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I am debt free!

Photo by eric731 / by BY-NC-SA 2.0

Today my final student loan payment posted, making me 100%, totally debt free for the first time in, um, let’s see, a decade? Yes, that sounds right.

I thought I would scream this from the mountain tops and do a little happy dance right now in the days or minutes before I have to buy a new car when mine inexplicably explodes or I’m hit by shrapnel from my exploding car and rack up lots of hospital bills. The good news is that medical bills can be discharged in bankruptcy, whereas student loans can’t be.

So, wheeee! Look at me, debt free! I don’t owe anyone anything and it is awesome!

Bartering at Trader Joe’s

I am always disappointed that Trader Joe’s does not let you actually trade for items. It seems to be a great deception in regards to their name, just like Dress Barn isn’t really housed in a Barn and Burlington Coat Factory isn’t an actual factory.

It would be rather exciting to walk into Trader Joe’s and bargain with the cashier. “I will give you this never-used souvenir coffee mug from San Francisco for two boxes of blueberry oatmeal. What do you say?” What do you think I’d have to exchange for the huge pumpkin pictured above that was in the lobby of the Ann Arbor store?

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The budgeting game

It is a game I play lately, to see how cheap I can live without hating how I live. Now that I’m freelancing full time, I am far more watchful of my income than I was for the past year and a half when I worked Not Quite Plush, But Reasonably Padded Corporate Job. My budget behavior far more resembles the four years before that when I worked Low-Paying, Uninsured, Small Company Job with Spunk and Freedom. I was not paid much, but I was happy to simply have a job. I also had $7000 in gallbladder surgery debt, a $2200 transmission bill, and about $1200 of dental work to pay off, all of which I was not happy to have. Back then, I actually went back to a store to get a $1.20 refund on something I’d bought because I desperately needed every penny of that dollar and twenty cents.

The nice thing about Not Quite Plush, But Reasonably Padded Corporate Job was that I did not have to watch my money that closely. I [...]

My tax money at work

It has been seven weeks now since I stopped working for the man and started working for the woman. (That’s me!) My boss is pretty good, tough but fair, and she has cute hair, though she could dress up a bit more. Capris at the office? Really? I haven’t had to take money out of savings yet, but I haven’t paid my quarterly freelancer taxes either, so that might change. Last night I found a program called Outright which not only builds reports of my income and expenses, but also calculates my estimated taxes. Whee! It also integrates with FreshBooks, the program I use for invoicing, which makes it extra close to my bookkeeping heart. (Did you know “bookkeeping” is the only word in the English language to have three pairs of double letters in a row? I learned that from Encyclopedia Brown.)

I know many freelancers have accountants, and I think that is a wise decision. However, I’ve been paying my own self-employment taxes for years and haven’t been audited yet, so I prefer to [...]

Less money, less problems? Not really.

It’s odd how quickly a word can dominate our shared vocabulary. In 2000 it was “hanging chad.” In 2002 it was “post 9-11.” This year it’s “economy” and “recession” and “toxic assets.” They might just be words, but they reflect the changes that are happening in my life and your life and your neighbors next door, who aren’t going to live next door anymore, because they defaulted on their mortgage.

As much as people’s lives are changing, mine hasn’t changed that much. Sure, my job is as secure as a lockbox sealed with chewing gum, and I moved to a cheaper apartment to cut my living costs, but otherwise I’m living the same life I’ve always led. Financially speaking this means I save money, sock cash in my retirement accounts, and spend less than I earn. Evidently I was a radical ahead of my time for doing all these things.

I feel genuinely sorry for the suffering this recession has caused, for people who are stuck in houses that have lost value, for people who can’t make [...]

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Man looking into telescope

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

Please Do Not Leave A Message: Why Millennials Hate Voice Mail : All Tech Considered : NPR
I left a voicemail for my younger brother last week which he never got because he doesn't check it. When I asked him about it, he was like, "Why didn't you text me?"

Life in Quarantine for Ebola Exposure: 21 Days of Fear and Loathing - NYTimes.com
I tend to stay at home a lot, but 21 days stuck in my apartment would drive me crazy.

Buy Experiences, Not Things - The Atlantic
Money can buy happiness if you spend it on experiences, not things.

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