Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 2011 Wind-Up

OK--vacation's over and now it's back to real life, with no lobster or lazy mornings in sight.

Overall, I stayed within my vacation budget, thanks to my friends who traveled with me and my sister who covered my transportation and housing expenses.

I did decrease my overall debt by another $835.79, which is less than last month, but pretty good considering that it is summer. That leaves my total debt, including mortgage, as $92,610.32.

Onward to July!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Murphy Can Find You--Vacation or Not

Why I thought Murphy would be content to leave me alone while I am on vacation, I'll never know.

The disasters at home (some 3000 miles away!) range from minor (The toilet handle broke so, according to my daughter who is staying a the house while I'm gone, one has to lift off the top of the toilet and flush it by hand--an easy fix that can wait until I get home) to the seriously annoying (someone sideswiped my van parked in front of my home, knocking the front passenger wheel off--my insurance adjuster [thank God for e-mail] has already sent someone out to take pictures and will loan me a free rental car for the repairs when I return) to the crazy-making (As Union president, I was officially notified that our agency will be laying off up to 22% of the staff. While I have too much seniority to be laid off, it is likely we will negotiate an alternative plan for union-wide furloughs, which has a very direct effect on my wages).

Dang! Why couldn't Murphy wait until I get home?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vacation On The Cheap

I've been hanging out on Maine coast for the past week, with another week to go.

The trip was possible due to the largesse of my baby sister who has a summer home in Maine.

There's a lot to be said for free airfare (courtesy of my sister's airline miles) not to mention a free (and lovely) home in a picturesque New England town.

Of course, even a free vacation comes with expenses. I rented a car. Fortunately, I am traveling with my sister and another couple we both like. So I split the cost of a vehicle with our guests. We've cooked a fair number of meals which has cut down expenses, but grocery stores don't give the food away. And we're in Maine. Which means lobster! Which means more expense.

Surprisingly, the most famous lobster place we've eaten so far, Red's Eats, turned out to be a disappointment. Lots of ice-cold, tough lobster meat piled on a hot dog bun. We ate better and more cheaply at the local lobster pound.

I did go to L. L. Bean, but I managed to resist their lure. My friends have hit every antique store within a 50 mile radius but I stayed back and read books (Four so far, including Willa Cather's "My Antonia" and "Cutting for Stone.")

I've also been playing tourist, hitting the Farnsworth Museum to see the Wyeth paintings and drawings, along with Louise Nevelson's works. Today, we went to Portland to tour the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Both times, I was hoping for a senior discount, but on the east coast, to be a senior seems to require at least 65 years of life.

Mostly this vacation is for relaxation, and I'm making the most of it. Good food, good books, good friends, and lots of good times--what more could I ask for?

Especially when it isn't costing me all that much.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Respect & Debt Collections--That's a concept?

Every time I hear someone (including my own adult kids) say "I'd never work in fast food," I wonder why not? It's not that I'd love asking "Do you want fries with that?" but if that was the only job out there, you can bet Grace would take it.

Still, that begs the real question, which is, 'Are there jobs Grace could handle but would never take?" Sure there are--and becoming a debt collector is chief among them.

Now the New York Times reports that debt collectors want more respect.

Say what?

Did they just use 'respect' and 'debt collector' in the same sentence?

I don't think anyone should have to face profanity or threats over the phone, even people deliberately calling at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning or during the evening dinner hour. But my advice would be the same for the collector in that instance as it is for the person being dunned--HANG UP THE PHONE! What would be lost? Is it at all likely that a debtor threatening to cut off the collector's arms, legs, or more intimate parts has the money to pay the debt?

Am I supposed to be sad for the collector who has trouble getting cell phone numbers for those they are trying to chase down? Do they really think getting access to debtors' e-mail accounts would get the bills paid more quickly? Personally, I think e-mail collections would be fine--isn't that why spam filters and the delete button were invented?

I get a lot of collection calls on my landline since I've had it over twenty years and several of my children use that number on their (unfortunately, delinquent) accounts. Thanks to Caller ID, I seldom bother to pick up any of these calls. But in addition to the robocalls (does anyone really stay on the line when mechanically told "Please hold for an important call?"), lately I've gotten calls left on the answering machine whereby the mechanical voice says "Because you didn't hang up, we can assume that you are [X, the debtor]" and goes on to reveal details of the owed debt that collectors are forbidden to given to third parties.

Hence the lawsuits that the debt collection businesses find so annoying.

Pardon me if I'm not sympathetic.


It never occurred to you anyone other than the debtor would listen to answering machine messages?

A few years ago, my youngest daughter and I got our kicks harrassing the collectors back, but now I let the answering machine pick up.

I still wouldn't work for a debt collector.

I'd rather sell used cars!