The Quicksand Story

Our story through the quicksand of our own financial crisis

Archive for the tag “bankruptcy”

Step By Step

Life is difficult. The bill collectors are calling and you are worried about making your mortgage, you are worried about paying for your car. You wonder how you will get through another tiring day.

I remember the days of being afraid to answer the phone for fear of who would be on the other side. The tactics that are used by bill collectors are emotional warfare. They intentionally call repeatedly; they intentionally are verbally abusive, they intentionally lie to you; all with the purpose to scare you into paying their bill. It doesn’t matter to them that you have $100 left and you need to feed your family. They Don’t Care! They use these tactics to wear you down and break you apart emotionally. They do it so that they get their money.

There were days where I felt if one more person called I would jump. I couldn’t because my children mean too much to me but he thought did cross my mind. On those days I put one front of the other and focused on that just to get through the day. Was I depressed? YES! But I had 3 children to take care of. I have even had collections agents call me scum, and tell me I did not earn my degree because I couldn’t pay the bill. It doesn’t matter that their demands were so inflated that there was no hope of even paying.

Having grown up in a family that values paying your bills and your credit score it found it difficult at best to handle what was said on the other side of those phone calls. I had difficulty until I realized one thing. Step by Step.

God will not judge me for not paying my bills, but he will judge me for not feeding my children and educating them and keeping them healthy. Ultimately what do these collectors mean to me? Even my family, what do they mean? Nothing, if I can’t live with myself. One step at a time.

First step….  Take care of my family. Second step…. Keep a roof over our heads and food on our backs. Third step…. Keep the car. I began to look at life in simple steps. Each step is important on its own, but if you skip steps you will fall.

First Step, feed my family, take care of them. I focused on this and I began to move out of the depression. I am not saying don’t pay the bills, I am saying that there are more important things than your credit score. When I let go of that the collectors did not have such an impact on me. They will get paid in due time when all the other things are taken care of. Family, home, transportation, job.

Step by Step.

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Best Darn Meal I Ever Had

I guess to know me is to understand that I love food. I love the whole dining experience. The service, the ambiance. I love the way wine can be paired with cheese. I love the way a filet minion can taste wrapped in a little piece of bacon. I have eaten in some of the best restaurants in Manhattan, Miami, LA and Paris. I have spent over $700 on dinner for two. I will remember them, and talk about them for the rest of my life.

I was completely out of work and money. The only thing we were doing was working with a company called Melaleuca. We were trying to make it big there. But it was hard. I didn’t know it then but the people we were trying to get involved saw our desperation. I don’t know if they knew what they saw or just saw that something was off. Normally our checks were $20-30 dollars. I went to mailbox before I had to pick up the boys at school and saw the oversize envelope from Melaleuca. I knew it was money and a sense of relief swept over me. I figured I could get about a week’s worth of Pasta and Milk for $20. I opened the envelope and found a check for $405.00 dollars. Seems a couple of the people underneath us had introduced some new customers. It was awesome. I sat in my truck and cried. We had food. I called Karen and she jumped in our Excursion and ran and got the boys. We rarely used that truck because it was a V10 and expensive to run. Probably looking back on it now it probably wasn’t insured and the registration was suspended. I took the check and ran to the pawn shop. I couldn’t take it to our bank for two reasons. One it was an out of state check and it would take 4 days to clear and two we were over drawn by the same amount, so if I deposited it the check would be gone. So I would cash it at the pawn shop and pay 1.5% and get cash. I cashed the check then I immediately went to Burger King because it was close. I went to the drive in and ordered a Whopper meal with a Coke. I paid the cashier and pulled away. I didn’t even put the truck into park I tore open the wrapper and bit into the sandwich. I was awesome. The “special sauce” squeezed out the backside of the sandwich all down my shirt. I really didn’t care. To this day I can still taste the fresh crispy onion. I drank the coke like it was just given to me by Jesus Christ himself during his Last Supper. Just last week I went to a different BK and got a Whopper meal. I flashed back to that day. It tasted just as good as it did that day. Out of all the places that I have eaten, of all the delicacies I have dined on none of them tasted as good as that Whopper Did that day.

Loyalty

I have grown up believing that loyalty is a great thing to have.  And I agree.  But I also believe that it has been manipulated on us for to help those who have perceived power over us as people.  Be loyal to your job even though they cut your pay, decrease your benefits and increase your workload….  Don’t go and work on a business in your own time that will increase your wealth and not theirs.  Or this thought,  I can’t start a direct sales job on my own time, it is against company policy.  Who cares that that policy doesn’t give a hoot about you or your family.

I think it is time to redefine loyalty and who we give it to.  Be loyal to your family, your immediate family.  Your wife and children family.  Be loyal to yourself.  If you feel badly about doing something you are asked to do, don’t do it.  You have to sleep with yourself and your family at night not your employer.  You would think this is commons sense.

How about when it applies to your bills and mortgage.  It is not so clear cut.  You are underwater on your house so you can’t sell it yet your credit cards are calling you 5 and 6 times a day and you need to feed your family.  I know how it is to have trouble letting go of a house from loyalty, I also know how difficult it is to receive those call from our friend, BILL.  Ultimately be loyal to your family and yourself.  Look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  The greatest responsibility is to feed and cloth our families and put a roof over their heads.

There is no shame in Bankruptcy or short sales if it allows you to care for yourself and your family.  Don’t lose hope, there is always a way through the quicksand.

Survival

Some days and weeks I went the whole day with only a piece of toast. I would move my dinner around the plate and put it in the fridge for someone else the next day. That was a big sore spot with Paul and of course we would argue. He said I wasn’t eating enough and I would argue that I had to eat last so everyone else could eat. If there was enough I could eat.

When we would get an extra twenty dollars in a week I would run to the store and buy protein. Buying meat on a bone meant I could use the bones to make stock. We had broth in the house and there were times when we would have six containers of broth in our freezer. Adding rice to the broth could make that one piece of meat our food for two weeks instead of one. Broth was our protein and I got creative. I added sour cream and cheese to rice cooked in broth for Special Rice for the children. We ate that a few times a week and when the sales were right we would also have ground beef in our Special Rice.

Chefs often recommend making your own stock. It is more flavorful and uses more of the meat and bones. For us it was a cheap source of protein to feed our growing children. I did what I could to feed my family. If that meant I did not eat then so be it. That was fine as long as the children were healthy and full. Sometimes I wouldn’t eat anything for a day or two. Life is tough when you haven’t eaten in two days and are still too embarrassed to go to the food bank. In those days I couldn’t tell you where to find a food bank.

If we were in that situation again I would go simply to keep my family fed and myself healthy. Survival.

No Matter How Much I Love My Children

My children are the light of my life.  They have in one instant change my life forever and do so again and again everyday.  I would do anything for them, but our minds play evils tricks with us.  We have been through hell and back.  We have survived our quicksand and yet I torture myself with the; What If…..

Really it is about Emily.  We chose to have Emily and I am so happy for that decision.  But, what if we had made a different decision.  Sometimes when in my darkest times I would look at her beautiful sleeping form and wonder how our life would be different, easier without her.  I gave up so much to have her.  I could work like normal if not for her.  Getting a house would have more options without her.  Because of her we need at least 3 bedrooms, yet, 2 bedroom homes are so much cheaper…..School is so expensive and we haven’t started saving for college yet.  Usually at this point I am crying because I love her so much that even the thought of life without her is physically painful.

If we never had Emily I would not have the giggles when the three of them are goofing around.  We would never have the flowers picked by her from the yard.  We would never have the little pink shoe hanging from our Garage door to remind us of how stinky her feet would get after wearing Crocs.  I never could understand how such a compact, cute, bubbly little girl could have such smelly feet.

After following this line of thought and having a good cry, it is at this time that I know that we are on this path for a reason; to help others.  I am not alone in having these feelings.  I am not alone in knowing that I would trade everything again for her, it still doesn’t make it easy to swallow.  It helps to know I am not alone.

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