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Oh, what a feeling…

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We are finally on the final stages of getting the house ready to go on the market.  There have certainly been times during these two months that I’ve wondered “why me?” but I’ve held on to the fact that in every bump in my life I’ve been able to look back and find the reason.  This experience has taught me so much, not just about money but about selling a house.  I’ve never sold a house before as my only other house I owned was sold as a spousal buy out in my divorce.  Okay, so those are the obvious lessons.

I’ve also learned more about maintaining a home, fixing a home and the big one, having money!  I know that sounds crazy since I’m pouring everything into the house and living.  But for these past months instead of paying debt extras, etc. I’ve been hoarding money for things to do with the house.  Granted I’m tapped out now, but for these last couple of weeks, when I needed to buy something for the house or pay someone for work…I just paid it.  I didn’t have to budget for it, wonder if I had it, etc.

I’ve been living so close to the wire these past years, especially this past year that I’ve been so focused on paying off debt that I rarely could spend money without really thinking it through, thinking what was coming in the next four weeks, etc. So this has definitely inspired me to consider changing out I manage my money, no just after the debt payoff is done, but even maybe some small changes now.

So I’ve been considering a couple of things:

I’ve been inspired by Ashley’s living on last month’s income, but that would take me a few months of no debt pay offs to get far enough ahead and I’m not sure I am willing to do that.

My emergency fund is steadily growing from my part time job so I could use that as my “cushion” but I think I’m better off leaving it be and going back to forgetting it’s there.

I could take a month or so to pad my primary checking account with a few extra hundred.

I’m not sure if any of these will work, but I do know that these weeks have definitely taught me some very valuable lessons on finances and home maintenance and selling.   I will feel so much better when I (and my dad) can have complete closure on this issue.  And even though I no longer carry the financial burden of the house, I certainly feel the responsibility for putting my dad is this situation. The house goes on the market on Saturday…please pray for a quick sale.

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Top 10 Reasons for Divorce

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I’ve always heard that money issues are one of the top reasons for divorce in the US, but when I went looking for statistics about causes for divorce, I had a surprisingly difficult time finding a reputable source to justify this claim.

Sooo, who knows? But, I did find this law office (site here) that provided a Top 10 list of reasons for divorce in America. Don’t know how reputable it is (would have loved to see a Nation-wide survey done by someplace that is not affiliated with making money from divorce….like a Gallop poll or something), but here ya go:

Top 10 Reasons for Divorce in the US  (according to these guys):

10. Boredom

9. Careers

8. Inability to have children

7. Loss of Interest

6. Abuse

5. Lack of communication

4. Addiction Problems

3. Social Networks

2. Cheating

1. MONEY ISSUES

 

So there you have it.

I bring this up because my husband has just come off a 16-day work stint (yes – 16 days in a row with no days off). Right now we are lucky to be in a place financially that money is not a big issue. We have enough to pay all of our bills and put a hefty amount toward debt payments each month. If we really stay nose-to-the-grind, we’ll be debt free in just another 2-3 years! That’s fabulous, right? (especially considering when I started blogging in March 2014 we had almost $150,000 in debt!!!!)

Well, yes. It’s certainly a good thing. We haven’t had an argument about money in a long, long time. We may have disagreements (like, he wants to put more toward savings and I want to put more toward debt), but no actual “fights.”

But you know what we’ve had a couple arguments about lately? Time. I was originally going to title this post “Time versus Money” because those feel like the two options we’re having to select between.

Husband’s business has been crazy busy lately (he owns a small wood flooring business). This is an awesome thing because he could unexpectedly have a solid week off work if a job were to cancel, or there’s subfloor issues that need to be fixed, etc. etc. etc. We can never “count” on the next job so his motto has always been that he must work while there’s work to be had. Things always traditionally slow down around the winter holidays. No one wants someone ripping up their floors and making a mess over Thanksgiving or Christmas, ya know?

So the issue is this:  time or money. What’s more important? I’ve been feeling like a single Mom a lot lately. I do it all: cooking, cleaning, yard work, taking care of the dog, the kids, household chores and errands, etc etc etc. Meanwhile, hubs has been working basically all day, every day. He usually works doing flooring from 7am-4pm, then he might come home for a couple hours, and go back out again in the evening to do bids. Then he comes home and takes time to write up and email out estimates. Plus, the phone calls are incessant. ALL.THE.TIME he gets calls from customers, his employees, the stores he sub-contracts through, etc. It’s endless. So I’ve been feeling a bit neglected and sorry for myself. And when I bring it up, the question is always the same:  Would you rather me work less and make less money???

Phooey.

Knowing that this is not how things will be forever I just grit my teeth and bear it. But it was certainly interesting to see “careers” listed at the #9 reason for divorce. I think this whole time-issue that I bring up could certainly fall under the career category.

Anyway, this is just something I’ve been thinking about as of late and wanted to bring it up.

Between the options of time or money, which would you select and why? I’m sticking to our debt-reduction goals and picking “money” right now, with the knowledge that inevitably we’ll have more time down the road when business slows down a bit. But it still doesn’t make the present very fun!


The Curse

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This is a multi-part series today.  Your best bet is to start at the beginning here before you read the rest.  This is the 4th part of my saga for today, and hopefully I will have a 5th part before the day is over, but it’s content is still unknown and thus we will both be waiting to see what happens.

As I pulled out of my parents driveway at 5:45am with 24 hours of driving and 4 overnights with friends on the way home, my brain was racing.  I had six weeks to not only continue my regular job, work my part time job, start the kids homeschool year and begin the new fall school schedule of activities as a single parent, I must now find a new place to live, purge even more of our belongings, pack our belongings and get us moved.  And that didn’t take into consideration the additional monies I would need to move and get into a new place.  Can you feel my overwhelmedness?  (Is that a word?)

So I drove and I turned things over in my brain…for hours on end as I faced the open road and the kids slept on.

And once we came to a stopping point, I began an urgent search for housing…housing that was affordable.  Housing that would accommodate 5 people.  Housing that would accommodate 3 dogs and 1 cat.  Screech….did your mind come to a screeching halt with that last one?  It should have.  I don’t know how long it’s been since you rented but finding a place that will take 1 animal is hard, finding one that will take 4.  Well…you’re probably able to calculate my odds now.

I didn’t sleep.  I tossed and turned.  I cried (quietly so the kids wouldn’t hear.) I felt like such a failure. How could I have made such bad financial decisions that we ended up in this mess.  And it’s just me.  Just me.

By the wee hours of the next morning, I was desolate and desperate.  I emailed my dad and asked him to reconsider, asking him to at least give us through Christmas, telling him of all my obligations.

The silence over the next few days from that email was deafening.  But the kids and I continued along our trek home and every free moment that I wasn’t driving or trying to keep a brave face and be present for my kids and friends or falling into fitful cat naps I searched for somewhere to go.

I had such great support from my friends during this time.  They expressed the appropriate amount of anger on my behalf while being respectful that this was my dad and it was not meant to harm me. And then they got behind me and starting searching with me.  Offering housing if needed, money if needed and just a ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on.

We arrived home 4 nights later and that email had still not been replied too.  I was cautiously optimistic.  I had finally broken down to call him expressing that I felt like I had a ticking time bomb hanging over my head and every second counted.  He said he would talk to me when we were settled at home again.  I called him as soon as we had unloaded the car. He was on his way out.

Several hours later, he called me back and gave a lengthy explanation and then final answer of No, he would not reconsider.  I was devastated and felt cursed.

And with that, I gave myself a few minutes to cry and then I arose to tell the kids. So Sunday night about 11pm our world got turned upside down as I told the kids that we have 6 weeks to find a place to go.

There were tears, there was stoicism and there were questions.  And with all that being said and done I made two promises to the kids that I would do everything in my power to keep us all together…people, dogs and cat and that we would finish this school year here with all their activities and friends and plans.

My daughter ended the discussions of the night looking around and saying “It feels like we are on TV.  You know like now that we have heard this curse, someone is going to jump out and tell us that we are going to be on Extreme Home Makeover or something.”  Oh, how I wish that was true, but even moreso I’m grateful that if I have to go through this really hard process I have the most wonderful children to go through it with.  I know that what feels like a curse right now could truly turn into a blessing, so stay tuned to see what has happened since Sunday night with this time clock ticking.


The Ultimatum

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This is the 3rd of what I hope will be a 4 part installment today.  You can read the second installment here where I described by reasoning for not buying my home.

Continuing on my dad and my conversation from my last day in Texas….

I’d love to report back that he was impressed by how much I had thought things through with my plan for finishing out the school year here while putting the house on the market next spring.  I’d love to say he jumped on board, supportive every step of the way.

He didn’t and he wasn’t and he isn’t.

I can’t presume to know what he was thinking or feeling. And I won’t repeat much of the conversation as it was private and not just my story to tell.

But what I can say is that with his credit on the line (since the house in financed in his name,) and the refinance looming just over a year from now, he was not willing to wait until next spring to put it on the market.

And we both agreed that getting a house ready to sale with the 5 of us living, working and schooling here, not to mention the 3 dogs and a cat…well, that’s really impractical and maybe impossible.

Writing this it makes it seem like it was so civil and clear.  It was not, I cried, he cried, we both fought for what we believed was right from our own perspectives and positions.

In the end, as is his right, he gave me an ultimatum…we are to be out of the house by October 1. And that is where things stood as we finished our time in Texas and began our trip home.

Turns out as I finish this 3rd installment, that there will in fact be 5 parts to this story, and even now at 12am this morning as I’m finishing this one, the 5th one’s content is not known to me, but the 4th…well, that I do know so stay tuned this afternoon.


The Best Laid Plans

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To sum up what’s happened in the last two weeks I offer this quote: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”

In actuality so much has happened in just the past week that I cannot wrap my mind around putting it out there succinctly.  So today you will be getting a multi-part story broken up into bite size pieces so we are all on the same page on what’s coming next.  And all this while I’m still trying to figure out what comes next.  So here goes…

I went to Texas. I had a great visit with my family, saw all four of my siblings and my nephew.  It was a eleven day stay.  On the morning of the 10th day, my dad and I took the time to talk.

I started with an apology for my financial position, owning all of the decisions which have led me to this place.

I thanked him for his selfless generosity in helping me get into a home four years ago when our lives were in such chaos. (You can read that story here.)

And then I told him my decision to NOT buy the house from him.

And then I told him my plan to live here through Christmas as we have been, and then do everything needed to get the house on the market for the spring.

You can probably tell from the opening of this post, that my plans definitely did not meet with his plans, but before I spell all that out later today stay tuned for the next post going up in a couple of hours that lays out my decision to buy my home.


What did you accomplish?

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I gave myself a financial task list last week to prepare for my impending departure (tomorrow!) Nothing got done. Rather, nothing got completely done.

I feel like my gazelle like intensity has come to a grinding halt, and has been there for a while now. And for a few weeks, I couldn’t seem to function because of it, just felt too overwhelmed.  Well, I’m happy to report that this is not the case now.

I made baby steps towards all of these goals. And I feel good about where I leave them as I head out of town.  But with that in mind, I’ve already got a long task list to accomplish once I return.

So here are some updates for you…

  1. The trip – housing will cost a big, fat $0 – woohoo for the entire 2 week, 4 day trip.  The route is planned, the food is planned.
  2. The jewelry – I’ve registered with a site, but because of timing I didn’t want to start the process and not be here to finish it, so the listings will actually go up on my return.
  3. Side jobs – I completed one of the side jobs and now await payment, the other one I will need to work on while I’m traveling.
  4. Purge – Whoa, mama!  I have made some serious progress here with large piles going to donation centers today, trash going out tomorrow and items all ready to list for sale on my return.
  5. Fall plans – I haven’t really had time to spend on this one, but it’s something else I can do while on the road.  All that drive time, gives me lots of “in my head” time so I should return with lots of things worked out, at least in my head.

In addition, I have been so blessed with a week long visit from my friend (and her children) who is a great sounding board for me as I work out BIG financial decisions in my head and subsequently head to Texas where my dad and I will have serious conversations about my housing situation and near future of that.  I am EXTREMELY stressed out about my options and these discussions with my dad so if you pray, please pray for me to be open and willing to listen as well as capable of making good sound decisions for my family’s future. And help me not to cry, that always just gets in the way, and I cry really easily.


Prices are a’rising

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This is nothing new. Happens every year, am I right? You get the letter from (insert name here) and you discover that the prices are rising.

I just got this letter from 2 different companies.

The first is my water company. They instituted a price-increase that was effective July 1st (thanks for letting me know after-the-fact). Since this is a basic utility and we only have one service provider to choose from, there’s nothing I can do about the price aside from simply trying to conserve (which is difficult in summer since it seems like grass and plants need extra water in order to survive the terrible death-heat in Tucson).

The second letter was from our cable company. All of the rates are being raised across the board. When I first started blogging this was one area that everyone said we should cut entirely but I stood my ground that we were going to hang onto our cable. This is mostly for my husband’s sake (he’s the real cable-watcher in the family), but I also mentioned that the price wasn’t too bad when you consider that internet, alone, was costing us $55/month and our combined package (cable & internet) cost $85/month, so it was really only an extra $30/month. Not a big price to pay for the marital happiness. But now we’re looking at closer to $95/month. And, on principle, the price-hike makes me angry.

I called the company, 100% certain that if I called and complained they’d surely lower my rate. This is standard practice, right?

Apparently I was WRONG.

Not only will they absolutely not touch my price, but I was also informed that my personal price is about to get a huge hike because we were locked into some 1-year promotional package that expires the end of this month. Come August, we’ll actually be looking at a price of $115 (not $95. If this is confusing – as it was for me – the “promo” price was being raised to $95, but my promo was set to expire so I’d be getting the “normal” price of $115).

Shut the front door.

So suddenly the $85 that I was barely okay with paying is about to morph into $115. I just can’t swallow that type of bill.

I talked to my husband about it and – sigh – the man really, really, really wants to keep his cable.

So what should I do? Here are what I feel my options are:

  1. Say “too bad” to the hubs, cancel our cable, and go to war with each other over the issue.
  2. Cancel with our current provider and try to find a new provider (although, the only other service provider in our area requires an initiation fee, a 2-year contract and only does TV so I’ll have to pay through a separate company for internet, eliminating any “bundle” savings)
  3. Try to go into the cable office to talk to someone face-to-face and see if that will make a difference in trying to get a reduced bill.

For obvious reasons related to marital happiness, I would like to avoid option #1. My preference would be to stay with our current provider simply because it would be the easiest option of all. But I also can’t stomach paying $115/month, so I could only do it if I somehow talk them into giving me a price-break (which, the customer service rep on the phone made seem like would NOT be happening. Period.) We’re also renters and currently have cable (Comcast/Xfinity), so if we have to switch to a dish provider, I’d have to talk to our landlord regarding whether we could even mount a dish somewhere.

I know the popular option is going to be canceling our cable all together. I totally agree that this is the most cost-effective and obvious choice for a couple trying to get rid of their debt. But let’s also take the marital relationship into consideration.

Update: I wrote this on Sunday and today I called (again) to try to get my bill lowered. Lo and behold, apparently it all depends who you speak to because last time the woman swore up and down there was nothing she could do. This time the guy knocked a flat $5 off my bill (from the monthly cable box fee) and said he would lock in a rate (no contract required) for $89 after our current promotional rate ends (side note: apparently our promo rate is actually $79, but with taxes and such it amounts to about $85….so I’m assuming the $89 rate will come out to closer to $95ish). It’s still more than I want to pay, but much better than the $115 (before taxes & fees) we were looking at. So I guess I’m happy with the situation and it looks like I won’t have to be switching cable providers.

What do you do if you and your spouse/partner disagree about finances? How do you settle things?

This is an area I would tend to “pick my battles” and let my husband win simply because it clearly means a lot to him. Also, we rarely (if ever) go out – can’t remember our last date, trip to a movie, etc. So this is one of our only paid forms of entertainment (we also get a Redbox probably once or twice a month). Still…..I know its not a popular idea to keep cable when you’re trying to cut expenses and pay down debt. What are your experiences with balancing cutting expenses and keeping a partner happy???


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