Our story and ways to not repeat it

So, I have been thinking of more money saving tips I could give to all of you, thinking of more ways to get you all to cut back on your spending and realize how much in our lives is really just ‘stuff’ that we don’t need.

One of my dear friends told me yesterday that she thinks I should put all of the things I did to help our family survive for 4 years with little income and sometimes no income coming in. For those of you who don’t know the back story here is a quick little synopsis.

So, my husband worked for a big firm in Orlando as an Institutional Trader. Well, they decided to move all operations to NY. We could have chosen to gone there but, yuck, we are NOT New Yorkers and we would have been moving there on a Florida salary, no can do there. So, he did get a very nice severance package. So, after taking the summer off, he started to look for work and discovered how hard it was finding something in his field.

Finally, he found something and it was a good salary, actually about $20,000 more a year than he had made before! Which was great since we were expecting our 3rd child. So, he works there thinking he is going to be there for a long time and such. Well, when our 3rd baby was about 6 months old, he got laid off. Yikes. We knew it was hard just a year earlier, how is this going to work?

Well, it didn’t work out well. At first my husband thought he could trade for himself…apparently, he is MUCH better at trading other people’s money than his own…the fear factor comes in to play too much with your own money. He did that for a while but, never really making more than just enough to pay the mortgage and a handful of other bills but, not all of them. Plus, we had purchased a desktop and a laptop on credit for his new adventure.

Then, after figuring out that wasn’t working, he tried to start a company with some friends….didn’t work, then he did handyman jobs just to get groceries. We were NOT doing well. All of our bills were piling up, our babies were growing, things needed to be paid and weren’t getting paid. For a while there, we had absolutely NO money coming in.

Then, at Christmas time Hubs put an ad out and hung Christmas lights for people, that paid enough for us to buy the children Christmas gifts that year, another year past, he did the same thing the next year. Now he did have a job, it was decent pay however, still 1/2 of what he had made before getting laid off. But, it was helping to stop the bleeding. I in the meantime was selling things like mad on eBay and purchasing most of the children’s clothing on there too. Our son was now at a private school for Kindergarten…..bills piling up even more.

We have been going to a food shelf monthly for about 2 years at this point in time. Our mortgage payments are getting made less and less. We discover our children all have wheat and dairy allergies, our grocery bills triple just from that alone. Times are getting dark and desperate.

We feel that things might be starting to get better, things are going ok at his new job, pay still isn’t terrific but, it is a paycheck. Hubs still can’t get a 2nd job anywhere as they won’t hire him because he is over qualified for everything. I am working once in a while for a law firm at this point to try and help. We pawn our watches to pay some bills and to help get us some spending money for our annual family Miami trip.

Well, we decide it is now or never for the 4th baby, things are stabilizing a bit. The day we find out we are pregnant with our 4th…is also the day Hubs is no longer working at his job. Wow, now what do we do? A miracle happened just before that…we get a bit of inheritance….we quickly decide how to split it up. We quickly start a remodel on the kitchen…if there are going to be 6 people in this house, we can’t live in a 9×10 kitchen next to a 10×10 dining room. Construction starts. 6 weeks later we have a new larger kitchen. We have paid off some bills, tried to pay some parts of others but, they are still piling up again.

No money, things are bad…what are we going to do? We are told we are too poor to file Bankruptcy yet, the notices keep coming for those Sheriff’s auctions on our house, we can’t lose our house! We just can’t.

Hubs is interviewing everywhere for every kind of job. He is desperate, we are desperate, wow, this is really getting bad. Finally Jan 08 Hubs gets in touch with someone and they put him in contact with someone else. Steve battles his way into the interview with shoes that have holes on the bottom in the middle of winter, I think we had to borrow money for him to pay for parking downtown. Finally, he gets a job. It is scary again, no benefits, salary is a draw, no guarantees. This is NOT what I wanted, I wanted insurance, paid vacations, salary, and a bit of stability. This is too risky, I am afraid. However, I trust my husband again, I know he can’t fail, he knows he can’t fail.

Well, here we are 15 months later, he is still there. Things are going well. We are still digging our house out of massive debt and ourselves however, there is a light we can see it now!

We have 4 great children, our marriage is strong and close, we have great friends and we even have some money to spare monthly to put into savings. We aren’t out of the woods yet but, we aren’t lost in them anymore either.

We still live like we are poor and we still hold our breaths right before each paycheck is supposed to come. We still can’t believe they come on a regular basis. We still find it hard to believe we aren’t going to the food shelf anymore. I struggle still with spending any money as I am so afraid it will all go away again. It could, who are we kidding, it could all go away again for sure, I think many of us who felt we were safe are feeling a bit nervous now.

I am telling you all, from first hand experience, be smart, live like you are poor. Live like you can’t afford things. Think about all of your purchases before you make them, do you really need that new cell phone? Do you really need that new TV, that new laptop, iPod?

My best advice to all of you is when/if you or your spouse ever gets a new/higher paying job or gets raise, continue to live on your old salary and put the rest away. Don’t live beyond your means and cut up those credit cards! I am so grateful that we didn’t have a lot in credit card debt! That would have sunk us for sure.

We actually have not ONE credit card and not really sure we ever will. What is in our checking account/savings account is all we have in our world…when it is out of money, we are out of money. There is no back up plan on a credit card….that is too dangerous. We need to balance and manage our money every month/week/day. We need to make sure it is going to last the entire month and then some. We need to plan for those car repairs, those household expenses that come up. We try and put away the same amount of money each month for our family vacations so when it is time to take them, it isn’t such a big gulp of money.

Nothing, not one thing of ours goes on a credit card, not ONE thing. We buy nothing with credit. We still have only one car and won’t buy a 2nd until we can pay cash for it. We will not add on to our house unless we can pay cash for it. We won’t move to another house until we can put a substantial amount down on it to keep our mortgage around the same as ours already is.

We are afraid, it is good to be fearful. Nothing is promised. Nothing is guaranteed. God does not promise us that life will be easy. The world doesn’t promise us that either.

Live like you are poor. Don’t live like you are cheap though, there is a difference! Tithe your 10% or more, give to those who might be struggling, help out your local charities, continue to give the way you have always given unless it will put your family in financial hardship. But, your tithe and your other giving should be one of the last things you cut back on. There are many other things in your life you can cut back on first.

Ladies, I have said it before, I will say it again, you don’t need designer jeans, you don’t need to shop at certain stores or even certain areas…ie 50th and France, you don’t need computer upgrades or the latest and greatest phone all your friends have. We aren’t in high school anymore living off our parents dime…this is the real life, most of us have children, most of us have others we are responsible for and most of us have spouses too. We should be cutting back on our haircuts, our colorings, our waxings, our shoes, oh yes, I said shoes! We don’t need to be going to Starbucks for coffee, make it at home! We don’t need to drink wine with dinner or buy gifts for our friends.

These are tough and very uncertain times we are heading into. We don’t know what the future holds. But, we can control some of our future by starting to cut back today and save, pay off any bills you can and don’t create any new ones!

Lean on your friends and family and most of all God in these times. We ALL need each other.

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