Just how screwed am I? - Mothering Forums
Frugality & Finances > Just how screwed am I?
Pariah's Avatar Pariah 08:05 PM 09-28-2009
I sat at work today breaking down my financial picture, and it isn't pretty. I'm half angrily determined to fix everything, and half wanting to crawl under the desk and cry.

Here's the deal...I'm working 35 hours a week (full time not an option at the moment, I've already tried) for $10 an hour. My checks have ranged from $212 to $286, and I get paid weekly. I'm very close to defaulting on my student loans (one with Sallie Mae for ~$60k, another for ~$16k with AES). I have bills left over that my ex-husband ran up after I moved out of the house we were renting when we separated...~$1,300 electric bill, and over $400 cable bill. Our son also has a bill for lab work from this past summer that the ex was supposed to pay at least half of, but he hasn't paid any. He's pretty much come out and said that he's not paying any of this, despite admitted that these bills are his responsibility. He's also not paying child support. I pay rent, cell phone, gas (I have an hour drive to work currently). We're desperate to move closer to where I work ASAP because we live in a high crime area.

Is it worth it to pay a little bit on each of these every week? I like the Dave Ramsey books, and I believe he says to start with the smallest and pay that off, then keep moving to the largest. I'm terrified of these student loans, though. I know I'll be screwed for life if I default, and I want nothing more than to own a home one day. I'll also be screwed if they end up garnishing my wages. I live in a high COL area and I'm struggling enough as it is; to have my wages garnished would be a nightmare.


Kaitnbugsmom's Avatar Kaitnbugsmom 08:17 PM 09-28-2009
are you out of deferments {sp?} on your student loans? If you are the sole support for a minor and those figures are your sole income you should be able to use one or another form of temporary halt if you haven't used them all.
Pariah's Avatar Pariah 08:24 PM 09-28-2009
I have used them all. My ex-h couldn't/wouldn't hold a steady job, so they got used up in the couple years we were married.
goldingoddess's Avatar goldingoddess 08:37 PM 09-28-2009
Look into the income-contingent repayment plan, if you haven't already.
Fujiko's Avatar Fujiko 08:53 PM 09-28-2009
Hmm, I'm not sure if lab work falls into "hospital bill" category, but I have heard that if a hospital takes any kind of government money to run, that as long as you are paying SOMETHING they can't send you to collections. Sorry to be vague but I'm really not sure there, although I know hospitals can be generous in setting up payment plans. Although I don't have experience with debt to utility companies, they might be willing to set up a modified payment plan for you, too.

Have you sued for child support? The women over at the Single Parenting board might have some insight on how to get the ex to pay up.

My advice is just to do anything to stay out of collections (well, don't go to one of those payday loan places, so ALMOST anything) and work out a budget that will do this for you. I don't know how "frugal" you are or how much certain "extras" are worth to you or exactly what your financial picture is (and don't feel compelled to share if you'd rather not), but obviously if your income doesn't meet your needs then you need to cut back (if possible) or find more income. Maybe you can sell your blood plasma, or give art lessons to homeschoolers, or sell some stuff you have that you don't need anymore.
gingerbane's Avatar gingerbane 09:00 PM 09-28-2009
Have you filed the papers for the court to order child support?
Fujiko's Avatar Fujiko 09:05 PM 09-28-2009
And I wanted to add, if this is the first time you've really sat down and taken a long, hard look at your financial picture (esp. after avoiding it for a long time), it's HARD. I've BTDT. After I did, it still took me a long time to fix my mistakes because I was avoiding them. It took a hospital bill (that was mom said she was going to pay for me but she obviously never did) to be sent to collections and for me to get married before I bucked up and dealt with it, even though it hurt. I thought about my parents and how so irresponsible and short-sighted with money they are, and how I didn't want to go down that road, too. I tasted it and wanted no more of it. But it was still so hard to face.

to you and good luck fighting your way back. You can do it, and it will feel victorious!

(Oh, and even though I had a collection on my credit report, I was still able to get a mortgage! So if you take a few steps back first, don't lose hope.)
mommy2maya's Avatar mommy2maya 11:51 PM 09-28-2009
check the electric company for low income billing. My local company will forgive 1/12th of your bill for each month you pay on time, when you are on the low income billing, so over teh course of a year, your back bill is paid off, free.
notjustmamie's Avatar notjustmamie 01:34 AM 09-29-2009
Definitely contact Sallie Mae and ask for an application for IBR (income-based repayment). With your income, you should qualify for a very low payment, or possibly no payment at all. There are no penalties with IBR (e.g., no compounding interest).

I know very little about child support, but is there a state agency in charge of that who should be hunting your ex down and demanding payment? I know my BIL had CS payments directly taken out of his paycheck, which, I believe was required by law where he lived.

to you having to deal with this mess!
1growingsprout's Avatar 1growingsprout 01:41 AM 09-29-2009
You have 76k in student loans and are working for $10 hr and not full time? You have daycare, commuting expenses, back bills and current bills....

What is your degree in? It would seem to me with that amount of student debt you should be bringing in more than 350/week.

You also may want to check your withholdings. If you are head of household and have a child/ren you should have very little if any taxes taken out (theroretically).
pollyanna's Avatar pollyanna 07:48 AM 09-29-2009
See if you can apply for state asstince. If you get cash asst. from the state they will help you get the child support. My mom did that and as long as she was on the state asst. my dad paid.

D_McG's Avatar D_McG 09:30 AM 09-29-2009
Originally Posted by 1growingsprout View Post
You have 76k in student loans and are working for $10 hr and not full time? You have daycare, commuting expenses, back bills and current bills....

What is your degree in? It would seem to me with that amount of student debt you should be bringing in more than 350/week.

You also may want to check your withholdings. If you are head of household and have a child/ren you should have very little if any taxes taken out (theroretically).
I also wondered this.
bobandjess99's Avatar bobandjess99 03:47 PM 09-29-2009
Is your child not your exes? Why is he not paying support? Have you exhausted every single avenue, including private companies, which go after dads who don't pay support?? I knwo , it is so hard and can vary so much....here, if you don't pay your support, they don't really do anything...the next town over fom us, the judge puts EVERY single deadbeat dad in jail, period.
Are you getting any and all state benefits you might be eligble for, like WIC, food stamps, housing assistance, utility assistance, daycare subsidy,etc?
Defniitely get on the income repayment plan.
and no, defaulting on loans doesn't screw you forever....for a while, sure, but not forever. And if you have to choose between putting food in your kids mouth and paying off a loan...well..that's obvious.
_ktg_'s Avatar _ktg_ 04:30 PM 09-29-2009
I wish I had additional advice to offer beyond what the PPs have given especially about the student loans, but all I can offer is hugs to you and your little one and positive vibes that you will get out from under this and come out on top!
Sarah8Jane's Avatar Sarah8Jane 04:41 PM 09-29-2009
I would definitely look in to public assistance, including heating assistance for the fall and winter.

Also, first focus on the four walls. Your immediate concerns should be shelter, (current) utilities, food, transportation. And I would add, child care. Can you do that?

Dave Ramsey says to pay minimums on everything, except the smallest debt, which you pay as much as you can on. I believe this is what you're having trouble with? You may need to look for additional employment (i.e. morning paper route) or another job.

You can do it. It'll be hard, but you can do it!
Thystle's Avatar Thystle 04:42 PM 09-29-2009
Ditto what everyone else said!

I "assume" you are not getting child support because your ex is either choosing not to work or is working under the table from your previous posts? I would still make sure you have a legal child support decree because it will keep adding up in back support owed. And I would find out if your state is one where they jail deadbeat parent's, or put their pic in the paper, or take their tax returns, or even take away their drivers licenses and/or other professional licenses.

Also look into ALL help you can, especially Medicaid, WIC and Food Stamps.

Also apply for LEAP as soon as they open for heating bill help.

Do you want to post your budget so we can help you go over it?

Also it says you are "partnered"... do they live with you? If so are they paying any of the bills?

Pariah's Avatar Pariah 10:11 PM 09-29-2009
Thanks for all of the replies!

To answer the questions...

My degree is an AS in digital media, which includes photography, web design, graphic design, some film editing, and animation. Basically, fields that are over saturated and hard to find jobs in even when the job market is good. My college has a career placement department that is supposed to assist with lifetime job placement...I started calling and emailing them in January to let them know I was job hunting again, and I've yet to hear anything. My other classmates have had the same experience...the school is a bit infamous for not living up to their selling points.

I WISH I could get a job in my field. I've been applying for part time seasonal work, and I'm trying to get some photography clients on the side, and I started up my Etsy again...I can sew pretty well and I have a stash of kids' clothes going, and some cloth diapers, and things along those lines. Etsy isn't as reliable as a part time job would be, but I had a following while selling those items before so I'm hoping that reconnecting with past repeat customers will help me get business going again.

I'm not getting child support because my ex-husband "can't afford it." I have an application for the state child support enforcement agency filled out, I just need to get a $25 money order for the application fee when I get paid this Friday, and it will be sent out immediately upon getting that. I was stupid and thought he'd man up to his responsibilities, and of course it didn't happen...I should have known better after a five year marriage consisting of him not taking on his responsibilities.

Yes, we are on food stamps, and that is a huge help.

Oops, interrupted...will come back to this later this evening. Thanks again for the replies!
happy_momma's Avatar happy_momma 12:47 AM 09-30-2009
I would choose what your going to pay and work on those first. Maybe the stuff that has the lowest penaltys for not paying. We talked last night in my money management class that it is better to be paying on some things well rather then not paying on 6 different things..does that make sense? Also what about a debt consolidation loan, then at least your paying towards all of it each month.
1growingsprout's Avatar 1growingsprout 02:12 AM 09-30-2009
Not to add salt to your wounds but how on earth did you get 76k in loans for an associates level degree? Is that all loans or do you have interest tacked on that has racked up the total?? Also child support department should not be charging you to set up services.
EdnaMarie's Avatar EdnaMarie 02:31 AM 09-30-2009
She's an artist. Art school is expensive. Really, what difference does that make to her situation now, that art school (graphic design, film, whatever) is overpriced? I chose my major when I was 19 (philosophy ). Luckily I found a career outside of that, but honestly... we can't all get great jobs in our field.

OP- Pay them off. You'll be glad you did. I second the recommendation to call all of these people, go see them in person if possible, explain that you want to pay, you are willing to pay a bit each month, so can they put you on a special plan.

Get your benefits.
Sailor's Avatar Sailor 02:34 AM 09-30-2009
I have no advice ... but, I wanted to tell you this: you won't be screwed forever if you default. I know defaulting is scary to a lot of people. I defaulted on my student loans - for 4 years!

I finished paying the last student loan right when I turned 26 (so around 10 months ago).

Now, it's obviously still on my credit. But, almost right after I paid everything off, I got a credit card offer in the mail. I'm using this one credit card to help rebuild my score. Also, although I did default, my record shows that I have paid them back in full.

With the right amount for a down payment, I could purchase a house 5 to 10 years from now. Although ... for me, owning a house is not a dream, so it's not really something I plan to do. However, it is a possibility.

I'm not saying - go default! In fact, definitely avoid this possibility if you can. Being hounded by creditors and collectors is not fun. However, I'm just trying to ease your worries a bit. Defaulting is not the end of the world. If it happens to you, there is life afterwards and you won't be screwed for life.
BetsyS's Avatar BetsyS 09:12 AM 09-30-2009
My dad didn't pay his student loans (in the 80s). They DID garnish his wages. I remember some really tight months when they got most of his check.

So, whatever you choose to do, don't be like my dad and just ignore the student loans and hope they go away. They won't.
mommy2maya's Avatar mommy2maya 09:37 AM 09-30-2009
I would definitely look into IBR for the student loans, though I think it only applies to federal student loans, which if you only have an associates probably won't much of a dent in that 76k figure, since the limits you can borrow for the first two years is probably under 10k total if you do subs and unsubs
RoadWorkAhead's Avatar RoadWorkAhead 10:22 AM 09-30-2009
Double check with Child Support Enforcement. There is no fee for ESS consumers since they are supposed to be required to apply in most states. Its a 25$ fee here but only for those who are not on any public assistance
maisiedotes's Avatar maisiedotes 10:28 AM 09-30-2009
Definitely go after your child's father for that child support!! I was doing some research on wage garnishment this morning as we are facing foreclosure, and (at least in our state) they can't garnish your wages if you are head of household. Have you considered consumer credit counseling? They may be able to give you some advice on re-working your student loans to a more affordable payment.

I know how stressful it is, believe me! Hang in there! I am sure there are options for you out there- there must be new programs coming out now that the economy is so tough.
Pariah's Avatar Pariah 12:02 AM 10-01-2009
Originally Posted by 1growingsprout View Post
Not to add salt to your wounds but how on earth did you get 76k in loans for an associates level degree? Is that all loans or do you have interest tacked on that has racked up the total?? Also child support department should not be charging you to set up services.
There are some living expenses in there along with tuition, but basically I fell for the promises from Full Sail in Florida, and like nearly everyone else I know who went there, I really regret it. Google "Full Sail scam" and you'll find lots of info.

My boyfriend does live with me and is self employed and contributes to bills. His work load has taken a hit with the economy, but he still has some, and he picked up a new project recently.
PlayaMama's Avatar PlayaMama 12:22 AM 10-01-2009
income based repayment plan!!!

seriously, for student loans it's the best if you are low-income. right now, i don't have to pay anything because my income is so low and it still is reported to the credit agencies as an on-time payment.

if you have not paid it off after 25 years the remaining balance is forgiven (though you may have to pay income tax) and if you do get a high paying job, you have to make higher payments, no biggie.

try here: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/DirectLoan/index.html

and consolidate and then do the ibr.
Pariah's Avatar Pariah 10:50 PM 10-01-2009
Thanks for the replies!

I managed to make some progress today. I called the company dealing with my federal loans, and they let me send in an unemployment deferment application, which got my loans up to date. I will call back and ask about the income based repayment plan...I couldn't remember it on the phone because I was so nervous, but the woman I talked to was really nice and I'm going to call her back tomorrow on my lunch break and ask about that.

Here's the next problem...is it possible to get an income based repayment plan on PRIVATE student loans? That's what's really screwing me, the Sallie Mae loans. I found out today that I have officially defaulted, and I tried calling a few times but the wait was too long to sit there on the phone at work. I know consolidation, credit counseling, and other things that are options for federal loans are not with these Sallie Mae loans. I am terrified to call, but...it must be done.