MM’s Money

September 10, 2008

BIG News And a Hurricane!

Filed under: DH,Lifestyle,Planning,Relationships — mmsmoney @ 5:49 am
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Big news – DH reconsidering his work situation + a chance conversation at a social event = NEW JOB. Having just started this blogging thing last week, I didn’t post anything about his resume-writing, interviewing, etc – especially since this all came together since Labor Day, but OMGoodness! And I didn’t want to get my hopes up, either.

He was talking to an old friend at a cookout, and she mentioned being overwhelmed at work – she had an empty job that no one had applied for in the 6 weeks the posting/requisition had been open. She works for a non-profit community agency that manages social support grant money from the Federal and State governments – including a brand new program area that supports green-building efforts in the lower income housing field. DH was/is fascinated by this burgeoning industry – green-construction – and they spoke for a long time about the new program and the job itself – serving as project manager/inspector for this new program. That was MONDAY 8 days ago (9/1/08)!

Tuesday (9/2/08) I fixed up his resume to highlight the associated work skills/qualifications and he emailed it to his contact. Wednesday (9/3/08) she called to set up the interview. Thursday (9/4/08) he interviewed. Friday (9/5/08) they checked his references and ran background checks. Monday…nothing. Yesterday (9/9/08) – HE GOT THE JOB. It’s definitely nowhere near the money he had been pulling in a few years ago, but it is a JOB. 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, they want him to start this upcoming Tuesday – the 16th. After consciously trying NOT to get excited/hopeful, this is an awesome and amazing change for our family.

Money. He’ll bring home roughly $2400 per month. $800 will go to daycare, right off the top. Now we have to budget the rest responsibly. We haven’t had the conversation, but certainly a large chunk of that will hopefully be going to pay down our debt at a rate I will be HAPPY to report month after month!

 So since this will be the first office environment in 8 years, he’s gonna have to buy some clothes.  That will be an investment not accounted for in this month’s budget, but it has to be done. This is a slacks and shirt office, no jeans/t’s/golf shirts – so I figure he can get by with khaki’s (3 or 4 pairs – NOT dry-clean-only) and roughly 5 to 8 shirts. He really does not have anything that will do – his previous jobs/contracts had been construction sites – where a t-shirt without holes/stains was fancy! We’re hitting Kohl’s Department Store (maybe one-step up from TJ Maxx and one-step down from Dillards) first for the basics…I’m thinking $250 for the slacks/shirts and a pair of shoes. Does that seem reasonable? If necessary, he can get by with his ‘nice’ boots if we can’t find any office shoes this weekend.

Then there’s Hurricane Ike swinging through the Gulf at us – projected to hit Corpus Christi Friday afternoon – putting storms at our door Friday night/Saturday morning. So maybe shopping should be done tomorrow evening, instead. Our landscaping sure could use the rain – but I hate to hear of damage/destruction from storms, so we’ll be praying it lands gently.

September 6, 2008

Family

Filed under: Debt,History,Planning,Relationships — mmsmoney @ 3:36 pm
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So my mom & my sister are AWESOME. I knew that but didn’t take advantage of several points of their awesomeness until I took advantage of letting Mom lend me money to keep from being homeless as noted above.

Big Sis is a financial genius. Seriously – she had her debt years in college where she racked up debts, but after graduation with a finance/business degree, she got on it and paid it all off. But they were ED LOANS not CC debt like me – even then she was smarter! Since then, she and her DH have built a very strong financial house and I really admire that. While I knew they were doing well and had some ‘mad skilz’ in the PF world, it was too embarrassing (i thought at the time) to solicit her advice/help on getting our junk in order. If I had talked to her in 2002/2003 about our amazing ability to spend 8K per month with nothing to show for it but parties on the lake and hangovers (ahem, I am all growed up now and we don’t do that with our baby in tow!), how today could be different!! But I didn’t get over my reluctance to show my knickers till it was too late. Then mom & sis stepped in & bailed me out.

We lost my dad in several years ago – when he and mom were way too young to think they would ever not be there for each other. They had a relatively stable financial world prior to his illness and death, but he was seriously UNDERINSURED for the responsibilities my mom was left to handle alone. She was/is a teacher, making a lot less money than she deserves, and at the time, my brothers were still young. So she had to figure out how to keep them all afloat on her income. Dad’s insurance after the payment of medical bills and other debts was less than 100K – she put money into her house & into her retirement. She then put chunks into college funds for brothers 1 & 2 and $7500 into a wedding account for me (Big Sis had gotten married the year before dad died and $7500 was how much they had spent on her big affair – seems inexpensive in todays Wedding-Industrial-Complex terms!).

By the way, Our family doesn’t PAY for kid’s college – mom & dad paid the tuition bill, but both sis and I paid for all else – room, board, books, spending money, transportation, etc. So both brothers had a good amount after the power of compounding interest for 6 years and got themselves educated at State U. So some future planning was performed. My sis and Brother In Law (BIL) then stepped in to help her budget and plan for the future. She received payments from Social Security for each of my brothers til they turned 18 – but mom lived on her salary alone, putting that money aside in savings, investments and retirement. she amassed a fair amount in a relatively short time so she was in a position to help us out.

Since my sister is a savvy PF/Investment sort – oh, and BIL too – she and mom and DH and I sat down and figured out my financial world and what it would take to not be homeless, not default on the HEL and other collections. Did I say how awesome they are?

While mom didn’t set an interest rate on the 10K, I plan to get from my sister the rate of return on average investments so when I do get to pay her back, I will match the rate of return on her portfolio (of the period til I do start to pay her back).  Some might quibble with this, but both DH and I insist on not shorting HER retirement because we are stupid stupid people.

So that’s the family background – – and hindsight is 20/20 I can honestly say I am very very very sorry I didn’t take note of the talent in my own family while we were sinking in big debt and bad choices.

How Did We Get Here? Part 1

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