Saturday, December 9, 2023

Keep It or Sell It

The Future - An original by Keith Birmingham
This song was written as a proposal or wedding song.

My van is scheduled to go into the shop this coming Wednesday for nearly $2000 in repairs on borrowed money. That will put me owing $9000 on a van that would sell for $5500 “IF” it were in prime condition. It is not in prime condition. How do I get out of this financial burden?

Used vehicles can drain your bank account dry quick. Case in point, my 2002 Ford Econoline E-150 cost me $6000 to begin with when I bought it back in April of 2019. Six months later it cost me over $400 to replace a bearing in the front right steering wheel. That winter I had to buy a new battery. After that my doors started falling apart, and I needed new cables for the latches. And, that was just the start.

To date, I have put new cables in most of the doors, replaced parts in the a/c system, replaced the bearing on the right front wheel, and replaced the 5.4-liter motor and the van is going into the shop on 12/13/2023 (Wednesday) for work on the brake system and a rear axle bearing. And, there are probably more repairs that I just cannot remember. Plus, I have more work to do to finish the work covering the doors. Yeah, I made a mistake when I bought the van. The purpose behind buying the van would have saved me from being without shelter in these troubled times. I would at least have a place to sleep when my social security check could no longer pay my rent. And, I could move around the country to do the photography work that does bring me a little extra money. In reality, the only thing left that can need work or replacement is the transmission. And, I have had no problems with that.

In reality, this van has given me the freedom to make three attempts to relocate back to southern Nevada. And, I have spent about 50% of 2021 and 2022 living in the van. I learned a lot about van life in those two years. And, in those two years, I became sick and stayed sick. I have still only partially recovered since moving into this apartment in November of 2022. The van was there when I needed it most.

I spoke with my banker yesterday. He is once again willing to advance me the money needed for repairs. I have had excellent credit with this bank since 1995 or sooner. He seemed to think that keeping the van is my best option as there is no way to come out ahead by selling at a big loss and trying to recover from it. Sadly, I agree with him. But, no matter what I do this van will be used as little as possible until I get the balance owed on it paid off.

Update - Retired And In A Jam (Dec. 7, 2023)

2002 Ford E150


In 1978 I lost it all in my first divorce. I was a drunkard winding my way down a road that would take me through Hell. I lost two children that may never be regained. But, I survived with a very big scar on my heart. In September 1995, I lost almost everything when my second wife left me and I became a single dad. I kept two boys. This responsibility most likely saved my life.

Twenty years ago I had a quadruple bypass heart surgery. The Doctors said I would be off work for about 6 months. I went back to work after 6 weeks. Twelve years ago I lost almost all I had earned through a forced retirement due to continued health problems that brought on total exhaustion.

In April of 2019, I bought a van in anticipation of the hard times to come. I wanted a roof over my head when hard times did come. On my 73rd birthday, (Jan. 22, 2022) the motor blew up in my van. After two months of negotiations, my bank loaned me money for a new motor. I already owed more on the van than it was worth. They gave me $5000+ on my credit history.  Without transportation, I would lose it all, again.

But, two months out of the shop my van was rear-ended as I sat at a stop sign waiting for traffic to clear. And, this is where I started screwing up big time. I was paid less than $6000 for the damages. I should have had my insurance contact the insurance company of the man who ran into me and demanded that they total the vehicle. I didn't. I liked my van then. I still do. But, I should have done whatever was necessary to walk away from it at that time. And, this was only another chapter in my van life.

Finally, I found a reason to smile. If I am reading this estimate right my van repairs will be $1000 less than I thought.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Making Plans On What To Do

Lucille's Roadhouse, Weatherford, OK.


If I can raise the $3,000 that is needed I plan to try to turn my Better World Media blog into a commercial blog that will be about my life's primary (other than family) interests of music, photography, travel, and writing. I plan to research and start a "subscriber" list for a minimal fee, try to sell the songs I have written, and rebuild a website for selling my photography. I am having trouble getting started on these things due to worrying about how to solve my problems in the first place. All I can do is take one problem at a time and try to solve it.

Well, over this past weekend, I have at least come to a conclusion about what to do for now. I am not sure how long it will last, but I will try to just let my van sit in the parking lot except for local emergency trips. I am afraid I may lose the whole rear axle if I try to use it any more than I absolutely have to. When I  first moved to this complex in 2011 I used the Red River Transportation company to get around town. It was okay back then, but not great. It seems to be a very non-reliable service, at best these days. And, Winter is not the best time to be afoot in Oklahoma.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Music, Photography, Travel, and Writing - (It is why I am alive.)

Truck Driver Blues - a Merle Haggard cover.

About nine days ago I somehow ended the day by starting a GoFundMe page. But, since posting a blog on and about the GoFundMe page I have been trying to figure out how to turn the GFM page into a legitimate commercial blog. Also, I have been busy trying to find a place and way to solve my problems without asking for help. And, here is my idea that actually stems from a long-standing desire to turn my blog commercial.

My blog was started years ago as more of a daily diary and personal record but has developed into a journal about my personal interest in music, photography, and travel. So, what I hope to do now is make it a commercial blog and end or co-exist with my GFM page. I hope to soon start traveling more to do my photography and try to renew my interest in writing and performing music.

To do this I will spend a lot of time developing a subscriber's e-mail list while either using the blog as a newsletter or developing a separate newsletter. I will work to produce interesting articles on the places I visit and how-to articles on how my photography was done.  I will write about what I learn about music as well as promote my music to other musicians for their use. And I will use my photography to promote my travels.

It bothers me deeply to know that times are bad enough for me that I need to seek charity to live. I hope that by doing this I can stop this GFM page by developing a product that sells. I am already selling my photography on my Adobe website and Fine Art America website. And, I am doing the research before starting to post my work to another site like Getty, iStock, or Magnum.

Wish me luck. It is bedtime. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Retired And In A Jam

Me. A few years back.

My name is Keith Birmingham. I am 75 years old, on VA Disability and Social Security, and have medical problems that, for now, have kept me from going back to my 35-year profession as an over-the-road trucker. I have been retired since November 2009, but have been working toward returning to this profession to pay for the debts incurred below and to be able to travel again.

Three weeks ago I was all set to fulfill a 7-year dream of moving to Boulder City, NV. A friend of mine who lives in Las Vegas texted that he was going to Boulder City to shop in the antique stores there. I asked him to check with management at the low-income apartment complex I have been trying to get into to see if I was even still on their list. And yes, I was still on their list, and the manager was trying to get in touch with those who were still ahead of me. I was #6 on his list. He had been unable to contact others who were ahead of me and was willing to talk to me about it so my friend called me. I told them I had too many bills at this time and could not afford it. But, my friend broke in and asked me how much I would need to make the move. He said he would foot the bill to get me moved. I refused, but we talked for a bit and I finally told them I would be there. All we had to do was finish the paperwork.

But my dreams were shattered, again. I had to call and talk to the manager. I told him my complete financial situation, that I had saved enough money once again to pay the people back the money they had helped me with about 1.5 years ago when I had to spend $7000 for a new motor for my van. Two months later I was rear-ended in that van, another $7000 damage. (Yes, the insurance paid on the crash. That will be explained in another post.) So, today I still owe almost $7000 on a van that I will be lucky to get $3000 for if I sell it. And, I am currently in the process of wrapping up some medical appointments and still hoping to try to return to my previous profession as an over-the-road trucker to pay off this van so that I could sell it or completely rebuild it and keep it. I was just trying to do the right thing. But, today I found out my van needs another $2500+ in repairs. I apologized to him but said I could not take the money from my friend, pay for having my van fixed, or pay the people that I owed for helping me when the motor blew in my van. So, I worked a deal with him to stay on the list while I tried to raise some money.

When the motor blew in my van I  ran a "GoFundMe" page for about a week, but I just could not keep asking for help. It was making me sick. I closed the page after only a week and had raised $540. More repairs on my van have cost me the money I had saved to pay back those who gave to my "GoFundMe" page from 1.5 years ago. But, now I have no choice. What I want to do is raise at least enough money to repair this van. I may then pay this van off, get rid of it, and make a down payment on a vehicle that is no more than 8-10 years old. Repairing and paying off the van, getting rid of it, and purchasing another vehicle will cost around $10,000. However, as of now, I will only be trying to raise enough to repair the van, which is around $3,000.

 If you can see your way to donate any money to my cause please DONATE via Cash App to support this site @ $VanManHKB. My Zelle and Venmo IDs will also soon be posted in the top right column. Thank you.