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HELP! What do I do?!

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

My xh has screwed me out of two months of child support (there was a slight filing mistake by the state but he knew it was a mistake but chose to let it go in hopes I would just cry a little and think they were right.  the first month...yeah, the second month I had a panic attack and then once I could breath again swung into action.  i had it  figured out and settled inside of 10 minutes.  or so i thought. and unless he has no functioning brain cells he knew he owed me the money and should have just put into saving knowing the bill would come due.  but he didn't.  he spent it on something...) and now wants to pay it back slowly.  And they will let him because he is a smooth talking douche bag and the state of south dakota sucks.


And he is taking me back to court to get my support lowered.  again.  we were in court 3 months ago.  hence the filing error.  


A basic run down of my budget:


house $800 (tried to sell it.  no one even looked and it would be hard to find a find a place for less than $800 a month. I need at least three bedrooms to keep custody of my kids.  I already live in the bad neighborhood and my house is on the road to condemnation.)


car $325 - can't sell it.  it is 2 years old, has just over 10,000 miles and has been in two major accidents.  Accidents tank the book value.  It should have been totaled.  It is worthless.


insurance and gas-  $140  (insurance is $75 and that is a gift in light of the accident that was my fault.  gas I get by with about 1 1/2 tanks a month.  about 15 gallons.)  We have no reliable public transportation.  even if I did passes would be $125 a month....and I would still need a car and with a car insurance.


groceries etc - $500  (this includes all consumables.  paper supplies, dog food, shampoo, school supplies, and eating out)  This may be really high.....


credit card bills: $600 (this includes $2500 in medical bills.  in the last 9 months i have had mono, a poloyp with suspicious looking cells that started with an ER visit and ended with surgical removal and pathology and will result in biopsies of every surrounding area up my vingingo before the year is out.  $$$$$$$  but you can't not do it, and I crashed on an alpine slide and had to go to the ER for rays.  Thank God nothing was broken.....except the bank.)  Also since he has not paid child support we have been making up the gap with credit card.  I also have a rental property that my tenants trashed.  I put it on my credit card but now won't be able to finish the repairs and probably won't have it done in time to rent it in Oct.  And last week my dd kicked my laptop and ruined it.  So I had to buy a new one.  It was the only way to stay in touch with my boyfriend in europe and run my etsy shop.  it is my one luxury and connection to the outside world.


$60 internet.  robbery.  


phones: $60 a month.  That is one real cell and two tracphones.  No home phone.  My kids are in three different schools.  I have phone insurance because ...well...lets just say it is the best investment I have ever made.  Me and my 5th cell phone in a year....insurance...good.  We do not have a home phone so I like for the girls to have cells. especially since they have to go to their dads so often.  


gas/electric/water/garbage - $175 tops.  We are moving into a cheap phase thank goodness.  It will probably be closer to $100 this month.  Maybe even less.  No AC, no heater, no watering the garden.   I love fall!  


savings - $75 a month but to be honest it mostly just gets pulled out right away.  


clothes etc- $80 a month.  this includes good shoes (I work on my feet), work clothes for me, winter coats, and nice enough clothes (nothing too fancy but nothing they have to be ashamed of.  I grew up ashamed....)


incidentals $100 (candles at church, tithing when I do it, gifts, sports, allowance, band, field trips, lunch money, treats, pet care, oil changes....everything else)


I contribute to my 401K and Roth IRA at a full amount (about $150 a month) and i am so far behind (expecting my husband to be a real man and take care of his wife and family) I refuse to contribute less.  I will only have enough for 10 years as it is.  My insurances (health, dental, disability, and life run about $15 a month.  a  steal...if it were not for that $2500 deductable).




TOTAL: $2915




wages after tax and deductions - $1500 a month.


alimony when I get it is $500

child support when I get it is $950


if I can get the rental up and going it will be $650 but do not get that right now.  And need to put about $1000 more into it.  


So you can see the problem.   I was so close to being out of debt I could taste it.  Then one thing after another.  I can't even come close on $1500 a month.  There is no amount of cutting I can do.  


So when you are this screwed what can you do?  I have a garden with cucumbers and tomatoes.  We will be eating a lot of those.  Not a lot of other stuff in there.  A taste of this and a taste of that.  I work as a manager at a starbucks.  They will not let us put a tip cup out :-(  once my car is paid off it will run forever.  and it gets pretty good gas mileage.  If I sold it i would take a loss because of the accidents.  One was my fault (I was trying to drive myself to the Dr, with mono...) and the other was someone else's fault.  Doesn't matter whose fault it was, it is a ding on your cars report.


and by the way, There are four of us.  Me and my three girls 15, 11 and 8.  15 year old needs to get a job but she struggles in school and need extra time for tutoring and she has to help with the child care around here.  She can contribute a bit maybe.  cover her clothes and fun with friends.  i work full time managing a starbucks.  I can't really take a second job.  I barely find time to parent as it is. I knit for pennies on etsy.  It actually saves me money to not rent my place to bad renters. The last tenants did so much damage Iit will never recover.  They took a chunk out of the foundation.  Plus we have a huge mouse problem because of them.   I have a dog but she is our protector (german shepherd mix, she is a pansy but puts on a good growly face.  remember we live in a horrible neighborhood) and a cat (who catches on average 4 mice a week.  She earns her keep.).  I am not getting rid of the pets.  


I need to go apply for emergency food stamps.  Monday.  But I also have to get to work at 4AM for inventory on Monday.  It will probably be a 10 or 11 hour day.  Then I will need to grab the wee kid and head to the office to beg.  We may also qualify for free lunch but man, that stuff is so bad for them and the more poor we get the more weight my kids put on.  I can't afford to keep buying ever larger clothes.  ugh....I hate my life.


So right now.  I got paid yesterday.  I bought groceries and got caught up on last months gas and electric.  I have $60 in the bank and my credit cards are as maxed as I can let them go without having a seizure.  My house and car payment are due on the 5th.  

post #2 of 29

I didn't want to read and not post.  I'm sorry your are going through this.  hug2.gifThere are many more learned ladies on this board who can give a lot of really good advice, but I just wanted to ask you a question and offer some advice.


The rental house- is that paid off?  Is it possible to fix it up and then live there, and get rid of the house you currently have?


As far as child support is concerned, I think it's really hard to plan on that money coming all the time.  DS#1 is from my first marriage, and I have received exactly $0 in child support since we first separated in 2005.  I think it would be very prudent of you to make a plan based on your income, and any time you receive child support that can go into savings.  


Good luck, and I hope you get some really good advice that helps you!

post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 

I agree. I would like to not depend on child support but really I cannot.  I mean who can raise a family of four on less than $1500 a month?  I need my car to get to work.  I need dd #1 home to babysit her sister.   I am making more money than I have ever made.  Twice what i made 2 years ago.  yeah, I know that sucks.   I am not very good at anything.  I was a really really good stay at home mom. 




I cannot sell the rental house because it is a duplex.  I don't have a separate payment or anything.  Its just the other side of my house.  I thought about selling it but I could not get into anything for under $800 a month.  Well except for my rental but I do not allow my tenants the liberties i take (like the dog and the cat).  And like I said. I tried to sell it but no one even looked.   It is a duplex.  The comps are terrible because of the slum lord foreclosures and condemnations.  I paid $115,000 for it 10 years ago, finished the attic, redid the landscaping, and have done tons of updating with  the decor and now it is worth about $97,000.  I owe 100.  It is in a terrible neighborhood.  it is a corner lot (around here no one wants a corner lot because shoveling the snow sucks.  I am sure there are other reasons but that is the reason I won't consider a corner lot ever again even if it were otherwise my dream house.  they would have to be giving it away...literally).  it is overbuilt for the lot.  it has structural issues. Its a disaster.  i should have bailed when I had the chance.  

post #4 of 29

I understand about the rental now.  I'm a little short on time right now, but just glancing at your first posting I'd ask if there is any way to lower the CC payments each month?  Did you pay your medical bills with a credit card, or are you paying the medical facilities directly?  

post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 

I but the medical bills on on cc.  The interest on the cards is lower than hospital financing.


And yeah I have to lower the payments on the credit cards.  I have no choice.  i think my minimums (2 cards) come in at around $200 a month.  but i feel dirty only paying the minimums.  I feel dirty having cc debt :-(

post #6 of 29

I understand how you feel about making the minimum payments, but I don't think it really helps you much to make big payments and then charge the cards back up, ykwim?  You can still pay more than the minimum (and, of course, you really should!), say $300 and that still gives you some room.  Then you can use a spousal support and/or child support to make a big payment.  


Any chance on getting your CC interest rates reduced?  


As far as your 15 YO, does she really need a job?  She's most likely saving you $ on child care (depending on if and how much you pay her), and if she already needs extra tutoring, then perhaps it's better she doesn't have a job outside of the home.  


Does your duplex always attract bad tenets, or just the last ones?  It sounds like you live in a pretty rough area.  But you need that rental income, so you really may not have a choice about renting out that side again.  


I think applying for aid is a great idea, but I don't know how things like having a car and a 401(k) will affect that.  I know for some aid you are not supposed to have more than a certain amount of assets.  


Do you think your XH will generally be reliable with spousal and child support?  And how long do you qualify for spousal support? 


Again, I'm so sorry.  :-(

post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 

up until recently he has been decent.  late enough to irritate me but not enough to get in trouble with the state.  They made a small mistake and he is milking it for all it is worth.  he knew he made a mistake and is now claiming he does not have the money to pay and will need to pay it over the course of a year or more or something.  And he is taking me back to court for the second time in 3 months to have it reduced.

post #8 of 29

Hon, I'm in a very similar boat.  I have no advice but tons and tons of sympathy.  Hang in there.  Be openminded to whatever creative opportunities might present themselves even if they are things you would not normally consider, and see what happens.  I will be thinking of you.

post #9 of 29

Any decent thrift stores for cloths? Mine has 75 cent sales 2 days a week on everything in the store-good stuff not nasty cloths.Internet maybe switch around for deals.We pay $20 right now for a year,and thne it jumps to $30.


Are the medical bils on a credit card or do you just pay? I had one bill I paid $5 to $10 a month.Often I get billing to allow a $20 a month payment,but I will pay more when I have it. I see they are on CC.I recently got a no interest for a year/no transfer fee from chase.Try switching to something like that.

post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 

I am  going to try and transfer some or all of my credit card balances to a card  with a promotional no interest thing.  That will at least stop the bleeding.  Thank you.  that is a good idea.


I am also going to DSS to apply for emergency assistance.  If nothing else to help me cover the expenses incurred from their mistake. (I don't know if mentioned my ex stopped paying because our social worker told him not to.  Now one told me for two months.  As soon as I found out I explained the mistake to her and she changed it in the system.  xh had to know.  but chose not to save the money and spent it instead.  Now it is not there.  $2500)


I the hospital I go to has really high interest rates and they are compounding.  So I chose to put it on the credit card to simplify.  Also there was no reason I shouldn't have had it paid off quickly if he had paid child support.   If I had gone to the other hospital I would be having better luck.  but my midwife may only practice at this one.  On the upside I have maxed out my out of pocket expense for the year.  yippy.  The next round of biopsies etc should not cost me anything.


They have enough clothes to get by for now.   And no, we have no good thrift stores.  They are all way overpriced for used clothes (I can do better working a good sale) and have really outdated stuff (except platos closet but if I wanted to pay $20 for jeans I would just buy new)

post #11 of 29


A couple things come to mind.  

Do you have energy assistance?  Its part of DES but through the power company.  You should qualify and get a credit on your power bill.  It may be called Liheap (sp)

I know your 15yr old needs tutoring from school but if can work on the weekends that would get some income.  Even if your 11 yr old can babysit on the weekends for someone else that would help a bit.  Yard work, cleaning for other families, stuff like that.    I feel horrible because my DS will be 11 soon and I'm counting the years until he can get some income going.

Your pay works out to $9.37/hr?  Is there anywhere else to transfer to in SD?  An office type job that would lead to some type of career ladder?  I have no idea what employment is like in SD.

I think you are active in your church, can they help? Food bank, clothes closet, clothes swap? Anything like that?

For awhile I just got hard core and DS didn't do any activites. I felt horrible but he was limited to free things at the library or what I could scrounge up on city scholarships.  He does swim team now and its $$ but its helping his waistline and he loves it.  I'm trying to get him on some type of scholarship.

IDK if MDC is doing holiday helper again but that is always something to keep in mind.

My son has a free cell phone from DES.  TracFone and he gets 250 mins a month.  Since we are on FS and Medical it was an automatic approval.

For clothes I stalk LandsEnd.com  My son is a bit, ummmm  rotund and they have husky/plus sizes and the clearance section is great.  

When I order on line I always go through mypoints.com  I can get several $25 gift cards a year from there.



post #12 of 29

Sounds like a super rough time. I have been there too, it does suck. I don't have much advice except to tell you, in our area anyway, child support can only be changed once a year. Hopefully that is the case for you and it isn't lowered again. *hug*

post #13 of 29

You work at Starbucks? Have you applied for assistance through the cup fund for the medical bills?

post #14 of 29

mum4boys - Excellent tip. My SIL got this when she worked there.

post #15 of 29

OP, it sounds like you're doing really really well with the money you're bringing in!  None of your expenditures seem excessive to me, and it looks like you're doing beautifully on everything where you can manage to save money. 


I only noticed 4 things where you might be able to make some slight changes:

  1. If you have any chance of refinancing your house, you might want to consider doing so - and looping your credit card debt into the new mortgage.  It would significantly reduce the amount of interest you're paying on the CC debt, and also consolidate the debt so that you don't have as much likelihood of missing a payment and getting outrageous interest rates as a result (this has always been a danger for me, I'm bad at keeping track of that stuff). 
  2. You can probably reduce your expenditures on clothing, etc. quite a bit, if you try to get used/clearance stuff online -- have you checked Craigslist?  We don't buy ANY clothes new at ALL in our house, but we have lots of access to good secondhand stores around here.  The only clothes we buy new are one pair of shoes for DH a year (for work), and a few incidentals (like occasional underwear or socks).  You could also put a temporary moratorium on clothing expenditures until you get the child support thing worked out.
  3. Internet -- you can totally find Internet service for a LOT cheaper than this.  Like a PP suggested, hunt down the deals and keep switching providers every time they give you a good deal to do so. 
  4. STOP feeling bad about your situation RIGHT NOW.  A huge part of the problem here is that YOU feel embarrassed and "dirty" because you have credit card debt and are struggling.  STOP IT RIGHT NOW!  You are doing a WONDERFUL job taking care of your family and being responsible for your finances.  Do you have ANY idea how few people in your situation would even CONSIDER putting money into a 401(k) or savings?  That is AMAZING, IMO, and you deserve major props for everything you're doing.  The trouble is, Starbucks doesn't pay you enough for your work and your time, and your entire family suffers for it. And, your children's father has paid ZILCH for their care for the past two months.  That's a problem with Starbucks and your XH, not you.  Your work is worth a lot more than $1500 a month!!!  And your children deserve to have the financial support of both of their parents.  And as for the rest -- credit card debt is nothing to be ashamed of; that's what credit card companies WANT you to do.  They're designed for you to accumulate debt.  And in this case, you have good reason to have the debt on there.  Just pay as much as you can manage until the child support kicks back in.  And if you can get temporary assistance, GET it and be glad for it -- not ashamed.  It's not "begging" to access a community resource (that YOUR taxes also pay for, BTW) that exists for exactly that purpose.  If your job and your XH would provide the income you need, you wouldn't need to access that resource, but you do, and that's what it's there for, so don't feel bad about it.  Be glad it's there!  And if you get temp. benefits, try to stash as much cash into savings while you have the chance, so that you have a cushion for when benefits run out in case your XH pulls some other craziness with child support. 


post #16 of 29
Could you rent out your rental to someone handy with the deal that they fix it up for a much lower rent in the time being? Like, instead of charging $650 you could take whatever repair costs out of the rent, plus another percentage to pay them for their labor. That way they're paying for material upfront but getting "reimbursed" from you at the end of the month with a lower rent. Then they'll get an even lower rent for actually doing the work. And your 15 year old could easily babysitter one night per weekend to pay for her own fun. I did that starting at 14 myself.
post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 

I am not employed through strabucks. I work at a lisenced store (franchise set up) and am not sure which of their benefits carry over  but I will definitely check into that.  Thanks for the tip.


I just refinanced my house.  It took forever and I had to pay closing costs.  Part of my credit card debt.  i was legally obligated to refinance though and my home value has decreased in value considerably.  Even with perfect credit the appraisal sunk me.  blah blah blah....my payment is $300 less than it was last year.  And I have absolutely no equity.  Not a dime.


Originally I was not going to rent the duplex because my last renters trashed it so badly that it s costing my upwards of $5000 to fix it up.  (total repaint extermination, new toilet and medicine cabinet in the bathroom, carpet cleaning - which did not save them as well as we thought.  something keeps seeping up so I am going to lose the carpet - several broken windows messed up screens and the hammered nails into the foundation and knocked a big chunk out.  Then my friends kids needed a place and I decided they were worth waiting for.  They were going to move in in Oct. but I don't know if I am going to have the money to finish the promised repairs.  


Most of the clothing expenditures are shoes.  I work on my feet 9-10 hours a day (the last department I worked in had a grippy textured floor that was really hard on shoes. I wore through a pair of Doc Martins in six months. working at starbucks should give my shoes a fighting chance LOL  )  My kids are in sports (track for the little two and marching band for the high schooler...which is surprising athletic) so I have to buy them at least one good pair of shoes a year.  All of us need exceptional arch support.  My dd and I need insoles that run about $30 a  pair.  not huge but  it does increase the cost.  So that comes up to about $200-$300 per year for kids shoes.  And that is if no one grows.  Fortunately they all have brand new shoes right now.  we should be good.  And my pants are expensive ...about $30 a pair  I need 3 pairs to make it through a week of work and they last about 6 months (doesn't matter how much more I spend they still only last six months.  It sucks needing to wear dress pants to do such a physical job.  Those are our biggest clothing expenses.  When I have the money (which I usually do) I like to get them dresses for Pascha and Christmas.  i try to buy things they can wear the rest of the year.    But modest yet cute teen clothing does not come cheap.  That usually runs me about $200 twice a year (which includes shoes and sweaters, tights and an accessory for three girls.  And this total is considerably cheaper when pasch comes after Easter and we can hit the fancy dress clearance sales!!)).  I wish there were people I could trade with or something but all my friends either have girls younger than mine or boys. :)  So I am able to hand down some nice stuff at least.   The two oldest hit a bag sale at a resale shop and got about 30 shirts for $30.  Woot.  (Half of them stayed at their dads so they each scored about 7 shirts for here)  So at least they have a good stash of tops.  Some of course did not work out but I still think they did pretty good.   If only they could have gotten some pants on that deal.   Thats another problem.  regardless of how poor we are I am not letting my dds wear clothing that is immodest.  My 11 year old is over 5 feet tall and wears a B cup.  She is still a little girl but she is just tall and womanly.   It is so hard to find clothes that work!  most sources of used clothes has stuff that is just too inappropriate.  If anyone has tips for where to get stylish modest clothes for girls inexpensively I would love to know.  We do good working the sales at Gap and Old Navy when I have the time and money to do that.


Clearly I cannot buy any now.  They will just have to make do.  Like I said, they have shoes and a good stash of socks and underwear.  They will need jeans come winter.   For now though their summer clothes will cover them a few more months. But you can see how it easily adds up  without packing the closets.  $80 a month works out to $240 a year per person and in that total is a nice pair of tennis shoes and for the little one church shoes (the two older ones and I are all the same size now and can share shoes. :D  Its a beautiful thing).  I sometimes have to squeeze a coat/gloves into that amount as well.  (I swear if their dad loses another pair of gloves and doesn't replace them himself......)


as  nice little update, I talked to social services....they are working on things and it sounds promising.  he said he paid his Dr. bills instead of child support because he didn't want to get "dinged" for paying late.  I guess he is talking about late fees interest and or a drop in credit score for being late.   DSS will not do any of that f you are a little late.  Unfortunately since he has not paid I have had late fees, interest and a drop in credit score most likely.  Jerk.  his kids go hungry so that he doesn't have to pay interest.  Seriously?  grrrrrrrr

post #18 of 29

Have you ever looked into Boys and Girls Clubs of America? If there is one near you, check it out. The dues here are $10/child per YEAR. They offer homework help, and some of them do meals or at least snacks some days of the week. Many offer sports. If your kids joined, your teen could get some help with homework and also possibly a job, because she wouldn't need to babysit her siblings.


If fixing up the other side of the duplex is something you think would help, I'd make minimum payments on the cc for three months to get it fixed up. Even if you can't rent it, maybe you could use it for a home based business. An overnight daycare? (You could sleep there and take in a few kids whose parents work overnight, your kids would sleep in their own beds). Or a pet-sitting business. Something that would generate a little income but not take a lot of time away from your kids, and they could participate in it with you.


If you don't live near a B & G club. . .  can you move? Rent both sides of the duplex? Sell it, even on a short sale? I would look long and hard at my life and try to figure out what I could do if I put everything on the table.

post #19 of 29

How is it going? Hoping that things are improving!

post #20 of 29

lilyka, I hope you are at least feeling more hopeful about your situation now than you were two months ago, if not in an improved situation all around too. Long distance hugs to you!


As for your oldest DD and clothes, not necessarily related to your current $ dilemma, do you have a sewing machine? Some of the clothes styles available for my DSD make me queasy with how they're cut so I can understand your frustrations with what's marketed to young teenagers now. But if you can sew and have a machine, perhaps you could purchase things in more junior sizes (or whatever they call young adult women clothes, which would be longer than girls clothes) and take in the sides a bit to fit. Perhaps your DD could even learn. It would expand the selection of clothes at both secondhand stores and clearance racks so maybe she'd be on board. For me this process means nearly dismantling the garment so I can put it back together without anyone being able to tell it was altered but that's because of my over-perfection. I do this for a lot of my and DH's clothes because we're both disproportionally tall -to- thin and look like goobers if tummies peek out or pants droop down. It's one of my favorite pass-times since it's productive yet totally takes my mind off daily stress, and is nearly free (just some thread).

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