I started this year with a grand vision. I’d get more active, start really focusing on building my freelance business and head off to grad school in the fall. The active part I have pretty well under control (mostly because I don’t have a car and I’ve been using a bike to get around). I’ve managed to drum up some freelance work, but I quickly realized that being full-time freelance by the end of the year was not going to happen. As for grad school, it was the first thing to come off the table as something to work toward this year.
You see, one of the most important steps in starting a business is to get real regarding your finances and ideally, ditching bad habits. Just as I started to pull back the veil to really examine the truth about my crumbling financial foundation, I realized I had to make some changes before I could begin launching any escapes.
Grad school would cost a hefty $100k (not including living expenses, child care, transportation, books…etc.) and I had no desire to dig myself deeper into debt. Unfortunately, I had ignored certain debts too long and was soon confronted with them in most unpleasant ways: car repossession and the threat of wage garnishment if I didn’t start paying my student loan.
I was embarrassed; both creditors had found me at work. The student loan people called my direct extension, but it was a coworker who alerted me that my car was being towed; I had to bring all the crap from my car to my desk. Talk about a wake-up call. If you know anything about Southern California, you know it is not a good place to be without a car. But now I see having a car as luxury, one I cannot currently afford.
So I bought a bike and a bus pass. I’ve also not missed a payment on my student loan since that fateful call.
The next step was to look at what other expenses I could scale back. I had this apartment that I was happy for at the time–escaping from recent outbreaks of violence in my long-time subsidized housing–but now it was starting to look over-priced. I was starting to see graffiti at the edges of the neighborhood and neither the boy nor I cared for the school he was attending. I felt isolated from my friends and family, most of whom lived 30 minutes to an hour away. I was struggling to make ends meet and really starting to feel the pressure.
I had two choices: Get a roommate or find a smaller apartment.
I waffled back and forth (very briefly) before deciding to take the plunge into finding new digs. Sure, I could save more money by getting a roommate, but I’d also be giving up my privacy and inviting a stranger to live with me and my child. I just wasn’t comfortable with that. If I moved, I could go to a city I liked and get closer to my family, while being able to maintain the privacy I valued so much.
So I made a list, a vision–if you will–of all the things I required of my new abode. I wanted a place walking or biking distance from the beach, with a private balcony or patio, a bedroom (not one of those Jr. 1 bedrooms that don’t have a separate sleeping space) and I wanted to save $200-300 a month. I gave my 30 day notice–effectively burning my ship–and started booking appointments and submitting applications. Again though, I was confronted with my poor financial history. While I had a good income and had never been evicted or filed bankruptcy, with so many things in collections, I looked like a risky proposition for a tenant and I was rejected several times.
Mentally, I began making compromises. Maybe I didn’t need a patio and maybe I didn’t need a bedroom. Maybe I should look at this piece of shit apartment over here because it’s been on the market for so long and they might be willing to negotiate. Maybe I can’t afford to live close to the beach. Maybe I’m not worthy of what I desire.
When I was declined just as my 30 days ran out, I started to doubt even more. Maybe I’d made a huge mistake. I should have waited to give my notice. What if no one is willing to give me a chance?
I felt weary but it was in this darkest moment I made up my mind that the doubt was a lie. I would have was I was looking for. It was out there for me, I just hadn’t found the one yet. It would come and it would be on time. I got an extension on my moving date and resumed my search with a strange feeling of calm.
I was more determined than ever, but somewhere along the way, I ditched my desperation flag.
You know the one flapping around going, “Hey I’m in need! I need and I need. Please help me because I NEED.”
Would you take a chance on someone so needy? Most people won’t. Not when it comes to their money.
It was really do-or-die time, but I had decided not to worry about whether or not things would work out. With every application I submitted, I let it go. I could not control the property owners, nor could I control the outcome of the applying. If it was meant to be mine, they would say yes and until someone said yes, I knew that the right place was waiting for me.
Then a rental agent I had been working with called me. He had submitted an application for a condo we saw a few weeks prior and I was approved. All I needed to do was go sign the lease, take in my deposit and move in when I was ready.
So, in two weeks [UPDATE: I moved in almost two weeks ago an I love it! More details on the new crib in a later post], I’ll be sitting on my lovely patio, at my new beach condo, saving money on rent every month and biking to the beach on Saturdays with my boys.
And I didn’t have to make any compromises.
True enough, my finances are a mess. It’s also true that I will prosper as my soul prospers. The lie is that I don’t deserve any of the things I’m seeking: financial, physical and spiritual health. The truth is that I deserve it all. We all do.
Originally published at the Live Your Truth blog.