If I Had A Billion Dollars

Happy Wednesday! I regret to inform you that I did not win a billion dollars and so I will be continuing with this existence until further notice.

*sob*

It was telling that, when I thought of what I would spend that much money on, all I could think of were basic necessities that I wanted but couldn’t have. A house, a new car to replace my 12-year-old one, paying off all our debts, and being able to travel whenever we wanted, first class of course.

Just considering having no debt brought up the question, what would our regular maintenance costs be? Probably a maid service to come once a week, a pool service person to come once a week, and a landscaping/lawn service to come once a week to keep up the house and property. The pet costs, like grooming and vet things, would be a consideration. Car upkeep on the husband’s Prius and whatever new car I would get. Yearly taxes on the house and land.

The accountant in me knows that most of that money would be invested and we would draw a salary and expenses off the interest income. Making money from money – the real American dream. Which raises the idea that neither the husband nor I would ever have to work again, which then raises the question of what we would do with our time, but I’m not sure how to even brainstorm that.

Then we started thinking about what we’d do once our immediate needs were met. We knew we’d want to get a flat in London, a cabin in Vermont, and a condo on the beach so we’d have places to stay without having to pay for a hotel. I think I would want to pay a personal trainer to help get me in shape so I didn’t have to go to the gym to exercise (I’d have a room in our new home with equipment anyway).

I own work clothes and enough graphic tees and shorts to get by – I think I would want to find clothes that actually look good on me and are comfortable. Clothes are so low on my priority list that they only get purchased when other clothes wear out, so it would be nice to have clothes I actually feel confident in. I don’t think the bra market would be ready for how much money I would be willing to spend for a bra that actually works.

I think that other things would arise when the time came. Right now my brain isn’t in the right place to be able to imagine all the things I could do with that much money. I wouldn’t want a bunch of cars or a huge house or anything that might be above and beyond what I actually need, and I’m sure I would want to start some kind of scholarship fund or charitable trust with some of the money to go to a cause I care about. But all that’s so far above where I would start that I would have to consider it after those more basic needs were met and secure.

What would you do if you became an instant billionaire?

 

Looking Forward

In the few years that this website has been hosting book reviews, I’ve learned several things about book releases. They usually happen on Tuesdays and February is one of the hottest months for book releases in the year. I swear every year in February I pull my hair out wondering how I’m going to read all the amazing February releases. I also have learned the importance of pre-ordering. Pre-ordering a book can increase the likelihood that a supplier (Amazon, your local indie bookstore, Barnes and Noble) will see that demand and order even more, supporting the book and the author.

It has been a difficult couple of weeks. Years really, but the past couple weeks have been particularly asshole-esque. Then this weekend I got a few emails that significantly brightened my day.

The first reminded me that I had preordered the paperback of Tower of Dawn, book 7 in the Throne of Glass series, to add to my current collection. In addition to this I also preordered the hardcover of Kingdom of Ash, the final book in the same series. I don’t usually preorder new releases like this – I prefer to read them via the library first to see if they are books I want to own – but in this case I want the set on my shelf. Much like how I ordered her other trilogy finale A Court of Wings and Ruin to finish out the set despite the fact that it was horribly written smut that gave no satisfying ending to what the first two books set up. I didn’t even touch the novella A Court of Frost and Starlight, and I’m glad I didn’t. Apparently it was even smuttier than ACOWAR and less coherent, and it has no place on my shelves. Kingdom of Ash does though, and I can’t wait to see how it ends.

The other email was from a friend, someone I have never met but feel a real kinship with. It helps that she loves Pizza Hut so much. Paige sent me an email with an Amazon gift card as a get well soon message. ❤ The kindness of friends that I have found out in the wide world of web always surprises me and warms my heart. I took a day or so to decide what I would want to read, and I decided on the second book of the Nevernight trilogy. The first book, Nevernight, was an absolute vengeful delight. Initially I decided to wait to get the next one, Godsgrave, at the library, but I have been waiting forever (the holds list claims it’s been ordered but it’s been that way for a LONG time) and it’s finally time for me to get on book 2 because book 3 comes out next year and I gotta get it. Thank you Paige for your gift, your support and friendship, and your love of reading too. We’re probably going to have to finally meet in real life in March when I’m in Portland for the AWP Writer Conference.

I have all these books to look forward to, arriving on Tuesday of this week, and in November I’ll be off to the Miami Book Fair for more literary goodness. I’m healing well; thank you for all your well wishes!

Read. Be brave. Stay angry.

I Made These For You

At theawkwardyeti.com there are some pretty cute comics illuminating how the body works. As you read this I am at home recovering from gall bladder removal surgery, which was performed on Thursday. The husband took today off too, as I’m supposed to have a responsible adult watch me for 24 hours after the procedure. I got home okay yesterday, and today I’m just taking it as easy as I can.

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Credit: theawkwardyeti.com

I wont have much to do over the weekend other than read, sleep, play video games, and watch tv/movies, so I’m hoping to have some reviews up and ready for you next week. But if I don’t, you’ll have them as soon as I can write them.

Have a good weekend! Thanks for being here!

Family, Remastered

A little over a year ago I wrote a post detailing my separation from my parents. TL;DR: After the loss of a job, the aftermath of a hurricane, and all the financial woes that would come from both I was making a lot of our debt payments late. I have a private student loan cosigned for by my mom from my undergrad years, and so instead of receiving calls asking us how we were or if we needed help or caring things like that, I received texts demanding that I pay the bill because (a) she wasn’t going to help me with it and (b) it was affecting her credit. I told her that if the only role she could find to play in this scenario was bill collector then she needed to either help us, or stop calling & texting and leave us alone. Then I blocked their numbers.

When I tell you this was one of the best decisions I ever made, I mean it. For so many years I held tightly to the idea that family is family and you stick to blood no matter what because they are family, but last year I finally snapped in a good way. NO ONE, not your parents or your siblings or your cousins or the guy that lives down the street that you barely know has any right to treat you badly or disrespectfully. Your family is made up of people who care about you, who support you, and who make sure that you are okay, and you do the same for them in return.

I don’t have a lot of family, but the ones I have I would be there for without question. Some I have never met in real life, but we support each other virtually, something I couldn’t have done earlier in my life. My family is scattered all around the United States and as far as England and Germany. I have people I know I can talk to, I have people I know will help me, I have people that I can depend on. I hope they all know that they can expect the same from me in return.

So as we head into the holiday season where familial bullshit tends to smell a little more pungent and baggage tends to get a bit heavier and memories come out of the dark to stab us in the back, remember what family is really supposed to mean. Reach out to those that mean the most to you and take heart in the fact that it is 2018 and we are in the middle of a great re-imagining, insisting that societal norms are redefined to be more accepting of a greater diversity of peoples, and that includes the definition of family. If you have the safety and space to make your own, get that freedom and happiness wherever you can.

It is the age of deciding, as Dumbledore said, between doing what is right and what is easy. Just remember doing what is right is rarely easy, even if you are simply doing what is right for yourself. It gets better. Be brave.

Stay angry.

Sticks and Stones

Just a quick update. Last Thursday I left work early with severe upper abdominal pain and after some bloodwork and an ultrasound my doctor informed me that I have Gallstones! OUCH! It seems to be a genetic thing since my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather both had theirs out (that I know of, there could be more but who thinks to ask?) so I spoke to a surgeon on Wednesday who scheduled me for the procedure to remove the gall bladder next Thursday.

I’m not usually nervous about the doctor’s office, but general anesthesia freaks me out. I’ve also never had surgery other than to have my wisdom teeth out and even earlier when I was in Kindergarten I had to have my tongue cut. But that’s it. So I know this is a fairly regular procedure but it’s natural to be a little nervous anytime you get something like this done.

What I found odd was what the nurse gave me after getting me settled in the room. She handed me a sheet of paper that had “Weight Loss Track” checked off and a short description of “hey fatty, you’ve got a high BMI so please visit (and I’m not kidding you here) nutrition.gov” and told me that she was required to give me that based on my BMI. Never mind that I eat well-balanced meals that are low-sugar and low-fat and since having the gall bladder attack I have lost 6 pounds  because I’m eating even less than usual out of fear of pain. She didn’t ask me to see my myfitnesspal records or how often I exercised. My BMI was too high, so I got the paper slip asking me to eat better.

Okay bitch. Never mind that I had to get through two other doctors to get to this surgical consult. This had nothing to do with my weight, it was to decide on how to deal with my gall bladder. If I want to talk to anyone about my weight, I’ll talk to my primary care physician. Recognize that I’m nervous and maybe lay off on the fat person bullshit. Because by the way, for me, this is genetic.

There have been so many articles and studies done in the past two years that focus in on the mistreatment of fat people by doctors and medical facilities. While being overweight can put you at higher risk of some health concerns, it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be the only thing doctors look at when treating an individual. And, more specifically, maybe fat people who truly need some adjustments to their lifestyle for actual health reasons need more indepth care and solutions than a post it note ripped off a pad that says “check out this cool nutrition website, bro.”

So anyway I’m still fat plus I’m getting my gall bladder out next week. I’ll be out of commission for Friday through Sunday so I’ll have plenty of time to read and write and I can’t wait. Stay strong out there, angels. Stay angry.

FIRE BEES

A couple of quick updates:

  • I am now made entirely of bees that are each individually on fire. I will maintain this state of bee-ing until further notice or until our world stops making every week feel like five years.
  • Angry Angel Books reached 5,226 views on Saturday, September 29th, surpassing the total views from 2017 (5,225) by one view! My goal for this year was to write and post enough quality content to encourage viewership to increase, and I’ve met my goal! There are still three more months in the year and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

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  • The Miami Book Fair is coming up! I’ll be traveling to attend on November 16 through the 18th and I’ll be posting updates and reports here & on Twitter. I’ve managed to figure out how their events listing works so maybe I can get into a few author events in addition to spending $$$ at the book street fair.
  • I have deleted my Facebook account. I am now only available via Twitter, here, and email. See my Contact page for more information. I know deleting Facebook isn’t possible for everyone, but I am thankful that it was possible for me.
  • I am going to become an aunt this month. It’s funny how some labels are forced on you while others you choose. Just for the record, I’m gonna be the aunt that teaches the kid to swear and sneaks them McDonald’s and candy and brings them cool souvenirs from my travels. Oh yes, and I’ll be teaching them about feminism whether they are a boy or a girl because that’s a presence they are going to need in our current reality.

Have a great week!

Open House

Getting a mortgage is confusing. I can’t imagine what it was like before the collapse of 2008, but with all the extra rules and deterrents attached to home loans now, there is a lot to keep track of. Recently the husband and I have been looking at homes, and it had reached the point where we needed to contact a lender to see where we stood. His parents gave us a gift from his grandmother’s estate that we could use to help with our down payment, and so we called the lender that worked with the local homebuilder that we wanted to get a floorplan with, and let them run our numbers.

*insert insane, slightly sad laughter here*

There are three loans that the husband and I could take advantage of based on where the home we want is located. There is a USDA loan, which is a federal loan which would fund the home at 100%, no down payment required, and both the mortgage insurance and the loan interest rate are fixed and not based on your credit – this loan encourages home ownership in rural areas.

An FHA loan also doesn’t base the mortgage insurance or loan interest rate on your credit score, and is the federal loan program to simply encourage home ownership at a lower down payment – most require 3% down to participate.

Finally there is a conventional loan which tends to require a minimum of a 5% down payment and bases its interest rate and mortgage insurance on the borrower’s credit standing.

A word about mortgage insurance – it is policy after the 2008 collapse that all borrowers that provide less than a 20% down payment pay for mortgage insurance, which covers the mortgage should they become incapable of making payments. So while it’s nice to not have to put so much money down to get a house, you’ll pay more monthly for the home. Unless we were able to save up about $50,000 for a down payment, we would need to plan on this extra payment on top of the actual mortgage payment, taxes, HOA and CDD fees, home insurance, and any extra warranties.

If CDD fees look unfamiliar to you, they are a community development bond that developers take out with the local government. The government funds their community services like pools and playgrounds and that money pays for their upkeep. The bond payments are spread across all homeowners in the community and are paid in addition to any HOA fees, which go to a variety of services including deciding what you can and can’t do to the exterior of your home.

Are we all on the same page now? OK.

I have been working on bringing up our credit scores since March, but we knew that they probably wouldn’t be where they needed to be for a conventional loan, meaning we would be looking at either the USDA or FHA loan. So when the lender called us back we were expecting to hear about what we would need to pay to start, at closing, and monthly on either of those plans.

In addition to our credit, lenders look at how much we have in debt payments monthly. We have a few credit cards and several student loan payments. Since all the student loans except for the two private loans I have are on income-based repayment plans, we figured we were okay on that score.

Apparently not.

For federal home loan programs, lenders are required to use 1% of the full federal student loan showing on the credit report as the “monthly payment” when calculating a potential borrower’s monthly debt payment burden. So for a debt burden of say, $100,000, a borrower might be actually paying $175 on a payment plan, but a lender would have to use $1,000 as the payment for the debt burden calculation.

I know. And the fact that both the husband and I are on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program doesn’t make a lick of difference either. It’s just the rule.

So between the husband and I we had too many student loans to qualify for either the USDA or FHA loans because of this policy. It made our monthly debt burden look too high. This meant that our only remaining option was the conventional loan, because they are only interested in the actual  payments being made. However, our credit scores put the interest rate and mortgage insurance so high that while we would have enough money for the down payment and closing, we would never be able to afford the monthly payment.

This was the point at which both the lender and the realtor we have been working with started talking about “starter homes” and how, if we were willing to spend a little less money now on a smaller house, we could build up equity and then move into a bigger house later.

Now look. I was born in the late morning but it wasn’t this morning. I’m not going to give up renting a house that has most of the things I want to move into a smaller house with only some of the things I want PLUS I have to take on the financial responsibility of fixing whatever might be wrong with it either at purchase or that will happen along the way, only to sell it years later to get the actual house that I want. Our financial situation is barely stable enough to buy the house we actually want. Thinking that we would be able to save and avoid disaster buying something we don’t really want is laughable. It’s a recipe for disaster. I appreciate these ladies doing their job, but I know what we’re capable of and rushing into a HUGE financial obligation just for the sake of owning a home to say we own a home ain’t it.

We’re going to have to hold off on buying a home for now. The husband’s parents told us to use the money for paying off credit cards and adding to savings instead, and so I paid off 3 full balances this week with a 4th soon to follow. We’re going to continue renting, probably where we are now to avoid the hassle of moving. I think we’ll give it two or three more years and then reassess where we are and where the local real estate market is.

The lesson I will continue to shout to the rooftops is that renting is not throwing your money away. It is stability. You are paying for a place to live. You are paying for someone else to fix the things for you.  If you don’t like your neighbors you can move. There are plenty of benefits to renting instead of buying, especially renting houses, so don’t let anyone, especially GenXers or Baby Boomers, bully you into buying a house when you are not ready. You are smart, you have a wealth of information available to you, and only you know whether you are financially ready to handle a responsibility as large as owning a home. Don’t get pressured. Do what’s right for you.

Postscript: Let this blog post stand as a response to all the “WHY AREN’T MILLENNIALS BUYING HOMES” think pieces. I have lived in the same home for the last 4 years, I have 14 years of experience in my career. My husband and I make enough money to, theoretically, be able to do this. You want me to buy a home right fucking now? DEMAND STUDENT LOAN RELIEF OR FORGIVENESS NOW.

Have a great weekend!