Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

Posts Tagged ‘New York Times

Sweet Irony

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Total Black: -$199.84
Total Red: $269,947.64

Total black has been sliding further and further into the red.  I noted in Oops . . . I Did It Again that two bills were pending: a check to the landlord and a check to a doctor—both remaining debts from living in New York.  Both checks cleared, but because of the kinks in getting my finances online in a new city, they cleared with a negative balance.  I was able to get enough into one of my two checking accounts with Bank of America to cover the gap caused by the rent check.  But not enough for the check to the doctor.  Bank of America, of course, charged me an insufficient funds fee for both.  Then, in the other checking account, as I noted in And Again . . . , I got hit with a third insufficient funds fee when a student loan I had on automatic bill pay posted, drawing me into the red.  That’s three bills that cleared, but brought me under.  Today Bank of America just charged me an extended overdrawn balance charge on one account.  I imagine another is in its way for the second checking account.  I can’t imagine any better example of adding salt to the wound than to hit your customers with two fees for the same transaction.  Obviously, if you didn’t have the funds to begin with, you may not have them five days late.  But that’s how the big banks do business, I guess.  Keep reading . . .

What’s In a Name?

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Total Black: $3,497.43
Total Red: $270,410.31

A rose, by any other name, right?  That’s what Shakespeare claimed.  Not always if its your first name.  I walked into a very interesting conversation this afternoon between Officemate and Other Law Clerk.  Other Law Clerk was talking about the crazy names black mothers give to their children.  She’s taken this on as her cause, compiling a list.  She’s already at 700.  It’s the first time I’ve ever heard a black person expressing frustration with names like Ququisha or J’Wona.  I’ll have to let her know she’s not alone.  Chris, of Stuff Black People Hate, agrees.  One name she noted really floored me: Le-a.  I would not ever have guessed how that name is pronounced.  Keep reading . . .

Root of Evil

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Total Black: $83.40
Total Red: $270,623.78

Short post today because of a long day at work.  Another trial.  Expected to last all week again.  As I watched voir dire, I was struck by the depth of the problem of class and crime.  I must beg indulgence because today’s post will be off-topic.  I’m no bible-beater.  I value the book as a source of collected wisdom of one group’s beliefs and culture, and perhaps also a larger testament to humanity.  But the last time I blogged about the Bible was back at the beginning in Keeping My Brother and then a bit later in A Time For Everything.  The past few days, however, had me thinking about that famous biblical passage about money and evil.  Keep reading . . .

Yet Another Update On Efforts

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Total Black: $279.58
Total Red: $230,715.35

I thought I’d take today to give an update on efforts.  I’m at a stand-still.  I suspect it’s because of the nature of the past few jobs I’ve had.  It is a bit befuddling to be running so long and hard, then realize you’re on a treadmill and the horizon hasn’t gotten any closer.  So far since starting this project, I’ve worked as an art seller and now an usher at at theatre, in addition to working at three contract attorney positions.  Each lasted just long enough for me to get things under control and then stopped abruptly.  But clearly my numbers aren’t moving much yet.  So, what’s been the problem? Keep reading . . .

Secret Santas

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Total Black: $6.70
Total Red: $230,660.74

It’s nearly Christmas.  The time when gift-giving abounds and generosity’s cup runneth over.  At the temp job yesterday, I bought twenty dollars worth of $2 scratch-off tickets, ten a piece, for my two fellow contract attorneys.  They were pleasantly surprised.  One had never bought or received an instant lottery ticket.  He won ten dollars.  The other won seven.  Nothing extravagant, but a nice gesture.  Of course one possible downside to such unexpected giving is that people may feel obligated to give something to you in turn.  Today one attorney bought me a coffee at Starbucks while the other bought Starbucks gift cards for me and the other attorney.  I was happy to receive their gifts, but I just they purchased them out of a desire to give and not a feeling of obligation.  That’s why I understand the urge to give quietly and anonymously. Keep reading . . .

Cutting Costs, Corners . . . and Concerns

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Total Black: $435.42
Total Red: $230,977.94

I’ve received a lot of comments, questions, feedback, and suggestions over the past day or so.  Since the blog is just beginning to pick up traffic, I have the luxury of responding directly in a post to many of those responses.  First though I need to lay out my monthly expenses.  That’s something I haven’t done. Keep reading . . .

Virtually Incensed

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Total Black: $63.15
Total Red: $230,600.32

While letting my apartment air out from the exterminators’ visit this afternoon, I took time at a nearby Starbucks to read today’s New York Times.  I was utterly befuddled . . . nay dumbfounded . . . by an article on the front page.  Claire Cain Miller and Brad Stone penned an article titled “Virtual Goods Start Bringing Real Paydays.”  I use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.  And I’ve played a few hours of Second Life.  So I’m not unfamiliar to the idea of using real money to purchase virtual currency or virtual goods.  But I would have never imagined what Miller and Stone reported.  Keep reading . . .

It Just Bugs Me

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Total Black: $2,255.14
Total Red: $230,648.00

As typical of the past few months, I was awoken again this morning by the telephone ringing.  The first caller was SallieMae at 8:57am.  Surprisingly, however, the second caller was not.  SallieMae often calls from two different telephone numbers so they effectively call you twice as often.  Not sure how legal that is.  But today, the second call came from the landlord’s management company.  The letter I mentioned in Bring It On seems to have brought something on because within a half-hour of the landlord’s management company calling, their attorney telephoned as well.  His message indicated that he’d do his best to try to get the lawsuit for non-payment of rent discontinued.  Later in the day I received an email from the attorney slightly retracting that earlier message, claiming that I had said I’d be paid in full by this time and I’m not yet.  He also noted that they’re “looking into” my other complaint.  I replied and referenced only the financial issues and clarified that September’s rent had already been sent in, and should have been received already, and that half of October’s rent was coming.  Later in the day I received another telephone call, this time from someone else with the management company, telling me that he heard I had a “problem” with the apartment and he wanted to talk to me about it.  Isn’t it interesting that my “problem” all of a sudden is a concern of theirs? Keep reading . . .

Small Town Boy in the Big City

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Total Black: $22.71
Total Red: $230,281.21

Again Bank of America has walloped me with insufficient funds fees.  This time I don’t even know for sure just how.  A few days ago I received an email notice from Barnes & Noble alerting me to some difficulty processing a check card transaction.  A few months ago I purchased some items on Barnes & Noble and it slipped my mind that one of them wouldn’t be available until the Fall.  I didn’t have enough money in my checking account to cover the transaction, so I figured I’d just let the order be canceled as Barnes & Noble suggested might happen if I didn’t update my order information.  Besides, I’m in savings mode now and those items were purchased before I began this project.  A day passed and another email alert arrived reminding me once more of the inability to complete the transaction.  And again I passed on it (not that I would have had money from anywhere to pull to cover the approximately forty dollar transaction).  The next day a new alert arrives thanking me for my purchase and providing me with the tracking number.  Huh?  I checked my checking account but no pending transaction was listed.  I figured that perhaps it was some other credit card I had used that suddenly became available.  I didn’t really care to go investigating.  Today I got alerted of insufficient funds fees and saw that somehow Barnes & Noble force through the order or Bank of America authorized it despite the lack of funds in the account.  This time, I will get my money back.  I’ve printed out all of the insufficient funds fee notices for the past month and I’m walking into the branch office near my job.  As Ron Lieber of the New York Times reported that “[b]eginning Oct. 19, Bank of America will stop charging any fees for customers who overdraw their accounts by less than $10 in a single day.  It will also limit the number of overdraft fees it charges to four a day, although the bank will continue to charge a fee of $35 per overdraft.”  Unfortunately, it looks like the bank is trying to garner as much money as it can before its new policy goes into effect. Keep reading . . .

Alone, Yet Not Alone

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Total Black: -$304.86
Total Red: $228,252.66

As I predicted in yesterday’s post, Doing That Hustle, Bank of America has walloped me once again with multiple insufficient funds fees.  Some are clearly my fault.  Others are not.  But . . . I say, “Oh well.”  I get paid tomorrow, so once they’ve been “reimbursed” I’ll call the bank to get some reimbursement myself and fight a few of their fees.  One example: I transferred $40 from my checking account to my savings account.  Bank of America charged me a fee for that transaction because, once they rearranged subsequent transactions, it brought my balance further under.  Clearly I had the money in the account or I couldn’t have transferred it, so I don’t understand how a bank gets to charge you a $35 fee for moving $40 of your own funds.  They’ll hear from me on that one for sure.   Keep reading . . .

Positive Thinking

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Total Black: $524.93
Total Red: $228,517.33

I spoke with my mother tonight.  She wanted to know whether I’ve decided anything yet regarding the rapidly-approaching October deadline when my lease ends.  I hinted in a prior post, Mothers, that I might have to return home and move back in with my mother if something doesn’t come through soon here in Manhattan.  It would be ruinous to renew my lease at $2,000 / month and invite potential liability particularly without a secured source of income.  But it also seems potentially disastrous to return home to Scranton where there’d clearly be fewer job opportunities.  My mother’s advice was to pray.  As I listened, I started wondering whether prayer and positive thinking were similar.  I mean, isn’t prayer, that surgery goes well, for example, or that a job comes though—isn’t that sort of a way of thinking positively about the situation?  Clearly positive thinking puts you in the driver’s seat while prayer does not, but fundamentally they seem more alike than different.  My mother assured me that plenty of people were praying for me that things would work out soon.  I joked of the old adage that when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.  “Well,” I said, “if so, He needs to spray some windex on that window because I can’t see out.”  She didn’t laugh. Keep reading . . .

The Lowly Penny

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Total Black: $29.02
Total Red: $227,913.40

I’ve stopped noting daily gains / losses; not much of any just yet.  Scrolling down through previous posts will show that and the breakdown on the 10th of each month will too.  Total black now includes twenty dollars invested in some mutual funds with American Funds.  I figure I should do that each week.  Savings have to start somehow.  Plus I gained a cent overnight.  Hey, that’s one penny closer to getting out of debt.  And it got me thinking all about the lowly penny.  Penny Keep reading . . .