Monday, January 4, 2010

Best is the Opposite of Worst.

You know, as I sat here thinking about all of the great things I could write about, one thing kind of rose to the surface.


When I moved to New York State in August of 2007, I had very little savings, a six-week severance package from the ministry, and a depressingly large amount of credit debt. By October, I was almost out of money and even deeper in credit debt. By the end of October, I was working full time at The Dirty Store (TDS) and I was making about $8.35 per hour.

That's less than half of what I was making when I lived in Nashville. Of course, I couldn't really pay my bills. I paid my car payment and my insurance, which was nearly half of my take-home pay every month. I was frequently overdrawn in my bank account because I had to play things dangerously close. I distinctly remember taking $75 in dog-sitting money to the counter at the bank so that I would cover something… and then having Bank of America post my transactions out of order and causing me to overdraw four times. I had a balance of about -$175.00. When my paycheck went in the bank, it hardly made a difference.

I took odd jobs dog-sitting, cat-sitting, house-sitting… I would sit anything if I could get paid for it.

And still, my financial situation only got worse.

I looked for jobs. Believe me, I looked for other jobs. Once, I even got another job as a "reporter." I lasted two weeks. I stayed at the job long enough to see my job description, which I had to sign to get paid. The job description told me that I would be making $75 less than the job posting had advertised for a 90-day probationary period. And when the probationary period was over? I would still only pull in $25 per week less than the job posting had advertised. And then there was the matter of the $40 per article pay deduction that I would suffer if I didn't turn in enough articles. In my short two weeks, I had seen enough to know that sometimes, those people just weren't going to call me back. They didn't care if I wrote a story or not.

After the terrible reporter experience, I was lucky enough to get my manager from TDS to take me back. I had three or four interviews at Cornell. I had a very bizarre interview with a place that offered "Alumni Services." The first interview seemed to go great. I gave them my references and came in for a second interview, where I met the manager. At one point, he informed me that he was trying to "scare me out of taking the job." He said that he found out that I worked for a ministry in Nashville, and would that be a problem for me, a Christian, working where people weren't a bunch of goody-goody Christians? Where they might cuss? Where even a customer might cuss at me on the phone? How would I handle it? Would I get all offended and huffy?

I paused, realizing that he was not only passive aggressive, but had now entered into the realm of asking me illegal questions. If the interview wasn't over in his mind, it was in mine. I looked him solidly in the eye and replied, "At TDS, I sell porn and tobacco products to some of the shadiest characters I have ever seen. If I were easily offended, I probably couldn't handle that, could I?"

Why, no, I didn't get offered that job, as a matter of fact.

But I did get my current job in 2008. I discovered the job posting on CareerBuilder one night at 6:30pm. It was posted through Stafkings, and I had recently registered with them and gone on a few interviews, including that weird one. I called the woman in charge and left her a voicemail telling her that I had seen the job, and that I thought it matched my qualifications perfectly, and that I would like to interview. She called me back the next day and enthusiastically agreed. And then, just like that, bing, bang, boom (and a speeding ticket for fun), I had a new job. I was hired permanently last November.

And I have reduced my credit card debt by a couple thousand dollars now. I have put money in a 401k for the first time since I was 20 years old. I have a savings account with more than a $5.00 balance. I have set limits on spending, reduced the amount of time I spend in Target, and… I haven't used a single credit card in over a year. I have a timeline for when my car will be paid off, when my credit card debt will be paid off, and when my emergency fund will be fully funded.

If we look at it solely from a financial perspective, 2009 was the best year of my life. I am actually on some kind of an upswing now, and it feels so good.