Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Round and Round

with 6 comments

Total Black: $508.96
Total Red: $230,325.12

Both total black and total red are down a bit.  Total red should come down under $229K by tomorrow once payments post and all.  I worked from 8am until 11:30pm today at both jobs.  Since I’ve become head usher for Naked Boys Singing, every Friday and Saturday night will have me watching men singing in the nude—and all the people who pay to see them.  Quite the interesting end to the formal work week and start of the weekend.

Twice today very strong emotions, at either end of the spectrum, washed over me.  Typically I snorkel along the surface of life, looking up when necessary but also observing the amazing world below.  Define the air and the water however you will.  But today, when I glanced at the home page to my blog and noticed total red back up to its highest point and right next to it the countdown calendar announcing four months remaining to debt freedom, it was as if some wave of reality crashed over me and pushed me under.  I nearly choked on the waters of reality that rushed in and down my tubing.  Once I spat out those fowl waters of despair—and took a few deep breaths—the moment passed but it left me drained, tired, and just sad.  It wasn’t a feeling of woe-is-me, just an awareness that my input in not matching the needed output.  Those white-heat moments really wallop you one.

Then, later in the evening while watching the boys do their dance—they don’t just sing, of course—the other end of the spectrum hit me.  If the negative feeling earlier in the day came over me like waters of despair, submerging me and cutting off my air, then its antithesis was like surfacing to calm waters, a cool ocean breeze, and the warm rays of the sun gently shining down on me.  I felt like I might just succeed at this project.  (How exactly “succeed” gets defined remains to be seen.)  I am, after all, getting there.  Total red isn’t really all the way back up to where it had been.  My debt is coming down, albeit slowly.  Perhaps even at a snail’s pace.  But that’s about to speed up, whether due to a new job or changes I’ll make upon the permanent arrival of warm weather.  And those debts that can increase on their own I’m paying first—to ensure they stay down.

The other evening my mother gasped when I mentioned my total debt load.  Although I’ve mentioned it previously, she probably didn’t remember.  So I explained that nearly $45K of that number is money owed her.  She immediately scolded me for worrying about paying her back now.  “As long as I can make that monthly payment,” she said, referring to the line of credit on her house, “I’ll be fine.  You take care of those other bills first.”  She’s not about to have me thrown in debtor’s prison for money owed to her.  But I must also guard against taking advantage of her kindness.  That’s primarily the reason that I looped her $4,000 loan into total red, pushing it back up to its highest point.

But still, despite going ’round and ’round and up and down on this roller-coaster, my debt is coming down.  One student loan is a thousand less than it was six months ago.  The Saks card is nearly paid off.  Two Bank of America credit card are both under the limit whereas since August I’ve been fighting the battle of the credit limit bulge: balance is over-the-limit, make a payment, fees and interest rate push it back over.  Those two cards are now current until mid-April, meaning another payment won’t be due until mid-May.  The AmEx card had been paid off but is back up at the limit due in part to my food needs over the month (a discussion I will not re-engage here), a panicky-payment to the IRS I made in hasty moment of worry, and the internet / telephone / cable (what remained after cancellation of service) payment.  That damn bill cost $495; it had gone unpaid for over a month or two perhaps, but I’m not sure why.  I need to look into it, especially since home telephone line costs close to $40 a month.  I’ll be switching to Verizon and getting the most basic line possible—one of those ten-dollar plans paying for each call placed.  I never use that line but I don’t want creditors calling my cellphone.  Of course, that’s only assuming I do not move in the next month or so because of a new job.

Next week’s paycheck will have to cover rent—well, at least most of it.  And it’s looking like it’ll be the highest check yet from the contract attorney position, but even if I hit seventy hours at $34.00 an hour it still won’t net me the $2,000 I need for rent because of taxes.  I’d much rather toss that money at a student loan.  Really what I need is about a month or two more at this pace to get ahead a bit before any life changes take place.  Maybe I can convince the judge, whichever I accept the offer from, to let me start in mid-May.  Of course, that’ll only work if I have work until then.

6 Responses

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  1. The IRS debt is staggering considering your income. Have you thought about an offer in compromise? You need to do some research, but I’m sure it’s available for individuals (see the irs.gov website). I just glanced at it and it seems as though you would qualify for a reduced debt amount.
    http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=104593,00.html

    Donnelly

    March 27, 2010 at 13:05

  2. I actually just reached out to a tax law firm in the city. I need 2009 taxes prepared and 2008 and 2007 reviewed. Last year I used HR Block on tax day. It wasn’t smart and cost like $500. I just dragged my feet. I suppose same thing again, but not for a lack of trying. I don’t know how people find attorneys because no one I know seems to know a tax attorney. Odd. Googling is how I found the firm I reached out to. Not the smartest way, but a start.

    But as to your point specifically, I didn’t want to work out any deals because I didn’t want to—in a sense—“take” money from the taxpayers by giving less than I owe. I owe those taxes—assuming my returns were prepared properly. Now penalties and fees—that’s a different story!

    But I do want to discuss all this with a tax attorney. I say attorney because the IRS has already “reviewed” 2007 twice and upped my amount owed twice. Not sure they get to review you multiple times. Seems a bit unfair to keep going back and “finding” more. And the “more” is because an accountant I used in 2007 advised me to take $4,000 and put it in an IRA so I could claim the tax cut. But I made too much, and he still claimed it, so the IRS disallowed it and penalized me. As far as I understand tax preparations, his malpractice insurance should cover that. He should have known that I made too much and wouldn’t have qualified for that tax credit.

    I’m throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but I want an attorney this time around.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 27, 2010 at 13:14

  3. If you do use the services of a tax lawyer, please remember that their fees can be quite steep and I don’t know if you are in a financial position to take on more liabilities. That being said, try to work out something with the IRS. You’ve had a significant change in financial position since you incurred the tax liability, so an offer in compromise may be your best bet. You don’t have much in the way of assets and you have no dependents, so why don’t you use a user-friendly (and relatively inexpensive) program like turbo-tax to do your taxes? The franchise tax preparers use basically the same software, which they customize for marketing purposes. Just some suggestions…

    Donnelly

    March 27, 2010 at 16:46

  4. So you actually have received 2 offers for clerkships? Your next-to-last sentence makes it sound as if you have already gotten offers.

    S

    March 31, 2010 at 13:48

  5. No. I don’t. That was me thinking “when” and not “if.” So much for that form of magical thinking, eh? 😉

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 31, 2010 at 14:07

  6. Or maybe I should have written “No. Not yet.” 😉

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 31, 2010 at 17:42


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