When I had to have my car towed a couple of weeks ago, I was panicked for several reasons. I had negative money, I was tremendously ill, my cell phone was dead, and everyone I knew was at work, far away, or just as broke as I am. After borrowing a phone and then frantically trying to find help, my insurance company informed me that after calling around, they found someone who would tow me the 10 miles to my apartment for $70. My insurance company would pay for $50 of that, and every other company was offering to do it for $125-$150. I didn’t even have the $20 to make up the difference, but I was able to cut a deal with the insurance company that they would pay for it and I would be responsible for the $20 later. We reached this agreement after I’d been crying on the phone for at least an hour.
Yesterday, I got a phone call from an employee at my insurance company telling me that the bill for my towing came to $203, not the $70 as quoted. The towing company is now saying that they towed me 20 miles (which is not true), that they never would have quoted a price under $200, and that they have no idea where I got the $70 figure from. I told them that the other companies had offered to do it for far less than $200, and had I been quoted $200, I wouldn’t have gone with that company. I also told them they they had dealt with two different women at the insurance company, both of whom had told me separately that the quote was $70. None of this was done in writing as all of the arrangements were done over the phone.
It seems that every week I have someone trying to get more money out of me than I expect, and I have some emergency that requires me to use more resources than I actually have available to me. None of this would be a problem if I had money, or even if I had the hope of having money sometime in the near future.
The truth is, whether or not I win this battle, this towing company will never see that $203 from me. I can’t even drive my car, my rent is due, and I don’t have electricity. This is hardly a priority, and as I’m approaching a bankruptcy, this is the kind of bill that will just have to disappear.
I have, however, achieved some success with becoming more and more frugal. Due to my illness, I have been forced to make one week’s worth of pay last three weeks, and I’m already underpaid and buried under crushing debt. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.
I bought a large jar of store-brand peanut butter. From now on, I will spring for the name brand if I can afford it. I bought two loaves of 99-cent bread. I eat four peanut butter sandwiches a day. Nothing more.
I carry my laptop, cell phone, and chargers with me everywhere, and I charge up at work. I have not bought or used gasoline since my car is out of commission indefinitely. I was fortunate to have a free bus pass until the end of June, which is unfortunately today. My staffing agency reimburses transit costs –the rub is that you have to have the money to spend before you can be reimbursed. Because I was unable to buy my July pass in advance, I will have to spend extra money in cash while I wait for my July pass request to be processed. I am getting paid tomorrow, assuming I get paid on time this time. If I don’t get paid on time, I will have to rely on the kindess of bus drivers, as I will not be able to go to work, and due to my electricity woes, I won’t be able to work from home, either.
I don’t suppose I should take much credit for being frugal, though, because I’ve been quite irresponsible as well. I was forced to live on credit cards when my unemployment ran out, and I racked up quite a bill. I went over the limit, and was not able to pay even the minimum this month. Frankly, I’ve given up.