What would I do with $6000 worth of HP products?

Wow. A lot...

Such a great opportunity, thank you for this contest!  Thanks Living In Theory!
And this contest too!  And thank you Firemom!
And this contest!  And thank you TechMamas!

These are part of the HP Blogger Magic giveaway, just incredible!

First, a bit about my story, so you can see where I am.

I'm single. Not by choice. I was married for nearly seven years. We were separated for the last year of it. He cheated. I forgave. She got pregnant. We split up. We're still friends. All of us. Yes, even her and I.

I have a son. He's 11. I was single when I had him. His bio dad wasn't ready to be a father (his words) and I didn't want the hassle of forcing him to be something he didn't want to be.

And so now, I'm single again. It's okay, I'm doing okay now. Not necessarily great, but I'm happy with my life, and where it seems to be heading.

When [ex] Husband and I separated, I had to buckle down and work to support myself for the first time in... well... pretty much ever. I'd lived with my mother before getting married, and while I had worked to pay for my son, mom paid the house payment and utility bills. When I got married, he worked and I stayed home to take care of the kid.

I had skills. Typing 100+ wpm, admin skills up the wazoo, and was going to school for a degree in Philosophy and Psychology when we got separated. School got put on hiatus. Making money to put a roof over our head was a tad bit more important.

This year, I will make less than $10,000. I can say that with confidence because the year is almost over. And because I supported myself and my son, working from home, and homeschooling, buying a house, and paying all my monthly bills on that.

We cook from scratch a lot to make sure we can afford everything...

Anyway, yes, you read that number right. It's not a typo. A 1 with 5 zeros after it. Actually, it'll be more like $9800 give or take a few dollars depending on the work I get in the next week or so.

Insane, ain't it?

And now you see the problem... well, not so much a problem. I work at home as a transcriptionist. I want to expand into Virtual Assisting work. Would LOVE to expand. If I could get 10 clients paying $35 an hour for one hour of work a week, I would be SET. That would quite nearly double my yearly income. Woohoo! That would rock.

Problem A. My computer. It... well... it sucks. I bought two computers last year with my sizeable income tax return. It was the last time [ex] Husband and I filed jointly, and he let me have the entire return. Not sure I'll get quite as much this year. Maybe, maybe not.

One of those computers was a nice, big laptop. 3G memory, 160G hard drive... loaded. LOVED IT. Until it DIED. *head->desk* Luckily, I'd bought a second one for my son. Had to take it back from him. He was so bummed :( He still gets to use it, but not as much. We have to be careful. If this one dies, we're... well, we're screwed. I don't like that kind of screwed. Because there are no jobs around here. I live in a state with 12% unemployment, in the city where GM was founded... It SUCKS. There's about a 15% unemployment rate in this city! NO JOBS. My work from home is it for me.

So we're careful with the computer. Very careful. It blue screened on me once, and I cried. Literally. Tears, screaming, panicking... luckily, a restore fixed it.

But it's not a very good computer. Slow. Very slow. And starting to give me problems now.

So yeah, I really actually need a new computer. But there's so much MORE I would do with that HP package.

Oh, what would I do!

I'd keep the Touchsmart. Powerful, and looks cool. It would likely do everything I need for my work, and oh, so much more.

I'd give my son the mini. Why? I homeschool him. Most of his curriculum and work is done online. Right now, we have to do this scramble shuffle thing to figure out who gets the computer when. And if I've got a lot of work on a deadline? His schoolwork suffers. I don't like that. So that one would go to him.

The HP Pavilion Entertainment notebook... would go to my [ex] Husband's girlfriend. I know, I know, that probably sounds strange. I'm telling you, my life is strange, and so are my relationships! Their son will be 9 months old on December 18th (he's so cute!) She wants to go back to school and get a teaching degree. But their computers... well, they're worse than mine! His laptop has a 126M processor... and she's working on a 7-year-old Mac! Having the baby means putting him in daycare if she goes back to school. Been there done that, I know how hard that is on a kid! So I'd give her the laptop so that she can take distance learning classes, and work around [ex] Husband's work schedule, so they don't have to put baby Ty in daycare!

I'd keep the printer. Oh so useful for my son and I to have that. I could use it to help expand my business, printing flyers and such, and my son could use it for printing out lesson plans and projects to show family members.

The HDX notebook... wow... I mean, I wouldn't need it! So where would that go? There's a women's shelter in the area that is struggling. They try to find jobs for the women that they are trying to get out of domestic violence situations. I'd probably give the last notebook to them. They could use it in their office, or use it to help the women search online for jobs.

So, yeah, that's where all that stuff would go.

And what would I do on my new computer? What would my son do? As I said, he homeschools, so he'd do all sorts of school work.

And me? I'd keep this blog up. It's about poverty, but not in that vague abstrat, "Oh there are so many poor people" way. It's about living it. And trying to get out of it.

I'd expand my VA business. Having an up-to-date computer that doesn't lag me into insanity would make it oh so much easier to expand! I have DSL internet (love the Cavalier), but this computer is so slow at times, that it crawls slower than dial-up! Makes it hard to get anything done when I just want to pick it up and throw it across the room!

And then maybe, just maybe, I could work on my real dream. A housing foundation in my area. Buying abandoned and foreclosed houses, fixing them up, and selling them to low-income families. Because really, there just aren't enough programs out there like that. In my neighborhood alone, there's a dozen houses that sit empty, and could be refurbished into decent housing for people who are working hard to survive.

So how would I do that?  I'm not entirely sure, but I'd love to start a non-profit foundation that accepts donations.  Those  donations would then be used to purchase the abandoned houses in the area.

Those that could be repaired would be, through donations and volunteer time and materials.

Those that could not be repaired would be demolished, making room for new, eco-friendly housing to be built on the property.

Then, families would be found to buy those homes.  They'd be sold on low-interest loans, at the cost of the house and repairs, on terms that the family could afford.

It's a big dream, and one that I've had for a long, long time.

But I have to pull myself up out of this before I can do that, and a good, reliable computer would help me to do that.


Christina said...

You are amazing. How you managed to maintain on your income and raise your son is really awe inspiring. We manage on five times that (there are four of us) and it feels like we're scraping the bottom. You rock. Good luck winning the contest! What a godsend that would be! :)

nicólle said...

Good luck with the HP contest!


Lela said...

Thanks for stopping by After the Bubbly!
I hope you win that contest. I may be in the market for some virtual assistance in the new year. Let me know what you can do.

Cindy said...

Wow - what a story! Found you from the Living in Theory blog - HP Contest. I can definitely relate to parts of your story - I too was pretty much dependent on my ex financially and was devastated when he cheated and left (unlike you, it took me many years to forgive - bless you for being open and friendly with them both!). On the up side, that was one of the best things that could have happened to me. Without the divorce, I wouldn't have met my oh-so-fabulous new husband. And I wouldn't have had the guts to step out into the business I knew in my gut was where I needed to be. You'll never guess what that was -- as a Virtual Assistant! LOL

Hang in there - it *can* be done and you *can* make more than what you are now! It takes time and dedication and I'm sure you'll be successful. If you need guidance or direction, please let me know - I'm on Twitter @copong. Good luck in this contest!

i am feathermaye said...

I found you through the HP contest at Living-In Theory, too.

I love your resiliency, your forgiving spirit and your humor in spite of your circumstances.

I'm sure you recognize that it's temporary, this struggle. You're handling it brilliantly, by the way.

Please visit me when you can: http://www.feathermaye.com

Good luck in the contest!! :)

Dee Dee said...

What an amazing story. Your strength and determination will get you through. I homeschool too, so I understand the juggling. I've lived on a shoestring before and understand the struggling. I can tell that you have the tenacity and positive outlook to be successful, no matter what it takes! Good luck with the contest!

smussyolay said...

a couple of things strike me here ... forgiving seventy times seven, right? (this is so funny, i'm not really a 'real' christian, but i seem to be busting out the god talk on these comments on these stories.) what i love about this is your compassion for the woman who your husband ended up with. that's awesome.

the other thing is ... you're struggling and i'm not doing awesome, but i'm doing a little bit better than you, and i want tips from you! how do you virtual assist!? hee! i wish you the best of luck, even as i am in the contest myself.

Roguepuppet said...

It speaks volumes about you that you have managed to expand your heart to grow your family instead of shutting out your son's step dad and this new baby who sounds like he could benefit from an amazing auntie like you.
I see that you are pretty active on Twitter and look forward to interacting more with you there. Seems like it is a lot of life and homeschooling support for you now, which is important, but do not overlook the ability to make great business connections there as well. There are some really successful VAs on twitter.. check out this search return of people tweeting about it and hopefully you can find some folks to help you in this area.

Paisley Raven said...

Holy mackerel. I went thru the cheat-forgive-forge thing. I did NOT forgive as you did..it took years. And I certainly never got buddy-buddy with Ex's picks.
You are certainly a bigger heart than I was in your place.
Also comprehend the homemaker-must-now-work thing. Housewife of 3-5 years & three kids (one a newborn!) later I gotta work...
Yeh, that might be part of why I stayed mad at him for a bit.
Anyway, all 3 (plus another 2) are happy and healthy now. We struggle but not nearly as much as you are.
You go girl.
Uh BTW...care to share WAHM info? Did it once, loved it got a partner who would rock at VA...
Tweet me!


Roguepuppet said...

hey, have you noticed that one of the other contest entrants is an established VA who mentors? http://tinyurl.com/6gzzc9
Win or lose, you two should connect. Be sure to drop a comment on her blog or email her. Hope this works out for you.

Peter Franco said...

wow, i hope the best for you and your son, me and my family survive on $4620 a year, so i guess you and i know how tough and what sacrifices we both make to support our families, i hope the best for you and your son, and merry Christmas.


Roguepuppet said...

After watching some of the comments, it occurs to me that there are a fair number of folks out there with great skills at making ends meet. It seems to me that as the economy continues to slide, there will be more and more folks facing the same challenges. Does it make sense to put together a straight up tips and tricks for stretching the budget blog for those that are new to this? I am seeing whole lot of untapped wisdom that could be useful to a bunch of people out there. Am I crazy?

Gwynne said...

Roguepuppet, actually, I've been considering creating a blog for just that!

Shellie said...

I agree, that a blog offering tips and tried and tue ways to save is becoming aa must have in todays times.


Roguepuppet said...

@gwynne @shellie OK there are a million coupon clipping, how to be frugal blogs. I am thinking practical.. like how to go to the store and chose a good but cheap cut of meat, then what do you do with it? Shopping, recipes, maybe gardening and food preservation?, sewing repairs.. really practical stuff... maybe even with pics and video?? what do you think? I am getting excited about this. I wrote a piece on how to save money and still eat well over at Chris Parillo's blog and it seemed to go over well. I would be willing to co-host this. Interested? ideas for other topics?

Gwynne said...

Roguepuppet, love the idea! I've been called the MacGuyver of the kitchen because of my ability to cook anything in anything, WITHOUT a stove :)

Roguepuppet said...

@gwynne ok. I must step away from the computer for a bit.. daughter's dress needs hemmed. But I will be back and we will plot this more. Send me an email where I can reach you? I am roguepuppet@gmail.com.

GNO Gals, Jyl and Carissa said...

Amazing goals. I love your determination and candor. What a great example of a mom!

Laurie, Owner of Halo Secretarial Services said...

Wow, just....wow. It sounds like you really could use this equipment. I pity the poor judges choosing who wins in a contest like this (I think I like random better for that reason, lol) But I love reading such inspirational stories and I really, really hope you can work toward being a VA. I started my VA biz just this summer and while it's slow it is happening and I know you can do it too. Good luck!

Laurie (Mobile Mommy)

GNO Gals, Jyl and Carissa said...

Women are amazing and Moms are truly awe inspiring. The part where you would give to the ex's cheating-now wife... That's beyond big of you.


shawnlee said...

Hey thanks for the comment on my other blog, and I've got to echo Christina's comment here. You're just plain amazing and inspiring! Good luck in the contest, and keep on going!

Erika said...

I don't know how you do it. you sound like an absolutely amazing person. Best of luck in the contest!

Jolly Joan said...

the forgiveness-and-generosity piece is astounding. you need a break and a reward for your kindness!