Monday, March 1, 2010

Hopes Are Dashed, Raised.

And you know what's worse than dashed hopes? When you're the one who's dashed your own hopes. Because you've done the grownup thing. The smart thing. The thing that sucks.

As I said on Facebook this weekend, being a grownup sucks.

I haven't talked a lot on here about mine and Mr. Daddy's financial issues. At first it was because I was a little embarrassed, but then I got massive writer's block and I didn't write much of anything as you all know. But now, now I'm past caring what others think and have come to a place of self-acceptance (mostly).

So, short story long....about two years ago, Mr. Daddy and I seriously downsized in an effort to get ourselves out of a financial hole we had created for ourselves (with the help of an asshat, some Half-Asses, and one severely troubled individual who didn't mean to give me the shaft, but did anyway.).

I mean seriously downsized. When I write my book about the whole ordeal, I'm going to call it "Living My Life Backward: How I Went From Tree-Lined Suburbia to a Double Wide Trailer in My Daddy's Backyard." Seriously.

In the spring of 2008, we moved into a double wide -- a VERY NICE double wide -- about 50 yards down the hill from my dad's house. My dad likes to joke that the crest of the hill he lives on is called Poverty Ridge and I joked to Mr. Daddy that if Daddy lived on Poverty Ridge, then we were at Rock Bottom. And at first it felt that way.

But, downsizing allowed us breathing room with our bills. It allowed us to live without feeling like our noses were to the grindstone every minute of every day. It allowed us to take some small, camping vacations. It gave us the money to allow our kids to do some activities. And next month, I'm going to pay my car off.

For the last month or so, Mr. Daddy and I have been working on plan called a debt snowball. This is where you take any extra money that you have and apply it to your lowest balance revolving debt. Once you've paid it off, you then take that extra money you have, plus what you used to pay on the debt you just paid off and apply it to your next lowest balance. And so on. We've also begun taking a class at our church taught by Dave Ramsey. You might have heard of him -- he's written a couple of best-selling books and has a radio and television show. Anyway, we've been planning to use my car payment money to pay off our debts and we have figured that by the spring of 2011 we can be completely debt free, including the car that Mr. Daddy just bought last summer.

But last weekend, everything changed. We found a house. And it was a really, really good deal. The house was on five acres and was structurally a great house. But, it was a foreclosure and it needed a LOT of work. But Mr. Daddy can lay tile and laminate flooring, and we're both good painters so we weren't really intimidated by the work that needed doing. All we could see was HOUSE. Bigger house. Bigger rooms. A basement.

And we were bewitched by the idea of having people over, our new friends that we've made in this community. We wanted a house that we're not (just a little bit) ashamed of. Our house is so small and even we wonder sometimes how we ended up in this situation. Even though we've come a long way about how we feel about the whole thing, we're still a little nervous to let people know we live in a double wide.

We started picking out paint colors, carpet colors, flooring samples. We talked about what we'd fix up first. Bubba and Punkin picked out their rooms.

But then the grown-ups showed up. Our inner grown ups. And they began to talk and unfortunately, they were making sense. I tried to block them out, but it wasn't working. What we began to realize is that yes, we could buy this house. We could buy it, but our situation wouldn't change. We would just be treading water, nose perilously close to the grindstone once again. We wouldn't be able to pay off any bills. And finally, the lure of being debt free won out over the need for a house.

We have a house. It's not my dream house, but it is a home -- warm in the winter, cool in the summer. What I began to realize is that this house is a means to an end. And that end IS my dream house. Once we're debt free our options will so much greater. And though I was severely disappointed to have pass on that house, I have hope that when the time comes the victory we will have won will be so much sweeter.


Robyn said...

I think I want to be you when I grow up. Ok, so I am grown up, but you're definitely MORE grown up than me.

You are so brave and SO smart. What an amazing lesson to be teaching your children.

Tara said...

You're amazing MQ...I am awed by you. You're awesome!

dawn said...

I think it is awesome. You will get there one day. You will get your DREAM house one day and it will feel GREAT to know that you can afford it and not be pinched so tightly.

calicobebop said...

Yes, I echo the others when I say congrats! I know it must have been hard to give up something that you really really wanted - but (as my daddy likes to say) don't go for the long term solution to a short term problem. Your dreams are totally worth the wait!!

Burgh Baby said...

Dude, that is amazing. Seriously. It takes balls to really look at what you can do and accept it. You'll be leaving the happy retired life long before I am, that's for sure.

Laurel said...

All I have to say is I think you rock.

Katie in MA said...

You so totally rock, MQ. :) I know it really, totally sucks right now and you will probably be thinking of that house for a long time, but I really think you did what's best. My (then)husband and I were in a lot of debt before we had the girls. I'm talking tens of thousands of dollars in debt - the kind I didn't know if we could ever get out of. But we used the snowball debt removal thingy and in two years, we were debt free except for a small student loan with no interest and our cars. You can do this and you will feel AMAZING when you've accomplished it! And then, I'm very sure, karma will reward you with the perfect house with just the right payments.

I love the joke about Poverty Ridge and Rock Bottom (hey, you gotta laugh at life, right?), but I'm sure you've kicked off from the bottom and you're rocketing towards the sunshine.:) The air is gonna taste so good when you break through!

CassJustCurious said...

This is so grown up and so good of you. I feel like for the last few years I've been treading water with the thought that my husbands business would take off and then everything would be "all set" and the reality is now that we're not together I'm on my own. And I need to start making some more difficult financial decisions so that Lexi and I are in a financially comfortable position. Ahhh grown uping sucks.

Lulu said...

MQ - I bet putting that into words made things feel just a bit better. What you are doing is something that I so wish that GR and I could do. We talk about it alot. With Gus not living at home now, it's just the two of us and our animals. We could make due with a smaller place, pay off our debt, and live a happier, simpler life. In my opinion, you have made the best choice about the house. Keep your eye on the prize, girl!

And by the way, hi! I've missed you. In fact, I've missed the whole darn blogging world; hence, I'm back at it. My second job--blogging. Because I love it so much.

The Thrailkills said...

I think you will find MANY people in similar financial situations. We always thought me being at home full time would be a short term gig - and thus incrued debt over the last 7 years (can my baby really be 7, almost 8???). For now, I am loving working part time and being home most of the time with the kids - so I decided about a year and half ago to get serious with the debt snowball. We hope to be debt free by next summer - barring no MAJOR emergencies (you know the ones that my emergency fund won't support).