Scared and overwhemed

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anonymous user
Registered: 12-31-1969
Scared and overwhemed
Tue, 08-21-2012 - 1:28pm

Hi there, I haven’t been here for a while. I’m here today because I’m scared. I’m scared about the future and about my debt that seems not to have reached a stagnating point.

Last May/June I was “happy” because 1) We had managed to not to add new debt to our debt and 2) we had also managed to pay down $10,000 from the original $90,500 in May 2011. I was also happy because I was just to pay off my debt with my sister in law (which has stained our relationship) and because for the first time in about three years, our bank account was not longer in red (we have a overdraft of $1500 and was almost always on the -$1400’s)

June and July have always been difficult months for me. I have my husband and older son’s birthdays and there are also the family vacations. Family vacations are non-negotiable for my husband (and children), and I somewhat agree with them. We don’t go too far and we don’t spend too much either.

This year though, my husband’s gift was a trip to New York to meet friends he hasn’t seen in more than eight years. His brother paid for the ticket and the hotel, so he only had to pay for concert tickets, transportation and meals. I found the whole thing somewhat unnecessary, but in a way, he deserves it. Obviously, if he deserves it, I also “deserve” to visit my mother and sisters as I haven’t seen them in eight years either and they don’t know my youngest son.  But well, I also earn less money and in many ways, this debt is my fault (at least 80% of it). So I agreed...

Our vacation was short and didn’t use too much. We rented a small cabin in a farm close to our home and had a great time with the kids. I truly enjoyed the small quaint town, the local market and the sea.

But then the car broke (at the end of our vacation), and we had to spend almost $2,000 on repairs, etc. We are back to $80,500 in debt (so in three months we haven’t move from the -$10,000 we accomplished last May), and on the top, our account is again in red and may be like that until mid-November.

When I run the numbers on our debt –reduction calculator, it gives me that even with snowball an paying small debts first (I have found this method to be emotionally much more sustainable, even when these mini-debts may not be the highest interest ones), I will finish paying all of them in January 2016. This is only if I can continue paying the same amount every single month, which I found unlikely, as I already know my job will last till March 2014 or may be cut earlier. With no snowball, it gives me August 2017 as the final payment date, and all the other final dates also move (in the first scenario, I may pay the first small debt by December this year).

I have already shared my concerns here earlier. Beyond things that are out of my control such as environmental changes that are already causing food cost to increase, an may cause other things such as water and other resources scarcity, I am much more scared about the economy. It is clear for me that what is happening in Europe is not “temporary” and that the impact this will have all over the world will be huge as all economies are now inter-dependent. I don’t even know where to start. I have made changes in my routine and at home, to spend less: the cost of power has increased anyway, even when our consumption has gone down more than 10% (it is because they are charging more for Kwt).  I started a vegetable garden but until now, I haven’t recovered the investment made on buying seeds, bags of soil and tools. Yes, I have a few free tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber and some herbs, but it’s not enough to feed a family or to reduce the monthly grocery expense (I haven’t seen any difference at all, as almost all the other items had gone super high in price).

I have tried to cut here and there, but there are some places where I find a wall. I guess the wall will just collapse in the event we can’t pay our debt or sustain ourselves. But for now the wall has been very stubborn: I can easily live without TV as well as without a car. I have tried (successfully) to go shopping without a car and found that even when it may be a bit uncomfortable, it actually helps me to spend less and exercise more. I can also go to work by bus. I don’t watch TV since December last year. I get my news and videos from Internet and read much more...but this does not apply to the rest of my family. My older son is glued to his computer. There is no point on taking his computer away: he is stronger than I and this has caused too much pain in the family already. I already have a hard time convincing him that he doesn’t need heating in the middle of the summer, neither the lights on. I turn them off each time I go to his bedroom, but I can live there! My husband says the TV is a need. No matter how I try to convince him that he barely watches it and that it may be a good option for my youngest son: no TV, find another way to spend your time! My husband tries to convince me with “it’s only $35/month”, but for me that’s a fortune that I could use to reduce our debt faster...

Same with the car: I have made the math many times: the car costs us $168 more per month or $2018 more per year than if we used only public transportation (and this is considering renting a car for about 12 days/year in the occasions we may need it, it is also considering expenses for only basic car maintenance). Yes, the car is convenient for long trips, when shopping for big items and even grocery shopping. It is also good for “emergencies”, but I just keep thinking in how my family (an myself) managed to live without a car for years, and how so many families around the world manage to do the same. With bus tickets, we may even get a tax credit, as they can be purchased as monthly passes and we can demonstrate they are used to go to work.

The same has happened in other minor areas where we could save more money... my husband is a good person, but he is stuck in that cultural paradigm that thinks “I work hard, so I deserve all this”. It is such an immature, selfish and unrealistic way to think...we don’t “deserve” anything if we are drown in debt, as none of this is actually ours and we will lose it in a minute if any of us loses the job, or a really bad downturn hits us...and yes, we work hard, but not necessarily harder than so many people in other parts of the world and they seem not to be “deserving” the same things...

So I’m stuck: if it were for me, I could live in a smaller place, I have even considered to move to a mobile park (the thing is, if I wait till the downturn hits us it may be too late as we’ll be competing with thousands of other families trying to downsize). I can live without TV and without car. I drink water and don’t need too much else. But my family doesn’t follow.

I am terribly scared because the wave will hit us badly if we don’t make adjustments right now. I have talked about this with my husband, I have tried many things: from sharing the numbers with him to withdraw for a while and see if he picks up the reality by himself. Nothing works. He has bought things like power consumption reduction and reducing TV or food waste, but that’s all.

It is really overwhelming trying to carry all this by myself. I sometimes think that all will change if we are actually hit by a harder reality, but that’s not obviously a “hope”, just a strange relief...and I’m not proud of feeling that way.


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 9:01am
Bumbling -
Loved your story about the baggage area. Many of us as women are the key manager in the household. Every business needs a leader and sometimes it is the women of the house who fill that roll.
My daughter went on a vacation this summer with her BF's family. She said it drove her crazy that on the 3rd day there was still not a plan of what to do or where to go (they were in Orlando FL) and she wanted to go to the theme parks. So she stepped up and made the plan and everyone followed her lead. She then knew she had to lead the rest of the trip. Here she was, an outsider of a family making the decisions! Afterward they told me she was an amazing girl and they were so happy she was in their lives.

I agree with you, we need to openly talk, not to cast blame, but share how we feel.

As women we will feel overwhelmed as we want our family and our worklives to be in order.

Our greatest asset is not money, it is TIME.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Thu, 08-23-2012 - 12:13am

Ok, yes but what about doing something with your children? Like a paper route or something...they could put half in their college fund and you can put your half on your debt?

I just don't think that I could sleep with $80K over my head - but that may just be me projecting on you :smileyhappy:


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 1:26pm

This is a very thought provoking thread. 

I just wanted to point out the light at the end of the tunnel. How old is your oldest?16? Mine is 15 and my youngest is 12. This may be something to discuss with your husband but what about giving them expectations? And not low ones either. I have told my kids  that when they graduate high school they must get an education or get a job and pay me rent. The eductation they must take on loan for themselves. I am going to help them a bit but have not told them that  yet. I have asked them to start thinking about life after high school, what they need to take to qualify for ceratin courses and what they want to "do" after. They cannot continue to play on their computers forever.  This you can control, plant that seed in them. You cannot support them forever and its ok to tell them that. The other son will leave eventually too. This is a good thing for everyone.

I like what Serenity said about concentrating on what you can control. This is big part of my life. It is tough to sort things out as to how this applies to everyone. I decided one day if I don't teach the kids how to made lunch....they are never going to make lunch. They can do it, and it is good for them. Do it together for a few days as  a project and then set them on their own. That way I don't feel overwhelmed and I do feel a bit more in control. 

However when it comes to spending money that is tough. Really hard to control what someone spends. All you can do is communicate and get your DH to set his own limits. It sounds like he has trouble doing that. Keep working on it. He will see the light. Explain what can't get paid if he goes on another trip. Its not as simple as this but it is a start.

I think on this journey, and some people have a long journey like yourself have to expect bumps. You can't pay off debt for 6 years and not expect big expenses to come up like repairs on a vehicle. You can't prepare for everything but do you have a vehicle maintenance fund? You are not worse off than when you started so chin up!




iVillage Member
Registered: 04-21-2011
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 12:24pm

Hi Dee,

Thanks for your comments. Yes, the fear is bc my DH is not aligned with me and he doesn’t allow any type of “conflict” around the house, so giving responsibility to the children is an issue: when they don’t do anything, a conflict arises. I was given responsibility as a child and had to live through tough times, but my mom was a single mom, so nobody would argue with her. It’s not the same in my situation.

I disagree with your comments on being selfish bc I rather volunteer than taking a second job. Volunteer is my only “fun” time. I am a weirdo and don’t enjoy parties or watching TV. I enjoy a good book, music and…volunteer! I make friends and do things that are important for others and for myself. Not feel that I am “good”, but because those things have to be done. Unfortunately, the things I volunteer for are not paid. I work as an emergency social worker (so I’m called when a disaster strikes, big or small) and I volunteer as a crisis line for refugees. This is also an example for my kids. I already work long hours for a non-profit organization. Working a second job would mean using the few hours left (even if I give up volunteering) to earn a meager extra $$$ and end up frustrated and tired. The only thing I would been teaching my kids with that is responsibility. But I’m already committed and responsible reducing the debt and no allowing more expenses to add to it. So I don’t feel bad for that decision.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 12:16pm

I am overwhelmed and tired, so please sit with me and see the numbers by yourself.

Perfect!  Let us know how it goes.

For what it is worth, change takes time.  I can somewhat related to your DH, thinking that "with how much money we make, I should be able to afford this" and put a blind eye to the real numbers.  "I will already be in PA, so how can I pass up another 2 days in NY?"  I am totally guilting of that kind of thinking myself. 

We all have our own kind of "bottom" when it comes to debt.  Clearly your DH's is different than yours.  My SO refuses to even go into debt.  The only debt he has had, ever in his life, is a mortage and a car payment.  And even with a car payment, he pays it off as quickly as possible. 

And my bottom?  Ugh, well...fortunately it keeps getting higher as the years go on and honestly, when it comes to my DD12, I may always have a small amount of debt that takes me a few months to catch up on. 

Keep us posted and hang in there...hugs...




Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 12:02pm
Well said, Bumbling. :smileyhappy:

It reminds me of when my SO was starting to get a bit overwhelmed when work picked up and he was starting to resent me and my DD not picking up the slack with the yard work.

The thing is, I have never, not once in 6 years, asked him to mow the yard.

He just couldn't stand waiting for me to do it myself. All the while I had no idea he was bothered by this, until he finally burst and blurted out, no so nicely, that and a few other things that were bothering him.

That is why I talk so much about doing things out of being of service to our family and without resentment.

Again, great example, Bumbling.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 12:36am

"Since I was very little, I was given a responsibility. I started working at age 14 and never ever stopped, except for a few months after my children births. It makes me feeling strong and “able” and takes anxiety away as, when you are too responsible, you are also “in control”."

Don't your children deserve to learn this life lesson as well?

Tho, I would agree that control is an illusion. And it may be the reason you are so concerned about the economic future, you know you have no control over it. There are things you can do - emergency fund, paying down debt, keeping food stocks, etc. And then you have to just accept that you've done all you can. I wonder if your lack of cooperation with your DH is contributing to this fear? that he isn't preparing himself to be there for you? (or something along those lines)

Please do not move to a trailer park, if there were financial difficulties in your area that would NOT be the neighbourhood you would want to live in.

I also don't want to sound mean, but you sound selfish. Wanting to volunteer bc it makes you feel respected is just a way to indulge yourself. Fine if you can afford it, but if you have $80K in debt then use that time to make money! You could be making money doing something that is in line with your values but you don't have the luxury of volunteer time. If you won't give that up than how committed are you to this challenge of paying down debt? I have volunteered before and I have been a volunteer coordinator and if you volunteered for my organization I would still be telling you the same thing.

Good luck whatever you decide,



iVillage Member
Registered: 04-21-2011
Tue, 08-21-2012 - 11:07pm

Hi Bumblingalong...THANK YOU for your post. It really opened my eyes. When you described that scene at the airport, I was watching myself. I do exactly that: I allow them to take advantage and be immature, and then I complain.

Since I was very little, I was given a responsibility. I started working at age 14 and never ever stopped, except for a few months after my children births. It makes me feeling strong and “able” and takes anxiety away as, when you are too responsible, you are also “in control”. So it is, in a way, a defensive reaction. My grandma used to say: “when you want something to be done right, do it yourself”, and I followed obediently all my life.

I have to learn to let go, to allow others to do what they need to do, and accept mistakes. It seems as a huge mountain to me right now, but I can see it has to be done.

It is “funny” how things happen: today I felt so burdened down, so overwhelmed that I posted here to vent, but also because writing makes me think. And reading other people’s opinions is a good way to see ourselves in the mirror, even when the mirror shows something ugly.

Well, after posting and reading all your answers, my DH came today from work and told me that their co-workers are planning a trip to NYC. The company will pay for the official trip to Philadelphia, but after the conference, they want to go to NYC for two days and get some tours...I couldn’t believe it! I thought for a second: “he is kidding”, “he somewhat read my posting here today, figured out it was me and now he is kidding with me about this to see my reaction”. Well, no. He wasn’t kidding.

For the first time in my life I said “no”. I felt horrible, as I was the mom and he, the child. I feel I have no right to control the finances, and I told him just that: I am overwhelmed and tired, so please sit with me and see the numbers by yourself. And there is no way he can pay for two nights of hotels and meals and tours just because of the social pressure his colleagues are putting on him. I feel still strange and don’t know how he would handle it.

Thank you again for sharing something so private. I think what makes this forum special is the freedom one feels of opening up and speaking about something we can’t tell our friends or family members, as they are too involved. Thanks again.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Tue, 08-21-2012 - 9:58pm

The environment is part of me and my children’s future, not something I visit “out there” so I try to take it as seriously I can and my commitment to change things is non-negotiable.

I understand your concern about the environment.  What I was trying to suggest are:

1.  In the LONG-TERM it saves money.  Sometimes, however, we have to prioritize.  When I was eating beans and rice five times a week to pay off debt, I did not insist on organic beans and rice.  Not driving to work, turning off lights, etc. are all environmentally friendly and have immediate postivie impact on your budget.  Starting a community garden takes longer to see a return.  Since you are already so overwhelmed, my thoughts are it may not be the best thing to tackle such projects RIGHT NOW.  It doesn't mean you cannot take on those projects later, perhaps when you have a better handle on your debt.

2.  As I recall in a previous post, in a similar tone, you mentioned that your family was not entirely on board with your commitment of living green.

And now it seems like your family is not on board with you debt reduction.  Which is why I said, "Pick your battle" in an earlier post.  It is hard to operate as a family when you are trying to change too many things and each one is non-negotiable.  Kind of like trying to lose weight and quit smoking.  Both of these are wonderful goals, but very hard to take on at the same time. 

Please know that I am not at all trying to make light of your concern of the environment.  It is just that every person has a finite amount to time and energy and from what your wrote, you are trying to take on too much (to the point of becoming ill). Hence the suggestion of dealing with one issue at a time.


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Tue, 08-21-2012 - 9:38pm

Hi Serenity,

Thanks for the explanation!  It makes a lot of sense now.  :smileyhappy: