flow of freelance editing throughout the rest of the year, my income will be better than ever. With frugal practices like the above, I should be able to pay $700-1000 each month on the debt.
Happy new year! 14 months ago
I started working on this goal (with other wording, under my other 43T profile) a little over two years ago. Since then the debt has basically increased. Here are the major expenses I’ve had in the past two years:
- my lawyer, $2500 (put on card; after she went through this retainer I was able to pay further charges with cash)
- X’s lawyer, $2500, taken as a loan from one of my retirement accounts (at least it’s low interest)
- major car repair/maintenance, $2475
- tickets to my brother’s weddings, $600 (to Colombia – great price) + $300 (FL)
- replace doddering Mac, $1600
- laptop + Office + tech support, $600
- futon frame to replace the one X broke, $150
- stand-up desk, $150
- special assessment in my building, $300
- one trip to Boston, two to LA
I won’t look up the amounts of those last trips on the list, because it’s clear that I’ve had a LOT of extra expenses. Actually I’m doing well not to have increased debt very much given all of this.
But I am still concerned about getting the debt paid off just as soon as I possibly can. 17 months ago
I did get a REALLY good deal. I’m thankful they’re much less expensive than they used to be. It’s the first laptop I’ve ever had (welcome to the 21st century, GL!).
Thankfully, this will be a tax write-off, as I’ll mainly be using it to keep up with freelance work while on the road.
But I have to keep myself honest here. I really want my balance to be going in the other direction. I’m already living quite frugally, but maybe I can figure out some other things to cut. 19 months ago
My car’s clutch quit working a week ago, and my mechanic was finally able to inspect my car thoroughly last night. He called this morning to talk through the situation. The upshot is that it needs $2400 worth of work. That’s for the following:
- replace clutch and several related parts – nothing defective or misused, they just wore out after 17 years and 120,000+ miles
- replace timing belt – recommended at 100,000 miles; I’ve been lucky it has taken me 20,000 beyond that – along with some ancillary parts
- replace spark plugs and do major tuneup
- a couple of bonus things he’ll throw in: replacing a light, replacing the driver’s-side mirror, the cover of which I broke last year
Pete is a cautious, reasonable guy whom I trust completely. He gave the frame/body of my car a thorough inspection and is impressed at how little rust damage there is, despite all the salt used on roads in winter around here. Thank God for a garage to keep it in.
My car is a ‘95 Honda Civic hatchback, and I’ve always planned to maintain it and keep driving it till it truly expires. I get great gas mileage and usually drive it only about twice a week, since I can use public transport for my work commute and can walk to many other places.
Over the years I’ve thought about giving up the car and using only public transport and Zipcar. But it’s really convenient to have the right-at-hand driving option, I don’t spend much on gas despite today’s high prices, repairs overall have been so few, and my current insurance (Progressive!) is quite inexpensive.
So we agreed that it’s worth keeping. He expects to have it ready for me Saturday afternoon.
I’m disappointed that I’ll have to put this on a credit card; I basically have no savings except for retirement $$ because I’ve been focusing on paying off debt. But I will be OK. I’ll just keep plugging along with the freelance work and the debt paydown. 19 months ago
I had been wondering what to do with the third session, since my plan neatly enfolds grammar issues in the first session, punctuation in the second. As I was writing today, I suddenly realized that the most practical use for the third session is a hands-on workshop. Students will need to bring a business document or two and we will edit all of them in class, applying the rules we’ve been learning.
I’m very happy with the plan. Now all I need to do is assemble the in-class exercises for sessions 1 and 2. I ran a little contest on Facebook for the best “lame sentences,” and I’ve been having fun writing my own and harvesting bad sentences from various blogs and such. So I think the exercises will come together pretty quickly.
And then I can invoice for the curriculum work, which will help debt paydown. Yay! 21 months ago
Why? I guess several reasons.
1. Having worked extra several days recently, I decided to leave work early tonight to hear a poetry reading at the Poetry Foundation. It was short and gritty and just what I needed. Bought the poet’s two books (I mostly avoid buying books these days, except for poetry books – my means of encouraging my fellow poets).
2. Stopped for a modest slice of carry-out pizza at a new neighborhood joint on the way home. Came home to a solitary house and a kitty who was very glad to see me. Opened some pinot noir and enjoyed some of it with the pizza and a wonderful jicama salad I made the other day.
3. Read a delicious book to relax. (Reading yummy books is my substitute for the sugary foods that I’m minimizing these days!)
All of this is listed under my “pay down debt” goal because . . .
4. Tomorrow I’m going to ROCK that curriculum writing for my upcoming teaching gig! I’m going to put together some really fun exercises for my students, to help them really get a handle on issues like dangling modifiers, misplaced quotation marks, apostrophes for plurals, etc., and how to avoid them. I will get a modest payment for the curriculum development, and then a bigger chunk for the class each time I teach it. First round is in July.
5. My confidence with this is boosted today because a colleague, who is very bright and the public face of our department through her publications and blog, consulted me (as she periodically does) on some grammar questions and I was able to help her out with sensible answers that she really appreciated. It continually amazes me to have the role of the go-to grammar person in the manuscript editing department of the largest (or 2nd largest?) university press in the country. I keep thinking back on that nerdy little girl who finished her 5th-grade English text when she was just 7 because she helplessly, passionately loved language, its structure, its beauty. How thrilled she would have been to know she’d get to make her living wielding language!
So maybe I’m a little overblown here because of the pinot noir. I only had a glass and a half, though. :-) 21 months ago
I got another invitation to teach. This one would be online, which in itself could be fun. But it would be another curriculum to put together and I’m struggling to finish the current one. I want to pay off debt, definitely, but not increase stress in the process!
I’ll make a polite inquiry about the pay (no specifics were provided), and unless it’s a fabulous amount, which I doubt, I’ll decline. 21 months ago
I didn’t know until last week that there is a newish IRS regulation for dropping or adding dependents in one’s pre-tax work benefits such as health insurance. You have to report and document the change within 31 days of the birth, marriage, divorce, adoption, etc.
If it were applied with utter strictness, I would have had to keep paying for X’s health insurance until the end of this year, because I didn’t know about the rule and went to the HR office to register the change after the 31-day window was past.
However, a person in that office took pity on me and said she’d argue my case (ignorance because the info hadn’t been disseminated throughout the institution) with the Powers That Be. And today she called with the good news that X will be off my policy within a week, yay!
I don’t wish anyone to be without health insurance. But X is exploitive and had already caused me great financial harm, and having him off my policy will save me $70 per month.
Which will, appropriately, go straight toward paying off the debt that he left me with! 21 months ago
So why is that? Partly an introvert’s emotional exhaustion after the poetry workshops on Friday and the expo on Saturday – so many strangers to interact with!
But this feels more related to the next freelance job on my plate: putting together a curriculum for a three-part grammar and punctuation class. I will teach it at a local writers’ center on three Monday evenings in July, a total of 7.5 hours. After that, the idea is that any needed tweaks will be made to the curriculum and thereafter it’ll be integrated into a longer business writing class which will be offered a couple of times a year. But I’ll be responsible for only the grammar-punctuation unit.
There’s no way I can be paid as handsomely as I am for my editing class, and that’s fine; the payment will still come to significantly more per hour than freelance editing pays me. And that will help me pay off this yucky debt a bit faster.
So why am I feeling down? It feels daunting to take on yet another new work challenge. I normally really like work challenges, but since I just developed the curriculum for my editing class last year and the workshop on CMOS the year before that, plus the occasional poetry workshops I’ve been asked to do, the prospect of putting together another class makes me tired. Sigh.
But I’ll do it – and I’m sure I’ll find lots of fun things to include (like greengrocer’s apostrophe photos from that website that collects them), and then when I teach I’ll do a good job and enjoy it.
Maybe I just need something deeply refreshing before I start tackling it – a concert? 22 months ago
for teaching a 3-segment grammar/punctuation unit in a business writing program. The writing center’s director came looking for someone who could do a good job with this, and I’m pretty sure I could. It would not pay nearly as well as my editing teaching does, but (if she agrees to my proposed stipend) it would still pay me much better per hour than freelance editing does.
I like teaching in short stints like this; it’s a great break from editing. And it would help with debt payoff.
We shall see! 23 months ago
I’m keeping up with the payment schedule and love seeing those numbers shrink. This week I was also able to transfer $$ from one card to another with a special low interest rate and no transaction fee; that will speed things along a bit.
Because I taught my class in late October and had a substantial editing project in November-December (finished up tonight), plus my ongoing small job editing a literary journal, I am actually able to abstain from freelance work for the rest of December! It’s wonderful not to have to work myself to the bone. 2 years ago
But I’m continuing to pay down. I’m using a debt reduction calculator I found online, which tells me exactly how much I need to pay to demolish the debt in x number of years. I settled on four years, as the payments at that level challenge me but are not impossible.
If the legal settlement leaves me with reduced responsibility, that will be great, but I’m not counting on it.
My new housemate calculated what we spent on groceries last month (we are sharing food & eating dinner together at home most nights). I knew having her here was going to improve my frugality. We were both immensely pleased with the results: we’re spending just $80-90/month each on groceries! That doesn’t count eating out, but I’ve been eating out less, as we’re cooking at home so regularly. Our eating is really healthy too: tons of fresh fruits & veggies & legumes & whole grains, homemade yogurt, very little meat. This new level of frugality is going to make it easier for me to pay off the debt. 2 years ago
This is to start a new twice-a-year cycle, fall and spring. (The former cycle was spring and summer.) It will nicely boost my income this year, helping me pay down debt.
It was disheartening that I had to put my lawyer’s retainer on a credit card a couple of months back. But it’s good that I’ve been putting all extra $$ into debt payments rather than building up savings: the attempt to claim maintenance and attorney fees from me (yes, I am dealing with that level of craziness) will go nowhere, as I have absolutely no liquid assets. 2 years ago
I was notified today. It’s a cost of living raise, & it adds up nicely because of my promotion/raise last year. Whatever it comes to after taxes I will apply to the debt.
I think I should make some kind of graphic to show the shrinking debt. That would be encouraging! 2 years ago