So I had every intention of sharing my 2017 goals with you. I have them all written out and I’m developing a solid plan for success. I kept hinting that I’d be delivering them soon but I just couldn’t get myself to type them up into a hopeful little post for you about how great my 2017 is going to be. I also had a very different post ready to go today but I’ve pushed it back. That’s because I have a dirty little secret.
If you’ve been following along with me from the beginning you will know about our big life change in 2015. If you’re new here go check it out, then come back because I want you to hear this. This past year and a half has been full of transitions, adjustments and big changes. Along the way I’ve been sharing my little family’s life with you. I have painted this pretty little picture of a happy family of three, who has fun-filled weekends and a calm life in the Midwest. All the while I’ve been holding on to a big secret. We’re one financial emergency away from ruin.
I debated whether or not to actually share this as it’s embarrassing if I’m being honest, and it points out a big flaw in how we managed our money as a couple. Then I thought about all of the spouses who stay in jobs they hate because they have no other way to pay the bills. I thought about the moms who returned to work after only 6 weeks or sooner because they can’t afford to be out of work. I thought about the countless other people who might be just as embarrassed to admit they messed up. So I’m not sharing this secret of ours to have you say poor you, I’m sharing it so that you know that you’re not alone. I’ve been and am in your place, I’m living it.
My Dirty Little Secret. Money Troubles.
Our financial troubles began while we still lived in New York. It began innocently enough as two college graduates starting their lives together. First it was one credit card each, then our student loans needed to be paid, next was a loan for our wedding, then some more credit cards, Infertility Treatments and surgeries, a pregnancy and delivery, attempts to consolidate debt and so on and so on. Before we knew it, our $75,000 combined annual income was just keeping us afloat. I knew how we had gotten here of course. There were naturally unexpected things that arose, such as health issues, car troubles, etc but there were so many silly financial mistakes that we should have been smarter about.
Once we moved to Iowa I made the decision to take a year off and be home with Addie until she started school in the Fall of 2016. I don’t regret that decision but it did prevent us from keeping up with all of our debt bills and something had to give. Matt and I had a tough decision to make, we just couldn’t keep up with all of the payments. I made the decision to return to work, but that wouldn’t prove to be that easy. I knew I didn’t want to return to my old career path and I wanted the flexibility to still be there for Addie when things arose. That led to my current job at my hometown newspaper.
Where We Are Now
I should also note that we have been living with my parents for the majority of this past year and a half. Let me preface these next thoughts by stating that I am forever grateful to my parents for allowing me and my family to live with them during this difficult time for us. That being said, I don’t know one 34 year old who WANTS to move back in with their parents, especially when they have to also move their husband and child in with them. This has truly been a test for me, our family and my relationship with Matt. Luckily my parents house is not too tiny but when you have 4 adults, one child, 3 dogs and 5 cats, things get crowded.
Luckily Matt was able to get a full-time teaching position and with me working, we’re getting by, but we’re still not keeping up with our debt bills and we haven’t been able to afford our own place. Aside from the fact that we can’t get a mortgage, we live in an area where rentals are a hot commodity and few and far between. So we are left with the choice to remain in my parent’s home as nomads. As the months have worn on this has really begun to wear on us. Getting by has been very stressful for us but it isn’t all gloomy skies.
Moving Forward and Lessons Learned
Things aren’t great for us right now and certainly not as we pictured it when we moved here a year and a half ago. That being said we are moving forward. This situation has taught us some valuable lessons. We now only pay for things we have the money on hand for, no more credit cards. Though we’re still in debt there is a freedom in doing this. We have learned to adjust and budget so that we can pay for the things that we need to. We’re still learning about ways to save and have adjusted our budget a few times to optimize it the best that we can but we’re getting there.
We are learning to plan better for emergencies and though we don’t have much, we’re beginning to sock a little away. We have also began budgeting for the cost of rent/utilities, as much as our income allows at the moment. We are struggling at the moment but are lucky in so many ways, which I try to remind myself of during these difficult times for us. Matt and I are learning to communicate more openly and though we’re still learning, we’re getting there. We’re taking one small step at a time.
I do want to share one goal or motto rather, with you as I close today. Matt and I want 2017 to be the year of settling in. After a year and a half our little family is ready to finally settle in to our life in the Midwest. Our number one goal for this is to smooth out our finances. We don’t want to move into a home just to be working to pay the bills. We want to enjoy life and have a lot of other lofty goals for our family this year. I believe we can get there but it’s going to take dedication and determination.
It is my hope, that by sharing this difficult admission with you that another family that is going through money troubles won’t feel so alone and ashamed. I want to thank you for allowing me the space to share openly with you and I welcome your questions and comments below. Financial struggles don’t have to be a dirty little secret, they should be an opportunity to learn and grow. Please also feel free to email me if you prefer a more private method of communication.
Here’s to a year of settling in. If you’ve been struggling to make ends meet or could benefit from a little extra income each month then this opportunity might be for you!