Seeking a Financial Advisor.....

Updated on July 28, 2008
M.R. asks from Waterbury, CT
4 answers


I - along with probably many others in this time of high gas/oil prices - am having a hard time with my finances and getting them in order.

My husband and I both work fulltime jobs outside the home, and never seem to have any 'pocket change' left after the bills are paid. As a matter of fact, I've been practically 'robbing peter to pay paul' so to speak. I would really like to stop living from paycheck to paycheck.

I have 3 mortgages on my house - which kills me to pay,(and automatically come out of the checking account) and mounds of credit card debt. The bank account lately can't keep up with all I've been having to pay and I've gotten more NSF fees than I care to talk about. I don't know where things all went wrong!!!

My biggest problem is : my husband doesn't know of the NSF fees - or how bad the checking account really is.

The creditors don't call the house - only because they ARE getting paid - and not the minimum payment either.

I would just like to see some light at the end of the tunnel!! I know this won't happen overnite, but if I could even begin to see that there IS some light SOMEWHERE SOON... I'd be happy.

Another problem I have with seeking a financial advisor - is that I'm not able to pay that much - to nothing at all.

What is really paining me right now is : tomorrow (7/28) is my husband's birthday - we've made plans to go to dinner ( along with his entire family coming as well - to which is a surprise to him - (they are paying their way for dinner) )... and I don't have the $$ to pay for dinner - we have some $$ left on the credit card - but I think my hubby will have a fit if we have to use it.

If anyone is able to help me - I'd really appreciate it!!

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answers from New York on

Why isn't your hubby involved in the finances? Can't solve a problem if everyone doesn't have all the information needed to set a game plan. Pull all your bills together, get a total amount and sit down with a non profit credit solutions person. You didn't get yourself into this position over night and you certainly won't be debit free quickly either. However with a good working game plan you'll get a true clear picture of your finances, be able to cut back on things that waste your money, and get your family back on the road to financial health.



answers from New York on

I am not a financial advisor. That said, I'd like to congratulate you on your ability to take responsibility for your finances. Since my Real Estate career is more like an expensive hobby these days, I can understand how tight money is and how expensive gas is.
Have you contacted any of those credit helper places? Perhaps you can do what they do, by calling the credit card company's yourself and asking them to reduce the interest rate. Since you are paying more than minimum I'm guessing your credit is good. When I was putting myself through college I'd open a 0% credit card, transfer balances over (tear up the card) and pay off the new one before the real interest rate kicked in. This calls for extreme discipline.
I don't know what type of car you drive and what those payments may be like, but it may be wise to downgrade(if possible). Also, making sure your Homeowners Insurance and your automobile insurance is the least expensive one our there, changing your deductible, or making sure you're not covered for collission if your car is indeed beyond that. Although many companies say bulking the policies together is cheaper, do the math on your own. Allstate was charging us $1200/year for homeowner's insurance, Nationwide quoted me $800/year. Every penny counts!!!
Use coupons when shopping or if you have a Trader Joe's go there. They may not have the brands you're use to, but the food is a much better quality and less expensive too.
How about carpooling? Kids car pooling? Not always convenient, but less expensive.
These are just some ideas that are working for me and my family.
Hope this helps.



answers from New York on

Hi M.,

I feel your pain. My husband got laid off 2 years ago, went back to school for a new career but now with so many corporate and municipal budgets tight, he is having a hard time finding any FT job, not just his field. A few things struck me about what you wrote.

First is that the creditors get more than the minimum payment. I also like to do that, but when there is a month where we have car repairs or dental bills, something like that, I only do the minimum. Think about it, it might cut your NSF fees which in the end saves you money.

Second, if your husband is step father to your children, then I hope you are getting child support from their father, if not, go to court (unless he is unemployed). It's not a quick fix solution but it will help. Same with your nephew that you are caregiver for.

Next I would sit down and have a long talk with your husband, show him how bad it is and make a budget together. I did this with my husband, it helped alot. We then sat down our kids and talked to them about our budget and how it would affect them. We emphaszied the things they could be grateful for (having a house, clothes, food, toys etc) and our budget was trying to keep things that way.

Then we both found second jobs. Mine is doing some cosulting a few times a year but every few months brings in enough to pay for something like a car repair or an outstanding bill. My husband's is only a few times a month and is enough for gas for one car.

We went 2 years with only going out to dinner once each year and never getting take out. I also get food from, go to the warehouses when they have free passes and stock up on dry foods and stuff for freezer. Save A Lot and Aldi's have also helped reduce my grocery bill. My husband still has not found a job, but the past month or two we have done a few more things that we haven't in years (out to dinner, movies etc) but let our kids know that if Dad doesn' have a job in fall we are back on our budget, we just needed a break from it for a month or so.

One other thing I did that helped, was to stop giving my money to the IRS as a savings account. Since they still have the child tax credit and we always get all our money back plus some, I stopped contributing to federal taxes. If you normally get all your money back, this is allowable. It means that we won't get a big return next year, just the child tax credit amount, but it gives us more money in our pocket to pay our bills now.

The last thing I considered was to borrow from my 401K, this is a last resort because repayment was going to be a nightmare, but if it's foreclosure or repayment, then I'll go with 401K repayment.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful to you. I also have 2 mortgages and owe an enormous amount to credit card companies. Plus now the student loans are due which is just as much as a car payment. I often wonder when we'll be able to pay it off and make home improvements, take vacations like we want to. Right now I'm happy to have a roof over my head and food on the table.

Good luck!

p.s. Back to school shopping entails me watching ads over the summer and I end up getting all their supplies for less than $10. Everyone gets new shoes and one or two shirts. All else is done at Thrift shops and tag sales. I've gotten my girls some Aeropostale and Abercrombie and Fitch stuff real cheap at tag sales. Clothes for my husband and I are also from tag sales and thrift shops too.



answers from New York on

Hi M.,

I just read your request, so I hope all worked out with the family dinner.

Our economy is not in a good place right now, and it looks like it's only going to get worse and we all need to tighten our purse strings.

Based on what you've written, I really don't think you need a financial advisor or other professional help at this point. You do, however, need to get organized and serious about tackling your debt.

First, get a handle on those NSF fees. Do a bank reconciliation and determine what your balance is. The $100 you just paid in fees, could have been applied against a credit card.

I would highly recommend talking with your husband. In order to get out of this situation you're going to need to work together.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but only you can make that happen. There's a lot of little things you can do.

Here's a few things I hope will help.

Whether you decide to meet with a professional or not, one of the things you'll need to do is make a list of all your debt. Include the lender's name, the balance, the monthly payment (for credit cards list the minimum even though you pay more), and the percentage of interest. I know a lot of people are not "list" type people. But I believe when you have it all written down in black and white, you get a better picture of the entire situation.

Visit the money section of There are some great articles and some debt calculators you may find helpful.

Depending on your situation, you may want to look into refinancing your mortgage and getting all those mortgages rolled into one.

STAY AWAY FROM DEBT CONSOLIDATION COMPANIES. Also, beware of "debt counseling". Many times "debt counseling" is another term for debt consolidation. Although, I've never had any experience with them, I've heard non-profit debt counseling can be helpful.

Take a look at services you may be paying for that you do not use, or may not be important to you. For example, do you have a cable service with premium channels (showtime, HBO) that you rarely use.

Think about some of the smaller "luxury" things that you and your family do daily or weekly that you can eliminate or cut back on. What's important and what's not. Example: Stopping at Dunkin Donuts every morning for coffee may be a "luxury" you don't want to give up, but rather than driving the car through the car wash you're willing to wash it at home.

Pay your bills on-line. Most banks offer this service for free and you save on stamps.

Make 2 or 3 smaller credit card payments per month rather than one larger one. Example - your credit card payment is due on the 30th, you're going to pay them a total of $80.00 ($40 minimum), you'll save some interest by paying $40 on the 15th and another $40 on the 30th.

DON'T USE DEBIT CARDS. It's so easy to get into too much trouble too fast. If you miss calculate, you can get hit with overlimit fees and NSF fees. These are really bad if both you and hubby have a card and aren't aware of how much each is using.

If you're in good standing with your credit card companies, try calling one or two and asking them to reduce your rate. Tell them you're thinking of transferring the balance to another company.

Do you get a large tax refund (over $500)each year? If yes, stop using Uncle Sam as a non-interst bearing savings account. Change your deduction allowances and take home more each week. Put it into your own savings account to pay for those unexpected items like a doctor's visit or car repair. If your company offers direct deposit of your payroll check, this is the best way to save.

Do you belong to a membership club (BJ's or Costco)? I've found this to be a trememdous savings for us considring the types of foods and products we use. Although, these clubs aren't for everyone, lots of times you can go better at the grocercy store or dept. store (Target, K-Mart).

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