A Mixed Bag Life Update IV

Life Update

It’s been 9 months since my last mixed bag life update, so I guess it’s time for the fourth installment. Sit back while I enthrall you all with the story of my life over the past few months… STAY AWAKE AT THE BACK!

A few weeks ago, the wife and I went to see an investment advisor about building a portfolio of investments for our retirement, which, assuming we retire at age 65, is just 22 years away. At this point, I believe we are not in a position to make any investments, and our adviser, John confirmed this, stating we need to look at our outgoings, make changes and clear our debts, before looking into investments.

Speaking of debt, at the time of writing, we have a total debt of $21,571.74, which is costing us an average of $187.84 in interest charges every month, which over the course of a year is over $2,250. The biggest single debt is my personal loan, which currently has a balance of $11,077.38. This was meant to be a consolidation loan for our credit cards, mainly my wife’s Discover, which was costing us $138 per month in interest charges, with less than $20 going to the principle on a balance of over $6,500.

Since I took out this consolidation loan, five months ago, our credit card balances have ballooned again to $6,613.68. Although $2,297.49 of that is structured and interest-free on my Best Buy store card, and we are on target to pay that off before any interest charges apply, this kind of balance I like, as it’s structured.

The wife and I took a much needed 3-day vacation to Colorado in August, which added about $550 to my American Express credit card balance, which totals $765.44 at this time, which is not terrible, then we have our Meritrust VISA credit card, which has a balance of $654.77, which is also not terrible. The wife also has a Torrid store card, with an existing balance of $443.82, which again is reasonable, although she does want to buy some winter clothes, which will surely add another $200-300 to that balance.

Finally, we come to my Discover credit card, which has a balance of $2,452.16, mainly thanks to having to pay a $1,806.14 bill to fix my wife’s car after she somehow managed to hit one of those hoops protecting gas pumps, breaking the rear driver side knuckle, stabilizer arm, and stabilizer bar control link, which after being replaced, required a four-wheel alignment. Shout out to Myers Automotive for getting it fixed promptly and also being nice guys, giving us $100 off the total bill, which lessened the pain a little.

Additionally, what is screwing us financially is school meals and general school fees, which come to a total of $125 per month. Last school year, we qualified for reduced rate school meals, which dropped the cost to less than $30 per month for both of my kids. However, due to a modest 3% pay rise, we no longer qualify for reduced rate school meals, and it’s killing us financially, adding that cost to my Discover card.

Onto something I feel kinda bad about, my wife wanted to restart her real estate career, where she would be the sole realtor for a brokerage run by a family member. But, I had to stop that immediately as my wife had tried this with two brokerages before with a negative return. The cost to renew her real estate license and complete her required training would be more than $700, plus recurring fees. I cannot justify that cost without a guaranteed ROI, we’ve already sunk $7,000 into this with less than a 35% return.

While talking about real estate; I have given up on pursuing real estate photography, as the stock response from realtors is; “that’s a bit pricey”, when I tell them I charge $70 for a single unit. I am on the cheaper side in reality, and $70 is as cheap as I can go, as built into that price is my travel costs, the cost of equipment and my time, I usually spend about 3 hours in total, which breaks down to about $23/hr.

Finally, we are still having issues with our son’s grades in high school. Although he is sitting at an average of 77%, he has two Ds and one F included in that. The issue we are having is that he refuses any and all help. For example, he has an F in photography, yet, he refuses to ask us, his parents, who happen to be photographers for help. In fact, he gets quite angry with us for asking him if he would like some help.

We are getting increasingly concerned by his lack of effort in trying to correct these grades, he has an IEP, which allows him an extra day to get work handed in, yet, he refuses to bring the work home to complete it, to hand it in the next day. He hands in work, weeks late and he wonders why he scored a zero. He’s halfway through his sophomore year and he seems unconcerned with his grades, he’ll be a junior next year, and going into that year with a barely passing grade does not tally with his college aspirations.

It makes me wonder about his thought process, what is he expecting from college? if he thinks high school is hard, he is in for a shock in college, it’s more of the same, just much more intense, with the added stress of supporting himself as he wants to go out of state for college, to escape his ‘mean’ parents.

And should he make it to an out of state college, he is not even remotely prepared for life on his own. We have been trying to teach him life skills, but everything goes in one ear and out the other. Sometimes we wonder if what he hears when we talk is the teacher from Charlie Brown, as he does not ever heed our advice, and change the way he does stuff. At 15, he should be far more independent than he is; I understand his Aspergers diagnosis adds challenges, but it’s more than that, he seems to want everyone to do things for him, like a spoiled entitled brat. This is definitely not the way we raised him to be.

We keep on hoping he’ll snap out of it and join us in the real world, but we’ve been hoping this for the last six years. We feel he needs additional therapy, but unfortunately, we fall between making too much money for assistance, but not enough money to pay for the therapy he needs out of pocket, which gets expensive real quick. This is an example of the corrupt US system failing us and others in need.

Additional, something happy, recently my good Icelandic friend, now living in Norway, Tomas (@Redaxe) and I have set up a regular twice-monthly time to chat on Skype, in addition to my regular weekly chat with James (CopperIce), which eases the pain of living in the United States of America, just a little.

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