Vent about my own stupidity and our money situation - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 09-26-2011, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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. :(

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#2 of 12 Old 09-26-2011, 06:01 PM
 
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That's a lot to be going through when you're 7 months pregnant!  You are very much in my prayers.  It honestly doesn't sound like you made bad decisions -- you took risks based on the information you had at the time and things didn't go your way.  It happens.  And that's why there's a safety net (such as it is).  You aren't a "drain on society" mama; that's the system you paid into while you had that $15/hr job.

 

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#3 of 12 Old 09-26-2011, 06:06 PM
 
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Hugs to you, that's a tough situation. It's especially awful that the company didn't tell you upfront that there would be no work for a while.

 

One thing stood out to me (who supports a family as a freelance graphic designer): Your dh is a freelance web designer working part time and making about $600/month. What would it take for him to ramp up his business? Get out and network, market himself to potential clients, meet other web designers and graphic designers who might need his services or be a source for referrals. Raise his rates. Depending on your area and his skill set, he could be charging anywhere from $50 to $80 an hour (or even as high as $100+). It will take some time and work to build the business, but the payoff could be worth it.

 

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#4 of 12 Old 09-26-2011, 09:08 PM
 
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Wow, I really feel for you.  It doesn't sound as though you live too extravagantly.  I know it's hard.  Would your dh go get a job that doesn't pay well and isn't glamorous just to get more money in??  Since his freelancing is pt??  When we were first married, dh was working for a house framer and there were good weeks and then there were weeks when the boss didn't have a house to frame, so dh didn't work.  So dh got a job at night working at subway 4 nights a week.  It didn't interfere w/ his other job, but at least we had some income coming in. 

 

And talk to your midwives again.  The mw around here are very understanding and take $50/month payments.  Or maybe there is a student midwife or someone cheaper....I don't know.

Keep us posted on how you're doing.  I really feel for you. 

 

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#5 of 12 Old 09-26-2011, 09:14 PM
 
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Can DH get a job locally (retail, etc) with any remaining free time he has? You're a full-time SAHM now, right?,  so you wouldn't have to worry about arranging childcare. You may hardly see him but it sounds like you really need the money. Oh, and I'd personally choose the medicaid hospital birth given your current circumstances, but I understand that's a very difficult choice.


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#6 of 12 Old 09-26-2011, 10:01 PM
 
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Sorry you are going through this tough time. I agree with its_betty, though. Can your DH ramp up his business if you have more time to take care of your son? When I was the sole $ supporter of our family of 3 and then 4 as a freelancer, I usually worked 40-60 hrs./wk. It's tough, and it places a lot of the burden for the household stuff on the other spouse, but we did it for 8 years while DH was a SAHD and studying for his teaching degree.


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#7 of 12 Old 09-26-2011, 10:40 PM
 
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Another thought I had was perhaps you could trade for the rest of the midwives fee. Does your midwife have a website, and if not would she take part of the fee in work trade - i.e. your husband builds her a website and maintains it for xyz length of time in exchange for $xxx off the amount owed. Maybe she needs her office cleaned once a week? Or nicely designed handouts made? If you've been approved for medicaid mention that to your midwife - here most do a special lower medicaid rate for those with medicaid but choosing to pay out of pocket for a home birth. 

 

Another thought is - do you qualify for TANF {cash payments from state}? It might take the strain off right now and let you get even on things and debt.  

 

If your son has autism that severe he may qualify for SSI, which would pay approximately $700 a month which can be used for household expenses since he lives in the household. It might be worth looking into - I'm told it is much easier to be approved for children's SSI than adult. Plus that may help him down the line too depending on what his needs are as he gets older. 


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#8 of 12 Old 09-27-2011, 12:26 AM
 
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I love the idea of using you and your husbands skills to try to barter with the midwives. I would not give up on a home birth due to finances. You can make it work, and I am sure they will work with you if you get creative enough.

 

One idea: if you could get by without a car later, why not park the thing and at least stop buying gas. You would probably still need to insure it as you owe on it but maybe try car free for a bit to see if that really will work for you once you sell it.

 

I  would not be in a huge rush to sell it. So you spent more than you thought it would cost b/c it had some mechanical issues? Have a trusted mechanic (ask your friends for a req. if you don't already have one)  look it over and give you a good idea of what it will need in the future. It may be a great car, that just needed routine maintenance--things go wrong with older cars, right?  You had to fix it right after buying it and that sucks, but why sell if it works and you spent all the money to get it fixed up?

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#9 of 12 Old 09-27-2011, 07:01 AM
 
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I agree with looking into SSI for your son. We get it for my son and although he is in school now (he is 10, Aspergers) I definitely couldn't have sent him to a conventional preschool or daycare so I understand what you mean. Even now he can't be mainstreamed, as smart as he is, he just has too many other issues and we've tried, but it's not happening. It's a lifesaver and while we were initially denied (supposedly everyone is) it went back thru a review without my knowing and got approved! So don't take no for an answer.

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#10 of 12 Old 09-27-2011, 07:10 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viriditas View Post
 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 worked as a freelancer for 7 years. S101 was hit hard by the Google Panda update, and earnings there are pretty pitiful. CC is a hit-or-miss thing, too. Look at freelancewritinggigs.com, Demand Studios. I can PM you links if you want to some places that will pay pretty quickly. Once you're hooked into that content writing network, there is more than enough work out there. (I've been through the "work is coming..." thing, too, and it sucks!)


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#11 of 12 Old 09-27-2011, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your responses.  I really, really appreciate the support.

 

its_betty:  You've kind of hit on something DH and I have been concerned about for a long time, and one reason DH doesn't feel he's cut out to be a freelancer.  He LOVES designing websites, but he's very shy and extremely self-conscious, and we even suspect borderline Asperger's (when you look at DH's traits and mine combined, it's no wonder we produced an autistic child).  Even calling existing clients to offer them new services terrifies him.  He has a really hard time getting out there and marketing himself.  Almost all of the work he is getting right now is through a company he used to work with full-time, so it's just handed to him. 

 

DH told me last night that he's going to start applying for everything and anything he can find.

 

I will definitely talk to my midwives before dropping them to see if there's any kind of arrangement we can make.  We already have a discount and a payment plan for being on medicaid, but there might be something more we can do.  I doubt they would want DH's services in trade, as they are a very popular practice and have a very nice website already, but you never know.

 

We also talked about TANF last night, and we will apply if it comes to that.  Hopefully it won't.  For some reason, it seems like a big leap to take, even though we're already getting food stamps.  I actually completed the pre-application for SSI yesterday morning, before I found out about my job, and I have an appointment with them tomorrow.  I've heard that it takes at least 2-3 months to get approved though, and most people are denied the first time around.  Still, it's worth a try.

 

Ugh.  The car.  We are only taking very, very short trips at this point, and taking the bus almost everywhere else.  Last month we only paid $10 for gas.  We called around a lot to get quotes for the repairs that need to be done, and the fact is that VW parts are frickin expensive, and you have to take the whole front of the car apart to do almost anything under the hood, so labor's not going to be cheap either, no matter where we go.  I really think the thing is cursed.  For example:  on top of everything else, the battery died a couple weeks ago.  We got a new one, and DH spent about an hour on the internet just figuring out how to access the battery so we could change it.  He had to remove the wiper blade holders to take off the cover for the battery compartment and one of them was stuck.  He twisted it just a little too hard and CRACK!  Now we have 3 spider legs running up our windshield.  If we can get rid of this car, we are going to.  It would save us a lot of money every month, and all the stress of having the damn thing.  Zipcar will work occasionally when we really need a car.  We actually got an email this morning from the VW dealership we last had it at, and they are looking for used cars of our year and model to buy.  If they can offer us within $1500 of what we owe on it (without getting the rest of the repairs done), we will try to borrow the rest from FIL to pay it off and get rid of it.

 

VisionaryMom- Thank you for the suggestions!  I am PMing you!

 

Thanks again, everyone.  This is why I love MDC.  stillheart.gif

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#12 of 12 Old 09-29-2011, 07:03 PM
 
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Check with the mechanics on barter,too. Good luck.

 


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