Author Topic: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless  (Read 3385 times)

vuedoolor

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Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« on: April 06, 2017, 08:44:30 PM »
Hi, I'm new here and have read a bit on the "start here" blog posts on the MMM blog and it would seem that the targeted audience is the folks whose combined total income is $50k plus per year which is not me. In the past, I've made some pretty careless decisions that have put me in the hole that I am in today.

Here are some of the things that are adding to my stress and putting me in a deeper and deeper hole making it harder to dig myself out. Seems like everything that can be done to put me in a deeper hole I have done it.

- I'm a temp at a dead end manufacturing job which means no benefits, no 401k, no PTO, etc.
- 2 kids with no babysitter so my S/O is now a stay at home mom which leaves me to bring in all the income and that income is not much
- My S/O is not at all concern and believes everything will work itself out. As long as we have food and a roof over our head and love each other that's all that matters (even though we have nothing saved up)
- I've also managed to become a stepfather to 2 other kids which puts me deeper in the hole
- I'm at a point where I HAVE to buy my first home or be forced to rent a home and in my area buying a home may be the cheaper alternative than renting

I'm very frugal therefore I have no debt and owe no one any money at the moment until I buy a home that is.

I know I am in a bit of a pickle with not a whole lot of wiggle room to work with. I know I've made a lot of bad decisions but I'm not really looking for a lecture or shaming on what I've done wrong but I'm looking for advice on what to do to help dig myself out of this hole.

Would it make sense to take a job that pays a few dollars less than my current job if it means a permanent position with benefits, even if the drive is a bit further?
Should I go to school part time or learn a new skill in a different trade to increase my income? This would mean spending less time with the family and focusing on working on myself.

I'm on a losing streak right now and currently don't have a big enough bankroll to get things rolling. I make enough just to get us by, which means I am spending way more than I'm bringing in.

You need money to make money and seems like that is somewhat true.

Any help or advice is appreciated



shaybro

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2017, 09:00:30 PM »
My view is very narrow, as a software engineer, but I would recommend using the Internet to take free programming courses (udacity, coursera, khan Academy, etc). After familiarizing yourself with the basics, sign up with a tech recruiting firm and get a contracting job paying $20+ an hour.

You can also try sales in an area you are knowledgeable / interested in. Usually lower base pay but commission can add up.

Recently I was talking to a dental assistant. That is only a 9 month program with good job prospects, stable hours, and decent pay.

Good luck, there are always better opportunities.

trashmanz

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2017, 09:14:23 PM »
Seems like even though it may pay less the health benefits for your family might be worth it? 

I wouldn't suggest rushing into buying a home just yet.  It seems like it is advantageous to have the flexibility to move wherever a good job will be, so that you can have a very short or nonexistent commute.  Once you get into home ownership you are effectively stuck for 5 years, don't make that mistake. 

trashmanz

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2017, 09:15:33 PM »
Also, I'd suggest that taking classes is a definitely strategy you should look into.  You may be able to do your education mostly at night when the family is asleep, so you don't necessarily have to lose out on much family time. 

chrisgermany

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2017, 11:31:58 PM »
By all means stay away from Multi Level Marketing 'opportunities'.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2017, 12:48:50 AM »
Hey vuedoolor, and welcome.

Despite the target audience, you are not alone on this forum. Plenty of hardworking, focused, smart people with crappy income, tricky housing costs, and dependents to ensure the care of. It's a tough position, to be sure. But you can find lots of support here.

You've got a LOT going for you, and believe it or not you are even more well-positioned than others here! A positive spouse who loves you and is undemanding; zero debt.

I agree with the comments above -home ownership can be very expensive (much more than than the mortgage), and a real albatross when mobility is needed.

A spreadsheet will tell you whether benefits are a worthwhile trade-off.

Yes, sometimes it is necessary to do something like increase one's hours away from family in order to achieve an improved financial position. If it's not too long a period, and your spouse is agreeable, this is absolutely a positive path.

What did you mean about bringing in just enough to get by, yet spending more than you're bringing in? Do you mean you (collectively) are spending more than necessary?

jade

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2017, 02:13:18 AM »
Sorry to hear that. Just to say you sound like you're doing a good job... To reiterate what others have said, a supportive spouse and zero debt are big positives.

I'm also a below 50 k household income so it's not all huge earners here. You have a lot on your plate but you're looking ahead and planning which is important.
Lots of good advice for you on jobs and home above.

All the best!

« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 02:26:23 AM by jade »

MayDay

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2017, 04:39:21 AM »
Are there other manufacturers in your area?

I work with a variety of small manufacturers in the Midwest. They are desperate for people who 1. Show up for work every day. 2. Can pass a drug test (in fact some are getting rid of drug tests because everyone uses marijuana and​ they have to keep firing good* people who fail drug tests) 3. Can do basic math/technical skill like use a tape measure with precision.

They typically pay ~13$ in the lcol Midwest. The low starting salary is why they can't get people. But if you are even moderately competent you will move up fast.

I tell you all this as a benchmark for you to compare to
 I am in the Indiana/Ohio/Pennsylvania region, and obviously it varies. But you should examine whether you have the skills and reliability to move up in a role like this (and I assume you do if you've bothered to seek us out here!) and calibrate your current employer against whether you could move up elsewhere.


*Good, relatively​ speaking. Obviously there are safety concerns with marijuana use in manufacturing.
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marielle

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2017, 07:47:10 AM »
Post a case study. There may be ways for you to save some money in the short term while you figure things out for the long run.

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/case-studies/

sparkytheop

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2017, 08:48:27 AM »
Is there a chance that your wife could find a job with an opposite shift?  It sucks, but I've had to do that for a while. 

I know space is limited, but is there a chance she could watch some kids before/after school?  Or maybe overnight for someone who has to work night shifts?  Finding someone willing to watch my son during some crazy hours helped allow me to get into the position I'm in now.  It's very hard to find someone to watch a kid overnight and on weekends.

Eventually, I went the trade school (actually community college, but courses specifically for a trade) route.  It was two years of hell, working 30+ hours a week, going to school full time, only having one day off which was spent studying, but, I graduated, landed a good job, and financially haven't looked back.  I'm now a single mom, but many coworkers, who make the same income I do, have stay at home wives with a few kids, and they aren't struggling either.  I had managed to find a "you can work here part time and make a good wage while you take classes, then when you graduate you can enter the apprenticeship program" job.  Not sure how many of those are out there like that though.  My sister joined an electrical union, and she was able to do the classes while working, since the jobs and classes were tied to each other.

You may have to make some time with the family sacrifices for a couple years, but if you can stay together (a positive wife is a good thing), it can be worth it.

Cali Nonya

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2017, 09:52:15 AM »
Getting a certification or degree is helpful, but only if it is required for a specific job that you want and you are sure of what you want to do.  I would not recommend trying to add studying to working full time if you are already in a stressful position especially if you don't have some savings as a wiggle room.  Not to be a downer, but taking on studying while working is typically not successful and is extremely stressful.

I know it has been said, but I think getting your positive happy SO on-board with the financial plan is important and hopefully getting her to help out some.  Getting some saving built up first would most likely take some of the stress off before you consider changing jobs, housing, etc. 

Good luck.  Glad you are here on this site.

sparkytheop

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2017, 10:19:46 AM »
Also, the housing situation...

You mentioned "buy first home or rent home", where do you live now?  Are you in an apartment?  A trailer? If an apartment, unless the landlord will not allow you to stay with that size of occupancy, stay put for now.  It's no fun living all piled up on each other and wanting more space, but taking on expenses of moving, buying/renting a larger place, etc, is not going to help the financial situation.  Especially when you don't have a job lined up that will make things work out better. 

With no savings and no permanent job, purchasing a house would likely be very difficult to impossible. 

Cranky

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2017, 11:59:14 AM »
I agree that this is not the time to buy a house, because that really locks you in (and there are many tedious costs associated with being a homeowner.)

I also agree that businesses have a hard time finding people who show up, work hard, and can pass a drug test, so do all of those things and keep looking for your next opportunity.

Plus, is there something your wife can do in the evening or weekend? Every little bit helps.

the_fixer

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2017, 12:33:33 PM »
First of all kudos for having zero debt that is great!

We all come from different social / economic levels and the important thing is that you are here and looking for ways to improve your situation for yourself and your family.

Is there the possibility that you can learn another skill while at work that might lead to a better job? For example a manufacturing plant has many different things that go on such as site maintenance, IT or different parts of the manufacturing process. If you show an intrest maybe they will take the time to teach you some skills.
   
What about helping out a skilled trade such as a welding shop or mechanic shop on the side or weekend to learn some skills and get your foot in the door? People really do want to help others that are genuinely try to better themselves. Try going to a small mechanic shop, computer repair shop, electrician, plumber, welding shop or other hands on kind of business and explain your situation that you are a hard working person and would like to learn their trade and that you can work for them x hours a week on x day and will do so in trade for the knowledge or very low pay. 

Even just getting a job on the weekend at Jiffy Lube can lead to a career as a mechanic and it really does not take much skill to change oil so it is a good way to get your foot in the door.

Just the other day there was an interview on the new talking about how mechanics are hard to come by right now and that they will hire just about anyone and train them.

I would also second the person that mentioned seeing if your SO could watch and extra kid from time to time it might just be enough to make a difference.

If you are truly motivated and it sounds like you are you will find a way.  Maybe that means putting forth the effort to learn a new skill in you spare time or going to school in your spare time.

arden

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2017, 01:17:46 PM »
I'm a lurker here but I encourage the OP to submit a case study (as was suggested).  People here are so helpful at identifying gaps/issues that maybe you could feel less trapped and hopeless and have a plan forward.

Welcome!

alewpanda

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2017, 02:27:28 PM »
First things first, it will take time to get your SO on board.  However, getting her on board will be a huge boost to your goals.

Second, don't buy.  Rent.  Trust me...houses are expensive and they nail you down and keep you from pursuing employment in other areas.

Third, start by simply tracking expenses.  Take a look at the last months spending and figure out what you are spending on.  Is it food?  Is it junk from the dollar store?  Is your big expense avoidable or something you can cut down on?  Where is your money really, really going?

Fourth, would your SO have fun taking on a weekend or evening job part time?  Suggest it as an opportunity to have some time away from the kids, or for socialization.  Help suggesting things that won't encourage further spending.  For instance, suggest waitressing rather than a store job...you can only eat so much of the same food!

Or, you may have to take on more work, or further training.  If you have interest in IT work, some certificates can be trained for yourself, taken for 250 to 500, and if passed, would open up a lot of opportunities.  Other options would be apprenticeships for manual labor or skilled labor type of jobs.  They wouldn't require a lot of money to get your training...at least not as much as college. 

Finally, how old are your kids? Will you have them in school soon?  Would a job for the SO be easier once a few of them are school aged?  Will expenses like diapers/formula go away then?  You are never stuck...you may just have to work through the rough years first....


Good luck.  You have taken the first step.  Be smart, and be wise about how you bring your SO around, and you can be in a better place eventually too, even if it takes a little longer.

Gone_Hiking

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2017, 10:39:01 PM »
My view is very narrow, as a software engineer, but I would recommend using the Internet to take free programming courses (udacity, coursera, khan Academy, etc). After familiarizing yourself with the basics, sign up with a tech recruiting firm and get a contracting job paying $20+ an hour.

This

I would second software development.  You're in manufacturing and with that kind of background switching to programming might be a good fit for you.   In addition to the programming resources listed above, is there a coding dojo near where you live?  Someone I work with got hired as a software tester - full-time and with benefits -  after completing a coding dojo course and without formal background in software development.   

Steer clear from for-profit colleges.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2017, 10:58:19 PM »
Yeah, of the five people I know working in programming, only one went to school :)   The rest were self-taught, in their own free time, and are making big bucks.

KungfuRabbit

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2017, 05:36:30 AM »
Dude  your SO is right.  With love / hope / and a Mustachian work ethic and smarts - everything will work out. I also don't see "you made every mistake possible", you have zero debt and a loving SO....where the F are the mistakes? 

You do however need to get out of a dead end low paying job:

Short term - call center. My buddy started at. $13 / hr no benefits and moved to $20 / hr full benefits in a year....just by showing up and actually working. Like others have said, there are a ton of jobs that start low that are desperate for reliable people with a good work ethic.  The sky is the limit for moving up once you get in a big company, my step dad started at a call center and is now an EVP at that same company.

Long term best option is an educated field.    - what do you want to do?  Programming is a highly lucrative option if you're into it, the trades (electrician, plumber, etc) are always in demand, home remodeling subs are always in demand (I can tell you for a fact there is not a finish carpenter or a tile person in the Twin Cities that isn't booked out 3 months right now), abd those are just the main options you can usually get without adding much school debt.


FIREby35

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2017, 07:12:58 AM »
I don't know where you are from, that might make a difference.

I love the computer people, if that is something you are good at then go for it. That would be terrible advice for someone like me with no real desire to do that. So, I'll give you a couple other ideas.

In my area you can go to a steam fitter, sheet metal worker, plumber or most any other union and get hired basically immediately. Those jobs come with decent hourly wage and benefits. You start as an apprentice and then, usually after 3 or 4 years, become a journeyman.

Union trade jobs pay very decent money. Start googling for your area.

If you pick a trade like plumbing or electric, you might find yourself making a 100k a year in 30 hours a week with your own small business in 10 years. That is not some internet multi-level-marketing bullshit. That is real.

I would also suggest going to check out your local community college. At the community college they should have multiple programs related to the trades and you should be able to ask which ones have the highest employment rates. I'm actually on the board of directors of a community college with 10,000 plus students - and a CC grad :). In our area, the major company presidents sit on the board and donate all the money to run the program and then compete with each other for the graduates. Those are good jobs. Go look for those opportunities in your area.

If your area is economically depressed, think about moving. My area has unemployment in the 3% range and "help wanted" signs are everywhere. There are good jobs to be found. Check out this list: https://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm

Read the book Grit, by Angela Duckworth. Now is the time to dig deep and make something happen. You can do it.


surfhb

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2017, 09:09:14 AM »
Trapped and hopeless?    I doubt it.   

What's your age?  net worth?   Where's your case study?   


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aceyou

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2017, 01:59:45 PM »
Welcome.  You can do this.  You have a loving and supportive wife.  You are already wealthier than MANY millionaires.  Next step, get more money:)  I want to pile on with the rent comments to help push you that way...renting is way better in your situation almost every time.  A house is not the investment you think it is, and it is literally an anchor.  Your main need is an increased income, and that flexibility makes that far more likely. 

Good luck!!!

LouLou

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2017, 09:25:35 PM »
I expected so much worse! No debt and a good work ethic will take you far. So many people have come up from worse. Supporting a household is very stressful, so I understand your fears.

I concur with others re: a case study. There could be savings you don't see because you are worried.

Various thoughts
  • Rent, don't buy. Others have covered this. It's okay if renting is more expensive in the short term. Could you really handle needing to replace a water heater or another appliance without notice? Let the landlord worry about that stuff. Plus, one good thing about being a single income family is that you can move without juggling two careers. If you find a great opportunity a state away, the family can move without worrying about selling the house.
  • Is your SO watching all four kids all the time? If not, consider offering childcare for another little one. There are people who need part time childcare that a daycare can't accommodate (only two days a week for example), or would prefer a home setting.
  • If you want more skills, do not go to a for-profit school, no matter what they tell you
  • Trades are an excellent choice. Start contacting local unions - they can point you to the right place for opportunities
  • Benefits can be good. A sickness or injury can wipe you out without warning at any time.
  • Have you considering nursing? Very necessary with opportunities to increase your education over time.

Mel70

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2017, 02:26:41 PM »
Dude  your SO is right.  With love / hope / and a Mustachian work ethic and smarts - everything will work out. I also don't see "you made every mistake possible", you have zero debt and a loving SO....where the F are the mistakes? 

You do however need to get out of a dead end low paying job:

Short term - call center. My buddy started at. $13 / hr no benefits and moved to $20 / hr full benefits in a year....just by showing up and actually working. Like others have said, there are a ton of jobs that start low that are desperate for reliable people with a good work ethic.  The sky is the limit for moving up once you get in a big company, my step dad started at a call center and is now an EVP at that same company.

Long term best option is an educated field.    - what do you want to do?  Programming is a highly lucrative option if you're into it, the trades (electrician, plumber, etc) are always in demand, home remodeling subs are always in demand (I can tell you for a fact there is not a finish carpenter or a tile person in the Twin Cities that isn't booked out 3 months right now), abd those are just the main options you can usually get without adding much school debt.

+1. Community colleges sometimes offer full tuition scholarships in specific programs/trades. Learn to do something else. Short term pain, long term gain. Enlist the S/O. Sometimes less take-home-pay is more than hourly wages because of other forms of compensation (Paid time off, sick days, insurance, 401(k). Those add $$$ to your base pay. Don't reject them outright.

vuedoolor

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2017, 03:51:57 AM »
Wow !! Thanks for all the encouraging and supportive replies :)

I read each and every comment and will answer some questions that I may have left out.

First, sorry for taking so long to reply back I had to do some overtime this past week and also been looking at houses. So a little more about myself, I'm from MPLS/STP area in MN and in my 30's and currently renting an apt at $1150/month which includes utilities. The reason I've been looking for houses is because there's a slight chance I may have too many occupants and may get kicked out but management haven't said anything yet and since I'm in the mpls/stp area buying a home vs renting a home seems to be the better and cheaper choice for me. I plugged in some numbers into the buy or rent calculators here and it's telling me that buying would be a better option for me, assuming that I plugged in all the right numbers.

https://www.moneyunder30.com/rent-vs-buy-calculator
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/upshot/buy-rent-calculator.html

I have been preapproved for a conventional loan of $170k and also qualify for the two down payment assistant programs (lift grant/MN housing). And I know that just because a lender says you qualify for $170k doesn't necessarily mean you can afford a house at $170k so I want to be as conservative as I can and think that I'll have to aim for homes in the $120k - $145k price range based on my calculations here: https://www.moneyunder30.com/how-much-house-can-you-afford (been looking at min 3bdrms and 1 bath)

Also thinking that once everything kinda settles down I will probably get my ass into self-studying for the CompTIA A+ exam but due to working graveyard shift it has really taken a toll on my health. My memory recall, focus, concentration, stress level, anxiety, sleep pattern and cardiac rhythm is really out of whack so I'm thinking about self-medicating with nootropics and other vitamins/supplements to see if I can improve in those areas (so far starting with a multivitamin). Already starting soon on my new diet which is going to mainly consist of veggies and also trying to get the whole family onboard. Other things I really need to work on is being more organize, exercise, and meditation. I'll probably have to learn how to use Evernote soon so if any of you guys have a good system set up already to stay organize let me know.

INTJ-T basically describes me pretty well - http://www.intjvision.com/turbulent-intj-t-vs-assertive-intj-a/

Anyways let me know what you guys think of me buying a home vs renting a home, not sure if I can keep renting an apartment with the number of occupants I have.

Thanks Everyone :)






begood

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #25 on: April 20, 2017, 05:03:18 AM »
I can't speak to many of the variables in your current situation, vuedoolor, but this line really stood out to me:

My memory recall, focus, concentration, stress level, anxiety, sleep pattern and cardiac rhythm is really out of whack so I'm thinking about self-medicating with nootropics and other vitamins/supplements to see if I can improve in those areas (so far starting with a multivitamin). Already starting soon on my new diet which is going to mainly consist of veggies and also trying to get the whole family onboard. Other things I really need to work on is being more organize, exercise, and meditation.

For focus, concentration, stress level, and sleep pattern, I recommend starting with meditation. It's free, requires nothing to change except yourself, and a small investment of time can make a BIG difference. There's a free app called Headspace that could get you started today. A few minutes of stillness, breathing, and guided meditation - really, try it for even 2-3 minutes to start - could help more than nootropic drugs, supplements, or vitamins.

While adding vegetables to your diet is always admirable, protein is what keeps your brain and muscles going. You could even keep a jar of peanut butter in your car and have a spoonful before you go in to work and as soon as you get off your shift. Remember to drink plenty of water. When my husband worked the assembly line at Frito Lay, he had a hard time getting to the bathroom, so he cut back on fluids and ended up dehydrated, which is terrible for the kidneys (and can also mimic some of those stress symptoms you describe above).

In short: Drink water. Eat protein. Breathe.


FLBiker

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #26 on: April 20, 2017, 06:46:01 AM »
I can't speak to many of the variables in your current situation, vuedoolor, but this line really stood out to me:

My memory recall, focus, concentration, stress level, anxiety, sleep pattern and cardiac rhythm is really out of whack so I'm thinking about self-medicating with nootropics and other vitamins/supplements to see if I can improve in those areas (so far starting with a multivitamin). Already starting soon on my new diet which is going to mainly consist of veggies and also trying to get the whole family onboard. Other things I really need to work on is being more organize, exercise, and meditation.

For focus, concentration, stress level, and sleep pattern, I recommend starting with meditation. It's free, requires nothing to change except yourself, and a small investment of time can make a BIG difference. There's a free app called Headspace that could get you started today. A few minutes of stillness, breathing, and guided meditation - really, try it for even 2-3 minutes to start - could help more than nootropic drugs, supplements, or vitamins.

Big +1 for meditation.  And, for me, it's been helpful to find a group / teacher.  Guided meditations via app are a good place to start, though.

letthelightin

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Re: Feeling Trapped and Hopeless
« Reply #27 on: April 20, 2017, 08:14:17 AM »
I make enough just to get us by, which means I am spending way more than I'm bringing in.

For this, I would recommend YNAB (You Need A Budget) budgeting software. It's not typical budgeting software where you guess how much money you'll make & spend, and then feel terrible about yourself when you inevitably underearn/overspend. Instead, you are only budgeting money you already have, and deciding what you want that money to be spent on. The concept of budgeting the way YNAB does it is simple, intuitive, and it works really well. I've seen many stories on the YNAB forum from people in situations similar to yours about how dramatically their financial lives improved once they began using YNAB.

I was always decent at saving & budgeting, but YNAB really kicked it up a notch. Check out their website & watch the videos for a better idea of how it all works. It's pretty amazing stuff.

I know I sound like a walking advertisement, but I promise am not paid by them to say any of this- I am just a really happy customer of theirs. I genuinely believe that using their budgeting software is life-changing, in terms of helping people improve their financial situation & outlook, which then ripples out into other areas of their lives as well. 

You & your girlfriend seem to have a good mindset about this, and you have gotten a lot of good advice in this thread. I hope this all works out for you!