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Money troubles

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
I don't even know where to begin.

My husband and I have been through job loss and are currently going through foreclosure on our home. We have not used our credit cards in a long time, but had been having a hard time making any headway, so we are now working with a (legit) debt settlement agency. I have been a stay at home mom since my son was born in May 2007. I have (somehow) qualified for unemployment benefits since then, but no longer qualify. And now, simply put, we are screwed.

We can pay our rent, pay for food and utilities. We can make our payment to the debt settlement company. What we cannot do is pay nearly $800/month in student loans. Between the two of us, we owe about $100K. We both have Bachelor's degrees.

Because of the nature of my husband's work (youth ministry), it is pretty much impossible for us to work opposite shifts. He has no shift. Yes, he works most days during the week, but he also works nights, and weekends, and holidays, and whenever else he has to to meet the schedules of the parishioners. We've run the numbers, and if I were to go back to work full-time, I wouldn't make enough for there to be any payoff after paying for childcare. And truthfully, I don't want to work outside the home. I'm *finally* doing something that feels right to me; something that is challenging and rewarding and frustrating and wonderful. I'm raising my son. I love being with him. We're planning to unschool him, so saying that if I just hold on for a few more years, he'll be in school and I can go back to work would just be me fooling myself and all of you.

I'm really overwhelmed. Our budget is pretty bare bones. I cook at home the vast, vast majority of the time. My "fun money" allowance is $10/month. My husband's is $40. Our one indulgence is our internet connection, and we split that cost with our upstairs neighbors. I can't see anywhere else in our budget to cut back, but I know that once our loans come out of forbearance, well, I guess I don't know. There's no more money. The little we have in savings would cover a little more than a month's payment for each of us.

In the grand scheme of things, I know that I have it better than a lot of people. And truthfully, I feel really blessed. I have an amazing husband and son and fantastic friends and family. Still, our financial troubles weigh deeply on my heart, and I'm just not sure where to go from here.
post #2 of 43
Are your student loans federal student loans? If so it is VERY easy to defer them for financial reasons, I have been doing so for the past few years. They also have income based repayment plans that base your payments off your income and cap it at a certain percent of your income. I would call the loan people about your student loans and see what you can do as a first step.
post #3 of 43
Yes, check out the ibr http://www.ibrinfo.org/ They will calculate the payment based on your income. I've had deferments in the past as well and they only used my income to qualify, not dh's. Since I also stay home it went to $0.
post #4 of 43
I mean this gently and respectfully, but it sounds like you want a lifestyle you can't afford right now. Either your DH needs a job that makes more money, or you need to go back to work. Deferring your student loans is just kicking the can down the road. Maybe you could do in-home childcare? I understand wanting to unschool, etc, but wow, 100K is a lot of money. If you're only in the workforce 5-10 yrs, your salary could help get rid of that debt. Sadly, I think it would be much, much, much easier to get a job now than to wait 15+ yrs when your son/children are grown. In my observation, women over 45 have a really hard time getting decent jobs, no matter their experience, especially if they've been out of the workforce for any amount of time.

Sorry to be negative. I hope things work out for your family.
post #5 of 43
Thread Starter 
The student loans are both federal and private. I haven't used the IBR calculator, but plan to. Thanks for that link.

Newbymom05-I agree, 100K *is* a lot of money. And honestly, a lot of money wasted. Neither my husband nor I work w/in our field of our degrees. As with a lot of people, if I knew then what I know now... well, I probably would have done community college for a while and maybe would have finished out my degree at a state school (if at all). At the time, I didn't know what I wanted. The university I atteneded was a small, local private institution. I majored in English. Because I liked to read. Honestly. Silly, isn't it? I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, so I chose somethign I knew I'd enjoy.

The "lifestyle" I want is a simple lifestyle. I just want to raise my son. Me. Not pay anyone else to care for him for the majority of the day, five days a week. I realize that waiting until he's grown will only make things harder, but we'll do all we can to avoid me having to work outside the home until then. And, I know there's not much advice to be offered to me. Like I said, our budget is bare bones. We don't have any real indulgences. Student loans can't be included in bankruptcy; there's no way out other than to pay them. I get all of that. I just needed to get it out on paper, or monitor, because I was having an especially hard day yesterday.

Hopefully my husband will find a job where he is paid better. For working in one of the most lucrative neighborhoods in Chicago, the pay he receives is laughable. Even for our simple budget, we have to count every penny. He's a fantastic graphic/web designer and photographer, but for him to really make a go of doing that on his own, we'd need more savings that what we have.

So, thank you all for your replies and thanks to all who read. I know that I don't have it as bad as some, and I'm sure my husband and I will figure it all out somehow.
post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by newbymom05 View Post
I mean this gently and respectfully, but it sounds like you want a lifestyle you can't afford right now. Either your DH needs a job that makes more money, or you need to go back to work. Deferring your student loans is just kicking the can down the road. Maybe you could do in-home childcare? I understand wanting to unschool, etc, but wow, 100K is a lot of money. If you're only in the workforce 5-10 yrs, your salary could help get rid of that debt. Sadly, I think it would be much, much, much easier to get a job now than to wait 15+ yrs when your son/children are grown. In my observation, women over 45 have a really hard time getting decent jobs, no matter their experience, especially if they've been out of the workforce for any amount of time.

Sorry to be negative. I hope things work out for your family.
I agree, your income needs to be increased to continue living the lifestyle that you have. I would cut the internet out, cut the fun money out. I haven't spent money in almost one year now, because I have medical bills to pay. So someone needs to create income, or cut out a lot of things, for this to work out.
post #7 of 43
I think dealing with your student loans is the way to go now, perhaps since you have a degree in English you could pick up some extra work tutoring older homeschooled kids in English? I know back home there were many home schooled middle and high schoolers whose parents had them work with an outside person in areas that the parent wasn't as skilled in or that the child had extra interest in.
post #8 of 43
Is there something you can do at home to bring in more money? Home daycare, proof-reading papers for college students, maybe something to use your degree? Can your husband do web design stuff on the side? That way he could fit it in when he has the time, rather than being on a schedule as you said his is unpredictable? My DH is doing contract/part-time computer software stuff and it really is quite flexible.

Good luck!
post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ola_ View Post
Is there something you can do at home to bring in more money? Home daycare, proof-reading papers for college students, maybe something to use your degree?
I was going to suggest this. You can still be at home for your son and bring in money doing free-lance work. We all understand WANTING to be home for your children, but being able to provide for those children is also important.
post #10 of 43
I have over $100,000 in student laon debt so I know what that feels like, I did want to say that there are some new loan repayment plans in play that could work for you. One is if you work in public service ft and repay for 10 yrs the balance will be forgiven. That's the one I am looking into since I do work at a non profit.

As someone who has made a slew of bad financial decisions including deferring student loans I will say long term deferrement is not a great idea. The interest is constantly accruing, I graduated in 2006 with my Masters and have been deferring and my original loan total was like $101,000 and I know owe $116,000. In my case I had a baby in 2005, lost a job, my dh lost clients so I have had to defer and I am now just starting to look at how I can deal with this.

Anyway good luck!
post #11 of 43

Food budget....is it too much?

posted under wrong thread. please delete
post #12 of 43
If you have an english degree, you probably would have an easier time finding work from home than most folks. There's lots of places that need editing and such done and they often have it done by wahms. You can also write, plenty of magazines and websites look for wahms to do one off articles. Babysitting from home is also something to look into, I am not sure of the laws in IL but picking up one or two kids could help bring in money.

You have to get your income up some how. If you can't bring in money from home, your DH needs a better job or a second job. Or you need to look at WOH. You could look for something that you can bring your little one with, or even a string of temporary jobs that have flexible hours. I did census work for a few weeks this year, last year I did phone book delivery. Neither was anythign bringing in bank, but every little bit helps. And there were no set hours, I just worked when I could manage the time. Census is over, but there are other jobs that are similar. When I was in college, I did a market research job that was part time easy work, with NO set hours, not even an office to work out of, just an office to distribute and collect work. Basically, I went into that office on Friday, picked up a packet of instructions, and turned in the work from the week before. As long as the work assigned was done by the duedate on the paperwork, they didn't care when I did it. In fact, in 24 hour stores (in a safe neighborhood of course) I regularly went in after midnight. The name of the company has changed since then, I think it's called Mosaic InfoForce now.

Also for your loans, you may want to look into consolidating them, to see if that can help you with a better repayment plan.

ETA: I missed the part about your DH being a great photographer. If your market is as saturated as mine, it's TOUGH-I have been struggling for almost two years now with photography and I did have to get a part time WOH job, "in the meantime" until the photography is making more money. If he's already got the basics-a quality DSLR, quality editing software-he can start out "at the bottome" so to speak. Just start posting on craigslist and the like for portrait sessions. Or, if he doesn't want to shoot people, he can do some landscapes, still lifes, etc and sell them on etsy or ebay.
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by newbymom05 View Post
I mean this gently and respectfully, but it sounds like you want a lifestyle you can't afford right now. Either your DH needs a job that makes more money, or you need to go back to work. Deferring your student loans is just kicking the can down the road. Maybe you could do in-home childcare? I understand wanting to unschool, etc, but wow, 100K is a lot of money. If you're only in the workforce 5-10 yrs, your salary could help get rid of that debt. Sadly, I think it would be much, much, much easier to get a job now than to wait 15+ yrs when your son/children are grown. In my observation, women over 45 have a really hard time getting decent jobs, no matter their experience, especially if they've been out of the workforce for any amount of time.
I agree with this completely.

You may just view your desires as having a simple lifestyle, but it's an unrealistic lifestyle given your debtload and financial situation. You need to do something that will boost your income. Providing adequately for your child and family is extremely important. Sometimes that means that people need to compromise on what they see as ideal.
post #14 of 43
I'll add that if you are only looking at commercial day care providers, I would encourage you to look at other numbers. I'm in Chicago. A girlfriend of mine told me just Saturday that she found someone - legit - who will provide care for $5/ hour. 5 dollars an hour!!! We use the same person who charges $13/hour. My friend, however, has gone back to school full time and can no longer afford that. And she found the person at a commercial place. So, it can be done. And, it sounds like your husband is in a ministry. Wouldn't it make sense to have faith that a loving, caring, cost-efficient provider can be found given your circumstances?

And as far as working in the field of your degree . . . who does unless you are in the sciences? (I'm sure there are others, but it is sooooo common to not work in the field of one's degree.) It's actual work experience that really matters and the more time between receiving your degree and getting some work experience, the harder it will be in the long run. Not impossible, just harder. Although I do WOH, I would love to be at home with my children. But, I can earn far more than my husband, so, he's at home with them.
post #15 of 43
Another idea, can your homemaking skills save significant money? For example, can you grow/raise/preserve much of your food? You can go pretty extreme on that, if you're willing to do the work. Not $800 a month, though, but what if you could grow $200 a month worth of food 6 months of the year?

I started line drying this summer and it saved me $30 a month. Not much, but another chip away.

Do you have air conditioning? Can you live without it? Probably another $30 a month in summer.

Odd jobs. Tutoring kids. Man a stall at the farmer's market in exchange for food (bring toys). Make and sell stuff on Etsy. Take on a newspaper delivery route (bring the kiddo). Heck, even part time housecleaning could fit your goals (some clients don't mind kids being brought along).

Shop goodwill and repair clothes rather than buying new. Cook from scratch and use more of the food you buy. Get fresh beets at the farmer's market and eat both the greens and the root. Roast a chicken and then make stock from the carcass.

I agree with the PP's that you can't just ignore this and hope it will go away - but I do think, with effort, you can still acheive your goal of staying with your son.

Oh, you might want to check out the book Radical Homemaking. I'm still reading it but it could give you some ideas.
post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
Another idea, can your homemaking skills save significant money? For example, can you grow/raise/preserve much of your food? You can go pretty extreme on that, if you're willing to do the work. Not $800 a month, though, but what if you could grow $200 a month worth of food 6 months of the year?

I started line drying this summer and it saved me $30 a month. Not much, but another chip away.

Do you have air conditioning? Can you live without it? Probably another $30 a month in summer.

Odd jobs. Tutoring kids. Man a stall at the farmer's market in exchange for food (bring toys). Make and sell stuff on Etsy. Take on a newspaper delivery route (bring the kiddo). Heck, even part time housecleaning could fit your goals (some clients don't mind kids being brought along).

Shop goodwill and repair clothes rather than buying new. Cook from scratch and use more of the food you buy. Get fresh beets at the farmer's market and eat both the greens and the root. Roast a chicken and then make stock from the carcass.

I agree with the PP's that you can't just ignore this and hope it will go away - but I do think, with effort, you can still acheive your goal of staying with your son.

Oh, you might want to check out the book Radical Homemaking. I'm still reading it but it could give you some ideas.
Mmm, hate to be Negative Nan again, but those excellent ideas would enable her to stay home and homeschool on her DH's not-so-great salary, and maybe even deal w/ the consumer debt that they have. It wouldn't do much for the 100K in non- dischargeable debt that is accruing interest even now. For that, I don't see how she isn't going to either have to dramatically increase her DH's salary or WOH. Something to consider, with those numbers, they'll be paying down student loan debt when their own children are in college. And what about retirement?

Like I tell my DH, eventually my going back to work will be a 35K+ raise for him. A tough and unpleasant decision, but far more realistic than the idea that he's going to get that kind of raise, or that we're going to cut expenses by that amount.

OP, I would reconsider working for 5-10 years with your total salary going to pay down the debt. Honestly, I don't see that you really have an alternative.
post #17 of 43
I agree with newbymom. I hear that you are frustrated that your educational loans didn't pay out and that you want to be home with your son.

But this burden on your family isn't going to go away and the longer you defer it (especially as you want to unschool and don't have a set timeframe for starting to attack this debt) the worse it's going to get. There will be expenses ahead too (I hope you have health insurance).

As a family you need to up your income. There are lots of ways to do that including looking into some kind of family-friendly business, but you have to agree that your income is currently inadequate.
post #18 of 43
I was going by the understanding that they are short $800 a month - that they already have swung everything else. Just not the student loans.

Now, $800 a month is nothing to sneeze at, and it's not something you can get just by cutting a cable bill. I totally agree. At the same time, it's hardly another full-time job. $10,000 a year will cover it - that's a low-wage part-time job.

Daycare is a huge struggle for families in America as it eats up so much of the income. So just adding that turns this into a full-time job.

My idea - and I'm only trying to explain my thoughts further, I'm not married to it and I couldn't really know if it will work for the OP's situation - is that if she can produce a bit of income (ideas I listed above or others - tutoring, Etsy, newspaper route, whatever) plus produce assets for the home (mainly food - which is tax-free to boot) then her husband may, if he feels as committed as the OP to making this work, cover the rest with a moonlighting job of his own (delivering pizzas, waiting tables) without it turning into a HUGE second job. He might only have to earn an extra $125 a week, for example, 10 or so hours. (2 hours a night 5 or 6 days a week). Which is a lot but it's doable if he is willing. Or the OP herself could do this work after her husband comes home.

Fact is, they are going to have to work hard either way to swing this. What I've described is hardly a cop-out. Both OP and her DH will have to work. A lot. But I just wanted to suggest the idea because they may be willing to do it to meet their ideals.

ETA: I just remembered the whole youth minister bit. So they cannot cover the remainder with a standard job working for someone else. The only thing I can see is either a job for the OP where she can take along her kiddo (housecleaning, newspaper delivery) or working online somehow (making things for Etsy, shopping yard sales for treasures to resell, developing a skill that can be sold online, etc.).

Or she has to get a "regular" job and do daycare.

Or her DH has to do something else other than youth ministry. Or at least somehow work it in so he can have a part-time second job and if something comes up while he's at his other job it will just have to wait.
post #19 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgracefrank View Post
I majored in English. Because I liked to read. Honestly. Silly, isn't it?
No. I mean, yes, it sounds silly written out, but I think you're one of millions who get caught in that trap. I have a degree in history, and it's much the same thing. I absolutely made a mistake doing that, and I know it now. I just don't know how to fix it at this juncture. I've read so much about a student loan bubble, and I think we are hitting that point. So, don't beat yourself up over using student loans to get an English degree. You are not alone. Besides, even if it was a mistake, it's over now. All you can do is trudge on.

Both graphic design and photography are skills your husband could leverage part-time to make some money. I would brainstorm that and any skills you have (editing, writing, tutoring) that you could use to bring in some money.
post #20 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
Or her DH has to do something else other than youth ministry. Or at least somehow work it in so he can have a part-time second job and if something comes up while he's at his other job it will just have to wait.
I know people don't want to touch talking about leaving a ministry job for financial reasons, but I think you may have to consider it. Actually I read a column at livingonadime.com a few weeks ago about this same question. Someone went to law school & had massive student loans and then went into ministry and couldn't swing the loans.

She gave basically 2 scenarios. One was working for 5 years or so as an attorney. Live on a ministry salary and pay everything else to student loans. The other was working part-time as a minister and part-time as an attorney to make it work.
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