Monday, April 7, 2008

No Joke

Someone commented that we posted on April Fool's Day. I hadn't even noticed!

We're really out of debt.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Out of Debt and F%$king Loving It

*blows dust off microphone

(tap tap)

Is this thing on? Listen, I know everybody left, but I've got an announcement.

(the sound of a cricket from a far off corner of the room)

The Bizarros are out of debt. And have been for a about a month. I wanted to learn how to run up a tree and do a flip to celebrate, and I had planned to do the research, but let's face it, I'm just not a tree-flipper. I thought it would be a more momentous occasion, champagne, cheering, etc., but it kind of came and went, quietly, amidst a lot of transferring money between accounts, four day delays, etc. Very undramatic. With all the money floating between accounts (paypal, two different banks, etc.), it was kind of like, I think we're out of debt...? Then the dust settled and it was done: zero. Flat broke, but breathing clean air.

But the beauty of it is, the mind-blowing amount of hard work that had propelled us to the surface also just kept on truckin', and now we're solidly in the black and heading to Australia for two weeks in May, using real, honest to God cash.

The Bizarro World Debt Elimination Freak Show lived up to its name. We worked until our fingers bled, worked when all we wanted to do was collapse on the couch and eat ice cream using our hands, worked instead of going out, worked instead of sleeping. For over a year my life involved working a 9 to 5 job and then working a second job until after midnight. I took side jobs I had no interest in. There were dark times indeed when a descent into insanity seemed like a good and welcoming thing. We took chances, we used credit cards, we fought bitterly at times and I found myself shouting profanities at a laptop because my debt was on the screen.

I hated that debt so intensely, so passionately for so long, that by the end, when it was dwindling beneath $1,000, I began to kind of feel sorry that it was going. It was like losing a limb. It had become a part of me, and if that isn't a sick f--king thing, folks, I don't know what is. But it was a part of me. I created it. But now it is cast out of me.

But some things haven't changed. I'm still of the opinion that it's the mind-numbing throw-away lifestyle (both of objects and experiences) that drain our lives and create great deserts of mediocrity on our own maps of memory. And Bianca and I still eat out too much.

But I'd be lying if the food didn't taste twice as sweet.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Time Has Come To Bid The Blogosphere Adieu

When I really started getting serious about getting out of debt, I looked to the blogosphere for help. I can't begin to thank everyone out there, both for the great information, but also for the support your comments gave me. I'm not out of debt yet, but the pace quickens almost by the day, and I can truly see the light at the end of this dank and horrible tunnel. Unfortunately, my massive debt repayment effort leaves zero time to blog, so we made the decision to fold up shop and throw all efforts to killing debt.

I thank each and every one of you that took the time to read our ramblings, and cared enough to cheer us on when we were down (and my, were we low at times). That takes a certain kind of character that makes me believe humans may have a chance.

The one thing from this amazing experience that resonated with me deepest is this: gratitude. Look within your lives, because everything you need is right there. And for the most part, free. Many people who become mired in debt lose that ability to see the beauty of everyday things and everyday moments, to see and appreciate nature and beauty and human kindness - because Madison Avenue doesn't get rich promoting those things. Corporate America gets rich on people zombified by stuff-lust and plastic pieces of crap, not the appreciation of what truly matters in a life. What I learned is this - pay attention to your life, right down to every bite of food you take into your mouth to the value of the love given to you that is worth more than ten thousand hours in front of a plasma screen you can't afford.

It's all right there in front of us, and as the immortal Huey Lewis and the News once put it, "Don't need no credit card to ride this train."

Cheers. And good luck.


Sorry, I can't begin to follow that so I'll just say that I'll miss the interaction, great ideas and support I got from everyone. Thank you for being there for us.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Basil Bizarro, Debt War Hobo Soldier we took a little unexpected break there. Sometimes life comes up and hits you broadside with a shovel blade, right behind the ear. Which is expected, this unexpectedness - it's just that we were weakened by the madness of starting a business, so we went down a little harder than we anticipated.

Apparently sometime between starting this blog and now I turned into a hobo. Frugality, while it has certainly helped us in some areas, hasn't done much for my personal appearance. I had one real haircut since last December. I don't even recognize myself. Who is this person, with the shooting shafts of jagged hair that gave me the look of a barn owl blown apart by buckshot? Bloodshot eyes peering out from sunken pits? Even my car, which I've explained as being something quite horrid to begin with, is failing. The paint is peeling off the body in shapes that remind one of huge sores. I'm having difficulty remembering the last time I bought a shirt. Or pants. Or underwear. All I need is a bottle of river-distilled gin and a boxcar and I'd fit in with the likes of Cacklehead Jimmy Pastelpants and Frank "the Shank" Moonbeams. Oh, the times we'd have, keeping clear of the railroad dicks and Capital One's goons.

Due to exhaustion, I've yet to update the debt total, which now sits at $13,150. I'll have cracked thirteen large by the end of the month. Things are snowballing, faster and faster, but the brutal work pace and my freakish hobo appearance are taking their tolls. I just hope I can make it to the Big Rock Candy Mountain, where the dogs have rubber teeth, the lake is made of gin and debt is but a long forgotten dream.

I think the end of the journey may more realistically resemble the following, which is the original last verse of Harry McClintock's Big Rock Candy Mountain:

I've hiked and hiked and wandered too,
But I ain't seen any candy
I've hiked and hiked till my feet are sore
And I'll be damned if I hike any more
To be buggered sore like a hobo's whore
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

Friday, August 10, 2007

We're Back!!!

Sorry, we've been out of the loop for a while, but we've had a lot going on with our personal life, as well as Basil's crafty side business which is exploding like an egg in a microwave. Basically, if he's not at his day job, he's working on the side business. Really. Every night from after dinner until midnight, and this morning he even had to forgo a shower because he was busy packing envelopes. I said that was fine as long as I wasn't working next to him -- but he had to get into a pool today at work for some reason (nice job, huh?), so I think he figured that counted as bathing.

Our goal this weekend is to set up a budget and start going over it on a weekly basis, to staunch the dining out flow before it gets out of control as well as keep a closer eye on where all the money is going. Plus although we have additional income from the side business, we also have additional expenditures, so we want to see how much extra Basil can send to the credit cards. We also decided to get the ignition fixed on Number One Son's new/used car, so we'll be taking that into the shop Monday morning, but we plan to put that on an empty credit card to just float paying it off a month.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Who Stole our Savings?

As you can see, I finally updated our emergency fund bar. After taking money out for dental bills, new glasses and a car, we still have $3727 in the emergency savings. And that's what it's there for, isn't it? It's going to be a very tightly budgeted month in August because there's the college payment of $940 to pay (which will be mostly refunded after all the loans and scholarships come through), plus Number One Son just called to say he needed to go to the dentist because he thinks he has a cavity. I bought him dental insurance this week, but it won't cover fillings for the first six months. At least it will cover the check up and cleaning, and as he'll be in college for another three years, I figure I should have it on him anyway. Basil's going to attack the credit this month, and I just hope I don't have to dip into the savings again. At least work's picking up for both of us, so we should have a little bit of overtime as well.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cracked Fourteen Large, Or, The Crafty Side Business Strikes Back

I just took the gloves off and gave my debt a smack in the nose with the heel of my hand. It's bleeding a bit, dazed, but leers at me, knows the fight is far from over.

I should have kicked it in the groin. Maybe next month.

Fight debt. Fight dirty.

Monday, July 30, 2007

June Income & Expenses!

Whew! I just made it. I barely made getting June's income/expense report up in July. I think I've decided that next month I'm not going to wait until I get my bank statement (since it usually arrives after the 15th), and instead, reconcile with my online statement so I can get a better handle on where the money's going. What happens to Basil and me is that we have a good month, and then celebrate the next month, yet we don't realize how much we've spent until yet another month's almost gone by. We used to try to go over expenses weekly, but that kind of got away from us, too.

Unfortunately, as you can see, we ended up in the negative this month. But that can be explained by the purchase of a car and registration for Number One Son to take to college. We also had an airline ticket for Number Two Son to fly to visit his father for the summer.

The good news is that we quit randomly driving around and combined errands, so our gas went down $60 for the month. Basil had a lot of art income, but that was mostly spent on art expenses, supplies and for when his parents visited, but hopefully in the future a bigger cut of that should go toward the credit cards.

We kept groceries down to around $400 which is where we want to be, but that could be because for one week of the month there were only two of us. Also dining was cut by half to $236 (but I'm afraid that July's will be back up).

Entertainment was high because of Basil's family visiting.

Gifts Given was high because there are A LOT of birthdays in my family in June including mine, two of my sons, three of my sisters, and a friend's. Add to that that Basil's brother graduated from high school and I think we did pretty well in the gift giving department.

Everything else is pretty normal, but car insurance will be going up with an additional car $60 a month. We're hoping to change our cell phone package to try to get that lower, but with four people in a family plan, I don't think $142 is too bad, especially since we don't have a land line we're also paying for.

Hopefully next month I'll get July's budget up much quicker, because we've got to get this debt paid down, plus save for a wedding in the next 11 months. I think we're going to implement a budget through Quicken and see if that helps us.

Sex At $3 A Pop, Or, The Price Of STD And Pregnancy Protection

While Bianca and I were at the Rite Aid looking for aloe for my third-degree sunburn, she went off one aisle and I lingered down another. I came across the condom aisle and began looking them over. Something I had never noticed before was that in addition to the "large" size (including the popular "Magnum"), there is now an XL. This was news to me. I thought the upper end of the scale was the Magnum. Leviathans lurk in the waters of the masses, I thought.

That was until I reached the Extra Large Durex XXL's. My goodness. The box proclaimed "Extra large for big time pleasure." But I was in for another surprise as my eyes played over the colorful boxes.

I scanned the prices, finding the normal discrepancies between the Mercedes and Kia comparable brands...until I reached the "sheepskins." Holy colona. While a mid-range box of 12 condoms will run you $12.99, a box of 12 sheepskins, or "sheepies" as I immediately nicknamed them, will cost you - get this - $39! I had to know more about these extravagant contraceptives, and before I knew it I had my notebook out and was jotting down the words "pricey sheepies" in it (what - you don't carry a notebook for times such as these?).

Apparently, sheepskins are only good for pregnancy protection. They won't do you a bit of good if you find yourself sharing a room where the only furniture is a mattress with a towel over it and there's someone taking your money (But who would use a $3 condom in a situation like that? Then again, you're probably not thinking frugality at that point). Sheepskins are worn mostly because they apparently feel more natural.

The kicker for me was this: sheepskins are not actually made of sheep skin - they're made from lamb intestines.

I've got to stay out of the Rite Aid - too many rabbit holes to tumble down.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Monosyllibic rants. Stress headaches. Spitting obscenities at machines.

Getting serious about adding a debt reducing side-business is painful. Doing it on top of a stressful 9 to 5 job is excruciating. I had my best month yet in terms of sales, but had to invest it all into growth. Disappointing.

Bianca is an angel, without whom I would be in a park somewhere, my clothes black and shiny from my own oils, an empty bottle of Old Jim Skin's Budget Drunkdrink laying next to me.

Gotta pull it together.

This is the war on debt. Sacrifice. Hard work. Hopefully it will bear fruit.