Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Christmas rush

I guess most bloggers don't write much these days with everything going on in their lives. I'm no different, but I wanted to keep you updated to some important stuff.
Got paid last week $950 from my morning job. I paid the minimum payment on two credit cards and a scheduled payment on anothe credit card. So there was no money spend on the us.
From my regular salary I bought the girls their clothes and shoes (spent about $100 on that). The wife was upset because I didn't get her a blouse or shoes and has been reminding me of that every day. I remind her that I gave her money specifically for xmas stuff and she decided to spend it on something else. I told her that I didn't get myself anything and she said she didn't care about that. That I should've al least bought her a pair of shoes.
Our maid's mom got very ill, to the point where she herself is asking her relatives to prepare for her burial, so this week we don't have a  maid home. If my wife manages to survive this week without the maid I'll buy her the shoes.
Both jobs are going great. I'm sleeping one more hour since the girls are out of school this week until january. My morning boss told me to start looking at airfare for a trip to Phoenix on January or February. That would be great because I would work at least 8 hours every day for two weeks so I would do in two weeks what I normally do in a month here and would help pay off the credit cards.
Right now my plan is to get back on track with my regular minimum payments first which might take up the next two payments from my morning job.
Our company's coop is going to hand out dividends jan 5 and I'm the one that will get the most (since I have the biggest loan there). All that money will to paying credit card balance on the smallest balance.
I thank LG for her support , I think that mostly knowing that people understand my situation and wish me luck means a lot. I know they can't do much more, unless they can loan me money at 15% :-)  LOL.
MIT from "Jan Pedro Jula (slang for San Pedro Sula)" asked if I could consolidate my debt with a lower rate. Some of my credit cards are already on a payment schedule at a lower rate. I also talked to my mom about asking my dad for his extrafinancing line of credit again (the one I just finished paying). That would be a lower rate , something like 25 to 35% and it would probably cover enough to cancel one of the two cards I would like to cancel  that I can't at this moment. I will talk to dad tomorrow and feel him out. Then there's the actual calling the bank and see if they will lend him money again since all banks are changing their requirements.
I asked my brother too but his bank would lend him money at 42% which is high but still almost half of the credit card rate. However he only has about $3000 limit (which is the same amount that they would lend him on the extrafinancing) and doesn't know if they will lend him that money.
Kristi mentioned the snowball method and Dave Ramsey. I know him , I wished I knew him before! I'm doing the snowball method balancing with the rates on each debt. Now that I don't owe money to family or friends I have only credit card debt and arranged payments. They are mostly the same rate so I'm going to pay the smallest debts on those first. My cellphone credit card is the one i'm targeting now. Unfortunately I can't call that one because I would loose the cheaper cellphone family plan. but I did cut up that card so all I have to take care of is paying my cellphone bills and not let them get charged to the card.
Well that's the gist of it so far. I would like to say thank you to all that have left comments, or those that just read my blog and nod saying "yeah I'm feeling you man!" . May you all have a happy holiday.
Well at least this blog is free, it was a gift from Santa Claus or San Nicolas, or Colacho (slang for Nicolas).
Se que casi no escribo mucho en español, pero quiero agradecer a aquellos lectores de habla hispana e inglesa que leen mi blog en ingles. En realidad es muy dificil escribir un blog en dos idiomas. Lo he intentado y es mas esfuerzo y tiempo del que puedo darle para que tenga la calidad que deseo en ambos idiomas.
Por lo menos este blog es gratis, fue el regalo que me dejo San Nicolas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

rolling with the punches

The good (at least financially):
The maid said she is leaving on Dec 31st. I guess she heard so many of you wanting her to go that she is actually leaving, LOL. Didn't have to fire her and there won't be any more rationalizing to do :-)
After that my wife told me to buy lunch somewhere near work or come home for it because I left so early in the morning. It's going to affect her more that it will affect me. On second thought I guess I will have to help more around the house than now. Oh well, 3000 bolas is 3000 bolas!  
The bad (also financially):
I gave my wife 3,000 lps and told her that was money to spend on christmas stuff like clothes for her and my daughters and the materials for the tamales and stuffed chicken. She paid money to some people she owed money to. She bought gas, bought groceries, got her hair done, helped a friend who had her car stolen and gave her money, etc, etc. Nothing christmas related.
We got into a strong argument over the phone as to where the 3000 lps had gone. She had to buy the christmas food materials with the regular monthly money, and I now have to buy my girls jeans and shoes from some money that I was going to save. She is pissed off that i'm trying to track her expenses and I'm upset that I gave her money for one thing and she spends it for another thing and doesn't think it's "wrong" in any way. She says I didn't give her enough. In other times I would've just said "fine, I will get some more" but this time I talked to her some more, even as she was still upset.
I told her that I didn't really want to know the minute details of her spending but that the money was supposed to be spent on christmas stuff.Yeah I should've actually tracked down the spending but I could imagine the bigger arguments we would've had if I had done that. She would take it as a lack of trust.
In any case, in the end she felt bad about it and she is trying to make up for it by cutting down on the food she is preparing. I told her I would be ok with only tamales and no stuffed chickens. Instead of doing 6 chickens she cut it down to 3 chickens which I hope will last until new year's too!
The News
Today has been another financial-emotional roller-coaster day for me. Started bad with calls from my credit cards that I was past due on payments. I had the sinking feeling again that even with the new job I would only make enough to make minimum payments on all of them and just stay above water, not really a way to get out of debt. Then I got another call from another credit card in the afternoon
I was so fogged by the feelings of desperation about the thing that I just couldn't put the mimum payment numbers down on paper. I put them on a sticky note on my laptop and just stared at the big numbers. In between calls I had the argument with my wife as I mentioned above.
Eventually I realized that not all were due soon and I would probably be able to pay most of it with one "quincena's" pay from the morning job, leaving the other quincena to do some debt payment on the money I owe. Not as fast as I thought I would be repaying debt but I feel better now than I felt during the afternoon today.
Now that my dad is paid I'm going to focus as La Gringa says on the higher interest rate cards. Actually they all are abou the same rate and it's easy to see it since it's printed on every statement. I will check it again but i'm sure they are all pretty close so that leaves tackling the smallest debt first. Again LG was quick to figure out that I have my Cr2 card with the lowest balance and I plan to pay that one first if the interest rate difference isn't that big.
Morning job is doing ok. My boss there is very VERY happy with my work. I was able to clock about $952 that I will invoice tomorrow and will get paid for it probably next monday. That money will go to paying minimum payments and the rest (if there is left) will go to the Cr2 card.
I might even go back and ask my dad for another extrafinancing loan from his credit card. I hope he wants to help and doesn't ask me why I can't get one myself.
And yet today the secretary at the office was able to make me laugh because she was using a typewriter and making jokes about it and her younger years (she's in grandmother-age).
At least this blog is free. As are some of the best things in life.

One fight over. Many tough ones aheads

As you can see from my Debt sidebar I have paid my dad all the money that I owed him. I thought I was going to have to pay only $434, however that balance was due to the fact that the bank had put a couple of the payments on his credit card balance and I hadn't paid them completely. So to pay off the extrafinancing and his dollar balance I had to pay $593, just $7 less that the balance I had back in October!! Ouch. This is just a taste of things to come.

In any case the debt is paid and the $180 remaining I'm using them to pay the minimum payment on the next credit card I want to pay off.

I will keep this short since I think it's easier to read this way. Plus even though this battle is over I'm not feeling like talking about my debt mountain right now.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

4 debts, 3 dependants , 2 jobs and a partridge in a pear tree

A little christmasy tittle there for you :-)

Actually I don't have 4 debts, I have more!!! However I hope to have less soon and none eventually.

It's been a up and down cycle this thing of having two jobs. One day I get up at 6:30am feeling like I can do anything and the next day I feel very sick. Fortunately my cold is gone and some of those days that I feel sick it clears up by the time I'm driving back to the house from dropping off the girls.

About the maid. Many of you have stated that I should get rid of the maid and have my wife clean and cook. That would work if the plan was for my wife to stay at home. My and mostly her larger goal is for her to actually get a job.

So we can't look for a maid the day she gets a job because, as those of you who live in Honduras know, good cheap maids are hard to find. Even expensive good maids are hard to find.

We have a maid and my wife is looking for a job. She goes to job interviews every now and then. She is in a job placement agency. I look for jobs for her online. Now she's even gone to politics, she's doing voluntary work for a congressman seeking reelection.

She knows him from high school so we hope that eventually he will help her get a paying job somewhere. So she's had to go to rallies and meetings and just last Sunday we had primary elections here and she had to be all day out near a polling station handing out fliers to people. With so many congresspeople in the ballots the vast majority of people just voted for faces they recognized so fliers help.

He got to pass to the general elections now so there's some hope with that. However we are still looking for a job for her in the private sector. She has a college degree in business admin but her age and relative lack of experience work against her in most jobs. Usually they want someone younger or someone with experience. Her sort experience has been in human resources and she likes that but those positions are hard to find.

Anyway, that's the reason we have a maid. If my wife does find a job eventually it will be easier for her to start knowing that things at home are taken care of. I would feel relieved too. Plus my wife can't stand being alone so the maid is good company for her.

Yes my wife is a considerable source of the debts I have. However I don't totally blame her because I let her loose with a credit card and didn't supervise her shopping and she was used at my higher income and lower debt that I had on a previous job. That job I think was the starting point of my debt mountain.

Strangely though because that's when I earned the most. It was my lack of planning that caused it. She and I would spend on our credit cards knowing that I could pay them with my next check and months later it was too much to pay the whole balance, so I started carrying a balance. After that company closed it was hard to adjust to a much lower salary. Then one of my daughters started school. That was a big thing. Then I got a better job (this one) but still not as good at THE one I had at first. The bad habits had stayed with us and it was downhill from there. Life things happened around me and we were always helping people, housing people with us etc, etc. It was all stuff that meant more money spent than earned.

AM advised that I let my wife handle the house finances. I did thought she would be better at handling my money that I was, so for several months during that period I gave her all the money I earned and she was supposed to pay the bills and buy groceries etc. It didn't work at all. She eventually gave up on that and we had a big argument about that.

Now that I'm being frugal we have mini-arguments about money almost every day. It's almost like a crusade.
I now see the error of my ways. I know a couple of friends that acted in a wiser way and kept living a similar lifestyle after getting the good job and when we were all laid off they struggled too but not as much as I did.

I'm keeping a record of my spending for this month and I guess that will help me build a budget for next month. Jeremy, aighmeigh, LG and other commenters wrote about it several times so I'm writing down where my money goes for this month and I'll let you know next month, or many next "quincena". At least the fuel has gone down a lot so that's less pressure on my finances but most of the other stuff is still at the same price as before or higher. I'll let you know.

Well today is my fourth week with the second job. My boss there says I'm doing a great job and is planning on flying me over to Phoenix to do some on site work that I definitely can't do from here. There's about 15 PC's that have different problems and need fixing. I can't do that from here and they think I could just go there for a week or two and fix as many as I can since they are all the same model. Also I would get to know the rest of the equipment and the team to which I talk to every morning at 9am on our daily meeting. That's how happy he is with my work and obviously with my pay-rate. My friend in MO and I agree that he probably couldn't find an part time IT support guy for $1600/month . Specially since i'm basically a contractor so the company doesn't have to give me medical insurance, working space, utilities, Sick time, vacation time, etc. They only pay for the hours I actually spend working for them.
Monday I sent my bill for the previous 15 days. It was coincidentally $800. I'm expecting to have that money on my account here in Honduras tomorrow. I've had to keep my wife mostly in the dark about how much I make with this job since she knows my rate but not the total hours worked. This is to keep her from tempting me to spend money on the house or on us.

Out of the 800 I know that my dad's balance is about $450 so I will pay that and avoid the 22% interest rate on that extra financing. The other thing I want to kill with that is the fact that it's a dollar-based line of credit. I've managed to convert my other debts to lempiras and so if the lempira to dollar rate goes up (more lempiras to buy one dollar) it will actually be easier for me to pay them. I have some other dollar debt but I will get to that soon too.
With the $450 spend on paying the money I owe to my dad I would have $350 left. I will put $300 towards my calling credit card (Also known as Credit Card Cr2). The final $50 I will split it between me, wife and the girls for having paid one debt.

Health-wise I'm doing OK. My cold is totally gone, I just have some cough left but it's flushing out too. I took my 7-days of antibiotics since I had already started when some people online and here in Tegus told me about remedies for my sore throat. My twitching eye is gone but yesterday I had a tiny muscle above my lip that would twitch uncontrollably for a few seconds every hour or so. My wife is a bit concerned so later tonight I'm going to a clinic to get a doctor's opinion about it.

My "day" job just credited my account with my Christmas bonus. Most of it is going to paying my girl's school since I had made an arrangement with the school to do that. my bonus is 45,000 lps and the total I owe for school tuition for my two daughters is about 40,000 lps up to December. They have good grades on a school that I know is teaching them well in English and Spanish. If there's anything I can pass on to them is the education and the values. I give them the values and the school educates them. So even though it's a lot of money I think it's money well spent. Besides, with the 15% alumni discount I get there and the payment arrangements it would be difficult for me to find another bilingual school that would be cheaper even if it's a lower quality of education.

I know I could put the other 5,000lps towards debt. But it's December and I know my wife and my girls will want at least something for us to spend on celebrating Xmas, a nice dinner at least, one set of new clothes for each. Lucky for me most of my friends and family don't expect presents from me and even if they did I am not buying any this year. I didn't get any last year either.

Personally I would have NO problem not buying anything Christmas-related. Actually we already spend a few lempiras buying Christmas lights. But we reused the tree and the ornaments from last year. I could spend Christmas eating the same beans and rice I eat every day (OK chicken too). I could wear the same pants and shirts that I wear every day. I presume I could convince my wife of doing something similar. However, how do I tell my daughters that they won't get presents this years or even new clothes?

So here's a question? how frugal do I have to be on the holidays? Maybe you have ideas on how to not spend money and still have a nice dinner and make my girls happy.

I feel that either not spending any money or splurging it all is bad. But where could I find that middle ground ?
I hope you let me know what you think. I read all your comments and I know you give me though love because you do want me to pay back all that money that I owe and over come my debt. It takes me a couple of readings of one of those hard comments to swallow it but they are all well received.

Thanks and I hope you remember to be careful with your own spending on these holidays.

Well at least I know I don't spend money on this blog, because it's free.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Second Week, pass the pills

Hello there,
It's been two weeks at having two jobs and i'm happy to say they are happy with my perfomance, in both places.
I got so many comments from readers about taking lunch from home that I just want you all to know that I am taking lunch with me from home. I asked the maid about the best way to do it and she had good ideas on what I should buy to take it. So I bought a thermos with 4 containers ($6 at HiperPaiz) and I get to eat a whole lunch that's usually still warm by noon. I reheat it on the microwave anyway. I did agree with my wife to come home for lunch twice a week so we can talk over lunch instead of waiting for me until 10pm. I might cut that down to once a week since it's not easy to go home, eat and get back to the other job in just one hour without rushing everything.
I got my first paycheck from the morning job this thrusday and I was overdue in paying one of my debts so it had to go into that. No clothes bought LG :-) only medications, see below. I Need to write about my wife one day, but it's going to be a long post so I can't do it right now.  Next paycheck is going to pay up dad completely. The amount due is only about $500 (a bit less).
I'm waking up without much problem. However since thrusday I got a twitch in my right eye at night. I remember having this twitch in college when I was programming without sleep for one or more days.
Also I got called for a work emergency early saturday so I couldn't rest. Instead I was at a bank recovering an important data server until 7pm that day. By the end of the day I was sneezing, had a running nose and to top it off I woke up today with a sore throat. Yeap, I got a cold. The first indication that my body defenses are going down. At least after sleeping most of sunday I don't have a twitch in my eye today.
I'm already taking medication for my cold and I rested most of today (sunday). Tomorrow I hope my throat is better after starting to take the usual 7-day dose of antibiotics that takes care of that. I can manage most of the cold but the sore throat really makes me grouchy and in no mood to smile.
Oh, did I tell you that my notebook, this one from where i'm writing from, my "machete" , my way of work, almost my work life and some part of my personal life, gave up on me thrusday? Yeap. I managed to recover it with no loss of data. But the situation really scared me. This notebook is mine, however I use it a lot for work (all my jobs are done from it). So after telling my boss of my computer troubles , he said we would look at getting me one tomorrow. I want to tell him that I want in some way to end up with it as being of my property, rather than assigned to me by the company. I wouldn't want to work other stuff on it if it isn't mine. Even though my boss does that on his(the company's) notebook.
I'm doing some extra hours right now to complete my 25 hours for my morning job. If I get to do 25 hours every week I should get at least $800 every "quincena". I have two payments overdue but they will have to way until december since I can't pay them right now.
I know it's going to be tough to be tight with money on december but I will try to put off temptation by paying debts the same day I get paid. I know my wife would love to spend the money instead of paying debt. As I said she needs a post of her own.
LG was concerned about my arrival time at the morning job. I have to be available at 9am for a daily standup meeting. I can do that by getting to the office or by calling the teleconference phone. So far i've been at work at 8:50am by the latest.
Besides being at the meeting my boss there is very flexible with my hours because he understands that on one side I have another job and on the other hand there are tasks that require me to work at nights (like right now) when users are not using the system so I can make backups, copy large files, run long defrag jobs, etc. All the stuff needed for computers to work for a long time without users complaining.
Next week is going to be interesting. I have a provider comming in from Colombia on tuesday and wednesday. That will mean I will have to come in early to my afternoon job. So I will have to talk to my morning job boss and tell him I will work for him at nights those two days. I hope he understands, and maybe we find out some interesting things by me working more at nights. I'm still feeling my way around this job but i've been productive already and I like that.
Ok, i'm sleepy.
At least this blog is free. Your comments are priceless!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First week

Live, It's saturday night!
I had my first week working two daily jobs. Previously I had worked my main job and other odd jobs that did not require daily presence or scheduled time to work.
In all I think it was a good week. By friday I had a good schedule set. I learned that I can get up at 6:30 with little or no help from alarm clocks or my daughters actually, they are my alarm clock :-)
At that moment I just put on pants and a shirt and drive them out to school and then I drive back home. Between preparing, driving out and driving back home I arrive at 7:00 to 7:15 at my home again.
The first few days I tried to rush to get ready and leave for work. That involved breakfast, shower and clothing. I left home at 7:30 the earliest and 7:50 the latest.
However regardless of the time , I always faced massive traffic on the "anillo periferico". So I always ended up getting into the office at 8:30am, it was amazing how I always got at that time during 4 days.
I took advice from a friend that told me to stay home longer and leave at 8:20 or 8:30. So on friday I did so and took the extra time to do odd things at home and to take a bit more time for myself to reflect on the day ahead.
Then I was suprised. I left precisely at 8:29am and arrived at the office at 8:44am. That was only 15 minutes instead of the 30 to 60 minutes it took to get to work if I left sooner!
Fortunately I have now enabled myself to work remotely from almost any internet connection so if needed early I could log on from home and do some work while 8:30 rolls around and then disconnect, drive and connect again from the office where I can work faster.
Leaving morning work was difficult at times because stuff usually breaks when one is leaving so some times I left at 12:15 or 12:30 pm. Some days I drove all the way back home to eat. A couple of days I just had lunch at some place near both my jobs. Driving from one job to the other is just about 5 minutes with regular traffic. I'm still trying to find a balance on how to handle lunch.
Aigmeigh  from http://mividasalvadorena.blogspot.com/ suggested I take lunch with me when I leave home in the mornings. i'm going to talk about that with the maid and see what she thinks about it. I know other coworkers at both jobs do that and so there are microwaves in both places. I haven't brought lunch to work in years, actually over a decade, but I could try it.
The other job was normal and I'm working there normally. I'm getting home at the same time at night and I'm not feeling more tired than before. I'm taking weekends to rest more than before to be able to work the whole week.
I'll keep you posted how things go.
At least this blog is free

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Honor Thy Father, revisited

Well it's a busy day at the blog. Two post on one day!
I told you in a previous post about my new job. That's good news in general.
On the other side of my emotions, my dad had colon surgery tuesday of last week.
He was doing a good recovery and was sent home last Thrusday night. He spent friday at home. However he started feeling very very ill on saturday and had to be admitted again at the hospital that same saturday. Oh did I mention that it was his birthday too ?
I spent most of the weekend with him since I wanted my other brothers to rest so they could look after him during the week when I knew I wouldn't be able to even visit him given my new job and my day job.
I won't go into gruesome details of what they had to do to him to improve his health but at one point his digestive system and kidneys weren't working. His blood sugar level was very high and he was unable to sleep due to non-stop hiccups.
He is better now, still not out of the woods but at least everything is working again and within normal ranges. It's been almost two weeks since his surgery and he has had only three meals , one of which was probably the one that complicated him back to the hospital. He's lost a lot of weight and it shows because he wasn't fat to start with.
As you can imagine at some points during these days I wondered if I would have a father alive for christmas. The guilt of my debt to him consumed me during his worst night. He's retired and living on his pension with basically no savings. He has assets but nothing easily changeable for cash in an event his medical coverage doesn't cover something he really-really needs. He took a loan out for me and i'm paying him back but every now and then I miss a payment and the credit card company calls him and the he calls me and I eventually pay.
So, with the snowball plan in mind I noticed that my debt to him is the smallest debt of all and even if he really doesn't owe all that money right now I feel that I should pay him back as soon as possible. I'm counting on my first pay from my new job to pay back the $750 and change that I owe him that he owes to the credit card company.
It's not an extreme situation either way. He is not strapped for cash and he doesn't have an abundance of it either. So deciding this is mostly something I'm deciding for myself not because he needs it but because I feel it's the "right" thing to do.
Financially, it could also bring some benefit to me since an early payment of the loan might mean that I could end up paying less than $750.00 since that figure includes interests for the next 10 months. We would have to call the credit card company (at least when he is able to speak again with enough strength over the phone) and see how much I would have to pay.
As you can see, the more people around you that you are related to , the more difficult it is to have a tight debt repayment plan and sticking to it. I feel like i'm still on the right path, but I wanted to share with others the real-life difficulties of repaying debt. It's easy to see a budget and trim here and there. It's a bit harder to get some extra income but it's doable. However, when family matters come into play it gets more complicated.
I enjoy all of your comments, so please post some more. Actually I not only enjoy then, I benefit from them a lot. All of you want me to be successful in my journey to not owe so much (hopefully not owe anything material). You are like doctors, you want what's best for me even if it involves pain in the process. I appreciate that. I owe you a great deal spiritually.
At least this blog is materially free.

Income! yeah!

Well I was going to write about the emotional roller coaster that my financial problems bring me. However I guess more important news deserve an interruption of the planned schedule.
A couple of months ago I did some IT work for a company in the US that has hired a Honduran sofware development company. They needed to network both locations and so I was called since people on both companies know me. That was just random money that I used to pay some part of my debt.
The Honduran company moved to a new, cheaper location and needed help in setting up the networking again so I was called to do it. Then a few weeks later they changed internet provider and again I had to reflect that change in their network.
Finally the US company had a failure on their internet connection and was using an alternate connection and I was called once more to reconnect them both. I was lucky or know more than I think and was able to reestablish communications very fast.
And so the IT head in the US company started to email me about my time availability. He knew me from a previous visit to Honduras and knew me from a job interview many many years ago in which aparently I made a good impresion on him since he still remembered me.
I told him I was available on mornings and explained to him my internet accesability at home.
Then out of the blue he called last friday and said "Hey, do you want to be our new IT support guy?". After a bit of explaining I said yes and to cut it short I have to say that this past monday I started working mornings for them. I go to the Honduran company offices to connect to the US company's network and do IT support from there.
This job pays $16/hour. My friend from MO (my job guardian angel of sorts) says that i'm a very cheap IT support cost for the US company even if doing this work remotely entails some logistical problems.
If I work 4 hours every day (8am to noon) at their location, plus an extra hour on the day for being "on call" for problems that come up during the afternoon hours, which I would tend to at night, it means $80/day for doing the type of work that know how to do. For a "quincena" it means I would look at $800 or $1600 a month. I'm very happy. Very happy. I see myself going to the banks and paying my credit card debt and the phone calls stopping.
There two concerns I have. One is burnout. I'm waking up at 6:30am to drive my girls to school and then come back home to get ready for work. I drive during the terrible rush hour and as much as I try to get in at 8:00, i've only managed to get in at 8:30 so that cuts a half hour of my morning time. Fortunately I can recover that time at night. However at noon I have just one hour to get lunch either by driving back home or eating somewhere in the vincinity of my day job. Both jobs are very near each other so going home to eat lunch is not something I look forward too from the expense point of view. Then I have to get in to my other job at 1pm and work here until 9pm, then drive home and be with my family and do some odd stuff until I go to bed at about midnight.
I'm getting support from my family , mom and dad in that they are happy that I will be able to pay more of my debt. They don't know how deep in debt I am but they know part of it so they are happy. I'm getting some support from my wife, she doesn't like the fact that she won't see me mornings now and maybe not even for lunch but she understand that we need the money. She says she does need some of that money to buy clothes for the girls because their clothes are almost rags at this point. I've learned that I have to make my own mind on how much money to spend or otherwise she would spend most of it.
I've arranged with my wife and girls that I will try to get as much sleep as I can on friday and saturday nights, let's see how well that works out in practice.
The other concern is job stability. When they hired me they told me I would be an interim IT guy. So those $1600/month could be for one month, two months or who knows. However today I chatted with the IT head at the US company and I asked him to explain to me what he meant by interim. He says it meant that if I like the job and we (they and me) can make it work logistically then I could be permanent. Otherwise they would look for a IT guy to work over there.
He also stated that he know I have skills not only for IT support but also for software development so he would like to keep me and so when the IT support requests die down from time to time then I could switch gears and help with the software development, either in testing, documenting or actually writing software.
He makes it look like he wants me there for the long haul. However I have the feeling that it's not entirely his decision and so someone higher up will be watching to see if a part-time/on-call IT support guy for about $19,200.00 is worth the logistical difficulties of me being here and the equipment being over in the US.
I know that almost no job is guaranteed in the the US so I just hope to be able to hang in there for as long as possible to make a big a dent as possible on my debt.
For now all other income options, except for the calling service at www.llamaconmigo.com are mostly on hold. I think I have to concentrate on just a couple of things that make me the most money for my time.
I still have a commitment to a US friend to help him finish an application for which he would pay me $8,000 once it's completed and paid for. That I will still continue at nights but he is hard to reach at times and so that money will come slowly since we are slow in making progress with that because i'm learning a new language with him and because we have difficulty finding times to talk about the project. Eventually I will know enough that he will be able to let go of me and I will finish on  my own. For now I feel it will take at least another month of emails, chats and calls to pour his knowledge on my head. Then I will know how much time it will take for me to finish that application by working only one or two hours per night on it. We are using a new language that is supposed to make programming faster so I'm counting on that to make up for the learning curve.
What do you think? I'm happy for the new job and the money that I will mostly send to pay my debt. I hope it allows me to sleep better.  As LG stated in one of her comments, my current main job income barely covers my monthly expenses so I have little of that left to pay off debt. So this job I hope it last long enough to get my debts paid in full or at least cut the down to a manageable size that I can finish off paying with some other source of income. What do you think about my concerns about burnout and job stability ?
I wish I could write some more since there is lots more to write about but this post is long enough as it is.
Well at least this blog is free. Have a good day

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Do you want to "call with me" ? www.llamaconmigo.com

I have started two income streams related to phone calls. I hope the ball starts rolling.

First of all, I have started a calling service to any country in the world. Actually it is targeted to calls to Honduras since the prices are so low. They are even lower than calls within Honduras!

For example calls to Honduran cellphones cost about $0.13/min. That's lower that the normal $0.20/min rate from a Honduran cellphone to another Honduran cellphone! The next rate available is $0.17/min, still under 20 cents !! There are two rates because I can cater each account to use more than one international carier to complete the call if one or the other is too busy.

I have trouble with getting payment because both paypal and Google checkout don't allow Non-US accounts to accept payments. That's my only weak spot with this service. Any advice or help with this I would appreciate a lot.

I started this business by selling calls to my ex-brother-in-law's stores. They have three stores and cater mostly to Hondurans. Regular calling cards to Honduras have such high rates and connection fees that even adding a 50% markup on the my service's call rates still makes it interesting to customers. The stores pay me by wiring money with one of the companies that charges a fixed fee (about $10), they usually put about $500 every week. That gives me about $60 per recharge.

I have had it running now for 2 months and I know things work very well. They mostly sell calls to Honduras, but even Mexicans and Guatemalans like the way the service is provided because they pay only for the minutes they use. There are no connect fees, administration fees, call completion fees, etc. Many people talk for over an hour and enjoy it because with calling cards they are limited to 20 to 30 minutes at times.

The way the stores sell calls is using calling booths very much like cybercafes here in Honduras. Calls are routed via the internet to the international carriers, which allows to get this low rates. The store managers go to a web page to check the call records and see how much each call costs and from that they calculate how much to charge the customer.

This also helps them attract people to their stores to offer them other services or products. People go in the store to call but also end up buying groceries or food or sending money with them as well. The store managers are smart and sometimes use the calling service to compete with other nearby stores in the remittance service. For example they offer Mexicans free calls if they send money with them instead of the Mexican store. It only a few pennies per call but it drives a lot of business to them because the person can send the money AND call their relative to let them know the money has been wired.

The website is www.llamaconmigo.com (it means "call with me" in Spanish).

Right now the website it's very simple and I try to keep it simple , but with more content, so that many types of browsers can read it with no problem.

I bought the domain with godaddy.com and it only cost me $15 for one year. There was a special sale and I took advantage of it. They are even hosting my website for me for "free".

You can go there to check rates for calls to any country in the world. Just add 12% to the rates you get and that's what the call will really cost. The 12% is my profit margin. I'm not trying to set a high profit because I want to earn on volume. I deduct the 12% from the amount credited to the user's account.

If you know someone, specially a Honduran individual or a Honduran store in the US or anywhere in the world that would like to try it out, tell them about my website and have them write to the email there with their phone number so we can talk some more about how to get them set up. You would really help me a lot if you spread the word. I'm sure Honduran (or Latino) stores could use the extra people traffic.

There are many ways the service can be used. If it's used in the US there is a phone number that can be called to access the system. There is an web phone application right on my website to make calls from the computer. And the most convenient way is to buy an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA for short) like the ones used with Vonage or other voip service providers. It's a little box that plugs to the internet on one side and to a regular phone on the other side, allowing you to make calls the way you are used to make them.

I would really appreciate your help. I understand that I'm not the only one in need of money so I'm open to partnerships or paying a "finder's fee" if you help me get someone to use my service.

Please visit the page, let me know what you think. Help me spread the word if you think it's a worthy service.

The website is once again www.llamaconmigo.com

I will tell you about the other income stream soon. I'm just starting with it and want to have more experiences to tell you about. To some of you it may shock you, and to others it may seem pretty reasonable. As I've told you before, I open to do anything to get some more income to pay my debts. I'm very motivated to get out of debt. I have been so busy with several projects trying to hedge my bets that at least one should work well.

Well at least this blog is free. More importantly, your advice and words of encouragement are free to you and priceless to me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Comments on Driving for Dollars

Last time I totally forgot to write the translation for my english post about driving for dollars. But I think that post was just interesting for english speaking people that would like a bilingual "driver".
I received a total of two comments, one saying that it was a good idea to drive english speaking and maybe even spanish speaking people around. I would say that my edge is the bilingual part. A spanish speaking person can hire a taxi for a day for less than what I would like to charge. Well there is an interesting question. What should I charge per day for driving people around Tegus and surrounding towns ? That would be what should I charge beside the vehicle rental and fuel cost ? I'm very happy that the fuel price is comming down :-)
The other comment was even broader. I was told to do a sort of "concierge" service for foreigners. As usual I do not ignore those comments and did a bit of research. It would be a interesting thing to do. The one thing is that I would probably need to do that during the week, and right now I'm hoping that my great best friend will come thru and get me a part time job for my mornings. So if that doesn't materialize, then I could try to be a "conserje" which is what I think concierge means in spanish. I know banks, I know stores, restaurants, etc, and some of the stuff I don't know at least I know who to call. I'll keep this idea in the back burner.
Summing it up , thanks for your comments. You give me strength to keep going.
By the way i'm still driving my girls to school every weekday at 6:30am. My wife helps me on tuesdays and wednesdays. However I like to do it because my mornings last longer and I get to talk to my girls while we drive to school.
Lately i've felt all sorts of feelings about my debt. I think I will write about that soon. It drives me nuts.
Well at least this blog is free.
La ultima ves se me olvido escribir la traduccion de mi ultima narrativa acerca de manejar para obtener dolares. Pero pienso que esa narrativa posiblemente solo sea interesante para personas que solo hablan ingles y que necesitarian un chofer bilingue.
Recibi un total de dos comentarios, uno decia que era buena idea llevar en automovil a personas que solo hablan ingles e inclusive personas que hablan espanol. Yo diria que mi ventaja competitiva es la parte bilingue. Una persona que habla espanol podria contratar un taxi por un dia por menos de lo que yo podria cobrar. Bueno esa es una pregunta interesante. Cuanto deberia cobrar por un dia de conducir a personas por Tegucigalpa y pueblos cercanos? Es decir cuanto cobrar ademas del costo de la renta de automovil y combustible ? Estoy muy feliz de que el precio de combustible esta bajando :-)
El otro comentario fue mas general. Me decian que hiciera un servicio de tipo "concierge" para extranjeros. Como siempre, no ignoro estos comentarios e hice mi investigacion al respecto. Seria algo interesant de hacer. La unica cosa es que probablemente tendria que hacer este trabajo durante la semana, y actualmente estoy esperando a que mi mejor amigo me consiga un trabajo de medio tiempo para trabajar las mañanas. Si lo de mi amigo no se materiliza, entonces creo que el trabajo de "conserje", que es la traduccion que creo apropiada para concierge en español. Conozco de bancos, conozco de tiendas, restaurantes, etc y lo que no conozco por lo menos se de gente que lo conoce y que yo podria llamar. Mantendre esta idea de ser concierge en mi mente.
En resumen gracias por sus comentarios. Me dan mas fuerza para seguir adelante.
Por cierto, sigo llevando a mis hijas a la escuela todos los dias a las 6:30am. Mi esposa me ayuda los martes y jueves. Sin embargo me gusta hacerlo a mi porque mis mañanas duran mas y logro hablar con mis hijas mientras vamos a la escuela.
Ultimamente he sentido todo tipo de sentimientos acerca de mis deudas. Pienso que escribire acerca de eso pronto. Me vuelve loco.
Bueno, por lo menos este blog es gratis.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Driving for dollars

So many things have been going on at work and at home. October is such a busy month for me always. too many people have birthdays, including me. More on that in a comming post. Also the constant rains have damaged our roads and killed and displaced so many people that keeping stuff working is a full time task. You can read about how the country is doing on our local newspapers online. La Gringa's blogcito has many links to them. Please visit her blog.
Recently I was wondering. When English-speaking people come to Tegucigalpa it's hard for them to get around the city. Usually they are business people so they go from the hotel to the business location and back during the week. Probably a local coworker takes them to lunch and/or dinner. Some of them stay the weekend.
There is also a group of English-speaking people that are living in Tegus and don't go out much or are in Tegus from another city in Honduras.
In any case I figure there are a number of people during the weekends that would like to have someone drive them around Tegus and surrounding cities.
Do you think it would be a good idea to drive people around the city on weekends on a nice car? sort of a bilingual driver/guide.
The only drawback is that it would cut time from spending with my family. But then again I don't think I would have offers to drive every weekend.
I could rent a busito (which is a like a mini van) and drive people around and charge them the rent, fuel and some dollars for my services. Or if they want a regular sedan car or a 4x4 then the charge would reflect that based on the rent price.
What do you think? I'm just getting a lot of ideas in my mind and I just want to get out of this hole one way or the other. If you have any other ideas just let me know. Right now i'm pretty much open to do anything for money (anything legal that is) that I can do well. Hell I wouldn't mind trying to fish crabs in the Bering sea or drive a truck on the ice roads (watch Discovery or History channel) if I could get paid some good money LOL.
Anyway, at least this blog is free. Can't wait to hear from you.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The bait not taken


Honduras' national soccer team won again. This time 3-1 playing against Canada. The "If Honduras wins you eat free" offer was up again, This time I was not falling for it, Ha! Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice, i'm a glutton for pain.

No this time we spent the next day enjoying some really free food at my mom's house since it was her birthday. I did buy her a present and spent more than I wanted to, but it's hard to be cheap (or "frugal") when buying for mom. I would say that I settled for the middle-priced present and she liked it. We spent all sunday afternoon at her house, which is two blocks from my house, eating and drinking until very late.

I want to thank the people that leave comments and give me support to continue. Some even try to help by trying to get work for me. I really appreciate that. Muchas Gracias!

Now you can skip the rest or read on if you want to practice your spanish. This is my first attempt at a bilingual post

Hola, que raro debe ser leerme en español! Varios amigos, pero en especial La Gringa, me habian pedido que escribira mis narrativas en español. Asi talves otros que tienen problemas financieros como yo se podrian identificar. Este es mi primer intento de hacer esto en ambos idiomas. Comenzamos!


La seleccion nacional de futbol de Honduras gano de nuevo. Esta ves fue 3-1 contra Canada. La promocion de "Si Honduras gana comemos gratis" salio de nuevo. Esta ves no cai en esa trampa, jaja! La primera ves cai por tonto, ya la segunda es que seria masoquista.

No, esta ves pasamos el dia disfrutando comida gratis en la casa de mi mama ya que era su cumpleaños. Le compre un regalo pero gaste mas de lo que queria, pero es dificil ser baratero con mi mama. Diria que le compre un regalo de precio intermedio, y lo mas importante fue que le gusto. Estuvimos todo el domingo en su casa, que esta ubicada a dos cuadras de mi casa. Estuvimos comiendo y bebiendo hasta tarde ese dia.

Quiero agradecer a las personas que dejan comentarios y me da apoyo para continuar. Algunos hasta tratan de conseguirme trabajo. De verdad se los agradesco. Thank you!

Well, at least this blog is free
Bueno , por lo menos este blog es gratis

Friday, October 10, 2008

Se habla Espanol / English Spoken

La Gringa has commented that I should write some of my posts in spanish since im living in Honduras and probably many other people are in my same situation.
I have no trouble doing so, but I wonder how should I do it. Should write each post in english AND spanish or should I write one post in english and another one in spanish?
Also , should I have the same blog for both languages or should I have a "debo tanto" (spanish for I owe so much) blog?
I would love to read what you think ?
Oh by the way. Please subscribe to my blog so that you don't have to wonder when I post a new article. If you subscribe my written thoughts will arrive gift-wrapped to your email inbox and you can read them at your convenience. If you want to read other people's comments you can always come to the blog and read them.
So, let me know how you think I should handle the whole english / español thing.
Well, at least this blog is free

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One down, many to go

Well this will be a short post as I'm having a lot of work and family stuff going on.
Just wanted to report that i'm done paying my ex-brother in law. I gave the last $100 to my mom last week.
I also called him and told him I was done paying him by giving the payments to my mom to support my niece. He came back to me saying that we should talk later about how he could keep sending money for the baby. I didn't even thought he would bring that up. Remember what I said about asking him for another loan. Maybe that's something we could do (loans at 0% interest are good).
On the other hand him and my sister are starting a court thing to define child support.
He didn't actually call me back so I will call him tomorrow.
I guess it wasn't such a short post after all. Anyway, at least this blog is free.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rise and Shine

Today was the first day of taking my girls to school.
At first I had decided to do this to save around 900 lempiras a month on bus service from house to school for my two daughters.
But today I was also glad that during the short drive, I was able to talk to my daughters. This since during the rest of the day they are at school and when I get home they are already sleeping.
So that was an intangible bonus. How much is having time with my kids is worth ? is it worth waking up at 6:30am ? time will tell.
The other bonus is that I feel I have a longer day to do things. This morning after dropping my girls off at home I went back home and registered myself at www.tecoloco.com . I also registered my wife. More on that later.
The thing is that it was a long registration process and I did it twice! Then it was only 8am, and I already had breakfast.
It's almost 11pm and I feel ok for the first day, not too tired.
Well at least this blog is free.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Supersaver man goes to school

I went to my daughter's school to pick up their mid-period grades. I'm glad that they are doing very well and so I feel it's money well spent.
Before going I had given thought that since we are now living much closer to the girls' school maybe me and/or my wife could drive them to school and have the school bus bring them back home and maybe there was a discount for that.
So after picking the grades I went to the administration office and asked about it. The accounting lady said "Sure! bus will be only 50% of what you pay now". With two girls pay for bus service if I only pay 50% it means about 900 lempiras saved. That is a whole tank of gas when it's totally totally empty! In my old car I get 300 miles for 10 gallons of fuel (about 900 lempiras at current prices).
It's a 5 minute drive from my house to the school with no stoplights or even busy street crossings. From the school back home it's almost the same. I'm total it's about 5 miles round trip. And it's 20 days a month, that's 100 miles.
So i'm seriously considering requesting only afternoon bus service for my girls starting next month (october). It might mean getting up at 6:30am to drop them off but I need to get up early anyway to make better use of my mornings, either to work more or to work out (something I badly need).
Do you think the savings are worth it?
Well at least this blog is free

Friday, September 12, 2008

The "If Honduras wins, you eat free" promotion fiasco

This is one of those times that "free" wasn't really free.
Remember the Foodcard ? the one that gives me 20% discount on several fast food restaurants ? Well, the company that owns the franchise in Honduras to all those restaurants came out with a promotion. If the Honduran soccer team would win against Canada (playing in Canada) last Saturday then the next day they would give out free food for just buying a drink.
Our team won. So the next day there were long ..I mean loooong lines on all their restaurants. I told my daughters to come with me to get some "free" chicken. Well after waiting about an hour in the drive-thru lane we got to the cashier and she laid down the conditions:
It was ONE piece of chicken per every LARGE drink. The drink was only Coke or Sprite and it was 33 lempiras per drink. That's not cheap, not free and not even close to free!! To put it in perspective a 3 Liter bottle of Coke is 28 to 30 lempiras at even the most expensive quickie-mart type place
I fell into the "throwing good money after bad time" trick and decided that since I had already waited that long I might as well buy 6 drinks and get us 2 pieces of chicken each. Well the fiasco was complete when they gave me three wings and three legs! no breasts or thighs! And these were probably midget chickens cause all 6 pieces were in a box that is normally used for a 2-piece combo. They did include 6 pieces of bread.
The final slap was that when I tried to pay with my foodcard, they gave me a mean look and took it. Then I asked for two more pieces of chicken (actually I asked for the drinks because 2 pieces cost 66 lempiras anyway). This time the lady said that I please pay in cash because the credit card machine was in the front of the restaurant. I reluctantly paid cash and went home. What a RIP-OFF!
My girls made remarks and laughed at how small the chicken pieces were. Then last Wednesday the Honduran soccer team played against Jamaica here in Honduras and our team won again. So right away they told me "Dad are we going to go tomorrow to get free tiny chicken ?" And then they just laughed to the ground. I tried to laugh too but still remembered how I had been taken.
Oh, well, I guess it's part of learning that most things are not really free.
Well at least this blog, so far, is free.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

May I interest you in some VOIP (Voice over IP)?

I'm sorry if this post went blank the first time around. It slipped out of my hands before I had even typed it. In one night of enlightment I came up with 5 topics to talk about and just did the sketches of each so I wouldn't forget them and this one got the send button instead of the save button.

Well, on with the show.

I've recently read several blogs about my debt situation. I'm glad to see that for the most part I'm doing what they advice to do. I'm failing in making a budget and with the extra income trouble I've had problem working on paying the smallest debt with all the money I could (because I don't have it in my hands yet).

One thing I read was about getting other income sources. Using my background on networking and Voice over Ip I've hooked up a few friends that have relatives in the US with VERY cheap voice over ip services in their homes.

Voice over ip is basically talking over the internet. The cool part is being able to use regular phones and be able to receive or make calls to and from regular phones or cellphones in the US.

Most of Hondurans living in the US don't have access to a computer, but most do carry a cellphone, the prepaid kind. Calls within the US are very cheap compared to calls to Honduras.

So I've acquired US numbers in bulk and re-selling them to friends. They way this works is that the person in Honduras has a little box called ATA (analog telephone adapter) that connects a regular phone (cord or cordless) to the internet. Obviously the user must have internet service in their house with at least 128kbps of bandwidth so that the voice works fine.For $60 for the box and a $10 monthly fee they get a US number in the Washington state area. This means that if someone in the US calls one of those numbers it will ring on the phone attached to the ATA, wherever it is located in the world.

This is different to the illegal practice in Honduras of "grey calls" in which a local US call is converted to an international call to Honduras because no Honduran telephone infrastructure is used. The phone in Honduras is connected "directly" to the internet. Cyber cafes in Honduras all work this way, except they sell outgoing calls, while I sell incoming calls.

The logic behind my sale strategy is that calling the US is so cheap for us from regular landlines or cellphones while calling to Honduras from abroad is so expensive that it merits spending a fixed amount of money to have a US phone number that only receives calls if you can expect a lot of calls from people in the US. So far my first 3 sales have gone very well because the people in the US have seen the savings. Great savings.

Calling cards to call Honduras usually charge $1 just to connect the call and about 20 to 40 US cents per minute. So a $3 dollar call is only good for $2 once the call is connected. Not to mention the troubles if the call gets cut off in the middle of it. Dialing again means another $1 just for connecting the call.

$10/mo for unlimited incoming calls is a lot better than paying $30/mo to companies like Vonage. Sure they let you have unlimited calls to the US, but again in this case you can just call the person in the US and say "call me back" and it's the same thing. Why is it the same thing?

a) There's a ton of studies that say that most people in the US now have a cellphone and use it instead of a landline.

b) incoming and outgoing calls to cellphone are billed to the cellphone user. So for the user it costs the same to make a call than to receive a call.

Even so, I had one friend that wanted to be able to make some business calls to the US. I was able to get him a service that for another $10/mo he could have 5 hours a week of calls to the US. That's comes to about 2 cents per minute. If he goes over the 5 hours per week, each minute extra is 2 cents per minute and comes out of his $10 pre-payment. In his case I set up the ATA's second port with another phone and so one phone is for incoming calls and the other is for outgoing calls. So he can receive a call one one phone and make a call on the other phone. Alternatively he could use a two-line phone and manage both from one device but that's up to him.

I also got a hold of a great virtual PBX . So if one business has offices in distant locations, and each location has internet access, I can set them up with dedicated virtual phone lines between the two offices. This can work anywhere in the world and it's simple to set up (if you know what I know) and the number of calls between offices is unlimited...really.

This is also allowed by Honduran telecom law because it's only calls within the same organization. Banks that have branches in several cities already do this. They do it thru their private data network. My proposal is much cheaper since it uses internet and doesn't require costly hardware to interconnect it all. We have one private telephone network here at my office and it was mildly expensive to say the least. I learned a lot from it and know it can be done for a lot less money.

I've tested this by putting virtual extensions in my office, my house, my parent's house and my friend's house in Missouri. They can all call each other by dialing their extension number and talk forever.

I've searched the net for a company that could something like what i'm proposing and found only one that was a little close to my price range for the same funcionality. They are www.vocalocitypbx.com

They are comparable to what I can do but I can give personalized service and I already have better prices and can improve on them depending on how much business is involved. Even if users eventually don't like my service they can take the same equipment and get service with them. I'm all for making the customer happy, even if it means happy with someone else. I checked that they use VOIP industry standards and they do, just like I do.

SO, if you know anyone that wants to reduce their international phone bill or someone with a business with two or more locations that wants to lower it's intra-offices phone bill, please let me know and I promise I can help them with that. I'll help myself in the process and you would've helped me to get out of debt. If you give me your contact info I will also help you with a "finder's fee" and we are all happy :-)

Oh well, at least this blog is free.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

supplier troubles, hopes and introspection

Well the problems with our supplier continue.
Remember that some of my extra income comes from sending Honduran stuff to the US for my ex-brother-in-law to sell in his stores. Well our main supplier has shipping problems and we've gone a whole month with sending very little over. That affects me much because even though I get paid monthly just to make sure that all related bills get paid, if there are none then I don't get any money.
Every time I call them they say they will get things straightned out very real soon now. Then I call the next day and someone else says some other story. A couple of days later they answer a question I am not asking and state that they thought I was complaining about that.
So i've had it with them. I found a new supplier and if things go well, not only will get a monthly payment from my ex-brother-in-law but since this new supplier will give the same items at about the same prices as the other one, BUT will refund me 10% of everything we purchase to him if we reach a certain amount. It's his way of saying thank you to me for buying from him.
With prices comparable, and some cheaper, than the other guy, a wider selection and with much better infrastructure and logistics I think I do deserve that 10% if I can get my ex-BIL the stuff he needs at a good price and with better quality.
Honestly, a few years ago I would've passed that 10% on to him, but knowing that i'm getting him good prices from the start and that he sells them at 100% markup, it seems like a no-harm way of getting some extra cash. I'm not totally comfortable with it, but I didn't ask for it, it was offered to me by the new supplier. As long as he does better than the other guy I will feel ok. Not great but at least ok.
Have you ever been in this situation ? Purchasing something that was the best of two options and it included some personal "gift" for you ? did you or would you take it ?
I will use this extra money to pay off the high interest credit card with the highest balance. The other extra incomes will be for other payments and to kill the smaller debt.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Breathing again and some concerns

We are back to sending goods to my ex-brother-in-law. Thank God!
They have told me that while we had a break in the supply they realized they need more volume shipped to them as the demand has increased. I hope I can get our supplier to meed our demands and so they can sell more and I can earn more.
My best friend came over from MO a few weeks ago. I went out with him a lot to do errands and talk about the old times. Eventually I got the courage to ask him for a loan. At first he was ok and asked how much. I told him I needed $8,000 (to pay my main credit card and cancel it).
He said he didn't have that money but that he could get me to use one of his cash lines. Unfortunately another friend of his back in MO had already used his $20,000 cash line, and is not paying him back. So I worried that he wouldn't want to put himself in the position of having to pay for someone else, again.
As he was leaving he told me he just couldn't come up with the money. However he knew there was a programming gig that was almost finished (it was a proyect from this other friend that wasn't paying him back). He would check if I could finish it. If it was finished the company expecting the software would pay $15,000. He talked with the other guy and he agreed to give me $8,000 to finish it and he would keep the other $7000 since he would handle everything else and it was after all his business.
Right now i'm in the process of getting set up and hoping I can finish that software in a couple of months. My friend said one month, the guy said two weeks. So i'm thinking it will take a bit more.
LG expressed her concern that it seems like I only pay debt with my additional income. Unfortunately that is mostly true. I have a loan with the company coop that is automatically deducted from my paycheck and it's at 12%/year for 3 years (refinanceable once I reach 18 months of payments).
A big chunk of my paycheck goes towards groceries. Food, clothing, and other house supplies. Plus money for my wife to keep her car running and her spenditures. Also cellphones and landlines, water, electricity, etc.
The other big chunk has been my taxes, which seem to increase more and more every time I get a payraise.
This past couple of months have been abnormal. I've had to pay the yearly registration for one of my cars, I had totally forgotten about that and it was a big chunk. I've had to pay money up front for some house repairs for which the landlord has given me credit towards the rent pay.
In general as i'm writing this I think I haven't done an important part of controlling my debt. I haven't made a budget and so I don't know exactly where my money goes. I should do that very soon, NOW!
Well, at least this blog is free

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Two Slaps in the Face

I was the first to admit that all the money I owe is nothing but my fault by signing loans and credit cards that charged me ridiculous interest rates. I was not forced into any of those.
However, I was recently commenting with an online friend that the banks make it too easy for a person to fall into this hole because they are so willing to put a credit card in people with not so good credit history. Like me!
I had been careful until now about naming names but I got slapped twice in recent days so the gloves are off.
About three months ago, I went to Banco Ficohsa to ask for a personal loan to consolidate my debts. They asked me for my salary info, and all my debt info. They confirmed that at the credit bureau and denied me a loan because I had too much debt for the salary I earn. It's hard to listen to those words and to know that the person telling them now knows you are up to your neck in debt.
The slap came over about a month ago when a sales rep from Banco Ficohsa called me to tell me the "good news" that I was approved.... for a credit card! I told them that they were probably wrong since I had been denied a loan and I found it reasonable that they denied it since I had so much debt. The sales rep said that I should accept the offer anyway. Just to test them I said "sure go ahead and run a credit check on me".
Some days passed and I thought I had been turned down. But to my amazement a couple of weeks ago a man came over to my office to deliver my brand new credit card with a $7000 limit! What a nerve! I received it and the next day went over to the bank to have it cancelled. The customer service lady was in all ways trying to have me keep the card but I told her I wanted a loan and not a card because of the interest rates. She eventually accepted my card back and destroyed it. That means I'm no good for a 28% loan but i'm good for a %60 loan, huh?
The second slap came with Banco Promerica. That's the card that I haven't yet put up in numbers. I haven't because after missing several payments I got into a payment schedule with them with the assumption that my card was canceled and I was just paying the balance. I even read the agreement in which it states that one missed payment will allow them to get me to pay by legal means.
Well I was working last week and I got a call on my cell from a happy sales rep telling my that due to my Super Premia card I was being offered a Premia card with a similar $6000 limit. Unfortunately I was in a room with other people and couldn't ask the sales rep how they had the nerve to offer me a credit card when I was summoned by them to get a payment schedule arranged for my credit card debt. This offer I turned down right over the phone and when asked for a reason for turning down "this unique and exceptional opportunity" I just said "yes thank you but no".
I wonder if they either keep poor records of their customers credit behaviour or if sales rep are so eager to dish out card that they don't care who they offer them to.
No wonder the sub-prime crisis hit people. If I had been so much in debt and with the experience I now have I probably would have started using both cards the next day they would have arrived and had been deeper in debt once the fees and interest charge would have started rolling in.
Well, at least this blog is free.