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    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    No Romance, Just the Finanace

    When Mr. Sign and I got married, we both had full time jobs. Once daughter #1 came along, I just couldn't leave her. I had planned all through my pregnancy to put her in daycare and continue to work. Once she was born, I felt the need to be with her and care for her so I quit my job as an underwriter's assistant at a large life insurance company. I was close to becoming an underwriter but decided to put my child before money. It was the right decision for me.

    Going from two incomes down to one was tough. It wasn't just hard for the first couple of years, it was hard for the first ten. A month after #1 was born, I was home and received our first phone call that we were in default on our loan. The woman was ruthless and told me that I had better go get a job so I could pay my bills. I was scared shitless and cried and carried on. Mr. Sign called up the bank and let them have it.

    Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of our collection calls. Both of Mr. Sign's parents became terminally ill and we had to care for them. This meant more money for gas since they lived 50 miles away. I was cleaning 12 houses a week to try to earn extra money.

    We were very close to paying off our van but things kept getting financially worse. I wasn't able to make the payments and missed 2 in a row. I had no idea of how serious this was until a woman knocked on my door to tell me she was taking away my van. My first reaction was panic and then compliance. I asked her if she wanted the keys and she said that it would make her job easier. She allowed me to get some things (like car seats) out. I sobbed as I pulled our belongings out in the pouring rain. I was upset that things had gotten so bad that my vehicle was being repossesed. The ridiculous part was that we only owed $1200.

    The woman gave me a paper with info about where the van was going. I was so embarrassed that I wasn't sure if I could get up the nerve to tell anyone. I finally gave in and told my mother. We had borrowed money from her when we purchased our house and had never gotten around to paying it back. I wasn't sure she would be so willing to help us out. She went into action and bailed us out.

    I took the money to the bank and payed off the van. I still had to figure out how I was going to collect the vehicle. I got up the nerve to tell my best friend what had happened. She and I took all of our kids to pick it up. Once I got there, one of the tires was flat. Luckily I carried a small compressor in the van and was able to blow it up enough to get it home.

    This all transpired in two days but it seemed like years. It was tax time and I knew we had a large refund coming back so we took our taxes to one of those places that promises a quick return. They saw us coming and promply charged us $380 to do the paperwork. I was horrified but stuck between a rock and a hard place so we payed it. We paid my parents back immediately just in case we needed them again.

    That wasn't to be the end of our problems but I can say that we are doing well now and have been for the last several years.

    The worst part about not having money is that you are penalized for it. If you pay your payment late, you are charged extra. Duh, if you don't have enough for the payment, how are you going to pay the late fees? It seemed like we were digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a hole. In Michigan, you are penalized for your credit score on your auto insurance. Part of your rating is based on your credit history. Totally not fair. Just because I'm poor and in debt doesn't mean I'm a bad driver.

    Anyway, my point in writing this was to let those of you in rough financial times know that things do eventually get better.


    buddha_girl said...

    Amen, sister.

    I've been through rough times as well but never had someone knocking on my door. How you held it together, I will never know.

    I remember my sister having people hounding her at work and at home when she and her husband couldn't make the payments on the very medical treatments (hello....CHEMO) which had saved their daughter's life.

    Our Dad bailed her out when things got rough. He bailed me out at one point when I thought I was going to lose my mind. He sold his motorcycle when he had three of us in college at one time.

    People sacrifice things for those they love. I know for a fact that your parents don't regret being there for you, Mr. Sign, and the girls!

    *hard hugs*

    BTExpress said...

    Boy, does this bring back memories when we were first married.

    bg's Little Sis said...

    Oh yes, how I recall those dark days, you sometimes feel like they won't end, but they do, I HOPE, savings is not yet a term my family knows, but with one parent working and 3 kids, that's ok for now I guess, we're staying above the fray barely, but it's working so far!

    Lots of love,

    Starved said...

    Sign.. honey.. come see me..

    dont be scared... COME ON!!;)

    Suze said...

    Jenn, thanks for that post it really struck a chord as I have been out of work for some time now and would love to be able to do things. That's the catch you have plenty of free time but no money to spend enjoying it.

    I truly believe if you have been through the trials that you have over the years, it makes you a better person. You never take things for granted or look down your nose at those less financially placed.

    Gary said...

    Charging extra for auto insurance?
    That makes no sense at all. I'm pretty sure that's not done in Texas.

    ell said...

    oh, sweetie, that must have been awful. so sorry you had to go through it. but very glad those days are behind you.

    SignGurl said...

    BG~ I don't know how I held it together either but somehow you just do. That sucks about your sister and her medical bills. That was one of the big ones we had after #1 was born but I'm sure nothing like sis had.

    BTE~ Hey there! It's amazing how tough those first years are.

    lil sis~ Staying above the fray is all we can ask sometimes, huh? Thanks for vistiting.

    Starved~ I'm on it! That's hot!

    Suze~ Your day will come, sweetie. Hang in there. We would miss you too much if you weren't minding the blog.

    Gary~ Isn't that the craziest thing you've ever heard of?

    Ell~ You and me both. It was tough but also made me tougher.

    barman said...

    I was fortunate. It was a struggle and things got real tight but I managed to get through somehow. That last thing I wanted was to go to anyone, parents, family or friends and ask for assistance. That does not sit well with me at all.

    Luckily I made it through and now things are much better then they were.

    I don't know how it affected you but you are one super person Sign. I got to believe all the hardship must have helped skulpt you into an even better person.