Monday, September 9, 2013


Today I did something I've never had to do before. I called up the hotel where my event was held and begged them to give me a break on my bill.

I am a terrible bargainer. Haggling has always been one of my least favorite things about international travel. So it's not surprising that for years I've had this shitty deal in my contract with them where I only get 25 staff rooms at a reduced rate whereas I usually book about 100 or more (to be clear, these are rooms for my staff that I pay for). Up until now this hasn't mattered because my old contact person would just automatically discount all of my rooms as a courtesy to me. I didn't know she was even doing this until she left the hotel last year and warned me that this would stop. I knew the difference would be several thousand dollars - but remember, I expected to have made so much money that it wouldn't really matter. Well, it turns out that bump up from my average bill of about $4,000-$5,000 to this year's whopping $9,000 does make a difference. It means the difference between having to borrow $4000 to make it to February, and start my fiscal year already behind and in debt, or not.

So I threw myself on the mercy of the higher ups and called today to beg for a discount not just for this year but for all years going forward. Naturally the guy I talked to said he'd have to take it to his higher ups, so I have no idea what the result will be. It may be that this year is a wash but in the future I can get a better deal amended to my contracts. But I felt like I had to at least try. That's a huge amount of money, and even if they just give me some small token like $500 or $1000 off, every little bit helps.

I'm beginning to question the wisdom of paying down all my debt and leaving myself penniless. Sure, it makes sense on paper - no running up of interest. But the psychological impact of having literally no money, and knowing I'm going to have to jeopardize next year by going into debt just to make it, is causing me a huge amount of stress. Part of me wishes I had put myself on a long, conservative payback plan for that sewer bill and left myself with money to live on. But again, I'd have debt hanging over my head, which I hate, and hundreds, even thousands, in interest. Still, I'm starting to think being dead broke is kind of worse. Every little thing - the $12 water filter I had to buy for my water jug, the $50 I just spent on gas, the presents I had to buy for all the people I know with late August birthdays - all of it is like a knife in my heart. I just keep thinking about all the money I'm going to have to borrow just to live for two months and how hard it's going to be to pay all that back. It's kind of like weight gain - you can put on 20 pounds easily in a few weeks of binge eating, but taking it off takes months of torturous exercise and dieting. It's easy to get into but hard to get out. 

I keep getting mad at myself for getting into this position, but then I remember that had I not had that sewer line bill I'd have more than enough money to live on and pay any hospital bill that comes my way and probably even build a room for B. So yes, I probably agreed to a little too much for my event this year - but it would have been ok had I not had that home repair emergency. 

I spent much of last night ruminating about how to jerry rig a room for B on little or no budget - accordion doors from Home Depot; curtains; moving myself out to the nursery so he can have my quiet, private room. But in the end, you know what? I may not do anything at all. I may just have all three of us sleep in my bedroom for a while. I really don't want to move all my crap into the nursery/living room where I'm exposed to the whole house, and unless that area can be made soundproof (ie, real walls and a closing door), there's no reason to put B in there because he'll just be woken up by the TV or the phone or front door anyway. If it turns out the new baby cries a lot and wakes B up I can just camp us out on the couch until he doesn't anymore. B mostly just whimpered quietly until I woke up and fed him (except for a few all-night screamers, which as noted can be solved by whisking us off to the living room couch which is very sleep able). So right now I am thinking "do nothing" may be the solution to my housing needs.

In other news, horribly nauseated today. I ran out of Unisom last night so only took the B6. Coincidence? I think not.


  1. I always get nervous when I don't have access to cash and credit, just in case...

    When I was in grad school, my only earned income for a while was tutoring a couple of kids for $20 a week. That was the only $20 I could spend without stress, since the rest of my funds were student loans.

    I know we've commented before, but there must be something you can do on a freelance or contract basis to bring in a little cash during the year and ease some financial woes. It could alleviate a lot of stress. I hope the hotel recognizes your loyalty with a big fat discount!

  2. Debt sucks but it seems like a necessary evil. I hope the hotel comes back with a break. You'd think it would benefit them to cut you a break considering the amount of business drawn their way from your event.

  3. Money is definitely one of the most stressful aspects of life. I'm sorry that it is hanging over you. I hope that the hotel offers you some mercy. :-(

  4. agreed on everyone's posts above. Money is evil - having too much or having too little - it just seems like an ongoing mess. Have you ever listened to Dave Ramsey's Debt radio show? He's a tad rednecky for me but I found him really interesting to listen to when I was paying off grad school debt. Even now, when I'm up to my armpits in diapers, I think about some of his core rules about money and it's helping me stay calm. Hang in there! :)

  5. I hope the hotel will cut you a deal. I know how stressful financial worries can be. When money gets low every time I run something across the scanner at the grocery store I feel like I've been pushed in the stomach. Hopefully this is just temporary. It sounds like the success of your event should carry through to an even better year next year. Sometimes taking on a little debt is necessary to carry you through.

  6. Fingers crossed that they come back with a big discount for you. And for a quiet baby! :)

    I am finally approaching a place (having taken on a third part-time teaching job) where I don't feel the need to worry so much about making enough money to make it. It's a relief. While I am glad that I don't have to work an 8-5 job, the security of a full-time, permanent job would be nice. I imagine you feel similarly.