Joe and I have deemed this next 18 months or so our Get Out Of Debt season. We try not to be too hard on ourselves on how we’ve managed to get this way. We’ve both known that this moment would come, we’ve been anticipating it, but there wasn’t a lot we could do about accruing our debt, with the exception of not living where we live. Living near my ex so the kids have the ease of going to one home or the other has been the goal for 5 years. And we’ve done it. But we’ve paid a price to be sure. The trade off was slowly going into more debt a little at a time with occasional spurts of doing it fast when we ran into any issue outside of our very tight budget. Like a new tire for the car or a delayed paycheck.

There was a time a few years ago, when we even had to go to one of those short-loan places to pay the rent. You know the kind – where they charge you about 2745% interest for a week? We had to keep that going for a few months before we were able to break free, and man, that was a rough and expensive patch of time.

Because we’ve been careful to not get credit cards and max them out trying to stay afloat, it’s mostly family, friends and cars that we owe. Without family this past 2 years especially, we never would have made it. I don’t know what people do if they don’t have family. I suppose get into high credit card debt and then become homeless? So, things could be much worse and we’re thankful that they aren’t. But, they are bad enough for us both to be highly motivated to put every cent we can towards paying everything back and off as soon as possible.

I went over the numbers this past weekend and got very brave and actually figured out how much we’ve paid in overdraft fees to the bank in the past year. Add that amount to the money we paid the thieves that run the short-loans and you’ve got a number so high that it makes me want to throw up. It’s over 2k.

It’s expensive to not have enough money. If you have to make that payment so the electricity won’t get turned off and the bank allows it to go through, Thank God, but then charges you a fee for going under your actual balance, you just start accepting that it’s a part of the deal. You add an additional $30 dollars to anything going through that you figure the bank will cover, even though you know your don’t have that much. We got pretty good at identifying what the bank would accept and what they would turn away. Of course, you always run the risk of them turning everything away, which is within their right, and then you feel like an idiot and worse, have to pay additional fees if there was another bank involved and worst, let people down and tempt fraud charges if it happens too often.

WELL, we got tired of this game. And we’re on our way to being debt free. It feels great. It feels great to have a plan and know how to get there. But it’s only possible because we have enough income now. Six months ago, we didn’t and no matter how much we didn’t want to be in such bad shape, there was nothing to be done about it except move to Alabama or somewhere else where the cost of living was low. Which wasn’t something we were willing to do.

I swear it costs a lot to be broke. You miss out on cash-only incentives and lower prices and interest rates on loans. You are forced to take what you can get because you feel so desperate and just want to be able to eat next week. We held many a garage sale on a desperate Saturday.

We’re very thankful. Things are looking up. And it would be even more awesome if I started bringing in more regular money. Hello? Universe?

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  1. It’s great that things are finally looking up. 🙂 I too hate the debt thing and what we’ve had to do was let our house go. 🙁 The one we built with our own two hands. My medical bills started coming in, even after insurance it’s unbelieveable and we make too much to qualify for help and not enough to afford it all.

    We let our house go when the medical people started collections and eventually garnishments. We saw no other way. Without the $2000 house payment a month maybe we can pay down the bills before they all end in garnishments but our credit is totally and ruined and we’ll never be able to buy another house unless we win the lottery.

    It sucks to be poor.

  2. oh god- we accumulate overdraft fees like crazy too. it makes me feel like such a loser because most of the time, it isn’t the electric bill. it is the time i had to buy the one thing at target that ended up costing 3 x’s the amount after the overdraft fees. arrrrgh.

  3. Well at least you’re not burying your head in the sand and hoping it will all go away. And fingers crossed the universe hears your call.

  4. Good for you! I was doing really well for a while and then recently it’s all kind of gone to pot so I’ve been taking a hard look at where the money is going. It’s great to read this here and know that there’ll be a time when I’ve formulated a plan that I’ll feel good about it all. Right now my heart is pumping no blood, just anxiety all the time.


  5. ditto on all that, been there and it really does suck. about 9 years ago i was about 10K in debt and i was a solo income person. i was literally living off of my credit cards and it was all i could do at the time. i kept chipping away and tucking in wherever i could and finally paid it all off.

    phase two was after i quit my full time job almost two years ago and it’s been really hard. you guys are so lucky to have family to help. we have family but they can’t help us that way, or any other way for that matter.

    having a plan is a very healthy thing to do. getting out from under all the emotional crap that comes with being in debt will help clear the path for the universe to bring you hoards of moo-lah 🙂

    good step in bringing it out into the light.

  6. Thanks for writing this. I’ve always felt like I was the only one who had to automatically add $30 to transactions and play the ‘will they won’t they deposit today’ roulette game.

    I’m going on a game show next week. If I win the $5,000 prize I won’t have to be that person anymore. You can bet I’m studying trivia like crazy.

  7. I really needed to read this today. It feels like we’ve been treading water for years, and then a couple of months ago my husband’s hours were reduced. We were already on the edge and that tipped us. All non-essentials have been cut (except for cigarettes, which I know would make a difference if we could manage to go without) and I still feel panicky every time I go to the grocery store. Or put gas in the car. Or hear the underside of the car rattle (one payment left, don’t you dare punk out on me!)

    I hate to think that others are in a similar or worse situation, but it feels good to know I’m not alone. And to know that others do what they have to do to get through it, too.

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