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Posts tagged with: family

Coming out of the ‘Debt Closet’

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A reader recently e-mailed and asked how I told my family about my debt problem.

Here is a warning – you may not like my answer.

Let me explain…

I didn’t have a lot of debt when my husband and I married. He brought in some pretty large chunks of debt and collections that were ‘inherited’ from someone else. Since I had never dealt with lines of credit or collections, I sought the advice of my parents for a problem solving strategy.

They suggested I pay off the debt as quickly as possible, negotiate with the collections company, and move on with my life.

Being the mature, reasonable adult I was, I promptly ignored them. Then, wisely, since I was already drowning in debt, frustrated, and hurt, I bought a brand spanking new car and took several trips to Hawaii.

When you have lots of debt, you get to a point where you simply give up. To the reader who e-mailed me, I’ve been exactly where you are right now and I’m getting to the other side – alive and breathing.

When I finally came to my senses in late 2008 and started to make efforts to fix the problem, my parents already knew I was a financial idiot. I think they were just waiting for me to raise my hand and ask for help. They never got angry and never made me feel bad about myself. I’m very fortunate to have a great set of parents. In short, unless you are REALLY REALLY good, you parents and family probably already know.

As for the exact words I used? You read them with my parents. Yup, I ‘came out’ on this blog.

If you need help with ideas on how to fix more serious issues in finances, ask for it. Then, save the grief, listen, and take action.

Here’s the part you won’t like. Only ask for advice and support, don’t ask for money.

Dave Ramsey is right. When money exchanges hands in families, Thanksgiving dinner will never taste the same. I can tell you that from personal experience.

You made the mess. Clean it up.


Be Thankful This Christmas…

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For the past few weeks, my family has lamented that we haven’t had a ‘good’ Christmas in a several years. Job loss and financial hardship have seemed to plague our family around the holidays. We have been wading in a giant pool of self pity for a while.

Monday, I was tossed violently from the pool.

I was sitting at my desk typing a report when a co-worker came up and admired the photo of my family – all 26 of us (my parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews). The photo looked normal to me. It was all the people I love, a sea of heads, each of us connected to each other. She counted each family member and carefully looked at each smiling face. She continued to stare for a long time and finally said to me, ‘You have no idea how lucky you are.’ (She lost her mother when she was young and her father passed on over the summer).

She walked away, visibly saddened at reminder of her loss.

I picked up the picture, looked at my family… and felt like the most ungrateful person in the world. How dare we complain about our finances and lack of gifts for each other when we are beyond blessed with something far more valuable than money?

I have an unbreakable bond 25 people who love me, who never judge me, who will laugh at me (um, I mean WITH me), and will fight any battle to protect me. I am more confident, more centered, and happier because of their presence in my life.

We were right in saying we hadn’t had a ‘good’ Christmas in years. We’ve had an amazing, great, unbelievable, wonderful, blessed Christmas every year.

Merry Christmas Everyone!