Author Topic: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up  (Read 8982 times)

ksfrank

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Would love to hear some perspective.  I've also posted at my blog.....   www.flinthillskittykitty.com


Income: $40,000 (husband) full time experienced carpenter with thirty plus years of experience.  Salary comes with state pension plan and full benefits of time off and good health insurance rates.  (Wife) unemployed.  Health issues.  One contract to write at $500 per month plus bits from sales on ebay, etsy, amazon. 

Take home pay is at $2,560 per month right now (with both incomes) after health insurance deduction and higher IRS withholdings which began Jan 1 2014 (see below).

Current expenses:

Home payment:  $750 (includes escrow for ins and taxes)
School loans: $200
Credit Card: $275 minimum payment. 
Life Insurance: $54
Car Insurance: $26
                     __________
                       $ 1305

Electricity:  Low is $130 per mo.  High one month last summer (a/c) was $280
Propane: $1000 - $1200 per year
Water:  $40 per mo for 4000 gallons (rural water district)
Landline and internet: $85.  Would cost the same whether or not I kept the landline - monopoly service provider in my rural area.
Cell Phone:  Husbands.  $35

Fuel:  About $250 mo.  17 mi one way commute for husband, plus two tanks per month for me.

Groceries:  $400.  Gluten free, all cooking done from scratch. 
                    _______________
                      $  1040
Total outgoing per month:  $  2345

Assets:

Home and acreage:  $100,000 appraisal just before the downturn.  Our area didn't take such drastic hits as the rest of the country as we are generally pretty economically depressed even in the heyday years.  Lived here 28 years. 

Vehicles:  2001 Olds Bravada with 210,000 miles.  Good condition.  Accomplishes what we need in hauling groceries, trash, recycle, grandchildren in unpredictable weather and gravel roads.  1994 GM 4x4 truck, 225,000 miles.  Same - needed for the rural location and lifestyle DIY repairs and odd jobs for extra income.

Savings:  $2700 in cash, State pension plan with 14 years of contributions, $12000 IRA and one very small 403 (B) that will pay out $600 a year forever at retirement.

Liabilities:

Home:  4 years left to pay.  Just under $30,000 owed at 4.? %
School loans:  $27000, 5.?% - these were on forbearance and deferment most of the past 30 years.  Started paying in 2008.  I never goes down much.
Credit Card:  $13300.  19%.  About half of this is vehicle repairs since I lost my job in 2010.  This card was down to less than $1000 dollars payoff when I lost my job.
Assorted small medical co-pays that I can't ever pay:  $490
IRS:  Owed them $400 for 2011 taxes, paid $100.  Got depressed.  Didn't file 2012 taxes because I knew it would be the same result of owing another $300-$500.  Delayed too long.  Jan 1, 2014 - IRS set husband's withholdings at maximum until this is all straightened out - taking another $300 per month from our budget.  We should get most of it back but it will be a year before I can get the increased withholding reversed.

Is it hopeless?  I know I need to bring in some more income.  In the past, everytime I bring in more income, my husband buys newer vehicles and I continue to cover up the messes from the past so he won't be cranky.

This time, my health cannot bear another full-time professional job.  I can make about $35000 annually.  But at this point, I would most likely move to a bigger population area alone and rent a studio apartment if I am forced into going back into the full-time professional job situation.  And my health would only hold up a limited time....possibly a year.  And I know I would crash much sooner if I did the hour plus one-way commute each day (rather than pay for a studio apt)  Otherwise, I need to up ramp up my writing income and ebay/etsy income but both of those require upfront commitments of time and resources with no way to predict the timing or payout of the results.  Starting a business with no savings - done that before - not sure I can do it again.  It seems I've tried everything to make this too rural location work for us.  This is the result.

Enough ranting from me.  I'm interested in what you have to say. 

daverobev

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2014, 04:21:30 PM »
All I have for you is: Throw anything you can at the credit card. 19% is killing you. See if you can do a balance transfer on to another card, and cut both the old and the new up so you can't use them.

Can you spend some of your time in the summer growing food to reduce your shopping bill? Assuming you don't already, of course.

Your vehicles... do you need both to be low mpg ones? A newer Hyundai Accent can be had VERY cheaply, and they are solid little cars - I mean, if you only EVER use a vehicle when it is literally full then fine, but... 20mpg to 40 is going to help you.

Keep the a/c off. You can't afford it. Unless it's life or death.

Sounds like you've got a tough set of circumstances, fingers crossed you can make headway.

Weedy Acres

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2014, 04:33:29 PM »
One of you has a student loan...what's the degree in?  What are your skills?  Perhaps we can come up with ideas to parlay those into income on a part-time/freelance/self-employment basis.  What sort of health issues are you dealing with that you need to work around? 

What kind of side work can hubby do to bring in more income on evenings and weekends?

4alpacas

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2014, 04:42:34 PM »
In order to get out of your situation, you're going to have to cut spending AND earn more money.  This is where I would start if I was in your position

Earn more:
elance for writing jobs (or administrative tasks)
Rent out a room

Spend less:
Electricity - This is crazy high.  Turn off lights.  Don't use the a/c.  Do everything you can to get this bill below $100/month (every month).  Line dry clothes (you mentioned a large basement). 
Groceries - Start looking at the most expensive items you buy.  Stop buying them.  Maybe you're going to have to eat more beans & lentils this year. 

Good luck!  Keep us posted.  Maybe venture over to the Journals section.

daverobev

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2014, 04:45:25 PM »
Follow up thoughts - it sounds like your relationship is not healthy, and that you have more on your plate than just a financial mess. Perhaps you need some kind of personal retreat to look at things more clearly, assess your life and health and so on - because it sounds like you're in a mental mess as well as financial and that makes it doubly hard to succeed - if you 'feel bad' and ignore your tax returns, making it worse...

Not sure this is the best place to get that kind of help. Perhaps talking with your other half will help? Or finding a counsellor?

seattlecyclone

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2014, 04:53:14 PM »
How much does your husband know about your debt? You make it sound like you might be hiding some of the details from him to keep him from being "cranky", but he needs to be aware of it and on board with making sacrifices to pay it off. Otherwise he'll just go out and buy a new car or whatever else he's done in the past.

The 19% interest rate is eating you alive. You need to focus every spare cent at that debt until it's paid off. Where to find more room in the budget for this? There are a few possible places:

* Life insurance: maybe it's time to re-evaluate how much you need. I don't think it makes much sense to buy insurance for yourself since your husband would presumably have the same income and fewer mouths to feed if you died. What would happen if he died without life insurance? Would his pension kick in and be able to support you? If not, some insurance definitely makes sense. Just make sure you're not buying more than you need.

* Electricity: even your "low" seems high to me. My bill rarely exceeds $25/month. I'll admit that I live in a small house and Seattle has some of the nation's lowest electricity rates, but I would still be surprised if you couldn't get your electric bill down under $100 every month if you put your mind to it. I agree with daverobev that you need to dial back on the air conditioning until your credit card debt is gone. You can't afford it right now.

* Auto fuel: your cars are both gas guzzlers. I can understand needing one larger vehicle in a rural area, especially if your husband carries a bunch of carpentry equipment around with him a lot, or if you need to drive in a snowstorm. However, small sedans can traverse gravel roads most of the time without incident. You can fit a month's worth of groceries in one, or four grandkids (but perhaps not both at the same time!). Use one when possible and you'll save 25-50% on your fuel bill.

* Groceries: Gluten-free diets need not be expensive. The thing that makes it expensive is when you buy foods that normally contain gluten but have been modified (using more expensive ingredients) to be gluten-free. MMM's post on reducing your grocery bill offers a bunch of good tips. The key is to get most of your calories from cheap ingredients, and only use more expensive things (like meat) in smaller quantities to give dishes a good flavor.

You can do it! Best of luck to you.

ksfrank

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2014, 05:01:49 PM »
davrobev - Your follow-up thoughts are on target.  The mental mess is overpowering me from all directions.  My other half just wants his debit card to work when he goes the gas station.  And he goes to work every day, has for 30 years and believes everyone lives just like he does and it will all work out somehow. 

I'm drowning.  When I pushed myself so hard in my last few years of making good income - I messed up my health (chronic fatique/fibromyalgia mysterious type stuff).  Once I stopped working and started unraveling the pieces, I was faced with evidence of severe child abuse and neglect that I thought I had put in my past.  I had never accepted the level of abuse that was there. 

The very saddest part is that I can't go to counseling - I have a $1500 deductible.  The $400 co-pays( on my liabilities) is for my 3 sessions last year which were amazing but I told the counselor my situation and my unwillingness to put our financial situation in even worse position.  In effect, he told me that the severe child abuse is in the past and I have the ability to move forward on my own.  I survived as a three year old.  I have way more resources now than I did then.  But it's been difficult and it sucks to have these things all tangled up together.  I have wondered when I read the mr money mustache site - how survivors would fare in the discussions with those who have no history of it. 

I have an economics degree, cum laude no less, for g's sake.  I've never been able to make it pay for itself.  I blog and write grant proposals for non-profits right now.  I created a custom uniform business in my basement when the kids were growing up - in order to keep us afloat.  I shut it down when they were old enough I could drive to town and work less/make more. 

My husband has finally kicked in with a few side jobs.  He started in December.  He can pick up $200-$300 easily in a weekend but he resents it.  And I resent that he waited till this point to try to help me with this.  I had $11000 in savings and no credit card debt when I lost my job.  All that is turned upside down now because he wasn't interested. 

I appreciate all of your comments.  I am wondering why our grocery bill and electric bill are high - I'm going to do some more digging.


ksfrank

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2014, 05:08:58 PM »
I've been cooking all the gluten-free from scratch so I don't think I've created too much expense there.  But, of course a bag of brown rice flour is way higher than the cheap wheat junk.  I've been making laundry soap and all my cleaners (vinegar/baking soda) for the three years I've been home. 

If I don't leave home - I can keep from adrenal crashing and needing a week to recover which was what caused me to fall out of the work force before.  We've not spent but probably $100 a year on eating out the past three years which was quite a shift from the years I worked full time and we never ate at home.

We added a/c to our home in 2000.  So not that long ago.  And we keep the thermostat up higher than anyone else we know - like 78 I think it is.  But, yes, I see that is a luxury we can't afford till this credit card mess is gone. 

ksfrank

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2014, 05:16:34 PM »
Garden - yes.  We do.  Mostly great supplies of tomatoes and okra.  A few cantelope.  Rural water is our limitation.  Way too expensive to use for watering.

Vehicles - this has been our eternal married life battle.  He cannot fathom why anyone would buy a vehicle that isn't 4 wheel drive and able to do any job on the planet.  I've driven crappy little used cars in our early married years and driven them to the ground.  They end up with alot of roter/brake/suspension repairs because of the gravel.  But, it can be done.  He just gets all offended that I would even suggest such a thing.  I suggested that we just sell a vehicle and go with one since I'm not working.  AAAGH!!!  He went on and on about how stupid that would be...because of course he won't give up his single cab truck and in fact, really plans to replace it with a newer one sometime soon.  And it's shift on the floor, I can't reach the pedals, steering is difficult in tight places, etc.  What I'm saying is that he's not willing to go with one newer vehicle (when the time comes) that meets all of our needs because "that would just be stupid".  And I can't go buy one newer vehicle with both our needs in mind, because (honestly proven several times in our marriage) within a few months he will just go buy himself a newer one, too.  Oh, the fights we've had over that one....

I guess its good that you all don't know me - this would be utterly embarrassing.  As it is, it is so good to just go through it piece by piece and think it through.

daverobev

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2014, 05:25:27 PM »
Oh boy, sounds rough.

IMHO - if you can, you need to have a real heart to heart with your SO. You may be able to get him to open up if you can sit down and really discuss things with him. As for your counseling etc - I'm really sorry that an internet forum isn't going to be able to help you in the way that would be best for you, and that the US has such a poor arrangement for health issues. Not sure how this new ACA stuff will affect you but maybe that'd help you get affordable care?

Anyway.

Your CC bill is *killing* you. $275 a month on $13k, 20% of the 13k = $2.6k a year; so your min. payment is only paying off maybe $75 a month. It'll take you 10 years at this rate. See if you can get a 0% deal for a year - there are plenty of them out there - this is BAD advice if you will take the extra credit and use it. Can you get a HELOC? 4-5% would be so much better, and a 3% balance transfer to a 0%/1 year deal would - if you kept the $275 payment and added any extra spare cash - actually leave you with a much smaller balance after a year. You wouldn't be in the clear, but you'd be in a much better place - having paid $5k of principal off, not just interest.

I have no idea what your credit is like, but if it's not bad that's the easiest way I can see to save yourself a few $k in interest - again, assuming you will NOT just spend the extra credit.

Or how about a consolidation loan or something with a local credit union?

Good luck, I really mean that.

swick

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2014, 05:43:49 PM »
Sorry you are going through all of this Ksfrank.

For what it is worth from a total internet stranger, it sounds like from what you have posted and a quick read through your blog that your husband doesn't see your contributions, or is treating you like an equal partner in your relationship. Financial and relationship health are so intrinsically  linked, you might not be able to fix one without the other.

Okay, to bringing in more money. You mention that you write grants for non-profits. Do you get paid by the hour, or by the contract? I have done an awful lot of non-profit grant writing and I have found the best way to make any money at it is by leveraging the knowledge, as opposed to writing all the grants yourself. Could you create an e-book, webinar, class, or training manual? Become more of a consultant as opposed to strictly writing grants? Or even becoming a grant polisher, as opposed to having to write it all from scratch?

Another option, if you have the energy (and there is a market in your area) is to become a fundraising consultant/professional fundriaser, this could include grants but also developing a targeted fund raising strategy for the organization through events or letter campaigns or whatever is in your skill set, and taking a percentage of money raised for your fee.

ksfrank

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2014, 05:48:22 PM »
We have good credit.  I've pondered just rolling up this mess into either a refinance of the house or a second mortgage on the house.  That would alleviate the 19% interest and my $275 would at least be accomplishing something. 

We've done that a couple of times in the past.  Once - because it was prudent and necessary - to bring rural water lines to our house.  But I know of at least one complete refinance package, maybe twice...and several times of getting a second mortgage - just to roll in this credit card overflow problem.  I'm very willing to do it again if its the best solution.

I get 0% for one year credit offers every day in the mail.  I'm just scared to death of even getting another credit card and I know we won't have $13000 paid off in a year - so then I get cycled back again to this point.  And if Mr Crankypants gets on a roll about something he deserves to have......or one of the vehicles needs $500 in repairs to run again......  I'll have two credit cards with fat balances on them next year. 

Of course, my fear is that we've done it in the past - and look where we are again today - same street, same intersection.  And we're getting too close to old age to be recycling the same non-solution over and over.  It won't work when we're 70. 

I'm going back to the main site and read the articles about spouses. 

ksfrank

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2014, 06:17:50 PM »
swick - I've sketched out an ebook on the type of grantwriting I do best at - for very small non-profits on small budgets.   Every training manual I've seen is based on a much bigger model and isn't very targeted towards these small community organizations. 

Where would you suggest I begin?  createspace on amazon?  I've been doing some projects on there but nothing has ever been put up for sale.  Would enough people find it in a search that it would be worthwhile?  I guess I can go look at some google analytics to see if there are any searches by these non-profit directors and board members currently.  I don't believe there is much out there targeted specifically to them - direct and easy to use for only the most basic of grant applications like they might prepare for their local community foundation or rotary club. 

I'm so isolated from any other grant writers - except online.   

ksfrank

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2014, 08:53:54 PM »
Electricity - I'm paying for 1350 KWH per month - 45 per day on a low month of $130.  I see the problem.  Thank you!   

Anatidae V

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2014, 09:17:45 PM »
Mental health issues suck. I know of a few of us on here with them, less certain about abuse. However, a key component is most seem to have supportive partners. Could you try a budgeting system so it's the budget showing your spouse there's no money, instead of you being the bad guy all the time? YNAB is popular with a lot of people (including me) for that reason.

bradleylsmith

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2014, 09:40:03 PM »
The key to this is your husband needs to get on board. You don't have a money problem, it's a relationship problem. I say that because you've been here a few times before and gotten out of it as well. I would highly suggest marriage counseling and a talk with his pastor (assuming you're Christians and he's not a pastor himself 0_0)

Look into how Dave Ramsey handles spousal issues, I've watched a lot of him and he gets calls all the time about this kind of thing where one spouse isn't behaving. That is more his field then MMMs.

http://www.hulu.com/the-dave-ramsey-show

Hope this helps you, don't just treat the symptom.


Jamesqf

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2014, 10:10:40 PM »
On electricity & heating, since your husband is a carpenter, can you get him interested in upgrading energy-efficiency?

On the car, could you sell him on the idea of a smaller car for you as sonething you need for/because of your health problems?  Or just plain "It's my car, and I LIKE small cars!"?

fodder69

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2014, 06:58:54 AM »
This is one of the harder journals to read for me since money troubles are fairly easy to make a plan for and provide outside advice. And this is much more a mental and relationship one. The electricity use and the credit card bill are the big/easy wins and you have gotten good advice which I'd certainly try to follow.

For the mental and counseling issues, I'd really suggest trying to internalize the idea of circles of influence and really make an effort to push things out of your mind that you can't control. It's not easy but if you find yourself obsessing over something, getting anxious, worried think about whether it is worth it and productive. If not, take a deep breath, relax all of your face muscles (the rest of the body follows the face at least for me) and push it from your mind and figure out something else to think about that you can do something about.

The root issue is it sounds like you don't get to make many decisions which is hurting you financially and mentally. I'd think of something to get more control of what you can. It's your husbands income and it doesn't sound like he is up for giving up much control but I'd suggest figuring out what you control. Separate accounts? Split his paycheck in some way? You can try getting him on board but you can lead a horse to water and all that.

So...a bit of drastic advice which will come across as a face punch (but isn't that what this forum is for?). Take this for an off the wall suggestion.

How about getting a job in the city and a studio apartment and commuting back and forth on the weekends? I don't mean this as marital advice, but financial. Would you be able to  make enough money to get yourself ahead? I know you say health issues prevent work but it seems like those are mainly stress triggered and you have somewhat of a handle on how to control them. I imagine your husband would flip out at the thought but it sounds like the debt is in your name and you are going to have to be the one to take control of it. Plus if you live closer to work and you could bike in then :-)

I know that last idea is truly drastic and facepunch-ey but that's part of what we're here for.

The other part is to say Congratulations! for starting to look at this stuff. As you said, your procrastination with the IRS was a problem and is a symptom of burying your head in the sand. Coming here and writing about your experiences and asking for advice is you picking up your head and taking a good look around to figure out the best direction to go. So good on you for that. Keep fighting that tendency to let your head drop and keep moving.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 09:42:34 AM by fodder69 »

SunshineGirl

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2014, 09:02:45 AM »
With you being only four years away from paying off your house, I don't think taking money from the house is good idea. You will have some breathing room once that's paid off.

This year, try going to a VITA volunteer who can help you with your taxes. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised at what you get back, and they do it for free. Just google "VITA" + "taxes" - usually, this is run out of a United Way office.

Tell us more about the life insurance. Whose is it? What is the term and amount to be paid out? Does your husband's job offer life insurance? (probably, if he works for the state)

Greg

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2014, 09:06:20 AM »
I'll second that you have to get your husband on board.  As a fairly fit contractor guy myself I can see where he might feel entitled to spend the income he earns how he wants.  But he's not single, he's married.  He has to be part of the team.  It's not his money, it's the marriage's money.  Time to introduce him to this website.

I don't know what your health issues are and don't really want to know.  Maybe they're 100% debilitating.  But people get on with all sorts of health restrictions.  Earlier this year I was remodeling a friend's place and saw the really old lady neighbor's lawn being mowed and trimmed by... another really old lady.  On oxygen.  Took her a while but she got it done.  That's bad-ass and she must be a great friend. I vowed not to complain about working ever after I saw that.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2014, 11:46:50 AM by Greg »

CommonCents

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2014, 09:12:11 AM »
This year, try going to a VITA volunteer who can help you with your taxes. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised at what you get back, and they do it for free. Just google "VITA" + "taxes" - usually, this is run out of a United Way office.

I was a VITA volunteer once.  :)  If you do find that you've been missing some deductions/credits, I believe you can amend past taxes for a few years back: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Nine-Facts-on-filing-an-Amended-Return

Agree that this is a relationship issue at the heart, which is contributing to the financial issues.  You can't straighten out the financial aspect w/o tackling the relationship and attitudes.

Also, note that you may have health issues excerbated while working full-time, but consider the possibility of whether a part-time job would affect your health too significantly.  Perhaps it would be worthwhile to get a part-time job for ~4-5 years until you can pay off your house and pay down the 19% interest credit card. 

ksfrank

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2014, 11:32:59 AM »
I never expected to get such caring answers!  You are all the best!  Wow!  I really expected to get drilled down on how stupid the credit card move was three years ago, etc.  And you all are meeting me right here where I am today so I can receive help!  Thank you!

I will be gone the rest of today - but I am thinking - and I will spend some time replying to the perspectives soon.

unpolloloco

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2014, 01:45:55 PM »
One additional point: Can you get on SS disability?  That would help ease the burden a bit.

Also, you really only have to get through this until 1) you pay off the house (instant extra 500 or so a month) and 2) you can get on SS.  Focus on IRS issues and the CC debt in the meantime by increasing income and reducing expenses where you can.

ksfrank

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2014, 06:49:01 PM »
Thanks so much to all of you.  I am taking each suggestion to heart. 

I initiated a good conversation with my husband tonight and we're going to try and work together for a change.  He's rearranging his automatic deposits from his paycheck immediately so that he can go to the local bank each payday and pull out cash for our groceries, gas, any slush leftover and we're going to use the envelope system for the first time.  I know he feels so powerless in all this because I am the one who is always online and dealing with the financial picture.  This should put us on a more equal status. 

We agreed on how much to leave in the checking account to cover the fixed type expenses which I will still take care of and the rest will be here under our noses so we can be aware of exactly where we stand day to day without having to nag, whine or pout.  I think, as some of you have suggested, this will put us in more of an equal relationship with the picture we face.  And if we can shave off even $50 a paycheck to stay in the envelope - it will make a difference in my stress level and give him some meaningful reinforcement.

I have several options of making more money from home - so I am going to fight to keep this option open through 2014.  Since none of you were extremely upset about our overall financial situation (I didn't feel like I was getting the "hair on fire" message), I am going to throw energy in that direction a bit longer and try to turn it around.  If I move to the bigger city and take on a full-time position, that option will disappear, most likely for a decade or more.  I've worked hard to create this little crack of opportunity and I am now believing that I still have a bit of time to get it fired up if I stay focused.  (grantwriting, play writing, sewing, selling vintage)

unpolloloco - I know the disability thing takes a long time to get approved.  I'm really afraid of trying it - which means I must not be quite in the position of totally being unable to take care of myself.  It's all that mysterious fibromyalgia/chronic fatique/adrenal hormone system crash stuff that medical doctors are very reluctant to believe is real.  I just don't have the patience and energy to start the process and I can't face the idea of letting the medical profession and a gov bureaucracy decide my worth and fate.......as I say - I must not be quite disabled enough.  I know there are many who truly are but I want to fight longer and see if I can heal.

Life insurance - we each have $100,000 term.  We've had it for 15 years or so.  He has 1 1/2 times his salary term through work so $60000.  I've been concerned about this because all we have is term and the rates will go up when we hit some sort of deadline in a few more years if we want to renew it.  I'm hearing from you that we shouldn't worry about keeping it - but rather go through the scenarios of what would come to us through the retirements, etc. and whether or not there would be any liabilities at that point.  Our intent is just to keep the house forever and hand it over to the kids when we are finished with it as a gift.  This place is emotionally very important to them and they've both expressed that they are leaving space in their own financial pictures to keep the place if ever we needed to sell.  That's the only reason we've kept the term insurance so long - to be able to freely gift it to them when we toddle out of here.  Something to run numbers on - thank you!

As many of you have stated, its the 19% credit card interest that is on fire - and the lateness with the IRS that needs to be cleaned up immediately.  I can isolate those problems out and work to resolve them. 

He is completely on board with electricity and propane leaks in our lifestyle and home.  It's helpful that he can fix anything and understands construction to the max.  He's been walking around, poking, checking and pondering all evening.  He is a problem solver personality, even if its never been directed at our finances!  He should probably be the one all these years who took care of it because he's so absolutely practical - black and white thinking.  But, also, if it weren't for me creating options and moving things around, looking for opportunities, understanding economics - we wouldn't have what we have now.  We'd both be 8-5'ers driving two new vehicles, chained to our jobs till we keeled over of heart attacks!

If I could send you all a little box of fancy chocolates today, I would!  You have been very dear to me when I needed friendship and support.   Thank you again!  If any of you need advice on something to do with reusing/refurbishing textiles or clothing, or grantwriting for small non-profits - I am ready to help. 

fodder69

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2014, 10:39:10 PM »
Awesome to hear you had a good conversation and as a former contractor I love this:

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It's helpful that he can fix anything and understands construction to the max.  He's been walking around, poking, checking and pondering all evening.

Getting to a point of effeciency == money isn't always obvious even to people that it should be! And it sounds like you got his mind engaged on a problem he *can* solve. Good job and best of luck going forward!

happy

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2014, 05:16:13 AM »
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I didn't feel like I was getting the "hair on fire" message)

Ok, just so you get it: your hair is on fire and a million killer bees are chasing you round stinging you to death.

You are just making ends meet, with plenty of debt and not much savings. You need to get rid of that 13k cc debt @19% as soon as possible.

I'm not saying sell up, move to the city and get a fulltime job that will injure your health.  You need to have a sustainable response.

You know the drill, cut spending to the bone, and see what you can do to increase income. Looks like hubby is coming on board :)...this is essential or you will never get out of this hole you are in.

ksfrank

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Re: Reader Case Study - The Financial Catbox that I've Been Covering Up
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2014, 11:44:48 AM »
Thank you, happy.  Yes, unless we get a handle on this thing we're going to continue to struggle paycheck to paycheck until we die.....at at 55 years old I look around me and see the 75 and 80 year olds who didn't get a handle on it and its like a fiery road sign showing me what's ahead if I keep going.  I keep reminding myself that I still have options. 

And the reply before that - lhamo - thank you.  I am looking at the website you recommended.  And see the points about working for nonprofit causes I believe in that will NEVER part with their cold, hard cash.  Over and over this is my work history.  I bring in the motherload and then somehow I wake up to be on the outskirts the next day - because I am not desperately needed anymore.  Geesh - I'm so sick of it.  Not many people realize how it actually plays out for grantwriters.  I've created more good jobs for others than I would care to count.  And once the leadership team has a turnover or two - no one even remembers there was an original grant writer who put the damn thing on the map.  Your feedback and a very similar story a friend told me yesterday - yes, it seems I'm finished with answering calls from desperate directors.

I guess you don't get anywhere without taking the journey - but it sure is hard to look back and see what were essentially easy fixes that never happened.  Forward is the only direction!