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How it All Began

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How it all began……

I was never good with credit. When I was 16, Lane Bryant sent me a credit card. I had ordered from there catalog for several years. I don’t remember filling out a credit application, just this very pretty purple piece of plastic coming in the mail, and I then could order clothes and pay a small $25 a month until they were paid off. Easy, right? I had my first charge off on my credit report at 18.

I was a single mother at the time, and on welfare. The next step was to go back to work, and I needed a car. But with a new job and a small awful credit file, I needed a co signer. I don’t know how I did it, but I talked my Dad into it. I bought a 1990 Ford and went to work 3rd shift.

I behaved at 1st, making payments on time, and then I moved out on my own. I lived in an apartment with my son, and my soon to be husband. (now my ex husband). Living on my own was hard, and things started to slide. First my car insurance didn’t get paid, then it was canceled. So the finance company added their insurance to the car. Then I fell behind in the payments. Eventually I had to give the car to my Dad, and borrow his paid off car to drive back and forth to work. He was nice about it, but swore he would never co sign for me again, and he never has. Not that I would ask.

When my ex and I got married, we moved south with the military. He then took over the bills. I had given my Dad his car back when we moved, so we were down to one vehicle. We decided to trade his truck in and buy 2 cars, one for each of us. His credit was good, so it was no problem.

Fast forward a few years, and we are out of the military and permanently living in the south. Thing are tight, and my ex and i fight about money a lot. Eventually we end up splitting the bills 50/50, and each of us have to pay out of our own paychecks. He doesn’t care about any credit cards, just that if they are in my name, I have to pay them myself. Me, having no self control with money, rack them up. We split in 2001, and he walked away with a paid off truck. I was left with 10,000 plus in credit card debt, student loans, and a single wide mobile home with a 20 year mortgage.

I then decided that I wanted a new car. The one I had was with a credit union, and I was upside down a lot. But it was in my ex husband’s name. So, I let it go back, and bought a car on my own. Took out more credit cards. Move to a rental house that was $250 more a month and let the single wide trailer go back to the bank.

Are you starting to see a trend?

Don’t get me wrong, I was making it, but by the skin of my nose. By then I was at my current job but a single mom of 2 kids. Do you know how embarrassing it is to have collection agencies call you at work, while you are a bill collector for your job? One time, they even faxed my boss about my debt. I blamed my ex husband, and prayed that they would stop one day.

Then the rental house caught fire. Thank goodness I had renters insurance. I had a ton of cash, and a spending habit that I had not fixed.I found a new place to live, a rent to own house. I had one year to rent, and I had to get the mortgage in my name. I did it in 6 months. That was the height of the housing bubble, and I got a 11.75 % variable APR mortgage on a $125,000 house. But I had a ton of money from the insurance, that made it easy. My spending habits didn’t change. My kids and I had more stuff then we knew what to do with.

I then met my current husband. He is 6 years younger than me, and still was living at home. We has a speedy courtship, 4 months from our 1st date to our marriage. The money from the fire had run out by then, and he didn’t have a well paying job, so I robbed Peter to pay Paul to pay for the big wedding we had. The mortgage company did the 1st loan modification on the mortgage within 6 months. They lowered my payment and my interest rate to 7.5 % fixed. I thought everything would work out.

Traded and bought a few vehicles, and racked up more debt. Was kinda of keeping my head above water, then my husband got sick. We then had huge medical bills that included a bill for a cornea transplant. Everything got past due, even the house again. We went and filled out the paperwork to file chapter 13 bankruptcy but didn’t have the filing fee until we got paid on Friday. Thursday, I went out my front door to goto work, and my car was gone. It had been repossessed in the middle of the night. So, I borrowed the filing fees to file a day early, and the next day, the lawyer got my car back from the bank.

Again, things were fine for about 6 months then hours were cut. My husband had to find a new job, and took a $2 an hour pay cut. That hurt. Our Chapter 13 payments were self pay, so we stopped them. And our plan was dismissed.

We went back to the attorney, and asked what to do. He said to keep the house, we would have to file chapter 13 again, but reduce what we were paying in the plan. We gave back my car, but kept my husbands truck. I went out and found a mini van on a buy here pay here lot and got that for transportation as our family by then had grown by our twins and we didn’t fit into the truck by then. This time my pay was garnished for the payments, and my take home was about $250 every two weeks. My husbands was about $600 every two weeks. Everything else went to bankruptcy. It was very tight. So tight, that I even went behind my husbands back and got 4 credit cards while in bankruptcy. See the trend.

Then the layoff. My health insurance at the time was 100% paid by my employer, but my husband carried the girls and himself. To add him and the kids to my heath insurance was $300 a paycheck. His unemployment was $115 a week, and I only was clearing $250 a paycheck. The bankruptcy payments had to stop. My attorney got the trustee to stop the garnishment, and I put everyone on my health insurance. We saved up and filed income taxes, and converted to a chapter 7. We bought 2 salvage titled cars, and let the truck and van go back to the banks. We did another modification that included stretching the mortgage to 40 years from 30 years, and kept the house. We were discharged from chapter 7 in July 2013.

Stay tuned for part two…


Creative Ways to Save Money when Moving

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If you’re anything like me, moving can be quite daunting. Besides the sheer volume of labor, there is a lot to figure out. What made our move more challenging was that our family is on a tight budget, we had some major time constraints such as only having the evening and weekends to get our packing done, and we had accumulated a lot of stuff over the years.Below are some of the major and minor saving steps we took.

Two Major Savings Steps

There were two major steps we took to move as inexpensively and efficiently as possible:

We opted for a professional moving company instead of renting a truck

There are a lot of things to take into consideration, and this definitely won’t be the case for everyone, but after running the numbers and the time saved, we opted to hire a moving company. In our case, it was North American Moving Services, but there are many options out there. Here is why opting this way saved us money.

  • First, I didn’t need to figure out how to drive a big truck across hundreds of miles of traffic and bad weather; their company would take care of all the logistics of our interstate move.
  • Second, we could do all the packing ourselves.
  • Third, we could just ask them to pack the fragile stuff.
  • Fourth, we could just ask them to do all the packing for us.

Although I was tempted to go for the full-service package, my inner cheapskate kicked in and I decided we would do our own packing. (My spouse agreed; the kids fussed.) I also decided to figure out how to pack the fragile items by doing an Internet search for packing tips.

However, when we booked our long distance move, we did take them up on their offer to help us with disassembling and assembling our furniture and getting our appliances installed. I didn’t know how, nor did I have the tools.

We decided that we didn’t need to transport all our stuff

The first thing we did was empty out the spare bedroom. Then we filled it up with all the stuff that we didn’t want anymore.

We created the following selection criteria on what to get rid of:

1. Good stuff that we had lost interest in it. Mainly, clothes, dishes, and DVDs.

2. Stuff that fallen apart that would be cheaper to buy than fix. Mainly, electronics and gadgets.

3. Stuff we had bought on a whim. Mainly, our bric-a-brac collection over the years and tchotchke baubles.

Once we had purged the house of everything we didn’t want anymore, then we sorted through the stuff in the “junk” room. We created the following piles:

1. Things to be sold.

2. Things to be donated.

3. Things to be recycled.

4. Things to be trashed.

However, we did come to a sticking point in this process–books. We love our books. Yes, we might not read them again and could get an electronic version, but we loved our books. I was pleased to discover our kids had become regular bookworms. Then my 9-year-old son asked why we didn’t just mail them to ourselves! From the mouth of babes! So that’s what we did. We used through USPS’s media mail to move our books, and save on the cost of adding the weight to our moving bill.

6 Minor Saving Steps

Figuring out how to transport our stuff and how to narrow down the weight saved us a lot of money.

Here are 6 other steps we took to save even more money:

1. We asked family, friends, and stores for boxes.

2. We borrowed or rented all the tools we needed rather than buy any.

3. We timed our utility shut down dates to get the most value.

4. We tracked everything we paid for during the move for tax deduction purposes.

5. We canceled all subscriptions ahead of time to avoid paying unnecessary membership fees.

6. We paid all our bills ahead of time so that we wouldn’t get stuck with any late payment fees.


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