Author Topic: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!  (Read 1709 times)

cheflife27

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Hello my fellow community! I recently discovered this wonderful world of reaching FI a couple of weeks ago and I can say ever since that day, I fell into a rabbit hole that was a positive turn around point in my life! I want to thank every one who is supporting one another on this lovely community and as well for the mentors taking their time to help make this beautiful creation happen!!

So as you know from my subject line of this post, I'am drowning in debt! and really need help in ways I can either get a better interest rate, find another strategy that works in my favor to pay off my debt faster, or if debt consolidation is even an action I should take?

So it's my partner and I that are in this debt together. I'am a veteran and she is currently in the reserves . The thing that is killing us is that we took out 3 credit cards with plenty of debt on each one. Card #1 has an interest rate of 19.99% with a total debt of $7,177, card #2 has a rate of 22.99% with a total debt of $7089, and card #3 has a rate of 12.90% with a total debt of $8879. What do we DO?? and what is the correct approach to make this go away?

I'am willing to put $1,000 a month to these cards and Nicole will be putting $500. We don't have a rent payment, nor our food cost is high, and our out of pocket expense will be very low, since we want to attack these debts like bruce lee!! We are in the process of converting our van into a home and living full time in it. We are currently living through an app that allows us to go to peoples house and being able to stay there for 2 weeks or longer, not paying any rent  and also food is provided for us in exchange for our physical labor around their property.

I hope this information was enough to get some mentoring or advices from you guys. We just want this crazy debt erased! so we can begin investing in index funds!!Everyone stay safe!


Frankies Girl

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2020, 11:25:07 PM »
Hey, great that you're working hard at tackling this before it becomes scary. I know you say you're drowning, but under $30K for two adults isn't horrific and you CAN dig out of this if you're making a reasonable wage and able to control the reasons you got into debt like this in the first place...

There are going to be others that link to the very helpful and comprehensive site info like suggesting writing up a case study (definitely recommend) or other debt snowball suggestions. So to get this rolling - Snow ball/rolling... I'm fun. :)


FIRST THINGS FIRST:

Pay the minimums no matter what.

Emergency fund? Do you have one? I'd suggest putting away at least $1k for scary stuff you'd have normally just charged - genuine emergency situations so you DON'T run the cards back up. Not situations where you really wanted takeout or a cool gizmo went on sale and you have to add it to your collection (should consider extras off limits anyway) - more like car broke, body part broke, pay for bail type of stuff. ;)

So the Dave Ramsey suggestion next would be take your smallest debt in $$ and start throwing all your extra $ on that, while maintaining your minimum payments on the rest of the debt. The reasoning behind this is to get you a faster WIN so psychologically you feel better and it encourages you to keep the ball rolling.

But logically (and since your debts are practically the same for each of the 3 listed), it makes better sense to hit the HIGHEST INTEREST card debt first.

So that would be card #2, with the 22.99% interest. Kill it, with as much as you can spare. Every single extra penny you've got - throw it at that debt, while paying the other two minimums and obviously having enough left over to still LIVE.

CARD #2 @ 22.99%
TOTAL: $7089
PAYMENT: $1,500/month
TIME TO PAY OFF: 5 months and total interest paid would be $269

Next, tackle card #1 at 19.99%. Since you should have the extra from card #2 once it's dead (and don't cancel it, but do put it away and forget it exists for like... ever. Well, except to check that there is no fraud every other month).

CARD #1 @ 19.99%
TOTAL: $7,177
PAYMENT: $1,500/month
TIME TO PAY OFF: 5 months and total interest paid would be $239


Once card #1 is down then throw all of it at the remaining #3 card, with the much more reasonable interest at 12.90%.

CARD #3 @ 12.9%
TOTAL: $8879
PAYMENT: $1,500/month
TIME TO PAY OFF: 7 months and total interest paid would be $245

If you could squeeze an extra couple of hundred a month at any point to throw on the paydown, you will super charge your paydown and save even more interest. Also, if you have anything you can return (if you bought a bunch of stuff still unused you can easily return, have receipt and within time allowed - DO IT). And definitely look at selling anything that you can live without and throw that extra at the debt.

TOTAL TIME TO DEBT FREE: ~17 months if you only throw the minimum of $1,500 each month
TOTAL INTEREST PAID: ~$753

This is obviously not accounting for what you've already paid out and it's an approximate since the other two may get larger before you get to them due to the minimum payment. Also, if you continue to use the cards while trying to pay them off, it clouds the ability to pay them down as fast... so they should not be used at all if you can help it. Or if you DO use them, make sure that the new stuff charged is paid IN FULL, IN ADDITION to the amounts you're budgeting for the debt payoff part.

If you haven't already, you do need to get a handle on why you ran up three different cards to the point where you feel they're out of control. Address that stuff now - stress/reward/hungry/tired cycles, the "I deserve new things" sense of entitlement, the thoughtless spending thing... figure it out and lock it down. Start budgeting, track your spending. I would suggest personally to keep all three cards, but the two high interest ones should be only used the bare minimum to keep them active - pay them in full if used at all ever.  I have a few cards I've had for decades that literally live in a drawer and have a small monthly auto charge/pay for like cheapy cellphone plan (anything small) to keep them active but I don't use them otherwise.

And note of caution: don't become so crazy about NO FUN that you go nuts when the debt is finally paid and then start feeling deprived so you run everything back up. Allow some fun stuff - cheap or free is great but a few bucks that are built into the budget will not kill the debt paydown if you are smart.

I am NOT the authority on any of this, but it's a plan anyway. If any of the other site's smarter than me folks chime in, it won't hurt my feelings if they suggest better ways forward.

Do not get discouraged. It sounds like you've got a really sweet deal to knock this stuff out and have minimized your living expenses to really put you in a great position once this debt is gone. You can totally do this!! Good luck!
« Last Edit: November 10, 2020, 11:30:15 PM by Frankies Girl »

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2020, 01:52:34 AM »
I agree to pay them off as quickly as possible. Pay the minimum on two, while you throw everything at one until itís done then move to the next, rinse and repeat. Destroy each card after you pay them off and only keep one card that you vow to pay off each month. Never let them build interest. Donít spend more than what you can pay off. Learn from this and never put yourself in this position again.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2020, 02:22:50 AM »
Is there anything else you are able and willing to do to either increase income or spend less so that you can throw more at the cards?

Your timeline based on the current payments is 17 months, with interest rates of around 20%, every dollar you can throw at the cards will be saving you around $1.30 once the cards are paid back.

There's a balance between making the payment plan sustainable and paying off the cards as quickly as possible, but 17 months might be short enough to challenge yourselves a little more to get them paid off. It's up to you and your partner.

Your living situation sounds like an amazing way to save and a fascinating way to live!

Sunder

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2020, 02:41:28 AM »
Replying from an Australian point of view, but might be the same wherever you are. If you have a decent credit rating and 12 months of continuous employment, an unsecured personal loan for $24k somewhere between 6-7% shouldn't be too hard to get.

24k of debt @ 6% = $1440 interest per year.
24k of debt at lets say an average of 18.5% is $4440 a year.

So there's $3k a year saved in interest already... If you're ultra disciplined.

So, if you can secure that loan, pay off the credit cards, close the accounts immediately, and buy a fee free reloadable credit card and load the minimum on it needed to pay for things you can't pay for with cash. With $1500 a month repayment, the debt should be gone in under 18 months. (27k of payments which should be more than enough to cover $24k + interest)

cool7hand

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2020, 02:47:22 AM »
+1 on Sunder's suggestion to find some way to convert these debts to something with a lower interest rate as you pay them off, such as a personal loan. While you have to explore the possible hit on your credit, juggling each debt via a transfer to other cards with interest grace periods or lower interest rates could work if a personal loan would not.

cheflife27

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2020, 06:47:33 AM »
Good morning to you all! First and foremost thank you for your replies, every comment counts in my book. I have read all of your tips/strategy and all were great and very reasonable to do! at this moment I believe I will embark on the Daves Ramsey snowball effect. Taking out the personal loan sounds like a great idea as well, actually an idea my mother suggested me to do but these two years we have taken couple of hard hits to our credit and we really don't want any more.

I'am very new to this community and lifestyle, it has been about 2 weeks since I started to absorb all these amazing blogs and podcast to FI. So I just want to apologize if I ask more than one question to understand things clearer on my end.

One thing I forgot to mention is that we will still be using one card to purchase the rest of our van build, the reason behind our 3 credit card debt is the "van build". Our spending price that we need to finish off our van once and for all is $3000 and done! also these $3000 will not be spent all in one month. We purchase little by little per month. So with that being said, is there anything that I should be aware of while making these final purchases? or which card I should be using to make this $3000 final purchases with? or as recommend, should I just make sure that our expenses does not exceed our amount that we put in to pay per month and more?

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2020, 06:52:57 AM »
The best card is a paid off card, as you'll get the interest free period as long as you clear the balance by the due date. The next best card is the one with the lowest interest rate. And the more you can delay the additional charges the less interest you'll pay.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2020, 06:54:50 AM »
So you are a veteran how are you getting your income? Is it a pension? Are you working at all? If you are not working and you are able to work you need to increase your income as much as you can to knock out these debts. The same goes for your SO. A position in the Reserves is usually a PT engagement. What does she do the rest of the time?

I don't understand the part where you are desperately trying to pay off high interest CC debt and then you say this was all part of your van build project and you will continue to add to the debt. You need to stop spending money you don't have. If you wanted to spend $30K on a van you need to save it up or at the very least secure some low interest credit. Putting everything on high interest credit cards and then panicking about them is insane. That's not going to be a $30K van. It's going to be a $40K van.

Kwill

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2020, 07:04:15 AM »
I would echo what Retire-Canada said. You've gotten lots of good advice, but it assumes you have a regular income that will cover your ongoing expenses plus the $1500 per month to the credit card. If you still think you need to add credit card debt, you would benefit by doing a case study to get more advice on both income and expenses.

reeshau

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2020, 07:05:55 AM »
One thing I forgot to mention is that we will still be using one card to purchase the rest of our van build, the reason behind our 3 credit card debt is the "van build". Our spending price that we need to finish off our van once and for all is $3000 and done! also these $3000 will not be spent all in one month. We purchase little by little per month. So with that being said, is there anything that I should be aware of while making these final purchases? or which card I should be using to make this $3000 final purchases with? or as recommend, should I just make sure that our expenses does not exceed our amount that we put in to pay per month and more?

To get out of a hole, the first step is to stop digging.  Nobody here is going to recommend you continue to add credit card debt.  You have a way of living, is there some end date to that method?  Some reason to be in such a hurry you are ready to *add* to the debt that you say you don't want?

Your expenses seem to be low, as you are living as nomads.  Do you have any opportunities to make more?  You could use the motivation of the van build to power you through a side gig / 2nd job, while using your regular income to fix the mess you are already in.  Don't take on more debt to get to a "cheaper" way of life.  Use the physical embodiment of a goal to keep yourself focused, and do it the right way, so that when It's complete you are ready to hit the road, not having to stick around for 2 more years to pay it off.

SunnyDays

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2020, 09:59:30 AM »
Call up each credit card company and request a lower rate.  It can be done.  Explain that you are close to not being able to pay the bills and they may work with you to decrease the interest charged.  If you initially get a "no," ask to speak to that person's supervisor.  Go up the chain as far as you have to.  If all else fails, open a card with a 0 % 6 month rate and transfer the balance.  Each of you can do this.  Repeat every 6 months if possible.  Use the saved interest to increase the payments.

kei te pai

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2020, 12:39:59 PM »
There is a lack of information here. What is your joint current income? Can you increase your earnings with additional employment? Or reduce spending in any other areas?
When this van is fitted out, and you live in it, where will it be? In a friends yard? Will you need an additional vehicle for travelling to work?
Is this a short term solution to allow you to live cheaply, or do you see it as a lifestyle?

A more complete picture would help with targeted solutions.

cheflife27

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2020, 02:59:30 PM »
So you are a veteran how are you getting your income? Is it a pension? Are you working at all? If you are not working and you are able to work you need to increase your income as much as you can to knock out these debts. The same goes for your SO. A position in the Reserves is usually a PT engagement. What does she do the rest of the time?

I don't understand the part where you are desperately trying to pay off high interest CC debt and then you say this was all part of your van build project and you will continue to add to the debt. You need to stop spending money you don't have. If you wanted to spend $30K on a van you need to save it up or at the very least secure some low interest credit. Putting everything on high interest credit cards and then panicking about them is insane. That's not going to be a $30K van. It's going to be a $40K van.

Hello Retire- Canada. Currently I'am receiving medical disability and my partner is too.  I'am 27 years old and planning to go back to culinary school in may 2020 and will receive an addition GI bill income every month, $1787 to be exact. So for the month of may 2020 I will be able to put 85% of my GI bill income towards my debt when that time comes. But currently we are not working and we are planing to do amazon flex and rover as (side hustles) to increase our income to pay our debt.
Sorry I should have included more of my current personal living situations. We currently ended our lease in our apartment , sold both of our cars, sold our personal belongings to embark in living in a van full time, for about 7 years. At this very moment we are hopping from state to state, living in peoples houses for free with free food in exchange of physical labor, through an app called Workaway. So May 2020 is a target date we agreed on, to fully complete our van because if not we won't be able to have a permeant place to live, since May 2020 is when I start culinary school. I hope this helps.

cheflife27

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2020, 03:06:20 PM »
There is a lack of information here. What is your joint current income? Can you increase your earnings with additional employment? Or reduce spending in any other areas?
When this van is fitted out, and you live in it, where will it be? In a friends yard? Will you need an additional vehicle for travelling to work?
Is this a short term solution to allow you to live cheaply, or do you see it as a lifestyle?

A more complete picture would help with targeted solutions.

Hello!
Are joint income as of right now after all other personal bills are paid is a total of $1500 and these $1500 is what we are willing to put down to pay for these credit debts. We will begin increasing our income by doing side hustles such as amazon flex and rover. We are going to Start applying today for amazon flex and my partner already has  a rover account so it will be easier to reactivate that. We have reduced our spendings by a lot by living through a mobile app called Workaway. Its nation wide, its pretty much living at a persons house for free, they offer free food in exchange for physical labor. We are currently in one location and leaving to another location at the end of the week. So we are saving much from this lifestyle.
We will not need an additional car to go to work since ill be attending college in may 2020 and my partner is working from online. We will be able to park our van in any location and sleep in our van every night for free. We are planning to do van life for about 6-7 yrs. I hope this worked!

lhamo

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2020, 03:51:47 PM »
Can you please list the minimum monthly payments and the total credit limit on each of your three current cards?  I think with this information we might be able to help you brainstorm a way to faster payoff by shifting the balances to the lower interest cards.

Also, I don't want to shatter your dreams but please look at the employment outcomes for the culinary school you plan to intend before using your hard-earned GI Bill money there.   Culinary school typically has a pretty abysmal ROI -- tuition is very high, and not that many people end up with great paying jobs after it, even if they have great kitchen skills. (see for example, https://www.eater.com/2015/7/23/9011517/culinary-school-costs-tuition-starting-chef-salary-worth -- lots of other info available with a search for Culinary school ROI, too)  Your time and effort might be better spent figuring out another way to generate good income in the food space --especially when there is no guarantee that the schools or the industry are going to bounce back after Covid.  Lots of community colleges have much lower-cost culinary programs that might be just as good for your future at a much lower cost.

Look at what people like Seattle chef Eric Rivera of Addo are doing/saying about the food space.

Sunder

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2020, 04:03:56 PM »
to embark in living in a van full time, for about 7 years.

As someone who has some experience building an off-grid holiday home (for my dad, not myself) and done some holiday touring (not lifestyle), can I ask you to indulge a bit of unsolicited advice: "Buy cheap, buy twice".

If you don't have regular power, deep cycle batteries don't live up to the name. They die just slightly slower than starter batteries, and if you're running it flat most days, a year is the best you can hope from it. Pay double to triple, but buy a Lithium Iron Phosphate battery, it will last 10 years instead of 1.

If you buy an inverter, get one bigger than you "need", doubly so if they have high starting power. Lets say you went electric fridge instead of gas. When running it uses 300W, but when starting it uses 900w for a second. If your inverter is rated for 500w continuous and 1000w peak, then yes it will work. But so close to the rating, the voltage will drop, and current will rise to compensate. E.g. on a 120V system, current will be 7.5A. If the voltage sags to 100v, it's now 9A. Any components that are not rated for 9A will start wearing fast, and things will start dying.

Finally, unless your vehicle is ultra common, buy and carry spares for the components most likely to fail. This advice is more if you're going to some pretty remote/rural areas. While I was driving around Australia, I lost an alternator. A Pulsar here at the time, was one of the most popular cars in Australia, but 1100km from the closest capital city, and a town of only 1000 people, it took a week to get the part in. I could have picked a second hand one up for $100 in Sydney, but where I was, I paid new ($800), express freight, and pretty high installation fee, because I didn't have tools. (Or I would have done it myself).

Laura33

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2020, 07:33:39 AM »
So how are you paying for culinary school?  GI Bill?  What are the employment prospects and salaries after you finish?  With your disability, will you be able to manage the physical demands and chaos of the work environment?  Do you have past experience as a chef that is leading you to want to go this route, or does it just seem like a good idea?  What is your proposed job path after culinary school -- running your own shop, working in a regular restaurant, working in a bakery, doing corporate hospitality, etc.?

I know you asked about CC debt.  But there is one, and only one, answer there, and it is very simple:  make as much money as you can, spend as little as you can, and throw every extra penny at the CCs, focusing on one at a time and paying the minimums on the rest.  All the rest is just noise.

The real question is what is your long-term plan so you don't ever find yourself in this situation again.  And culinary school sends up a lot of red flags for me -- it is a ton of money and a couple of years of your life to "qualify" for what is in most cases a minimum-wage job with extremely long hours and a very demanding work environment.  Don't get me wrong; people do succeed on that path -- my brother for one now makes enough money to support his minimal needs and has a job that he enjoys (though he is a baker and has had to adjust to the ridiculous wake-up hours!) -- plus he's in Oregon and works for a progressive place that even offers benefits.  But he had an inheritance from his dad to pay for culinary school, and he lives with his mom and so has almost no living costs, so the finances work for him even if they wouldn't for many others.  I also know far more people who burn out at the job,* or who work for a pittance and no benefits, or who bounce from minimum-wage-job to minimum-wage-job, or who work for 20 years until their back gives out. 

In short, it is a really, really rough trade, and not exactly an easy path to a stable life.  So if you are going down that path, please make sure that you do so with your eyes wide open about what it actually entails.  Or why not just get a job at a restaurant and work your way up from there?  Food is one of the remaining areas where many, many people can still succeed following a more DIY path with less formal training.

If you do go to culinary school, do everything in your power to have your CCs paid off before you graduate.  Because you're really not going to make a lot of money, and the last thing you need is the CC albatross hanging around your neck as you start out.   

*One friend makes around $30-$35K managing a local place that I like.  She was thrilled to land the job after a couple of years at a catering company, with very unpredictable hours and even less pay.  Her food is delicious.  But she works probably 70 hrs at this new gig, deals with the constant pressure of managing the food and the employees and the occasional asshole customer, and she's now decided to move back to her country of origin because she just can't do it any more.  Sob. 

Malcat

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2020, 07:44:50 AM »
As a former chef who didn't bother with culinary school, and definitely didn't bother with staying a chef, I strongly support everyone else questioning culinary school as a career investment.

Also, covid is decimating the restaurant industry where I live. Sure, covid will pass, but restaurants have an enormous failure rate as it is, and my suspicion is that fewer people are going to be wiling to take on the massive risk of opening restaurants post-covid.

The demand will evolve, private chefs, pop up kitchens, etc, but we don't know what that will look like yet, and the probability is that it won't look any better than the already abysmal restaurant industry.

The most reliable restaurant model is take out pizza places, which don't require chef training. Actual chef level restaurants make their money on alcohol sales, the food is just the loss leader that gets people sitting in seats and ordering drinks.

Lastly, as I did, you can easily become a chef without school. I worked with tons and tons of chefs and almost none of them went to culinary school. Meanwhile, I know a ton of culinary school grads who are *not* working as chefs.

That's just anecdotal, but the point is to get you to do your research before throwing your money at this.

DeniseNJ

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2020, 07:48:04 AM »
Quote
To get out of a hole, the first step is to stop digging.
You can't afford to pay down these cc's aggressively if you are still charging.  Instead, put them away, pay what you can and save your money for your expenses so you get into the habit of saving and using cash. Right now you are in the habit of paying a lot and then charging bc you don't have the cash.  If you are serious, do not charge another dime on these cards. Pay for your van upgrades out of pocket, even if it takes longer. Cut up these cards today or you will never be free.

yachi

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2020, 08:15:22 AM »
With your disability, will you be able to manage the physical demands and chaos of the work environment?

That's my concern as well.  Basically you're standing, walking all day, keeping odd mealtimes, handling multiple things at once: steaks to different doneness on the grill, while something's in the broiler and time matters.  Sometimes you're next to the hot oven/grill/broiler, with a noisy exhaust fan.  Sometimes you're taking inventory in a cold walk-in freezer. 
It's not a combat zone obviously, but not low stress or easy on the body.

Runrooster

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Re: Help!! drowning in debt and need ways to pay it off aggressively!
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2020, 08:27:33 AM »
I assume you meant May 2021, 6 months from now.
If you finish outfitting the van, can you do construction work for pay?
Or something construction related, like plumbing or electrical?
Without getting into the details of your disabilities, can you suss out long term careers that aren't minimum wage?