Last month I made a vague plan to write and post at least once a month. Here it is the 26th of February and you can see where I am with that plan. I am okay with it though because there has been a ton of stuff going on. [Now it’s the 23d of March and I’m just picking this post up again.]
Almost all of it relates in some way, shape or form to the ADD diagnosis I wrote about in January.
And it’s all exhausting.
The biggest thing was my decision last month to file bankruptcy. I can think of one friend who is possibly having a stroke as he reads this. He is a banker type, really good at what he does and pretty well off. He also acts like my older brother, though we are, essentially, the same age.
My ability to deal with my finances are a mixed bag. I am astonishingly good at managing my money, right up to the moment when I have run screaming up to the edge of the abyss and the only option is jump over the edge, and then begin climbing back up.
Seriously, not a late or missed payment right up to the moment when I realized there was no money to pay the credit cards.
I have dealt several times with giant debt. And since secrets can’t hurt you if they aren’t secrets, I filed for bankruptcy protection in 97 after using credit cards to get through law school.
Well, let’s be honest, I used credit cards to buy all kinds of things I shouldn’t have during law school. I was a shopper back then. Not so much anymore, don’t ask where the most recent debt came from, I can’t tell you.
I was the beneficiary of a large check in a legal settlement that helped me out in 2011. And a large loan in 2014.
Each time I say, I’ve learned my lesson.
It turns out that the lesson, while learned, could not be put into practice because of my brain.
I’m not putting all my financial woes on the ADD. Clearly, I am responsible. The problem is the magical thinking that comes with ADD. That’s not the actual term, you might have guessed, but it’s the term that I use. My counselor tells me that people with ADD have this idea that “things will work out.” I’m stupid impulsive - sure, I can go away with you for the weekend, I can make it work.
And I can.
Right up until I can’t.
My counselor tells me that the top ADD researcher [can’t remember his name] calls ADD a disorder of doing: I know what to do, I know how to do it, I know how important it is, and I don’t do it. When I told my dad that he said, that is exactly you. Which was exactly my thought when I heard it. It makes sense of so many things in my life.
And it explains why I keep ending up in this financial situation.
This time it will actually be different.
Unfortunately since I decided to declare bankruptcy I have gotten socked: a 2014 amended tax return with a $480 bill accompanying it. A cat spilling wax on my computer, minimum cost to fix it, $349. Taxes due for 2015 in the amount of $1248, plus the need for quarterly estimated tax payments in the amount of $1260 for 2016. Paying my accountant for telling me that, $435. A doctors bill from August of last year, under $200, hardly noticeable. An increase in my health insurance of $173 a month because someone at the health connector heard a number that was $20,000 too low when I called to adjust my income last year. Two massage license renewals this quarter totaling $450. A continuing ed course for $500. Excise tax for my car to the tune of $181.25.
I got through all of that. Well, not all of it, but everything that needs to have been paid at this point: two licenses, excise tax, 2015 taxes, accountant, continuing ed class, increased health insurance [one payment anyway].
The bankruptcy was filed yesterday and the IRS won’t ask me for the $480 until it’s discharged in July so I can save for that.
In addition to all of this, I’ve managed to begin putting some money aside for stuff like my liability insurance and AAA membership due later this year. I’ve started saving for next renewal of my massage licenses. I even have $261.64 in savings.
It’s been surprisingly easy to make the right choices. I am learning to effectively use the budgeting software that I have been “using” for a couple of years. I also have a friend who looks over my budgeting with me and makes suggestions regularly. Some I follow, some I say not so much. Not because those aren’t good suggestions, but because we think differently.
Then today happened. I knew it was coming, I’ve known since I had my snow tires taken off the Outback last spring. The snow tires were done and my mechanic told me that I had some miles left in the other tires, but I’d need to think about replacing them before long. I’ve been meaning to stop at the shop and have him look at the tires for weeks now, but my schedule got in the way. Until yesterday.
“I know it’s not what you wanted to hear, but they need to be replaced.”
Six hundred and thirty eight dollars.
That’s the number I heard when I listened to the voicemail this morning.
That’s the number I asked my budget adviser to figure out this afternoon. I have money sitting in the TBB [to be budgeted] envelope of YNAB [You Need A Budget, the software I use]. I was at a loss as to where to put it. In a bit more than a month I’m taking a vacation for two weeks and I’m pretty freaked out about no income for two weeks. Oh, in case you are thinking, two weeks of vacation? WTH? Didn’t you just file for bankruptcy? I’m using some frequent flyer miles and someone else is paying for the rest, a generous and much appreciated gesture.
Still, it’s two weeks without work. So I have some money to be budgeted and I have these tires to pay for next week and I have some income and a bit of fairly guaranteed work for a couple of days when I return - but there is a lot of uncomfortable uncertainty.
So I said to my budget advisor - when you have a minute, could you please tell me what makes sense? Because I just can’t. I have hit the wall and nothing makes sense right now. None of it. I thought maybe I would take money out of the tax folder, I’ve saved the full 2015 bill and I could, if necessary, set up a payment plan with the IRS.
Honestly, that is pretty appealing. I’m very proud of the little bit of savings I have accumulated and that doesn’t include the small amount I put away for vacation.
But the budget advisor had other ideas and I’m trying to reconcile myself to that. I was determined that my savings would stay in tact. It’s not much, but I have been putting into it every week. My vacation fund is small, but it’s something - and I leave in five weeks so there isn’t a lot of time to rebuild it. The funds I’m putting aside for my nephew, there’s time, but the point of starting now was to have time.
My reply to the budget advisor involved much venting of my spleen and many curse words. Actually one curse word repeated many, many, many times.
It took me more than a few minutes to get out of the “I’ll never f*&^ing get ahead” mindset, a completely unproductive one that doesn’t serve me and isn’t likely to be true. But I did get there.
Because at least I have actual cash that I can actually use to actually pay for the tires. The rest will work itself out, it always does.
The budget advisor’s comment when I sent the entry to him:
To the reader, that last line may read like how you described managing finances with untreated ADD.
What's different is that you know what to do and how to do it and are actually doing it. It will work out because you will make it work out. The right opportunities will emerge and you will take advantage of them like an unscrupulous investment banker.
He’s right, I know what to do and how to do it and I am doing it, which is precisely why it will work out. It has always worked out, in some way. Now I’m just doing my part to make it happen.