Warning: This is going to be a looong vent about money, so feel free to skip it.
A little over a year ago, I was working as an intake specialist for a whistleblowing hotline. $15 an hour, great company, great people, soul-sucking job. DH was a stay-at-home parent, going to school (mostly online), and doing a little freelance web design work. We realized that continuing as we were, we were never going to get ahead, get our debt paid off, plan for the future, etc. I had just gotten an offer to work on a contract basis as a copy editor, and we decided that this would be a good opportunity for me to quit my full-time job and go to grad school.
For the next 6 months, things worked out great. DH and I were both going to school, complementing each other's schedules so we could be there for DS. We were living on my and his freelance income and DH's stafford loans. I was getting a LOT more work than I had expected, and we had never had such a comfortable income. I was doing prereqs for a speech pathology graduate program and planning to apply in the spring.
We had been talking for awhile about having another baby, something that we had only just started to consider. DS is 5 and he has autism. The ages of 2-4 were so, so difficult for us that we didn't think we were ever going to have another child. But at that point, with me just about single-handedly covering our living expenses working only part-time from home, we thought it would be a perfect time to have baby #2. I talked to my boss and told her that I could commit more hours to her if I could be sure that the work would continue. I told her I needed $1200 a month, minimum, for this to work (I was making almost double that at the time). She told me they had tons of projects lined up and that would be no problem. So DH and I decided that I would put off applying to grad school and we would have a baby. I got pregnant almost immediately.
A month or 2 later our 13-year-old Saturn was just about to bite the dust. We had some cash saved up and decided that we really needed to get another car. We bought one at a used car lot (stupid, stupid, I know, but we knew we'd have trouble finding financing otherwise since we're both self-employed).
The big project I was working on in the spring ended. A smaller project started, but I only made about $1000 in June. By July, my income was down to $200. Nothing in August. I was told that work would start back up in September for sure. DH and I chastised ourselves for buying the car, got my student loan payments deferred, consolidated debt, applied for food stamps and WIC, cashed in our minuscule retirement accounts (less than $3000 all together), and promised ourselves that as soon as the money was coming in again our first priority would be saving up a 3-month emergency fund. These steps (and some freelance income from DH) have pulled us through to the end of September.
At the same time my income completely dried up, we realized we had bought a lemon, and we have no one to blame but ourselves as our contract very plainly said "as is." Since we bought our car last May, we have put more than $1500 into it ($1000 of which was a loan from my parents, yet to be repaid). It needs another $1400 in repairs that we can't afford to do. At this point, we can't drive it for more than 10 minutes without it overheating. Once we get it fixed, we will owe the approximate bluebook value of the car. So right now our loan is upside down. Once we can afford to get it fixed, we're going to do our damnedest to sell the horrible curse of a car. Then at least we won't be paying $350 a month between the payment, insurance, and gas. We will just get by without a car for awhile. But I have no idea when we will be able to afford to get it fixed, and who knows if we will be able to sell it for what we owe.
Now I am being told that the company I've been working for is not using any outside contractors at this time, and work will likely be scarce through the end of the year. Crap. They've been stringing me on for the past 2 months, telling me that plentiful work is just around the corner, and now this. What am I supposed to do?!? I can't go get my old job back. DS needs me. We can't send him to public school. If he has more than a few hours a week of outside classes/childcare his anxiety goes through the roof and his behavioral and learning issues explode. He has very special needs and he NEEDS to be homeschooled. And I'm 7 months pregnant. I'm trying to do some freelance writing for Constant Content and I've been approved to write for Suite101, but from what I understand, these are long-term investments and I won't be getting significant income from them for months. I've looked at other copy editing jobs, but to be honest, my experience is very specialized (standardized tests) and limited, and there is a lot of competition. I'm applying to tutor online with Tutor.com again (I did this a couple years ago) but it pays crap and I kind of hate it. I'll do it anyway, but I'm not going to get enough hours to bring in the kind of money we need. I know this from experience.
And I hate to mention this, because it sounds to frivolous, but the most heartbreaking thing for me is NOT not knowing how we are going to make ends meet. It's that I have to give up my home birth. I've been working with really, really wonderful midwives who have a great payment plan ($1500 before the birth and then $160 a month for the following year). I still owe $950 by the first week of November, and there's no way I can pay it. Even if we did somehow come up with the money, it would be really stupid not to use it for RENT and BILLS! So either I birth unassisted at home (I did this with DS, so it's not an entirely crazy idea) or go to the hospital, which will be covered by medicaid. I really don't want to do either of those things, and I feel like a spoiled brat for feeling this way.
DH has started applying for full-time jobs, but we're not too hopeful. He's a freelance web designer with several years of experience, but no degree. I'm sure this city is teeming with out-of-work freelance web designers who do have degrees. He makes about $600 a month through freelance work at the moment. And if he got a full-time job he would have to quit school, which would suck.
I've been able to stay so positive and hopeful up to this point, but I'm falling apart now. I really don't know what to do. I feel like a leech for being on public assistance and a failure at life since I'm 30 and still haven't found out how to be a grown-up. I feel like an idiot for buying this stupid, stupid car, and for hurrying and getting pregnant when our finances were obviously not nearly as stable as I thought they were. I feel like I'M the woman people are judging when they complain about drains on society, and to be honest, I don't blame them! And on top of everything, I STILL don't know how we're going to pay our bills going forward.
Thank you, if you've read this far. I don't know what I'm looking for by posting this. I just needed to vent, and if I vent to my mom she'll think I'm indirectly asking for money or that I want her to fix it all somehow (which I don't). I'm too ashamed to talk to anyone else about this. :(