A newer model

This is what my car sees when it looks in the mirror. This is (kinda,) what I see when I look at my car. Except my car has a lot more personality. A lot more stories can be told and so many more questions can be asked about it. Not to mention mine was likely much more affordable than the GT pictured above. For thirty-three hundred dollars almost six and a half years ago and it’s still driving just as well. Minor maintenance excluded, it has had no problems at all. Just today, it rolled over 135,000 miles. I plan to keep driving it for a very long time.

Maybe long enough that I could drive it down and park it downtown for the Friday night car shows – maybe once it’s forty years old it will be okay if it’s a bit rusty and would be cool enough based on its age alone. Not only have I gotten a solid 48,000 miles (and even when we’ve had our issues, like when the radiator blew out… I still made it many miles back to safe harbor,) already from the car, but this week I also got a sizeable insurance check due to my car taking a minor impact back in February.

Calm and patient, was my mantra as I left Texas and went to search for something in the desert. Supplied and rested, I headed out from Jal, New Mexico – by then going North, then west. Full tank of gas before I left town and got on the main drag out of town. Nothing but a hundred miles of wide-open highway in front of me. No traffic in my lane, yet the the oncoming lane was bumper to bumper. In the first quarter mile past my last light out of town -bam- a white Tundra from the left, shooting a gap in the slow-moving lane of oncoming traffic. Nice guy, he later said that the drivers of one of the semi-drivers gave him a nod to go for it.

In any case, my car took that tap to the chin to the tune of a $3,000 payout: that is “taking one for the team”. Taking three thousand of today’s dollars (only about 2400 of 2017 dollars,) off of my purchase price, and I’ve got a thousand-dollar car with a V8 that runs flawlessly with only 135k original miles. It does have a few scratches, maybe a dozen and a half zip tie stitches in the left side of the front bumper, and a touch of rust around the rear wheel wells- all that though, I call personality and I like it.

Good enough day today, I really like the finance app I added on my laptop, very simple compared to Quickbooks or any professional product, yet in its simplicity it allows me to use its features completely. I added in all my recurring bills and can use it to ‘forecast’ each account based on the repeating transactions. Not only the monthly bills, I also added weekly amounts for gas and groceries, quarter amounts for garbage and water, and even bi-annual and annual for my car insurance and registration.

The software adds everything together and automatically calculates my cost averaging out at exactly $1500 per month (Okay, I changed my grocery estimate by a buck or two to get it to line up perfectly.) At that point, I felt like Cleo in the Cosby Show pilot episode. I had some good news today after I decided to call the financial aid department about my Michigan Reconnect award. Knowing now that that I wouldn’t have federal help, the state aid was essential and online my balance still showed at -3719.

So glad that I decided to make the call and spoke with Trish in that department. So many questions and so many answers, so helpful, not only sharing the next steps in any procedure but also including details of the process to best ease our mutual efforts and increase my odds for a more successful outcome. Long story short (as if,) not receiving the Pell Grant makes almost no difference to me as a Reconnect student (over 26 yrs old,) The state will cover in full what the Pell Grant would have.

Had I received the federal pell of 3345, that would have come off my bill first, leaving 374. Then the reconnect will cover everything except books (all digital, flat rate $70 per class,) so for me, $350 (or $420 once I add the sixth class.) Meaning if I get Federal accepted, the State would only pay out $24 dollars instead of $3369. She next told me the appeal process was quite simple, a form to fill out with a brief letter to type. A series of checkboxes to explain your basis for appeal of federal student aid rejection.

I thought I knew and I did not know if she knew, so I asked the the obvious question. If the Reconnect program paid the exact same as the Pell Grant did, what difference does it make to me? Either way, I pay $350 (or $420,) right?

With a brief pause, she said I was correct and that once federally qualified again, I would also be able to take an interest-free federal loan of up to $4750 per semester. Of course, as I just mentioned yesterday I think, I was planning on this for the spring semester and then would have also gotten it in the summer semester. With my appeal almost assured to be granted (I questioned if the process was more akin to a prisoner asking for a pardon or a student driver asking for a license,) I will now be able to collect my loan amount this semester and in the spring- not the summer.

The federal limit is $9500 per calendar year, which will be just more than half of my annual expenses. The Ward Three election is still two years away… the time of the current Mayor’s election is hard to ignore. It would be nearly impossible to change the outcome of the election, yet now I know that a successful campaign does not necessarily result in the election of a specific candidate.

For me, a successful campaign could be to let people know that I am here and involved and still keeping an eye on city matters to some degree. Enough at least, to come around at election time and try my best to add commentary based on my experience so that others may gain insight into the issues that affect us all. I could campaign based solely on education about issues and transparency and win or lose (and it would be lost, 25 and 35% for the losers of the general and with 40% to Mr. Mahoney returning as two-time mayor.)

However, that would make the next campaign in the third ward to be seamless. I don’t want to go so far as to say that I don’t like Angie in that seat, rather that may be the only seat on the council that I can win. Maybe that is one good reason I should, actually, run as a write-in candidate for mayor, so that the third ward has a chance to keep Angie when they gain myself. That would be interesting to sit on the Council while being a late returning student- I do have Tuesday nights open.

With news that I’ll now again, almost certainly receive the federal student loan, that solidifies the long-term budget into sometime next year. Long enough that once the disbursement is released in October, I should be able to catch up fully on my mortgage and everything else- for a moment at least. I might be left with little as I await the next disbursement in February. Then I’ll still have to figure out how to pay the summer bills while taking a full term of summer classes (and here is an advantage of the reconnect program, it will pay three terms in a year.)

With the financial aid process and my budget complete (well, all except the paperwork,) and my funding in place, I’m starting to think of the minor things. I’ll have four classes on Monday: Humanities at 10, Government at 1, Writing at 3, and Intro to Film at 6.

Sleep well and eat a good breakfast… Okay. When am I going to eat lunch? What am I going to wear? Who will I meet?

Worked on the tree today, and started chopping it limb from limb. It did go faster than I thought and got it about half done. It was far too hot and the chopping motion was far too monotonous for me to stay working at it too long. I’ll have it finished and piled tomorrow I hope.

Hopefully, it’s cool enough to work outside tomorrow as I would really like to finish the yard, mow, and clear corner to corner. Maybe finish the whole backyard, set up a bit of new fence to enclose it, and get a dog.

Hmm, maybe that should be my reward if I make it through Labor Day still enrolled, paid in full, with perfect attendance, and up to date on my homework in all classes. Maybe if I make it to mid-terms. Especially if I am awarded my grant and loan based on my appeal to my unsatisfactory completion ratio, then drop/fail/withdraw from more this semester, this may be my last shot to “make it or break it” in college life. Certainly, I could always pay for the privilege later in life, yet for now- I feel like I’m really going to have to work the classes in order to earn the privilege to get that interest-free loan.

With that, that amount can catch me up and float my budget over the bottom side of this trench, and if I find an income source while maintaining my enrollment at least half-time after my associates, then I can pay it back before it ever begins to charge any interest or fees. Essentially, for me this “college opportunity” is really a federal financial bailout- I’ll get the check yet I’ll have to spend fifteen weeks in classes (better than congressional hearings.) If that was the case of course, I wouldn’t pay it back early- I’d bankroll the cash wherever I could get the highest rate on it until the last day of the grace period to repay with no interest/fees.

Okay, two days of summer to go.

Time to rest.



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