MM’s Money

September 6, 2008

How Did We Get Here? Part 1

Filed under: History,Relationships — mmsmoney @ 3:29 pm
Tags: ,

Our story – DH is an independent tradesperson, working primarily as a subcontractor. For years (2002 through 2006) during the housing buildup/bubble, whatever you want to call it, he was high on the hog, earning $4000+ per month, mostly *sigh* cash that went out as soon as it came in on a variety of fun/toys/entertainment. I’ll say that I enjoyed the benies of all that, but was still the primary wage earner, since my salary was paying the mortgage, utilities etc. He wasn’t ‘accountable’ for his earnings and we were getting into debt because by the time the bills rolled in for the necessary expenses, all his income was gone (how did we live like that?!?) and I’d be forced to borrow against next month to pay for this. AND to top it off, I was very reluctant to reign in the spending or communicate what our family needs were and insist that we put those first. So in 2006, we welcomed our daughter and my insurance didn’t cover a LOT of that expense, plus taking 3 mos. off maternity leave at 2/3 pay, plus all the new costs that a baby entails, our debts ballooned. And houses weren’t being built and DHs income started to decline – not quickly enough that we saw a radical shift, but enough that at the end of Summer 2007, I was so behind on EVERYTHING, I seriously was close to nervous breakdown about the finances.

So I started what some might say is nagging about the budget and our family’s future. Mentally scheduling a weekly talk about finances, asking him what money he would be able to save and ‘worrying’ out loud about denying lil one a future (losing the roof over her head – we were that close!) and how in the world would we save for college? It took a long time for DH to get it – that I wasn’t trying to make him feel bad, but that the reality was, we couldn’t keep living like this! Even though we were on the edge of disaster, he didn’t feel the ned to plan our money or budget and resisted ‘complying’ with the budget I was trying to follow.

In late 2007/early 2008, he was only working about 1/2 time and he finally had that AHA moment – that we had to communicate, coordinate and cooperate for our family. Specifically, he had paid out money for material for a job ($2800 cash) and I had planned on paying that money toward our late mortgage payment. The mortgage catchup payment bounced, and guess what? The general contractor (GC) wasn’t meeting the build schedule and the owner didn’t pay any invoices until the GC caught up – so DH’s invoice for the materials didn’t get paid for 90 days. We borrowed from my very generous mother to avoid foreclosure and to get almost right (April 08). So between what we owe my mother, the 4+ years of head-in-the-sand, we have almost $40K of outstanding debt and need to get our S%*& together… And it really took that 2 by 4 to the head for DH to get it. We struggled through the summer paying out still a little faster than we were taking in and we’re trying to make a go of it with YNAB as a cornerstone of our get-well plan – three weeks in and hopeful!

I highly recommend family counselling (my mother did put that as a condition of her loan) to address setting common goals.  One thing I learned was my husband was seriously depressed and that his behavior was a lot of anger at himself for not being the provider he thought he should be – but his actions were exaccerbating the problems and being completely counter-productive. We also had to reconsider his business model – paying money out of our pocket for his jobs put us all at risk. Since then, he’s turned down jobs that were too big for our budget (those where he’d have to buy materials/equipment) and we’re trying to figure out a way for him to be successful in the new (awful) economy.

So there we are – struggling to adjust to living within a budget, building an emergency fund, coping with HIGH debt payments. More on the debt in another post!


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