K.B. asks from Saint Louis, MO on July 30, 2011
So I know Dave Ramsey is loved by mamapedia users everywhere and I have reviewed his site for some tips on how to fix my finances, but I'm still struggling and wondering if anyone else has some other advice to help me with some things.
I am a single mom and his dad, while very loving to his son and willing to watch him as needed, is absolutely worthless when it comes to his financial well-being. I am already filing for child support and am simply waiting for the hearing (and no I'm not going to keep his son from him because he won't give me money to pay for him right now). My issue is, between credit card payments that I accumulated PRE baby, my car payment (which I need the car for work and again had PRE baby), and my rent which increased POST baby, I can't even buy food for myself each month. I'm BARELY being able to cover his food costs, but I'd rather starve then have him suffer. I looked at trading my car in for something cheaper, but I can't get a trade in value close to what I actually owe on the car. I've been trying to find cheaper housing, but I'd have to move to some seriously crime filled neighborhoods to do that (and possibly living next door to a LOT of my clients). I do not qualify for ANY state programs so I pay out of pocket for his daycare, food, housing, utlities, everything, which is fine, but just wanted to make clear is not an option. Literally, my paycheck dissappears each month once I pay all my bills and all of my credit cards are maxed out anyway. So I hear a lot of "if you can't pay it with cash, then you can't afford it and shouldn't get it" but what do you do when you have no cash to even buy things that are NEEDED not wanted?
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So What Happened?™
I may look into offering babysitting services again. Do any of you know if families would be willing to let me bring the baby or bring their kids to my apartment?
Also, thanks for the referral to angel food ministries. My mom is willing to let me borrow about 100 dollars for their boxes (which is much better then the RIDICULOUS amount I would've spent on all that from the store) to get me some food now. This will help
@Lynda - I have gone to the WIC office. There is an income requirement. I have gone in and applied and they keep telling me I don't meet it. I exceed the requirement by $15 . . . seriously
@Judith - I'm working to get my government loans lowered (they are based on my income anyway) BUT the difficult ones to pay are the private student loans that I decided were a great idea to pull out in college. They are not quite as helpful in repayment.
@Carrie - My car payment is 262 a month. I can sell it for about 11,000 but I owe 13,000. I bought the car two years before I got pregnant not planning to get pregnant anytime soon. Life happens :-/ If I get a trade-in I can only get about 9,000. and I looked into WIC. They told me the same thing "you make to much money." I promise I DON'T but they simply do not look at everything that has to go out compared to what all comes in. A lot of this mess was made by stupid decisions I made when I was young and in college and I was in the process of cleaning it up when I suddenly ended up pregnant. Then it became VERY difficult.
@Laeh - I did look into food stamps and they just keep saying "no you make to much money." They won't look at my student loan debt, credit cards, car, daycare, rent, and utilities. They'll only look at my rent costs and utlities (which if I only paid those would be GREAT!).
@PoolMama - I have the Mirena IUD. I'm not planning for more kids. and it is a requirement as part of my job that I need to use my own car for transportation purposes to and from client houses. If I take the bus, my productivity decreases drastically as I could spend hours waiting AND I'm expected to transport clients as needed. I would take a cheaper car, but part of the job description was "must have own transportation and at least $50,000 liability insurance"
@Teenmom - they are not his debt, they are 100% my debt. None of the bills and cards were in his name and we were never married so it was never shared. And I'm working on getting him to help financially, but I can't MAKE him pay beyond getting a child support order and having either 1) him finally pay it, 2) his wages get garnished, or 3) having him thrown in jail, which is also slightly counterproductive. I have given up on forcing financial responsibility on him outside of the scope of the courts and legal system. That is their job. My job is to make sure my son is cared for in every way needed.
I was considering a night job, but his dad is enrolled in night classes starting in the fall and I have NO support system out here to help me watch him. All of my family and friends are in Texas or other states (they moved after grad school). His family is not helpful at all and favor his daughter and her mother over me. In fact I have regularly been told by them "his daughter's mom is making it work without complaints and you got a good job compared to her so why are you always asking for help." But, his daughter's mom also LIVES with his mom, doesn't pay rent or utilities, doesn't buy her own food (his mom does) and qualifies for food stamps and daycare subsidies, so close to her entire paycheck can go towards random expenses for her daughter or herself. I'm a social worker, which is far from high pay, but is considered to high for any actual benefits.
I may look into sharing a house, thats not a bad idea. But it would have to be a stranger (I really have no real friends out here anymore).
P.W. answers from Dallas on July 30, 2011
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on July 30, 2011
I haven't read the other responses, so forgive me if I'm repeating...
First of all, you can't count on income from the ex. Great if it happens, but plan that it won't. You need to take YOUR financial bull by the horns, right now.
Ten will get you one, that the credit cards are the problem. Cut them up TODAY! Use Dave's debt snowball to pay them off smallest to largest. Then be DONE. I'll be if you add up all the minimum payments on all credit cards, you'll find it's a nice amount that you would LOVE to have every month. There's no "easy" way to do this (We have done it) just hit it and get it.
Downsize EVERY other "extra" that you have--cable (cancel completely if you can--HUGE monthly savings), phones, magazines, newspaper delivery, and STAY OUT of the stores, except for grocery shopping and shop only with a list of necessary items for the week. Look into www.angelfoodministries.org for CHEAP groceries--NO INCOME REQUIREMENTS.
While you may be upside down on your car, selling it and financing the remaining 2K might be the best way to go. Your car payment isn't "high" but then again, I have no idea how much money you net per month.
Finally--sell some other stuff. We all have it. Stuff we don't use or need or want. Camera, other electronics, toys, baby clothes & gear.
There is no "easy" button here. It includes cleaning up a mess that you made (speaking generally here).
I cannot recommend Dave Ramsay enough...get one of his books and work the baby steps...we are debt free INCLUDING the house. It's very hard work but it works! And it feels great.
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L.M. answers from New York on July 30, 2011
It sounds like you may still be struggling with a want vs a need, or are just recently learning the difference. A person who knows and practices needs vs. wants would never even come close to maxing out a credit card unless there was an extremel emergency. It also appears that you were not living within your means before your preganancy and it's now catching up with you.
1. Destroy all credit cards except one, that you will use for emergencies. Make sure you know the defiiniation of an emergency, the car broke down and I can't get to work, or the baby needs medical care are emergencies.
2. Contact the credit card companies and see if they will lower your interest rate.
3. Do you have the right job for you? Is the amount that your earning justify having all these special requirements? Would it be possible to find another job that would enable you to have basic transporation or use public transportation?
4. Find an additional source of income - clean houses, babysit. You can bring your baby with you.
5. Do you have a cell phone? What type of plan do you have? You may need the phone, but you don't need texting or internet. If you have a cell phone, you do not need a land line.
6. Do you have cable tv? Cancel it. It's not a need.
7. It appears that you have internet service in your home, unless it's needed for your job, its not needed, cancel it.
8. Do you eat any meals at a soup kitchen? Have you gotten food from a food pantry?
9. What does your grocery bill look like? It is possible to eat 3 good meals on $5 a day.
10. This may not be an option, but have you considered moving back to where your family and friends live, where you would have someone who could help out and offer moral support?
11. What brand of shampoo, toothpaste and deorderant do you use? Skip the name brands. Suave works just fine. Aquafresh was a name brand 25 years ago.
12. Baby items - I'm sure your baby has way too much. He does not need lots of toys. He does not need decorative items. He does not need clothing purchased in a dept. store. Buy his clothes at yard sales or consignment shops. As he outgrows items, bring them to a consignment shop.
13. Magazines and newspapers - not needed do not renew the subscription.
14. Did you get a tax refund last year? If it was more than $200, then change the amount of deductions being taken from your payroll check.
15. Make a budget and stick to it.
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S.B. answers from Kansas City on July 30, 2011
Do you have any friends who might be willing to get a place with you to split the cost? My sister and her friend did that for awhile while her friend got on her feet. It was a bit uncomfortable, apartment size wise, they lived in a two bedroom and her friend had to have both of her little kids in the one bedroom with her, but they made it work, and it helped both of them having someone to split rent and utilities with.
Jo W had good ideas about making extra money. Maybe you could do some tutoring on the weekends or babysitting or something (I'm not sure what you do, just that you work with teens). I pick up extra sewing from folks to make extra cash when I can. Things that seem super easy to me, re-hemming, tacking on a falling off applique, putting in a new zipper, even sewing on a button, seem to be something people will pay for.
Also look into Angel Food Ministries. http://www.angelfoodministries.com/
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L.P. answers from Pittsfield on July 30, 2011
Dave Ramsey would tell you to worry about food, utilities, and rent before credit card payments. Hold off on those until you start getting $ from your son's dad.
Have you listenend to his radio show from his website? It's free, and we always found it very helpful. You may be able to call in and ask him directly what you should do- I know that one of the other moms here on mamapedia did that.
Would it be possible to live with family in Texas (if you can get a job there) until you get back on your feet? I know that might create a situation where your ex wouldn't be able to see his son much, but HE'S kinda putting you in a crummy situation.
Best wishes =o)
2 moms found this helpful
M.B. answers from Dayton on July 30, 2011
Get his book Total Money Makeover at the library. He talks about paying certain things first (like rent, utilites, food) b/c those are necessities. No matter how loud the credit card company yells, it's not a requirement to live to have them paid. And if having a car is a requirement to keep making money, then your car is on the list too. Read the book - he talks about just this. You aren't the only one out there; he has lots of experience helping tons of people just like you.
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C.B. answers from Dallas on July 30, 2011
Look into WIC- your baby should qualify and that will help out with the food. If you are breastfeeding him(I don't know how old your baby is) you will get some supplemental food and if he is on formula, they will help out with that. If he is over a year old he will qualify for other foods(veggies, cereal, milk, eggs- stuff like that). How much is your car payment a month? If you could sell your car and buy a beater for $1000 that will help. If you are upside down on your car, see if you can get a loan from your local bank to cover the difference. $100 a month on a small loan is better than $400 a month on a car you can't afford.
Make a budget and put what you NEED first- FOOD, SHELTER, LIGHTS and WATER should be FIRST- credit cards need to be LAST- and if you can't pay them right now, you can't pay them right now. But you need to eat. You need to stop using your credit cards too. You can do this! It will be tough and you won't be able to go out at all and do anything extra until you get your mess cleaned up- but it's doable! My husband and I lived on $800 a month when we got married and had our first child(that was about 12 years ago but it was super tight) half of our income went to rent- we had a beater car that was paid for and we were on WIC but no other government aid and we had no credit cards. I took my son for walks and we played outside. We had no tv or cell phones-. It was tough, but we made it!
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E.B. answers from Beaumont on July 30, 2011
Go take his Financial Peace University class. It's is awesome. It costs, I think $65 but it will pay you back in spades. In 1 year, we've gone from desperate to working on our $12,000 "nest egg". I PROMISE...that's what you need to do. It is offered in a lots of churches. I believe they have a link to "where one is near you". Good luck. Hang in there....I realize this is a longer term goal but GET STARTED! :) Right now, check with the local food banks, churches etc. so you can eat, get ideas and develop short term plans.
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D.L. answers from Kansas City on July 31, 2011
i totally understand where you are coming from here ... i dont know how old your little one is but for me the first year was the hardest. i tried to apply for assistance for me and my daughter and i made too much money but i was able to get WIC. if they have that in your area try and apply for that it helps. i had the same issue with my daughters dad (only difference is he didnt and has not wanted to see her). i am now receiving child support from him and it didnt start until she was almost 10 months old. i was in the same boat i was trying to get caught up on my bills and didnt have much $$ for food for myself. i was lucky enough to find a gal who did daycare out of her home and charged a small amount per week. it is hard to start out on the Dave Ramsey thing but you have to set your mind to it and be disciplined. i am not on it but my brother and his family are. they have tried to get me to do it but i just havent gotten there yet. like i said though it does get easier - my daughter is now almost 3 and things have gotten better. i only spend what is in my means and i dont overspend. yes i do have 2 credit cards (1 car repair and the other for emergency) but i am careful with them and what i spend. one other thing as well dont buy something and count on making the payment with your child support - those payments are not always guaranteed. i work with people who deal with that and we see lots of parents not being able to make payments since their child support is late or they dont make it that month. i hope things get better for you - keep your head up - and remember it does get better
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