I don’t talk about finances and such too often here because I don’t really like airing all that online. But MAN this year has been rough on us, and I’m afraid that things are just going to keep getting worse. It’s unbelievable things have gotten this bad – the worst it has EVER been, even when we were forced to support two mortgage payments for six months last year! And to think – back in January, we were able to get free from credit card debt completely. We had a budget with some wiggle room in it, to give us a little freedom.
Unfortunately, expenses have piled on since February. A new roof (x3), five $1000 deductibles from home insurance claims, hotel and eating expenses for a chunk of the summer when we had no house to live in, replacing two cars (adding two new car payments when we had none), all the work on the yard when the pipes exploded, felling the chinaberry trees before they destroyed anything else, miscellaneous expenses for Morrigan’s trip to Japan that weren’t covered by the foundation, and of course our vacation, which we bought before 95% of the other expenses came to light. All totaled up, we ended up with about $30,000 worth of credit card bills. About two thirds of that is on a card that doesn’t have an interest rate until Feb, but there’s no way we can possibly pay it all off by then. We are drowning.
Jason and I sat down last weekend to discuss the situation. I’m not brave enough to put up actual budget numbers the way Stephanie does, but the general gist goes like this: Our mortgage, two car payments, and school loans eat up 40% of our monthly income before normal expenses (including feeding three teen boys!) and credit card payments. Most of that 40% is made up of the mortgage, because unfortunately housing prices have skyrocketed in San Antonio since we left for Boston in 2014. Houses cost 1.5x what they did two years ago, and more than double their prices four years ago. We did the best we could when we were looking at houses last year, but we promised the boys they could go back to the schools and friends they’d grown up with, and so what we got was just way too expensive. Especially given that Jason is being paid 20% less than before he was laid off in 2017.
We are scrupulous about money. We buy used cars, use hand-me-down or thrift-store-find furniture, eat out as seldom as possible, keep our utilities far lower than most families of our size, buy generic and in bulk and with coupons and all the rest, don’t have netflix or TV other than the free channels or unlimited phone plans, etc. But we support five people and five cats on a single salary, and it’s just too much. On a monthly basis, we’re usually $1000 in the hole before we pay our credit cards. And we have no idea what we’re going to do once Morrigan goes to college next fall. He’s going to have to manage that one all on his own.
Our goal over the next two years is to get back to zero credit card debt. Once Morrigan leaves for college, I can get a job, though it’ll be a minimum wage kind of deal and won’t help that much. We already go through our budget every single weekend, but we’re working through every corner to see where we can scrounge up a bit more room. We’re selling off anything that we can sell. Jason’s upcoming Christmas and annual bonuses over the next three months will help as well. It looks dark from here, but things will get better eventually. We hope. Just keep us in your thoughts that we have no more sudden emergency house surprises!!
Finances are so stressful and owning homes and cars really add to the expenses. I’m so sorry about all these emergencies you’ve endured and hope you can get back on your feet soon. I know the feeling. Mortgage, student loans, and car payments eat up a huge chunk of our money then add on our other debt and ugh!
It feels so inconceivable that we’ve gotten here so quickly. I know this is all because we moved so many times. Would that I could go back in time and tell our 2014 selves that this is a Bad Idea. Then we’d be living in a house that cost less than half our current mortgage and was halfway to being paid off, and our finance situation would be in great shape, and we’d be able to help the boys out with college…ironically given the whole reason we took the first job was the higher pay that would supposedly help us save for the boys’ college accounts…sigh.
I always feel like I get out of one financial mess to fall into another 😦
Encourage Morrigan to apply for EVERY scholarship he can. Grants, work study, everything. Compare uni costs to the cost of taking core classes at a community college. There are so many ways to save, and a lot of students miss out on them. Wherever he goes, review all the options with a financial aid officer and go for subsidized loans if they are available, only drawing enough to cover the necessary expenses (I’ve seen too many students end up owing double and triple what their degree is worth because they took more in loans than they needed).
Unfortunately, Morrigan doesn’t qualify for grants, work study, or subsidized loans, and only a tiny bit of unsub loans. The school he wants to go to has given him a scholarship that makes their tuition in-state for him, but we’re still talking about $16k per year and we just can’t afford that. He’s applying for a language scholarship that he has pretty good odds for and which, if he gets, will cover the rest, but I have a feeling he’s going to be looking at a lot of loans or going the military route. In the meantime, he keeps applying for everything he can…
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