This has been an interesting year, to put it mildly. After nearly 4 years, I lost my job in June and went on unemployment for the first time in 24 years. That was a financial shock from which we never recovered – I suddenly had about 40% less income per week – and the job I found was about break-even with what my unemployment checks had been. Still, it was something to be thankful for.
I’ve had two raises since starting at Meijer in August, where I stock groceries at night. The first was because of a new union contract, the second because I had passed the 350 hour employment mark, and the next, expected around the end of December, will be for the second 350 hours. After that, 700 hours until the next raise. At least it’s something I can count on.
With our household obligations (read: bills), there’s no way to afford health insurance through work. The Affordable Care Act allows employers to classify you as a part-time employee for up to a full calendar year before kicking in anything toward the cost of health insurance – even if you consistently work a 40-hour week. Thanks, Obama! Once I officially become full time, which could take a full year, I’ll be eligible for better insurance than the part-timers can get, and Meijer will contribute toward its cost. That will be nice.
Our 16-year-old chihuahua stopped eating anything of substance while Waverly was in North Carolina for a month helping with her new granddaughter. Over the course of about three weeks, she kept getting weaker and weaker. It was heartbreaking. I spent a lot of time with her wrapped up in a favorite blanket and on my lap – or napping on my stomach while I napped. I shed many tears watching her get weaker while trying to figure out what she might be willing to eat.
The last couple days, she could barely stand, so on November 3, she took her last car ride for a visit to the vet. I pretty much lost it pulling into the parking lot. The photo on the right was taken there, with Maui wrapped in her favorite blanket. Waverly got to watch as they put her to sleep thanks to FaceTime.
Maui’s remains were cremated, and after she returned, Waverly built a little shrine in her bedroom to remember Maui. It was hard coming home from work to no Maui. She was the most mellow chihuahua our vet had ever known.
With Maui, it was a slow, relatively lengthy process. Each day she ate less, if anything, and grew weaker. With Waverly, it was a shock.
When I got off work on Black Friday, I picked up three 8-packs of daylight LED bulbs for use in the home. These are as bright as a conventional 60W incandescent bulb and much brighter, with cleaner light than those CFL bulbs. Then I went home and went to bed. The joys of a third shift schedule.
I woke up about 10 AM with an upset stomach and went upstairs to grab some Tums. (I sleep in the basement because it’s much quieter during the day. Even with earplugs, being in a quieter location helps.) Anyhow, they were gone. In fact, everything was gone from Waverly’s side of the medicine cabinet.
I was kind of groggy, and it took a while for this to settle into my sleepy mind. Then I walked into the bedroom, and her closet was empty. What the???
Long story short, Waverly had been planning this for some time but never talked to me about it. She had put some of her paychecks in a separate checking account I didn’t know about. She borrowed money from friends to facilitate her move.
Thanksgiving night, while I was at work, she spent packing. To make sure her friends grabbed what she wanted, Waverly had a 3-page of things to take with her and one page of things to leave behind. A number of her friends (6-10 by my guess, as I was rather groggy that Friday morning) came over after I was asleep on Black Friday to help her move out.
She took out almost everything she had owned before we married in 2007. She left almost everything I owned before the marriage. She took well over 80% of the things we had acquired in over 9-plus years of marriage.
Backing up a bit, about 15 minutes after I couldn’t find the Tums, Waverly and her friends showed up with their vehicles for another round of moving things. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, got dressed, and spent the day at my parents’ house, asking Waverly to let me know when she was finished so I could return home. She never did that and has not communicated with me since then except by a 3-page letter.
She still has her house keys, my spare car key, and the garage door opener for her side of the garage – I have changed the code on the door opener, so that won’t do her any good.
I was in shock to find her moving out. I knew she had her issues and that our marriage was not working – it was actually a relief to be on my own.
My first divorce devastated me. I was lost, confused, frustrated, suicidal, angry, overwhelmed. I learned a lot recovering from that disaster, so this one isn’t hitting me like that. Instead, I’m surprisingly comfortable with what’s going on. The peace and quiet is a blessing. Waverly has made her choice, shown her true colors, and that will make it very easy for this separation to turn into a divorce. I don’t want her in my life, although it would be nice to get my spare car key and the other garage door opener back.
What This Means for Low End Mac
I was earning over $15/hr at my previous job and averaged a 46 hour work week. Between that, Waverly’s job at the food pantry, and meager income from Low End Mac, we managed to just about get by financially. After losing my job, it’s been a financial nightmare. For instance, Kohl’s not putting us on their hardship program because I couldn’t pay them a certain amount of money then and there (just one example). Excuse me, this is hardship.
Bankruptcy seems likely.
Moving forward, I will be ending Cobweb Publishing Inc. in January and assigning the business to myself, its only shareholder, as a DBA. That will reduce the cost of tax preparation going forward, and the business hasn’t been profitable in years.
A big part of that is our debt to the IRS. Going through my first divorce, I just shoved that paperwork aside. I had more than enough on my plate. By the time I got everything sorted out, there was interest and there were penalties – about $18,000 in total. I raided my IRA to pay off a portion of it, and with monthly payments that debt is now down below $7,000.
It’s a $250/month bill that needs to go away, and we will be launching a fund raiser to help pay down Low End Mac’s IRS debt. (If you can, please click the Donate button to help us out.) Instead of a monthly fund raiser with a $750 goal, it will be a two-month fund raiser seeking $7,500 to pay off the IRS and cover monthly business expenses.
I’ve taken money for upgrades, repairs, and replacement out of the Low End Mac budget. I’m in the process of cancelling our life insurance, which the business has paid for. Low End Mac will no longer be paying for Waverly’s mobile service.
If we can eliminate the IRS debt along with the other adjustments, the cost of running Low End Mac will drop from our previous $800/month budget to around $300. (Our December budget is $500 after closing out the life insurance policies, with half of it earmarked for the IRS.)
We currently have 20 people making monthly donations to support Low End Mac. These total $129 before PayPal fees. (PayPal fees average about $50 per month.)
I met with a friend over the weekend. He wants to work with me and set up an eBay store specializing on tech stuff – a pretty broad category! My dad has some old Konica camera gear from the film era, I have a bunch of old Macs, and Frank has lots of more modern electronic odds and ends, such as Bluetooth speakers.
We’re working on a name for the new business, which will be separate from Low End Mac/Cobweb. I wanted to go with something like Tech Stuff, but everything I’ve come up with so far is already taken.
Anyhow, between a reduced Low End Mac budget, an anticipated raise from Meijer in coming weeks, and hopefully getting rid of the IRS obligation, I might just be able to make ends meet.
I do have to get off the AT&T Friends and Family plan through a friend of Waverly by the end of December. The $15 per month per line has been a real blessing. If anyone out there is willing to add me to their plan (my iPhone 5 is locked to AT&T and GSM only), please get in touch on Facebook! Thanks.
I will be officially launching the big fund raiser this week. Until then, we’re working with a $500 budget for the month of December.
Thank you for your ongoing support!
Dan Knight, publisher of Low End Mac since April 1997
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