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I Need Advice

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First I would like to say thank you for all the wonderful comments on my last post. I read each and every one several times, trying to get them to sink into my head. I appreciate them.

Now, some wonderful news, I sold the tablet I listed, and I got what I was asking for it! I had to drive 45 minutes each way to meet the person who bought it at the Verizon store, but I figured the gas was worth it. I have lowered the cell phone bill to around $320 a month. I also sold some of the clothes that were too small for my daughters at Once Upon A Child and made $60. I had several other things for sale on the yard sale pages and sold them also. When all is said and done, we now have $500 towards an emergency fund. Only $500 more to go!

I do admit I have a spending problem. That is how I got into this mess. I am working hard with my therapist however I would love some tips and suggestions on how to stop the madness. I have a this coupon is wonderful I have to go use it syndrome, and a let’s see what is at goodwill today problem. I really have battles that go on inside over this. An example, when I sold the clothes this weekend, I went and spent $30 on more clothes for my girls at goodwill. Now granted, they needed the pants; however it’s still kind of warm here and it could have waited a few weeks. How do I stop?

We now have a full pantry, and each have enough gas to last the rest of the week, and still have $60 left in the bank. In fact, I have enough groceries that I think I will be able to lower the food budget for a few weeks, as I have plenty of meat in the freezer. My husband got some overtime that will be in this week’s check that we think will have along with the overtime, another $100 extra from the quarterly bonus that his employer gives. I earned almost 4 hours of overtime myself last week. I also applied with Amazon at home customer service job. It pays $12 an hour. I have applied with them 3 times before with no luck, I am hoping this time I get hired.

I am also toying around with finishing my college education. I have been going to college on and off now for 25+ years, and have no degree to show for it. I have about 10 classes to completion. I have not committed to it yet, but I have applied for financial aid to see where I stand, and even if I don’t get it, my employer does reimburse for classes. I want to go and finish really bad, but right now, I am stressed with our money situation, and don’t know how I would do with the classes. On the flip side, I work better under stress and deadlines, and with the education I would be considered for higher pay at work. I’m torn.

I also need advice on my Aflac. I am spending $55.14 every two weeks for an accident and cancer policy. I thought about canceling it, however Wren commented on my last post, and made a good point. What if something happens? We have nothing prepared for an emergency and the insurance payments would help. But on the flip side, that $110 a month could help our budget now. What should I do?

I know I can do this, and thanks for your help.

 

Marie

Married mother of 4, grandmother of 4, and just trying to dig her way out of debt. One dollar at a time.

Latest posts by Marie (see all)


62 Comments

  • Reply Kili |

    Hi Marie,

    Congrats on the sales and the overtime.

    Regarding the spending:
    Can you make a wish list?(something that’s been suggested to Ashley as well) there you’d jot down “pants for the girls” and other things with the date. And only if after 30 days you’re convinced that you still need it , you can buy it.
    Can you do a “no spend”-month / “rip up every coupon”-month ? This way you can experiment if the super strict rule is something that would help you stick to it?
    Can you find other ways to distract yourself from shopping? E.g. Singing a song with the girls ? Running a mile? Cleaning your purse? Taking a selfie? Or whatever works?

    I wouldn’t cancel the insurance as long as you don’t have a big enough emergency fund…

    I would also work for a more secure financial position before starting school again…

    Best of luck.

    P.s.: Any news on Ashley and Hope?

    • Reply Marie |

      I have no news on Ashley and Hope. I wish I did, as I would like an update from them also.

  • Reply Angie |

    I’m still wondering about the gap between pay and expenses… it’s great you were able to sell some things, but are you still in the red every month?

    Do you have a budgeting program that you use?

    I agree with Kili – make a wish list and wait before you spend.

    • Reply Marie |

      I really don’t have a good explanation about the income vs debt. Between overtime, putting a few expenses on the credit card and the neighbors yard my husband mowed, we just made it. The only budgeting tool I use is a notebook. I have not tried any online program

      • Reply Tammy |

        If you put monthly bills on the credit card you will never get out of debt. You just cancel out whatever payment you made that month. I hope you can figure this out!

      • Reply Kristin |

        If you put some expenses on the credit cards then you didn’t make it. Your first goal should be to get through a month paying all of your bills without adding any credit card debt. Once you get yourself under control you can start tackling your balances.

  • Reply Katie |

    Personally, I would cancel the insurance. You need that $110 right now.

    You need to break away from shopping as a habit and entertainment. Make a list of activities you can do instead that are free. Take a walk, go to the library, clean a closet, learn a new skill, try a new recipe, call a friend. Anything. People often shop out of boredom. Shopping also tricks you into thinking there are things you “need” that you really don’t. I’m a reformed shopper, and now a big advocate for frugal living and minimalism. It makes me stressed out and a bit sad to go to friends houses and see them loaded with a bunch of stuff. It’s more to clean, more to organize, more to track. You get to the point where your stuff owns you, not vice versa.

    Great work this week! That’s progress!

  • Reply Maureen |

    Marie, I do appreciate you sharing your innermost feelings and being candid about your spending. As for biting the need/want to shop bug, it’s hard. It goes without saying this is mind over matter, but of course that is easier said than done. I think you have to make a conscious decision every day to do what you need to do. If you don’t need anything or it’s not a must-have you should literally throw/shred/cut up/recycle all the coupons and mailers you receive the minute they come.

    As for school, I think it’s admirable, but don’t even THINK about taking out more student loans until you get the credit cards paid off. Per your budget post, it looks like you have a negative cash flow situation every month (you didn’t address that in the comments so that has not been affirmatively confirmed). Adding more debt, even if it appears for the right reasons, is not the solution. I am not saying, don’t ever think about it, but you owe it to your family and yourself to be on better financial ground before taking on the stress of school and more debt. What would happen if one of you lost your job? It’s happened before. Stay the course, now that you are formulating a plan, and then reevaluate every 6-12 months. Maybe set a goal of having X number of credit cards paid off by next summer, then think about school next fall. Also, have a plan for what you need/want to take the remaining 10 classes for, so you don’t waste your money on things that won’t help.

    • Reply Marie |

      I would not take on student loans, it would be either 100% pell grants, or 100% employer financed, or a combination of both.

      I do have a negative cash flow every month, and I am working on changing that.

      • Reply Maureen |

        I think I missed the employer-paid part (initially read as not paid!). If the education is going to be “free” then by all means, explore that option. Just make sure you are in the right frame of mind to add to your plate right now, especially if you are considering a second job. It might be worthwhile to wait until spring semester or summer term (depending on the type of program) and concentrate on righting the negative cash flow situation first.

        • Reply Lisa |

          100% employer paid isn’t exactly the truth. If you don’t qualify for a Pell grant, your employer would reimburse you. So you would first pay more money out that you don’t don’t have until they reimburse you.
          I believe you are very good at reasoning with yourself. You will need to stop doing that! If you don’t have the money, and you don’t, don’t prespend it.
          Did you take any of the clothing items back to Goodwill as suggested by many?

  • Reply Jennifer |

    I am not a therapist but you said something interesting and your past posts elude to this….you work better under stress. You keep creating an environment that you grew up with and it is the only environment you have ever lived in from what I can tell. Commenter after commenter has said your story stresses them out and they are not living it. You made $60 and spent $30 because in some way I think the only way you are comfortable is if your wallet is empty.
    I understand this. I lived this way. What I decided one day when I looked around was that we needed not one more thing. If it broke we fixed it or did with out or borrowed or looked for a free used replacement. If the kids needed clothes we asked friends for hand me downs or we made do with three pairs of pants instead of a dozen. For two years we bought nothing new. And nothing kills an urge to shop like exhaustion from work. Get a second job! When you earn minimum wage and you are standing working a cash register instead of being home with your children in the weekend ….the $30 you blew at goodwill will hunt you thinking you would need to work 5 hours to pay for it! Perspective in cost verses work hours should help keep you out of the stores

  • Reply Laura |

    It doesn’t matter how good of a deal something is if you can’t afford it. Stop looking at the sale ads. Throw the coupons away. I like the idea of keeping a wish list and waiting 30 days before you buy it. If the 30 days are up and you truely need pants then and only then look at goodwill for them.

  • Reply Kerry |

    Which is counter-intuitive, because what you need to do is automate everything you can financially. Basically, you can’t be tempted if you’re not going where temptation is. So, stop with the coupons, make a price book, don’t go shopping until certain points, make a list.

    I do think it’s interesting that you then turn your brain to “oh, finish school!” It’s okay to be a hardworking chaos and stress junkie, the key is you have to control the environment and not just put yourself in reaction mode.

  • Reply Patrick |

    Hi,

    long time reader of this blog, but first time poster :-). First of all Congrats on posting all of this. This was hard for sure. And is a big step in the right direction I believe.

    What I really, really worry about is, how you will get out of this mess? As long as you do not have enough income to cover all expenses and payments, you will only dig yourself deeper in the whole.

    And -> putting a few expenses on the credit card <- means, you did not just made it. Not at all.

    Please be truthful to yourself. If you cannot lower the expenses and/or increase your income, you will not made it.

    And last but not least, think about what you will do down the road with the house. You will not get any mortgage at all from any bank or credit union. Your debt to income is much to high. Besides the fact, that you need money for the closing costs and you are in the red each and every month in the moment.

    Again, your have started this process and this is very good and promising. But you need to see the truth. You are NOT lowering your debt in the moment.

  • Reply Shanna |

    A few things-that $60 you made should have been driven straight to the bank to pay against one of your smaller cards. $30 at Goodwill I would assume would buy 6-10 pairs of pants. That is addictive shopping, not need based. You need to take every bit of “found” money and throw it at the first card until it is paid. That $60 plus what you made from the other items would have almost paid one of the cards off completely. Secondly-education is important, but something to consider is that if you have been attending school for 25 years, you have moved out of your “catalog” year and the earliest classes will not count towards your degree and will have to be taken again to fulfill the current requirements. I would not even think of taking on school debt/school until you have no consumer debt and 3 months of savings. Lastly, what is “cancer and accident” insurance? Is it a policy in addition to your regular health insurance? If so, why do you need it? Won’t those things be covered by your insurance?

    • Reply Marie |

      I agree about the $60- I was wrong to go to Goodwill and buy more clothes for my girls. I bought 4 pairs of jeans for each girl, and 3 shirts for each.

      As for my school, every thing still counts, like I said, I only have 10 classes left. School is only an option if I don’t take on more debt. I would get grants, plus my employer reimburses for school. It is not a given yet, just a thought. I wanted everyone’s advice on it.

      As for the Aflac Cancer/Accident insurance, these are policys that pay me if I or a family member get in an accident, and have to go the doctor. The cancer policy pays if I am dx with cancer.

  • Reply Angie |

    Good news. You can return stuff at Goodwill! Take everything you bought, except the one pair of pants you need back. Immediately go online and pay the difference you made from the sale to the smallest credit card balance. Repeat. Continue to do this everytime you realize you bought something that doesn’t go along with your primary goal, paying down debt.

    When we were paying down our huge student loan debt I would make payments for the exact amount of any money that was found, saved, couponed, mail in rebates, etc. Anything and everything. No joke some months we made a payment everyday and some were as low as $1 from a coupon or something. The trick is to do it immediately and for the exact amount so the money is already “spent.” As a bonus you are getting the maximum benefit since the interest is being compounded daily on your balances.

  • Reply Lisa |

    I love the idea of finishing school when you are so close, but (and it’s a big one) are you thinking about school so that you don’t have to think about a part time job? Your schedule would be too full if you went back to school for a part time job.
    What is your husband doing right now to help pay down the debt? Is he looking for a part time job as well yet?
    Also, try to stay out of stores that trigger your spending. You stated that the children needed some pants in a few weeks, yet you admitted later that you bought pants and shirts. That 30.00 would have made a huge dent into your first listed credit debt. Before you shop, ask around for hand me downs.
    Good luck! I am looking forward to hear of your first card being paid off!
    *also, I know that having filed bankrupcy and/or foreclosing on a house doesn’t mean you won’t ever get a new one. In my state, just three years before foreclosing on a house doesn’t affect buying a new one, but your income:debt ratio will disqualify you right now.

  • Reply AT |

    Does either of your employers offer a long term disability insurance? You may have to wait for open enrollment, but you will probably get a much better price than the AFLAC. LTD is important for people on the edge, but for what you are paying, it should cover more than accidents and cancer.

      • Reply Kate |

        If you have LTD I would definitely cut the other two. I honestly haven’t heard of accident and cancer policies before – but unless I am missing something regarding what your specific LTD doesn’t cover, you need that money.

  • Reply Carina |

    I agree with the other comments.

    Return those clothes and put that $30 towards a credit card. Don’t look for anymore ways to justify spending the money. It’s going to be tough to break the addiction to spend but you can do it. You’re selling things to pay towards debt, not selling things to go deeper into debt. Anything you buy right now adds to your debt, no matter how you try and justify it.

    When you start to see some of those credit card balances disappear it should feel like a tremendous weight lifted off your shoulders. If you don’t get that feeling and instead feel like it opens more doors to spend then you’re not ready to tackle this situation. Resist temptation to spend! Believe me it sucks going to work everyday knowing your check is gone, knowing you have to work OT to stay above water. Imagine how much better you’d feel knowing that you are not deeply in debt and can actually live? Shopping, cars, etc of the like – resist them!

  • Reply Meg |

    I don’t see much benefit of an accident/cancer insurance policy for someone who has health insurance and auto insurance. Both of those are already covered!

    I think you should be asking yourself what will make you content with yourself and your life. It hasn’t been the short term lift from all the spending you have done. Read up on contentment and make a list of what will make you feel it.

    Also, how does all your impulsiveness affect your kids? Remember that you are modeling behavior for them – they see it all. Are you showing them a healthy way to live?

  • Reply Andrea |

    Until you are able to find a more consistent second job, you could also look at some of the online sites that pay you for completing surveys and other small tasks. They’re not going to solve your entire budget problem, but when you’re at the edge even small amounts of money can help.

    For example, I use Amazon mturk as a way to earn a little extra money that I use for vacations or Christmas presents. I’m not that aggressive about it, but I can usually earn $1-5 a day by just popping online and filling out some surveys while watching TV after the kids are in bed. Last month I brought in $65 this way. I also use swagbucks, and earn a $25 gift card every month or so (note I don’t do anything on swagbucks that involves me signing up for trial memberships or paid services). So between the two of them, with minimal time investment I clear maybe an extra $75 a month on average. If you and your husband both did it, that would be $150 a month.

    Also, how do you guys usually make out at tax time? If you typically get a refund, then I’d try the IRS withholding calculator. It will tell you exactly how to set your withholdings so you come out close to even. Right now you need that money in your paycheck so you avoid accruing more debt each month and start paying down those really high interest rate loans.

    Finally, I’m still a little confused by your payments table from last post. Are the numbers for the various debts your minimum payments? Also–you say that you pay the house/vehicles/personal loans weekly–which means you’re effectively making 2 extra payments on those loans a year. That’s great normally–but those are your lowest interest loans AND your income is less than your expenses. If you’re putting more debt on your credit cards at 20+ percent to pay off a 3.5% car loan faster–that’s just perpetuating the problem.

  • Reply Ruby |

    You’ve admitted that the spending is longtime habit, and as such, it will be really hard to break. You need to put as many reminders as possible that your priority is being debt free, not buying more stuff. For example, make a debt payoff thermometer, so you can colour in debt as you pay it off. Stick it on your fridge. Make a list of all your debts, stick it on the fridge and/or in your wallet. Join online debt payoff challenges. Plug in your payments to a debt payoff calculator to figure out dates, and try to knock the time down. You’re blogging now, but read debt and minimilaist/frugal blogs for ideas on how to stretch your dollars, pay off debt, and make extra money. These activities will hopefully help you to change your mindset from purchasing, to saving/paying off debt.

    Coupons and deals make you think you are saving money, but in reality they exist to try to persuade people that they need such and such a thing. It’s not a deal if you weren’t going to spend the money in the first place. So really beware. If you can’t only use them when you were already going to buy it because it’s a need, then it’s safer to just ignore. If you get emails from stores for deals, you should unsubscribe. They’re just going to tempt you, and in reality, those deals happen over and over. They will happen again.

  • Reply Ruby |

    Oh, also wanted to add that I think it’s best to wait on the school stuff. Right now, you are in negative cashflow, and trying to make it up with overtime. So I just don’t think it’s a good idea to add school on top of that. You said that they reimburse, so that means you have to first cover it and wait for the reimbursement? That means you’ll be paying interest on it, and it will be taking away from money you can put towards your debt. Also, just timewise. School will mean you are more busy and stressed, which could easily lead to more eating out or convenience meals, and stress buying. I would focus on snowballing some of your credit cards, at least until you are not in negative cashflow. Then maybe go back to the school idea at that point. I do think it is a good idea and you should definitely do it, but after you have more control over your finances.

  • Reply Kate |

    This sounds a lot like my mother, who is always buying things that are “a good deal” and “on sale” but aren’t really needed. As a result she is 75 and still working and still in credit card debt. I would think of a couple of things. Returning what you’ve bought at Goodwill is a start. If you do that it will force you to stick to your word. Where do the coupons come from? Can you unsubscribe from emails (like Kohl’s, etc) so you never see them? Throw out the sales flyers before they come into the house? I did that a few years ago and was surprised how much easier it was not to shop. You also mention internal battles. I have done a fair amount of mindfulness and also CBT over the years. Can you stop and identify your thoughts the next time you’re in the Goodwill? What’s actually going on in your head? Are you avoiding something unpleasant? I agree with the commentor who said that you are wired to live in stress and creating it for yourself. I have no idea if this applies to you but there is a book called “The Body Keeps the Score” that talks about how traumas in the past condition us to operate best in a state of crisis. If you can get it for free at a library or some other way (DO NOT go out and buy it! :)) it might be worth considering and discussing with your therapist. I wish you the best of luck. This is truly an addiction but one I think is more common than we realize.

    • Reply Kate |

      I also want to add – the biggest gift you can give to your children is financial stability. As a child I could never enjoy presents from my mother, knowing that we couldn’t really afford them. And believe me, this started at a very young age, you can’t hide anything from kids. Now as an adult I feel the same but at least I know I am financially stable no matter what she does.

      • Reply Marie |

        Thanks for that perspective. I understand, as my mother is 65, and still has to work part time just to live. I remember the feeling I got when she would buy us stuff I knew she couldn’t afford. It is not a good one.

        • Reply Kate |

          I’m sorry that you also know the feeling. The good news is you can change this for yourself and your children and grandchildren. It seems like you are committed and I wish you luck!

  • Reply Chantal |

    Where are your therapist charges? I still find your budget and debts incomplete.

    Sell a car right now is my piece of urgent advice.

    Cut your food bills by 50%. This can be done immediately. Both of you take packed lunches if you are not already doing so.

    I sound terse I am sure but you are near to drowning in your debt pool and need to work up a healthy scare.

  • Reply Kay |

    So, legit asking here. How does one sell a car that they don’t even own? It sounds like she’s been “renting” cars for years.

    The one and only time I had an auto loan I didn’t hold the title, so how is this done?

    • Reply Angie |

      It’s a pain, which is why most people who still have loans on their car trade it in to the dealer and roll over the upside down portion into a new loan. Trade in or selling to a CarMax type of place is easiest.

      You need to get an agreement from the buyer, they pay you in check or cash, you pay off the loan, receive the title in a few days, and hand it over to the buyer. This is why most buyers on craigslist their first question is “Do you have the title on hand?” I personally wouldn’t buy in this situation.

      It may be easier since Marie’s is financed through a local credit union. You can request the credit union get a title into the branch. And buyer and seller do the transaction directly at the bank and get the title. Not a lot of buyers would be willing to go for this type of deal unless it is a real deal.

  • Reply Little Miss Moneybags |

    $320 a month for cell phones?!?! Please do yourself a favor and check out Ting. We pay $47 a month for two smartphones. Ting piggybacks on existing networks (so coverage is not a problem) and is pay-what-you-need, so you aren’t paying for unlimited data, texts or minutes when you only use a fraction of what you’re buying.

    I agree with the others that your cancer and accident insurance is unnecessary given auto and health insurance. If the worst happened, you’d find a way and most people do just fine without those extra riders.

  • Reply Kay |

    Ok, so looking for more specifics here. The cellphone bill is 320 monthly now? This is now two cellphones and a tablet? And your paying for the devices themselves on a monthly basis plus service and data…..can you lower your data plan? Is the tablet on a data plan? If so get rid of it.

    Also you’re probably looking at a large tax refund in approximately 6 months you need to plan now, you can do a lot of debt reduction and saving with this.

  • Reply Kay |

    Also, the Dave Ramsey answer to your upside down vehicles does not sound easy in the least bit. Like, not even doable for you at the moment.

    I’m honestly trying to figure out what you were both thinking when you signed up for such pricey vehicles. Around here in *Massachusetts I can find good used vehicles from anywhere starting at 9,500 to 15,000 and some would say that’s too much! I can’t believe 30 grand per vehicle when you never got out of the last financial pickle really. I’m no financial expert by a long shot but consider yourself extremely lucky if someone buys one of those vehicles off of you. *sigh

    *and yes cars much lower too. I was looking at the reputable used car dealers that I am familiar with.

  • Reply Janie B. |

    Marie: That *ENTIRE* $60.00 should have gone ***IMMEDIATELY*** to that Amazon credit card!!!

    **ANY** “extra” money that you get should go towards paying off those credit cards!

    Just sayin’ . . .

  • Reply Klm |

    Regarding your spending: I have also been lured by the call of the store coupon and how much I can “save.” Fortunately I didn’t overspend but I definitely looked to shopping as a past time and I had more lotions and handsoaps than I knew what to do with. Thing is: there will always be sales and coupons and cute things to buy. You have enough. You don’t need more things to validate yourself. Maybe look at what you have and “shop” from there. If you’re like me, there may be some things “put away” that are still new. Do you still need them? Can you still return them or sell them? Take time away from shopping and spending to really inventory what you already have. And: the holidays are coming. You can ask for gift cards to your favorite stores and use them as a little reward when you knock out some debts. Ask for memberships or experience gifts for your kids–is there a kids museum or fun park that someone could gift them a trip to?

    • Reply Angie |

      Yes! If you shop as much as it seems I bet you do have stuff put away that still has the tags on it. Maybe a free weekend activity would be to start to declutter. It will remind you how much crap you already have (and don’t use). It will also remind you that most things you aren’t getting a lasting excitement or happiness from. Only initial when you are buying it.

      Inevitably you’ll find clothes or items with tags on them unused. Gather up all these items in a box and separate by store. Try to return everything with tags still on them even if you don’t have the receipt. The stores will check to see how much stuff is worth or if it is too old. Play naive. Return everything (I don’t care if they say it’s only “worth” $1 of store credit!!!!). Hang on to store credit for your needs. DO NOT SPEND IT. Yes, doing these errands may feel slightly embarrassing or like punishment. That’s important. Do it anyway. It is teaching the consequences of spending outside your means (more work to make it work).

  • Reply Christine |

    Thanks for being so honest and willing to listen! My husband and I have been following Dave ransey sibce Feb and completed FPU. Have you gone to paying everything with cash yet? I know that has helped curb spending because I don’t carry all the cash with me so I actually can’t buy something unless it fits in the budget. That wouldn’t have helped with the clothes – I agree with others you need to return them.

    You definitely need to cut expenses – may you go a little more into detail about your cell bill? I know others have asked a lot about it but it’s because it’s so astrobimically high. For instance, there are 6 people on our plan (family plan) with Verizon, and all but 2 are still paying off their phones. We also have unlimited data. Our bill is about that but split up amongst 3 families (my parents, my brother and his fiancé and my husband and I). So for one family to have that high of a bill something can be cut- and you really need that money right now.

    Looking forward to hearing more! You can do this!!!

  • Reply Jennifer |

    Do you still owe Verizon any money on the tablet you sold? If so the only place that $60 should have gone is to verizon

  • Reply Wren |

    I would suggest that, IF you’re going to apply that $110 to a credit card other outstanding debt, then cancel the AFLAC and cancer coverage. IF you’re going to think, oh look, I just freed up $110 and we ‘need’ some new ——, then don’t cancel them. At least now, should something unexpected happen, AFLAC will put some money in your pocket and your cancer coverage will hopefully help deal with that aspect of things.

    So, if you immediately earmark the funds for paying off one of the cards or other bills, and stick to funneling it there religiously, and once you’ve paid off one, roll those payments into the next, etc., osv, then cancel away. If you don’t think you’ll be able to do that with the whole amount, every single paycheck, then don’t. Keep paying those policies until you get into the habit of throwing every single penny you earn that isn’t earmarked for food, rent, utilities, or bills (roof over your head, food in your fridge, gas in the car) at debt, without fail.

    Be fierce with yourself. Be hard on yourself. And remind yourself every single day that you are worth fixing, this can be fixed, and you, your husband, and your children deserve to get this fixed. Keep doing that. You will make it through.

    (Oh yeah, I’d hold off on school for now, and get this change into your system first. School will still be there next semester. It can be a reward for getting a stranglehold on your spending and debt. That needs to be your focus for now.)

  • Reply Jennifer |

    Honestly, at this point, you need to completely turn over your finances to someone. I don’t know if your husband is any better with money than you (probably not, given two bankruptcies due to consumer spending), but you need to have your ability to spend taken away.

    You need to do damage control NOW, and figure out the “why do I do this” later.

    Your name needs taken off the accounts. Your husband needs to step up to the plate and learn to handle the finances, and do it.

    • Reply Jennifer |

      And I’m sorry if that came off as unkind, but you are an addict. Leaving you with a credit card is like leaving a drug addict in a room full of their drug of choice. You need to completely be removed from the temptation, at least in the beginning stages of recovery. You should not be trusted to make any financial decisions.

  • Reply Megan |

    Definitely check into the employer said school stuff. I know several companies that do that but they don’t pay upfront, they reimburse you at the end of the semester based on your good grades. So in the long haul, they are paying for it, but they are not always fronting the money when the bills are initially due.

  • Reply Tanya |

    I’ve found that you can substitute good habits in place of bad ones to help yourself overcome them. Keeping tight control of spending while spending down your debt is a great addiction. It becomes fun in itself and will replace your shopping habit. I like to make charts and track my debt reduction. Each one disappearing is a great feeling. It is important to know that shopping gives a feeling of euphoria but it is short lived. The bills come in and the stress creates a need to go get that goood feeling back. You may need to avoid any retail stores for a while as you wean yourself off this habit. It will help also if you put a cash allowance for clothes and retail shopping in the budget, but don’t allow yourself to go over. You also may need to keep the credit card hidden away in the house and none in your wallet so there is no temptation.
    I really appreciate your honesty and asking for help. I will enjoy watching you succeed in your debt reduction journey. I have experienced the relief personally and now have much greater peace of mind and peace at home. I wish that for you too.

  • Reply Kristin |

    You need to get a handle on exactly where every penny you have is going. Have you looked into any budgeting software? I used You Need A Budget. It’s similar to the Dave Ramsey envelope method, but it’s all managed online, making it simpler. The idea is basically that you can only plan for expenses that you have cash on hand to cover. Budgeting only what you have is the only way to start neutralizing your debt!

  • Reply OneFamily |

    I would drop the AFLAC and cancer insurance. As another commenter or two noted, you have medical and auto insurance. At this point you need to minimize your outgoing expenses as much as possible and start getting those cards paid off and an emergency fund built up. $110 a month is a nice chunk of change. Once you are out of debt you can add those extra insurances back.

  • Reply Carina |

    Poshmark is a clothing website/app that you can sell items from your closet on. It’s fairly easy to use and could definitely help you to clean out some items that you can’t return to the store and make some extra money for your debt.

  • Reply Mary |

    What helped me when I wanted to pay off my student loans was constantly reading ‘get out of debt’ blogs. I had bookmarked several that I could relate to and often read their posts. It was very motivational because for one, someone else was on the same journey with the same mindset as me — a mission to pay off debt. And for me, it helped curtail the urge to spend.

    Other people have left good tips and insightful comments. I do hope you take it all to heart and let it stick with you.

  • Reply drmaddog2020 |

    It sounds like you still aren’t sure where your money is coming from and going, given that there seems to be a clear deficit that you can’t explain. Until you figure out your cash flow, I think your success will be limited.

    I don’t think her husband would be much better, since it was the both of them who got into these big ticket purchases after having such a bad financial history. I think you both need accountability partners. Debtors Anonymous may help, or having accountability buddies who are family, friends, church members that you meet and talk with each week could help you. You could reach out to a Consumer Credit Counseling Service (a legit organization, not one of those places you see ads on TV for, you have to be careful not to get scammed).

    Ultimately, with a negative cash flow, you are getting deeper in the hole every month. Consider that if you were able to put $1000 of principle (not payment, but actual principle) per month, it would still take you over 9 years to pay this off. Your budget doesn’t show that you are anywhere near doing that. You guys are going to HAVE to make more money, AND cut your budget but a big hunk to make it.

    Cut a car. Move to a modest 2 bed apartment. Learn to love big bags of beans, rice, oatmeal, eggs, bread/tortillas, peanut butter, jelly, ramen, cheap fruit and veggies, and cooking from home. You have to make major changes or you’ll have more defaults in your future.

  • Reply Shanna |

    Just a thought, what about a weekend job at Starbucks? Super early shift would get you home to have a decent amount of time with your kids, Starbucks has great benefits, including tuition for even part time employees, and it would be super flexible.

  • Reply Reece |

    I was a non-traditional student and went back to college and attained my degree through employer reimbursement. The way it worked for me was, I was responsible for paying my book fees and had to take out loans, then if I received an A or B in the class my company would cut me a reimbursement check. During this time I also had 2 small children. Some things to consider: Gas to and from school unless you do it online, coordination of childcare–if you work and your spouse works and you both try to get overtime, it can get stressful finding someone to watch the kids at the right time. Food–at my house we ate out/got take out/convenience foods more often than I would have liked, because I had to run to class and my husband didn’t like to cook.

    If I could make a suggestion for you it would be to have a 30 day no spend period, and no big financial decisions period. Try to get a handle on your spending by having a low goal for fuel and food, and no eating out or other money leaving the checkbook except for actual bills. I also think the Dave Ramsey FPU course will be a great thing for you; start using the cash envelopes immediately! Snowball $$ and you can get rid of a ton of those little credit cards sooner than you think.

    I am also really glad the admin’s took down the credit card post they had up–completely inappropriate considering your situation, and all of the comments on it were negative. Content like that will chase away all of your longtime readers.

    Would love an Ashley update!!! Please new site owner ?!?

  • Reply xacta |

    i really think you need to redo your budget to include all your expenses including your house insurance and co pays for therapy.

    your house insurance seems awfully low to be good coverage. and it should be broken down to the monthly payment amount. you said that after your house fire that you had a “ton of cash” and that just does not ring true for only renters insurance coverage. after our house fire there was no ton of cash and we were paid for contents and dwelling. even with good coverage it was a real struggle for us to get back on our feet.

    i know that car registrations only occur once a year but they need to be worked into the budget also. it seems that lots of things like this are missing. also how old are your children and how many are still living at home.

    • Reply Lisa |

      I agree. Therapy copays, the quarterly insurance, yearly car registration, Netflix, and any garbage pick up fees if you have them. All of your bills should be added now that you remembered them.

  • Reply LM |

    You need to put your credit cards on ice, literally, in a bowl in the freezer. Use only cash, and only take $75 per week for gas, groceries, etc. Right now all you should be spending out of your wallet is gas and groceries. If it’s not in your budget, it doesn’t get paid. No matter what “perks” your credit cards provide, forget about that. A $75 per week cash budget should work. You seem to be spending entirely too much on food. If you don’t know how to cook frugally, see if there is a Cooking Matters course in your area. https://cookingmatters.org/ They will teach you how to cook nutritious meals for very little money. It sounds like you would qualify for the program.

  • Reply Walnut |

    Great job coming up with that $500 for your emergency fund. If you’re planning to build up a $1000 mini-fund, then I challenge you to come up with the other $500 this weekend by searching for more things to sell. If there is anything new with the tags, return it for credit. Even outside of the return period, most stores will give you the clearance price or store credit.

    A more painful piece of homework would be to start the legwork to figure out how to get rid of your vehicles. Talk to your credit union about your options. Find out where to source a pair of beater vehicles. Stephanie at Six Figures Under has some great posts about the beater vehicles she and her husband have driven and currently drive. Eliminating the vehicle debt and payments will cut your outstanding debt in half and free up enough disposable income to actually make a dent in your credit cards.

So, what do you think ?