One reader asked about our plans, so I think now is as good a time as any to do a quick retrospective…
I met Tim in May 2006. He had a judgment he couldn’t pay for an accident from age 16, so he had no license. No license where he lived made finding work hard, his health conditions made it even harder. He also had $20,000+ in defaulted student loans — again, because he couldn’t work.
In the meantime, I had just had my disability hearing and was starting to get my monthly check, which covered my rent and my meds. We were quite a pair.
I helped Tim find a job in Seattle, and he moved in with me. His dad gave him $3,000 to get his license back but, now that we were in Seattle, a car was less necessary. I convinced him to make a deal for one of his private loans in default.
Tim’s boss gave him raises, so pretty soon we were making “big money” of nearly $40,000 a year combined. All of which we threw at his student loans and some credit card debt that arose from his medical bills. Another $10,000 was added into the mix when he needed his oral surgery and dentures.
A month before the wedding, Tim was fired from his job. Thanks to airline credit cards, we already had free tickets for our Florida honeymoon. With the help of a friend, who works for a hotel chain, we had rooms that cost $33 a night. In addition, I had found discount tickets to the theme parks we wanted to visit. So we decided to go anyway. From a purely budgetary standpoint, not the smartest move in the world, but we have great memories.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good understanding of the unemployment system and thought we might get in trouble for taking a vacation in the middle of Tim’s search for work. So I didn’t have Tim apply for unemployment until after we got back from our trip. The process takes two to three weeks, which meant more bills ended up on the credit cards.
Those two decisions put around $3,500 back on the credit cards, which was unfortunate and somewhat frustrating.
Around this time, I got some part-time contract work and was earning $900 a month. This put us back up over $30,000 a year and helped us keep paying down debt. By this point, we had paid off his student loans, only to find there was one that had been misfiled. So another $5,000 was tacked onto our debt. But we were able to get the credit card debt under $8,000.
By then, we had realized that Tim’s health was never going to get better up in Washington. We had literally lost count of the number of MRSA infections he got. So we bit the bullet and moved down to Phoenix. My mom decided to go carless and gave us hers, which saved us a ton of money. (Phoenix is not a bus-friendly town, even ignoring the 6 months a year the temperature hovers around 95-105.)
In April, I completely lucked into a full-time position working from home. In May, Tim’s unemployment ran out. We still haven’t found a job he can do reliably, given how stress affects his skin. In June, we paid off our credit card bills. Then, we ended up back in debt due to a confluence of events: three different car fixes, a cat that needed weekly vet visits for almost three months, stress/exhaustion meaning almost no cooking got done, and a houseguest for 6 weeks.
I admit to being frustrated/mortified at having gone backwards, but things finally seem to be under control. We’re due to pay off the card by the end of November. Which means it should actually be paid off before the end of the year — as life loves to mess up the best laid plans.
Just reading this made me tired. And, in the interests of keeping posts from ridiculous lengths, I’m going to go ahead and lay out plans in the next post, on Monday.