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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder

Why I Live Like a Hermit

Where does all the money go?

Michael David Crawford, Baritone,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Copyright © 2008 Michael David Crawford. All Rights Reserved.

rhiannon expressed disbelief that I should have trouble paying off my credit card given my work as a software engineer:

Don't you make 100+ grand a year? You're like my in-laws, they make about 200 grand a year combined, yet they have pretty much nothing, just a shitty condo and a couple cars and yet they live basically check-to-huge-ass-check

How do you do it?

Yes, I am paid very well by my current job. I don't wish to state my salary, but I will say that my title is Principal Software Engineer - two grades above Senior.

I don't have a bed because I haven't been able to afford one yet. Instead, I sleep on the floor. I don't mind this at all, except for being embarrassed to have visitors see my room.

And that's all I have - I rent a room in a shared house.

Now, I do have some extravagances, primarily Starbucks and handing out free CDs. But even those are fairly modest - I get a real good price on blanks and cases at Micro Center. They also give me a three dollar credit for used ink cartridges.

While I did manage to score a free piano off of Craig's List, I had to pay to have it moved to my place.

As to where all my money goes... Bonita is still in Nova Scotia, so we're paying two sets of rent and living expenses. It's more expensive for two people to feed themselves separately than it would be for the two to eat together.

I bought a 2001 Chevy Prizm from a friend last Fall. He didn't ask for any money up front, but wanted me to pay it all off in a year. So I've been making pretty large payments on it.

I had also fallen way behind on the payments for the Taurus that Bonita has. I had to catch those up to avoid repossession.

We pay for insurance on two cars; we had to have comprehensive on our Taurus because of the financing.

I had to pay a grand for the retainer for the attorney who fixed things up with Maine Revenue Services for me. But it was worth it: he saved me forty times that much. (Be sure to try the Google search!)

I pay a lot for my Internet service, because I had to get IDSL - DSL over ISDN. I'm too far from the central office for regular DSL. The landlord pays for my cable TV, but didn't want me to get cable internet. In any case, the cable is Comcast, which I couldn't use because it would block my music torrents. I need to be able to download my own torrents periodically to make sure they're still working.

I have a lot of websites:

It costs quite a bit to host them. And yes I know I could find cheaper hosting, but my hosting service is run by a friend who has been really good to me over the years. Also by using managed hosting I get reliable service without having to manage security issues myself, as would be the case if I used unmanaged hosting. (And don't forget the domain name registration!)

I have significant medical expenses - sleep studies aren't cheap, nor is nasal surgery. While I have medical and dental insurance, I still have to pay for some of it out of my own pocket. I just had a root canal, and will soon be getting two crowns, for which my insurance only covers fifty percent.

(One of those crowns is a replacement for one that fell off back in Truro. I couldn't afford to get it recemented. When I finally got the job in Vancouver and so could see a dentist, my teeth had shifted so it no longer fit. The result is that I've gone several years with a missing crown.)

I'm paying a lot in current income taxes because I don't really have any deductions. People with my kind of salary usually can afford to own their own homes, and so get the mortgage interest deduction, but I'm a long ways from being able to own a home again.

A few months ago, the State of California sent a letter to my company's payroll office to request that they take all of my salary and send it in to Sacramento. I would have been in an awful fix if they hadn't allowed me to make monthly payments on it instead - but to keep them happy, those monthly payments had to be pretty big.

They insisted that I pay it via Electronic Funds Transfer, so on the fifteenth of each month I damn well better have the funds in my account or there will be Hell to pay.

We're paying for a small storage locker in Maine and a large one in Halifax. And we'll keep paying for them until we have a place big enough to get it all back, as well as having enough cash to get it all moved.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: Bonita's art school tuition. NSCAD is a top school, so it wasn't cheap.

I could go on, but I'm sure you get my drift. The result of it all is that Bonita and I barely squeek by each month. But things are going to get a whole lot better after I pay off my Prizm in September.

That is, until the eight hundred pound gorilla comes to collect That Which Is Caesar's. I owe them a lot of money; my only hope is to get all my other debts paid off as soon as I can, so that I'll have enough to keep Uncle Sam happy. And I expect to be paying him for a long, long time.

I'm very grateful, that after so many years of such awful torment as a software consultant, never knowing where my next meal was coming from or whether Bonita and I would become homeless, that I have a good job with a good company that is finally enabling me to dig myself out of the smoking crater of debt I'm in.

And hey - have you checked out the price of gas lately?

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