Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bills, Bills, Bills

I've struggled with how personal I wanted to get with this blog. I can either use it to tell funny stories that ultimately don't reveal too much of my actual life, or I can use it to help make some real and necessary changes. And since my current money saving strategy is freezing my debit card in a block of ice, I figure it's about time to get f#%!ing real.

So this week I've decided that we're going to delve even deeper into the depths of my irresponsibility. Let's all agree not to judge me too harshly, I really am a basically together person. I just have some seriously self destructive tendencies. So here goes, confession time.

I haven't opened my mail in well over 11 months.

Do you guys know what's in that mail?! Bills. Lots and lots of bills (and some coupons too probably, but mostly just the bills). No thank you!

It's not like I throw it away, or make a conscious decision not to open it. But when I bring it back to my apartment I usually just set it down to be looked at later. When that later never comes, and it's time to clean, the mail gets shoved out of sight, you know, just until I get time. But that old adage rings true, "Out of sight, you'll never think of that shit again (or something like that)."

So now it's nine months later, and this is the situation I am facing:

It's not great, guys.
You see, my philosophy has always been, "Why do today what you can ignore until somehow it magically takes care of itself?" For instance, did you guys know that if you don't pay like all of your taxes, they'll just take it out of your return the next year? Or say you never paid for your last semester of college, after awhile they'll just take some money right out of your paycheck every two weeks. No muss no fuss. And you can put off paying your electric bill for a shockingly long time without it getting turned off.

I'm already feeling the future judgement as I type this, come back to me everyone. Don't forget, you're on my side. 

Starting immediately I was going to stop ignoring the problem and face it head on. After I prepared myself for the task at hand of course. 

I started off by taking my pants off (mostly just because I'd been home for nearly twenty minutes and hadn't done it yet). I didn't want to rush into anything, so I put in the episode of Buffy where she can't afford to pay her bills, dipping my feet into the waters of financial ruin. As I watched, I realized just how much I was relating to Buffy in the 6th season (and anyone who watches the show can tell that 6th season Buffy is not someone you want to be relating to). I was drawing parallels and making comparisons, and before I knew it the episode had finished 30 minutes before, and I was YouTubing that sad cover of "Wild Horses" by The Sundays. Time to get back on track.

I dumped all of the mail out on the floor, grabbed a letter opener, put in a Michelle Branch CD, and got out a bottle of vodka and a shot glass (just in case). 

Once I settled in and started it went surprisingly fast. I separated it between the different places I owe money to, and then ranked them by how badly they seemed to want my money. Most of the letters were identical ones sent out once a month...every month (it's like, take a hint folks). I got out a notebook and made a list of the amounts owed, the companies, and their contact information. Putting it all in one place made the idea of paying them off one at a time seem a lot more manageable.

I was totally right about the coupons too, I was missing out on a GOLDMINE! I received a travel guide to North Carolina (which I can only assume was ordered after a few too many glasses of wine and episodes of Dawson's Creek). I'd missed out on all kinds of political flyers (this guy, Mitt Romney really wanted me to vote for him).  Apparently I was also chosen to be a Nielsen household too (so it's probably my fault that 'The New Normal' was cancelled)!

The whole process took me about an hour and a half (not a single paper-cut either, so I feel pretty good about that). I realize there's a big difference between opening your mail and actually paying your bills, but I really do feel good about the progress that was made. For the first time in a long time I have an idea of what needs to be done, even if I don't know exactly how to do it. Next step? Getting my credit score. Shit.

Also, the Nielsen people included $2 for me to do their survey. So I made money from this.

The vodka helped too. 

Destiny's Child Dance Party, anyone?


  1. Try checking out the book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. It's a really good book and might help you. I understand your pain as I have recently gone through an epiphany as well. You will get through it. Just take 1 day at a time. The book was $25 when I bought it 7 years ago. It's hard cover, so I'm sure a paperback would be much cheaper.