Thursday, September 27, 2007

Working Hard For No Money

Posted by VioletMama.

We are the working poor. Trying SO hard to get ahead, or even caught up, but can't. This is what we have doomed ourselves to. I don't want it to be this way. I hate being broke. Every week, we go through the same thing. Do I pay the credit card, or buy food? Do I pay medical
bills, or pay rent? Do I pay utilities, or buy my meds? It shouldn't be like this.

We used to be doing ok. After our 2nd child, we had a bit of a problem, but got caught up, and pretty much stopped creditor calls. Then, we moved. and got pregnant. High-risk pregnancy = bills not covered by insurance. Then MAJOR emergency dental work. Now we are back to square one, or even negative. Creditors calling, threatening letters, no money.

I just want what is best for my kids. We've given up a lot. My 2 little guys no longer go to daycare, as we can't afford it, the only reason we have phone, internet & cable is that it is offered for FREE as part of my husbands benefits package. I work when my husband is at home, so that we don't have to pay babysitters. I shop on sale with coupons, and buy clothes either on clearance or at thrift stores. And it's still not enough.

Bankruptcy is not an option. The sad thing is that our debt (besides our car payment) is less than 12,000 and we still have no way of paying it. Our families can't help, we make too much money to quailfy for public aid. I'm scared. I hate feeling worthless, and stressed all the time. I hate telling my kids no. I hate never having anything for myself. I hate never seeing my husband. I hate having no one to talk to about this. I just don't see a way out, and it's killing me.


Anonymous said...

I am in the same boat, basically. My credit score is probably lower than my shoe size. We make enough to pay rent and buy food, but that's it. Stretching $100 for two weeks until the next pay day, and then after the bills are paid, we're left another $100 for another 2 weeks. It's not the life we used to have, it's not the life I wanted. We can survive like this, thank God, but at what cost to the baby? I wanted to be able to give her more. I wanted her to grow up in a house, with a yard, but a mortgage is impossible now. When she gets older, and wants to join a sport or play an instrument, will I have to say no because we can't afford it? I hope not, something has to change, because this is no way to live for long.

I feel what you're going through. There must be an answer. Just gotta keep surviving until it comes. Don't let it make you feel worthless though, a person's worth isn't measured in dollars.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I TOTALLY could have written this post. I so feel your pain. It's humilating, not having enough money, isn't it? I HATE it. We are in debt up to our eyeballs and my credit is so bad that I am in the bottom 1% of the population. And we live on cash advances from pay day to pay day which is stinking expensive. I hate money. Or the lack thereof.

However, like the previous annoymous said, don't feel worthless just because you are financially strapped. There is SO much more to life than money. And what makes a good quality person has nothing to do with what they have in the bank. I have extended family that are RICH and they are WORTHLESS. Mean, selfish, self serving, extremely arrogant, and decitful. In my book THAT is the defination of worthless. Keep your chin up, things are bound to get better sooner or later. :O

Anonymous said...

Same boat on the same river without the same paddle here too. It is very hard and frustrating. We will survive though and proabably be better for having had the struggle than the people who just 'have it all'.

Avalon said...

As a single, 18 year old mother when my daughter was born, I have been there. In 3 weeks, I will actually complete a 4 year process of debt reduction. I will, except for my daughter's college ( parent) loans, be debt free. I was really, really worried about signing up for one because i was afraid it would be a scam.....but it worked. The program worked with my creditors to reduce or get rid of interest rates, worked with me to come up with a do-able payment plan. No more calls, no more creditor letters. It was truly as if weight was taken off of me. It may not be for everyone, but take a look at some of the programs and see if they might help. Good luck

Anonymous said...

We've been there too. It's degrading. My husband works for the state and gets great benefits but only gets paid once a month. I stay at home so we only have that income once a month that we have to use to budget for everything all at once. It's very hard. And now, I couldn't get a job if I wanted to because I'm pregnant again and the cost of daycare would likely exceed the amount I would be paid. I hate having to scrimp, save, and sacrifice so many things. We have it better than most, we have a decent house, decent vehicles, pay our utilities and all, but there isn't a month that goes by that we aren't sweating it until payday, trying to make that last dollar stretch as far as it can.

Violet said...

Thank you for the nice comments. I know other people are struggling too, some worse than us, but it's hard to see that sometimes, in the midst of stress.

flutter said...

Oh love, I am so sorry for this.

Please take these suggestions as just a little light at the end of the tunnel.

Contact your local foodbank. Most foodbanks will allow you to participate in a swap program where you can get good, healthy staple food (including formula, sometimes) in exchange for volunteering a couple of hours twice a month.

Then try a credit counseling service. Once you are represented by them, the harrassing calls from collectors will stop and they negotiate a long term plan to settle your debt with your creditors. You make one payment and they split it up amongst all of the people you owe money to.

There's no shame in needing this, or in utilizing the services that are available to you. You can email me if you need some help finding services in your area.


Aunt Becky said...

I'm so sorry, I have been there, and am slowly trying to work my way out of there.

I feel for you my friend.

Unknown said...

I have been (and kind of still am) exactly where you are. Our debt was about $10,000 and we were not making enough monthly to put even a tiny dent in it. Choosing what to pay and what to let slide every time a paycheck came in and then squeaking by on whatever little was left until the next one is one of the most stressful things I can think of.

So last summer, after a total freak out, I did some research and called a debt settlement company and basically turned everything over to them. I pay an amount that I can afford every month and I know that it's actually going to decrease my debt rather than just prolong it. The ceditors don't call anymore, or if they do, I have a sheet that the company gave me and I just tell them what it says and then hang up. It's like being able to say, "sorry, but I'm not the boss anymore," which was a huge relief.

The other thing that happened was that having done something to try to get rid of my debt gave me the space to step back and take a breath. It allowed me to remember that having debt does not make me a bad person. It lets me not be defined by the debt anymore, because for that was the worst part - feeling like I was somehow just not good enough to do it right and be responsible.

I wish you the very best of luck and I hope you know that you are not alone. There are many, many families who find themselves in a similar position.

Anonymous said...

I can feel your pain. Last year, my husband quit a job that devalued him and paid peanuts for a job that could have been great, except that it was commission only and the new company's sales tactics were slimy to say the least. My husband had a hard time sinking to the level the new company required, and so for 3 months he didn't get paid.

Our credit card debt soared. Of course, it only caught up with us in the last couple months, AFTER we decided to go for our second child. I'm nearly 7 months pregnant and we were suddenly faced with the fact that we owed almost $30,000 in credit card debt (we already had some of that but a good chunk came from paying bills with the plastic while he was struggling for a paycheck) and there wouldn't be enough money at the end of the bills to pay for daycare for 2 kids.

We're lucky in that we have a house with a smidge of equity and are in the process now of consolidating. But the toll all that stress takes, the phone calls to figure out our options, hearing people tell us they can't help and that maybe we should declare bankruptcy, it makes for some very sleepless nights.

Yes, we did it to ourselves, and I pray that nothing major happens in the next few months (besides the birth of our baby) to exacerbate the debt. But we've learned. And my husband went back to the first company, where some changes had been made and he's happier this time around. Even if he still gets paid peanuts.

As the first anonymous said, your worth is not valued in dollars. You are more than your paycheck. I hope you are able to find a solution that works for you. You're in my thoughts.

Fran Loosen said...

I always like what Michelle Singletary has to say about saving money, and she's talked a lot about how to find a *reputable* credit counseling service. Here's an excerpt from one of her columns...

If you're looking for a reputable credit counseling agency -- even if you aren't filing for bankruptcy -- I'd suggest you choose one that is now certified by the trustee program. At least then you'll have less of a chance of dealing with a deadbeat agency.

To find an agency on the list, go to In the search field type ''approved credit counseling agencies."

My thoughts are with you.

Fran Loosen said...

P.S. When I met my husband, he had outstanding credit card debt. I called a credit counseling agency (but hadn't started with them) and then my husband called the credit card company and told them he was going to start with a credit counseling agency and they immediately settled for half (maybe less) of the outstanding balance. It's worth a shot and tell them that you are going to do that and see what they say. Then you can always go through an agency. We looked up a nonprofit one and it was great. The best thing in the world is to arrest the spiraling if you can. My husband didn't on a few things and we wiped out our savings on back school debt. It caused a lot of problems for us. I wish I'd gotten it done earlier.


The City Gal said...

This may not work, but just a thought: do you have the option of moving closer to your in-laws or your own family?

I know some families that extremely benefit from "free childcare" by inlaws or low rent, by moving in with the inlaws for a year or two.

If yu have that option, you shouldn't undermine it.

Many of us don't have parents that can give us money, but they have resources (such as extra time or spare room) to lend us.

Violet said...

We actually live close to both sets of parents. My inlaws live in a retirement community, and my parents have 2 younger siblings still at home. And as far as "free childcare" not happening. My parents work full time, and my inlaws are close to 80, so the little guys are far too much for them. I wish it was an option. I am so jealous of people whose families are able to help with the kids.

Jeni said...

i heard a conservative talk show host banter on about how Hilary Clinton's plan to federalize health care will not help Americas.

u r a posterchild for federalized healthcare.

Anonymous said...

if we did not have to pay for the privilege of carrying health care, we would not be in debt.

Anonymous said...

check out Dave Ramsey. He's been there and his methods WORK! www . daveramsey . com

Good luck, we are even worse off than you!

Anonymous said...

I have been in your position and it does put and incredible amount of stress in your life. I agree with the above comments - 1st, get rid of the credit card debt by contacting your creditors and getting your interest rates reduced. Otherwise you are throwing your money away. Don't be afraid to try and negotiate to lower your other outstanding bills. What have you got to lose? A little humiliation? Big deal - swallow your pride and ask - the worst they can say is "no.” I would look into going to a reputable credit counselor or financial planner and doing some long term planning.
Do you/can you work? Part time? I used to work at QVC at night after my husband was home and the kids were in bed. I also watched another woman's daughter during the day - I made $100 a week under the table, which was enough to buy groceries for my family. It didn't afford us glamorous vacations, but we were able to pay off the debt and start to put away some money for my kids educations.
Be aggressive about saving anywhere you can - its a mindset that I didn't have for a long time and I can't believe how much I frittered away, all the while feeling sorry for myself that I was deprived and could never buy nice clothes or go out to eat, etc. The truth is, I made my choices. I wanted to stay home and have kids and then I was unexpectedly hospitalized for two months during my 2nd pregnancy. Tons of bills and many years later, I realized that even though it wasn't fair that this bad thing happened to me, and that a lot of other people do not have high risk pregnancies, it was a choice I made. I could have worked my butt off, lived frugally, and saved a ton of money when I was in my 20's. I could have delayed having my kids until I had some serious cushion in the bank, so that I could stay home with them more comfortably. I could maybe have planned ahead and figured out how to work a job from home or do some sort of consulting while my kids were babies. But, I didn't. I wanted it all when I was ‘still young enough to enjoy it’ - a house, car, being a 'stay at home' Mom, etc. The debt put a big stress on me and on my marriage, which didn't survive. So, now I am - at age 4, divorced and finally pulling myself out of the hole I dug 20 years ago.
So – bottom-line – you can get out of debt and the sooner you do it, the better. You can have enough money to give your kids the things that they need, like joining sports teams and playing instruments, you just have to make choices. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I meant age '47' - sorry about the long comment and the typo