Category Archives: Money
What a whirl of a week this has been. Summer is in full swing and with it, the heat and the storms that I so love about Florida. Even living a stone’s throw from the beach, I still haven’t had the opportunity to get out much. When I can, I enjoy every second of the scent of the salt water, the wind, and the sounds that make Vitamin-Sea such a vital part of a healthy spirit.
Photo on Hutchinson Island, Florida, credit: Heather Noel (LifeInPawPrints).
Summer plans have gotten off to a slow start, mainly due to finances and unstable hours at work. It’s the slow season so where I was hoping for overtime, there hasn’t been any and there’s always a chance of being volunteered to go home early, so that make it hard to plan some things, not knowing how much a paycheck will be when it’s all said and done. BUT… I’m working on other financial fixes, they’re just being stalled by a very slow legal process which is driving me mad. I always found it ironic that it costs SO MUCH to fix money problems. Perfect example: Bankruptcy. Hundreds of dollars to file, yet if you’re truly bankrupt, you don’t have hundreds of dollars to file, or you wouldn’t be bankrupt. The legal system is twisted and distorted to work against the people, not for the people, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant altogether.
My daughter had wanted to get a job this summer at Publix but even after applying and following up, she was not not called back. They will hire at 14 but she may have a better chance when she turns 15 in a couple weeks. She’s already worked there unofficially, bagging for her grandmother who worked as a cashier, so one store’s staff already knows her. That’s always a plus. But until something comes through for her on employment, she is enjoying the first weeks of summer with me and my partner, his mother and sister. We keep her busy with the art studio, the gym, DIY projects… there’s always something to do. Plus, she gets to sleep in to her heart’s content 🙂
Projects for me include getting some flowers planted (though I’m a couple months late in doing so!) and building a container garden that won’t fall apart like the last attempt. Aside from the seaside, gardening is good medicine for my often bitter spirit. It takes me out of the world and back into the basics of life. I like sowing, I like producing, and I like the idea of making something useful out of nothing. Growing things does that for me. Trouble is finding a place to grow where all the animals won’t destroy my work. Chickens and raccoons are great at getting onto and into places they shouldn’t be!
Suppose that’s it for now. This heat is making me grouchy. Normally I love this house (basically an open-air wood cabin type historic house – no AC – central or window shakers) but summers are a real bitch. There’s no escaping the heat. Even the shade is brutal.
Recently (meaning a couple months ago), NPR did a report featuring workers who go to work sick. For the majority, it was mainly older employees who tended to stay home while the younger workers were more apt to push through their illness to not miss work.
The major difference between these two groups were the ones who tended to stay home were those who had tenure and got paid sick time off or would otherwise not be punished for taking time off. This was the older set. Of those interviewed in the younger set, they told the reporter they almost always went to work sick because they did not have paid (or even unpaid) sick time that they were allowed to use. Illnesses ranged from painful migraines to colds, flu, and other contagious illnesses that involved vomiting and diarrhea at work. Those who went to work sick said they did so because they could not afford to lose the pay or their jobs.
I was reminded of this radio spot as I forced myself to go to work sick today out of the same fear. I’d called out the past two days with severe bronchitis but could not afford a write-up for missing any more time, so I stuck it out. I ended up getting worse throughout the day because I wasn’t able to rest or take the medications that I have been at work – they put me to sleep. Upon returning to work today, I also heard from several others that they’d had to call out sick this week too for the same thing and I know where it came from. One person who came in sick 2 weeks ago coughing up a storm and even bragging about having the flu and still working.
The question is: where does someone who lives paycheck to paycheck draw the line between going in sick and staying home for their own health and others? Is it worth losing money or even your job to keep others safe? How do you handle it? Comments are welcome.
From the Daily Prompt: Rolling Stone
“If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?”
This has always been a bit of a dream of mine, to live just to live, to enjoy experiences in life that aren’t possible within the constraints of a lease, a day job, shared custody and other limiting factors. For a 40 year old who treasures new sights and experiences, meeting different people, photographing different areas and being immersed in different cultures, it must be said that I have gotten very few opportunities in life to do any of this. The extent of my travels has been through the Carolinas, The Bahamas and Mexico. All instances were limited by time and money and only left me wanting more. To live as a nomad would still require some sort of stability – ironic, I know. This means I would not want to live as a beggar but rather be able to earn a little money no matter where I went in order to remain self-sufficient (and fed!). More than likely, I would take on some kind of art or craft and sell my talents at various events and festivals across the country, throughout the year. Part of those crafts could be hand-penned original inspirational poetry on parchment, ready to frame in someone’s study or bedroom. Ideally, I would have a small RV in which I could keep my scant belongings and a bicycle to use for travel throughout the area of the moment. I would of course need to remain tech savvy – Internet access would be vital as it is to nearly everyone today. I would likely gather information on upcoming events and places to go from the web in order to keep short-term plans in order. This would allow me to remain a wanderlust but one who would not be caught off guard by not having a place to park, sleep or sell crafts. I wouldn’t say that there would be no “home base.” I would have my RV – wherever it took me would be home. The whole of the continental USA would be my home! The beautiful thing about the Internet is that it brings people together no matter where they are, so losing touch with family and friends would not be an issue. It would be a simple life, free of undue clutter, free of the feeling of being cooped up and held captive by societal constraints. As a Sagittarius, this sort of nomadic life would be what my soul has always craved. I am determined to one day see this to fruition.
Four gruesome months of unemployment finally came to a close in May when I started a job as a Paralegal. It pays very little (net has been about half what I need to meet my bills, which have already been trimmed down to the bare minimum) and it’s practically out of town for me, but it’s work. I’m only hoping that I do well enough for the promised raises to come through as indicated when I started otherwise I don’t know how I’m going to make it. Well, the truth is, I’m not. So hopefully those raises come through!
I’ve started a 9-part pre-RCIA line of coursework with the Catholic Home Study Service in preparation for my RCIA classes starting in October. William has been a wonderful guide to me in my studies though I quietly wish he’d give me a little more crap when I don’t go to mass. No nun-pun intended, but I’ve got to work harder on getting into the habit. It would be easier if my church had services on Sunday nights, but there’s really no excuse for me to miss the 10AM mass. I’ve slept in the past two Sundays though. Shame on me.
A couple weeks ago, a new kitten came into my life, a very friendly little long-haired silver kitty. We named her Bellamina – the name is bigger than she is, but not bigger than the ball of energy that she brings into the house. She’s a bit codependent which is fine by me as she lays sprawled across my lap as I type, hugging my leg and just purring away. The big silver and white pouf of a tail reminds me of a squirrel, all fluff that constantly looks as if it’d been rubbed by a balloon and static took over. The cutest thing about her is when she’s being petted, she blows kisses. It’s not a post-weaning suckling kind of thing, she literally just smacks her lips and blows kisses as a person does when calling a cat. It’s more of a mimicry, and I’ve never seen another cat to do that. She’s also got enormous paws which give her a comical lope during play, like a puppy who hasn’t grown into his feet yet. She truly is a treasure.
This Memorial Day, I’m not sure I’m doing anything. It would be nice to have a cookout or something but I don’t have anyone to invite or join at one. Going to the beach would be a full on nightmare with the traffic. I tried in vain yesterday, couldn’t even get close. Actually had to back my car out of a parking lot because there wasn’t even enough room to turn around where all the spots were full and people had parked in non-spots essentially gridlocking the entire lot so that no one could pass through or out.
We’ll see how this day pans out. I’d hate to spend it just doing housework!
Having been out of work for some time now, the cabin fever was setting in pretty hard. Between having no income yet still spending gas to get to job interviews, there was no gas to just get away for pleasure, a break from the monotony and certainly no funds for entertainment. I needed to feel useful again, productive. That is when I came across a request in the local paper for volunteers to help that coming weekend on a project to build an artificial reef in the area. I’m a nature lover and have always been interested in (and often active in) conservation efforts – how cool was that?
After e-mailing the listed contact for details, I was excited to get to work – even if it was for free. I let a friend of mine know about the project and he was on board as well. That Saturday, he picked me up early and we went out to Harbour Pointe on the inlet where several tons of oyster shells were ready in large barrels and on sheets of plywood in huge piles.
About 20 other volunteers showed up and we were given a brief primer on the task at hand. We organized ourselves into each area – shoveling, bagging and tying off. I shoveled shells into smaller buckets while my friend bagged and tied them. They were then loaded onto a truck to be moved to their final resting place in Wildcat Cove.
During a break in which bottled water and other drinks were provided, the leader of the operation and a colleague commended us all on our efforts which far exceeded their expectations. In just about 2 hours, we’d already assembled about 400 20-pound oyster bags for deployment. My friend and I stayed for a 20-minute informational lecture about oyster reefs, their local benefits, lots of statistics and zoological info as well. We broke for lunch then and would meet up at low tide a few miles up the coast at Wildcat Cove.
Upon arrival at Wildcat Cove, we found the oyster bags in a neat pile in front of the canoe launch. Another 100 bags had been assembled and brought up in two deliveries. It took a little brainstorming as to how we were going to get the bags to the reef area, but one adventurous girl with her own kayak said she could pull floating tubs of about 30 bags per load out to the location. There was some interesting trial-and-error in getting the system going, including one thankfully good-humored man getting impossibly stuck in the thick muck at the bottom of the river. It took more than ten minutes to get the river to release his legs and he lost a shoe, but we got him back safely! Note to self: Don’t go into the water without a boat here!
Once we got the production line going, the rest was – pardon the pun – smooth sailing. Bags were floated out to a mangrove area where a 4-foot high oyster “wall” was built staggered around the mangroves. Once settled and cemented, these artificial reefs will provide settling places for new oyster spawns, as well as providing habitat for young fish and feeding grounds for birds such as herons, ibis, loons, cormorants, anhingas and more.
I remain in contact with the organizer of this effort who works for the county in coastal restoration and he is helping me network with other people in the field so that I may actually find work in conservation or a related field. Even if it is a desk job, it would be a great opportunity (and has been) to do something productive in a field I really enjoy. Another reef build is coming up in two days. This time my daughter will also be involved, getting her hands dirty and having a positive impact on our local, unique and delicate ecosystem.
Disclaimer: If you’re one of those sensitive types who get all uppity about people who bitch about their government benefits (likely because you’ve never been in the position to need them yourself) then turn back now because this is about to get ugly.
As a statistical introduction, I will say that I am a single mother with shared custody of my child. Due to 5 years of swindling and dishonesty on the other side, I am the one who ended up having to pay child support to my ex (who enjoys a new house, two new vehicles and all the home amenities one could want). I lost my job of almost 7 years when my boss passed away on December 28th, 2012 and the company subsequently closed as of January 1st, 2013. Before this time, I had only required assistance for about 4 months out of my life when I first relocated to this area and was looking for work. When I lost my job this year, I immediately applied for unemployment and food stamps and started looking for a new job. My unemployment and food stamps were approved and even though it is hard to feed myself plus a growing pre-teen on $200 a month, I was making it work.
Once my unemployment benefits kicked in (roughly 50% of my usual salary), Child Support decided they were going to take an additional 40% of that. Pardon my cadence, but that is fucking criminal. I was already struggling on a normal salary, but to cut my half salary further in almost half? Bullshit. My food stamps for February were late and I was out of food. Upon calling 72 hours after they were supposed to hit, I get a message that due to “increased income,” my benefits will be cut from $200 to $16 effective March 1, 2013. WTF? Increased income? Try decreased! I look on my card this morning expecting to see $200 on there and they’ve only deposited $16. What… the fuck. To add insult to injury today I get a letter in the mail confirming that my benefits will be cut from $200/month to $16/month – again – in writing – EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 2013. *looks at calendar* Gee, this is still February. Where the %^&* are my food stamps that I need to feed a frikken pre-teen 4 days a week until I find work again??
The State of Florida is trying to fuck me sideways and I am NOT going to stand for it. Tomorrow morning warrants a very nasty call to these “ACCESS” people to get this crap straightened out immediately. $84 over the course of a month for food is nothing to most people but when you’re in my situation, it’s the difference between a family going hungry or not. Try to cheat me? You WILL get bitchslapped. Screw Florida. Time to take action.