small change toward a rich life

Back in the saddle

Well, here we are, seven months after I lost my job, more than six months since my last update.

My profession and field — and perhaps also, temperament — is such that employment cycles are inevitable. Full-time job to unemployment to freelance to full-time job and around again. Dot-com boom, dot-com bust, economy surge or crash-and-burn, company buyout, change in management … every two or three years something alters my situation, often dramatically.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve always found it easy to deal with bills and other financial matters during the periods of steady paychecks. More than easy — satisfying, even almost ‘fun’.  But when income is sparse or erratic (or nonexistent), it becomes teeth-grittingly difficult, and my tendency is to avoid the subject as much as possible. (This is one aspect of the clinical depression I’ve been battling my entire life.)

In previous low-income periods my avoidant tendencies have caused me big financial trouble. Instead of checking in on the bank account every few days to make sure all was in order, I’d go weeks, sometimes a month or two. Instead of paying the bills as they come in, I’d stack them up to deal with later — where ‘later’ was ‘the last possible minute or maybe a bit after’. Often I’d miss due dates because I simply wouldn’t think about bill paying for weeks at a time. Late fees would rack up and interest rates would soar. Since at the time I was carrying credit card balances — sometimes living entirely on credit for months at a time — the effects were devastating.

I still experience that avoidant tendency as much as ever, but this time around I’m happy to say I’ve kept the effects to a minimum. At one point this winter I got too disorganized and was late on a couple of utility bills, which cost $5 each in late fees. But I’ve stayed on top of everything else: mortgage payments, credit card bill, bank account balances, tax filing.

What did suffer was the detailed expense-tracking that I’d been doing via Wesabe … and Pocketmint. I haven’t touched either of them in half a year. I felt guilty for abandoning the blog, but I had to triage something, and ‘number of personal finance blog posts’ doesn’t show up on my credit report.

I’ve been working my way back to posting again for the last month or two, and here I am at last. Next I’ll update on our financial situation over the last half-year, and where we stand today.

(Photo by Regina.)


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