Hark! Thou fairest of all Maids, Merry Maid, hath returneth from over a month of toiling 16 to 18 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week. AND, if that were not enough to evoke pity in the hearts of our dear readers, Merry Maid is recovering nicely from minor surgery, which, conveniently enough, has spared our Merry Maid from the horrors of working so many hours.
To date, the debt of Dashing Knight and Merry Maid has been reduced from over 21,000 coins in June to a mere 4300 coins or so. This is over and above the non recoverable 1500 coins given to gifted doctors, hospitals, and apothecaries thus far.
But today is a celebration of Dashing Knight's day of birth! Much scavenging of coins from the sofa, bottoms of purses, and underneath carriage seats has occurred in order to facilitate a feast to be partaken at a local eatery. Dashing Knight is to be commended for his diligence as at this very moment he is attending to his studies with other fellow apprentices. Merry Maid is most impressed as she would have ditched on her day of birth.
Thou dost have times in your life when numerous coins, a little over 500 in our Merry Maid's situation, are gladly given over to see loved ones. Merry Maid was desirous of attending her cousin's wedding, but was going to follow Knight Discipline's teachings and not attend. However, a little over a fortnight before the wedding, the leecher diagnosed dear cousin's mother with the most aggressive form of cancer.
Merry Maid does not have any regrets. Life must be balanced with goals. The last per diem coins from Merry Maid's recent business trip were used for the magic flying carriage (instead of these coins being put in the bag designated for wedding expenses). All is well on the path from the Land of Consumerism to the Land of LivingRight.
Hark! Thou hast the pleasure of celebrating with the heroes of our story the paying off of the debts owing to yon shopkeepers and the debts owing to those that apprenticed the handsome Dashing Knight! A celebration commenced forthwith by having food prepared by others at a local Inn. Then movie magic was enjoyed by our couple, which, dost thou know, is our couple's favorite pastime.
Three of the goals set out by the young lovers was attained by yet working extra hours -- Dashing Knight taking many short-term 2nd jobs to pay for the symbol of his love (that which rests on Merry Maid's finger) and Merry Maid's saving her per diems when slaving in another city and working overtime.
A summary of goals achieved to date:
*Monies with which to pay strapping young men to load up and unload household goods (the move to Houston)
*1000 coins held for emergencies
*Massacring debts owing to yon shopkeepers
*Massacring debts incurred from being apprenticed
*Acquiring an engagement ring
Goals expected to be completed by the end of January in the year of our Lord 2008:
*Acquiring wedding bands for each
*Acquiring enough coins for a decent wedding (1800 coins collected to date)
*Acquiring enough coins for a honeymoon
*Delivery from the hold several evil knights have on our couple in the form of a 4-horse drawn carriage debt (12,500 coins left to go)
*Monies equaling one month's expenses (an amount of coins separate from the coins stashed for emergencies) by the year of our Lord 2008, Spring
*Monies with which to attend Merry Maid's sister's wedding in Vegas in the year of our Lord 2008, Summer
*A graduate school education (tis better to be the lord and master) by the year of our Lord 2009, Spring
*A large keep by the year of our Lord 2009, Summer
*Monies with which to pay strapping young men to load up and unload household goods by the year of our Lord 2009, Summer
Hark! Dashing Knight, who doth not have young apprentices to instruct in the month of July, was scheduled to ride yon 4-horse carriage to Dallas to be with his lady love for two weekends and a week. However, he surprised his love by showing up early just after bedtime on Wednesday night with 2-dozen roses and a ring! On bended knee our favored knight formally asked our leading lady for her hand in wedded bliss.
Our lady love said.....yes!!!!!! And thus was solved the mystery of the missing coins. They were spent on our fair maid's betrothal jewelry.
Yon Dashing Knight. Sigh. He tries so hard. Thine paycheck is 1100 coins take home. He said apprenticing young squires would gross an extra 3000 coins. (Merry Maid assumed 2000 coins would be put in a sack to carry home.) Yet both paychecks he deposited in the new joint sack are 1100 coins each. He has no idea where the rest went.
Merry Maid can't wait for Dashing Knight's Awful Lord and Master to stop dragging its heels and making up excuses as to why THIS direct deposit application (the 4th? in a row) won't go through.
Hear!! Hear!! Shout the knights in the household of our heroes as they clink their mugs of ale. Merry Maid finally has a day off after a fortnight of hard work. Taking a job that pays more and earns incredible per diems (61 coins per day this fine trip) and overtime sounds good and indeed, truly is good for our fond couple. But slaving away the hours of 6:45 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (when she's lucky) with no break, 7 days a week ... well, it will all be worth it in the end.
Dashing Knight rode through perilous weather 4 1/2 hours just to see his leading lady. Feed for his horse, coupled with de-stressing/feelings of deprivation for working so hard and not seeing each other? Over 200 coins (not counting all the restaurant food for 2 weeks nor the wash and fold service for laundry at 10 coins per week). Our favored Merry Maid has slipped back into old habits and did not keep track of coins as she spent this fine day off. Merry Maid will have to devise a plan of checks and balances for times when she has no time to concentrate and pay attention to finances.
Luckily Merry Maid has partaken of meat and grog provided almost daily by yon inkeep this past fortnight, lessening the need to eat out. Seven hundred and sixty gold coins in perdiems and overtime (estimated) were earned this fine pay period.
Previously, Monseigneur Spending Plan taught Merry Maid that making Knight Stress go away by spending coins -- a.k.a giving him the taxes he thinks he's due -- will only make him grow stronger. Just like the King's brother's men in Robin Hood, Knight Stress and his small band of brigands will only increase in number from the coins you give them and will return more often in their greed, destroying things and hurting loved ones in their wake. Nay, bade Monseigneur Spending Plan, the true way to be rid of Knight Stress is to destroy him.
Easier said than done. Merry Maid's father came into town for almost a week and much merry making in the taverns was had, much to our heroes' pocketbook's lament. As fun as house guests are, Merry Maid succumbs to Knight Stress' wiles and will spend many coins, such as eating out, to make him go away.
All was not lost, though. Whereas before, no thought was given to the coins spent. This time, even though coins were spent too readily -- instead of Merry Maid slamming the door on Knight Stress' men -- Merry Maid at least tried to think of alternatives. Although no alternatives came to mind, Merry Maid learned that she can't think when she's stressed. Therefore, she acquired Knight Action Plan, who will help her plan ahead for next time.
Monseigneur Spending Plan has taken our young couple to task. Instead of modifying their behavior, they have been raiding Dashing Knight's jar of small coins in order to maintain their spending levels.
Our lovers have never spent much, its true, but the jar of small coins will soon be spent at this rate. The small coins in this jar have been collected by Dashing Knight for years and he is unwilling to cash in the almost $600 stash and apply it to debt. Dashing Knight smartly realizes that these small coins are his safety valve, something to delve into so that he stays on the path to the Land of LivingRight.
Once Dashing Knight is through apprenticing his young squires this week, our heroes will sit down and work out a strategy to make the jar of small coins last until the year of our Lord, 2008.
Dashing Knight, although recovering from a wretched illness, nobly and dutifully withdrew all the coins given unto him from his regular laboring (1100 coins) and also his stipends mentoring a squire (300) and gave them to Merry Maid to deposit in their joint account. Dashing Knight is nervous in doing so, but trusts Merry Maid with all his heart.
Merry Maid is very tempted to send these coins to the moneylenders immediately in order to reduce interest. But for the nonce, these coins are acting as a supplement to their existing 1500-coin emergency fund because the magical air cooling device in their rental keep is over 30 years old. Also, the repairman estimated a minimum of 5,000 coins would need to be spent to replace the: they-don't-make-ACs-like-that-anymore (it's in the ceiling) magical cooling device.
So for now, Merry Maid will not waver from the path and on the 1st of next month, her secretary, AutomaticBillPay, will pay all of the bills and will send what's leftover to the moneylenders.
Merry Maid and Knight Discipline rode their horses to the moneylenders this fine day. Merry Maid's insurance dividend check, refund from the electric company (from when she lived in a land far, far away), and money gained from items placed in a consignment shop equaled 145 coins!! Knight Discipline made Merry Maid deposit the checks immediately and she was happy to do so. Once the checks have cleared, all coins will be handed over to the shopkeeper.
Also, the dentist told Merry Maid over the phone that the copay for her visit would be 60 coins with her new insurance. However, when she went to hand over her coins, she was told there was no copay! It was 6 coins for fluoride, which isn't covered. What a nice mistake to make.
Knight Time Stealer ransacked the village again. Dashing Knight finally fessed up. While Merry Maid was still living in a land far, far away, Dashing Knight put the stone that was to make the engagement ring on his desk at home and left it there for weeks. This gave the fairies ample time to make off with the stone! If Dashing Knight wasn't so over scheduled, he would have had time to take the stone down to have it set. A new one must needs be paid for.
Now that Merry Maid is here, she is helping by doing her chores and some of his, too, while he learns at the knee of the Knight of Time Management. Merry Maid remembers the dark time before she was apprenticed to Knight Time Management: She was rushed and more harried, opening the door to Knight Stress, who urged her to commit impulse shopping to make her "feel better" because she "deserved it" for working so hard. Knight Stress also used her weakness to convince her to eat out more and buy more prepared food to ease time constraints. Knight Time Management will be a most welcome member of their keep.
Progress is being made! The money lenders have granted our heroes access to joint accounts via the web; and automatic bill pay/transfers have been set up, even though the debit cards may not be in for another month due to fairies having had their fun with the postal service people last month. Dashing Knight still paid some of his expenses from his own account, but once he calls to change the due date of his 4-horse carriage note, then all bills will be paid from their new joint account.
Our lovers successfully resisted the Knight of Stress and unpacked their own belongings (finding the missing computer power cord!) and even steam cleaned the carpet themselves (Evil Landlords refused to clean it, even though walking on it turned Merry Maid's bare feet black!). Our duo fought hard with the Evil Landlords and won coins totaling one month's rent for the cleaning and other problems encountered, bringing the monthly rent down to not quite 505 coins per month.
Good tidings!! The great darkness that had settled over our young heroes these past weeks has lifted, much to our heroes' relief. It is now much easier to see their path to the Land of LivingRight. The Knight of Automation is most wondrous. It is little known, but when he was an orphaned child, Monseigneur Spending Plan raised him himself.
The Land of LivingRight. What type of land may this be? Why are our lovers desirous of living there? Merry Maid wrote down her vision, her definition, of this Shangri-La. Dashing Knight, acting the rogue, cheated and made her vision his own instead of coming up with his own vision. But at least our duo are in accord this fine day.
The Land of LivingRight is vast and has many villages, each acquiring slightly different types of Knights. The village in which Merry Maid wishes to live will include the Knights of Self-Control, Living Below Your Means, Adequate Savings, Cash-Only Purchases, Simple Living, and Low Commuter Travel Time. This village fends off the Evil Knights of Temptation, Materialism, Impulse Shopping, Guilt, Peer Pressure, Workaholism, Image Consciousness, and Hoarding.
What knights do your villages house and with whom do they do battle?
A great darkness has settled over our young lovers' path. Our Merry Maid has been viciously attacked by Knight Stress. Poor Merry Maid has not been able to keep much food down lately. She does not handle major change well.
In order to handle Knight Stress, she has spent many unnecessary coins these past days. Our damsel in distress has eaten out all week. She did not research the cheapest electric or internet companies. She also got a mani/pedi. And even though the landlords of her current keep admitted they know she was verbally told she wouldn't owe for cleaning when she left, they are refusing to honor that agreement, and will charge her $95. They won't look it up in their lease agreement scroll and Knight Stress is preventing her from opening up each and every box (she is completely packed already for Sunday's move) in order to find her copy of the lease agreement scroll. Ditto for the $25 deposit for her magical gate opener. With glee Knight Stress pierces her thoughts with having to unpack everything. She is considering paying an extra 200 coins to have the strapping young men get at least some of the unpacking done.
Hark! Our Dashing Knight is coming to the rescue! This eve, on a great flying contraption he will ride in to save the day. Merry Maid is depending on him to rid her of Knight Stress. With Dashing Knight's help, she is hoping she will not be paying that additional 200 coins for unpacking. Such tears of joy she is crying at the thought she will see him again after many, many, many moons!!!
Dashing Knight, our faithful hero, has diligently been driving his 4-horse drawn carriage around the neighborhoods next to his work, ferreting out a place for his lady love. Hark! An apartment has been found via the internet by Merry Maid. All our hero must do is fill out the application scroll Merry Maid personally delivered this day.
Alas, Time Stealer, the evil knight who convinces our hero to overschedule his day, has once again wreaked havoc. Dashing Knight has no time to fill out the application, nor to send it in, nor to get Merry Maid the exact totals and account numbers of ALL of his debts (so that she may work out a solid plan), nor ... well, dear readers, you get the point.
Our Dashing Knight is afflicted with the disease of WantingToHelpOthers, even at the expense of his own welfare. A side effect of the disease is actually thriving on the excitement of a crammed day, therefore driving out his desire for change. Compounding this problem is that he is such a gentle soul who doesn't have the heart to tell his family and friends, "nay." Merry Maid has no desire to change his nature; she even hopes to become more like him in this respect. So she is quite at a loss as to how to cure him of this disease. When Dashing Knight has too much to do, it is time spent with Merry Maid that gets sacrificed, and the plans they have made cannot get worked on, pushing their completion date back even further.
Ah, the lovelorn damsel in distress. How very sad she is that she has to fight for his time. But to her good fortune, she has the Knights of Faith and Confidence at her side. She focuses on the fact that when the move is complete and the financial plan is set up and on automatic, all will be well. Merry Maid NEVER gives up. An admirable trait in our heroine.
In the past, the leads in this story had not been wise with the trust placed in them by creditors. Alas, they did not always remember to make timely payments, if at all. Creditors talk amongst themselves, as people are wont to do, and they have deemed our lovers to no longer be worthy of their trust in extending credit. As a result, our young lovers have discovered they must needs rent as no money lender sees fit to give over good coins -- lest at a rate of 11.25% -- for the purpose of purchasing the much desired keep.
Dashing Knight is not happy to give hard earned coins to a landlord when he should be earning equity in his own keep. But with the Knight of Positivity and Merry Maid's help, he is learning to understand that were they to purchase the much desired keep, the King's taxes on real estate (and/or Le Condo fees) would be not quite 500 coins a month (a necessary, but complete waste in the eyes of our duo). Dashing Knight struggles with the Knight of GivingUp to acknowledge that since the coins would be spent regardless, what difference does it make if the 500 coins are spent on the King's taxes or to a landlord? The Knight of Positivity declares the coins meant for the keep's Money Lender may now be aimed with deadly accuracy at the Enemy hitherto known as Debt. Thus the Evil Knight GivingUp is slightly wounded by the Knights of Flexibility and Determination fighting valiantly in the shadows. Monsignuer Spending Plan's teachings are barely being learned, but the humble monk understands and blesses our lovers with patience.
The Evil Knight of DeterringCarefullyLaidPlans has repeatedly raided our young lovers' village these past weeks. Many moons ago, Merry Maid opened up joint accounts in her and Dashing Knight's names. But Dashing Knight has not had time to write out the scrolls his Not-So-Benevolent Lord and Master requires of him if he wants to direct deposit his coins in their new joint accounts. Between the time the scrolls are turned in to the time the money is first deposited, two fortnights will have passed. Even if Dashing Knight writes out the scrolls tomorrow, his coins will not be automatically deposited in our young lovers' joint accounts before the June 1 deadline to combine their finances.
Therefore, our Merry Maid fights mightily with the Evil Knight of Miscommunication. When she asks Dashing Knight if he has sufficient coins saved to pay off what he owes his apprenticeship money lender (3400 coins), he says, "yes." But what he really means is that he only has 2000 coins saved and his lance tournament stipend will bring him the rest of the needed coins.
Meanwhile, Merry Maid has, of course, already assigned the lance tournament stipend in another direction. Monsignuer Spending Plan is not pleased to have had his robes slashed by the Knight of Miscommunication. Monsignuer Spending Plan has called Dashing Knight to task and has elicited his promise to fill out his Not-So-Benevolent Lord and Master's scrolls on the morrow. This night, Merry Maid prays with the Knight of Gratefulness, acting as if the task is done. All will be well and peace will once again reign.
Our happy young couple are as happy as happy can be! Merry Maid's Benevolent Lord and Master has agreed to allow her to live in the same city as Dashing Knight, without the lessening of coins given each day! Oh, Happy Day. Said Benevolent Lord and Master is not giving monies with which to pay more strapping young men to load up and unload the household goods she has collected over the decades. The Evil Knight of DeterringCarefullyLaidPlans has won a small victory. However, willingly and happily our couple will pay such coins. Thus is added to their keep the Knight of Gratefulness.
As with all young lovers, disagreements happen from time to time. Our Dashing Knight loves his 4-horse drawn carriage, though the original cost (purchased new, egads!) equaled his yearly income at the time coins were exchanged 2 years ago.
Merry Maid has come to accept this outrageous expense as Dashing Knight is willing to go along with every other aspect of Merry Maid's plan to advance their pilgrimage to the Land of LivingRight, even giving up spending money from June to December. Merry Maid, having acquiesced to this one request, is learning to do so graciously. She sometimes falls off her horse, though, in this regard and humbly begs her mate's forgiveness.
Monseigneur Spending Plan's teachings are tres simple: Take one salary (in our heroes' case almost one salary - $1752) each month to pay on all debts. The remainder is to be spent on true necessities. If any coins may yet be left over, then wants wearing the mask of "needs" (such as our young lovers' cell phones) may be entered onto the Budget scroll.
• Merry Maid's cell phone and grooming $110.
• Dashing Knight's cell phone and grooming $110.
• Forecasted Keep expenses $602 (property taxes, utilities, maintenance fees, insurance).
• 4-horse drawn carriage (singular!) expenses $300 (gas, maintenance, insurance).
• Rental expenses from our lovers' Paid-For Keep $457 (maintenance fees, insurance, property taxes, CPA, property manager)
• That which is eaten and toiletries $175
• Life and PLUP insurance (Merry Maid enters people's keeps for a living) $39.
• Estimated bills of the Leecher $35
• Apothecary $50
• Honoring thine mother and fathers in the age old tradition of bearing gifts at birthdays, parent's days, and christmas $18
• Keep money lender $753
• 4-horse drawn carriage money lender $600 ("Aaaahhh," Merry Maid was heard to cry)
• Shopkeepers $75
• Dashing Knight's apprentice-ship money lenders $75
• (Merry Maid's apprentice-ship money lenders have put her 60,000 coins in loans in forebearance)
• Extra coins with which to pay down debt each month from regular salary $249
It is hoped that in making sacrifices -- such as not upgrading computer memory (gasp!) -- further knights will apply for work in our lovers' keep. It is hoped that the Knight of Appreciation will apply so that they might appreciate what they already have and appreciate the progress they are making. It is mostly hoped that they will earn goodwill from the Knight of Discernment so that he will aid them in making good purchase choices.
A great celebration will occur on January 1, in the year of our Lord 2008. Regardless of how much debt is yet to be paid, our heroes will earn spending money from that month hence. With enough overtime and perdiems, the heroes may truly no longer owe the carriage maker nor the other shopkeepers on January 1 IF no spending money had been allowed. That thought, coupled with the knowledge that they will have coins with which to spend as they might wish in January (regardless of the quest having been fulfilled or no) is enough to swear fealty to the teachings of a monk known as Spending Plan, nee Budget.
Merry Maid and Dashing Knight, while not having the good fortune of being trained in knighthood for the purpose of defending the Land of LivingRight, are planning and learning to be My Lord and Lady Master in their own right, in a keep of their own, in the Land of LivingRight. Our young pair have duly added their future coins and realize they could be free of their shopkeeper and carriage debt by Christmas if further apprentice-ship, Vegas, or their own blessed tying of the knots were not an issue. They feel a little sad that they have not yet figured out a way to massacre this debt before their holy union. They wish to start their new life together having completed a great quest.
Happily, tho, furthering knowledge, and journeys for important occasions, etc., are worthy quests and are therefore worthy of sacrifices. Since our heroes do not believe in living together, the cost of sustaining separate residences being so very dear, and since our dear Merry Maid will be transferred back to Houston in January (or so the great wizard has foretold) in the year of our Lord, 2008, it is not possible to push back the wedding date in order to not have to make such sacrifices. So our young pair have decided to forego giving gifts for 7 months to anyone except their parents. And in all good conscience, how could our lovers forego giving gifts to others and still give to themselves? So the further sacrifices of spending money and contributing to Roths will be foregone until January, in the year of our Lord 2008. The great Knight of Anti-Credit would be proud of their gazelle-like intensity.
While our lovers do not judge others who share a humble abode before marriage vows are partaken, Merry Maid and Dashing Knight cannot in good conscience themselves do so. However, separately working on a financial plan enabled Lord Tempation to disguise many wants as needs. So our lovers decided to share their coins either at the time of closing on Le Condo or the last week in May in the year of our Lord, 2007, whichever was fated to occur first. In this manner they have taken under their wing a knight of their own, to be henceforth known as Acountability.
Eager to resume building their fortress wall, they added to their knowledge a list of what their coins have purchased and a list of how many coins is owed to whom.
ASSETS = one tiny, paid-for keep worth $45,000 in gold coins, currently rented for more than the market is bearing
LIABILITIES (as of June 2007) =
* unknown future amount to the keep moneylender
* $61,300 in apprentice-ship loans,
* $4,000 in debt owed to shopkeepers, and
* $14,000 in 4-horse drawn carriage debt
Our young leads in this tale, having had enough of the attacks from Lord Temptation, have discussed the wise counsel of keeping their thoughts focused on the goal of debt freedom. While not easy, it has served to keep Lord Temptation at bay more oft than was his wont.
Happy with their budding success, they eagerly planned the building of a fortress wall to help repel the entire band of the Destroyers of LivingRight. As every peasant knows, a fortress wall starts with a foundation. Our lovers decided to start building their foundation with a knowledge of where their coins were coming from, how many coins they were receiving, and how much they could apply towards yon debts.
INCOME (estimated totals from the year of our Lord, 2007, June to December):
* Merry Maid's salary = $15,400
* Dashing Knight's salary = $15,400
* Rental Income from a paid-for keep = $1,440
* $3000 gross from the summer's harvest
* $1000 take home from a lance tournament
* $2200 in extra paychecks total this year after June
* $unknown amount from slaving overtime and saving per diems from a benevolent lord and master
* $2500 pre-tax in stipends mentoring a squire
* $7,000 (Alas, poor sister's husband is no longer an able knight. Dashing Knight slaved his labor for one year to fix up his sister's keep, readying it for a new lord and master. Once his sister completes her share of the repairs, the King will let it be known to all that her keep is available for the taking. Our Dashing Knight patiently awaits his reward money from the new lord and master for his faithful laboring.)
* $2,400 in monthly bills
* $2,000 to shopkeeper and 4-horse drawn carriage debt each month
* the rest of the coins to be given to the not so local, high-interest-bearing money lender for the laudable goals listed in the last chapter
Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there was a Merry Maid and a Dashing Knight. They had lived in the Land of Consumerism and were making the pilgrimage to the Land of LivingRight. Yon couple wished to marry. It was about time as the maid was a spinster of 37. But the dashing knight was a strapping male of 33 -- much to the maid's delight!
Ah, but the pair were not without goals. The two were desirous of massacring (a bloodthirsty lot) their combined 4-horse drawn carriage debt (June 2007 = $14,000) and debt owing to yon shopkeepers (June 2007=$4400) as much as possible before the blessed event, which is to occur in the year of our Lord, 2008, January.
Not being of the nobility, the couple could only dream of being given such gifts as:
1. monies with which to pay for a wedding, ring, and honeymoon;
2. monies with which to attend Merry Maid's sister's wedding in Vegas (a strange and foreign land not hitherto visited);
3. monies equaling one month's expenses (in case the village is sacked by the band of Destroyers of LivingRight. Their leader, Lord Temptation, has personally attacked our lovers numerous times in the past);
4. a large keep known as Le Condo of Houston;
5. a graduate school education (tis better to be the lord and master); and
6. monies with which to pay more strapping young men to load up and unload the crap -- err, household goods each has collected over the long years of loneliness, borne of the lovers not having yet met each other.
Thus begins the tale of our young lovers' quest to attain these laudable goals by the day of their union.