Sunday Coffee – Money, and Debt, and Panic

One of my big goals this year was to work to get our family out of debt. For most of our marriage, Jason and I have managed to stay out of credit card debt. In fact, from 2006 until our moves began in 2014, we paid our balance to zero every single month. But moving is expensive, and Boston was expensive, and for the first time, we began to struggle with debt. Several times, we’ve gotten back to zero, most recently in February 2018. Then Bad Things would happen, and we wouldn’t have had time to build up our savings to deal with said Bad Things, and credit cards would be the only choice. I mean, really, who would expect to have to pay nearly $100k in repairs to houses over three years, plus need to replace both cars within six months of each other, plus have to deal with a major layoff and two months of no employment??

Our credit cards, at the start of this year, were around $26k-$27k, and getting worse monthly. Between our too-high mortgage, insane utility bills, major medical expenses this year (four surgeries plus some emergency room runs??), double car payments, and Morrigan not leaving for school after all, things are NOT where we were anticipating when we started the year. Each month, frickin $400 goes into credit card interest (ie NOWHERE AT ALL). We’re having to balance the cost of supplies needed to repair the house so we can downsize, and the cost of those supplies in credit card interest. Originally, we were thinking we could wait out a few more years in this situation before looking at houses to try to get somewhere smaller and cheaper, but as each month gets worse, we’re beginning to look.

The problem is, as I’ve said before, house prices have gone up astronomically in this area, and the whole goal is to bring our mortgage payment down. Jason and I know about what price range we’ll be able to better afford, and it’s difficult to find houses in the area for that price. What houses we’ve found have either needed major work, or have been extremely scary (neighborhoods trashed and full of graffiti and burglar bars, bullet hole smashed through a window…um, NO). We’ve found one house that I absolutely LOVE, and it’s been on the market long enough that I think we can talk them down close to our price range, but the boys hate it and that’s not a great situation either. (They may just have to lump it, though.) On top of all that, the housing market has just started to turn, and our current house has lost a little value over the last six months. It’s still worth about $25-30K more than when we bought it, but a year ago, that number was closer to $50k. I have a feeling the market here is about to crash, which is going to get us stuck stuck stuck.

Jason is looking into debt consolidation loans (legit ones, ones we’ll be sure will actually save us money longterm). He just got a tiny raise, which is nice. Morrigan is contributing a little money each month as token “rent” now that he has a job. We have bonuses coming up in December and spring, and hopefully this year we’ll break even on our taxes (stupid changed tax laws!!). And I’m working on getting into school, getting a decent job, and watching for houses. It feels…far more frantic and scary than I’d like it to, to be honest. But so far other plans have failed to help us, and we don’t like living this way. So hopefully we can get this house on the market soon, and find a good house to buy soon as well, and end up in a much better situation. Fingers crossed.

PS – I need a time machine. I need to tell the Amanda of 2014 NOT to sell that house. That house was great, and that mortgage was insanely good, and that decision to sell was probably one of the worst decisions 2014-Manda ever could have made. Sigh.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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