Friday, March 1, 2013

Fuck Money.

"Money can't buy happiness."

Whoever coined this phrase didn't know what the fuck they were talking about.

Yeah, sure. Money can't buy happiness.  I get that.  But you know what money can buy?  Peace of mind.  Peace of mind knowing that I don't owe my landlords (who happen to be family, which on some levels I think makes the situation that much worse) a shit ton of money in back rent.  Peace of mind in not cringing every time my phone rings with another creditor looking for money I can't give them.  Peace of mind knowing I could get my bills up to date and not have to stress out while I constantly rob Peter to pay Paul, and try to stay one step ahead of the bank's posting schedule.

Money would pay for my pets' vet bills, which I cannot afford at all right now.  One cat needs $500 in dental work.  The other?  Who knows.  I haven't taken her in because I fear the answer.  One of my rats has a tumor that could probably be removed.  She's young enough to withstand the surgery, but I can't afford it.  I feel cruel.  I feel like a bad pet mom.  I feel like a horrible human being.  The only reason I was able to pay the last vet bill was because two very generous people came forward and GAVE me the money.  And while I know it was generosity born of friendship and sympathy, I still consider it a debt that I need to pay back or forward at some point.

Money would pay my medical bills and allow me to relax every time I go to the doctor and don't have to hear, "are you putting anything toward your balance today?"  It would allow me to not constantly have to cancel appointments simply because the copay isn't in the budget that month.

Money would pay to fix or replace my broken laptop that is no longer under warranty but is not yet paid for.  Big insult to injury situation there.

Money would pay my student loans, which have been deferred for months at this point.  Three degrees cost a lot of dough, even at a public university.

Money would buy new tires for my car, and would restore normal color to my knuckles every time I have to drive on slippery rain-slicked or snow-packed roads.  My car's name is Butch, but I should change it to Flounder, because I fishtail all over the fucking place.  My only saving grace is that it's a giant behemoth of a car, so if I do crash it, I'm probably not going to die.  But then of course, I'll be out a car, and that'll be just as bad.  And speaking of the car, money would pay the stupid car off so that I'm not losing sleep over the very real possibility of having an 8-year-old beat-up heap repossessed every time I'm a week late on the payment. 

Money would lubricate a lot of sticky spots in my life, but I can't seem to make or hang on to much of it, and at this point I've dug a hole so deep I'm not sure I'll ever get out of it.  At least not at this rate.

What pisses me off more than anything is that the amount of money that would shore me up isn't even that much.  I'm talking a few thousand dollars.  I know people who make more than that in a single paycheck, but to me it's such an unobtainable amount of money.  For someone who is as educated and creative and motivated as myself, I can't seem to figure out how to make it work in my favor.  I work 20 to 25 hours a week at one place so I can have health insurance.  I work 12 hours a week at another place that pays me about half what I should be making, and I spend at least another 20 to 30 hours a week doing freelance and independent contract work, but it's not the steadiest form of income, and the other two jobs cut into the time I would really like to be using to develop my "real work."  I work part-time as an independent auditor/evaluator, which is usually good for a few dollars and some free stuff.  I also do a little metal recycling when the weather cooperates.  That brings in a few bucks a week, but I consider that more of a hobby than a source of income.  Whatever I make doing that usually goes right into my gas tank anyway.  Sometimes if I'm feeling particularly indulgent, I'll treat myself to a slice of pizza with part of my earnings.  That's me.  Big fucking spender.

I've cut back on just about everything.  I eat a lot of pasta.  I shop at Aldi and Price-Rite.  I keep my heat at a reasonable temperature, but I'm on budget billing, so my gas bill is the least of my worries.  My electric bill on the other hand...holy mother of god.  I figured out recently that when it rains, the sump pump runs nonstop.  And guess what it runs on?  Yeah.  But if I don't keep it running, the basement floods.  And that's no good, either.  In the summertime, I hang my laundry outside so as not to have to use the dryer.  I hardly ever go out.  My weekly lunches with my friends have turned into a once-every-few-months indulgence when I can scrape ten bucks together.  I buy everything on sale and try and buy in bulk when possible.  When applying for evaluation assignments, I try and find jobs that will provide me with a free meal or other free stuff.

After the electric bill, the car payment, the car insurance, the monthly doctor visit and medications, the phone bill, and the necessary incidentals like internet, web hosting, file transfer services, and the payments on my above-mentioned dead laptop, there's little left.  My one really true decadence is my monthly Netflix subscription.  That's $8 a month.  I don't have cable and don't watch television otherwise.

Yes, I have traveled, and that is certainly an indulgence.  But in the grand scheme of things, my travel budget is pretty low.  I can say with a fair amount of confidence that most of my overseas travel has been done on a shoestring, and that I know people who spend more on a week's vacation Stateside than I ever have in a month abroad.  I stay in sublets and hostels and travel like a sardine, packed into crowded buses, trains, and economy airline seats.   And I have no further overseas travel plans in the immediate future, of course.  Past travel was carried out when I could afford it.   My next trip is a little summer vacation out west, covered by airline miles, friends' couches, and paid vacation time from work.  I figured out that the whole thing ought to cost no more than $200 for incidentals and ground transportation. But if I can't get ahead by then, I might not even be able to afford that.

So what I'm trying to do now is figure out a way to make some more money.  Full-time designer jobs are just not available, and if they are, I'm always beat out by someone younger and hipper than me.  Since I like to travel so much, I'm entertaining the idea of working a stint on a cruise ship. I've sold almost everything I can manage to live without at this point.  I don't know what else to do. 

If anyone is reading this and has ideas on how to raise a few thousand dollars, let me know.  Or if you need some work done, please get in touch.  My rates are competitive! I'm not looking for get-rich-quick schemes, and I'm not interested in doing anything illegal or harmful.  But at this point I'm spinning my wheels with no end in sight, and while money might not buy me happiness, I'm pretty sure it could buy me a break from the vicious merry-go-round.  And THAT will make me happy.

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