In which I gain levels in Adult, Responsible and Financial Independence

…and then ruin them by relating them to Dungeons and Dragons.

Folks, as of today, technically, and definitely as of Saturday when the payment will officially go through, I have no credit card debt. This has not been true at any point since I was in college– probably since my freshman year, in fact. Said credit card debt was at one point north of thirty thousand dollars and it is now gone. Now, I’m not free of debt itself by any means– there is a mortgage, and a car loan, and my student loans, and another installment loan at a very low APR that I used to make a large chunk of that credit card debt not credit card debt any more. But this is still a Goddamn milestone; I don’t owe any money to actual credit cards any longer, and every debt I have is on an installment plan where I can point at a date on a calendar and say “This is when that will be repaid.”

Except not really, because now that I’ve got the money I’ve been using to aggressively pay down credit card debt back in my pocket, I’m going to start working on the car. I think I can actually afford to make my car payment twice a month now and still come out ahead from what I was putting into credit cards. That’ll have that paid off in a little over a year, I think. After that, assuming I don’t lose my job or have some other shit life event, things are going to seriously change. I will be moving into Actual Discretionary Income territory, which … well, I know it probably seems like I already spend money whenever I want to, and yes, I’m saving up for a criminally expensive lightsaber as a Paid Off My Credit Cards award, but … this is still a big Goddamned deal, y’all.

I just gotta remember to spend the rest of my life not being stupid now.

In which I ask the interwebs for financial advice

… and, okay, ultimately I’m probably gonna listen to my wife on this more than y’all, but it’s not like I’m overflowing with other subjects to discuss today.

So like a lot of you (so many people are checking their bank balances online that the apps are crashing) we got our stimulus money today. Twelve hunnert for me, twelve hunnert for my wife, and another five hunnert for the boy. My wife and I mostly keep our finances separate; we divide up the bills, so, like, I pay the mortgage but she buys the groceries and pays for utilities, and any bills that are ours, like cars or student loans, are our own personal responsibility. The boy’s chunk of the money will probably end up going toward tuition.

We are not among the people who need this money. It’s nice; I’m never going to turn down cash, but we do not need it. We both have jobs that provide us with sufficient funds for our lifestyle and furthermore we are in a position where our jobs are at least less likely to go away because of the pandemic– she works in the health care sector, broadly speaking, and while disaster-related teacher layoffs are always a possibility I have enough seniority at this point that I’m highly unlikely to be affected by them, and they won’t happen until this fall at any rate. I may not like my job once everything shakes out, but there’s not a huge possibility of losing it.

(He said, casually knocking on wood afterward.)

So the question becomes what to do with it, and … well, like I said, I don’t have lots else to talk about at the moment. So:

  • OPTION ONE: SAVE IT. Probably the most obvious choice; the merits of saving money don’t even really need to be explained. Things are okay now; they may not stay that way, even if I think it’s probably likely that they will. Somebody could get sick; something could happen with one of the cars or the house, shit happens. Especially in the last couple of years.
  • OPTION TWO: PAY OFF CREDIT CARD. My overall credit card indebtedness has gone down enormously recently; I only have one card with a balance right now and $1200 would pay off a sizable fraction of it, but not finish it off. Yet. That said, the monthly bill for the card isn’t that high, and I’ve been paying twice that amount every month. It’s gonna go away (again, assuming no financial disasters) soon enough even if I don’t put this big chunk into it.
  • OPTION THREE: SAVE HALF, PAY OFF HALF. Probably the most reasonable option unless I decide to prioritize saving.
  • OPTION FOUR: BUY MORE BOOKS AND DICE. You can never have enough books and dice. This one is probably not the smartest idea, but would be the most fun.
  • OPTION FIVE: DONATE IT TO SOMEONE. The most socially responsible option since, again, I don’t need the money, but I think a certain amount of financial selfishness is warranted right now for the exact same reasons one might give to save the money. We’re not so well off that this money is nothing— it’s still definitely a good chunk of change– it’s just not immediately necessary for anything.

So, whaddya think? How much should I be tilting toward paranoia and safety right now? Or, alternatively, what are you doing with your $1200?


12:56 PM, Wednesday April 15: 610,774 confirmed infections (and over two million worldwide); 26,119 Americans dead.

So, my car

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 5.02.01 PMI done fucked up today, I think.

My current car is a 2001 Ford Escape with nearly a hundred and seventy thousand miles on it.  The fabric on the driver’s side door is mostly peeled off, there are big patches of rust inside all the doors, and there’s a big crack in the rear bumper.  The radio intermittently decides it needs to take a rest and won’t turn back on for anywhere from a few seconds to a day.  It leaks oil from a leak so deep in the engine that repairing it is an absurdity.  And its gas mileage… well, leaves something to be desired.

That said: it turns on when I need it to turn on and it gets me where I want to go, and while it’s loud as hell at speed it’s not an uncomfortable ride by any means.  It’s just that at 170K it is only a matter of time until something breaks that will be pointless to repair.  To get ahead of myself a bit, I was offered $1200 for it as a trade today and I think it was probably a pretty generous offer, all told.

The boy has named the car Joey Car Kristofferson.  I will very much miss having a car named Joey Car Kristofferson, to the point where I will probably insist that its replacement be named Joey Car Kristofferson II.  (My wife’s car, incidentally, is called Lisa Car James.  Don’t ask where the boy got the names.  No one knows.)

So anyway, I took that car up there for a test drive earlier today.  It’s a 2016 Kia Soul in the + trim level, with 28,000 miles on it.  It’s immaculately clean and seems to run beautifully.  It’s small– trunk space, in particular, is kind of a joke– but it fits my main need in a vehicle, which is that it rides high enough that I climb into the seat and slide out, rather than the other way around.  I refuse to struggle to get out of my car, which means I’ll never own a sedan again.  I’ve started to seriously hate them.  I test drove a brand-new Ford Escape a few months ago, and loved it, but financially I think it’s a better idea to go for a lightly used vehicle right now rather than a new one.  Unless I lease, which I might choose to do but <insert every website and argument about leasing ever> and my brain isn’t set up for that right now.

It’s just under fifteen thousand bucks, that car, and with the financing I’d expect to get I’d probably be making payments of just over $200 a month.  Which is in the neighborhood where I’m thinking Yeah, I can swing that rather than I can afford that.  To my mind, that’s a real difference; you can swing a new purchase if you can come up with some ways to cut costs that would absorb a lot of the new bill and figure you’ll be okay.  You can afford something if you don’t have to think at all about what you’ll do to pay for it.  For example, I can afford to spend $25-50 pretty much whenever I want so long as I don’t, like, do it every day.  But if I want to buy a new shirt or something?  I don’t have to think about that.  A car payment means I’m thinking things like well, I do eat out way too often anyway and I’m spending too much fucking money on comic books every week while I’m considering what it would do to my budget.  And the down payment would have to come out of our mutual savings, which my wife will likely have something to say about.  We did just drop three and a half grand on a new bed, after all.

I’m not sure I have a point here, and I don’t know if I’m asking for advice or just talking.  I just need to decide how quickly I think I need a new car, and whether I should buy a new one before I need a new one.

Go buy some of my books and make this easier, dammit.  🙂

Proof of life, pt. 2

1524660838513775394.gifSo I spent all weekend being “on,” and as a result I have been home and very much “off” for the last couple of days.  Luckily for me, That Post has been resurging again for the last couple of days and so it’s not like I’ve been starving for traffic.

I’ll try and write about something tomorrow.  Until then, did you know you can get autographed books straight from me?

(I know, I know.  But I need money.)