As a long time member of the board it is good to share our ups and downs on occaision, so the new folks know we have struggled as well.
I joined the board in 2008, remarried to the most wonderful man, two kids in high school and we both brought in debt from our prior relationships. We got through the recession both working hard, and me working two jobs, 40 hours a week, then teaching at night.
My daughter graduated high school in 2010, and went on to an in-state college with some scholarships, loans and of course, my assistance. I had saved and was able to help as much as possible, but she pays for her own spending, books, fees, etc. on top of the loans she will have. Total now that she is a senior looks like about $92k, and she will have about $22k in loans - not too bad.
In 2010 we were offered to purchase a family cabin in DHs family. We would still have our much smaller place, and hold that to sell to our kids down the line, but it was something we both wanted to do and a possible retirement home for us much later on. So a new bill, taxes and insurance for the next 10 years or so, hopefully sooner. We negotiate a payment deal for less while kids were in school, then escalation after that.
Dh's son graduated a year later, again an in-state school, but he too lives at school. We do a 33% each with him and his mother, his portion is in loans, and he has to work to pay his fees, etc. Differece with him is that all his graduation savings, bonds and other money is at his disposal to use for his spending, so he did not see the need to work as early - but he has kicked it into gear.
DH and I have increased our net worth by over $125k in the last 4 years, even with the kids in school. We were humming along until spring 2012 when I took a buy-out from my job to pursue my passion. I went with a small firm, independent and thought it could be a good partnership. Well the guy didn't work out to be a "partner" at all, so a few weeks ago, things blew up just as I was having my best month ever, and I made the decision to go on my own. It took a while for all the paperwork to settle, but the best clients followed me, and I am moving forward. I am working out of the house for now and hope to be in an office by September.
DH put $6k from our HELOC into our personal checking account to give me 4 months or so to build before we need my income to support the household again. He pays about 60% of the bills, but with the kids in school, it is harder. Actually I could probably make the $6k last at least 6 months.
SO overally we have slipped about $10k in total back into debt and it feels awful. We have paid down over $8k even after that, so not THAT bad of a back peddle and DH is still putting in about 15% of his pay in retirement savings.
I will not show any income this year, due to pouring all I have made back into the business, so we should get a decent tax refund as DH has not lowered his withholding rate, and we still get credits for college funding.
I don't know, you are all making good progress and I get down looking at new debt. But I am doing what I love and am part of a career where only 7.9% of us are women, I know I am paving roads for the future. I might not be going as fast, but I am doing it the RIGHT way, taking care of people and putting time and consideration into their needs.
Creating your own business is very hard, every choice has much larger impact, and you work many more hours than you can ever imagine. Doing what you are passionate about also has tasks you don't like so much, but you cannot afford help, so you persevere. Someday I hope it all works out, as I adore helping people, and when they tell me how I have taken a burden off of them, it is so amazing, it is worth it all.