Would you ask for financial help? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 50 Old 08-29-2012, 09:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel compelled to start this thread by saying that I know that others have much less money than we do, no options for outside help, and are in much worse shape. I don't mean to offend anyone whose situation might be worse than mine.

 

I just did a new budget for our family (me, DH, and DD) and came up with a disheartening result: $143 a week after all of our expenses. That will have to cover food, clothes, and whatever else is needed for our day-to-day lives. We have been struggling ever since we graduated from college and we are exhausted. DH and I both work full-time and are, at least for now, not eligible for raises. I think we both want some outside help.

 

We are trying to decide if we should ask DH's family for financial help. I find it almost impossible to be objective about this issue, and I could really use some outside perspectives.

 

There are several factors at play:

 

1. We have been financially independent since 2009 (when we graduated), with the exception of a loan from DH's aunt for a down payment. We are proud of that accomplishment, that we haven't had to impose on others even though we have struggled. We have made all the right financial choices and even bought our own condo through a low-income housing program. We find the idea of asking for help deeply unpleasant, to say the least.

 

2. DH's family (specifically his parents, aunt, and uncle) have been throwing money at his older brother and his wife for eight years. Not a little money, a LOT. They bought them two houses, two new cars, a landscaper, brand-new kitchen appliances, vacations, endless classes for their three kids, paid $12,000 of their $20,000 credit card debt, and on and on. The brother and his wife have been in and out of work and have contributed little to their own existence. As DH and I continue to scrape by, the ugly feelings of jealousy are getting harder and harder to ignore. At this point, a big part of me feels that it's ok for me to say, "You give them so much help, we need help, too." I have NO desire for the kinds of luxuries they get, but help with even one of our bills would make a HUGE difference in our lives. 

 

3. Because of the amount of money they spend on DH's brother, his family's money is rather tight as well. Asking them to help us would mean they have even less money for themselves, which makes me feel awful. 

 

I would really appreciate some opinions and would love to hear what you guys do--have you accepted financial help? How did you deal with the guilt?

 

(My parents are not an option for help; they are in worse financial shape than us and actually owe us $2,000.)

 

Thanks in advance. 


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#2 of 50 Old 08-29-2012, 09:29 AM
 
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I might accept offered help. I might even mention there was a class I'd love to sign ds up for but I couldn't afford it (I wouldn't waste money on a class for a 2 yo, though). But I'd only ask for financial help if it was a matter of not being able to afford groceries or keep utilities on.


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#3 of 50 Old 08-29-2012, 09:56 AM
 
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I might accept offered help. I might even mention there was a class I'd love to sign ds up for but I couldn't afford it (I wouldn't waste money on a class for a 2 yo, though). But I'd only ask for financial help if it was a matter of not being able to afford groceries or keep utilities on.

I agree. I wouldn't ask for money, in particular knowing that money is already tight for your in laws.

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#4 of 50 Old 08-29-2012, 10:05 AM
 
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I wouldn't ask for money unless we were going to go hungry, have no electricity or have no place to live. 
 


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#5 of 50 Old 08-29-2012, 10:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by annaknitsspock View Post
I would really appreciate some opinions and would love to hear what you guys do--have you accepted financial help? How did you deal with the guilt?


We have received help from family in the past when we had financial troubles. I didn't really ask to have a specific bill paid though. When they were aware of our situation they offered us help. It was difficult to accept help but it was that or be homeless.

In terms of guilt feelings- I'd like to think that we have done our best to try to be there for people whenever we can. We have worked hard to get back on our feet and live within our means again. We did not accept money for things like cable TV or a vacation.

 

Is your dh's family aware that you & dh struggle financially?

If they were to loan you money to pay off a bill could you slowly pay them back or do something in exchange like some work around their house?


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#6 of 50 Old 08-29-2012, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks all for the replies. In terms of not accepting money unless food/utilities/housing is at risk, we have always managed to put good food on the table, and have always paid our utilities/mortgage, although we very often have to be late with those bills and thus deal with fees and fines. 

 

That said, however, I tend to take a similar view that financial help should only come in times of true dire need. I guess maybe DH and I just need to deal with our feelings of jealousy. It's hard to swallow financial hardship when there's such obvious favoritism at work. 

 

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Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post
We did not accept money for things like cable TV or a vacation.

 

Is your dh's family aware that you & dh struggle financially?

If they were to loan you money to pay off a bill could you slowly pay them back or do something in exchange like some work around their house?

 

Yeah, we would never accept money for luxuries like that, either. We've cut almost all luxuries out of our lives already, anyway. 

 

I don't really want to do loans; the source of our problems is my six-figure student loan debt. I hate the idea of going into more debt to get out of debt. But the idea of doing work around their house is AWESOME. My DH is very handy. Thanks for that idea!


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#7 of 50 Old 08-29-2012, 11:37 AM
 
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I wouldn't look for much help from your DH's family, except for one thing: How much would it take to get you ahead enough to not have to pay fines and late fees? If they made you a one-time gift for that (or your parents paid you back the money they owe you, or you scrimped it together yourselves), it might be enough to get you on the right path toward a working budget. You simply cannot afford those fees anymore. Let go of the jealousy of the inlaws. It's a long-standing pattern that is beyond your power to change. Maybe those huge gifts to them come with invisible strings attached. We paid off $50k in student loans in the first four years of our marriage. It was painful, but now it's over. It helped a lot that I had a Ph.D in Frugality before we started.
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#8 of 50 Old 08-29-2012, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not sure a large gift would help us get caught up; DH's job is pretty unstable and his paychecks often come weeks late, if at all, which is the reason we get behind. I so agree with you about the jealousy. I wish I was a bigger person and could just let it go! It's toxic. 

 

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 We paid off $50k in student loans in the first four years of our marriage. 

That's amazing! I'd love to know how you managed that.


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#9 of 50 Old 08-29-2012, 11:42 PM
 
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Just to let you know you're not alone.  My parents have spend many thousands on my brother in the past few years.  They even bought an apartment for him.  They didn't really want to, but he's got mental illness and didn't even want to get jobs.  They still pay some of his bills every month.  They assured me that when it comes to inheritance they'll try to even it out.  I don't know if we'll have much inheritance, though.  I'll feel lucky enough if my parents have enough for their old age after all these spending.  They aren't too smart with money either.  Such is life and what can you do?

 

If I were you I definitely wouldn't ask for any help.  But maybe give a hint sometime that you guys are struggling, too.  If they offer you a gift, that's good.  If not well it's their money.


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#10 of 50 Old 08-29-2012, 11:45 PM
 
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In your situation I would accept financial help, sure; but not ask for it. If you're able to do food and utilities, then you don't need need it. $143 a week sounds pretty doable to me (well, OK, in our country and currency, which I suppose might be completely not-comparable to your situation!). Your in-laws' money is their own, and what they do with it is their business - they can give it to ne'er-do-wells, buy diamond bikinis, whatever; you don't have any claim on it or right to it (unless they die and remember you in their wills, of course!)

 

Sorry if that comes across as harsh - we're in a tight spot ourselves at the moment, and it sucks, and yes, a large donation from either set of parents would make things easier (well, financially... not so much psychologically!) But I think it's VITAL to absolutely reject the idea that anyone should help you out, either because they have the money or because they're giving it away to people who squander it. Like you said, it's a toxic mentality. I have an aunt who's constantly worrying about whether my (well-off) grandmother has given more help to her or my mother... totting it up in her head, determined to have her rights - and it's ugly. I happen to know she's going to be left less money in Grandma's will than Mum, because Grandma spent tens of thousands helping with my aunt's divorce costs and doesn't think it's fair Mum should miss out because of said aunt's poor life choices. I don't think the aunt knows that yet, and when the time comes... it will be nasty. Eugh. Money sucks.

 

All that said, it is rotten of the in-laws to give tons of money to one (irresponsible) child and none to another (legitimately struggling) one. Has your DH ever talked with them about the favouritism?


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#11 of 50 Old 08-30-2012, 12:23 AM
 
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It's hard when you're struggling, and have made many sacrifices, when you see others having more. Meet with a credit counselor to get an outside opinion of your finances. That person may be able to recommend something you've missed.

Why is your husband's work so irregular? What, if anything, can be done there? Again, a credit counselor may have suggestions.

When we met with one, we were told it would take seven to ten years to get out of that situation. She was right. So, at least you can learn how much longer things will be this tight, assuming nothing changes (another child or a new job).

As far as money from relatives. I agree with ask only if it is a need (food, heat, mortgage ). Let them know you are having difficulties, if you want, and let them offer. Otherwise, keep coming here for moral support.
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#12 of 50 Old 08-30-2012, 06:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Poddi. It does help to hear from others who have had a similar experience. 

 

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Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

 $143 a week sounds pretty doable to me (well, OK, in our country and currency, which I suppose might be completely not-comparable to your situation!). 

Yeah, we're near Boston in the US--a very pricey area. $143 is doable but extremely tight. 

 

Sorry if that comes across as harsh.

It doesn't come across as harsh at all--thank you for the feedback. I agree with you wholeheartedly, and I don't feel like I have a right to their money or that they are responsible for us in any way. I'm on board with everyone who has said that accepting money offered is one thing, but asking for it is inappropriate.

 

I guess the only reason I'm thinking about all this now (we've had harder times than this and we've never even dreamed of asking for help) is a comment my MIL made to my mom--my mom happened to mention how much DH and I were struggling and MIL said if we ever needed help, we should ask. She said she wants to help her children financially. However, when I have dropped obvious hints in the past, the offer has never come. They are uncommunicative people and I think the way things are done in their family is that the child asks for help and the family gives it. To me that's an awkward, inappropriate set-up, but I wonder if we're struggling for no reason when DH's family is happy to help. There is definitely a culture of generosity in their family (DH's other two siblings also get a lot of financial help) and MIL took a lot from her parents and siblings-in-law and told my mom she feels it's only right that she offer the same help to her kids. (I have no idea why she's so open with my mom and no one else.)

 

I guess I'm just wondering if I should stick to my instincts that asking for help is inappropriate when it seems like DH's family doesn't think that way. 

 

All that said, it is rotten of the in-laws to give tons of money to one (irresponsible) child and none to another (legitimately struggling) one. Has your DH ever talked with them about the favouritism? 

Thanks for saying it's rotten--it helps to hear someone say that. They are a very uncommunicative family--they never discuss stuff like this. It gets frustrating sometimes. Very little is ever just out in the open. 

 

Thanks, pek64. A credit counselor is a good idea. DH's pay is irregular because he works for a small independent company that's struggling and when the boss doesn't have money, his two employees don't get money (it's totally illegal, but there you go). The only thing he could do would be to find another job, which so far hasn't happened (he's a furniture maker--jobs are pretty scarce even when the economy's good). But we'll keep looking until we hit on something.

 

Thanks all for the replies--I really appreciate it!


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#13 of 50 Old 08-30-2012, 11:47 AM
 
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In your situation I would probably accept help if offerred but I wouldn't ask for it. You can support yourself, even if it is tight and have other options to change your circumstances if needed. (change housing, get second job, find cheaper childcare, etc.) If I was in terrible trouble (job loss, facing forclosure, no place to live, no food in the cupboard, divore, car breaks down and no money for repairs) I would consider asking for help.

 

 It really, really is none of your business how your in-laws spend their income and/or if they help another sibling out. It isn't your money and you are neither you are entitled to a penny of it. it would probably really help your emotional balance if you just let it go. They can spend their income however they like (fancy wine, paragliding, helping out with fancy classes for the other grandkids) and it has nothing to do with you. You probably know all of this, of course, but it is worth repeating, all the time, until it sinks in and you can walk away from the difficult emotional baggage. I didn't say it was easy.

 

Watching family fight over even modest amounts of money is really, really ugly.

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#14 of 50 Old 08-30-2012, 12:25 PM
 
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When I read your post, I see it as life. You just graduated and have been in the work force for three years. You own a condo / have a mortgage, and you have 143/week for food and clothes. This kind of sounds normal to me. Working your way up. Starting off your adult life. It may not be easy and its a bit tight, but it should get better. If not by your current jobs and income, then eventually experience and bigger and better paying jobs if that is your desire.   Mind you I am 45 and come from a time where one finishing college didnt end up with big paying jobs nor big houses. One did things gradually, basement apartment, starting out jobs, work your way up. 

 

Find time to enjoy yourselves, find room in your budget to free up some extra cash, or save 50 bucks a month for a weekend vacation. Bike rides, fun easy stuff. If your jobs are not right for you, then continue to look and apply for other work. Perhaps your furniture making husband needs to look outside of your current location? Perhaps a big move is in order? Or maybe he can make some furniture on the side for sale, start his own furniture making business.

 

It is tough to see the help flow else where and maybe they dont need it either...I have a sister who endlessly needs financial help, feels entitled, repo'ed cars, trying to live a certain way, beyond her means, etc. Argh, I guess I am just glad that is not me.

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#15 of 50 Old 08-30-2012, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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 It really, really is none of your business how your in-laws spend their income and/or if they help another sibling out. 

 

Thanks for the reminder. You're right that it's no easy task to shed emotional baggage.

 

I don't really feel like any of this is actually MY business, since it's DH's family, I guess I'm just wondering about it all of a sudden since my MIL made those comments to my mom. Before she did that, I would never have even considered asking for help. I don't feel entitled to anyone's money. 

 

I do wonder, though, is it really right for DH to say, "Well, this is just none of my business," when his parents give financial aid to three out of four siblings? To me it seems like obvious favoritism. He's mentioned before that he would feel better if they would at least acknowledge that he has been financially responsible. It makes me feel sad for him.

 

Ugh, it's really hard to explain all this without making it seem like I do feel entitled! Lol. Thanks for the feedback.


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#16 of 50 Old 08-30-2012, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, SunRise. Thank you for framing the issue that way--it helped me to remind myself that we are still young and working our way up. I like the idea of making plenty of time for relaxing and blowing off steam.

 

Unfortunately it goes a little beyond just having limited spending money; we rarely have enough money to pay our bills on time and often have to delay them. We've depleted our savings by using it to pay bills. I think it would get a lot better if DH had a different job, but while he searches we are scrabbling. Making furniture on the side isn't really an option (and that's a whole, long, marital-disagreement-filled issue I'm not going to bore you with!) nor is moving. I think the key is a new job for him. 

 

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I found your outlook and suggestions really helpful.


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#17 of 50 Old 08-30-2012, 01:23 PM
 
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I think I know what you mean. I've been trying to start over for the past year, a task made more difficult by not having a car. I have talked to family members about it, but no one wants to help me. Do I realize it's their money to with as they please? Sure! I also wish I could have back all the money I spent on their children, get paid for the child care and moving assistance I provided, ... Yeah, it can be hard to remember the sister who was given all kinds of help when she left her husband, while I'm told...nevermind! This is about you! I understand the green-eyed monster lurking from time to time. Shoo! He's too close right now!
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#18 of 50 Old 08-30-2012, 01:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the understanding! It really goes a long way. I can be a really negative person and have to constantly remind myself to drive out that green-eyed monster (and the grass-is-always-greener monster--lots of green monsters, eh?). Sorry you can't get the help from your family to get on the right track! 


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#19 of 50 Old 08-30-2012, 03:43 PM
 
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Well, we lived for the first year in a crappy, cheap apartment, which was good because my husband got laid off right after our honeymoon, and was unemployed for almost a year.  Right before the wedding, he was stupid and defaulted on one of his loans, and most of my savings and our wedding money went to taking care of it.  Which sucked, but that one was paid off right away. 

 

We've always based our budget on one income rather than two:  one-third or less of gross income for housing, always frugal with utilities and phone and internet costs, cook plain real food, no cell phones, drive our old paid-off cars into the ground (occasional mechanic costs less than regular car payment).  We started at $15 per week each of personal spending money; $15 per week for meals out.  I learned a lot of frugal stuff from The Complete Tightwad Gazette, and from being a poor student all the way through Ph.D (without student loans because I had scholarships and assistantships).  Most everything we have was either gifted to us, handed down to us, or bought used (including clothing).  We don't use expensive cleaning products or personal care products.  We only have 1 pet, a cat.

 

There was only about one year where we both were working full-time.  That year I especially tried to throw any spare cash at the student loans.  I got an inheritance of a few thousand dollars when my grandma died, and used that to pay off loans.  After I started staying home with our daughter, we went to being a one-car family, and saved a lot of repair and insurance costs.  We also put paying off student loans far ahead of buying a home in our financial goals (still renting now).
 

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#20 of 50 Old 08-31-2012, 11:23 AM
 
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In your circumstance I would NOT ask for money. I might take money in the form of extras for my kids. I wonder how much you have truly cut back. We have only 140 a week left over after we set aside money for everything. We have four children and live in Maine. We follow the Dave Ramsey plan so we tell our money where to go and have a goal of becoming debt free. We have achieved this before. Life happened before we had our next car fund fully funded and here we are. But we are ahead of where we were last time.

 

My MIL built BIL a house. Yep just built it. BIL does not pay her rent nor has he purchased it from her. She will not deed it to them nor ask them to pay her. She is struggling and WE bought her wood last year. So a little extra salt in the wound is that BIL does not pay nor help MIL, she can't afford to give such help, and our family of SIX is bailing EVERYONE out. Meanwhile BIL has the nice trucks, ATV's, takes excessive vacations, and has horses! So I know your plight.


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#21 of 50 Old 09-01-2012, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Vaske. I really appreciate the specific info--specifics are always helpful!

3timesamom, in answer to your question about how much we've cut back, we have no TV, no cable. We bought a used car that had no payments left and DH takes that to work while I take the train. We strategically plan at DD's birthday and Christmas for what playthings/clothes she will need over the year, and we don't buy anything for her at other times unless she needs a clothing item we didn't anticipate or something (which we get used). We CD so no diaper costs. DH and I don't buy clothes unless we really need them, maybe ten items a year between us. I have a job with a professional dress code so I cycle through the same 5 outfits every week. I don't really wear makeup and the only beauty products I use are shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and dry-skin lotion. I make my own vinegar cleaners. No paper towels, only rags. We bought our house through a low-income program that allowed us to pay half of what we payed when renting.

The only luxuries we allow are date nights for DH and I a couple of times a month.

We still spend a lot on food because I buy a wide variety of all-natural, organic foods. Our products like sunscreen and lotion get pricey because I buy all-natural. So those are the only cutbacks I can envision, and they are ones I am really reluctant to make, because I see them as health issues for my family.

 

Sorry for the loooooong response, I just wanted to make it clear how hard we have worked to cut back as much as we can. I'm not sure why there is such a discrepancy between my budget and yours; the only thing I can think of is that the cost of living outside Boston is really, really high. But that's where the good editing jobs are, so here we have stayed.

Thanks for sharing your family's story with me, and I'm sorry you have to deal with it. It sounds like it SUCKS. You're a good daughter to help your mom out despite how you probably feel about the whole thing.


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#22 of 50 Old 09-01-2012, 12:07 PM
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Honestly, I think being an adult means being financially-independent, barring any huge medical bills.  


"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#23 of 50 Old 09-01-2012, 01:48 PM
 
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A&A : shame on you for trying to shame the OP.

I think you're doing great! I've been in a similar boat for a number of years. Right now I live next door to a family of three with two cars (and a truck that doesn't work), cable, Internet,, the adults working only part time while on food stamps and WIC. It's hard to see others having luxuries because they take assistance you don't. So what? That's human nature. It doesn't mean, just because we complain about it from time to time, that we expect something for nothing.

Credit counselor. Find out the length of the tunnel.
And forgive yourself for being human.
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#24 of 50 Old 09-01-2012, 05:52 PM
 
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We do all those same things. I cloth diaper, I use cloth wipes, we make our own laundry soap, lawn sale for clothes and toys, and goodwill for those things as well. This is something we have to do. It takes more time but honestly we have fun doing it. We have Internet for television, and frankly thats fine. In fact I think my kids would have a heart attack if I tried to tell them Ninjago isn't on right now;) Honestly I think your doing better than you think. As I said I feel for you as I know exactly how it is.


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#25 of 50 Old 09-02-2012, 08:50 AM
 
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I would only ask for help if there was a very specific need. For example I needed $900 to pay for my last semester of grad school. My grandma gave it to me so I could graduate and I have paid her back at $300/month. I totally understand the feelings of it's not fair. My ex owes me over $22,000 in back child support. He doesn't work and his parents spend tons of money on him and his international travels. Even his sister is pissed. If only they could spend that money on the grandkids! 
 


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#26 of 50 Old 09-05-2012, 05:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

And forgive yourself for being human.

 

Thanks so much, pek64. I really, really appreciate your kind post. I'm keeping that last line in mind; I posted this thread in kind of a fit of stress, and I feel like I have a much cooler head on my shoulders now.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3timesamom View Post

Honestly I think your doing better than you think. As I said I feel for you as I know exactly how it is.

 

 

Thanks, 3timesamom. I think you're right—we're doing ok. I appreciate the commiseration. (That comment about Ninjago cracked me up.)


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#27 of 50 Old 09-05-2012, 05:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That's awful, pattimomma! I'm sorry you have to deal with that. Thanks for the advice—I agree that asking for help for a specific need is sometimes necessary.  


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#28 of 50 Old 09-06-2012, 02:09 PM
 
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OP- don't take this harshly.  But are you really wanting them to cut you a check every week?  I am sure it would be nice- but to be obligated to your inlaws like that is- well it is crazy.  And that is what it would be wouldn't it?  Life changes are in order- if your DH won't change jobs you need to.  Or sell the condo and live cheaper.  Waitress, papers, eliminate everything- you get the idea.  But I wouldn't ask for a weekly check, I wouldn't accept a weekly check.  It isn't any of your business.  It doesn't go through your checking account- so none of your business.  Yeah I get the favoritism- but it still is none of your business.  


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#29 of 50 Old 09-06-2012, 02:46 PM
 
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I'm not sure where you got a weekly check! I didn't!

The OP has student loans, and may have a job that pays reasonably well. It still might not be enough to easily make ends meet.

I kind of agree about your husband though. Can he find some occasional work for when furniture isn't selling well? Does he have the time for that?

Just a thought.
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#30 of 50 Old 09-07-2012, 06:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, definitely not looking for a weekly check.

 

Pek64, you hit the nail on the head (thanks again for your kind, thoughtful replies): I have a great, well-paying job, but our student loan payment is so massive it just drags us down.

 

Our condo payment, because it's low-income, is as low a monthly living cost as we could hope for in this area. 

 

My husband's job is huge problem, big enough for a whole other thread, which is why I didn't go into much detail here. He refuses to look for another job and ignores job postings I find for him. I feel helpless, and I think I've done all I can do: remind him to look himself, and then look myself. Haha, this is kind of timely because we had a huge fight about this last night. He know he needs to change—time will tell if he will or not. He doesn't have time to take a second job, but I'm looking into finding some freelance work on the side to try to bolster our earnings. But until he is paid consistently we will struggle to stay caught up, that's just the reality. 

 

As I said before, I was considering all this because DH's mom intimated that she wanted to help us, that she hadn't realized how hard a time we were having. But I don't think we will ask for help. We are unable to pay all of our bills at present, but we're looking into taking another forbearance on the student loans to try to get caught up. We are currently only paying interest (so we're not even paying the loan down) so I think the only family help I would consider in the future would be some help paying more on the loan each month so that we can actually pay it down and get ourselves out of debt faster. DH really wants to ask his family for this kind of help, but I'm still not really comfortable with it, so we'll see. 

 

I wish I had made it clearer in my original post that, while I am more of the mind of everyone on this thread that financial independence is part of adulthood, DH's family is clearly not of that opinion. Asking for help is something that almost every member of his family (brothers, sister, parents, aunts, uncles, etc.) has done at one time or another. DH's parents paid for very little while his dad was in medical school; their parents helped a lot. I guess I just had a moment of weakness and stress where I thought, "Why I am I struggling here if they would happily help us?" But I'm calmer now, and would prefer to stay true to the standard of financial independence I have always imposed on us. 


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