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My Amazon Debt is GONE!!!

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My Amazon Debt is gone!!!  I moved the payment date up to today. I couldn’t resist. As of today, my Amazon line of credit is GONE! Paid in full.

amazon balance screenshot

Doing a happy dance over here and breathing a deep sigh as I set my sights on my other immediate goals.

New Budget = More Work

I spent a lot of time this weekend working on a new budget since I have voluntarily taken a temporary cut in pay. And I hate to say it, but we cannot maintain our current life without those addition hours or an equal amount of income. I am on the project hunt, applying through Guru.com and reaching out to past and current clients who might have some project work they need done.  I know from past experience I can either get really busy this time of year with one off projects or it will be really dry. Please send up a prayer for me.

New Sport = New Expense

Before I say this, I will admit, I am crazy and obsessed with providing my kids with every opportunity.  I get enough flack for that, so don’t think you have to tell me too (my attempt to stave off the whiplash I believe will come with this news.)  Princess recently tried out for a competitive volleyball team. She made it!  This team costs $1000 for the season. The fee includes all uniforms, tournament fees, training and so on. I reached out to her dad for financial assistance, we will see if he comes through.

Conclusion

I have one less monthly debt payment, and I plan to keep it that way – yeah!!!

I have a larger than manageable gap in my budget due to the cut in my regular 1099 hours.

I have a new substantial bill for the next few months ($300 due this week and then $175 monthly for the next 4 months.)

I’ve got my work cut out for me. And I would love some suggestions, specifically regarding making up the income as I really do not see anywhere I can cut in my budget, although I am still evaluating that.

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Hope

Follow a single mom's journey to be DEBT FREE while managing this crazy life's conflicted choices with regards to kids, pets, homeschooling days and self-employment!
The sorrow and joys of this roller-coaster overwhelm her at times, but she is committed to this course.
Hope plans to dig out of debt using any resource possible including her small business EPOH, her blog and any other resource that comes to mind!

Latest posts by Hope (see all)


81 Comments

  • Reply Klm |

    Ugh, sports are so expensive. Is there a way to compromise here? I know you want to give your kids every opportunity but $1000 seems like a lot. Can part of the fee be a Christmas present from you? Can you ask relatives to contribute to this rather than send a present? Can Princess contribute even a little bit through odd jobs?

    • Reply Hope |

      Since I pay for Gymnasts sport, I don’t think it would be fair to ask her to pay. In a couple of years, when she can get a real job, I will not hesitate, but I think at 13 we are still in the “child” phase. I have asked her dad to help and will explore other options. Gymnast gym just did a fundraiser where he raised $260 for his team. I will ask this team if they do any fundraising.

  • Reply Ruby |

    First, congratulations on paying off the Amazon loan! That’s a great start.
    Now, I really hope that you will take my post in the spirit that it is intended. I am concerned and wish the best for you and your family. I really think you are taking too much on. I didn’t comment on your summer camp post, but I feel like this is a pattern. The summer camp expense is already expensive on its own, and you are still paying it off, as well as the new computers. Now you have taken on a new big expense at a time when you are facing lower income. I wonder if part of you realizes these are not wise decisions, which is why you post about them after the fact and when they are a done deal. I realize that these are all expenses for your children, which are obviously the most important thing to you. I wonder if some of these expenses are out of guilt – first that you are no longer home spending time with them and homeschooling them, and second because of all the cutting back you’ve done at different periods. I understand that they will only ever be this age once, and you can’t get that time back, but that’s the truth for every age. The most important things you can provide your children are food, shelter, clothing, education, and love. The other activities and gadgets are extra. Very enjoyable sure, but not worth going into debt for and putting the other things in jeopardy. I wonder if you total up your expenditures on your children, above and beyond the bare necessities, what that number would be lately. When I was younger, I wanted so much to have riding lessons. I never got them. Now that I am an adult with disposable income, I have toyed with the idea of taking lessons. But I never have, because there are more important things I value to spend my money on. These are not the last opportunities for your children. Princess can go to college and join their volleyball team. I have many adult friends who play in competitive or even pick up volleyball teams, many who never played as children except occasionally in gym class.
    These are all thoughts and questions I hope you will consider. If I made assumptions that are wrong, I apologize. I won’t say get rid of this or that, because these are decisions only you can make, according to your own values. However, you cannot get out of debt if you spend more than you make. Spending on your children is the easiest and most understandable justification you can make, but providing security is also so important. When I was younger, I was scared that we were not financially well off. I’m not even sure where I picked up on that, but I did, and it terrified me. Your children have been through so much lately. It is my opinion that they need to know that they are being guarded from losing their home, more than extras. Hope, I know your heart is in the right place, and I’m sure your kids will know that too, no matter what you decide.

    • Reply Kate |

      I am 100% with Ruby. My whole relationship with my mother is strained by the feeling of not having financial security. It was different than just being poor, we actually weren’t that poor, but a feeling of her being out of control. Luckily my dad was able to separate his finances even though they stayed married and pay for the house, the cars, etc. but oh how I wish she had said no sometimes.

      • Reply Hope |

        I would say I am more of “control freak” then out of control. I live by my finance spreadsheet that shows my forecast out 6 months at all times. This cut in pay has been a bigger hit than expected, but I am definitely not a “out of control” spender.

        Yes, cutting the kids expenses would be the most logical route to make up the drop on paper, but psychologically, I don’t think so. Forcing them into even more isolation, no physical outlets and really limited opportunities in our small town. I think finding a way to maintain these financial obligations at this time, in this situation is best when I look at both sides.

        • Reply Redgem |

          Your finances can still be out of control even if you track them with spreadsheets. I track my expenses with YNAB and I regularly go over budget on restaurants or make impulsive splurge purchases. I wish I was more disciplined.

          • Malady |

            Hope I think you are trying really hard, but I have to say, if you have budget spreadsheets that are set out to 6 months in advance, then why and how were you blindsided by the impact of the reduction in your earnings?

            I understood from your post about this that you actually *chose* to be one of the first to take an hours cut. And now you’re scrambling for more work to cover the gap you have as a result of that decision AND this additional expense. It just doesn’t make sense.

            I’m terrible at managing my money too, and realising that the first step is to be really honest about my choices. Sometimes they are bad. But it doesn’t help me to pretend otherwise.

          • Hope |

            Hi Malady,
            I don’t guess it’s blindsided as much as it’s not being comfortable with the income loss as I expected to be. I just don’t have as much wiggle room especially when I look at my debt pay off goals.
            The change has definitely given me a lot of time to think about the next step. And I can see how it doesn’t make sense. It’s hard to put all the pieces on a couple of posts a week.

  • Reply Lyndsey |

    Agree with the previous comment. I thing you are role-modeling some pretty bad decision making, actually. Nobody in life gets to take advantage of every opportunity. There are trade-offs, and sometimes circumstances mean the trade-offs are necessities and a more secure financial future over extras. Kids need stability, security and consistency in their daily lives over anything else. Your choices, whether you realize it or not, put that at risk. We know you don’t want to hear that through, do carry on.

    • Reply Hope |

      I guess I don’t understand this. I’ve almost reached my $10K in savings goal. All our bills are paid on time. We have a freezer and pantry full of food at all times. Do the kids participating in sports slow down debt payment a bit, yes. But I am actively paying off debt, ie this post.

      Both the sports are a road to a collegiate scholarship, and both these kids are capable of playing at that level if they continue. I don’t know what the “pretty bad” decisions are. Our lives are very stable.

      • Reply Jess |

        Hope, with all due respect your lives are far from ‘stable’ you were homeless. You had to give up your beloved pets. You haven’t been out of that situation for that long. Yes, you have a decent nest egg, but a little slip could put you right back where you were in no time at all. I admire that you want the best for your kids, but your kids just want YOU. Just be cautious – don’t go throwing money around like it’s unlimited

      • Reply Jen From Boston |

        I would be VERY careful about thinking they will get college scholarships. Please don’t be like those Hockey Parents who think their kid will get the hockey scholarship to Harvard or BU or Minnesota. You might as well think they’ll make it to the pros or the Olympics.

        As far as your lives being stable – I beg to differ. It seems stable now, but you JUST moved to a new town. Last year you lived in a camper. Before that you lived in a cramped apartment. I’m sorry, but that is not a stable life.

        • Reply Hope |

          As someone who moved 18 times before I was 18, living in different environments does not scream “unstable.” I had the same job/client for 10 years, and within 3 months had another steady client (still working for them.) Were our living situations ideal, absolutely not. But they were stable. We always planned the moves, packed for the moves and knew where we were going.

          I’m not trying to be defensive but so many commenters are throwing around the word homeless like we were living on the streets or in our car or in a shelter. That is not the case. My kids have never gone without a meal, have never gone without shelter and never once wondered where we were going to live. There has always been a plan.

          • Yolanda |

            Hope, YOU are the one that used the word homeless first.

            “Yea, just a few days before Christmas we became officially homeless.” from the archives.

          • xacta |

            as a kid i had a very unstable life and i don’t believe that you could know each and every one of your children’s deepest fears. knowing that you are the only source of support i can see that they would not want to put additional pressure on you. but to say that they never even once wondered where they would go next is just not believable. when that camper was no longer available for your to use there was no plan in place already and all this comes from reading your own words. you can spin it any way you want now but we all see it for what it really was.

          • Hope |

            My knowledge of our living conditions and their knowledge was completely different. There are some burdens a child does not need to carry. Suffice it to say, the kids never knew the extent of the issues.

  • Reply Julie |

    In one of your recent posts you were talking about how you needed to spend more time with your kids so taking the hours cut was going to help you with that. Kids need time with their parents not more time away from their parents in my opinion. You can’t make up for a lack of time investment with extra gadgets and activities. I know there is one thing I will never regret and that is the time I give my children in the present. They are only children for so long. I agree with the other posters about all these extra expenses. Sometimes kids need to hear no anyway. I would be way more worried about building up a savings in case of future emergencies. Having money for necessities in times of unplanned emergencies is far more important than instant gratification in all these expensive activities. Sorry to sound harsh but it seems like Everytime you are taking a step forward your immediately taking 2 steps back. Best of luck to you.

    • Reply Angie |

      I’m torn. I don’t think Hope’s kids have much in the way of fancy gadgets or experiences. I’m also sure they have heard no plenty over the past few years and delayed gratification is well known to them. In this aspect I bet they are way more prepared for life than most teenagers! Hope has been teaching them to have grit. Maybe all the choices aren’t well though through, but there’s been a lot of upheaval and big life changes. Hope is still trying to find some balance. Yes, I think the costs of the activities are adding up to a pretty price tag and maybe need some reevaluating. But Hope has diligently added to her emergency fund on the DL and does have some money to fall back on.

    • Reply Hope |

      Believe me, my kids do not have any toys or gadgets. Their computers are used for school work only.
      While, yes, I want to spend more time with the kids. They want to spend less time at home, since they are there all day every day while I’m at work. This activity is a great compromise, gets her out of the house 2-3 evenings a week. We spend 2 hours in the car going there and back so we have lots of talk time.
      I am the first to admit, it is not ideal, the cost and the distance, but right now, it’s what we’ve got. Thank you for your feedback though. I’m definitely working to make better decisions while balancing my kids lives.

  • Reply Laura |

    Does it have to be $1000 competitive volleyball? Does your local schools or parks and rec department have something that would be cheaper? You should be looking for ways to save money not new expenses.

    • Reply Hope |

      Unfortunately, the tiny town we live in does not offer either volleyball or basketball through their parks and rec department. One county over (the opposite direction we go to gymnastics) does and we tried that this past spring but I could not get everyone everywhere, especially since they were an hour and a half away. At least this way, all the sports (practices) are in the same city and state, literally a couple of miles from each other. Logistically, it is the best option I’ve been able to find.

  • Reply Angie |

    I accidentally posted on the wrong post.

    I admire how you are continually looking for ways for your children to socialize since they are homeschooled. Is there any way you can get them into the local public schools sports team instead of a separate competitive one? I thought if you were within the district lines that homeschooled kids still had access to these “extras”. I’m not positive but I hope you’ve done your due diligence to go down that path. Yes, I realize there are still extra competition costs even with the school teams but it should be less than competitive teams.

    • Reply Hope |

      If we move to SC, that will definitely be an option. Unfortunately, after checking with the closest four counties participating in the extra-curriculars or even as part time students is hands down not an option. Long term…moving to SC may be an option. It is where both kids sports are. But I cannot think about another move right now.

  • Reply Casey |

    Hope…Have you looked into teaching with VIPKids? The hours should work with your schedule and you can pick up more or less students based on your needs.

  • Reply Shanna |

    $1000 is actually not bad for comp volleyball, BUT it is only the tip of the iceberg. There will be tournament fees, hotel fees, dining costs (you are usually required to take turns providing food for the team), parents pay the coaches costs (either up front or after the fact), parking fees, gas, etc. My children have been recruited to play college sports, at 13 the superstars are very different than what shakes down at 18. They may be really exceptionally good at what they do but you can never count on a college scholarship for sports as a given. Division 1 sports are the only ones that pay actual sports money, and volleyball is only allowed 8 scholarships per team (they can split them up though). Additionally as a heads up, do not ever pay any person or entity to package your kid for a sports scholarship or join a website you have to pay for to get your child recruited. Your best bet is to do your homework on how the recruiting process works, what the markers for the sport are (Div 1 volleyball girls average over 6 feet tall unless they are a libero, etc), and tape all her games starting her second year in high school. I agree with Ruby, you are getting ahead of yourself. It is awesome you paid off the Amazon but you need to have enough saved to keep it from getting back up there. I do so wish you success and am always rooting for you, as a reader though, I think we see red flags and patterns that you don’t or that you are able to rationalize.

    • Reply Lucy |

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. My niece was on a swim team and there was always something extra that needed to be paid. Additionally, even the cost of gas going back and forth to practices can become burdensome.

      • Reply Hope |

        I am definitely familiar with the “cost creep” of competitive sports after 6 years in it with Gymnast. I have learned all sorts of tips and tricks for keep the costs under control, maybe a great subject for a new post.

        The good thing about this team is that it within 2 miles of the gymnastic’s gym, so the gas price was already in my budget.

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi Shanna,
      Those are great tips! And in reality, I don’t think about the college aspect of sports often. Gymnast does, but Princes is all about the brains. Thank you for your thoughtful, fact filled response. I am definitely seeing the “red flags” right now when I look at each line item in my budget with the thought of cuts. I definitely need to balance my budget a bit more, it’s definitely “kid heavy.”

  • Reply Jayp |

    We do competitive soccer. We love it but the previous post is correct. There are a lot of travel expenses, extra fees etc. Away games mean restaurant expenses, gas, and uniforms. Just make sure you know ahead what the totals will be. Our $1000 will most likely be around $2000 all in. Helps to carpool.

    • Reply Hope |

      Understood, after 6 years with competitive gymnastics, I am familiar with the “cost creep” but am also very well versed on tips and tricks to minimize those costs.

  • Reply SAK |

    I think the confusing part for me is that you just took a cut in hours at a client to spend more time with the kids, made a new expensive commitment and now are looking to pick up more work. Sounds like you would have lost hours regardless at the one gig but this makes my head spin.

    I hope this all works out but do try to focus on stability for the kids. And maybe it is time to revisit the idea of homeschooling vs public school..

    • Reply Hope |

      The cut is hours has been SO GREAT! The stress level has gone down significantly.
      I am going to have to explain more about additional work, but that is for another post.

  • Reply cwaltz |

    I don’t want to comment too much without a full picture. Your last monthly budget said you collected $6662 in income and spent $6063 each month. That gave you a $599 cushion each month. You announced in your decrease of work hours(and I think 70 hours a week is unsustainable so YES I saw this as warranted) that you were looking at a reduction of $800 monthly. That puts you at a DEFICIT of $200 a month with the expenses you already have. You are now ADDING an expense at a time where you may be looking at a budget with not only no cushion but a deficit. You have a $10,000 cushion. The question you need to ask yourself is how important is that cushion? If Volleyball turns out to be as expensive as gymnastics then you could be facing a $500 deficit in your budget per month(based on $300 expense with already $200 deficit). That hard work you put in to create financial security for problems such as a layoff with your large EF could be eaten up pretty quickly with a budget hole that size(in a year of reductions you would be looking at only having $4000 of that fund left or in other terms less than a month’s worth of expenses.)

    I’m not going to tell you what to prioritize because ultimately people do what they want to do anyway but you should run the numbers very carefully and keep in mind that their can only be one priorty-children’s recreation or financial cushion. Choose carefully.

    With your decrease in pay my suggestion would also be to pay off that computer to free up the $85 a month to add to the $25 in amazon savings (This would lower your cushion to $7000 or a little over a month in expenses) . That gives you $110 of your present $200 deficit. You would then need to just pay the $310 on your car to close the budget gap you have as it stands with an $800 decrease in income.

    I’d also brainstorm if there is a way to decrease gymnast’s expenses to give volleyball some of that $350 you are spending monthly on that form of recreation for one kid. It doesn’t seem fair to me that one kid would get that much income dedicated to their recreation while the other gets told “sorry we don’t have the money for YOU to compete.” And let’s face it with the decrease in income you really don’t have the money for her to compete

    • Reply Hope |

      cwaltz,
      Thank you for your very thoughtful and researched response. I think a large part of my commitment to this is that Princess has been on the back burner for a number of years as Gymnast schedule took over or lives. This was not a “on a whim” commitment. I searched for teams that logistically made sense as far as our double state schedule goes. I looked for teams that were reputable. And I was blessed to find one just 2 miles from Gymnast’ gym, definitely providential. And if you could have seen Princess the weekend after try outs on pins and needles waiting to hear if she made it…well, she wants this like nothing I’ve ever seen.

      I’m getting close with a new budget, and really value all the thoughtful evaluation.

  • Reply Erin |

    I completely understand the desire to provide your kids with everything. I’m a single mom too and my kid goes to an obscenely expensive private school, swims, and plays travel hockey. If he didn’t do those things, I would be able to pay off all my debt in a year. But, I have other priorities and I’m ok with that.

    Some things I think you need to consider.

    1. Public school – bottom line, being home alone 40++ hours a week just isn’t a great situation. Kids need real life friends. Even if the schools are crappy in your area, attending can give your kids a lot of positive benefits. Plus, kids with educated, involved parents do well regardless of a school’s ranking. (I know you will have 8 million reasons why this is a bad idea. I’m just saying consider it. No, your kids probably won’t love the idea, but sometimes kids need a push and end up discovering something is very different from their expectations.)

    2. Don’t talk yourself into paying for expensive sports for the elusive college scholarship. Putting the money you are spending on sports each year into a Roth IRA or some other investment account, will almost definitely end up with more $ than the potential scholarship. I think there is lots of value to playing sports and I pony up the money for them. But, I have zero expectations of any future financial benefit from his playing.

    3. Travel sports are way more expensive than that initial fee. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m just saying be realistic about the costs. For example, my son plays hockey. The team fee is 2k. Jerseys, socks, warmups another $250. Gear will probably end up being $200ish this year and that’s only because he hasn’t outgrown much of anything. He just needs gloves, skates, and mouth guards. And then there’s the travel costs. He just had a tournament about 400 miles away and the total for hotel, food, gas, etc was over $700 and that was just for 2 people. We will be out of town at least 8 weekends in the next 4 months. Most of those trips will only be 1 night in a hotel and much cheaper. So probably around $250 each. Plus another large tournament. His 2k team will actually cost close to 6k. And that’s just for the travel season (Sept-March). There are fees for Spring skills, power skating, summer rec league, fall skills. It is never ending.

    You make a significant amount of money and I think you can find ways to pay for the things that are important to you. I wish you the best!

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi Erin,

      Nice to hear from another single mom who values the benefits of kids in sports. I am in the process of evaluating some school alternatives, in fact, I attempted to work out part time student access this fall but was flat out denied and I was not ready to consider anything else.

      The problem with public school is that there is no way Gymnast would make it to his practices on times since school gets out 15 minutes after we need to be on the road. It is a challenge. But I know he would enjoy the social aspect. Anyways, more to come on school, but for right now we are continuing with the status quo.

      As for the costs of travel sports, I am WELL AWARE of them as we travelled and pay those extra costs for Gymnast for 6 years now. I have also learned how to minimize them with shared rooms, credit card points, taking food from home and sometimes losing sleep to drive up and back on the same day as the competition.

      I am going into this new sports committment eyes wide open. And despite the financial implications, I KNOW Princess needs this in her life. She has been on the “back burner” as far as extra curriculars goes for so long as Gymnast kind of took over our schedules. I will do what I need to give this to her and we will see where it goes.

    • Reply Laura |

      I agree with this. The public school would also give the kids the socialization Hope says they need camp and sports for. She could skip camp if they were in school. Something could probably be worked out for the 15 minutes gymnast needs to leave early.

    • Reply Hope |

      No, I quickly cut it down to 10% and have recently cut it back to 6% – I just want to make sure I am taking full advantage of the company match.

  • Reply Walnut |

    Props on paying off your Amazon debt. I would love to know if you have a long term plan of not needing to rely on all your jobs that make ends meet. A key part of getting there would be to permanently pay off some debts to remove those monthly obligations. You’ll also need to continue to be creative about reducing your ongoing monthly spend, such as the Verizon bill.

  • Reply Lizzy |

    Congrats on paying off the Amazon debt.

    I think sports teams have a lot of intrinsic benefits, ie, learning to be part of a team, positive body image, good health, friendships, etc.

    • Reply Hope |

      Yes, yes, yes – I think alot of people forget about all these benefits and focus on the $$, not that you don’t have to find balance. But the intrinsic benefits are definitely the driving force for kids in sports to me.

  • Reply Sarah |

    Hope, I’m torn about this, too. I have been rooting for you since you started writing about your journey here and I’ve cheered you on as you overcame some pretty awful situations. I really do understand the desire to let your daughter compete on this volleyball team. But every time you mention one of these activities, you cite your children’s loneliness and isolation as a reason. And who can argue that? They are left alone while you work full time outside the home. I don’t know how you are effectively homeschooling while working 70 plus hours a week. I have homeschooled a child and I know the time commitment it takes. I understand your desire to homeschool, but I also know that we have to constantly reevaluate our children’s needs. My child went to a traditional classroom when it was clear he was ready for that type of interaction. From your comments, your children are craving interaction with their peers – or anyone – during the long hours they are home alone during the week. Your solution is to compensate with nighttime sports activities. I would encourage you to please consider public school for your sweet children. Like the above poster said, children with a solid home situation will thrive wherever they are placed. Many people feel led to private schools, but are unable to afford them. There is no perfect answer, but we have to look at the big picture and find a fit that works for our own situation. You need to find balance and you don’t seem to have found that. I sincerely hope you will.

    • Reply Hope |

      Sarah,
      I am in the process of evaluating alternate schooling options for both kids. More on that later…
      I always want whats best for my children. Public, private or homeschooled, they are the focus, nothing else.
      Right now, the sports are the best alternative and the desired route for both kids.
      And Princess has waited for this for a long time.
      I appreciate your perspective, truly and do know that they will thrive wherever they go.

  • Reply debtor |

    Personally, I am confused.
    Reading your posts and then your responses to people’s comments, this is what I get.

    H: Help me/ I need advice
    R: This is not a good idea because A/B/C
    H: Actually, I considered all that and it is a good idea because a/b/c and we’re actually in a good place.

    That’s gross simplification but what I think is that you’re holding back Hope. People offer advice based on what you write and then you come back with additional information that was not shared that makes the choice okay. For example, now you are saying that you are an “overplanner, control freak with finances” and you have a budget 6 months out. How does an overplanner end up in some of the situations you have?
    People say, don’t make rash decisions about your kids activities – you say actually, it’s been something you have been thinking about for a while. If so, why are you scrambling now to find a way to pay for it?
    I don’t know what it is, but something always seems not to add up and I can’t put my finger on it. It’s kind of like how you went from being homeless and trying to sell everything to having 10K in the bank almost overnight. I have no kids and it’ll take me a lot longer than that!

    All this to say, I just don’t feel you are being super transparent about everything which of course is your right. Just know that as a reader, it can get super frustrating to try and give advice and then get a ton of “Reasons” back that were not formerly known.

    I think you should do more budget posts that include actual spending and not plans and more debt updates.

    With regard to your kids, definitely debt payoff might not be #1 priority for you as a mom but keep in mind what someone said upthread- “they’ll only be that age applies to all ages”. I think it’s okay to want them to have certain experiences but there has to be a line somewhere. I think in general, people need to be more comfortable with “i can’t afford it”. Every good experience is actually not a right.

    When they go to college, there’ll be tons of experiences that will probably help them in the long run – semester abroad, sports etc but you might not be able to take advantage of all of them.

    anyway, let me stop rambling and I hope you think about what I said with regard to transparency – it might help you understand where some of the comments come from.

    Finally, I really do think you should spend some time looking for a good adult friend/mentor. It would definitely help to run things past another perspective BEFORE you make decisions!

    All the best

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi Debtor,
      I can certainly appreciate your perspective, and recognize the “lack of transparency” issue being an issue right now. With just posting a couple of time a week, it’s hard to put everything going on in my life out there in 300 or so words. I think that’s what brings on the lack of transparency. There are a lot of moving parts and no, I do not share everything all the time.
      I will try to be more complete with my posts.

      As for my savings, that was my #1 goal when I got this job, so I have been adamant about saving 10% of EVERYTHING and not touching it at all. The first thing I do when I get any income is put 10% away in an account I don’t look at and don’t touch. After 7 months of that, my first goal of $10K is in sight. It would have been much harder to do this if we hadn’t had the experience we’ve had. But now I don’t even think about it. And that money is not on the table for anything, which I know has caused some conflict, but that savings is very important to me after our experiences.

      I did try the weekly budget posts, but they didn’t seem to get much traction, thus I stopped. I was posting every Friday for the next week. And now I’m rambling. I hope this clears up a few things. I appreciate your perspective and am listening ear wide open.

  • Reply Constance |

    I really agree with Erin. Seriously think about letting your kids go to public school for the social experience. Continue to homeschool as supplementation. Kids need to learn how society works. They can’t do that in the vacuum of homeschooling. And you do them no favors if they hit the world with no knowledge of that world. Naïveté gets more kids in trouble than anything and I know whereof I speak. I also agree that them being home alone 40+ hours a week is not good at all. Think about it Hope. Even if they need a push, in the long term you want well rounded adults able to fully function in the outside world that we all live in. Don’t cripple them with a narrow, constricted view of that world shaped only by your point of view.

    • Reply Hope |

      Constance,
      While I appreciate your perspective and am addressing the school issue in another post. I need to correct a couple of fallacies.

      First, if you take into account that my kids do not get up until 10am every day (we do school together until 10-11pm every night), they are only home “alone” for 20 hours a week, as I head home at 2pm. (My day starts at 5am to make this work.) They have online classes during this time and do what would be the equivalent of “homework.”

      Second, up until this last year, my kids attended a homeschool co op which operates very much like a school with teachers and clasess and grades and rules, etc. Most parents stay and were very involved, I dropped my kids off for 4-6 hours depending on their classes and used the time to work. So they are by no means naive or sheltered. I grew up VERY sheltered and failed miserably my first few years out as a result, that will not be my kids. They are VERY ready for the real world in every sense.

      I appreciate your perspective and even agree to some extent that homeschooling may not be the best at this point, but don’t get it twisted that my kids are somehow warped or not ready because believe me they are.

  • Reply Ruby |

    Allowance $400 (assuming this is for kids)
    Gymnastics $350
    Spanish $160
    Computer $85
    Camp/summer activities $375
    Volleyball $250 (this is a guess, I’m not sure what that will be monthly)
    Total = $1620
    This doesn’t include the gas for kids activities or their cell phones.
    It looks like with your decrease in income, you will be spending 1/3 of your income or more on kids activities/extra.

    • Reply Ruby |

      I had said earlier that I wondered how much you were spending on your kids activities so I added it up. Is it more than you expected with it added up rather than separate line items?

    • Reply Hope |

      Yes. The bulk of my income is going to the kids.
      Allowance – on going, but will drop to $40 by summer when Sea Cadet returns to working full time
      Gymnastics – on going
      Spanish – will end in April
      Computer – goal to pay it off before the end of the year and eliminate it permanently
      Camp – 6 more payments and then summer is completely done
      Volleyball – $700 balance for season

      I think that it why I am okay with it, because the end of most of these costs is 6 or so months away. This is just the now. And it covers the summer activities so things will loosen up significantly then and the kids will be occupied without the stress of finding camps, sitters, etc.

      • Reply Ruby |

        Thanks for the reply, it clears a lot of things up. My advice to you is that for some of these expenses that will be paid off soon for this season or this coming summer, continue to fund them if you think your children will continue to do these activities.
        For e.g. you’ll pay off summer 2018, but summer 2019 will probably have camp and activities too. I’m guessing princess will want to continue in volleyball. Because you will have more time before these expenses are due, you can fund them at less per month. And when payment time comes around again, you will be ready. I even do that for my electronics in case of breakage or for eventual replacement.

  • Reply Katie |

    Just a couple of thoughts. First, this schedule of homeschooling until 11, getting up at 5:00, trying to work all these hours and driving multiple hours to get kids to sports seems completely unsustainable to me. It sounds like with evaluating your school situation that you may recognize that part of the equation. Otherwise, I see you headed for burnout, and it wasn’t that long ago that you really had a dark time. I hope you will not just look at the finance picture, but also the overall wellness picture.

    Also, as someone else said, you do tend to make these purchases/decisions and then announce them after the fact. The computers and adding a sport come to mind. If you are contemplating doing something else like this, I’d like to see you put it out beforehand, to see what insights, feedback and resources this community could come up with in advance to help you. Maybe someone knew of a great program to get those computers for cheaper? Or a scholarship program for volleyball? Or another summer camp option? When we’re always reacting to the choices you’ve already made, you’re going to get more criticism, and miss an opportunity to potentially gain some helpful advice.

    • Reply Hope |

      You are right on every point. I am learning.
      The good thing is with this addition of a sport for Princess, we are done.
      I am now ready to keep my head down and work…I’ve got my eye on the end of the school year, some major debt pay off and both sports will end their competition season in April.
      That gives me May to breathe with less driving (Gymnast training schedule will cut back, Princess will end.) And then we are in summer with camp already scheduled and planned and most importantly, paid for!
      I guess I feel like I can do anything with a plan. And now I am much more confident that the issues and challenges the kids have been facing with this life change are handled…at least for the time being. Makes it easier to focus on other things when I know they are alright.
      But I will try to get more ahead of the game and bring the BAD community into the loop as bigger decisions loom. (See my post Thursday to see just that.)

  • Reply Yolanda |

    Advice requested, commenters give many ideas (wonderful ideas), and per usual Hope is full of excuses and new information that counters all advice, but was never provided in the posts to begin with. Your kids are isolated because you’re working 70+ hours per week. How are you effectively homeschooling? Why is it okay to leave them alone for so long? Public school would give them social interaction, education, and sports opportunities. I’m all for homeschooling, I do it with my son, but I also have the privilege of staying home and not being a single mother. Things would be much different if that were the case. Debtor above hit the nail on the head. It never adds up.

    • Reply Hope |

      I don’t think 20 hours a week (as explained in another comment) alone is too long especially when they have online school work and classes. Is it ideal now, no? I have repeatedly said that.
      And yes, you don’t know everything in my head or life from two posts a week. Instead of attacking me, perhaps you might offer workable solutions.
      Believe me, my kids are getting a great education, are smart, and compassionate and I am confident they can handle anything that comes their way. I’ve been a single mom for 10 years now, homeschooling for 9 of those years. It is possible to be successful and do both. Some of us do not have the “privilege” so we do what we have to do to make it work. And my kids are AMAZING.

      • Reply Yolanda |

        Oh for goodness sake, I did not attack you. I asked questions and pointed out the constant discrepancies in your posts. If you can’t be transparent – especially for a GETTING OUT OF DEBT blog – then why are you here? We’re going on years of inconsistency, excuses, and justifications. I think that’s a fair question for a reader to ask. I also don’t understand why you put privilege in quotations. It was not a rude or snarky comment on my end, it was me acknowledging that yes, I am privileged to stay home, and I am away not everyone is. I also never said your children were not amazing, and I’m not sure why you even felt the need to put that in all caps. I also never said you cannot be successful – I’m just going by what information you have given us.

      • Reply Laura |

        No one is criticizing your kids or saying they aren’t amazing. And people have been trying to offer you workable solutions but you usually come back with some reason or excuse why they won’t work.

      • Reply Jen From Boston |

        Hope, you really need to work on your defensiveness. That is what I see here, and what I’ve seen previously. It is getting in the way of you listening to others.

        • Reply Hope |

          Agreed, I knew it and did it anyway. Which is why I took a couple of days away from the blog to get grounded again. I will try to do better.

  • Reply dh |

    I’m guessing (but of course do not know) that the new blog owner is paying for posts, and that’s why Hope is suddenly so present.

    Hope, the bottom line is, you will NEVER get out of debt if you spend more than you earn.

    You pay off $500 and then take on a $1000 commitment (which will certainly cost much more than that by the time the season is over).

    I would have given Princess the choice between the extra two weeks at camp (it’s 4 weeks for her and two weeks for Gymnast, from what I understand) OR the volleyball.

    You think that because you’ve had a hard time and your kids have had a hard time, you need to do everything they want, even if their wishes are modest. But the truth is NO CHILD EVER gets everything they want!

    As others have said, the best you can provide for them is stability, not working 70 hours a week, not leaving them alone at home so much.

    People keep posting but you never hear anything but what you want to hear.

    • Reply Yolanda |

      “I’m guessing (but of course do not know) that the new blog owner is paying for posts, and that’s why Hope is suddenly so present.”

      That would certainly explain it. Although when the new owners posted, I recall the unpaid nature of the commitment to writing here being called into question.

        • Reply dh |

          Blog traffic = blog revenue. These posts of paying off debt / taking on more financial commitments create a lot of blog traffic

          I’m sorry if that sounds cynical but I can’t think of another reason for why there are suddenly so many posts after total silence for months on end.

          • Lucy |

            Looking at the various posts, there is a definite increase in comments on these controversial posts. You may very well be onto something here. Any thoughts on why there are now only two bloggers?

          • Laura |

            Lucy, I think Marie and Ashely L weren’t real people. After that was speculated we never heard from them again.

          • Lucy |

            Thanks for filling me in Laura. I read this blog a few years ago but since lost track of who was blogging. Looks like I missed some drama. Lol

  • Reply dh |

    I also saw (on your FB page) that you recently finished your training in your new state to be a foster mom. I know this is very important to you, but are you currently in a position now where you have the time / money to foster?! How is this even on your radar right now?!

    I still fear that the current obsession with your credit score is because you want to buy a big house where you can foster all these kids … if that’s the case, you really are in lalaland.

    You could have paid off two more small debts with the $1000 that you’ve just committed to volleyball. Get out of debt first!!!

    • Reply Laura |

      Oh wow, that makes sense. Hope I know you love children but do you really have the time and money for that now with the 70 hour workweeks and running to various activities already.

    • Reply Hope |

      You have NO IDEA how wrong you are in this assumption. Fostering children is not even on the radar at this time, maybe not ever again.

      And I NEVER, EVER want a big house. I LOVE our 1000 square foot home we are in now, it is absolutely perfect for us…even long term.

  • Reply Terence Abut |

    Hi Hope,

    $1000 for volleyball is pretty expensive but I’m guessing that amount is inclusive of uniform, training, travel for out of town leagues(?), and equipment(?) (shoes, kneepads, tapes, etc..). I also coach volleyball and it can be expensive. But the seeing young adults grow up as competitive and responsible persons through sports is priceless. Good luck!

    Best,
    Terence

    • Reply Hope |

      It is ALL inclusive other than the gas to get to practice and tournaments. Thankfully, ALL but one of the tournaments are within a few hour drive, so I can keep the travel costs minimized. And I agree that the value in sports is not alwasy the game itself. I see that every day with my kids…they are fantastic at time management, know how to get up and brush themselves off when they fail at something, take direction well (are coachable) and strive to be better at everything they do!

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    Hope – Have you been able to find a homeschool co-op? I know you participated in one back in VA. I think that would help a lot with your kids making friends and take some of the burden off you.

    • Reply Hope |

      No, after exhaustive efforts to find one, there is nothing close to what we had in VA. The few that I have found are more extra-curricular (playing games and field trips and so on) rather than real classes like lab sciences and languages which is what we need. I am in the process of evaluating a new schooling plan for next fall.

So, what do you think ?