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Why Can't We Live Our Budget? (RANT)

May 6th, 2009 at 05:28 am

I am so frustrated! I HATE, absolutely HATE, the situation we are in. The surprises keep coming. We have already paid $240 this pay period (since April 30) from our paycheck to surprises and another $70 or so in money we made off of Craigslist. I am so frustrated. Our budget is doable without these surprises.

Now, we only have $39 in our account to last until the 15th so I had to transfer money from our Freedom Account which I just recently started contributing to again. AARGH!! We can never win! When will this all be over?!!

I totaled all the surprises up as best I could since last May and it's about $15,310! Can you believe that?! (And that's not even counting it all! There's quite a bit I know I can't track for certain so haven't counted it.) $15,310 is just $608 short of being exactly HALF of our credit card debt. $15,310 in addition to the money we HAVE paid towards cards this past year would have definitely put us over half done. I just can't believe the situation we're in. It feels like it'll never end. Over $15,000; that's a good down payment on a house...oh, it just hurts. I know it hurts my husband too and it's causing him health issues. It's got to stop at some point! We started paying these surprises over a year ago! How can they keep popping up?! We're NEVER going to be able to reach our goals of paying off overdraft, "consistently living our budget", much less paying off this debt this way.

I just want to cry and throw up my hands, but what good will that do? It makes me sick that I spent $426 on plane tickets to visit home (haven't been home in over a year) to have surprises continue to come up. I feel almost physically sick to my stomach. Anyway...there's really nothing I can do except try to be optimistic and do the best I can with the money that's left. I really really just hate this all.

Sorry for the rant. It's better to write and rant than cry in front of my family.

21 Responses to “Why Can't We Live Our Budget? (RANT)”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I'm sorry this is so upsetting. What kind of surprises are we talking about? Unexpected car repairs, or old debt...just thought if we knew more we could help with some advice.

  2. Personal Finance Student Says:

    It's all debt that I didn't know about...money my husband borrowed and then used to help others out. I have posted about this before. He didn't keep any records, so we pay whenever he remembers more. I just hate the stress and this rant is coming the morning after a sleepless night with a sick baby, so I know that that's playing into it a lot. I usually try to be more optimistic. Thanks for the support though.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    Sounds like it really is unexpected! ((hugs)) I think you are on the right path...just a bit bumpy in the beginning. It will smooth out eventually.

  4. Sean Says:

    PFS - I just found this blog and read through all of your posts. First, I empathize with your situation, the albatross of debt is a heavy burden. Second, I apologize if my tone is a little harsh.

    When I read through your posts I see the same language and patterns repeated. There is a saying that if you want a different outcome change your actions that I think is applicable to your situation.

    "Surpises" always happen! They are just a part of life & with a new baby you will likely have more of them. Having $15K of them seems a little excessive and better planning or decision making might help.

    Two observations for what they are worth. 1)You and your husband are NOT on the same page & do not appear to be honest with each other over your finances. Borrowing money you DON'T have to "help others" is not an act of kindness or charity...it is irresponsible. Spending money on things you don't NEED and charging on Target cards is not the actions of a person wanting to get out of debt.

    2)Perhaps you are doing this and just not writing about it, but slashing spending is a key not only to position yourself to reduce debt... but longer term, establishing a behavior pattern of balance, moderation, and frugal living. You are living above your means and using debt to finance it. I have found that most families can reduce expenses by 20% overnight without an hardship and those that get "really serious" by 50%.

    Most of personal finance, and certainly for anyone just starting out, just involves behavioral changes and discipline. Get your nose out of the numbers/budgets for a moment and ask yourself whether you have made the changes necessary to get your finances in order? Has your husband?

    I wish your family the best of health and success.

  5. ceejay74 Says:

    Think of it this way: Your debt was $15,000 more than you list it, so you've paid off a third of your credit card debt in one year! That's amazing--two more years like that and you'll be free of it.

    Are you creating an emergency fund in addition to your freedom account? I have finally come around to the need for one, and I have to admit that knowing it's there is a great comfort, because I can use it and not feel like my budget's getting thrown off track.

    Chin up, you're doing amazingly! There will be a limit to what your husbad did (as long as he has stopped this behavior), so you'll get out of this eventually.

  6. smiley2009 Says:

    Don't worry and please do not get discouraged I agree with Sean here sounds like you and hubby need to sit down and bring all the skeletons out the closet. I am a huge fan of Dave Ramsey and have found that a written budget should be on paper before the 1st day of each month. Each dollar should have a name credit cards should be cut up. I would suggest Dave ramsey's baby steps save up $1,000 cash and than began snowballing debt. List all of your debts in order from smallest to largest and begin paying as much as you can to the smallest one and pay min on everything else. The "surprises" will have to wait even if you can only send them $5 or $10 a month. But at this point a budget is going to be the foundation give each dollar a "job" it will help you become more organized and to stop over spending.

  7. MICLASON Says:

    It IS difficult... at times it feels like you're in a sand trap, and, just when you think you can see the end, you slide back down a bit... but, the important thing is NOT to let yourself get to the bottom again... as long as you make SOME progress, give yourself credit for it...
    For example, as upsetting as the hit to your freedom account is, at least you had some money that you could use without going further into debt, which, I guess, would have been the way to go in the past.
    I was once where you are... with over $20,000 in debt and a monthly income of about $700 (yep, MONTHLY)... deciding which debts to pay and which ones "could wait" another month... fielding calls from creditors... rummaging through my purse to find COINS to buy some gas for my car... and wishing it would be enough to last until payday... that was back in 2005...
    Today, although I am still in debt, I no longer choose WHAT to pay, I have enough to make my payments each month, I don't have to default on rent, and every 2 weeks, when I get paid, I fill the gas tank (it lasts 2 weeks! so I don't have to worry about the poor thing dying on me just because I don't have gas!) and, while I still don't have an emergency fund (I know, I know...I'm still not quite there yet), I can divert money from other things without having to put the family on a bread and water diet for a week when there are unexpected expenses... Yes, it has taken 4 years... and Yes, I still have a ways to go, but... I'm getting there...and so can you!

  8. Personal Finance Student Says:

    Sean - I can see what you're saying. I will agree that my husband and I are not on the same page. I keep hoping that we are, but hoping isn't getting us very far. I realize that and that is something I am trying to deal with. He has stopped that behavior and I wholeheartedly agree that it was irresponsible. I have no idea how he rationalized it at the time, because we were talking then about how we were going to focus on paying off our debt.

    I have to disagree about living beyond our means though (with the exception of the "surprises"). We have cut out luxuries and we put off buying things until cash is available, unless it's a necessity. I guess I'm not sure what you're referring to about charging on the Target card. We did have a car repair put on there, perhaps that's it. We do put off purchases when able, we still haven't bought the booster seat I mentioned wanting in January, because the funds just aren't there. I really do truly believe that if we didn't have "surprises" our budget is fine. We usually stay within all the other budgets just fine. I have planned towards this trip home and only part of our little family is going due to cost.

    Anyway, perhaps it sounds like a lot of excuses, but I know that I truly am trying and live within my means. I do still need more help from my husband. Your second paragraph was spot on though, I do need a different strategy. I just want to believe that all of this will end at some point and am trying to be optimistic. I am trying to be sensitive to the health of our marriage as well.

  9. Personal Finance Student Says:

    Ceejay – I have never thought of it like that. That helps…a little. We are working on an emergency fund. It’s part of our Freedom Account. We have different subcategories and that is one. We put $44/pay period into it. I also saw on these blogs of someone who put the dollars and cents of her paycheck into her EF so we have started that as well. Anything over $2500/paycheck is put into the EF since our budget is based off of $2500/pay period.

    Thank you for the encouragement! I agree, I figure one of these payments HAS to be the last one, because yes, he did stop this behavior.

    Smiley – Thank you for your ideas. We do have a written budget; what’s laughable is that we have for years, but as you and Sean have noticed…we just haven’t been on the same page. I have wanted to get out of debt for years. We don’t have $1000 in our EF yet (only about $200), but that is something to consider.

    MICLASON – Thank you for the encouragement! You’re right, I do need to keep looking on the bright side!

  10. monkeymama Says:

    I don't have much to add but I have to agree with Sean. Living beyond your means does not mean "enjoying luxuries you can't afford." It means spending more than you make. Unless your income increases or your spending decreases, I don't see how you are going to get out of the "hole."

    I am not sure what your $15k in surprises were, but if they were really unavoidable and there could be more in the future, you need more income. If it is all as you said (your husband helping others) and it has stopped, you still have to dig your way out. I am not sure where you are in that process.

    I just know if it were me I'd be looking for more income and cutting any expense possible. I am not sure what other options there really are.

  11. Personal Finance Student Says:

    monkeymama - I understand about living beyond your means. Our budget is set that we have about an extra $500/month above and beyond debt minimums to make towards paying down debt. The issue at this point is my husband wanting to pay off the personal debts (therefore no minimums and no formal debt repayment set up) he remembers as he remembers them, whether he's gone through what's currently available for that pay period or not. That has frustrated me to no end. We have talked about it repeatedly, but it continues to happen.

    The behavior of borrowing money has stopped so we're in the "digging our of this personal debt" part of the process. We just don't know how far we have to dig; that's the frustrating part. I am cutting expenses where possible, but since we see that as a 2+ year process, I haven't put our budget to bare bones. I need it to be do-able so it's sustainable and going bare bones would not be sustainable. Instead I have made a budget that's do-able with sacrifices we're willing to make (read compromises), but that will still get us out of debt. I feel it a GREAT success to have him agree to stay at one car once our second one died.

  12. Sean Says:

    PFS - We can tell that you are a fighter and I am sure that you will get through this period in your life. We have all been through it and I can tell you from personal experience that living debt free is FINANCIAL FREEDOM.

    I am not sure I "get" the personal loan thingy of your husbands, but here is what I would do. As he remembers these do NOT pay them, but include them in your debt payment plan. Names, dates, amounts...

    If johnny or larry or andy have waited so far, they can probably wait a little while longer. This will do a couple of things for you, it will get these debts out in the open and formalized. It will allow you to prioritize your debt payments. It will give you a chance to pay larger amounts to the big guys, saving you some interest and allowing you to pay these off. Smiley2009 has it right...pay these folks a few bucks a month!

    You need a few small victories to build confidence and momentum. There is nothing finer than paying off a debt and then another and another to build confidence!

    I tell my clients to go "cold turkey" and cut up all of the credit cards. You do not need to pay off a balance to cut up a card...all it requires is a pair of scissors and a willingness to change. Studies have shown that we spend 10% to 30% more when we use plastic, you want to make it as difficult as possible to spend money and using cash is best!

    I am glad to hear that you have a cushion in your budget. This is NOT about cutting to the bone or depriving ourselves, this is about changing the beliefs, behaviors, and actions that got us into this position in the first place. Small changes get small benefits and big changes reap big benefits.

    I agree with Ceejay that said they finally came around to the importance of an emergency fund, and you need to establish an emergency fund ASAP! Let me try to explain why this is SO VERY IMPORTANT!

    You are still using the same behaviors that got you into debt. Living beyond your means, not saving, and when you are out of money using debt to fill the shortage. This has to STOP for you to get out of debt!

    So, what is the alternative? How do you live debt free? You eliminate consumer debt from your life!! No credit cards, auto loans, refrigerator financing,etc. You spend less than you make! You learn to save!

    Although the emergency fund does not seem important it really is the KEY! If you can save a thousand bucks you are spending less than you make, you are learning to save, and it will keep you from using your credit cards...Eureka!! If you can do it once you can do it again...a $1,000 and then $2,000, and then $4,000.

    The beliefs, behaviors, decisions, and actions needed to establish a little ole' emergency fund are the same ones that will bring you financial freedom!

    Pretty darn cool!

    Take care...

  13. Petunia Says:

    PFS, you really do have a tough situation. I feel for you. I totally understand the "not on the same page" thing. Even if your spouse tells you they agree with you, want the same thing you do etc., a person can still discover that they are on a different page than their spouse. BTDT.

    It does seem a little odd to me that your husband keeps "remembering" these debts, and that they have to be paid immediately. I think Sean has a great idea to prioritize them in with the rest of your debts. In that way you can make progress in other areas as well. Good luck.

  14. ralph Says:

    Hey PFS, budgeting is hard work for anyone without a huge surplus - just ask Obama or any governor. I feel your pain, since I also have to struggle to get my spouse to realize how serious this stuff is. There was too much here to do more than skim, but if your husband is now curtailing spending you should take heart and keep your nose to the grindstone. I THINK I have finally gotten my spouse to slow down on spending, but it is a constant battle. Hang in there!

  15. mickeylily Says:

    everything will be ok....sounds so weak....

  16. Personal Finance Student Says:

    Sean - That all makes sense when you say it like that. Thank you. This is something I'll have to plan and talk to my husband about. Thank you for taking the time to write it all out.

    Petunia - Exactly! I don't know what BTDT stands for, but that first paragraph is right on. My husband is reluctant to tell me much, because he works with a lot of these people he borrowed from (I know, I HATE that.) and doesn't want me to feel weird around them, but I don't like not knowing. I will approach him with the idea of prioritizing and writing things down, but we'll see...

    Ralph and mickeylily - Thanks for the encouragement! Good luck Ralph; I hope it's true...that your spouse is reigning things in.

    Thanks everyone for all the support. I'll keep you updated!

  17. lizajane Says:

    I think BTDT is "been there, done that", if that helps any.

    I read thru all the advice and I think you've gotten some great tips for ways to view these surprise payments (especially ceejay's perspective), as well as strategies for handling them in the future (sean & smiley's ideas of writing them down and paying a little on them). It is hard when hubby isn't on the same page. I struggle with that too. We've loaned money to family members in the past, and I've always appreciated it when they made partial payments or "worked off" their debt when they couldn't pay in full. For instance, BIL owns a semi and drives over the road. When we needed some equipment moved that required a semi, he moved it and my hubby knocked the appropriate amount off the bill. Maybe that's a suggestion if your DH does some type of work that he could "trade" as payment on some of these debts.

  18. CouponAddict Says:

    I have a question,

    From my place in life if this were me and trust me it could very well be. The good news is my dh knows if he barrowed money from a friend he would have to find a way to pay them back, ie donating plasma and or selling some of his very extensive Star Wars toy collection on EBAY. Sorry off topic.

    Does you husband really owe these debts? Is he maybe just saying that to get you to hand over money? In my life this would be more likely the truth. Also if he did barrowing money to give to someone else, has this someone else given you money back.

    Tell you husband you cant continue like this and the next time a loan is remember it will be put into the budget and paid off over the next few months. Also ask him to start thinking of way to increase income...EBAY, plasma donation etc. Since he took the money he needs to help more.

  19. Natural Says:

    is it possible to put money into a "accident" "suprise" fund? maybe 20$ or whatever you have so that you don't have to touch your other money. or split some of what you're saving into another fund just for immediate emergencies?

    so sorry. i know how you feel. i'm debt free and was in a fender bender. i was just starting to build more. a slight set back, but i won't let it break me. i continue talking with those who keep me grounded and focused.

  20. Broken Arrow Says:

    I'm sorry for such a thing. It would bother me tremendously if I was in your position as well. In fact, I think I got a slight headache just reading this..

  21. crazyliblady Says:

    It sounds like it is your husband who got you into the bulk of the trouble in the first place and doesn't have a lot of respect for his wife and children. It also seems he had a poorly designed scheme to pay off the debts in a timely manner. If he was borrowing money to help someone else out, why isn't he getting that person to help pay it off? If I were you, I would tell him he needs to get a second job until the personal loans and other past due items are cleared up. A second job could be anything like tossing phone books, a paper route, working at a store in the weekends or evenings. It sounds like you are shouldering a large portion of the debt and should be working a little harder to get it paid off.

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