What is the root of your financial situation? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 12-28-2005, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Whether you are living paycheck to paycheck, or are fairly secure, i am curious what brings people to their current situations... did you learn good money management skills from your family? did you learn bad ones, so are trying to do different? what gets us where we are?

i grew up in a household that never had enough money, but my mom couldn't live within our means. she didn't spend lavishly, but we always got nice clothes and had good christmases and she would put off the mortgage to pay for other stuff. in some ways, i think she was remarkable, and in other ways, (i hate to say this) stupid. i don't know that we ever had a savings account or money set aside. she was a single mom and went back to college to get her degree (had my sister at 17, me at 22) so i give her tons and tons of credit, but i didnt' learn didly squat about saving, managing money, making good financial decisions. it was all about getting it and spending it.

dh more or less learned the same, but his folks had money. they are really comfortable, but didn't really teach dh anything about saving or investing and they are pretty big consumers- really into high quality, the best, etc...

so, dh and i struggle with our tendencies to overspend, not keep track of our money, and inability to keep money in the bank. that is why we're where we are and it's an uphill battle, and i am committed to providing a different model for our kids.

anyone else?

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#2 of 18 Old 12-28-2005, 09:43 PM
 
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I think my lack of financial education really has had a huge impact - when I was growing up, the only thing I heard about $$ was "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and "you can't squeeze blood from a turnip". Those two phrases are the entire extent of my childhood financial education. No discussion of budgeting, saving, the evils of credit card debt, etc. So I go out of my way to, very matter-of-factly and very regularly, educate my kids as to what comes in, what goes out, the importance of being on top of the bills and budget, the benefits of saving and starting savings early, the horrors of debt, etc etc.

Having said that, though, I think what has a bigger impact on our current finances is that I stay at home, we have three kids, our income is fair-to-middlin', and we live in a fairly expensive urban area. Add in pretty high taxes, high insurance rates, etc. Life is expensive, even when you live very, very frugally, and because we have relied on credit cards to subsidize my lack of income, we've find ourselves in a not-so-great spot. I constantly remind myself that I am happy with our choices, even though the financial repercussions have been grim, and overall we just try to do the best we can do, given the circumstances.
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#3 of 18 Old 12-28-2005, 09:44 PM
 
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We were living within our means until our dd2 was born with medical problems. Insurance paid quite a bit of her care, but we still had many many copays (ER many times, lots of meds, lots of ped visits), her formula (she is tube fed and the formula is expensive). There were also hidden costs such as special chairs and help her recline better, a crib so she could be elevated at night, changing cloth diaper systems to accomodate her heavy wetting and gtube, and the carpet was ruined because of so much vomiting. We ended up tearing it out and getting tile and will be paying that off for a few more years. But it's made our lives easier with clean-up and helped with family allergy problems.

If she had been healthier we would be in a much better situation. We still have some debt on the cc to pay off and it's hard for me to pull back and not buy even little things that we don't really need and can't afford right now. I'm hoping we can pay it all off with frugal living and our tax refund.

The other big thing that eats into our budget is that we have IL's in India. We have visited them every other year until dd2 was born. They also come for extended stays with us, so that's food and utilities. We'll be going back in Jan 2007 with four tickets to buy at $1200-1500 each. Yikes!

I feel that if we can just pay off this cc and start saving what we are paying on it now, we will be in a much better situation in a year or two. It's hard though. I see friends who have better incomes and they take trips, sign up for classes, eat out, and other things that make me feel just a little bit sad for our family. OTOH I love being a SAHM and wouldn't trade it for the world, esp now that I'm homeschooling and the fact that I would be hard pressed to find a care provider for dd2 with her gtube and eating issues.

The example we will provide to our dd's is that debt is sometimes a necessary thing, and we will work hard to repay it because that's the right thing to do.

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#4 of 18 Old 12-28-2005, 09:47 PM
 
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I feel that my parents did all the right things - didn't overspend or buy us everything we wanted, gave us an allowance and ecouraged us to save. I started out fine, but the CCs in the college years killed me. That is finally under control and wil be paid off in a few years, but I also have a huge student loan and I am a single Mom in a very expensive area. I do live with my Mom and now stay in budget, but I have almost no chance of moving out unless I get married or move to a different (cheaper) area - where my SLs, CCs, and car payment will eat up a larger part of my income.

Basically, between CCs and Student loans, I am in poor shape for the nex MANY years.
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#5 of 18 Old 12-28-2005, 10:18 PM
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I am very financial savvy, but that is cancelled out because my husband and I are both artists

He is going to school full-time (after a many year hiatus) and teaching music and I am an artist and a musician but also a SAHM, which is really important to us as well...
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#6 of 18 Old 12-28-2005, 10:28 PM
 
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well...it started when my dh got laid off after 9/11 when our dd was 5 months old. We had to live off of $600/month unemployment payment and most of our groceries and bills had to be paid by credit card. We are still trying to pay off that debt and we will be for a while.

now the main source of our financial distress is my health. Even with insurance, my meds, hospital co-pays, and yearly colonoscopies are expensive. The area we live in is ridiculously expensive, but it's where the jobs are and where our families are.

my parents were always very responsible with money, and are very hardworking people...my dh's parents on the other hand are total free-loaders who live off of other wealthy relatives so my dh never learned any sort of financial responsibility. Things just magically appeared when they needed them and no one ever wanted for anything. He is really trying and he is learning...but it is slow going. He's not used to doing without things that he wants and it makes him grumpy that we are so broke, lol.

Once our kids are in school I will have to get a full time job to help make ends meet. It's not what I'd prefer, but it will make life easier for all of us and help us get out of debt and maybe someday buy a house
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#7 of 18 Old 12-29-2005, 01:20 AM
 
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The root of my financial situation is planted pretty much around 150% of the poverty level and has been that way since my first husband left 15 years ago. Luckily, I've learned two things since then:

Learned out of necessity: how to live on very little money

Learned from our Buddhist teacher: the karmic cause of having money is being generous

So when we feel the pinch, we give more money away, and suddenly my husband gets a bonus or raise, or I get some money from a relative or something. Happens every time.

We still live on about $35K a year but we have two Macs, a flat sceen TV and DVD player, iPods, good food, an old car that runs great, no debt, and $20K in savings that's earmarked for an off-grid cabin for me and my husband when the last kid (she's 16 now) is on her own. And I just bought my very first new living room furniture ever - a chair and loveseat - for Christmas.

I figure, the worst thing that can happen is we go back to having absolutely no money per month and we start over. Get new jobs, pay the basic bills and food which is only about $1800 a month.

I just reread this and discovered that we are very happy because we don't have enough money to stress over....hmmm...like, new plans to remodel something, or a trip we want to take, or things like that. We are so out of the habit of even thinking we can do those things, it's just not on our radar to make us unhappy.
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#8 of 18 Old 12-29-2005, 10:39 AM
 
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I learned to be financially responsible from my parents, and so did my husband (from his). Up until recently we were in a good financial position: *certainly* not rich, but with little debt (aside from the house). Then we had the bright idea to adopt two kids in two years. Now our financial position is rather poor. We are spending a huge chunk of money on adoption loans. Also, the brakes went out on the car (to the tune of $1800 for repairs), we spent $1000 on Efram's (unsuccessful) ear surgery, and dh totaled my car and we had to buy one from my in-laws, whom we still owe $1000.

However, dh is doing massive amounts of freelance work, we expect his bonus and raise to come this week or next, and we will be getting an adoption tax credit at tax time, so things will improve. BUT, the improvement will probably be cancelled out by Desta's medical bills.

It was a big eye-opener to me to have to face the fact that adopting Desta could contribute to financial destitution.

Namaste!
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#9 of 18 Old 12-29-2005, 12:49 PM
 
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My parents did a decent job educating me and my siblings about money. We had allowances, we were taught to save, and we often pooled our resources to get something we all wanted. My parents were poor when I was a small child, but by the time I was a college student they were fairly comfortable. This did affect my ideas about consumption-- my mom always looks for the best price on things, but my parents consume more than I do now and they buy a fair amount of nice stuff. "Good quality," you know, and Starbucks.
I was financially sound before I got married because I never had lived on my own, so I had a credit card I paid off every month and some savings. Then I was married and we lived on student loans for several years. Now we have credit card debt and student loan debt. While I can foresee spending the effort to pay off the cc quickly (though it's always more fun to rack it up then pay it back ) I don't know that I'll pay off my sl before 30 years are up.
So how did I get here? Well, I'm working a career-building job for this year which barely earns me enough for living expenses, and I live in a fairly expensive area. And, my attitude toward debt was "oh, no problem, I'll make lots of money and pay it back when this tough time is over." But you know what? I don't want to spend the rest of my life paying it back!
Hindsight, as they say.
Besides, being "frugal" makes me feel like I'm taking control of my life away from marketing forces and capitalism, and that makes me happy. So this is what I focus on, that and trying to realize it isn't about deprivation, but control.
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#10 of 18 Old 12-29-2005, 03:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Selesai
Besides, being "frugal" makes me feel like I'm taking control of my life away from marketing forces and capitalism, and that makes me happy. So this is what I focus on, that and trying to realize it isn't about deprivation, but control.
I TOTALLY feel this way. I've never liked feeling manipulated by ads and marketing, and now that I'm better educated, I refuse to be. So we live frugally by necessity, but even if we didn't have to, I think I'd choose to in many ways anyway.

The root of my problem is instant gratification. My parents were broke when I was little but by the time I was aware of money issues, they were more comfortable. In terms of material stuff, I always had whatever I wanted and more (I was an only child, and the only grandchild until I was in my 20s), so I never learned how to save up for anything. But in a weird contradiction, when it came to certain expensive things that I thought were important, my parents always said they couldn't afford it. For example, in high school I was offered a chance to do academically advanced things, like spend two weeks over the summer at the local university in a social sciences learning program, but they said no, they couldn't afford it, and that if I had saved my money, I could have gone. I had a p/t job from the time I was 14, but was allowed to spend the money on whatever I wanted. No one ever TAUGHT me how one goes about saving money. I actually don't think my parents knew how, because they were living just better than paycheck to paycheck themselves for so long.

Compounding the situation, they had no credit cards then so they didn't know how dangerous they could be, so no one taught me. I got my first CC in college and it was all downhill from there. I moved to NYC, which was my life's dream, but of course took on even more debt just surviving there. Then I met my DH and we proceeded to live the good life for several years until we had our baby. That was when we realized just how stupid we had been for so long. We had squandered most of my stock options (worth around $25K) on our wedding (but man, it was some party people are still talking about it), and used the rest to buy our first condo. At our worst point, 4 years ago, we had $35K in CC debt and about $9K in a used car loan, plus our mortgage. Today we have only (ha!) $16K in debt, have a fully paid-for 2002 minivan and 2000 sedan, and managed to buy a modest house too.

I think that's pretty good for only 4 years' worth of financial responsibility, but we still feel strapped because my DH has been forced to work a sales job that barely pays a living wage and I cut back to 30 hours a week after DD2 was born (and I want to quit to SAH so badly). I know we have it so much better than many do, and most of our financial problems are of our own creation, but we live in a relatively affluent area as well, and our friends all have more money than us, so I feel the sting too. My DH is getting depressed because he can't find a better job, and I'm completely overextended, physically and emotionally, with telecommuting and taking care of the house and kids too. I really would not mind living the way we do, with no extras and always worried about money, if I could SAH, but it feels crummy to live this way AND be working too

Ooh, this got long I think we all have so many factors involved in our "choice" to live frugally. I have already begun to pass on to my oldest DD lessons about making choices with our money, and about saving for the future. I think it helps that she sees very little, if any, commercial TV. Rabbithorns, I really need to work on cultivating your attitude about what's on your financial radar and being happy with what you have.

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#11 of 18 Old 12-30-2005, 05:36 AM
 
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I grew up in a family that went from dirt poor to affluent. I know how to enjoy what we have and not want more. The thing that mattered the most was when I was 16 my parents let me manage our family's finance. Not just for an experience, I managed all the accounts and investments until I moved out on my own. On the other hand my older brother never had such chance and both he and his wife like shopping. Luckily he has good income and can afford the best stuff, still I think he needs to be more responsible about spending.

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#12 of 18 Old 12-30-2005, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for sharing everyone... i just find it fascinating how different experiences shape one's life, and in this case, financial life.

poddi... that is an awesome experience you had. I can see that being incredibly beneficial for kids. we definitely intend on helping our kids see the real picture of what it costs and how to manage money. when i was teaching, i would often do a little workshop with my students about what it cost to have an apartment, a car, etc... they always wanted so much stuff, but didn't want to work hard in school or think about college. seeing how expensive it is to live helped them to reconsider some previously held beliefs.

I am a homeopath, offering acute and constitutional consultations for children, babies, and parents. Long-distance treatment is easy, either phone or skype! I also am certified to offer Homeoprophylaxis, a vaccine-alternative program. Message me for more details. www.concentrichealing.com
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#13 of 18 Old 12-30-2005, 05:06 PM
 
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I learned from my parents' BAD financial choices. no savings, tons of debt, bankruptcy, etc. and also from my own BAD choices in my first marriage. credit card debt is a trap that is extremely hard to escape from!

DH learned from his parents' GOOD financial choices. don't buy what you can't afford, don't get into debt, make sure you have savings/padding for life's rough spots.

together we make a pretty good team.

Christine, mom to C(7.5) - E(5) - J(3) - B(10 mos)

Doula, childbirth educator, Co-leader of ICAN of Atlanta

 

"Never miss an opportunity to make others happy, even if you have to leave them alone in order to do it." ~Anonymous

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#14 of 18 Old 12-30-2005, 05:25 PM
 
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As a child I grew up with my granparents, who were very much the post-world war 2 baby boomer hard working money saver type folks, so I figure I go a good lesson from them. But then, as a teen I ended up moving back to live with my single bipolar dirt poor mother. She ended up putting all the bills in my name when I was sixteen (and not paying them) so I've had bad credit from the get go.

A couple years ago dh and I split up, I finished school, got a job and started paying off all my debts. But then dh and I got back together, had another baby, I stopped working and there went a good chunk of our income. We had to use our money just to survive and the debt payoff pretty much went to the wayside. Dh is very irresponsible with bills and money, and I get very stressed by them and put them aside so I don't have to think about them.

Things got worse when we moved to Hawaii, aka, one of the most expensive places in the world. Even though dh makes almost twice what he made in the Bay Area, ca, we are so much poorer. Rent on our condo is 2000 a month, milk is 9.00 a gallon and gas is 3.00 a gallon. Sucks. Anyway, we couldn't find work at first here, couldn't pay any bills and our cc got charged off, ds got very sick and we are back in a huge mess.

I think I saw my mom getting very stressed by bills and have picked that up from her. I use the tactic of avoidance alot, which is not a good thing! I wish, wish wish that someone had taught me more about money as a young adult. I will definitely do the best I can for my kids - I am going through credit counseling to try and "relearn" how to handle my finances.
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#15 of 18 Old 12-30-2005, 06:55 PM
 
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to you all.

I think our financial situation was caused by a number of things.

When I was growing up, my parents, bless their hearts, didn't teach me about money, budgeting, debt, etc. Sometimes we would get an allowance when they could afford it. When I was 12 or 13, we moved to a town in the central valley of California from the Bay Area, but my dad still commuted to the Bay Area. He ended up getting burnt out and very stressed. About 10 years later, that house was foreclosed.

Dh lived with his father, but his mother would spoil him rotten on the weekends she had him. He wasn't taught about money AT ALL, either.

When we first got married, dh was in the US Navy, so we were pretty used to being poor. There were times that we only had $15 dollars and we still had to buy groceries. We were pretty good with budgeting and our money, though. We paid all of our bills on time, etc. Then when we got out of the Navy, we lived with my in-laws while we waited for our house to be built. We learned to be extremely irresponsible from them. Not because they are irresponsible, but because they live like they are rich, when they're not really. My SIL is definetely irresponsible (IMO) and I can go on and on about her. And they expect everyone else around them to live like that too. Constant competition. It's rather sickening. We moved out of there about 3 1/2 years ago and we are still struggling to not be like them. It's so hard.

I want to live frugally and not be such a consumerist. And I'm trying! I've been reading this board for a couple of months trying to find advice on how to do these things. Wish me luck!

PS... Any books you'd recommend that talks about consumerism?
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#16 of 18 Old 12-30-2005, 09:55 PM
 
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The root of our financial situation is three-fold:

#1-- I grew up poor, with a single mother, and I was acutely aware my whole life of the value of money and the necessity of saving and spending carefully. DH on the other hand was not wealthy, but his parents very much shielded him from financial realities. They didn't teach him a thing about money, and he never learned about the money management and saving that they did. NOt that he was spoiled-- he wasn't. It's just that he never had to worry or even think about where the money came from. So the reality of money management, and the fact that money is not unlimited, scares the wits out of him. Well, not anymore; he's learned. But at first, it did.

#2-- Before we had kids and I was still working, I made a lot of money. DH and I got used to living pretty extravagantly, doing a lot of travelling, and didn't save much. So there are bad habits to overcome, plus we don't have savings in reserve.

#3-- DH and I really want family to be our first priority, so I only work a few hours a week, and he has taken a lower-paying job to be closer to home and to work shorter hours. There's also the conscious desire to live differently, and simply, because the consumer culture and the extravagent standard of living that has been the ideal in this country, are a building with no foundation, that cannot stand for very long.

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#17 of 18 Old 01-04-2006, 12:59 AM
 
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Neither one of my parents taught me about money, I grew up with them always struggling, although we had nice Christmas's, lessons, etc. They bought a small cheap house in a not so great neighborhood and have refinanced it several times due to financial issues and are now trying to sell it without losing money and they have lived their for 23 yrs!

I've worked since I was 14 and never saved a ton, but was always pretty okay with money mgt. My dh grew up in an affluent lifestyle and never had to think about money, his dad retired at 53, very wealthy and his mom teaches at the university for the "fun of it."

Dh and I have not been big savers, but this month we are paying off cc's and will have both cars paid off by mid year. We also are saving well for retirement, DH's employer contributes 9% to his 6 and I have an IRA as well.

We are finally getting on the same page about spending and whatnot.

The BIG problem we have to look forward to is our student loan debt, which is CONSIDERABLE. Dh will finish his PhD in 2.5 yrs and I am finishing my BA this May (one class to go!) and Dh already has paid for TWO master's degrees. I am starting my MA in a yr, but we will pay out of pocket for it over time. We will likely pay around $600 a month combined. The good thing is it will be consolidated at about 3% and we are both in college education and will work forever, but we will enjoy it! We can also write off the interest for YEARS. In addition, we are mastering living on one income, so when I do go back to work ALL my income will be to pay off the sl debt.

We both agree that we could have cut the SL loans in half had we budgeted better when we were younger and I am graduating with over 150 credits-I could have already had a masters by now had I limited courses I wanted to take as an undergrad the first time!

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#18 of 18 Old 01-04-2006, 01:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kimmie-pooh
PS... Any books you'd recommend that talks about consumerism?
Kimmie, check out Affluenza. It's a historical, overall view of consumerism in America--really enjoyable and totally hits home. But make sure to get it from the library

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157...books&v=glance

The related books Amazon lists also look very interesting. I just added Fat Land to my wishlist today, in fact.

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