Saturday, July 13, 2013

The shameful, not so secret, secret

This is the subject that you are NEVER SUPPOSED TO TALK ABOUT. 

For as long as I can remember we have been struggling financially. There has yet to be a time where we were “O.K.”
Money is a very touchy subject. It isn't something that you are ever supposed to talk about. We are taught that at a very young age. It's "indelicate" or "rude" to mention your financial burdens or surplus. 

But I've mentioned EVERYTHING else in my life. Why not let other people know that they are not the only ones?

There are so many things tied to that 5 letter word.  STATUS, RESPONSIBILITY, STABILITY, FREEDOM….

I didn’t marry a man who had just finished college and was looking for a career. When I met him he talked about wanting to be a large animal vet. But that dream would have taken a decade of college. For a guy who was never a great student...it seemed a long shot. I married a man who couldn’t figure out what he wanted in life.  So he enlisted in the military. Most men enlist at 18, right after graduation. Micah didn’t leave until he was 22. By our social standards he should have already completed college and gone in as an officer. But that wasn’t the case.

My husband didn’t marry an educated girl with a degree in her hand. He married a lazy student turned blackjack dealer. Being in class was easy for me. Tests were easy for me….getting to class is what was hard.  Even in high school I was just lazy. Most of my report cards have “wasting huge potential” written in the notes. I started working at 15. Getting a paycheck has always been so easy and distracting. So I’d start and stop school with a pile of excuses. When I moved to Lake Tahoe at 21 most of my friends had degrees or were almost done. Hearing their fun stories of college made me feel like such a failure.  The older I get the worse it feels. For a while when I was dispatching it wasn’t so bad.  Now that I’m back to dealing…it’s creeping up on me.

When I was 19 I quit my job as a receptionist (BANG!) and my parents bailed me out of debt.  By the time I met Micah I had most of my financial stuff sorted out. He on the other hand came with 13 credit cards. Then there was "the wedding". I wanted a small backyard style wedding with only the most important 50 people. However that was not an option. “Your family has waited your whole life to watch you get married and they need air conditioning”. 

Instead of the $3000 low key autumn shindig I wanted….$22,000 in the blazing heat of summer is what we had. Half of the cost of our wedding became our debt. Then we’d move around a lot and the bills would grow with every move. The crazy thing is we really have nothing of great value. The only items we’ve ever purchased new was our T.V, our computer and our mattresses. Where oh where has all that money gone?

It becomes an embarrassing subject with friends. People invite you to important functions and you have to decline and make up a million excuses. You can’t tell your friends “Either I pay for gas to get there or buy food and diapers”. So you miss a lot of things and then those relationships grow farther and farther apart.  Before you realize it’s happened you just stop getting those invitiations. It isn’t like they don’t know you are making up yet another story. Every other time they call your cell phone it’s disconnected because you don’t have money for that bill. 

When I quit my job we thought we'd be O.K. My husband flat told me it didn't matter that staying would break me and it was time to go. It's been a year and I'm wondering if I made the biggest mistake of our lives. I would have missed school stuff and dance and sports. But we'd be a tiny bit better off. Honestly not a lot, but still. 


I had blogged about the horrible shameful feeling in January (Today was a bad day). It was our van being repossessed. We did it voluntarily because we ran out of options. The van needed so much work that it was either pay $8000 to fix or pay to keep the van we couldn't use. It was the best option at the time. But we both cried from the horrible sick feeling it left us with. We won't lose our home or our car. But we have lost so much more. 

A hidden killer in this country will likely be the death of us, medical debt. Even with full coverage, dual coverage...we'd still get huge bills. When you don't have the money to pay it just keeps growing.

So here it is in big bold letters.

 WE MAKE LESS THAN $50,000 A YEAR AND HAVE $250,000 TOTAL DEBT. 

Our house is only half of that number.

Next week we will have been married for 9 years. And this year I will turn 35. I thought that life would have been far more stable by this point. I thought we would be planning and saving for the after part. I never envisioned us here. 

I don't know why I decided to write this blog. Except to let people know that they are not alone. You don't have to buy your children expensive clothes and max out your credit cards to keep up with the Jones'.

 I wish I had saved every penny I had made babysitting and birthday gifts and working when I was young. I started a pattern of spending 22 years ago. I hope I finally break that pattern and teach my children better lessons.