Sunday, December 29, 2013

Do you want to be debt-free? Our Story Part 2

So here we were. Two beautiful children, a newborn and a two year old, living in a place we didn't like, with jobs that did not pay the bills. We had to make a change, but also needed to tie up some loose ends.

When all was said and done...we moved into my mother's house, where the job market was much better and took a look at our finances. We had charged approximately $65,000 between my mother's needs and our living on cards to keep the house. In two years. We were stunned. These were not trips. These were not eating out. No hotels. No lobster. It was pampers (and depends), expensive cancer-approved lotion to deal with radiation burns and peeling skin, heating--since baby and mom got cold in our old house, formula (the same reason I "couldn't" get pregnant also made it impossible for me to breastfeed, even with lactation consultants, doulas, fenergreek and lots of funny tea).

And now we had a mortgage (about $110K), a time share ($5k) and school loans ($18K since we consolidated in my husband's).We couldn't make the minimums anymore. I was sick with worry. Even with us both working again--and making more than we made up there, the credit card debt was killing us. We tried to refinance our house. We didn't qualify. We finally consolidated our debt, with a great non-profit called American Consumer Credit Counseling ( but still owed about $850 per month in credit cards plus our expenses, mortgages, and school loans.

We weren't making it. It was hurting our marriage. A lot. Anytime either of us wanted to spend any money, it was a fight to prove we needed it. I wouldn't buy. He would. We were both hurt.

Even though we were making an okay amount of money, between health insurance, required retirement payouts and other required deductions, we really weren't taking home much. It felt hopeless. We felt hopeless.

Then I started hearing a little bit here and there about a program that helped people get out of debt. And it also helped people pay for things like cars and houses with cash. You didn't need to be rich. You actually didn't even need to be solidly middle class. Hmmm. This sounded like something I was interested in. But, I wasn't sure my husband would go for it. He hated planning. He hated budgeting. He hated not being able to get something he wanted when he wanted. I just pushed it aside and decided to focus on continuing to make ends meet, sort of.

Then, our pastor talked about how in September our church was going to sponsor a financial class to help people learn more about their money and how to save, spend and give. We'd been going to small groups. I asked my husband if we could go to this. He, surprisingly, seemed excited. We signed up. I wasn't super hopeful, but thought, well, at least we'd listen and give it a try.

As September approached, our marriage was quickly disintegrating. The day of the class, we met with our pastor and I wasn't sure if we were going to be together again. I was in shock. I was sick. I was numb. I came home from work that night and asked if he was going with me. He said, "sure." We got in the car and went to class.

A lot changed in that two hours. Read more in my next post.

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