Spent most of the week around the hospital for my dad, & wrangling with my own debt-planning…

There’s something about a family member’s illness that just throws everything off track. I’m sure it’s no better for the person who is sick, especially if they have no energy to do anything and cannot sleep. When phone calls sounded a little woozy on his end, I started showing up more and more. I Just wish the hospital was closer so it’d be easier to get there–the gas is going to kill us.

But at least he was doing better last night. I’d gotten tired of the “doom and gloom” prophecies that come out of nowhere earlier in the week. I get it, I do: he just wants to make sure that if something happens to him, I’m prepared. But his timing sucks most of the time and I’m left confused and a little stuck. He’ll be talking about the movie he’s watching and then abruptly ask me if I knew where the truck title was or who his financial advisor was or if I knew who I needed to call to make sure I didn’t get shafted on prices for selling his stuff.

Yeah, awkward.

What I had to reflect on before I wrote anything was something he asked me about the night before.  He asked me if I wouldn’t mind if my uncle and aunt came to live with us.

Oh crap–I can see in the weeks ahead re-arranging everything and getting rid of most of our old stuff first…(whimper).

Well, I thought about it and looked at it logically. Everybody’s got health problems of some sort in this family (mine is being erratic and fat, but that’s about it). They’re paying awful amounts of money for a 1-bedroom apartment, there’s nothing for my uncle to do up there and he’s a country boy at heart (he’d love messing with the brush hog and tractor, the mower, etc.). And if dad wasn’t doing so well, there’d be more eyes to help take care of the place and him.

I get he’s a little scared about his breathing not being up to par. When things cool down and drift toward fall, and I’m hopefully getting more work hours, he’ll be alone a little more.

I’ve said I was sticking close to home to keep the budget down and not waste so much money on meals out and all. That’s just a side benefit–I’m really afraid he’s going to be weak and collapse while nobody’s home.

So, that was a relief, and dad had been thinking about it for quite some time. But the night before last, I had a derailing thought: I wondered if he was doing this for me more than himself.

I’ll state the basic case as I see it: I’m almost 34, have never lived alone, have never dealt with rent, never had a relationship…and a whole heap of “nevers” to contend with (part of the reason I write here, after all–to understand). I started wondering if dad was concerned I was going to screw it all up and let the house go to rot or end up homeless because I didn’t know how to take care of things.

Well, when I brought him some good toothpaste and a toothbrush last night, I asked him if he was doing it because he wanted to have his brother there and not because he thought I might need the help in case something happened. I wanted it to be more of the first part, and the second was just a “peace of mind” benefit for dad.

I had to know because there are many things I don’t want to tell my dad. If he’s got finances to take care of, heck, point me in the right direction and I’ll take care of him. I think he knows deep down I’d be a helluva lot more careful with his money than my own.

My dad’s always been rather laid back while I vacillate between being like him and like my mother–who is a worry-wart and erratic. Sometimes the more erratic tendencies (like my chattiness and impulsiveness) clash with his cool.

My dad hates debt to the point where he goes without very easily if he doesn’t have it. And if he does have an impulse buy, it’s only after he’s mulled over it for about a week and then just goes and gets it. He has a very realistic view of his finances, and what he can afford. So, since we live on a few acres that need taking care of, he tends to buy things that are big and have financing available, complete with pay stubs and steady payments.

That’s far more sensible than I.

I’ve been an impulsive buyer with an ever-varying paycheck for many years. I was so surprised when I had my full-time job (got paid once a month and tried to stretch it), and ended up owing a ton on my income taxes. I got into worse debt with a full time job then I did without–it was nuts! So, my debt spiraled.

And he doesn’t know how bad it is.

There’s a reason: I don’t want him to know. After having a mini-heart attack, he would probably try to help me out (bitching and moaning all the while, but he’d do it).

And that was my point for asking about his intentions for having his brother and sister-in-law come live with us.

I always hear from my neighbor across the street that he just wants to take care of me and help me, but the way I look at it, I dug the damn hole, so I need to learn how to get myself out of it. I’m not going to learn if other people insist on taking care of my mistakes for me–I have to deal with them so I’m better prepared when the real doozies come along… like maybe when I’m married and sharing the financial burden, or future-kids get sick, etc.

It may seem hard-headed, but that’s where I’m at right now. I’m an impulsive idiot, but I’m working on the self-control bit.

I find it funny because he bitches about Millennials not being able to take care of themselves, but yet he kinda makes it tough for me to stand on my own two feet, too. If I wasn’t in debt, I would’ve tried to move out years ago, though the logical part of me realizes that living at home is the best deal so that I can save money. His argument, and my more rational one, too… and I think he likes the company (at least until politics comes up).

But money for what? I don’t have kids, or a husband, or a house of my own yet…and hell, even he admitted to my uncle a few days ago that families are basically going to have to live like communes if we’re going to make it without going broke. I need to know what I’m saving money for, after I get out of debt. That’s priority one.

Maybe I’ll save up to pack up my car and do a road trip across the U.S. That’s probably the only real dream I’ve had, other than be a great novelist or documentarian.

The funny thing is, what happens after? I mean, something happens to dad, am I suddenly the surrogate daughter of my aunt and uncle, my aunt who is more of a worry-wart than my own mother? The woman who freaked out when I woke up at 6am to walk around inside the fence of her own apartment complex because something could’ve happened to me out there (never mind that I was 24 and just didn’t want to wake anybody up, and walked the dog to boot)?

I sure as hell hope not. I’d never be allowed to leave the house. Gee, sure hope this isn’t how my life turns out:

That would be an idealistic look–we don’t have bus service in these parts.

Yes, my debt’s the worst I’ve ever had, but at the same time, I learned much through trial and error. I spent the few days I had alone at home, with peace and quiet and the dog, getting every bill and statement I had and making a reasonable assessment of what I owed or what services I paid for each month.

I’m not so ignorant that I didn’t know, but it was more the amounts. I focused on a 2 year payment plan to get out of debt. My impulsiveness chafes at the length of time, but considering how much I make in my leanest months (I should’ve remembered July and August are the worst), it’s far more reasonable than throwing as much as I can into the credit card pot to pay for it…only to start using said credit cards again because I’ve run out of money.

Kinda hard to whittle it down if you keep throwing more debt in, right?

I spent three days giving my graphing calculator a workout, figuring out when certain services would change or be changed in the next two years, when I can drop certain things from my payment calendar, etc. And I’m focusing on how many days I need to work at one job vs. how many paychecks I need from another to cover the amount each month (and then take the average between them). If it looks like I can’t cover it, I’ll pay a little less and fix it later. My 2-year plan has a 3-month extension built into it in case of many months of low pay, so I won’t be super disappointed…not to mention the interest rates I’m paying for, too.

I’ll keep my stuff in order, and when the flow months come in, I will rein in my impulsiveness and pretend that money doesn’t exist. I’ll pay the next bill or mark it off as “transferred” to my emergency account, even if that date doesn’t show for a few weeks. I have that recurring transfer thing every week to make sure I’ve got income tax money (and then I’ll never have to use my credit cards–yay).

It’ll be hard, but other than a couple of books I already earmarked for buying, I’ll have to be done with buying more. Or, I have to go to half-price and drop off a ton, and only spend as much money as they give me for 1 or 2.

And that will help me on moving time and costs. I’m looking around me at my library, already thinking bout all the books and shelves I’ll have to move around to another room because this office was a bedroom, and has a walk-in closet and a private bathroom. Perfect for a married couple that wants their privacy, but doesn’t want too much room to take care of.

Yes, I’d have to spend days tearing down my precious library and setting it back up, but then I’d have my own cluster of rooms in the middle, dad would have the far right end of the house, and my aunt and uncle would have the left corner. I find it funny because it would be like 3 tiny apartments with common areas rolled into one.

Yup, quite the commune we can set up…but it’s going to make hell on the laundry and mail-sorting…and maybe personal space in the “public” areas.

But that’s what our “own corners” are for, I guess.

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