The Quicksand Story

Our story through the quicksand of our own financial crisis

Archive for the tag “we are 99%”

The Best Intentions

The lessons I learned growing up were all about making sure you pay your bills and be a good citizen.  These are great values to have and teach children.  As a child, we need to learn right and wrong and it is all very black and white.  Life, however, is all shades of grey.

When I married Paul he was very wealthy, and we decided to purchase a home that was a little larger in a different town.  At the time we thought we could afford this home.  It was larger than any home I had ever lived in and I was very proud of it.  On the contrary, all I ever heard from my parents was that this house was too much for kids our age.  My parents felt we were living beyond our means, it didn’t start that way but it ended that way.

When our income fell, I couldn’t tell them that.  I would call my mother and talk about the struggles of being home with the children and the question of what our financial plans and means would always come up.  My parents were trying to help but the focus was always on what I didn’t have and what I couldn’t get. I wanted to talk to them but they pushed me away by constantly judging what decisions we were making.

I wasn’t practicing at that time to be home for the boys.  My parents strongly disagreed with this.  They were pushing me to work.  At the time, I felt they were looking for the doctor in the family and not what would make me happy.  I wanted to be there for the boys, and didn’t want anyone else raising them.  Raising my own children was and still is very important to me.  The phone would ring constantly with people wanting to be paid.  Creditors would call 5, 6 and 7 times a day, every day including Sundays.  I was inundated with trying to buffer this stress from the boys and dealing with the creditors harassing us.  This would go on for years to come.

All I wanted was a safe place to go, to talk about how I was feeling.  I couldn’t talk to Paul, he was unreachable.  I couldn’t talk to my friends because I was afraid of how we would be judged.  I couldn’t talk to my family because they were so concerned with telling me what I was doing wrong that they did not leave a door open for me to safely vent my feelings.  Those were very lonely years for me.

It was at this point that I began to feel the effects of negative thoughts so intensely.  It would be a few years more before I learned to separate myself from the negativity in order to move beyond.

I can only control myself and my own reactions I can’t control anything or anyone else.  That is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned from my life.

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.

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.

Health Insurance??

We had a bit of a scare last week.  My 10 year old son got bitten by a bug and it got infected.  It is bothering him but he waits a week to tell me.  It is high on the back of his leg and he is embarrassed, I can understand.  BUT…… we ended up with an issue.  By the time I saw it, it was a yucky blob of infection so I took him to the doctor.  I am thankful that we have health insurance but I know many families out there do not.

We got him on antibiotics because the the infection was a little too aggressive and the following day we ended up with 1/4 inch bleeding hole where the bug bite had been the day before.  It is almost gone now a week later but we found out over the weekend that it was a MRSA infection.  MRSA is an antibiotic resistant strain of staph.  It can be really bad and scary.  I have known people to be seriously disfigured from MRSA infections.

After this experience I began to think about what I would have done without health insurance.  How many times do kids get bumps and scrapes where we as parents shrug it off as just a kid thing?  We are lucky to have health insurance, but more so we are lucky to budget $500 per child for emergencies.  When we lived without health insurance, I used to live in fear that something would happen.  I relate to the tons of Americans out there who do not have it.  If you are one of the people out there who do not have it I would recommend you set aside approx. $500 per child for emergencies.  Stash it in your house if you need to.  Start small, but grow it, because how valuable is the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can afford to take your child to the doctor if you need to.

I do not want to think about what could have happened if we did not get treatment for my son when we did.

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Rice Salad (Yummy Yummy)

Like any one eating on a budget is not an easy thing to do.  Or at least eating well and healthy on a budget.  Fast food always seems to be the fall back when on the run with children.  Even fast food isn’t always cheap or fast.  It takes forever for our children to decide what to eat when faced with any menu.  It can be frustrating at times.

When going to a picnic where you need to bring an item I became really good a digging in the pantry to put something together.  This recipe I recently brought to a function and I was asked for the recipe.  So I am giving it here.  I got it from a friend and adapted it for us and what we like.  Most everything I get from the farmer’s market.  One of those little holes in the wall that have fresh local produce at inexpensive prices.  I love going to these places and buying a weeks worth of fruits and veggies for about 20 dollars.

1 Onion

1 Pepper

2 cups Wild Rice medley

1 or 2 sticks celery

1 Apple

1 cup Garbonzo beans (optional)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Balsamic Vinaigrette ( You can make your own if you want)

Cook the rice in 4 cups of water for 20-25 minutes until the water is absorbed.  Rinse the rice under cold water when done cooking and put into a bowl for mixing.  Chop the vegetables  and apple small so that bits of veggie get through the whole salad.  Mix all of the veggies, rice, beans and apple together with the dressing until it is all coated.  Add Salt and Pepper to taste.  (It may need a little more than you expect.  The rice can get bland.)

This is a really hearty cold salad that I find goes a long way for me.  Enjoy and feel free to play around with it.  Add whatever your family will eat and enjoy!

 

 

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