Author Topic: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!  (Read 60024 times)

jessicat

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #150 on: February 17, 2017, 07:11:16 PM »
I find it interesting that our mind likes to tell us we deserve things just because we are breathing.  We don't deserve things we can't pay for in cash.  And yet our mind will try to block our progress because to our minds progress is scary because it is the unknown.  I feel like I have to fight my brain to do the stuff that is good for me and will make me happy.  So glad you are fighting your brain freaking out because you are changing.

PizzaSteve

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #151 on: February 17, 2017, 07:23:21 PM »
If anyone here has been able to change your habits regarding soda/junk food/fast food I would really appreciate any tips.

The simplest (and I'm not saying easiest) way is to not buy it. Not bring it in your home in the first place. Growing up, with rare exceptions, we'd only have chips and soda at parties (sometimes picnics/barbeques). They weren't an everyday snack. Having that attitude made it easier to instill a similar rule for myself as an adult (after developing some less-than-stellar habits in college, heh). Point is, 100% prohibition probably won't work, but treating these things as truly rare indulgences rather than something you pick up weekly will drastically decrease consumption. Up to you what your rules are. I do like having some food groups reserved for parties/gatherings.

For sodas, I personally am not a huge fan of fizzy and/or extremely artificial flavors, but I do like a flavored/sweetened beverage now and then...however, I limit myself to one on normal days (i.e. non-celebrations/gatherings) whether it's a glass of juice or ginger beer, beer or cider, glass of wine, etc and I don't always have that. Bf and I might split a bottle of wine on weekend... Other things I like to do are homemade iced tea or lemonade (I add far less sugar than is in the packaged stuff), flavored water (add cucumber, herbs like basil or mint, citrus, berries, etc and just sit it in the fridge a few hours up to a few days...feels very fancy IMO), or flavored fizzy water like LaCroix. The last is not cheaper than soda, but if you like it less, even as it fulfills your desire for bubbles you'll likely consume less and less of it. Finally, I do drink black tea in basically unlimited quantities whenever I want, as well as water of course.

Re: your 2) and 3)....it's ultimately up to you what your priorities are. People here will likely try to convince you to sell your house/car/etc but the real question is: what do you want more: to be out of debt sooner or to have these things? And if your answer is "the latter and I'm willing to cut the rest of the budget and scrimp for 5 years"...there's not a lot of point in convincing you otherwise, I think.
A tried and true method is to simply not even allow yourself to walk down the soda, chips, cookie aisles at the grocery store.  My wife and i go to the veggies, meat, and occasionally flour/sugar/spices aisles, grab our eggs and dairy and are out.  We dont even walk down those rows and rarely hit the frozen section, because it is also full of unhealthy, processed things.  It takes 1-2 hours to learn how to make home made pizza dough.  Even less to saute some onions until they are sweet, drain some canned tomatoes, crush them with garlic and olive oil, and grind/spice some home made sausage.  You would be shocked at how fun and cheap it is to make 4-5 pizzas on parchment paper,  stack them and freeze them.  They taste better with only a little research at somewhere like a home pizza site,  so you can even improve on frozen in both cost, quality and healthiness (try less cheese and some home made pesto, for example).
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Neustache

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #152 on: February 18, 2017, 09:02:31 PM »
Re:  soda.

In my 20's I used to drink a litre of diet Pepsi per day.  I stopped by switching to club soda for a little while, then to mineral water and then to plain tap water.   I never went back to drinking pop or soda.  It is really bad for you - stains your teeth, can create cavities, and IIRC, there is a chemical in it that leaches calcium from your bones.  So just bad stuff all around.

Good luck!!!!   

Also, planning really helps me stay away from junk food.  One thing I always do is keep some almonds/trail mix in a container in my desk at work.  If my lunch isn't enough or i get hungry, then I just eat that rather than buy a snack from a coffee shop or corner store.


Yes!  Food chain yourself to plain water by going a soda<carbonated water (no sugar)<water route.  I get carbonated water (again, no sugar or fake sugar) and it's amazing how a little carbonation and flavoring is still such a treat to me. 


J_Stache

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #153 on: February 19, 2017, 07:39:54 PM »
I know I just need to start with selling the truck (which I still plan to do) but should I pay off some debt or hold the money for another car?
Both options are good.  Let your wife know that the extra money from selling your truck can be used for a replacement vehicle for her or will be put towards debt repayment.  Convince her to look at some replacement vehicles, but let her know that the decision to buy vs. stick with what she has is completely up to her.

baburu

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #154 on: February 20, 2017, 10:01:11 AM »
dashh, I just wanted to say that your frankness is really inspiring. And congratulation to you both on the excellent work in reducing expenses already!

I agree with others here in that you have to set the example. In my case, I have found that DW sometimes doesn't immediately take to an idea, but after meditating on it and seeing initial results, she eagerly comes onboard. That's how we avoided buying a house or condo a few years ago in the biggest boom/bust cycle ever in Brazil, are still renting (much cheaper than buying here) are now much better prepared for when/if the time to buy comes.

You have reached this site and its ideas on your own, and reached your own conclusions (which may undergo revisions from time to time) about what to do. So you didn't need any convincing; you convinced yourself. But your wife is a different story.

Don't nag her about selling her vehicle. Sell yours first and pay off some debt, thereby reducing debt, monthly payments and interest, and gas costs. That way she'll see that improving the family's financial situation really matters to you, even if it means getting rid of things you are attached to.

pachnik

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #155 on: February 20, 2017, 10:09:10 AM »
dashh, I just wanted to say that your frankness is really inspiring. And congratulation to you both on the excellent work in reducing expenses already!

I agree with others here in that you have to set the example. In my case, I have found that DW sometimes doesn't immediately take to an idea, but after meditating on it and seeing initial results, she eagerly comes onboard. That's how we avoided buying a house or condo a few years ago in the biggest boom/bust cycle ever in Brazil, are still renting (much cheaper than buying here) are now much better prepared for when/if the time to buy comes.

You have reached this site and its ideas on your own, and reached your own conclusions (which may undergo revisions from time to time) about what to do. So you didn't need any convincing; you convinced yourself. But your wife is a different story.

Don't nag her about selling her vehicle. Sell yours first and pay off some debt, thereby reducing debt, monthly payments and interest, and gas costs. That way she'll see that improving the family's financial situation really matters to you, even if it means getting rid of things you are attached to.

This.  You set the example.  When I found this website,  I started to do some of things I read about people doing here:  stopped buying coffee when out (made it at home); bought lunch out much less often etc.   I never really bugged my husband about this kind of stuff because in many ways he was much less wasteful than I was. 

Fast forward a few years, my husband is reading books about investment and personal finance from the library.  I did not imagine this happening ever.  So you just get going on what you can control and see what comes of it. 

Good luck!

baburu

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #156 on: February 20, 2017, 11:56:44 AM »
dashh, since you're in Raleigh NC, check out this guy who lives there and retired at 33: http://rootofgood.com .

BlueHouse

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #157 on: February 23, 2017, 11:27:46 AM »
If anyone here has been able to change your habits regarding soda/junk food/fast food I would really appreciate any tips.
...

I have the same problems and I go in spurts.  But I find that it takes me about 3 days to change a diet habit.  I will find myself doing the fast food thing without even thinking about it, so I have to have no cash or credit cards* with me for about 3 days before the habit of driving to the fast food drive-through is gone. 

Soda -- it's really hard for me to make it through those first three days without soda, but after that, it's much easier.  I drink a LOT of tea (with caffeine and without) when I'm off soda.  I'm currently on no-soda, and I'm realizing I probably can't ever have another early-morning Diet Coke without falling right back into the habit. I love the feeling of a cold aluminum can against my teeth when the fizzy cherry liquid hits my tongue.  Guess what else I've noticed?  I have NO DESIRE for anything salty (chips, crackers) unless I'm drinking soda.  Check and see if your soda drinking causes other overeating/poor food choices and maybe that will help too.  It goes the other way too.  If I pick up a bag of chips, I can't enjoy those chips without a sweet drink...so just be aware.

Instead of ordering pizza, here's a VERY SIMPLE, and fun crock pot recipe for baked ziti.  no boiling water, no giant clean up.
http://buildyourbite.com/easy-crockpot-baked-ziti/
 And after you teach them once, your kids can make this for the family once per week.    Maybe you want to help them start a notebook of dishes that they can make.  I'm still trying to get meal planning figured out, so maybe if you can get your kids to show an interest, it will be more fun for everyone.   Another pointer for getting the kids to like home cooking:  When grating cheese or chopping vegetables, get the kids to guess when you have 1/2 cup, or whatever amount you need, and then put it in the measuring cup, it will be fun and will help get them better at estimating volumes and weights.  I wish I had learned these tips years ago!


*I've found that I use plastic mindlessly and that seems to be my weakness.  So on a somewhat regular basis, I'll purposely avoid using credit cards.  But I still want the safety/security of having one with me in case of emergency.  So I keep one of my seldom-used cards encased in plastic laminated film.  No need to have it with me most of the time and I keep it in a desk drawer.  But on these "Plastic Diet" days, I switch out my wallet for this card.  Now I'm safe, but I can't spend money unless I pull that plastic off.  I've never had to do it.   

Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand

wintertell

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #158 on: February 24, 2017, 05:43:18 PM »
I just want to chime in and say that I was very similar to you just 3 years ago! When I graduated from graduated school, we were 183K in debt, with over 133K in student loans, plus two car loans, and a mortgage for our mobile home. This was in our second month of marriage. I was so overwhelmed. It caused a lot of stress on my relationship, even the month after the honeymoon!

However, I found the journal section here to be a safe place to write and go back and forth, and then I tried to be all action and helpful around my husband.  Now, we are down to about 20K in debt - 6k of the original debt, plus a new-to-us car that we financed in Oct. 2016. Not perfect, but progress. (As an FYI, I live in NC too).

You can do this!!! Some folks in the journal section have decided to live life a bit more, and so are paying stuff off slowly. Some people put the petal to the metal and crush it. I would argue for the petal to the metal approach and to try a bunch of stuff and see what sticks and works for your family. Any area of personal growth requires being uncomfortable and trying new things. Reforming financial habits - at least at first - requires that uncomfortable tenacity. Take advantage of your enthusiasm now to make changes so you can see and feel progress. A good start makes the journey easier.

On trust:
But at the same time, I think your awareness that you must lead by example is right on / is key. You can lead by example, try new things (with DW's acceptance) and make a lot of progress. That will build trust -- in yourself that you can do this, and with each other, to keep each other mutually accountable. I think you need to build that financial trust between you and DW by leading with your behavior, especially given the spending history/background you gave us. So, I would start with the truck.

This series on The Simple Dollar is one of my absolute favorites in terms of reforming behavior. What Trent advocates is golden. Devote an hour a day or a week to better yourself and your family financial, by working on the emotional side of spending, or working on cutting a bill.  http://www.thesimpledollar.com/31-days-to-financial-independence-intro-and-day-1-the-shallows-and-the-deep/

The connections between health and finances:
One last thought: Now that our financial act is in order, I am turning to health. I did not have the mental capabitliy to deeply focus on two big life-changing projects at once. But I find that the same behaviors that led to pay off my debt apply in a similar-but-not-the-same way to weight loss.

The biggest thing that crosses over is:
1) This is a journey that requirements a very big "why", to keep going in the long term. Why pay off the debt? Do you want to retire? Do you want to help your kids through college? Do you want to be a good role model for your wife and your kids? Do you want them to have healthy financial habits so they can live a rich life. What's your why??

2) The journey requirements a relentless commitment to tweaking and self-improvement. What's one behavior you can change today? What's one phone call you make to better your financial situation today?

This also means a constant, low-level drumbeat of change as you change your habits.  Change can be uncomfortable. It can also be exhilarating when you see your results. Luckily for you, you will be able to see the change through knocking your debts out one by one.

On the right method for debt payoff for you:
This is why I would consider the Dave Ramsey-like approach, so that you can have the reward of knocking debts off and seeing results. A disclaimer: I did not follow the Dave Ramsey approach. I just paid off whichever debt bothered me the most. This alternated between lowest balance and highest interest rate, depending on what I felt was achievable.

Since paying off a large sum of debt requires change over a long period of time, it might be worth it to figure out consider what method isn't the "best", but rather what motivates you (and DW) more? Knocking down debts fast (AKA snowball approach, lowest balance) or paying the least amount of money (highest interest rate) or the "emotional" approach (pay whatever sucker you hate the most).

Good luck! I will be cheering for you!
« Last Edit: February 24, 2017, 05:49:04 PM by wintertell »

COEE

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #159 on: February 25, 2017, 12:38:41 PM »
Wow - what a great story.  I'm rooting for you as well.

I know selling your truck and home are hard things to do.  For a long time I had had difficulty with selling our home... it was our 'home'.  We had bought it as a foreclosure and updated most of it to where we wanted it.  It was a nice home in a gated community with many geological features surrounding and butting up to a state park - stunning is quite the understatement.  We will probably never live in such a beautiful place again. 

Anywho - one day I eventually looked at our income and expenses and realized we were still barely making it - even without the debt that we paid off - Our 30 year 5.25% loan ($1800/mo), HOA $1600/year, taxes $3000/year, higher than normal utilities ($500/mo), 30 minutes from town ($30 round-trip @ $1/mile ~10x per week), etc all ate into our wealth - and I had a burning desire to FIRE.  It took me a couple years to warm up to the idea of moving, but I did last year.  I had to find a better job in another area of town before it was worth my time, but boy-oh-boy was it worth my time.

I rolled the proceeds of the house into a cheaper home with a 15 year 2.875% loan ($1400/mo), no HOA ($0/year), lower taxes ($1600/year), normal utilities ($300/mo), walking distance to work ($4 round trip when I drive (about half of the time) - So about $10 per week).  That is almost $2000 savings a month.  I didn't do the math exactly... but that's about right.  I contribute about $1000 more a month to my 401k (sadly this just offsets my previous company match), and I have about $1000 more spending money a month.

My family is WAY better off now - A very good decision for us.  It took us a while to warm up to the idea that we'd be leaving my house that I had worked so hard on, but ultimately it was worth it.  Really I wish I had done it while I was in my debt payoff stage - it would have moved much quicker.

Good luck!

OutOfTheAbyss

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #160 on: February 27, 2017, 05:00:30 AM »
I had a similar (slightly less dire) situation. I think it's even more embarrassing when you work in finance and end up in this situation- that's how I felt. And yes, every finance job I've held requires a credit check, so bankruptcy just sounds like more fees to an attorney and impaired income.

I sold my 2015 sports car and bought a used 2007 sedan, which eliminated $1000 a month in payments. I had to finance the gap because like you, the commute was long. Still, using Lending Club to finance the gap took off years off payments. It will be gone soon.

I got a 7% interest personal loan from Sofi and consolidated over 50k in 14-24% interest credit cards. I see it dip month after month on Mint and it feels amazing.

I only buy "new with tags" clothes on Ebay. No new clothing from retail at all. If I buy something it's because my work shoes wore out. I also play a game to try to offset it anywhere else.

Think about your commute. I used to earn 30% more at a job with a 2 hour each way commute. The depression and exhaustion from that miserable lifestyle is what prompted me to buy a lot of stuff- clothes, fancy car, spa treatments- I didn't need. I took a lower paying job closer to home and the benefits offset a lot- ($600 less per month in health insurance, extra 4% 401K contributions, thousands less in car maintenance yearly..)  You should look into this. I feel human again, feel more in control of every aspect of my life, and the benefits to my family are priceless. I also have time to cook now and save money and we eat as well as if we were going out.

Declutter- read the Minimalists and similar articles. What can you donate, sell, part with? Look at everything and see if it brings you more enjoyment than getting rid of debt would. I sold a bunch of stuff on Craigslist, ebay, etc. It's also much easier to keep your house clean the less stuff is in it. It's amazing how many clothes I had with tags, brand new never used bike in the garage...text books sold on amazon..

I got our grocery bill down to $480 from $800. I discovered the local produce market and make alternating trips to Trader Joes and the market to buy what's cheaper at each location. I also downloaded Ibotta and my supermarket's coupon app. The trick is not to but it because you have a coupon, but to find good deals and stock up. 

I'm a fledgling compared to other people on this board, but I was able to get my credit back into the 800s (not that I intend to use it) from the high 600s from being in so much debt and refinancing it. I have a house I'd love to sell and can't yet- it's a money pit. I'd consider selling the house if you can and downsizing. I'd look at that as freedom and security and not waiting for some 4-10k expense shoe to drop on you while you're in such a precarious position.

Good luck!

Novik

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #161 on: February 27, 2017, 07:25:05 AM »
dashh, I just want to say that noticing and cataloging the habits you want to change and why/when they happen is such a positive step towards changing them. Congratulations on that and best of luck as you start to try and make those changes.

There's a book called The Happiness Advantage which has a chapter on changing habits, and the recommendation is basically to make it easier (mentally/physically) to do what you want to do, and harder to make the choice you'd like to avoid. For example, put the snacks/soda in the garage or basement or upstairs guest bedroom (basically far away from where you eat/watch tv). If you add even 20 seconds to how long it takes you to get them, it'll be a lot easier to avoid them. Another suggestion from the book was to create rules about new habits to avoid depleting your willpower by having to make choices (ie. I can eat snacks on days X Y and Z but only those days, and so the other days there's no argument with yourself about it).


With that out of the way, I think I do need to bring some facepunches to the table here. You are drowning in debt, unhappy with work, and you went out and bought a 50 inch TV for 400$???? Can you return it? Did you confirm the issue was the same and still expensive to fix? Would it have been that bad to step down to a 40" tv? Better yet, could you have lived without a tv for a couple weeks, watching sales, or used listings for a decent tv or projector? All these are the questions you need to start asking before you go out and use money you don't have to try to buy a brand-new luxury item.

I get it, a TV is a nice luxury. In fact, I acquired one for the first time in the last year. But I used a bank promotion related to accounts/credit card openings to get a perfectly nice 28" tv for free, that has some super luxury features like playing videos from USBs. I didn't drop 400$ one weekend on a whim because I couldn't live without a TV for a few days. The point of knowing Mustachian (or even just regular personal finance) principles, is to act on them, not to prepare for facepunches.


And then the car! I get it that you took the car in to a shop for the oil change. I don't change my own oil either right now (rented driveway + fear). But why take it to a shop you don't trust, and then proceed to spend 900$ on their recommendation, without a second opinion, when you don't trust them! With the sting of that money still in mind, now is the time to find a shop you do trust (ask friends/family), and to also price-compare who has the cheapest oil changes (the last city I lived in, it was the Honda dealer, for less than 70$ even with synthetic and in Canadian dollars).


You can dig yourself out of this hole. You can. We all believe in you. But you have to start slowing down and questioning big purchase "needs" or you're just digging yourself in deeper.
Over-thinking, over-planning and over-committing, aka my 2017 goals: Procrastinating my way to FIRE
If you're a dual American/Canadian citizen living in Canada and investing in index funds outside an RRSP, please PM me!

With This Herring

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #162 on: February 27, 2017, 07:28:52 AM »
*snip*
We had a pretty rough weekend financially.  First our plasma tv went out on Friday night and so the dilemma of what to do presented itself.  I believe the issue was the same one that happened a year of so ago and the repair would cost almost as much as a replacement.  I know buying a new tv when we are in so much debt is not a very Mustachian thing to do and will draw face punches but that is the choice we made.

I will say that in the past I would have taken this as an opportunity to upgrade tv's (larger and Ultra HD) but I chose the cheapest replacement I could find (that had good reviews) which was a 50" LED for $400 at Walmart.  Again I know this was probably a face punchable decision so I am prepared.
*snip*

First, when, exactly, was the previous TV failure?  Is the TV that just broke the replacement that was purchased 1 year ago?  If it's possible that the TV that just broke is around 1 year old, then dig out the receipt and check!  You might still be covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

Is it something you could possibly fix yourself by looking up info on YouTube?

Why buy a new TV?  I bet with a little searching you could find a TV for much cheaper or free on CraigsList.  You wouldn't necessarily even need to settle for a heavy tube TV.  I am seeing some small flatscreens going for $20 in my area.  And, with an hour drive between work and home, you probably have two CL sites to use.

And Novik said it with the car repairs.
Because your toaster got hacked because you tried to watch porn on your blender.

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frugaldoc

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #163 on: February 27, 2017, 08:33:42 AM »
Thanks for the follow up and good job.

The TV thing does deserve a face punch though. In addition to being a source of poisonous advertising and time wasting programming, televisions should be nearly free. Craigslist is good place to start. My last tv (Used very infrequently to watch movies) was free on Facebook. I asked my friends if anyone was wanting to get rid of an old television.

But all that aside, this was an opportunity to simply step away and realize you don't need a television. It is a meditative and philosophical exercise to not replace something when it breaks. Doing without something you think you need makes you more bad ass. Use it as a natural experiment to see if television makes you happy. I didn't realize how unhappy watching TV was making me, until I turned it off and didn't watch for a month, then 6 months, now almost never.

Kill your television my friend. Take it back if you can and live without it for a while.
http://thehappyphilosopher.com/
Enlightened Awesomeness - A Guide to Freedom and Happiness

horsepoor

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #164 on: February 27, 2017, 09:27:45 AM »
The soda thing:

How about making a jug of iced tea each week?  You can do an herbal tea if you need a decaf drink in the evening, or just have a hot, herbal tea.  This is how I weaned myself off soda.  It was pre MMM, so I tended to buy the Unsweetened PureLeaf bottled tea for like $2, but it gives a little caffeine kick without the carbonation and sugar from Coke. 

After you return that TV and have some spare time to read instead ;) you might try reading "The End of Overeating" which goes into quite a bit of depth about how junk food is engineered to make you crave more and more.  It helped me quite a bit with getting off that train.  The nice thing is that once you break the cycle, cravings go away and it's easy to avoid eating that crap forever.  Remind yourself that it's not a real reward, and the instant gratification just leads to disappointment later.

Tires:  it's probably too late now, but last time I bought tires, I shopped for them online and purchased them from TireRack.com.  They have a list of installers with prices listed, so you choose the best price installer, and Tire Rack sends them the tires, you set up an appointment, and they mount them for you.  They often have deals like a 4th tire free, or a Visa gift card with a set of 4 or whatever.

ToTheMoon

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #165 on: February 27, 2017, 09:50:39 AM »
*snip*
We had a pretty rough weekend financially.  First our plasma tv went out on Friday night and so the dilemma of what to do presented itself.  I believe the issue was the same one that happened a year of so ago and the repair would cost almost as much as a replacement.  I know buying a new tv when we are in so much debt is not a very Mustachian thing to do and will draw face punches but that is the choice we made.

I will say that in the past I would have taken this as an opportunity to upgrade tv's (larger and Ultra HD) but I chose the cheapest replacement I could find (that had good reviews) which was a 50" LED for $400 at Walmart.  Again I know this was probably a face punchable decision so I am prepared.
*snip*

First, when, exactly, was the previous TV failure?  Is the TV that just broke the replacement that was purchased 1 year ago?  If it's possible that the TV that just broke is around 1 year old, then dig out the receipt and check!  You might still be covered by the manufacturer's warranty.


I would also assume that the broken TV was purchased on a credit card.  Does that particular card have any purchase protection?  I know one of ours doubles the warranty period on many goods (not sure about electronics.)

Anyhow, I agree with the other posters that running out and buying a new TV within hours of yours quitting was a huge fail.  I would go to the trouble of returning it, just to teach myself a lesson, then spend some time looking into ALL the options.  If you have a cable package, consider putting it on vacation hold for a couple of weeks and have a tv time-out while you and your wife discuss.

It takes a while until you can flex your frugality muscles, but the TV thing is like doing a workout, then hitting McDonalds on the way home! :)

MountainFlower

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #166 on: February 27, 2017, 12:15:28 PM »
The soda thing:

How about making a jug of iced tea each week?  You can do an herbal tea if you need a decaf drink in the evening, or just have a hot, herbal tea.  This is how I weaned myself off soda.  It was pre MMM, so I tended to buy the Unsweetened PureLeaf bottled tea for like $2, but it gives a little caffeine kick without the carbonation and sugar from Coke. 


This is how I quit drinking Diet coke as well.  My daily heartburn is now gone.  I don't like regular tea, but I discovered Tazo Zen which is a mint green tea.  I found that if I paired it with Lemon Zinger or Rasberry Zinger along with Truvia sweetener, it was pretty darn good and satisfied that caffeinated, cold drink habit.   If you can switch, you will not only save money but you'll marvel at how much less garbage/recycling you create! 

Also, I eat a ketogenic diet (low carb, high fat) and have endless energy and very few cravings.  You might find something like that or a Paleo diet will help you break the cravings, even if it's just for a month.   Listen to Jimmy Moore's Keto Clarity in your car.  PM me and I can "loan" you my copy for free from Audible if you don't have a membership. 


CmFtns

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #167 on: February 27, 2017, 12:53:43 PM »
Then on Saturday we took the Pilot in for a routine oil change ($70 which is ridiculous enough since Honda recommends synthetic oil) and ended up dropping $900.  Turns out we needed tires and a new battery plus the front wheel bearings are damaged which will cost another $600.  I passed on the wheel bearings because frankly I didn't trust the shop.  I checked out our warranty and luckily it is covered under the powertrain so IF we truly need the bearings it should be covered by Honda.  That was a relief but I certainly wasn't planning on the tires/battery this month but life happens.

Hey, isn't it amazing how your spendypants car just cost you $900. Its funny how the argument everyone gives for brand new nice cars is that it will be worry free... Well spendypants car uses spendypants tires and spendypants oil and probably a spendypants battery...

Dash, I don't understand how this is an "oh well life happens" moment... New tires is absolutely a non-urgent thing unless you are completely oblivious to the world. Unless you have worn your tires down to no-tread racing slicks then you have at least a couple weeks to turn down the upsell from the jiffy-lube, inspect the tires yourself, determine if they are actually worn out, and research a good cheap tire and where to buy them at the least cost.

Also, if your car started when you drove it in for an oil change then how did it need a new battery? You need a new battery when you get up and turn your car on and the battery wont start the car. Then because you are a 2 car household you can jump start the car and drive it for a battery replacement that day for a minor 2 hour inconvenience.

I believe you fell for the jiffy-lube upsell tactic here that they make all their money on. They are able to do this because most people view car repairs as absolutely essential based on the recommendation of the "expert mechanic" who understands the "incredibly complicated process" of checking the tread on the tires or the wear and tear on your serpentine belts or whatever other crap they try to sell you...

Grow that mustache and question every expense... even the "absolutely essential" ones!
« Last Edit: February 27, 2017, 12:55:57 PM by CmFtns »
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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #168 on: February 27, 2017, 01:08:34 PM »
Then on Saturday we took the Pilot in for a routine oil change ($70 which is ridiculous enough since Honda recommends synthetic oil) and ended up dropping $900.  Turns out we needed tires and a new battery plus the front wheel bearings are damaged which will cost another $600.  I passed on the wheel bearings because frankly I didn't trust the shop.  I checked out our warranty and luckily it is covered under the powertrain so IF we truly need the bearings it should be covered by Honda.  That was a relief but I certainly wasn't planning on the tires/battery this month but life happens.

Hey, isn't it amazing how your spendypants car just cost you $900. Its funny how the argument everyone gives for brand new nice cars is that it will be worry free... Well spendypants car uses spendypants tires and spendypants oil and probably a spendypants battery...
...
I believe you fell for the jiffy-lube upsell tactic here that they make all their money on ...

Might seem a bit harsh, but I'm with CmFtns on this one...
A quick browsing of tires available from tirerack shows you could buy 4 name-brand new tires for <$600 delivered and a battery at CostCo for $80. Add mounting and balancing fees and you're still $150 less than what you spent. Mobile1 Synthetic and a filter run $30 Walmart, and changing your own oil takes 15 minutes. And that's all assuming you needed to get all those things this week, but chances are you didn't.

We've grown up in a society that normalizes and even glorifies spending money.  Step one is to question every purchase, asking "is this truly necessary and/or will this make me happier?" It's a hard notion to dispel, but it's the first step in wealth-building.
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Novik

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #169 on: February 27, 2017, 01:16:15 PM »
Then on Saturday we took the Pilot in for a routine oil change ($70 which is ridiculous enough since Honda recommends synthetic oil) and ended up dropping $900.  Turns out we needed tires and a new battery plus the front wheel bearings are damaged which will cost another $600.  I passed on the wheel bearings because frankly I didn't trust the shop.  I checked out our warranty and luckily it is covered under the powertrain so IF we truly need the bearings it should be covered by Honda.  That was a relief but I certainly wasn't planning on the tires/battery this month but life happens.

Hey, isn't it amazing how your spendypants car just cost you $900. Its funny how the argument everyone gives for brand new nice cars is that it will be worry free... Well spendypants car uses spendypants tires and spendypants oil and probably a spendypants battery...

Dash, I don't understand how this is an "oh well life happens" moment... New tires is absolutely a non-urgent thing unless you are completely oblivious to the world. Unless you have worn your tires down to no-tread racing slicks then you have at least a couple weeks to turn down the upsell from the jiffy-lube, inspect the tires yourself, determine if they are actually worn out, and research a good cheap tire and where to buy them at the least cost.

Also, if your car started when you drove it in for an oil change then how did it need a new battery? You need a new battery when you get up and turn your car on and the battery wont start the car. Then because you are a 2 car household you can jump start the car and drive it for a battery replacement that day for a minor 2 hour inconvenience.

I believe you fell for the jiffy-lube upsell tactic here that they make all their money on. They are able to do this because most people view car repairs as absolutely essential based on the recommendation of the "expert mechanic" who understands the "incredibly complicated process" of checking the tread on the tires or the wear and tear on your serpentine belts or whatever other crap they try to sell you...

Grow that mustache and question every expense... even the "absolutely essential" ones!

Just wanted to emphasize everything CmFtns said.

If you'r worried, to you don't have to be a mechanical expert; you can get a second opinion. That would be, in my eyes, the bare minimum due diligence before dropping nearly a grand into a car. Quick car service places are always happy to tell you to spend money - but if you take it somewhere else and they don't come up with the same list of things, I'd feel pretty safe the car is fine (and it might be fine even if they list the same things too).

Again, please use these facepunches as motivation to find a garage you can trust, and/or to learn just enough about cars (youtube!) to tell the difference between an emergency and not.
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CmFtns

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #170 on: February 27, 2017, 01:52:09 PM »
Then on Saturday we took the Pilot in for a routine oil change ($70 which is ridiculous enough since Honda recommends synthetic oil) and ended up dropping $900.  Turns out we needed tires and a new battery plus the front wheel bearings are damaged which will cost another $600.  I passed on the wheel bearings because frankly I didn't trust the shop.  I checked out our warranty and luckily it is covered under the powertrain so IF we truly need the bearings it should be covered by Honda.  That was a relief but I certainly wasn't planning on the tires/battery this month but life happens.

Hey, isn't it amazing how your spendypants car just cost you $900. Its funny how the argument everyone gives for brand new nice cars is that it will be worry free... Well spendypants car uses spendypants tires and spendypants oil and probably a spendypants battery...
...
I believe you fell for the jiffy-lube upsell tactic here that they make all their money on ...

Might seem a bit harsh, but I'm with CmFtns on this one...
A quick browsing of tires available from tirerack shows you could buy 4 name-brand new tires for <$600 delivered and a battery at CostCo for $80. Add mounting and balancing fees and you're still $150 less than what you spent. Mobile1 Synthetic and a filter run $30 Walmart, and changing your own oil takes 15 minutes. And that's all assuming you needed to get all those things this week, but chances are you didn't.

We've grown up in a society that normalizes and even glorifies spending money.  Step one is to question every purchase, asking "is this truly necessary and/or will this make me happier?" It's a hard notion to dispel, but it's the first step in wealth-building.

Nereo, I also looked at tires and battery prices and found similar prices and DASH, I don't mean to be harsh at all btw... it's just about getting the point across about changing the mindset of money and questioning every single expense.
"the only efficient way to get there is on the front of the wave" -MMM

PJ

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #171 on: February 27, 2017, 02:04:47 PM »
Again, please use these facepunches as motivation to find a garage you can trust, and/or to learn just enough about cars (youtube!) to tell the difference between an emergency and not.

Hey, isn't it amazing how your spendypants car just cost you $900. Its funny how the argument everyone gives for brand new nice cars is that it will be worry free... Well spendypants car uses spendypants tires and spendypants oil and probably a spendypants battery...
...
I believe you fell for the jiffy-lube upsell tactic here that they make all their money on ...

We've grown up in a society that normalizes and even glorifies spending money.  Step one is to question every purchase, asking "is this truly necessary and/or will this make me happier?" It's a hard notion to dispel, but it's the first step in wealth-building.

Nereo, I also looked at tires and battery prices and found similar prices and DASH, I don't mean to be harsh at all btw... it's just about getting the point across about changing the mindset of money and questioning every single expense.

And to add, to apply the lesson learned to the next problem that faces you, whether that's running out of an ingredient for a recipe you want to make (can you substitute something you have in the house rather than running to the store, or make a similar recipe for which you have all the ingredients) or a piece of clothing that wears out (can you do without for a while until you find a replacement at the thrift store or on sale) or a home repair that's needed (can you fix it yourself, or trade service with a friend who can), etc.

Honestly, I'm surprised, both about the TV thing and the car thing. 

But then, you did say that you have pretty good self-awareness but trouble taking steps.  Seems like you maybe need more self-awareness to figure out why you have such trouble with taking steps/making difference choices. 

Are you missing a keystone habit?  (I just posted about these somewhere else - some reading:  http://jamesclear.com/keystone-habits  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-duhigg/the-power-of-habit_b_1304550.html )

Are you an abstainer rather than a moderator, in which case you might need a total, hard and fast rules "No Spending Month" to break your tendency to throw money at a problem:  https://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2011/04/quiz-are-you-a-moderator-or-an-abstainer-when-trying-to-give-something-up/

What do you know about yourself in terms of personality traits, that affect your consumer behaviour - in terms of materialism, compulsiveness, hedonistic adaptation, etc:  http://www.beyondthepurchase.org/blog/01/what-do-personality-traits-tell-us-about-consumer-behavior/

I say this as someone who is figuring things out right alongside of you, not as someone who's judging you.  For example, I had the recent realization that when I'm stressed about my financial situation, I want to DO something about it.  I start searching for sales, and "stock up" my groceries - many months worth! - so that I get a good price.  Only thing is, in the long run, I'd be better off not to stock up so far ahead (on things that regularly go on sale every couple of months) and use that money NOW to pay down my debt.  Much as I want to DO something to pay off my debt, what's actually going to get me there faster is DOING LESS spending.  Refraining.  This is a huge realization for me.  I had to unsubscribe to any chain store emails I was signed up for, I've actually minimized my coupon clipping (because sale prices + coupon is almost too much for me to resist) etc.  I had to understand, acknowledge, and learn to work around the fact that I succumb to sales.  That's (one of) my thing(s) to work on. 

So what's yours?  What's the common thread in your reasoning about these two situations that cropped up, the TV, and the tires?
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englishteacheralex

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #172 on: February 27, 2017, 04:19:56 PM »
Oh man the car repairs thing...I used to just whip out my checkbook whenever I went to Goodyear to buy every darn thing they told me I needed. Every time. A $40 oil change would ALWAYS turn into $500+ on brakes, tires, the flux capacitor...then I got married and my husband scoffed at all that. He never lets me get the oil changed because I always want to sign on the bottom line for everything. We drive old 100k+ mile vehicles that we buy for less than $4k, so I always felt I ought to pay through the nose for maintenance.

Husband youtubes everything and does all minor repairs himself. Also got a mechanic we trust. We now pay much, much less for maintenance and the cars keep running just fine. Jiffylube, Goodyear etc. really are a racket.
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Poundwise

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #173 on: February 27, 2017, 05:56:44 PM »
Here's another vote for returning the TV you just bought.  Put $300 from the return directly towards your debt.  Then taking a couple of weeks to shop Craigslist for a <$100 replacement.  I know that with kids, it's hard to downsize.  But it is possible to delay. 

We got rid of our TV ten years ago. Periodically my husband talks about getting a television, but in the end we've decided to wait till my mother finishes downsizing and gives us one of her four televisions.  Free TVs are easy to find.

Laura33

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #174 on: February 27, 2017, 08:52:31 PM »
First, I also suspect you got hosed on the car stuff.  One thought: could you have fallen for the tyranny of the "busy"?  You have jobs with long commutes, and small kids, and you're trying to tackle all your debt and learn new habits and all that stuff.  And then something went wrong, and you thought, well, crap, NOW I have to spend time getting a second opinion on the cars and pricing tires and batteries and seeing if I can YouTube stuff to do myself and researching TV prices and alternatives on Craigslist and then I won't get to enjoy any downtime or spend time with my kids -- so screw it, I'll just take care of this all RIGHT NOW because I don't have the headspace to add all that in with everything I'm already doing.

I don't know if this is you, but like PJ said, you need to consider the "why" of this all so you can be armed against it.  Maybe this was an extinction burst; maybe the stress of changing your ways built up until your old ways found a more socially-sanctioned way to burst through ("safety" and "it's a deal" being the excuses du jour).  But it could also be because you just feel overwhelmed by the mental effort involved in adding two more decisions to optimize when your life is already overly full.

Note that I tend toward the overwhelmed-by-choices issue myself, and it's just so *easy* to make problems disappear quickly with the application of a large sum of cash.  If this sounds familiar, then may I suggest adding a fair bit of "buck up, buttercup" to your self-talk -- you can do this, you can and will find the time to make the decisions that matter to your family's future, so don't let your lizard brain convince you that you can't.
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homestead neohio

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #175 on: February 28, 2017, 06:38:57 AM »
+1 to "buck up, buttercup" self-talk. 

Next time you are about to do something that you know will bring facepunches, stop.  Then don't do it.  Then figure out what everyone here would tell you to do instead.  Then do that.  I really think you are getting the whole philosophy, and why it is good.  You just need to do the steps.

I mean, your hair is on fire and you went to buy a brand new TV at retail price!  Take it back! 


Poundwise

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #176 on: February 28, 2017, 07:10:10 AM »
Hey, forgive me if I missed the post, but have you put your truck up for sale yet? What movement have you made there?

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #177 on: March 01, 2017, 09:07:02 AM »
I mean, your hair is on fire and you went to buy a brand new TV at retail price!  Take it back!

And then go to Goodwill, where you can buy a CRT TV for < $10.  You can't even give those things away these days, and my local Goodwill has dozens to choose from--I'm assuming yours will have something similar.

Then use the fact that you're watching a CRT TV to spur yourselves on to pay off debt.  Put $40/month in a "TV savings" account and buy one for yourself at an after-Christmas sale, in cash.

It's all about playing games with yourself.  :)

ChasingStache

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #178 on: March 01, 2017, 11:46:20 AM »
dashh,
Congratulations on taking the first steps and sharing your story. You aren't the only one out there in this situation, and you aren't even the worst out there.  Reading your story has me thinking a lot about close friends of ours. Here is their situation they have put themselves in in the last 2-3 years alone.
  • New House - 3 people full time, 1 part-time (shared custody) - $550,000
  • New furniture for house - $10,000
  • New truck lease - $500/mo - $65,000 truck
  • New car lease for 17 yo - $250/mo - $28,000 vehicle
  • New 5th-wheel camper - $85,000
  • Engagement Ring - $25,000
  • Destination Wedding - $15,000 (refinanced paid-off car to pay for)
  • Travel for 6 to wedding - $7200
  • Honeymoon - $3000
  • Credit Card Debt - $20,000

Everything above is financed in some way.

Upcoming expenses:
  • "Graduation Trip" for 18yo to Mexico - $5,000
  • College Tuition (out of state) for new grad - $64,000/YEAR!!

This is just what I know of. They are great people but just buried and they don't even realize it yet. They probably make around  $150k/year. This also is a solvable problem similar to yours, but the first step is realizing it, the second is to take action.

I hope when they are ready, I can use your story to help inspire them and show it can be done.

Good luck and remember, you have the chance to show others it CAN be done! Don't just be a leader for your family, you can make a bigger mark!

Cheering from CO!

ChasingStash

**Edited for grammar and spelling. DOH!
« Last Edit: March 01, 2017, 11:47:57 AM by ChasingStash »

meandmyfamily

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #179 on: March 01, 2017, 11:58:33 AM »
When we were struggling to quit justifying our spending it really helped to have a no spend weekend-literally we never spent a dime or left the house unless it was on a bike or foot the entire weekend.  Then we would have the occasional no spend week and we only allowed gas for driving to work.  We drew a line in the sand and said we will NOT spend for this time period.  It helped us realize a TON of things.  Things we thought were "emergencies" were not.  It helped figure out priorities and made us stop and think about what really mattered.

PJ

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #180 on: March 02, 2017, 02:29:46 PM »
I'm glad you shared your reflections, dash.

Not because you "owe" us any explanations (except by some social capital calculation in which those of us who have spent time and energy offering suggestions feel repaid by observing you move toward living in a fashion we deem acceptable) but because I suspect that writing out those reflections helped to solidify them in your mind.

Also, I had noticed you didn't post again for a bit, and was worried that you'd chickened out after this round of face punches.  So I'm glad to see you back!

On the truck and getting wife on board fronts - two birds with one stone.  Lead by example.  The fix is done, what do you need to get the truck sold?  Take pictures.  Write out a description.  Open up accounts with CL, kijiji, or wherever you're going to try to sell it.  Anything else?  Ready, set, go!
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Vindicated

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #181 on: March 02, 2017, 02:31:24 PM »
When I first started really analyzing my spending, I realized I was wasting so much.  I cut back, but continued smaller amounts of wasting.  This made me cognizant of the waste each time it happened, and it is becoming more and more uncomfortable daily.

At the same time, it is increasing my happiness to see how much I cut my spending in February.  It really gives me hope that I'll get out of my debt if I keep at it.  I now know for a fact I can keep my spending <$3k a month, where I was spending $4k+ on average before.  Now I'm challenging myself to keep it under $3k, and it's super motivating.

Not sure if this helps at all, but I hope it does.
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homestead neohio

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #182 on: March 02, 2017, 02:35:49 PM »
Hello all,
I took some time to process and take all the posts in and first just want to thank everyone for the face punches. ...
Thanks again for the support – it really helps.       

Way to take those face punches on the chin and get right back on board!  This is a process, you are taking the corrections with the right attitude!  Keep it up!

CmFtns

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #183 on: March 02, 2017, 08:54:32 PM »
I know that is very obvious to ya’ll, but until recently it just hasn’t been to us.  I have always hated the debt but over the years (and even now) still continued to make choices financially that just perpetuate our situation.  So my challenge is helping my DW see like I see and also to translate that into new behaviors/habits.   

Thanks again for the support – it really helps.       

you are right that it seems obvious but many of us have been doing this for a long time and even before MMM I know at least I was naturally very frugal. I like following a story like yours because watching the advice of people on this forum foster a turnaround story is such a great motivation for all of us to keep at it. It's incredibly frustrating to have this mindset, knowledge, skills and goals which cannot be shared with anybody because at least in my experience the whole real world rejects it. I use this forum as really the only place to talk about this kind of stuff and to see someone new come in and actually accept advice and turn their life around is so cool.

keep it up!
"the only efficient way to get there is on the front of the wave" -MMM

Villanelle

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #184 on: March 02, 2017, 09:41:01 PM »
Don't "consider" returning the TV.  Do it!  You have 2 perfectly functioning TVs in your house already, one of which is less than a year old.  (Yes I know you need to talk to the wife and make this a joint decision, but it sounded from your post like you are fully set on that plan yourself.)

Also, you seem like someone who would benefit greatly from a cash-only system, since impulse buys tend to be a problem.  If' you'd had to go pull out cash from an ATM for that TV, would you have been less likely to purchase it? Or better yet, if you'd had to go home and take money from various envelopes marked "groceries" "Debt repayment" "kids' activities", because literally every penny you have to spend for the month is allocated already--and not just in a spreadsheet, but the actual dollar bills-- would you have taken $150 from groceries knowing that meant ramen and beans and rice for 2 weeks, or from "debt repayment", knowing that it would push out your goals even further?  (If you do this, I recommend calculating a full debt repayment schedule and putting it on the envelope each week so that you know taking $100 out means you won't meet that deadline.  Or better still, paying down the debt first so there isn't any lingering money to steal from.)
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 10:09:38 PM by Villanelle »

PJ

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #185 on: March 02, 2017, 09:58:56 PM »
Don't "consider" returning the TV.  Do it!  You have 2 perfectly functioning TVs in your house already, one of which is less than a year old.  (Yes I know you need to talk to the wife and make this a joint decision, but it sounded from your post like you are fully set on that plan yourself.)

Also, you seem like someone who would benefit greatly from a cash-only system, since impulse buys tend to be a problem.  If' you'd had to go pull out cash from an ATM for that TV, would you have been less likely to purchase it? Or better yet, if you'd had to go home and take money from various envelopes marked "groceries" "Debt repayment" "kids' activities", because literally every penny you have to spend for the month is allocated already--and not just in a spreadsheet, but the actual dollar bills-- would you have taken $150 from groceries knowing that mean ramen and beans and rice for 2 weeks, or from "debt repayment", know that it would push out your goals even further?  (Is you do this, I recommend calculating a full debt repayment schedule and putting it on the envelope each week so that you know taking $100 out means you won't meet that deadline.  Or better still, paying down the debt first so there isn't any lingering money to steal from.) 


Oh, that's another good suggestion! 

dashh, have you ever seen any episodes of Til Debt Do Us Part?  It's a Canadian show, off the air now, but you can check on episodes and clips on youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=til+debt+do+us+part+full+episodes 

The host has families live with a cash budget, kept in jars rather than the envelopes Villanelle has described, but same idea.  Also, as you watch the full financial picture revealed for those couples, it may help to sink in where your own finances are.
'To be human you must bear witness to justice. Justice is what love looks like in public." 
Dr. Cornel West

elaine amj

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Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #186 on: March 02, 2017, 10:32:54 PM »
Dashh: u use YNAB right? I remember u mentioning that before. It is based on an envelope system. Have u gotten to the point where u let your budget guide your spending? Its a tough step (one I have been fighting) - but if u are able to do it, it will help u so much with impulse decisions like these.

I struggle with this a lot and am super proud that this past week, DH was pushing to go out to eat but we only had $4+ left in our dining out category and I somehow found the strength to keep repeating "no". I was so close to saying yes and just moving the money from another category. But then realized that the discipline is good for us. Especially since my DH is off sick and his income stopped at the end of January. Its a very small thing to be proud of - but baby steps. I figure if we can get in the habit of letting our prior decisions govern our spending, we are less likely to spend impulsively.


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ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #187 on: March 03, 2017, 06:59:21 AM »
Listing a car on Cars.com (I have done better there than on Craigslist) takes like 20 minutes if not less. Get it done.

cats

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #188 on: March 03, 2017, 09:22:50 AM »
One more thought on the TV: you mention that you want to improve your health, then also mention that you have a tendency to drink soda and snack while watching TV in the evenings.  It sounds like the TV is contributing to your poor health!  How about returning the TV, and then replacing TV time with things like reading to your kids or playing games with them (if it is "down time" for them also), chatting with your wife about how her day went (if she sees a more attentive/caring husband as an outcome of no TV, she might be more inclined to stay on board with the decision), going for a walk around the block, doing some work around the house that you might have previously outsourced (can't remember if you had a cleaner in your initial costs, but if you've cut that, spending 15-20 minutes vacuuming and picking up each night will go a long way), or packing your lunch for work the next day (or your wife's lunch or your kids lunch)?  Or even just use the time you would usually spend on TV to go to bed a little earlier--with your long commute I imagine you must be chronically short on sleep. I know when I am sleep-deprived I am much more inclined to make all sorts of bad/silly/stupid decisions.

I notice that when my husband and I turn on TV in the evenings, we have a tendency to go to bed later and later and get more and more tired as the week goes on.  And I'd say snacking and TV often go together for us too :)  This week we actually resolved "no TV on weeknights". It's now Friday and I'm feeling pretty energetic, I knocked out a few little tasks during the evenings that I'd been procrastinating on, our kitchen is way tidier than it usually is by Friday because either my husband or I have been doing dishes and such each evening rather than letting them pile up, etc.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #189 on: March 03, 2017, 09:54:02 AM »
^ Well that was very motivating/inspiring for me! No tv on weeknights, what a great idea! Not too late to start on that for lent, I think.
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PJ

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #190 on: March 03, 2017, 12:10:06 PM »
^ Well that was very motivating/inspiring for me! No tv on weeknights, what a great idea! Not too late to start on that for lent, I think.

(Psst... come and join us in the Lent 2017 thread in the Throw Down the Gauntlet section of the forum!)
'To be human you must bear witness to justice. Justice is what love looks like in public." 
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mustachepungoeshere

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #191 on: March 05, 2017, 06:58:14 PM »
I have not made much progress on the health front yet (soda/junk food) but I have started to notice my habits/patterns.  In terms of soda, I definitely see a pattern of only wanting it when I eat certain foods.  In other words, when I eat something healthier I would prefer to have water or tea.  But if I am going to have pizza, burgers, etc. (bascially fast food) I have to have a soda.  The other time I always have one is in the evenings when I snack while watching tv (junk food and a soda).  This habit has been around a long time and is really bad for my health in general, but especially since I have had issues with acid reflux.  For acid reflux, the worst thing I can do is eat anything before bed but especially not junk food and soda. 

Watch or read as many of these as possible and learn more about how (and why) to break the sugar cycle.

That Sugar Film
Jamie Oliver's Sugar Rush
Fed Up
Sweet Poison
The Great Aussie Bloke Slim-Down


PDXTabs

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #192 on: March 06, 2017, 10:47:24 AM »
We are located around the Raleigh area of NC.

I'm new to MMM but not new to these problems. When I was 24 I woke up to a very similar situation which eventually lead to a divorce and a foreclosure. However, now I am 34 with 1x my salary saved in my 401k and my student loans paid off. By MMM standards I'm in poor shape but I've lived through a lot of what you are talking about, came out better for it, and am still making improvements. The hardest part for me is psychological. You really need to convince yourself that this is not how humans were meant to live. This is not how middle class people in other countries live, and it is not how Americans lived 80 years ago.

Please go check out Your Money or Your Life from the library and read it. You are trading your life to service debt for consumer goods. The sooner you stop the better. Also, even by spendthrift American (not MMM) standards you are way behind in saving for retirement https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/retirement/how-much-money-do-i-need-to-retire.

If I were you I would find a 2 bedroom apartment close to your wife's work for $1000/mo or less and try to figure out how to get by with one car. The happiest I ever was with my (now ex) wife was when we were crammed into a two bedroom apartment with three kids and got by with a $1200 car. We didn't have a lot of space but we also didn't have any stress about money. I rode my bike any time that she needed the car and my health greatly improved. Unfortunately for reasons that weren't strictly financial our marriage eventually failed.

If you insist on staying in a house you could learn how to change your own oil and batteries. Mobil1 is $25 for 5qt at Walmart and the oil filter for my car is $4 on Amazon.

EDIT - Also, I've never paid for a TV in my life. I can't imagine paying for a new one when you had a spare!
« Last Edit: March 06, 2017, 10:52:00 AM by PDXTabs »

Larsg

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #193 on: March 06, 2017, 10:17:22 PM »
First of all, congratulations on having the courage to make a start and stare down your challenging situation! Baselining where you are is a very first step. I won't go through all the line items as I see lost of good advice already posted. The most important thing is to NOT be discouraged. Many of us have been through similar experience so look at it as an incredible learning opportunity on the path to a richer, freer life. I'm going to pick perhaps some of the most simple things to do that I did when I got into debt when I was young - and yes, I lived to see a far better side.

Let's start w/the debt first as finding a new job is stressful, time consuming and may not help if you don't get the debt under control.

- Cars - sell, buy in cash as you recommended something reliable but still nice that gets good gas mileage. Toyota, Honda, some others folks have mentioned.

- Credit Cards, first call them and just ask if they will lower your interest rates and then use every opportunity you get to do zero balance transfers. Start with the highest, then once paid off, work your way down.

- Kids, make sure you and your wife agree not to have any happy accidents. Now is not the time.

- Now to earnings and I encourage everyone who needs to earn more to do this - apply for jobs at the big software firms if even if you have no tech skills. If you have a functional background in Finance, HR, Legal, general business, these firms also have many many jobs that help them "Run the Business." As they grow, so too do those departments. Why in tech - because they pay more...a lot more. A lot more in that it's worth it to move to where they are - I would look in texas as Tech is growing (Dell, Intuit (Small but there), Texas Instruments, many others). The also offer stock/options and bonuses. If you you want ere, the new blue chip is the tech chip to make a start. If you get rejected, try try again and again and again. You will get a sing on bonus (there is 10K for your cc bill), you will get a relocation package in some instances, even lower management if you have a skill they need and finance is always a skill that is needed; you will get an annual bonus - there is another 5-10k for your cc's, and then if you rise, so too does your bonus. You will get stock and options, there is another 5-30K for your cc's and so on.

Don't let anyone tell you it can't be done. Although I am no longer in tech, semi retired, we hired all kinds and my BA was general bus and english and I had zero trouble getting into the tech industry.

Best of luck to you.

DanishMM

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #194 on: March 07, 2017, 12:15:48 AM »
Hi!
I have been lurking on this thread for a while because it's so inspiring! Way to go with the honesty and how you're tackling face punches!

I have been in a similar situation and what really turned everything around was getting my husband on board. I realized he needed to see the point. He loves his job and couldn't consider retiring 20 years ahead of time. What convinced him was seeing the opportunities FI could give us…We calculated that living 20 % mustachian would mean I could retire at the same time as him. (I am 10 years younger) 50 % musician would give us the freedom to go unemployed if we got sick of our jobs and needed time to find something interesting. 80 % would give us A LOT of money when retired to give us freedom to travel, do philanthropy, help familymembers (which could be a real thing) or whatever…These numbers are of course arbitrary but my point is that whenever we get bitten by consumerism, it really helps to see what the end goal is other than "pay off debt".


Have you talked to your wife and defined a goal? It could be: work less, work but with the freedom of being able to quit, save for college. Whatever it is I think its crucial. When you have a goal then suddenly "the eating out", the cars, the tv, everything becomes stealing from that goal….

Cheering for you!


SwedishMoustache

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #195 on: March 07, 2017, 02:17:06 AM »
Holy moly.

Well, you've taken really important first steps here. It's awesome. It's people like you, people deep in the muck who are willing to grab a rope and drag themselves out that are the real people to admire.

You can do it - seconding the advice given here. The real important step is to get your DW to see it as you do. Set goals. Weekly goals. Monthly goals. Annual goals. Achievable goals.

We're all rooting for you :).

Scortius

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #196 on: March 07, 2017, 08:39:12 PM »
I love this thread! 

I just want to chime in with a separate consideration.  One of the MMM tenets that I love is to revel in the absence of convenience.  More specifically, you should try and do things by yourself that you would normally pay other people to do.  Once you try new things, you can be amazed at how quickly you pick up new and incredibly valuable skills.

Why do I mention this?  Well, your TV just blew out and it's not something you're willing to pay to get repaired.  Are you planning on throwing the broken TV out?  DON'T!

Capacitors go out all the time (just Google around for 'busted capacitor'). They're incredibly easy to fix yourself, you simply need an extremely cheap replacement capacitor and a soldering iron.

Do you know what is fun?  Opening up a 50" Plasma TV!!!

If you were not going to get the TV repaired, then you have nothing to lose by opening it up.  And, there's just a small chance that you might teach yourself how to fix a large number of your electronic devices for pennies on the dollar.

Top hit on amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Plasma-Capacitor-Repair-Replacement/dp/B0044J4U2W

Do your due diligence (don't buy electronic parts from China), read some different approaches, watch a youtube video or two: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=samsung+plasma+capacitor+replacement

Playing with massive electronics?  Saving tons of money?  Fixing your televison?  Sounds like a great way to spend a few hours to me!


Laura33

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #197 on: March 08, 2017, 06:01:45 AM »
I love this thread! 

I just want to chime in with a separate consideration.  One of the MMM tenets that I love is to revel in the absence of convenience.  More specifically, you should try and do things by yourself that you would normally pay other people to doOnce you try new things, you can be amazed at how quickly you pick up new and incredibly valuable skills.

Why do I mention this?  Well, your TV just blew out and it's not something you're willing to pay to get repaired.  Are you planning on throwing the broken TV out?  DON'T!

Capacitors go out all the time (just Google around for 'busted capacitor'). They're incredibly easy to fix yourself, you simply need an extremely cheap replacement capacitor and a soldering iron.

Do you know what is fun?  Opening up a 50" Plasma TV!!!

If you were not going to get the TV repaired, then you have nothing to lose by opening it up.  And, there's just a small chance that you might teach yourself how to fix a large number of your electronic devices for pennies on the dollar.

Top hit on amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Plasma-Capacitor-Repair-Replacement/dp/B0044J4U2W

Do your due diligence (don't buy electronic parts from China), read some different approaches, watch a youtube video or two: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=samsung+plasma+capacitor+replacement

Playing with massive electronics?  Saving tons of money?  Fixing your televison?  Sounds like a great way to spend a few hours to me!

I love this.  It really is all about the mental attitude.  I have had people be amazed that I bake bread and such -- "oh, I couldn't do that."  Umm, yeah, you could.  What's the worst that happens?  It doesn't rise and it sucks and you throw it out.  And?  I mean, I really, really don't get what people think is so hard about that that they won't even try -- it's just the intimidation factor. 

Then again, I have the *exact* same reaction with things like replacing bad switches and such, so I totally get where it's coming from.  Luckily for me, I have DH to do that stuff (E.E. = at least he won't burn the house down).  But the reality is that I am a capable, competent human being who could figure out how to do that.  And changing your mindset from "oh, I couldn't possibly" to "let's figure this out" opens a ton of doors that you didn't even realize were closed.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

BlueHouse

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #198 on: March 08, 2017, 12:48:54 PM »
^ Well that was very motivating/inspiring for me! No tv on weeknights, what a great idea! Not too late to start on that for lent, I think.
I might jump on that too!  I hate the fact that I've let TV back into my life.
Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand

Walsh1122

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Re: Reader Case Study - $231k in debt and need help!
« Reply #199 on: March 08, 2017, 05:48:37 PM »
Posting to follow, Rooting for you Dash!