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.