I have shared pretty much every aspect of my life here on the blog.
I’ve written about my weight loss journey, my struggles with mental illness, problems in my marriage, how I’ve failed and succeeded with my kids…
You name it, I’ve probably talked about it.
And I’ve shared the details of how I’ve gotten from one point to another in each of those areas.
I’ve also been pretty open about our financial struggles.
I’ve shared how we had to file for bankruptcy and how friends and family and the community have provided Christmas presents for my kids for the past two Christmases, and ultimately how we ended up in our current situation, on Medicaid and receiving benefits from SNAP.
I have had many readers ask how we ended up in this situation.
I haven’t answered any of them.
I do realize that once I put all this information out there, I open myself up to these questions.
And while it’s really no one’s business, that’s not really why I haven’t responded.
I really haven’t responded because it’s complicated.
It’s not a one or two-sentence answer.
If you read yesterday’s post, you know that in the last 48 hours, I discovered Mr. Money Mustache.
And I’ve become a little bit obsessed with him.
Okay. Completely obsessed with him.
I have been blaming my financial situation on everyone and everything else.
My therapist would say I’m blaming and shaming.
Mr. Money Mustache would call me a Complainypants.
Anyway, he’s prompted me to take a more honest look at myself.
So like I said before, how we got to this point is complicated.
Or maybe it’s not.
I can narrow it down to the following points:
1) My husband and I were both deeply in debt when we got married, and we had no plan for how we were going to fix that.
2) My husband and I have not ever been on the same page financially. Until possibly now. And we’ve been married for eleven years.
3) Divorces cost a lot of money. And just because they are finalized, it does not mean that your spouse’s ex can’t repeatedly file motions. For anything. We have spent over $100,000 in legal fees in the past ten years.
4) The crash of the housing market turned the sale of the first home we lived in from the potential for a quarter million dollar profit into a loss when we sold it.
5) For the first 5 years of our marriage, I refused to live within our means.
6) Five years ago my husband owned his own business and was making $100+/hour. With the downturn of the economy and other factors including customers who stiffed him out of $50000+, he lost his business and is now making a quarter of what he was making in 2009.
7) In 2008 we flipped a house and lost money on it. So in 2009 we tried again and lost money again. And then for good measure, in 2013, we tried it one more time and failed again. Three strikes and you’re out.
8) Unexpected total knee replacement surgery.
There are other things that happened. But those are the main things.
So we are ultimately in this position because of the decisions we have made as well as things that have happened over the last eleven years that were beyond our control.
We have made a lot of changes in the last three years.
I’ll write a post in the next day or two about all the things we’ve done to cut back on our spending and costs in the past three years.
Because we have made a lot of changes.
In fact, a couple days ago I complainypantsed to a reader about how we had made all the changes we possibly could have.
How we have cut every single possible cost there is to cut.
And then, like I said before, I found Mr. Money Mustache.
And realized I was wrong.
I’ve shared weight loss details and therapy details and how I stopped yelling at my kids details.
Today I am sharing financial details.
Just like when I went through my weight loss journey and I started a series of posts on that, I’m going to start a financial series of posts.
And I’m doing this for two reasons.
One, writing this shit down helps to keep me on track and keep me accountable. And it forces me to be honest with myself.
And two, I know I’m not the only person in this situation. I know because many, many people have contacted me. And I know how badly is sucks. So maybe I can help someone else by sharing.
Here are our monthly expenses:
Note that I did not include sports and preschool in the table.
Right now, the kids are receiving financial assistance for swim team, basketball, and baseball. Preschool is giving us a 50% scholarship and my parents are paying for the other 50%. My parents are also paying for Number 5 to take dance.
My husband and I, right now, are currently bringing in about $4000/month between the two of us. Even with the assistance we are receiving, we are still coming up over $1000 short each month.
So we need to do one of two things.
We need to increase our earnings.
Or decrease our expenses.
I’d like to do both.
But we will start with decreasing our expenses. Because I can do that immediately.
Thankfully, our list is fairly small. We have no credit cards. And we own our cars. That’s good.
Other than our mortgage, our debt is minimal.
Like I said before, I was convinced that we were doing all we could. That we had cut all possible costs.
Then Mr. Freaking Money Mustache set me straight.
I really thought I had become the Queen of frugality, but by putting it down in writing, I was knocked right off my throne. There are some pretty glaring issues that still need to be addressed.
Like our oil bill. It’s out of control.
Part of that can be fixed by just putting more clothes on and keeping the thermostat set at a lower temperature.
That we can do immediately.
Same with the electric bill.
I have to admit I’m not good about turning stuff off.
As I sit here right now at the computer, there is a space heater blowing directly onto my legs.
I also very often fall asleep with the television on, I don’t turn off all the lights when I can and I hardly ever shut my computer down.
Changing some of those habits will make a difference right away.
And then there are fixes that will take a little more work and a little more time.
Our house is full of drafts. Bad ones. We will need to address those. My husband can easily fix them. We just haven’t made them a priority.
Next, our cell phone bill.
Mr Money Mustache recommends Republic Wireless. Our phone bill would be less than $100 a month if we switched.
That’s a quarter of what we need to get rid of right there!
I’m going to check that out.
So here are my goals for the next month:
1) Change cell phone carriers and get our bill under $100/month.
2) Keep the thermostat set no higher than 64º during the day and 60º at night, and reduce the oil bill to >$500/month. (The weather getting warmer will help this one).
3) Get the electric bill at least to under $300.
If I can do that, I will have cut $850 off of our monthly bills.
I’ve changed my eating habits and I’ve managed to lose the extra weight.
Now, it’s time to change those spending habits and lose the extra expenses.
Who wants to join me?