My Micro-economy: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I’m in a little bit of a tizzy this morning (see The Ugly below), but yesterday I reviewed my income and investments so far this year and, I don’t know about the future, but the present is a little less bleak. I gave up two things – haircuts and travel – which, taking into account some sublet income, would have cost me $3500. And that is just about the sum total of…

THE GOOD

There’s a certain amount of money I need to make every week to cover all of my essential personal/business expenses – rent, health insurance, cell/internet/web hosting, food, laundry, etc. Four out of the first nineteen weeks of 2009, I failed to hit that number, while three of those weeks I exceeded that minimum by at least 75%. To put real numbers to this, I exceeded my survival-level income over those 19 weeks by $5000. So where is that money now?

–  $1000 finished off my 2008 Roth IRA contribution on April 1
–  $600 for the replacement laptop
–  $200 wasted on application fees for the apartment I decided not to take
–  $750 for professional services – accountant, doctor bills, 1 Rolfing session
–  $3000 is earmarked for my Whole Life policy premium due in September
–  $1350 “extra” sitting in my accounts waiting for me to do something with it

Umm…that adds up to $6900, not $5000. I’m doing something right and I have NO idea what. I might have to revisit my concept of survival-level expenses and see where I’m saving, like, $100/week. My income is down 20%, but I was worried it was going to be more like 40%, so this indeed all good news relative to the current environment.

Also, I’ll be making a passive $75-125/month handling the sublet of my soldier-friend’s apartment. I’ve already got two potential tenants lined up for viewing with the current sublettor, who it turns out gave the place a fresh coat of paint when he moved in. Assuming it’s not a bizarre color…phew! I’d have painted it, but didn’t really want to. Apparently the owner refuses to fix some constantly-running water problem in the bathtub, but I would gladly sacrifice some of my little side income to pay a plumber to take care of it. Heck, maybe I could hire one of my building’s maintenance men to do it on the side – I trust them.

THE BAD

My investments are still down about 40%, though my recent stock purchases are faring way better (one is down 17%, the other is up 360%). Despite the “leftover” money, I’m going to struggle to accomplish what I want to this year – $5K Roth IRA, $9K whole life, unknown amount towards tuition for Rolfing course (anticipating $3-4K). It’s killing me not to travel, but I can put that on the back burner for one year. I just can’t let it go on longer than that or else I start acting all nutso.

THE UGLY

Hoping it’s a minor obstacle, but since I’ve only known about it for a matter of hours, I don’t know yet. Although I wish it weren’t the case, I get most of my business through Craigslist – of all the places to look online or off for an independent massage therapist, this is the most high-profile site out there. I’m on others, but they’re only worth about 10% of my business. Yes, it’s that unbalanced.

I may have mentioned that since CL started charging to post in the Erotic (recently relabelled “Adult”) section last fall, the Therapeutic board has been swamped with massage parlor, escort and brothel spam. Traffic quadrupled overnight. Just to keep an ad in the first 200 (2 pages), you need to post every 45 mins. I technically break the rules by top-posting, but it’s really freaking minor compared to what everyone else is doing – seriously , is 175 live ads in a week not worse?? Well, in its unfathomable wisdom, CL decided to suspend two of my five accounts, and their help page pretty much said I had a snowball’s chance of getting it reinstated. Amazingly, in the midst of blogging, the ban was lifted on the one I emailed about, just hours after reminding them that they really need a lot more ads like mine, not less. Still, I’m quite sure this is only the beginning of the fallout from the Craigslist Killer and the ensuing negative press. It’s particularly ironic to be dumped on like this today – I got a thank-you note from a squash-playing doctor who came to me two hours before his tournament final last night a completely cramped up mess; he was an underdog, he won, and he was giving me some of the credit. And tonight I’m working on a high-profile retired 4-star general who, yes, found me on craigslist after sifting through about 60 pages of shady ladies. Bring on the ugliness…

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6 Responses

  1. If you need it, I’d be willing to help with paint

    • You’re such a sweetheart! As it turns out, I was right about the cruddy condition of the paint – the current sublettor painted the place before moving in, so it’s not an issue anymore. Woohoo!

  2. Yikes about Craigslist! That’s really a tough break…

  3. Ugh. It’s too bad Craigslist doesn’t have a system in place to verify legitimate business vs. the shady ones. I hope you can find a resolution to this.

  4. I heard about the craigslist on NPR and was wondering how it affected you.

  5. That’s ridiculous that CL suspended two of your accounts! I know you rely on it for business and I’m glad it helps you, but I absolutely hate it! Everything in Austin is usually posted out of place, people flag proper stuff unnecessarily to eliminate competition, it’s a disaster trying to sort through stuff sometimes. As a freelance writer, there’s definitely work to be found if you take the time to sift, which I hate doing. I really wish there was a better system in place for CL, it would make legitimate business people much happier I think!

    Congrats to you on saving more money then you thought, by the way. No easy feat and I hope it continues for you!

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