I never dreamed I would be starting over at 52 years old. Stay at home mom 25 years. Married 32 years. Raised 5 kids. I was the soccer mom, dance mom, cheer mom, band mom….you name it I was that mom and I was president of the booster club. My youngest finally started school and I got a little part time job. Then my narcissistic husbands very cliche’ midlife crisis turned my world upside down. Picture open shirts, gold chains and everything that image conjures up. He was emulating his TV idol Tony Soprano. Then he said he wanted to have a girlfriend but stay with me.
I filed for divorce and let him have our paid off house just to get away from him and have peace. With the little money I got from our settlement I put a down payment on a house, paid off my car and paid off my credit card. That was November 2014. Ex wasn’t in the mob but like Tony Soprano he hid cash every where. He had always kept our finances from me, he is a contractor- he was paid cash and hid it all from me. So I had no idea what I was getting into financially by buying a house. I was just looking at the mortgage versus rent. And wanting to build equity. By now I had a full time job and wanted to be smart with money now that I was on my own. I was so full of bravado and hope! So I bought the forclosure and one week later was serving Thanksgiving dinner to my relatives in my own house. I felt so blessed, I was in awe.
But the next two years was like a series of unfortunate events. I will spare you the details but basically: Life.
And being salaried, I was working in a job that required lots of what our supervisors called “Volunteer Time”. I was working 60-70 hours a week without compensation. I was really scared. Each time I got scared and prayed about money, as soon as I said “Amen” I would see money on the ground. Quarters in the parking lot of the grocery store. Nickels, Dimes at Target, at the gas station. A whole dollar in a bush next to the streetlight in front of the building where I work. Did I open my car door and get out to get it? YOU BET!!
But stuff kept happening. To make “ends meet” I relied on my credit card. In two years I racked up $11,000.00 on that credit card. Nothing great to show for it. Nothing I can sell. Christmas for two years. Groceries, medical expenses, an ER visit. Gasoline. Utility bills. Birthdays. Stuff I thought I needed for the house. Another ER visit.
In 2015 our Sunday school class for single ladies did a series on budgeting and avoiding debt. I wanted to do right, but couldn’t make the numbers add up, and I gave up. One thing I always did since day one was tithe. I kept waiting for God to bless me financially. The next year, our church did a sermon series on Budgeting and debt and Money, and again the numbers still didn’t add up and I gave up trying to budget.
It was a harsh reality, devastating even, to realize how stupid I had been to buy a house. I finally realized that didn’t make enough money to make ends meet. I cut out the few tiny extras in my life. Coffee. Lunches out. We aren’t talking Starbucks and sit down restaurants either. I’m mean I had to cut out getting Wendy’s value meals. Our furnace quit and I couldn’t afford to fix it. We spent all of winter 2015-2016 huddled in our beds under layers of blankets when we were home. Like the scenes from the Johnny Depp Willy Wonka movie. And we live in Kansas City. It was so cold last winter!
I haven’t had a haircut since March 2015. I fell into a deep depression. Life became a dark cycle. Get up go to work. Eat oatmeal. work. Eat Ramen. work more. Go home. Eat a baked potatoe. Or. Not. Just… dont eat. sometimes log on and work more at home. Twice a month watch money go into my account…and watch it go right back out as the auto pays kick in. I saw no way out.
By the time I joined FPU at our church this past October, I was JADED! I had trolled this website looking for ideas for 2 years. For over a decade my second most read book (First being the bible) has been Tightwad Gazette. There was not one more thing I could cut from my budget, or so I thought. On our first night of class I told the leader, “This isn’t going to work for me. I don’t make enough money and I only came because the preacher announced we could come one time for free”. But by the end of the first video I felt a ray of hope. The teacher told me and the one other single mom in the class that we could pay for a kit in installments. I gave him $5.00 and walked a way with a kit.
Every Tuesday for the next 6 weeks I showed up hopeful, but then got discouraged during classes and went home in despair. All the upper middle class and upper class married people in my class were bounding through the baby steps while I had to scrape, using the money I got from my parents and kids for my 54th birthday to help pay for my kit. And it still took me 5 weeks to finish paying for it. So many of those people confessed they didn’t tithe and then would spend part of class time talking about how to get cheaper cable. I never had cable to begin with! And I do tithe! I asked God in anger, why aren’t you blessing me?
I almost cried on cut up your credit cards night. It felt so unsafe. My furnace still wasn’t fixed. My tires were balding and winter was setting in. I realized I had been putting my trust and security in Visa not Jesus. And Visa doesn’t love me. Visa was killing me. I had realized even before the video on credit that for every dollar I sent to Visa, Visa took 50% back in fees. At this rate I was NEVER going to be free. I divorced my husband to get free and to get peace. This wasn’t peace.
I got really mad at VISA. Just like I was done with my abusive, unfaithful husband I decided I was done with VISA.
That was in November. I am so proud to say that in the past 12 weeks, I have not used credit. Somehow by the grace of God I was able to do Christmas for my 5 kids and 4 grand kids with cash. It was hard and I am exhausted but I did it. And we didn’t have potatoes and ramen for Christmas dinner! We had a feast- including smoked salmon and a rack of smoked ribs from Plowboys. This IS Kansas City!
I paid off my Target Card and had saved $100.00 by the end of FPU. My kids came full circle at Christmas, and blessed me more than I blessed them by buying new tires for my car, which were so balding that the guy at NTB came back into the lobby to tell us that my old tires were in the worst shape he ever saw.
My brother in law found out about our furnace and together with my dads help they fixed it. Its over 35 years old but holding together.
Forgot to mention I have an ENORMOUS maple tree in my front yard that was scaring me to death. The thing was overgrown and giant limbs were hanging over my neighbors driveway and roof. I noticed they started parking under it in the driveway. Hoping for a new car courtesy of MACs homeowners maybe?
Week one of FPU, another neighbor had her trees trimmed and I noticed that the guy who did it did a fast, efficient job. It was number one on my financial wish/NEED list. I got his number and he did my whole yard for $230 dollars. 4 large trees! One catch he asked for cash. No problem! By the time he came, I had the whole $230.00 in the envelope marked “Home Maintenance” of my blue FPU wallet!
Back in the middle of October our company announced that beginning Dec1 we would no longer be salaried due to the Fair Wages Act. Thanks Obama. Wow thanks CEO. This is hitting at Christmas!
I was really angry at first, because I figured they would no longer approve overtime. Ironically it was one day after figuring out my budget and cash flow homework. Grrrr.
It was a first rough month -my bills don’t understand I get paid every two weeks now. When you do the math its less pr month except two out of 12 months pr year. That’s what made me angry. I am trying so hard to do the right thing, and Im tithing, I asked God WHY ARENT YOU BLESSING ME??? I apologized and told Him I trust Him and will keep doing the right thing.
Then towards the end of November, the year end rush at work kicked in and I started getting overtime. For the last 8 weeks I have been working 60-70 hours a week including New Years. Ka-ching!!! Tonight I deposited a full emergency fund into a brand new savings account.! And my bills are paid. On to baby step number two. And cheers to my new bank that said they would give me $200.00 for opening a new account. When they offered their credit card I almost yelled NO THANK YOU!!!
Cheers even to more Ramen and Oatmeal and hopefully LOTS more overtime, I cannot wait until I am done with baby step number 2. Now I look at my credit card balance as “how many hours OT does this equal”?
I already feel more peaceful. Thanks Dave! And Thank You Jesus, for blessing me!