Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Financial healing vs. debt relief

Recently, I was searching the WEB for support groups for "financial crisis" and "financial challenges".  I was doing this because I felt the need to see what people were going through and what kind of help was out there for them.  Although I did find some really interesting and helpful groups, I was very surprised by how little help there was for someone who was already knee deep into financial problems.

There were tons of sites for debt relief, credit counseling and debt consolidation, etc.  Even though I acknowledge that these are all steps in financial help, I was just shocked how little there was for, shall I call it, financial healing.  When you apply for debt relief, credit counseling and debt consolidation, you are still in the position of avoiding financial ruin.  Since I have experienced total financial ruin, I am interested in the amount of help out there for people who get to this stage.

I also realized that the reason there is so much help for the debt relief, etc. is because it is a money making machine.  All of these avenues cost money to be involved in them.  But, OK, some people really need it.  In the area of "financial healing" it is not a money making machine (not yet anyway) and there fore not near as big of an area of help.  Financial healing is about taking someone from the point of feeling that your life is worthless to the point of life is good and having money is not what makes it that way!  Financial healing is for someone to have the resources to talk to someone about how they feel about what is happening to them.  Financial healing is about releasing the shame that goes along with being in this state.  We need more help!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Does "more" spending really help the economy?

I watched an interview the other night with a local anchorperson and President Obama.  I know that I have written before that I have no intention of being a political voice for or against any politicians.  That said, I am neither for or against President Obama but I do have opinions on things that he has done during his time as our President.  Personally, I feel that his intentions of the "Affordable Care Act" or what Americans call "Obama Care" were good and helpful to the American people however, I do not believe that you can overhaul our Healthcare system and still allow the insurance companies to continue to rape the American people.

From his stance, the President made some changes to our healthcare system that he thought would be beneficial.  The problem is that every major change like this that is put into effect by people who do not know what it is like to live on this economic (bankrupt) plane, have no idea the ripple down effect their changes have on people.  The big boy insurance companies decide that since Americans do not really understand what is going on with all of this change, now is the time to stomp on us.  Raise prices, lower benefits, become stricter on their formularies are all things that we are now facing because of the air of all this change.

In this particular interview, the president was asked about his wanting businesses to raise their minimum wage.  The reporter asked if that would not just push small businesses over the edge and out of business.  The president's answer was that if people were making more, they would be able to spend more.  I don't now if that is true or not.  Gasoline continues to rise, groceries are outrageously expensive, health insurance costs are through the roof and most people get less than 1% in a raise for a year.  Our basic needs are such a huge part of our budget that there is seriously nothing left.  Oh and did I mention that since businesses are being expected to raise minimum wage, guess what else will go up in price...all of these companies goods and services that WE purchase.

Why isn't more put on the news about the unbelievable greed of those one percenters who make huge amounts of money, have tons of tax breaks and ways to shelter that money and pay their employees peanuts! The insurmountable greed that goes along with a society whereby they think that stomping on the poor and middle class will make them look and feel so much better, is quietly accepted.  Why isn't the President talking about this?  Perhaps because he has no idea what it feels like to be at this economic level?  Of course, it is.  But spreading this falsehood that getting minimum wage upped will then help those people be able to spend more money making the economy better, is just hogwash!  Lowering the amount that us bottom feeders have to pay for basics would help us to be able to spend money!!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Need your help!

I am calling on all my readers for your help.  I am in the process of writing another book about people who either become bankrupt or are dealing with financial ruin.  I am requesting your story whether it be about you or someone you know that is living this.  You will not have to write anything, but I will be asking you questions with an online questionaire.  I will not be using real names in the book unless someone wants me to.  If you are interested in being a part of this book, please send me a note by clicking on the right side of this page.

Thank you so much for considering doing this!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

All the best laid plans

Recently, someone close to me has a niece whose house was involved in a fire.  The main fire happened at the townhouse next door to her townhouse whereby the walls were attached.  The niece's home was severely damaged and she was moved by the insurance company to a furnished apartment.  Of course, she was quite shaken over the incident!

In hearing her tell the story about what all transpired with the fire, one of the things that struck me was when she said, "I now realize how truly spoiled I am.  I thought I had everything in my life in order.  I have been very careful in my planning to make sure that everything would be taken care of and I have lived my life knowing that I have planned well.  However, I did not plan for this and I have no idea how to function because this was not in my plan.  I feel very lost and freaked out."

Now this woman is about the same age as me and over the past 20 years has been almost conceited about the fact that she has so much more money than us and enjoys her freedom from not having any children and is very smug about.  She walks around with her head held back wearing the most expensive clothes, purses and shoes looking down on the cheapness of the rest of us.  I am sure you get the picture!

If there is one thing that I have learned and learned well from going through what I have gone through is that you can't plan life!  People who think they can are, to say the least, a little bit insane!  They spend their life, money and time planning something that can't be planned and then, somehow, think they are better than most because they HAVE DEVISED A PLAN FOR THEIR LIFE!  It is like they think that the people who are able to stick to their plan are somehow, smarter and more deserving than others who have plans that go awry!  (like becoming bankrupt)

Life happens and shows up the way and the time it wants to show up.  You can't stop the ebb and flow of life because that is what living is all about. You can not dictate how your life is going to go and how it is going to end up.  All you can control is how you react to whatever happens in life.  Everything, and I mean everything can change on a dime and as soon as we realize that and except it, we would never spend another moment thinking our situation is any better than anyone else.  That would make for a much more peaceful existence.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


***MY APOLOGIES*** to all my readers.  I just recently found out that my "Join the site" button on my blog was not working.  I removed the button since it did not work.  At the very bottom of the blog, there is a place to sign up to get the blog posts sent to your email box if you would like to get them.  So sorry for any inconvenience.

A few years ago my sister had tongue cancer.  It was so difficult for me, her sister, to witness all the pain and uncertainty that she experienced.  She is cancer free and we are all very optimistic about her future.  Periodically she has to go back and get tests run to make sure there is nothing showing up either in the form of cancer or related to the therapy she received to eliminate it.  When the appointment time draws near, she finds herself feeling very vulnerable and anxious.  The results of the appointment can mean to continue life as she knows it or the uncertainty of her life having to face yet another health crisis.  The very thought of having to go through it all again can leave her in a state of upset.

This sort of vulnerability can attack the bankrupt/financially ruined person as well.  You just sort of keep living your life to the best of your ability hoping that you are in control of your money and that nothing is looming around the corner that make you feel that horrible feeling of uncertainty.  This feeling is a bit overwhelming when you have NO money to back up anything.  It almost feels like there might be something out their that bends me so far that I break, something that I can not fix!

I know that you are thinking, "After all you have been through how is it possible that something more could happen to cause you to break!".  Mind you, in general, I do not normally think like this.  But there are times when I experience something that I just did not see coming and until it is resolved, I feel so totally and utterly vulnerable.  To me, vulnerability means being in a state of uncertainty that you might not be able to handle a particular situation or you do not want to handle a particular situation should it occur.  It does seem ridiculous to be concerned about something that may or may not happen and there is no defending that.  However, when you have been to HELL and back, you just do not want to go back.

I do feel that I spent a lot of time and energy covering my butt to try to make sure I protect myself as much as possible from any "surprises".  On the other hand, with all I learned, I know that even though you try to protect yourself, life happens anyway.  Maybe I just need to accept whatever happens!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Where I was 7 years ago.

***MY APOLOGIES***  It just came to my attention that on my blog if you wanted to "join" the site, the button that you click to do that was not working.  I am so sorry to anyone of my readers who tried and were unable to join.  I changed the way for you to contact me if you wish and at the bottom of the page of all posts is a place to sign up for you to get my posts delivered to your email.

Yesterday, I came across a recording that I had made on my computer in 2007.  Mind you, in 2007 (omg that was 7 years ago) we were just starting to feel the financial struggle begin.  I knew at that time the the issues we faced had no quick fix.  I believe that it was at this time where I really started to feel scared...scared to death.  The bank had not yet taken the restaurant building and we were still paying a $2400 a month mortgage.  My husband was working at a job making a little over $9.00 an hour and I was not working due to the levy that was placed on my income.  I had no where to turn for help (help that I could afford) and had no idea what to do!

I made this recording of affirmations based on reading somewhere that if you told yourself that you had plenty of would find its way into your life.  I believed in that and to this day, I won't say that I don't believe in that even though it did not work for me.  Listening to myself saying these affirmations I, after 7 years, could hear it in my voice that I was saying these but I deep down inside did not believe what I was saying.  So how could it work?  How can you be so deeply in a financial ruin and saying affirmations like "I have plenty of money for everything I need" and make them believable? It seems like a double wammy!

Do not take me wrong, I am not opposed to thinking positive and having faith, in fact I am all for that!  I had just read "The Secret" and similar books that taught about the law of attraction.  I am sure that I attracted this financial ruin into my life somehow, someway.  But I did not know how to think and feel abundance when all I felt was lack!  Every part of my day brought on an awareness of lack and no matter how hard I tried to affirm differently, I just could not feel it.  I was instructed to FEEL GOOD first and then the changes would follow.  I was at the point that I did not even know what it felt like to FEEL GOOD!

Ironically, as I listened to the affirmations that I wrote for myself, they were all about "things".  Like "I see myself driving my brand new 2007 Red Dodge Magnum" and "I am making $50,000 a month" were some of the affirmations that I recorded.  You can just imagine how I chuckled when I heard that!  So all of my affirmations were about the accumulation of money and certain things.  They were not about feeling peace about my situation which, in looking back, is what I needed the most.  The reason why that is what I needed was because when you are at peace and can bring yourself into the present moment is when all of your wisdom reveals your answers.

In coming across those affirmations that seven years ago I thought would change my life, I realized how far I have come.  Those recordings were made before all the "shit hit the fan" and seven years later I have walked through all the shit and am somewhat amazed at how I have been able to heal.  The healing did not come from money, the healing came from the change of the way I thought about money and learning to be in the present moment.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Legacy I will pass down

Last week we were re-arranging our living room because my brother had given us his used big screen TV and we needed to make room for it.   In doing this, we had to take out everything from the bookcases in order to move them around.  I became extremely irritated in the process and I kept asking myself what was wrong with me.  I then realized that I was thinking of all the things that I had to sell when we lost our house.  I had a whole china cabinet filled with crystal, unique glasses in sets and plates.  I must have just taken one out of every set to keep for myself because I now owned a bunch of single glassware all mis-matched.

It became very apparent to me that I had buried how upset I was at getting rid of all those "things".  You know, I shouldn't be so concerned with "things".  Trying to figure this out, I also realized that I had collected all those "things" for years and years always thinking that it would all be passed down to my kids.  This was all the legacy that I would leave and now it was just a bunch of mis-matched glasses!  I was just very sad about this.

I was telling this to my brothers' girlfriend and she listened to me very patiently.  When I stopped with my sob story she grabbed my shoulders, looked me in the eye and told me about the legacy she observed that I would be passing down to my children.  She told me that the wisdom that I have been blessed with that is filled with love, integrity and compassion is the legacy that I will pass on to my children and that those gifts are something that will never be sold, broken or stolen.  These gifts will be passed on no matter what happens in my life!  I thought about what she said, I realized that she was right!  I felt so much at peace!

The experiences that I have been through in my life most people would cringe about!  From the world's point of view, I have had a pretty shitty life.  But buried under all that "shit" is gold.  It isn't the kind of gold that you can trade in for money, but the kind that can not be lost and the value can not depreciate.  The experience of what I have been through and all the lessons that came along with it, quite simply, have no monetary value.  However, I have quite the legacy to hand down to my children and all the generations that come after!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Financial Ruin Free

Last night, I was watching a program on TV called "Parenthood".  Part of the story line was of a character who in last season had battled with cancer.  In this episode, she had a follow up visit to the doctor and was very nervous about the she cancer free or has it come back.  I found myself actually feeling the same emotions that were being portrayed and was very surprised by it.

I have never had a health crisis such as cancer so when the portrayal tug at some of my emotional strings, I had to step back and take a look.  It was then that I realized that before filing for bankruptcy, we were always in a state of worried anticipation about what would happen next.  Every time we felt like we had healed a part of our financial life, there was something else facing us.  It just seemed like it could never go away.  We could not cure it, we just had to live with it!  There was no plan for recovery, nobody telling us that if you do this, this and this, you have a good chance.

Going through the bankruptcy process, we realized that we had to figure this all out on our own.  Maybe there is help someone out there to help through the process but we never found it.  We trusted that once we sat in front of the attorney, he would guide us through the process.  That did not happen either and from what I have heard, that is typical.  No guidance, no sign posts, no list of directions!  Just give us this information and you are done.  We had no idea what to expect.  Quite frankly, we still live with a looming possibility that something could be around the corner waiting to pounce on us.

In the episode last night, the character got the call that she was cancer free.  What a relief!  No worry until the next follow up visit.  I wish there was something I could gage our financial life on.  I wish I could get a follow up every six months for the next several years.  I just want to know as I go along that I am financial ruin FREE!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

We aren't struggling as much!

I was recently watching something on TV called "How winning the lottery changed my life".  I decided to watch it because I had nothing else to watch.  They had story after story about people who won big money in the lottery and what they did with the money.  I kid you not, in every single story I caught the winners saying the expression that "They did not have to struggle anymore" since they won the money.  They had all bought things that "made their lives easier" that they always wanted.

So what occurred to me was this;  is everyone struggling?  Is everyone in their current financial situation struggling?  Will only winning HUGE amounts of money stop the struggling?  Why are so many struggling?  These were not people who were living in poverty and had nothing.  These were all people who had jobs and incomes but yet were struggling before they won the lottery.

Now, I have to say at this point that we struggle to make ends meet but only when our income is lower than we expected, like if my husband doesn't have as much overtime as usual.  Then we have a very tough time and I feel the struggle.  However, if our income stays the same, even though our income is extremely low, I do not feel like we are struggling.

Can it be that people are feel like they are struggling because they can not buy whatever they want?  Is that the struggle they speak of?  If that is so, it means that people are focusing way too much on what they do not have instead of being grateful for what they do have!  The struggle, then, is internal...not external.  Constantly feeling like you do not have enough will put you into a poverty mentality and you will always feel like you are struggling.  To have to go through life like this is really, really hard!

Instead, going through life and accepting right where you are and being happy and grateful for what you have is where true peace lies!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Credit Cards

Someone asked me the other day why I did not use credit cards.  It was regarding someone who asked me to buy something and I told them I did not have any money on me.  She said that she would take a credit card and I told her that I did not have a credit card and she looked at me like I was an alien and said "that is really unusual".  She then asked, "may I ask why?'.  I thought for a moment about telling her why but instead I just said that I do not believe in them.

The truth of the matter is that I really do not believe in them.  That is not to say that I do not believe that other people should not use them but it is to say that I do not believe I should use them!  My financial life is so up and down.  I have very little margin for error with our finances.  Credit is a promise to pay at a later date of when you purchase and I just can not promise that I will be able to pay anything at a later date because I can not guarantee that I will have the money to do so!

Yes, we do have a steady income but we do not have anything extra.  I found that when I did have credit cards, I spent more money on things that I did not really need.  There is something about handing over a credit card to pay for something that it seems like you aren't really spending money.  When you have $100 in your wallet and you go to the store where something costs $80 and you actually see that you will only have $20 left if you purchase this item, I find myself NOT purchasing it.  I know that not everyone feels this way, and that is OK!  It is just not OK for me!  I have not used a credit card for over 10 years and I am not saying that to brag, I am saying that because you really don't need it!

There is plenty of credit available for you after you file bankruptcy.  You get a million offers in the mail daily for about a year from every place possible that wants to give you credit.  You are considered to be a lower risk because you can not file bankruptcy again.  I feel like this is just sick, but it is the way of the world!

Monday, February 24, 2014

What bankruptcy does to your marriage - part 4

Things were not great between us once the move happened.  All of the sudden I had to answer for everything I spent and I was not given any money to use for myself personally by him.  This was very, very hard for me and my dislike for my husband was mounting!  I felt like a prisoner in my own life.  I had to show him receipts for everything I bought.  This was all so humiliating for me.  I could not stand the way he was treating me.

About six months after we moved, I was able to get a job caring for an elderly woman part time.  It was not much money, but it was mine and I no longer had to depend on my husband for my personal needs.  This was a huge step forward for me.  It felt like my husband was trying to punish me, like a parent punishes a child when the child does something wrong.  The bad part about that is that this situation was not all my fault but I was the one being punished for it.  I am sure a marriage counselor would have a field day analyzing this one!

When you experience financial ruin and you are a married person, it is never one person's fault and until your relationship can get to a point where both take responsibility for that, nothing is going to be fixed...both in the relationship and with the finances!

A close friend of mine is also experiencing bankruptcy.  She had an issue with gambling and basically went through all their money.  Oh, her husband was very upset when she had to tell them that their only option was to file bankruptcy!  But here is the thing...the only thing the husband would ever do with her was go to the casino.  He loved going to the casino even though he knew she had a "problem" with gambling.  He kept persuading her to go even though he knew she could not stop.  She had a run of really good luck and won big several times.  When she won big, she was the hero of the family!  She lent those that needed money, money.  She treated the family to things, paid for vacations and was just held in such high esteem by her family, especially her husband.  Her gambling problem became an issues when her run on good luck ran out and she just could not win.  She wanted to win because it was the only thing she did where she received love and appreciation from her family!  Had her husband showered her with love for other things, she would not have had to fill that hole with gambling.  So the financial ruin was due to both of them!

Our relationship has gone through so much but we are still married and are still committed to our marriage.  Sometimes it felt like it would have been easier to walk away.  What we have been through made us both stronger people and I really believe it made our marriage stronger because we had to fight so hard to keep it!  We had to go over hurdles that are unimaginable but I really think most couples do.  We lost so many things but by the love and grace of GOD we did not lose each other!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What bankruptcy does to your marriage - Part 3

Imagine preparing yourself for a move to a new house that is bigger and better than your current house?  Imagine the excitement that pours into the work of packing and cleaning while waiting for the move?  Then think of what it would be like to have to pack and clean because your house is being taken away from you and having to come up with the energy to do all of this while your heart is breaking!  Moving is not much fun when you really want to move so think of how awful it is when you are forced to move.

We had a sale a week before we were to make the big move and sold so many things that I had collected over the years.  It was so hard for me to see it all go but I knew I had to do it.  Moving was going to cost some money and we did not have any so I needed sell my things to make it.  We also had no place to store most of our stuff.  We rented a garage down the street from where we were going to be living but it was not big enough to fill the contents of a six room house plus a basement filled with things.  For me, these were just things and I had to let them go.  For my husband, he just could not let anything he had go!  It was so hard for him!

All week long I kept telling my husband that he needed to make arrangements for moving.  He needed help and he needed a moving van.  He kept telling me not to worry about it but I was.  I worked so hard all week packing, cleaning and throwing away, morning, noon and night.  Finally the day came where we had to move and there was no moving van arranged, no help arranged and no real plan!  It was like my husband was moving in slow motion and there was nothing I could do to change that!  I was so utterly frustrated with him that I could not see straight! Instead of us working together, we were not even speaking to each other.  I kept telling him to go through his things and start packing them up, but he did not pack up any of his belongings.  He is so very picky about his "stuff" that no one dare touch it so this was something he needed to do on his own.  So, the day we were supposed to be moving, he was going through his stuff!  There was no margin for error here.  The bank would be there at 9:00 the next morning to collect the keys!

That day was such a blur to me because I was crying the entire day!  I moved as many boxes as I was able and did as much as I could to help.  At one point, my husband told me to leave because all we were doing was arguing with each other.  I found something else to do and went back about 6:00 that night, thinking that everything was almost done.  To my total and utter amazement, it looked like nothing had been touched since I left over 6 hours before.  I was in a total state of panic!  He just was not getting the job done!  This was a total nightmare!

By the next morning, I went back over to the house and once again started packing more things into the car to move.  I knew the bank would be there at 9:00 and they were.  Emotionally, I could not handle the turning of the keys over so I had to leave.  My husband must have negotiated something with them to give him more time to move things out of the basement (because the basement was still full).  My sister came over and asked how she could help and I had no idea what to tell her.  She saw that all my Christmas decorations were still in the basement and I told her I had to just leave them because I did not have the energy to move them.  She told me that she was not about to let me lose my Christmas decorations and proceeded to move everything out.

Finally, we were moved out!  But how was this marriage going to be saved?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How bankruptcy affects your marriage - feeling all alone!

This just about sums up how I felt while going through this financial hell!

So, continuing from my last post, I received the letter from the bank that our house was in foreclosure.  I had to tell my husband and I waited several days because I was scared to death to tell him.  What was I afraid of?  I was afraid that this would push him over the edge.  He was already in pain and humiliated that he could not produce enough of an income to support our family.  He already felt like he lost so much when we had to close the restaurant and subsequently lose the building.  He had blamed me for that loss and I still had not totally forgiven him on the way that he treated me then.

You see, when we got married, my husband always thought that I was a "smart" woman and that he would be able to count on me if we ever got into any difficult situations.  So he thought he would never have to worry about struggle because I was smart enough to get us out of anything.  I could not go to work and get a job because the IRS would have taken every dime of what I made because of business taxes that we still owed.  I felt powerless to help us get out from under this mess.  But the worse thing was...I could not talk to him about it because every time I tried, he said something to stop the conversation.  He just could not communicate with me because deep down inside, he just thought I would come up with a solution.  So he just kept going to work everyday and really never checked in on my pain or the pain that was going on at home!

When I sat down to tell him that our house was in foreclosure I did not beat around the bush.  I just told him straight out where we stood and how and why we got here.  He immediately got so mad that I thought his blood pressure was going to pour out of his eyes!  He yelled and yelled and then yelled some more!  He told me how this was all my fault and how could I have let this happen.  He did not physically lay a hand on me but he beat me up!  I was already in pain as well and was trying desperately to deal with that and now I have my husband just hanging me out to dry!  This was very painful!  I had no one to comfort me!  I was trying to comfort him and respecting his anger but I was pushed away.  Again, I had no one to comfort me and boy, did I need it!  He told me it was my problem to resolve and walked out of the room.

He did not speak to me or even look at me for two weeks.  Two weeks when I am trying to figure out what the hell to do and how to move forward from this and I had no one.  At this point, no one else knew what was going on.  Somehow, I had three weeks to figure out a way out of this or pack up and move this entire household to who knows where.  What a huge, gigantic load this was for me...and again, I was all alone!

Next post:  Moving!!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What bankruptcy does to your marriage.

I have much to say about how financial problems can affect a marriage relationship.  My next several blogs will be about this because it is a huge subject and affects so many people.

If you think that nothing like this could or would affect your marriage...think again!  Unlike other tragedies in life like a health diagnosis or a death of someone close, a financial crisis usually will tear a relationship apart.  Why?  One word...BLAME!  There is so much blame that is thrown around when financial things happen that it tears people away from each other instead of bringing them together.  It is like it takes all the bad things in your relationship and magnifies by 180%.

In my case there are many reasons why our relationship was shredded but here are some of the basics.  My husband lost his job and his job was our main income source.  He was unable to find a job that paid even 1/3 of what he was making.  I kept telling him how hard it was for me to make ends meet.  He would get paid and after paying SOME of the bills we would only have $25 to last until the next pay day in 15 days.  He just told me that I would figure it out.  I don't know if he thought I was just being dramatic or not telling him the truth but he really did not help me.  I felt like our financial problem was somehow my problem to fix and that was very frustrating.  I kept telling him that we did not have enough to get by but he just shrugged it off.  Deep down inside, I know that he was mad at me about our financial problems.  He would never come out and say that, of course, because that was an argument he would never win!

So things just kept getting worse.  As each month went by, there were more and more bills that did not get paid because I needed the money to live off of and buy food.  I had two kids to feed and take care of as well.  This went on for about 8 months and our relationship became more and more burdened.  We were barely communicating with each other at this point and I felt more and more alone.  Here we were, a married couple, dealing with a financial ruin and I felt like I was all alone.  I was also desperately trying to keep this our dirty little secret so no one would know.

When the letter arrived from the bank about foreclosing on our house, there was a little part of me that was relieved.  After going what I had gone through the last 8 months, I knew something had to give.  I knew we could not afford to live in this house anymore.  I even knew that we could not afford to sell it because selling it meant that we would have to make some repairs that we did not have money for.  I knew that we could probably find someone to borrow the money from to get us out of foreclosure but we would not be able to pay them back and would soon find ourselves back in the same situation.  Even though I absolutely did not want to lose my house, there was a feeling of some sort of relief.

But now I had to tell him!  As I recall, I knew about the letter several days before I told him because I knew it was going to be bad, I just did not know HOW bad!

More on this in my next post!

Monday, February 17, 2014

This info should be shared!

Just thought I would share this tidbit of information.  Although every state does things differently, I am just covering something that is true in the state of Missouri in which I reside.

An acquaintance of mine had filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy around the same time that I filed my chapter 7.  The chapter 13 is a payback plan which you pay an amount every month over a period of time and after that time your bankruptcy becomes final.  Many people choose this route if the own real estate and have equity.  Chapter 13 protects your real estate, however, sometimes there are exceptions.  She was told at the time of filing that she needed to make sure that this payment was paid ON TIME every month because if it was late, the investors could take their house.

She was paying her house payment on the 15th of each month with a 5 day grace period.  All of the sudden, a year and a half later, her mortgage company decided that there would no longer be a grace period and that she could no longer pay online.  When she asked the bank why they had made these changes, she was told that it was due from her bankruptcy.  She had no idea why but she also knows that bankrupt people have a whole different set of rules than most others.  She is unable to pay the house payment right on the 15th because her social security check was changed from being issued on the 1st of the month to now the 19th of the month.  This is something she has no control over.

Here is the thing, since the bank that holds the mortgage to her house knows about the bankruptcy, they could, quite literally, file for foreclosure the very next day after the payment was due.  If that happens (and please never be naive enough to think it can't) she would have to pay the attorney fees and filing fees to get the house out of foreclosure which could add up to about $5000.  And let me tell you from experience...a bankrupt person does not have that kind of money!  My friend needs to do whatever she can to get that payment made on time!  I know, I know, easier said than done but this is the problem she must solve because there is much equity in their house.  It does seem that the banks move quicker to foreclose houses that have some equity.

Just as soon as you think that "they would never do that", you are sunk!  Take care, my friend!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Needs vs. Wants

There is not much I can teach anyone about money!  I would not even try because obviously, I have failed at it!  But when I say "failed" at it, what am I saying exactly?  After all, I did figure out a way to buy a business and a building worth quite much.  I was able to run a business with very little capital.  I was able to run a household (for awhile) on very little money.  I was able to really do much with very little!  If I failed at anything is was the ability to keep it.

But with all that said, the most important thing I was able to do is sort and separate that which I WANT compared to that which I NEED!  I know that it sounds so simple because most people do not really have to discipline themselves between the two.  However, when you are in a financial crisis/ruin, in order to survive you must be excellent at this!  When there is barely enough money to get by, you have to put yourself in the mode of concentrating only on what you NEED and taking care of that.

This is very painful at first.  You stomp your foot, roll your eyes and just really resist the fact that this is the way it is!  It is like taking a toddler to the store with you and all he does is whine and beg for everything he sees and thinks he wants!  You do not want to give up anything especially the ability to buy what you WANT!  This is especially true if you lived a portion of your life with the ability to buy based on what you WANT.  But it is so necessary to get past this.

As I have stated before, we all have the same basic needs.  They are shelter, clothing, insurance, transportation, utilities and food.  These are the areas that you need to focus on when money is very tight.  Each of these areas should also be examined to see if anything is spent that is an excess amount of money.  As an example, this is not the time in your life where you spend a ton of money on designer clothes.  Instead, you go through your clothes and accept what you already have.  Clothing is a need, expensive or designer clothes are not!

It is very important to constantly ask yourself if this is something you NEED or WANT and then not feel bad that right now you are just taking care of your needs only.  Believe it or not, you will feel good about this once you recognize and accept that every situation in your life is just temporary.  Just because it is this way now does not mean it will be like this forever.  In life though, it is good to peel back the layers at times and discover how simple life really can be when it is not cluttered with a house full of WANTS!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What would you do?

Having a conversation with my Mom earlier, she asked me a very profound question that I just had to write about.

She asked me what I thought about people who had become bankrupt prior to me having any financial problems.  Good question!  My first reaction was to say that I felt bad for people that I heard were going through a financial ruin.  But, I paused, and really thought about my answer so that I could answer truthfully.  I then told my Mom the truth!

I would have been very judgmental of someone who I heard was bankrupt and I would have pointed out all the mistakes that I thought they made to get to this point.  I would have had a feeling of "being better than" them a sort of superiority over them.  I would have been afraid to ask them if there were anything I could do to help because I would have feared them asking me for money.  If they would have asked me to help them with money, I would have, although I would have felt like I did not really want to.  I probably would have avoided them just because I did not want to be asked for money.  WOW!

Not only was I surprised that I was so truthful, but I was completely surprised at how I would have approached the subject!  Then it dawned on me that this was how so many people who were very close to me must have felt about me.  They probably wanted to avoid me because they did not want me to ask them for monetary help.  They were probably afraid that if the just talked to me about the situation...that is where the conversation would lead.

After this conversation, I realized what had been bugging me for so long.  I was aware of distance that people put between them and me and I was also very frustrated that people would not talk to me about it.  I really only had two people close to me really talk to me about it and had any interest in listening.  This is still a thorn in my side because it made me feel so alone!  This new realization opened up a door of compassion both for myself and others.

As long as I live, from here on out, I will always open myself to anyone who I know that is dealing with a tragic financial burden.  I will never be able to turn my back on someone else who is going through what I went through!  Wow, I am blessed!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

After the last post...I am a jerk!

OK, OK after my last post, I am a complete jerk!  This thing really has bothered me...but it isn't what you think!  The way I have reacted to it is what has bothered me the most.  But I have had an awareness that might, just might, help me to get past it.

You see, the person I wrote about was one of my siblings.  Since I wrote the last post (and I think that really helped me) I have realized that I become very jealous of anyone in my family that has something positive happen in their life.  I am incapable of feeling happy for them.  I realized that anyone else in my life, friends and other aquiantances I am always happy for when they have improved or achieved something in their life.  But not my siblings, I can not even fake it!  I had to look closer!  Even though this is probably more complex, the truth of the matter is that somewhere along the way I have become jealous of my siblings.

Jealous people are insecure.  They don't feel good about themselves so they don't want other people to feel good about themselves.  OMG that is me!  But the thing of it is that I am very secure with myself when it comes to other people so why this insecurity when it comes to my family members?  Did I attach my financial life to my worth inside my family?  And once my financial life was ruined was my worth inside my family ruined as well?

I really do not know the answers right now, however, I believe that since the awareness of this came to light...that is half the battle.  I do not want to be at odds with the people in my family.  I want to have loving relationships with all of them.  This jealousy thing has kept me from that. Even more than that is the fact that it also kept me from loving myself.

I have to stop feeling like my life isn't any good just because I do not have much in the way of things and have no money for extravagent things.  I have to see the value of my life and understand that if the rest of the world (or just my family) doesn't see it, no matter!  So what! I have to end the battle in my mind that I am nothing because I financially lost everything.  It is a belief that simply is not true and is not serving me!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Just when I thought I was getting better...

Today I am having some problems.  I have been going back and forth all day trying to decide if I was going to write about this.  Since I am here, I decided to write because I am hoping it will straighten me out.

I try very hard every day to not focus on what I don't have or what I can't have or do.  This is not easy to do because our natural tendency as human beings is to want, want, want.  However, this way of thinking will bring so much suffering because you are resisting reality when you want, want, want!  So, like most human beings, I am not perfect at this, getting better, but not perfect.

Someone close to me just told me that she was taking her family to Disneyland.  I was so surprised by internal reaction!  I wanted to scream!  I wanted to tell her not to tell me anything about it because I did not want to hear about something that reminded me of what I could NOT do.  I wanted to shake her and ask her if it felt good to "brag" to me about something she could afford but I couldn't.  I wanted to ask her if being able to afford to go to Disneyland made her feel superior to people who could not?  All these thoughts racing through my head yet I said nothing.

Funny thing was that I knew, deep down inside, that she never thought anything about how it must feel to me and I know she had no bad intent whatsoever!  I don't really want anyone to walk on glass around me but I do want people to understand that I am sensitive about what can be bought when you have money.  After what I have been through, can you blame me!  When I can barely pay for my son's medications and have no room for any kind of emergency that may come up, it is hard for me to imagine having anything for a vacation!

I know, I know, I sound like a whiny person who complains about something so stupid but today I just can not seem to shake this.  It is on my mind and something is just unsettling to me.  I do not want this kind of stuff to bother me.  I want to be past this.  I want to be free of this!  How does someone heal from this?  I thought I had more faith.  I thought I was beyond this.  I thought I was above this way of thinking.  What happened?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The bankruptcy effect on our kids Part 2

During a time where our kids were experiencing much anxiety and fear, we, the parents were experiencing the same feelings of our own.  Because of this, we were not able to help them as much as we would have with any thing else in their life which would have made them feel the same way.  When I look back on this, I wish there would have been someone in our lives that would have recognized this and stepped in and helped.  We did not know at the time that we would need that kind of help and did not know what to ask for.  We were so busy trying to figure this all out that they were put secondary to all of that.

At this point, my children are very aware of what has all happened to us.  They do not yet have fully developed adult minds and I do not know how they will think about it all when that happens.  They were both very upset with the bank because in their minds the bank "took" their house.  They really felt like the bank took something that did not belong to them.  That was not the way that it was explained to them, but that is how they think about it.

When our kids found out that we filed for bankruptcy, they thought that we were going to be arrested.  I don't know where they got that idea from.  They were concerned that we didn't have any more money and that we were broke.  Little did they know that we had been broke for a very long time!  Someday, when they are a little older, I will sit down and talk to them in more detail about all of this.

There are things that I can say are very good that happened to my kids as a result of all of this as well as some bad.  Both of my boys are very hard workers and have no problem helping anyone with anything that they are able to.  They have been asked to do chores by people and have earned a couple bucks here and there for the help they give.  They have never felt like this was beneath them and they offer help whether they get paid or not.  They know that if they want something, they can not count on Mom and Dad to fork over the money.  They have to find a way on their own to purchase things that they want.  My oldest son paid for his own Junior ring.  They have learned to live more simply than most other boys their age and they appreciate all things that are given to them.  This, of course, is very good!  Hopefully these lessons will be beneficial to them as adults.

Some "bad" things that have happened as a result of living this way is overindulging in things that they feel will go away fast, like food.  When there is a full refrigerator of food, they eat it all up as quickly as possible because there have been so many times where they opened it up to find nothing.  They also, both, can not wait to leave this house and be on their own.  I know that is somewhat normal for teenagers, but this is a little different.  They have no faith in me or their father with money.  They just think we don't know what we are doing.  It's okay, we don't take it personally.

Their overall attitude about money is one of mystery and anxiety!  They can't wait for the opportunity to have money but they are scared to death they will screw it up.  I wish this wasn't so, but it is what it is!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The bankruptcy effect on our kids

Many people have written to me and asked me about how bankruptcy has affected my children.  My children are now 17 and 15 years old.  To say the least, they have been through the mud with our financial situation.  They were 12 and 10 years old when we lost our house to foreclosure.  It was the only home that they knew since they were both born into that house.  We lived in a neighborhood with close neighbors and family who lived within walking distance.  The kids that they went to school with all lived in our neighborhood as well.

My kids loved where we lived and enjoyed friendships with so many other kids that lived nearby.  They were especially close to our next door neighbor's children.  Our house was like a revolving door with kids constantly coming and going.  Our house was also pretty large in size.  Looking back, we did not really utilize the space that we had in a good way but we did have plenty of space.  We never really used money to decorate the house, decorate the kid's bedrooms and such.  We just really never had extra to do that.  At the time, any extra money all went into the family business, the restaurant.

When we realized that we were going to lose the house, we never really sat down and explained to the kids what was going on.  It was so painful for us that it was difficult for us to explain.  They knew something was going on.  Their father and I were at odds with each other during this time and there was so much tension in the household.  Then, time ran out and we had to tell them.  They were so confused about moving.  We did not yet know where we were going to move to but they went with us when we were looking at apartments and flats.  You can imagine how disappointed they were with everything we looked at.  They were going from a house they loved to something that was so foreign and strange to them.

Since our applications for every place we applied were rejected, we were invited to live with my their basement.  My kids were excited about living with grandma and grandpa but not int the basement!  They both complained loudly about that.  The basement was just one large room with stone walls around the outside.  There were no walls to separate us in any way!  We could only bring a few pieces of furniture with us and minimal amount of clothing.  Space for our "stuff" was extremely limited and when we packed up the kids room and put most of it in storage, they were visibly upset.

More on the next post...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

No judging me please!

I was having a conversation the other day with two women who started discussing another woman who had been found to have stolen funds from their sons' baseball team.  It appears that she was an upstanding citizen who others trusted with their money.  Apparently she had also stolen money from a church that she worked for as well.  All in all, allegedly, it was over $100,000.00.  She is facing jail time for these crimes!

I asked these women about her because I do not know her.  They told me that she was a wife and had 5 children that they were raising.  They lived in a rather affluent neighborhood and supposedly the husband had a decent job.  So I asked these women if they thought she stole all the money because she "needed" it.  They said that she must have otherwise why would she have stolen the money.  They assumed that something had happened where they must have fallen on hard financial times to have done this.

You know me, at this point I could not hold back.  Keep in mind that neither of these two women know about my financial situation.  I posed this alternative to them.  Why is it assumed that if someone has fallen on financial hard times that they would steal?  Stealing, many times, is an addiction to deception!  I can not say for sure if this woman stole the money because she was having financial difficulty or because of an addiction to deception or for any other reason.  But that is the point, no one knows what made her do it.  But the idea that someone who doesn't have a "good" financial life would automatically steal because of it, is not fair.

There are people all over the place who have more than I will ever have in my lifetime that steal from others.  There are allot of rich thieves (Bernie Madoff comes to mind).  I am just extremely sensitive to this thought.  I do not feel that I have to defend myself in this, but I do know that I have met people over the last several years that when they learn of my situation, automatically feel that I am not trustworthy.  That, if given the choice, I would steal if the situation presented itself.  However, I am not a thief and I would no sooner steal from someone than I would stab them!

I guess we all have something that others pre-judge (prejudice)  us about!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pulling yourself up

I am feeling kind of sad today.  Something happened to me today to make me realize and remember how very hard it is on people who lose, and as a result, have very little money!  Not only do you lose your dignity, you lose your confidence and you lose the confidence that other's once had in you.  That does something to a person!  It is a pivotal point in ones life and there are many different directions a person can take.

When you find yourself down and out financially, a certain panic can arise and creep in.  How you handle that panic will make all the difference in your recovery.  You may reach for something, anything to numb the pain.  It could be food, it could be drugs, it could be gambling or it could be depression.  All of these things will leave scars on your life.

Try and remember as you go through this tragedy that life won't always be like this.  This pain you feel will not always be there.  There is a higher power that will help you get through this.  Use this time to better yourself and change your attitude about life.  You might feel that the only way your life will get better is if you somehow "get more money"!  But the truth is that life will get better when your "attitude" about money and the role it plays in your life changes.

If you are reading this and you are knee deep into financial problems right now, I know how hard this is to hear.  I know that the fear you feel over the state of money in your life can take over your life and make you do things that you never thought you would do.  But, believe me, someday your situation will turn around and you will have to live with the decisions you made at the beginning of this process.  Keep your integrity intact and make sure that you can look in the mirror and like the person looking back at you.  Try not to fall victim to taking or using money in a bad way.  The temptations are all around you to make a decision to wallow in this, but choose the higher ground.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Filling a hole

I was watching an interview on TV yesterday very early in the morning when I could not get back to sleep.  The interview was with Mike Tyson.  I think he was a professional fighter, maybe a boxer years ago.  He was very popular but I remember him having a very dark side and I think he spent some time behind bars.  I am sorry that I do not have the exact details of it all but I specifically remember him falling from his very high status.

In the interview he was asked about the amount of money he made in his hey day.  It was something like 6 million dollars.  The interviewer then stated that he spent all the money he had and then started spending money he did not have and became bankrupt.  Mike Tyson was shaking his head in shame.  He then said that he spent so much money on drugs that at some point he wasn't even able to keep track of what he needed every day.

Then he said something that struck me.  He said, "I spent all that money to fill a hole but the hole was never filled.  I had all that money but didn't have anything, anything that was real. Now I don't have that money and I feel like I have everything."  He was then talking about the hole and void, that you try to fill the hole with things and then when that doesn't work, you try to find a drug that will fill the hole.  You keep spending money on drugs in hopes to fill that hole.

You hear stories all the time about people who had so much money and lost it all.  I have to say, even though I did not ever have a lot of money and I never used it on drugs, I kind of understand.  Whether you lose 6 million or six thousand or six hundred, it is still losing!  And no matter how much you lose, you still have to start to rebuild.  But rebuilding with the same holes can be a huge mistake because you can end up in the same place.  This is why I think it is important to use bankruptcy as a healing process in the way you look at life.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bankruptcy...self inflicted or not!

There is a definite stigma about people who have filed bankruptcy!  Years ago, when the bankruptcy laws were different, filing bankruptcy was abused by many people.  I remember hearing stories of people who would rack up thousands of dollars of bills, file bankruptcy and then do it all over again!  Those images of bankruptcy weigh heavily on the minds of my generation.

The bankruptcy laws have changed and it is not so easy for people to take advantage of the system.  I am sure there are still people who do, but the laws are in place to help the people who really need it.  Thank God for that!

Unfortunately, for some, the stigma remains that people filing for bankruptcy are either abusing the system or taking the easy way out.  I can never change any one's mind that thinks that way but I wish that compassion could take the place of not understanding!  Being a bankrupt American is not easy in any way, shape or form.  Getting to the point of being bankrupt is like going through the worst nightmare you can imagine only it it is real!  No, one, I mean no, one, would know that unless they have been through it!

As a society, we stand by and support so many causes.  But I have noticed over the years that we tend to do this with causes that we deem "out of ones control".  If something happens to someone that appears they could not help, like an illness, we stand up and support the situation.  Don't get me wrong, I am happy about this.  I am always happy when people help other people!  However, if misfortune happens to someone and others think it was "self inflicted", they turn their heads away.  To some people, it makes them feel empowered that others mess up so bad.  It makes them feel filled up with pride that they never had that problem which makes them feel better than those who have messed up.  That is the part I am not very happy about!

This is hard to write about without sounding like a prude!  Why is it that when something bad happens to some one's body, we act like it is out of that person's control and that there was nothing they could have done to prevent it but when something happens to your financial should have been able to prevent it?  Why do we rally around those that become physically sick but walk away from those who are financially sick?  Why do other people who are financially stable think they are more special in some way because financial instability has not come to them?

We are all human beings and what happens to one, can happen to any one.  You can not be too perfect to avoid it.  Just like you can live your life making your body healthy and fit but that does not guarantee that you will never be susceptible to disease.  Cancer is something that can enter anyone's body no matter how well you think you are taking care of the body.  Sometimes, just the obsession of not wanting any disease to enter a body is enough to make it happen.  Just like the life I have lived being scared to death of losing everything might have just brought it into existence.  The very thing that I worked so hard to avoid is, in fact, what happened.  Disease can be the same thing.  Life was never meant to be perfect...that you are born and the goal is to never have anything bad happen in your life.  Bad things happen to everyone, but the concept of what is self inflicted and that which is not, determines what we will help others through or not is a sad look at the human race!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Acceptance, a key to healing!

To a bankrupt American, the question comes about how important we are going to make the pursuit of money in our lives.  As we start putting together our financially broken lives, this decision about the importance of money has to be made.  How do we prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes we made to get into this situation?  Do we know enough to be better at managing our finances?

As I have stated many times before, everyone is different.  When I was going through my darkest times financially and found myself scared to death, I turned to God.  God had always been a huge part of my life but now I needed God more than ever because I felt that my financial problem was bigger than myself.  I felt like I could not pray to God for money for many various reasons but I prayed to God for healing my financial life and all that I needed to learn regarding it.  This brought me much peace but my faith, unfortunately, was not very strong.  It was not because I did not believe that God could handle such a big problem but it was because I did not feel that this was something God should have to fix.

Somehow, the little bit of faith I had, helped.  Buy most of my healing (which God helped me through) came from acceptance.  It is so hard to accept your life as it is when you are drowning in a financial mess.  I heard it said by so many teachers and writers that you need to be OK with were you are in life before you are given any more.  I tried so hard to incorporate that into my life but I just could not feel it!  What the heck, the rest of the world could never look at my life and accept any part of it as worthy and good so how could I?
It took me years before I understood how to surrender and accept my life right where it was.  I no longer felt that this was a weakness but a tremendous strength.

I realized that what had stopped me from accepting my life was from growing up in a belief system that related success with what you own.  Once I realized that it was just a belief and not the real truth, I was able to see the good in my life instead of basing its importance on how much money I had/made and what I owned.  I also started seeing the value in having a simple life and the freedom that comes with that.  I stopped chasing the accumulation of money.  As soon as I was able to get to that point, life became so much easier.  All this time I thought that getting more money would make my life easier and here it was that a shift in thinking was all that was needed.

I am not perfect at this by any stretch of the imagination but I do feel the healing happening.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Being "better than"!

Most bankrupt Americans share a unique perspective regarding money.  If you become bankrupt, it usually means that you had something and then you didn't.  When I say that it is unique it is because you live and experience two ends of the spectrum associated with money!

We fight and battle to get more money!  We fear losing the money that we have and we fear having our money run out.  We give up so many things, like time, in pursuit of acquiring more money. When you become bankrupt, you generally have lost your money, somehow, someway.  Everyone is different and it is not fair to group all bankrupt people in one category.  I have no intention of minimizing nor maximizing any bankrupt person's situation. However, in general, bankrupt people had some money and now they don't.

So the question becomes, why are we always pursuing more money? We need money for our basic needs but most people pursue much more money than they need for their basic needs.  So what could the importance be of trying everything to accumulate more?  I have some ideas.

First of all, I think we live in a "better than" society whereby we try to do everything in our power to be better than or to be thought of as better than others.  This is a huge problem in human relationships because this mentality creates a process of separation.  When we start separating ourselves from others, we are living in a judgemental of other state and judgement is the opposite of love.  Love is the answer to every human situation that causes suffering so if we try so hard to separate ourselves from others, we are turning our backs on love. The premise that if you are able to purchase a larger, more expensive home, a more comfortable automobile, name brand clothing and accessories, a more expensively bought education and/or anything else that inflates one's ego, makes you a better, smarter, happier person, is just insane!  But that seems to be the goal of so many people and an accumulation of more money is the only way that can happen.

Many people say that they want enough money so that they can be comfortable.  What does that mean exactly?  Look at all the people, who on a daily basis, become bankrupt.  What does that tell anyone?  It should tell them that money is something that can be accumulated and lost.  Money is not something that can be promised to stay the same.  So how can money make you comfortable?  What is comfort?  Do people seriously think that they know how much money will make them feel comfortable?  Is it possible that comfort is a state of being and not a state of having?

For the bankrupt person, we generally no longer seek "better than" because to our circle of influence we have reached the place that no one wants to be...rock bottom.  Filing bankruptcy give us a new lease on our financial life but we also have a new lease on how we think of money.  At this point we can be truly free by not allowing the accumulation of money fill up our lives and not identify ourselves by it or we can go back to the same pattern and let the amount of money we have or make determine who we are.  I choose freedom!

Friday, January 17, 2014

The fear factor of MONEY

Sometimes, I look around and when I am aware of people who seem to have much more money than myself, I think about how easy their lives must be that they do not have to worry about money!  But then I realize that having a "certain" amount of money is not what gives people that worry free ticket.  Just because someone has much money, does not mean they have no money worries, however, I believe that most people want more money because they feel that then they would not have to worry about it. The lottery mentality of if I just won the lottery, all my problems would be over is very prevalent in our society.

Although I am no expert, I have found that handling money is somewhat easier when you do not have much of it and when you only spend money that you have.  It is so much easier to stay on track with your spending when you have an exact amount and that is it.  I do not go "shopping" unless I am going because I need to get something specific.  Lets say that my sons need socks.  I go to the store to get them and I may buy something else that is needed like paper towels.  If I go past something that I want like a book, if I do not have enough money in my wallet, I pass it up and think nothing of it.

I can remember back on the years that I would go to the store to purchase something specifically and come out of the store with a whole shopping cart filled with things that I wanted once inside the store.  Then as I was unpacking the bags, I went through so much buyers remorse that it took all the fun out of it!  Buying many things at one time used to make me feel powerful.  Now passing things up that catch my eye and leaving the store with just what I came in to get makes me feel powerful.  I now have a clearer line of the difference of what I want and what I need.

When I was driving down the highway the other day, I was observing all the different cars.  There were so many different sizes, shapes, colors and brands.  I drive a car that is 24 years old (that I just love) and that I paid only $300.  A car is a vehicle to get you from point A to point B.  If people were only interested in a vehicle that would get them back and forth from where they want to go, so much money would not be wasted on all the bells and whistles.  Since I began to drive, I have never been without access to a car.  I have not had a car payment since 1999.  That is 15 years without a car payment.  Since then, I have driven cars that were both comfortable and reliable.  That is 180 months without a car payment.  The average car payment is $300 per month so that is $54,000 that others have paid out over the last 15 years that I haven't!

Please know that I am not bragging in any way.  But I have learned that we all have the same basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, transportation and insurance.  The difference between people who do not have an excess of money and those that do is that those that do pay much more for their basic needs.  People with more pay more for food (because they don't have to find lower food prices), pay more for the room over their head, buy more expensive clothes and accessories, buy higher priced cars and are forced to pay more to insure all these more expensive things.  Are their lives really better because they can pay more for all these needs?  And then again, define "better"!  Is it perhaps that people think that their identity is associated with what they have?  Do people strive to have "better than everyone else" because they will somehow be looked at as smarter, more intelligent and/or more successful than the people who don't have as much?  Have we really come to that point where that is how we think people are more highly regarded because of the quality and quantity of things they are able to buy?

This I will brag about!  Think about the value and esteem of those people who lose all their material possessions in life and wake up everyday putting their lives back together in an unknown to them world.  You basically leave one way of living and enter into a totally different one.  Don't we, as a society, cheer those that overcome a disease?  Those that fight to keep their bodies alive are applauded.  But the people who fight everyday to overcome the loss of life as they knew it and pick up a paintbrush to work on a totally blank canvass with little or no direction of where to begin, are whispered about!  What is wrong with this picture?

Many, many people spend a lifetime worried about losing everything.  Their whole life is designed for making more money off of the money they have and trying to insure that they never get into a situation where they lose everything.  When you have lived a life where you pretty much have lost everything of material value, you no longer fear money.  You can feel disappointed at times, but the fear is gone.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Shouldn't that be discrimination?

When I was selling real estate in the '80's, we listed homes according to the Catholic parish and/or the school district of which they were located.  In the city where I live people looked for homes based on this criteria.  We never saw anything wrong with this.  Then in the early '90's everything changed with the way we listed houses.  It was now considered discrimination to list the parish or school district according to the Federal Fair housing laws.

As a woman, I have felt the burn of discrimination many times in my lifetime.  Admittedly it has never been to the extent of what many other groups of people go through.  So, yes, I now feel the discrimination from bankruptcy.  The assumption that if you have been bankrupt and most likely broke you will have a thief mentality.  It is this assumption that makes me just burn inside!  There are so many people who rob other people blind (did someone say corporate America) and the thing that makes them steal from others is not because they are broke but because of greed.  So this assumption that if you do not have much money would make you into a thief, is just preposterous!

Several years ago, I received our renewal bill for our automobile insurance and it had risen substantially.  I called the agent and he told me that their company had gone to credit based billing.  So to give you an idea of what that meant was they calculated my insurance rate based on what my credit score was.  Forget the fact that we were long term customers with only one minor claim and that we had excellent credit for two decades before we got into trouble, the rate was determined by our (now bad) credit score!  The agent explained to me that their company felt that people who had bad credit generally turned in more claims.  Wow, I could not believe it!  The only thing I could do was change insurance companies!

So fast forward to now.  I just applied for a job and was turned down because of my credit report!  I know that this is a trend for employers right now but I think it is both outrageous and discriminatory!  Personally, I would be a great employee to any company or business.  I am responsible, reliable, intelligent, able to think on my feet, honest and can handle just about anything!  For me to be judged based on my credit report does not make any sense.  Do they think, like so many others, that I am a thief and they can not trust me?  Oh, how wrong they are!  It would make me feel physically ill to take something that did not belong to me.  With everything I have been through, I have never entertained the idea of stealing!

Oh, I understand someone not wanted to extend me credit, but to reject my employment application is ridiculous! How is this not discrimination?  Please, someone explain to me what the difference is between not being hired because of the color of my skin or my sex and not being hired because of my credit score!

I am very frustrated  by this!  I guess that until this group of "bankrupt, credit unworthy" people starts growing and becoming powerful in their own right and take their case to court, nothing will change!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Losing the Job...Part 3

I thought that what was going to help/change our financial help for the better was, to say the least, MORE MONEY! Never did I think that my ATTITUDE about our situation was the thing that needed to change and turn in order for things to get better.  In fact, I was drowning in my not-so-good attitude but it was so hard to turn it in any other direction.  Sometimes feeling like a victim gives you a golden ticket to go around the responsibility to fix the problem.  As long as you can tell your sob story and have someone, anyone, acknowledge your pain, your desire to fix the actual problem dwindles.

Thinking too far off into the future is another determent.  Thinking that if you invest in something right now, even if you do not have the money right now that will bring in future money, is just not wise when you are trying to fill the holes of your financial woes.  Joining any type of money making ideas where you have to do allot now and maybe you will make allot of money later will more than likely make your problems worse.

Taking one day at a time and taking care of the problems for that day is a better way to handle things.  Just breathe and look for the opportunities that arise today.  Have patience that things will get better.  Know that there is so much YOU CAN HANDLE and that you can live on very little if you can just stop wanting so much.  Accepting the fact that this is the way life is for you right now does not mean that you are weak, it just means that you stop suffering.  Take from me who has been through this, you can live on very, very little if you can just not be angry about your situation.  Everyone gets into situations that seem very hard to other people.  That is the way life is!  Everyone has highs and lows in their life.  It is how you handle those highs and lows that make all the difference.

Some of us deal with harsh financial times, some of us deal with harsh health times, some of us deal with the harshness of death but we all deal with something.  Bad things happen to good people all the time.  But when we take other peoples tragedy and puff ourselves up with it because we dodged that particular tragedy so far in our life, we are separating ourselves from each other.  Although, separation feels good temporarily, we are meant to function together as a whole and will only be successful at living life when we are connected to others.

Money did not fix our situation but our attitude about it did.  It is hard to pull yourself out of fear and have faith but this is what must be done to feel like you have control over your financial situation due to a loss of a job.  Always know, you have to take one step at a time and be extremely patient!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Losing the job Part 2

Continued from last post

Losing the Job...

There are so many feelings and emotions that come when you lose the "family" income/job.  In our case there was the husband (the one who lost the job), the wife, and two young sons.  All four people had different feelings and emotions and all of us had to try to support each other while going through it.  My husband was totally and completely devastated!  He had this job for 21 years and was quite comfortable in it.  He would never say that he enjoyed the job but he would say that he liked it!  He liked the pay, the hours, the level of intelligence that it took to perform the job, some of the people, some of the bosses and definitely the location.

When he lost the job, he felt real fear!  It was a fear of the inability to provide for his family.  As most of you know, this is a particularly difficult thing for a man.  His attitude that accompanied this was "I have worked all these years and made a living.  Now it is your turn to make the living and I can sit back and relax."  This was so very annoying to me and it rocked me to my core.  Never had I seen this side to him and quite frankly, I did not like it.  I had always felt that I was married to a hard working man that always had our back and would always take care of the family.  Seeing this side to him made me feel so very frightened and uneasy.  To me, we did not just lose our family income, I lost my foundation and my trust in life.  I just could not reach him and he seemed like a stranger to me.

My kids were kids and their fears were from other friends whose parents lost their jobs.  They did not show much fear or emotion at the time about what it meant to lose a job but they were very aware that there was a change in their Mom and Dad's relationship.  They would not realize for a very long time that the freedoms we had from having a steady income and a sound financial life, would forever be altered.  Really all my kids growing up life is a memory of their parents struggle with money.  No matter how much we tried to keep it from them, they knew.  Sometimes now, I can see how their foundations were rocked as well!

The frustration at trying to find a new job, one that would pay a decent wage, one that was a good distance from home, one that had good benefits became insurmountable!  Just dealing with the lack of income was difficult in itself.  Please understand, we believed, for a very long time, that this was all temporary.  We carved holes in our budget based on what was a temporary fix.  We really thought that this was all going to turn around and we tried to just keep moving forward.

I read so many books and listened to so many cd's to try and help me get through this mentally.  Everything and everyone said that you should never focus on what you don't have but to be happy and satisfied with what you do have.  I could not grasp this concept.  I could not pretend to be happy about our situation.  The fear of our impending doom overwhelmed any positive changes I tried to make.  I felt like my whole world was crashing around me and I did not know how to pick up the pieces.  I knew that something major was going fall apart if we could not get an income!

While going through all of this for over a year, I felt like I was totally alone.  My husband was a stranger to me in how he handled the whole situation.  Instead of working together as a team, we were separate entities who were totally working from a base filled with anxiety and fear.  Some how, some way, we were going to have to make this work!

More on my next post...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Losing the JOB!

What I would have done differently...I would have kept my tax returns current.  Once one year gets away from you, it gets so much more difficult to go back and put it all together.  I kept telling myself that it was OK because we did not owe anything.  I was so very wrong!

Losing the Job!

You can go anywhere in the United States and find people from everywhere that over the past 10 years have lost a job.  Some of these jobs were career jobs and some of them were moving up type of jobs.  It doesn't matter what kind of job you lose, losing it is so very traumatic!  Our story is so very similar to so many people in this country and even in other countries.  We have all experienced the devastation that comes with losing a job!

My husband was in the graphic arts/commercial printing business.  He was at the company for 21 years and was considered a "union" job.  For the most part, it was a good job!  He made a very decent hourly wage and there was always plenty of overtime available.  We were not rich, but we were comfortable.  Life was moving along quite well.  Many people in the United States might have thought that what we made was nothing compared to many others, but it was fine for us.

The problem was that this was a very specified field and you could not really transfer the trade except to another printing company.  At this time, the printing industry as a whole was disintegrating. Personal computers and programs were becoming more available so that people could do it themselves.  Finding another union job in this same field was going to be almost impossible!  The thing is that we just did not see it coming and even if we did, I really do not know if we would have done anything different.

Unemployment at that time went for about four months.  When that ran out, we were in trouble.  My husband was diligent about finding work but came up empty handed.  When he did finally find something a year later, it was seasonal and paid about $8.00 per hour with no benefits.  I was making about $9 an hour working for another restaurant as a manager.  It was very tough getting by on this amount of money and things started to slide financially at this time.  We tried to cut out as much as we could but it did not help much.  We lived very simply compared to most people so there was not much to cut.  We had two boys that were 5 and 7 years old at the time.

We cut up all of our credit cards the day my husband lost his job.  We had a mountain of debt from the restaurant business that we had closed two weeks after losing the job but we decided that day that we would not create any new debt.  We could not afford to purchase anything on credit because we had no idea if we would be able to pay it when it came due.  We have lived for 10 years without credit.  We have gone through losing our home and bankruptcy during that time but we have not used any credit.  I am not saying that because I am proud of it, I just saying that it can be done.

Next post...the feelings and emotions that happen with losing a job and how to control them.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hello, is anyone listening?

What I would have done differently…I would have realized that when you become a business owner, you have to commit yourself to thinking, acting and doing like a business person or you will be eaten alive.  You can not be a person who is running a business.  You have to be a business who can not think like a person.  This is sad really, and what I believe is the demise of our culture but not realizing this will bury you in business today!


I used to be a person that people listened to.  I normally did not add things to conversations that I knew very little or nothing about.  But if it was something that I knew about, I had no problem expressing my point of view and was very good at it.  Real estate was my forte in the late eighties and nineties.  Then I became a restaurant owner and gained knowledge in that area as well.  I was considered an expert in marketing since I not only studied it extensively in both Real estate and the restaurant business but was in charge of it as well. 

Even though it is rather egoic to want people to listen to you, I still liked it and always wanted to become a public speaker.  Simply put…when I spoke, people listened!  Then came our financial ruin and I have not been heard again!  No matter what my opinion is about anything, I am basically ignored by most people who knew me before our financial ruin.  Am I to assume that most people believe that if you experience financial ruin no one can trust what you have to say anymore?

I can see it!  If I engage in a conversation, instead of people staying around and listening and participation, they look away when I am speaking.  They shrug their shoulders and give an attitude of “whatever”.  At first, it really hurt.  I was treated like I had a disease that someone could catch if they were in a conversation with me.  It was hard to understand why I had to endure this treatment by others.  Wasn’t the financial situation painful enough?

Becoming a person who was no longer listened to is actually one of the hardest changes I have endured during this process.  I felt like it changed who I was.  This situation of financial ruin was something that happened in my life, however, it should not label the “who I am”.  The society that we live in is extremely hard on people who experience financial ruin.  I believe it is because most people view it as “self inflicted”.  More on this in future posts.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

It isn't all negative!

What I would have done different...I would have ran my FREE credit report once every year, print it and put it in a file.  Even if the credit score was horrible, it was just for my eyes.  I would have cleared up anything that was not correct right then and there.  There were so many incorrect things on my report when I had to use it for the bankruptcy filing.  I did not have time to get them cleared up and had to add them to my filing.  I know that we are always advised to do this and just put it off but it is really, really important to have it done and corrected.


During the time from when we filed and the date of our actual court hearing, I started to  realize, among other things, that I will be getting used to a whole new way of thinking regarding our “situation”.  One thing is …we no longer have a situation.  That is going to take getting used to.  A relative, who at the same time was in the process of a chapter 13 filing, had told me that she is scared to death of going to court on their designated day.  I was thinking, “what the heck, I have been scared to death for eight years, I am looking forward to going to court and ending this”. 
Now, when thinking about our financial state today, I couldn’t help but think about how long I have just wanted to live debt free and how, for so long, I thought that was never going to happen.  I will have to say that right now we are about as debt free as we are ever going to be and it feels good.  The burden of all of this has taken its toll but I do know that it could have been worse.  This morning as I was getting dressed, I began to realize how blessed we have been that we have always had clean clothes to wear, shoes to wear, the ability to purchase personal items like shampoo, facial wash, hair products, toilet paper, Kleenex, deodorant, perfume, body spray, etc..  We never went without those things.  We have home telephone service, internet, cell phones, cable TV.  We have always had the money for gasoline in our cars.  We have transportation that we own free and clear (the cars might be really old but they still get us where we are going).  Even though we have had some trouble having groceries at times, we still always had food to eat.  We have running water that gets hot when we need to take a shower.  We have an air conditioned and heated home.  So really, we have everything that we need and more. 

I think that the real fear came in at the possibility or probability at losing the ability to provide any of these things.  Again, the fear that came from what was lurking around the corner was absolutely miserabl.  When was it going to happen that we would not be able to pay for any of these “basic” things?  So far, it has not happened.  So we really can not say that we lost everything, because we didn’t. 

That is the thing about when you become “bankrupt”.  It means that you had more and that you do not have it anymore.  It means that you are unable to pay for the excess.  But we are blessed enough to pay for what we need and quite frankly, two thirds of the world probably can’t.  Two thirds of the world would love to be in our shoes!

Even though I entertain some very bitter thoughts about what we have been through and how we got there, my appreciation for living in this country is increasing.  Where else could we be living that would extend the opportunity for us to have a “new beginning”?  You can not become bankrupt if you did not have anything in the first place!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The importance of a good paperwork system

What I would do differently....I would have opened every piece of mail when it arrived and had a filing system to keep it organized.  I had gotten to the point that I let mail pile up.  When mail arrived and I saw it was someone I owed money to, I did not bother to open the envelopes.  It was as if I did not open the envelopes I would not have to think about the situation I was it.  I had years of envelopes that I had to open when we filed for bankruptcy.  The envelopes will have to be opened some time or another!

I was doing my yearly purging of paperwork yesterday and was thinking back on the paperwork nightmare I was in just a short time ago.  Like I said, I got to the point that I had years of unopened envelopes and the situation my paperwork was in was quite a nightmare.  I know that this situation made it extremely hard to file anything, taxes, bankruptcy, etc.  It isn't because I did not know how to keep a good filing system it was because it got out of control and once it got out of control, it was impossible.  What was I scared of?  Opening the mail and having it being a reminder of what a mess my financial life was would not take care of anything.  I was constantly reminded in a million different ways every day!

I was in deep denial.  I knew that we were fact we were already sunk!  Did I not do anything because I did not know WHAT to do?  Probably!  Most of the time I did not believe  that we could do anything.  Did I talk to anyone about this?  Besides my husband, no one!  Maybe if I would have, someone would have advised me to file for bankruptcy.  Instead I kept my dirty little secret and the mail just kept piling up.  I was drowning with the idea that I was doomed!

There was a point when we were in the midst of losing our house (which we did but that is another post) and we went to see a bankruptcy attorney.  We had to bring a ton of paperwork with us so I worked and worked on some of the paperwork to some semblance of order.  We filled out two hours of paperwork once we arrived.  We wanted to file a chapter 13 which would have saved our house from foreclosure or so I thought.  After going over everything, five hours later the attorney let us know that we were not eligible to file a chapter 13 because we could not qualify for the re-payment.  The chapter 13 is a reorganization and repayment plan for your creditors. 

When we asked about the chapter 7, we were told that we could not even file until our taxes were all filed.  The chapter 7 would not protect our house from being foreclosed.  At that time, I should have gone home and started putting together all the paperwork for 7 years of tax returns that needed to be filed but instead I went home and started the preparation to move!

I'm just saying that it makes good sense to get your paperwork in order.  Make a file folder for each creditor and start opening that unopened mail.  Even if you are now where near a bankruptcy situation, your paperwork should be in order. If you think you don't have time, do it in front of the TV, just do it! 

This disorganization stopped me from filing things that I should have filed.  It was not the only reason but it was a huge monkey on my back!