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Tuff Love…

Cuts both ways.  What do I mean?  When you have to cut off a loved one to make them stronger, you actually may be the blade that gets sharpened.  Recently I told a loved one that I was limiting my help and within the next 6-12 months ending it entirely.  I finally realized I slipped from helping into enabling.  There were warning signs that I ignored for years.  I thought I was just a great little friend that occasionally ran short on patience.  But I was being nagged by my intuition to do the right (albeit less popular) thing.   I was worried about being liked by this person as if we weren’t friends before I extended them a helping hand.  I also enjoyed feeling needed.  I had no significance (or so I thought).  So when this person started spinning their web I thought they needed me.  Then to further rationalize my behavior I told myself that in some monetary way I would benefit from this “agreement”.  And even though I spelled out my terms, all they heard was they were getting a break from adulting.  I wanted to believe they would adult and turn their lives around with this one last boost from me.  I was proven wrong in my logic and embarrassed for believing in them.  And more embarrassed still that I felt I was the missing link to them getting their life together.  I needed some extra money and they needed a “temporary” dwelling so I thought it would be an even exchange.  I asked for money because I needed it and I thought I was creating an environment that would build a disciplined well budgeted adult.  This is half the expense of an apartment so there is no reason this wouldn’t work smoothly for both of us.   Unfortunately, it has been a bumpy ride.  It has been a final realization that I was enabling.  The payments have been late and incomplete.  And all the reasons have been filled with poor planning and emotion. I have understood every empty  promise to “catch up” on payments.  I have given breaks and discounts but nothing prevents the inevitable.  In spite of attempts to stand my ground, I have felt the ground slip from under my feet.  Enough is enough.  She will have to figure the world out without her backup plan. 

So now that I have realized my wrong.  I want to identify the 4 warning signs of  enabling.

  1. Help has limits and enabling doesn’t. That person will grow to depend on you to relieve them of responsibility. If you have always helped them pay their rent when they are in a tight spot, they will never try to improve their ability to pay.  After a while they will stop asking and start expecting.  Then the requests will get more ridiculous!  It will go from “Can you loan me $50?” to “Can you cover my car payment this month?”
  2. Everyone else that helped them has walked away.  Enablers usually walk alone.  But make no mistake you won’t feel alone.  The enablee will keep you company because they don’t want to lose their good thing.  They may even make you feel like you’re all they have in the world.  Which creates #3.
  3. Enablers feel obligated.  Enablers walk around with the weight of someone else’s world on their shoulders.  You will find yourself in deep thought about how someone else can get out of their hole.  But understand you are the only one concerned.  The enablee has one plan and it’s you!  
  4. Enablers are always in some state of frustration with the enablee but never stops helping.  Because “one day they are going to get their act together”.  But the jokes on the enabler.  The enablee has saddled up and plans to ride them for all eternity.  

So what do you do when you have been paying half of your sister’s rent for over a year and you finally realize you need to stop?   

  1. Prove to yourself she can do better.  Did you always pay her rent? What did she do then?  Why can’t she do it now.  Offer her some alternatives to just taking your money and ask the tough questions to get her in a different frame of mind.  Empower her with your words not your money. What’s important here is not leaving any room for guilt.
  2. Even if you think she will fall, remove the safety net.  Try it one month. (I withdrew my help for about 4 months and was shocked at how resourceful they became.)  And if they find another sucker don’t feel sorry for them.  Run while you can!  If you lose a little love so what.  If they’re family, they will always be around.  If it’s a fake friend, you’re better off without them.  But each month will get easier.  And if they begin adulting they may appreciate your decision. However, SOME PEOPLE ARE TOXIC.  If things get ugly walk away.  Life is too short to subscribe to their issues. 
  3. Invest your resources or give to a worthier cause.  Eliminate the opportunity to fall back in the trap.  In my case I have donated cheap and sometimes free room and board.  So once I have my two bedrooms back I’m creating a den and an office with furniture I already own.

    So heres a quick status report.  I will have a roommate for 6 more months, I’m still on target to pay my car off by August 6th.  I am even more overwhelmed with needed home repairs and much desired improvements.  I have zero confidence in myself to do this work on my own so looks like i will live with everything as is for a while.  I also rescued a wonderful little doggie but he comes with a few new bills.  So recalculating the budget to accommodate him.  No audio books for a while.  (I told yall I’m my own biggest obstacle to debt freedom.)  He was in bad shape when he wandered into my yard.  No microchip and no tags.  He was hurt and hungry.  After getting him healthy, I couldn’t let him go.  And he has added so much joy!  I regret nothing.

    Meet Joseph. The best pics are of him sleeping.  

    Posted in The Struggle

    There was a light at the end of the tunnel…

    Then I tripped over the cord and unplugged it. Back into the darkness I go.  I am forever doing the right thing, getting overconfident, stretching my money too thin and starting my journey over again.  You would think I would learn by now but no. So here we go again. My credit card balances went up from my last “I got my sh*t together” post. From $2500 to $3700. My car isn’t paid off but is down from $8800 to $2600. My oppressive student loan is down from nearly $78K to just under $76K. Oh and my new AC feels amazing. Alabama in the Summer (Spring and Fall) are pretty HOT!  So my new debt was worth it. The loan balance is down from $5000 to $3700. But the last storm blew shingles off my aging roof, I need to paint, put in new flooring, get $2000 of work done on my car, and replace some pretty ratty furniture. However, I will work on reaching my immediate financial goals first. So here goes the revised plan: 

    1. Pay off my car by August 6th.
    2. Increase my payments on my AC loan in July to 2 payments per month. 
    3. Get my student loan balance under $70K by 04/2018.
    4. Pay off my credit card with the worst interest rate and $1900 Balance.  (Bye bye Chase Visa!)

    So I have got to make some extra money. Oh you may remember me mentioning a roommate and how much I hate roommates well…that proved to not be a stable source of income.  Stay tuned to other money earning ventures I try.  Who knows what they will be. Toodlelu.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    What to do next?

    Well I finally did it! I paid off my $11400 student loan! I owe now one loan at $77800. If only that was my only debt. I have a car at $8800, a $5000 personal loan for my new AC and 2 credit cards totaling about $2500.  My goal by December 31st is to pay off my credit cards and car.  I have a roommate paying $600 per month.  I don’t know if I mentioned but I hate having a roommate!  I don’t share very well.  Luckily she is a great roommate. But I like being alone.  She will be my roommate until I only have my student loan and house payments left. Before the AC went out that was going to be December. Now I will pay bills with Gazelle like intensity and pretend I can still hit that target. I refuse to be derailed by a few unexpected expenses. But I will take a minute and do a tiny victory dance for now.

    Posted in Random Is What I Do Best

    The anatomy of a LIE

    Let me preface this by saying, “I’m a liar”.  I hear your collective gasp. But, by my admission of this truth you can see I lie about specific things.  I had a conversation with a friend that declared she tries not to lie because she is trying to live the best life she can to be at peace with herself.  This statement was made after I admitted I intentionally don’t share my hope, actions, and feelings with men because I have seen how destructive they are with my truth.

    Continue reading “The anatomy of a LIE”

    Posted in The Struggle

    Don’t you hate it when…

    …you get your mind set on paying off your pesky debt and a new bill crops up? So I’ve been forging ahead on my student loan debt.  I’m paying every dime I get my hands on to my $11,000 student loan and then all of a sudden I get this nagging pain in my…tooth.  There was no saving it and I had to get it extracted.  Now I must mention I have a phobia of having a tooth pulled.  I mean it sends me right off the rails.  So my choice was to have the tooth pulled for $45 conscious or $300 unconscious.  Which option do you think I went with?  You are absolutely right UNCONSCIOUS!  I may have put a serious dent in my emergency/repair AC fund (we will chat about that one next time) but, I type to you with one less tooth and no memory of it being removed.  And I can say that I am satisfied with my decision and would do it all again. Now let’s hope some overtime comes my way.  Oh and BTW, that $11000 student loan is hovering around $1200. To God Be the Glory!

    Posted in The Struggle

    On Again Off Again – My Truth Behind Inconsistent Student Loan Payments

    For the past 17 years, that I have been out of college, I have had trouble paying my student loans back.  You may think that I am in a low paying field or that I had trouble finding/keeping a job.  Neither scenario applies.  I simply mismanaged my money.  I had apartments I couldn’t afford and hobbies that I invested in with no return.  I bought new cars and kept high credit card balances.  In my own way, I chased the Joneses-es (I meant to spell it that way).  I didn’t want to live an unfabulous life in my late 20s/early 30s because all of my friends, coworkers, and family members were fabulous (or they appeared to be).  I have 9 sisters total (no typo).  All of them are older and dare I say uber-fabulous.  They had well established careers and finances when I couldn’t afford extra cheese on my McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.  I wanted desperately to be as “adult” as my sisters.  So I spent when they spent.  Shopped when they shopped (and when they didn’t).  But unlike them I was tunneling my way to Debtor’s Hell.  And I didn’t bother using a little ol’ shovel to dig my way to financial abys, I used a back hoe (look this up if you are city folk). 

    While I was so busy chunking (throwing) my money at all things Jonesy, my debt grew.  No it didn’t grow like a beautiful tulip.  You know. You plant this big onion-looking bulb in the fall and wake up on a beautiful spring morning to this cute tiny unopened bud.  Then you obsess over this bud until it blooms into a breathtakingly perfect flower.  Nooooo.  It grew like the mold on that spaghetti you cooked several weeks ago and stashed in the fridge.  Yep, that food you kept forgetting to take to work for lunch because you always woke up too late.  It sat in the far back corner of your cold dark refrigerator in a covered container.  Out of sight and out of mind.  Then one day you open the fridge to a horrid smell!  WTF!  Who put a dead skunk in here? You quickly toss everything out. And then you see it.  The container looks so innocent.  But you know what evil it holds.  You remove this container as if it is a hardwired pound of C4 (like in all the action movies in the 90s).  You run to the sink and turn the water on scald.  Then activate the garbage disposal.  Now you rip off the lid, take a quick glance at the contents then dump it!

    So I had the “WTF is that smell” moment with my student loan debt.  For 15 years my loans sat on the back of the shelf.  I made a payment here and there (usually just to stay out of default).  And every time things got hectic I put them in deferment. Many years of shoddy payments took $60,000 of debt to over $84,000!  See what I didn’t know was the important difference between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Student Debt (I mean Loans).  I have an UNSUBSIDIZED student loan, which means that the interest on the loan continues to accrue monthly and is capitalized while payment is deferred.  So the interest accumulated every time I took a break from payments and got tacked on to the principal balance.

    Example:  $60,000 loan @ 6.25% interest accrues approximately $308/month in interest.  If deferred for 6 months a total of $1883 is added to your balance for a new total of $61883.  You are probably checking my math now and saying that should be $1849 in interest at $308/month.

    Have you ever heard of compound interest!?!? It’s the B*tch that fertilizes your monthly interest payment when you defer your loans.  In six months my monthly interest grew from $308 to $316!

    Ohh, but I am not done…

    Don’t forget I also had a problem with paying on time every month! 

    My payment was $500 per month.  Here is an example of my payment schedule for one year.

    There are about 5 life lessons here.  I shouldn’t have to list them for you.  But if you need them, here you go:

    1.      Worry about you and live within your means

    2.      Pay all your bills on time, all the time unless life renders you helpless

    3.      Know if your loans are Subsidized or Unsubsidized and act accordingly.

    4.      Deferment is the DEBOLLLL! (Watch Waterboy if you don’t get that reference.)

    5.      Compound Interest is your moody Frienemy!


    -From the desk of D. Heard, your Student Loan Debt Horrible Warning, I wish all the readers of this entry a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


    Posted in Uncategorized

    Counting down the days…

    My car and I are parting ways.  I can’t afford her but love her dearly.  We have been together for 5 years and $16000 worth of payments.  Sunday I will sell her for what I owe ($8000).  I could continue to make monthly payments of over $400 or I could get a lease and SAVE $280 per month.  You do the math!  With my savings I will pay off at least one student loan and buy myself a “beater with a heater” (aka cheap used car for work).  So with a tear of sadness I bid my Honda farewell.  I will post pics of my cheapo lease next week.