Thursday, March 10, 2011

Big sister, big debt

As usual, little sis Sarah is more efficient than I am. I’m the dreamer, the eternal optimist. I do get things done, but Sarah’s always at least a step ahead. Usually more.

For one, she already has a debt ticker! Unfortunately, those numbers look awfully familiar.

Like Sarah and her family, my family is also gasping for air in the world of monthly payments. We don’t have much to show for it, either. Our ‘good’ car is 10 years old and has passed 100k three times, thanks to carpool duties in earlier days and a long work commute for my husband these days. Oil changes, tires, and $$$ gas bills are a given. A scary given.

Our two side businesses have struggled under the weight of the shaky economy and Mother Nature. An optimist, I feel confident that they’ll both start perking up alongside the spring flowers, but I’m smart enough not to bet on anything.

College bills, still in deferment, loom in the shadows. Unexpected medical and dental bills, though not nearly as hefty as Sarah’s, jumped out unexpectedly last year and will remind us for some time that we have no clue what’s around the corner. Not that we needed any reminders.

While we have managed to stay afloat during previous tough times by hook or crook (no, I’m not really a crook!), we have finally plowed into the proverbial brick wall, fallen into the dry well. There is simply no longer enough money to cover the steep monthly payments loaded with insane interest rates.

When my husband and I saw the figures on paper, it was a miracle we didn’t add ‘heart attacks’ to our pile of woes. The amount was so staggering, I had to check the totals four more times. And it was beyond embarrassing.

As exhausting as it’s been to gather the figures and organize my notes in order to broach the credit card companies I’m now dealing with, it’s not nearly as much so as wondering where the money’s coming from to pay the bills. Every. Single. Day.

Like Sarah, I’ve been interested in Dave Ramsey for a while, but I’ve never taken the ‘DR’ plunge on an official basis. Dave talks about baby steps in getting things turned around, and while I am an optimist, I’m also a realist. ‘Baby steps’ is an understatement.

Dealing with customer service/assistance reps on the phone has been more tolerable than I expected. To their credit, almost all have come across as human and understanding. I'll be sharing my experiences here and will hopefully have some current figures for my very own ticker before long.

Like Sarah said, we’d love to learn from you and with you, so please don't hesitate to share tips and success stories!

It takes a village to do more than raise a child.


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