OK, I think it's been long enough since my last substantial post. Time to catch up!
It's been a worrisome time, with taxes coming due. The hit is incredibly hard for those of us who are self employed, especially if we make very little money. See, the IRS doesn't much care that income is barely sufficient to cover utility costs. Come April 15, they want a BIG chunk of the year's money, along with Social Security taxes and who knows what else. It stinks having to shell that out along with paying for all the equipment necessary to work and along with car expenses that come out of pocket. And this year, on my 12-year-old car, expenses were extraordinarily high, but not deductible because the car has been primarily a personal vehicle for the duration of the time I've owned it. I can get a little relief for my mileage, but it's not close to helping me.
Throw in the unexpected and immediately urgent cost of having the sewer cleaned out last week, and this little pauper's purse was turned upside down, inside out and every which-way but loose. To say I was suffering a panic attack and anxiety attack daily is no exaggeration!
Enter my friend and accountant Tony. He did my taxes for me and I thought I would have a seizure right then and there. I did start hyperventilating but Tony talked me down from the ledge. We discussed options. Tony is great for that. And after I left his office, I went directly to my bank and applied for a home equity loan.
The banker treated me with dignity and respect, and was as reassuring as Tony that there is a solution. I think I spent all of 10 minutes going through the application. Later that evening, I got a call from the loan processor saying there were just a few things they would need copies of. That will take me about 10 minutes. They need a copy of my driver's license, my last credit card statements, the house insurance policy and copies of my last two tax returns (one in my hand, thanks to Tony, and the one he did for me last year, which is in an envelope in my filing cabinet. I just need to drop them off at my nearest bank branch. We'll close on the loan in 7 to 10 business days. My life will be tolerable again. The 30 percent credit card debts will be gone, absorbed into the 8 percent loan.
I slept like a baby last night. When I awoke today, there was no anxiety attack. It was replaced with a sense of peace.
I was amazed at how simple and fast the process was. Seriously, an investment of 10 minutes at the bank changed my life.
It's funny. With all of the economics courses I took in college, my experience in editing personal finance stories, my personal experience buying, selling and managing real estate, and generally being a well-educated consumer, I had allowed fear and panic to take over. Consolidating these bills all into one loan has given me back my personal power. It's given me a clarity of vision. I don't have to have self doubts any more. They have been a painful illusion, not the truth. I can take care of myself and this was a joyful reminder of that.
I also was reminded that it is OK to let other people help you, even if you just need to have them listen while you consider your options. It's great when they can say "you can do this." It's great when the banker says "That happens sometimes. Let's see what we can do to make it better."
This will get me over a very painful hump as I move on down the road to whatever comes next. Changes are coming, probably long overdue. Somehow I let myself get off track over the past few years and I came to believe that I needed to "settle." Who the heck was I kidding? I don't need to settle! No one does! Why did I believe that?
Maybe it doesn't matter why I thought I needed to accept less. The point is, I see more clearly now my own worth and value. I got lost for a little while, but I don't need to believe the lies any more that have been telling me that I'm not worthy of a full life. I have value and I don't need to keep believing that I should be grateful for a life of deprivation. I'm worth more than that. God loves me enough to provide abundantly, and now I'm walking into that promised life.
No, wait. I'm not walking; I'm running.