Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How To Blow Your Savings In 7 Years... The Furious Way

For long time readers who are wondering how things could have gotten so bad so fast for us... I'm going to walk you through it. It's been a steady combination of bad luck and bad decisions.


#1 Before we had kids we had some money in investments. That money was invested in a fairly aggressive manner in hopes of earning as much money as possible over the long run.

#2 When we moved to Michigan we dropped down to one income. But that income turned out to never be quite enough and we supplemented out of our investments. That was a decision we consciously made so that I could stay home but it means that for the last 7 years we haven't saved any money... we have essentially been living off our savings. Oops.

#3 Since Mr F had been self employed the majority of his working career he had no retirement fund. Our investments really needed to act as that. However, we needed them to cover his business taxes EVERY single freaking year. So that depleted them further. Oops.

#4 We lived life as we were accustomed to living it as two working people... on one insufficient salary. Oops.

#5 After struggling to make ends meet (unsuccessfully) we moved from a down turned housing market in Michigan to an expensive regional resort area that hadn't dropped it's prices yet. We bought a fairly equivalent home and it cost us quite a bit more to do that... not too mention all the closing costs on both homes. Oops.

#6 We took a gamble on Mr F's job, which didn't quite pay enough, but knew we could still supplement with freelance.... until we moved and the freelance job went under. Oops.

#7 Kid ended up at a private school the tuition for which was supposed to be covered by the aforementioned freelance job. Did I mention that we lost that one week after signing the school contract and making our deposits. That's okay Mr F's bonus should cover it.... but then he didn't get a bonus. Oops.

#8 Our new medical insurance has $60 copays and we have a daughter who sees a specialist just about every month. Oh and they didn't cover her EEG and now are contesting my injury treatments on the premise that they were caused by an accident. Don't worry I'm fighting it... cause that's 1000 bucks right there.

So that's pretty much the long and short of how we have gone from hopeful to desperate in 6 months. I mean we moved here because we believed it was our best shot at moving ahead financially. Our number one goal was to stop taking money out of our investments so that we could have a stable future. But that isn't how things have turned out. Factor in that our house didn't convey any appliances which we charged to a 0% Lowe's card (which will be due in July) and that we will owe SEVERAL thousand dollars to MI and the IRS for Mr F's freelance income back in Michigan (in... oh... 11 weeks) and you can see why we're selling his car.

The good news is that we still have some money invested (it's just tanked at the moment). And if we are unable to scrape things together we will use that to pay off the taxes and the Lowe's account. But that is a last resort tactic. Mr F's new job does not have a retirement savings program and we need what we have to remain untouched and give it time to recoup what we lost... which will take YEARS. We also have NO cash whatsoever and really need to have that money in case things get worse. Until then I'm just going to do whatever I have to do to try and get things to balance out and still be able to stay home with Baby.

If we can make it through the next 6 months I am confident we will be in a much more stable situation. I still have hope that in the next couple of years we can move forward financially. If anything this time has taught me how many ways there are to cut back... and that you don't have to suffer (too much) to do it... and that's a positive lesson.

29 comments:

smellyshelley said...

Right there with ya...things seem to be sucking all around financially right now. It drives me crazy as an accountant to see NO savings and barely scraping it by every month...and my husband still has his impulse buys that make me cringe and want to shake him - HELLO, we are broke! Ugh. Hope things work out for you.

julie said...

Just curious as to what others have going on for college savings (if it applies for you). We have nothing and have no means to save still. There is always something, you know what I mean.

I don't understand why the insurance company is fighting you on your butt/spinal injury? I don't get it.

$60 copay is awful. Didn't you have some really great insurance coverage in AA, too? I seem to remember you saying that a long, long time ago. I totally want/need to go to therapy and just can't cut it with the $20 copay...$60 is practically the cost of a doctor's appointment.

I loved how Baby now said that Putty ate her muffin. Hmmm....was she trying to snag another one?

My problem is that we are broke also, but I can't seem to fully grasp it and will still buy unnecessary things at Target.

My kids are home sick today and need me...got to go.

Ms. Flusterate said...

In RE: college savings (julie?)...

My husband has small accounts for his 2 kids (19, 17) and the money came from relatives a long time ago and he invested in EE bonds.
That should cover a couple of years tuition for them.

I did (do) not have funds for my kids (18,16,11). Just plain did not have the money to ever put in them which was foolish. I've started something small for the younger two girls.

Together my husband and I have 2 kids in college this year. My stepson is covered financially another year, tops, and my daughter's tuition is exactly what I earn at my part-time job.

Somehow it worked out but I don't know what will happen when we have 4 in college in 2 more years....

I guess there's student loans-but I really didn't want them to take them out only because I don't want them to move back in with us after college because they can't afford anything due to student loans. Totally selfish!

John Howard said...

I don't understand. I thought your injury was caused by an accident. But why wouldn't that be covered anyway? That's pretty worthless insurance if you can't afford to fall down.

Mrs Furious said...

John,
Well I don't really understand it either. I think part of the problem is that our insurance is out of state so every single claim is dealt with that way. The other thing is that the ER listed my injury as an "accident".. which of course it was... but now they are rejecting responsibility to pay until I can prove that it is their responsibility.


Julie,
Yeah our old insurance was the total bomb. Therapy was 100% covered for your lifetime. It was ridiculously good.

college: well we have small amounts invested in 529s for the girls. Like maybe 3000 each or so. Not much. BUT we have a Futuretrust mastercard and the rewards benefit is that you get 1% on all purchases (and more for different stores) put into your exisisting 529s. We have the benefit split between both kids. So that is free money and it's getting invested. That has allowed us to add little bits. We used to have the Upromise card (same deal) but they didn't link to all 529s so that was annoying and not as practical. Check both out though. Now I'm cutting down our spending but I'm going to charge our utilities etc so that I can still earn the 1% savings on money I'd have to pay anyway.


Ms. Flusterate,
HOLY COW! 4 in college at one time!!!

Mrs Furious said...

Shelley,
"my husband still has his impulse buys that make me cringe and want to shake him - "
Mr F is doing better... but it is still a different reality from the perspective of the bill payer. I don't think I can get him to really understand how bad it is.

Dana said...

Hang in there! After I lost my job a year ago, our financial situation went into the toilet. Thankfully we just made good (lucky?) decisions and we're finally getting ahead instead of always being behind.

I'm sending good vibes and good luck your way!

Deb said...

Hugs, hon. I know you're not alone in this, because it seems like all my friends are there. Even before the economy tanked, someone I know (my husband) made a really boneheaded decision to let an investment ride when he should have cashed out and someone I know (me) wasn't paying attention. I can't even tell you how much we lost without wanting to find the closest bottle of vodka. The timing of the loss was such that we had to pay taxes on the huge gain from the prior year, immediately after losing the gain and the principal mere months later. Let's not talk about the size of the check I wrote out to the IRS. It almost makes me want to become a Republican. Anyway... savings? Nil now. Retirement accounts? Sucking wind with the rest of the economy. Medical bills? Unfreakinbelievable with The Ambassador's specialists and mine, and we have good insurance!

The world is all wrong right now. We'll all make it. Right?

Hmm... where did I put that vodka?

Mr Furious said...

If the ER listed it as an accident, I suppose Blue Cross is looking to have some other party be liable (ie: a car accident would be paid by auto insurance?)

Who the fuck knows...

The new insurance sucks. Not just compared to our old best-insurance-on-the-face-of-the-planet insurance, but it's pretty crappy all around. Others in my company are getting the shaft worse than us though, so it could be worse.

It just sucks that we are people that actually end up using the insurance, so the co-pays, etc really hit home.

Marie said...

Can I just say THANK YOU!!! As crappy as this sounds, it makes me feel so much better to know that "real" people are in the same situation as us...I love listening/reading your list and going "yup, thats us..yup, us too..".


re: college--we have some money put away for each of the three girls. Up to about 9 months ago we were putting $20/week into each of the girls accounts, and then when there was enough in there we would transfer them into high-interest CD's (whichever had the best interest rate at the time). My girls also recieved an inheritance when my grandmother passed away and that went right into their accounts. Combined we have about 10k total put away. But for the last 9 months or so we have put away NOTHING!! The plan right now is when the baby is in kindergarten (about 4 more years) we will restart putting money in because a)there will be no more pre-k tuition, and b)i will be able to work more while the kids are in school! I DO feel bad that we aren't contributing right now, but its the way it has to be right now. And we WILL NOT touch that money unless we are LITERALLY losing the house. It was what my grandmother wanted done with the money and I couldn't do anything else with it.

Randi said...

I understand you want to be at home with baby, and maybe it's not even an option with this economy, but is there a point where you would have to go back to work? Is it even something you're entertaining?

Mrs Furious said...

Dana,
I do think (hope) that once we get through this little stretch and get the taxes and Lowe's paid we'll be okay. And then things will get better.

Hopefully somewhere out there really wants a Volvo sedan!!!

Randi,
I'd go to work before we went into debt. But I'm a social worker (not even sure if there are jobs right now here) and my pay is under 30K. After taxes and childcare (including afterschool for Kid) it's not a whole lot. I'd be working 40 hours a week to net $650/month income. That doesn't seem like a good trade for having my kids in daycare full time.

Before I'd do that I'd try to do an in-home daycare... that way I can get paid and still take care of my kids without having to put the money out.

And I will go back to work full time when Baby is in school... so 4 more years either way.

Mr F can make up that difference with one good freelance job.

Mrs Furious said...

Marie,
"it makes me feel so much better to know that "real" people are in the same situation as us"
Likewise!!! Sometimes I just feel like we are the only ones in this spot (I know that's not the case... it just seems that way).


Deb,
"Let's not talk about the size of the check I wrote out to the IRS"
Let's not. The IRS has not been our friend for quite a while now. Nothing like having to pay capital gains on your investments that you cash out to pay the freaking business taxes you can't afford to pay to begin with. Nuts.

Heather said...

I can't watch the video cause I'm at work. But, have you thought about freelance writing for other blogs, parenting magazines, etc? You're a really good writer. You could make some dough.

Mrs Furious said...

Heather,
I'm intimidated I guess. I feel like I'm not a good enough writer grammatically.

Also no one has approached me...

Andrea said...

I think its great you can be so open and honest it definently helps to know that we arent the only ones trying to make it and not working has me scared shitless I just keep focusing on the positive like I wont be paying 20K a year in childcare and my kids can be with me and we can learn and grow and be happy. I'll be keeping you guys in my thoughts.

Kiki said...

You know even though Ken and I don't have children so we don't incur a lot of expenses that we may have otherwise....we have turned very careful as of late.

I am not going to the stores as much as I was, cooking at home WAY MORE and being conservative with our utilities to try and cut back and conserve as much as possible. When I realized how much I was spending on clothes and eating out...it was like a light went on and I wanted to be better, tonight listening to you on the video was just like that, realizing that other people are going through the tightening phase and we're just going to have to ride it out together.

Thanks for your honesty and transparency, as always it is one of the things I like best about you!!!!

Me, Myself and I said...

The economy right now just sucks. Hubby is in a great line of work now... appliance repair. EVERYONE is getting them repaired now instead of replacing them. Thank goodness for that.

I on the other hand, own and operate a cleaning business. Residential and commercial. Which is great for so many reasons...flexibility, etc. But which sucks for so many more. That being... if you don't have money you aren't going to keep the cleaning lady. Thank goodness we have our commercial accounts to sustain.

I just hope and pray Obama pulls through and fixes this country. Fast. Like. Now.

I'll try to think of things to be of help... snow day for us.. 6+ inches and still snowing.

Anyone know of good recipes/sites for low-no sodium?

Mrs Furious said...

Me, Myself & I,
I got THIS cookbook for my mom & stepfather. The recipes are really good and I think they have no salt (although maybe super low salt) either way it's by the AHA so you should be covered.

Me, Myself and I said...

Thanks! Will definately add it to my list to check out!

Julie said...

Thanks for sharing that Mrs. F. I too always feel like we are the only people in these situations. I am glad we are in good company!
Regarding your insurance, I just heard on the money portion of the Today show that you can score better deals getting your own health insurance. With $60 copays, I think it would be worth looking into...a pain, but hopefully can save some money. Do you pay alot each month for the coverage? Just a thought.

Julie said...

Sorry for the multiple deletes...blogger was being slow and I am impatient!

Mrs Furious said...

Julie,
no problem... I hate when that happens.


Well the company does pay the premiums... thank God for that. But I should look into it just to be sure that it wouldn't still be cheaper over all.

Mormons101 said...

"I'm intimidated I guess. I feel like I'm not a good enough writer grammatically."

And that's why there's still a need in the world for editors...You should go for it. What do you have to lose?

What kind of freelance work are you interested in?

Mrs Furious said...

Mormons101,
good point.

I don't know really I hadn't thought much about it being a real possibility before. I don't even know how to get started.

Mormons101 said...

http://freelancewrite.about.com/od/getpublished/a/magazineswalker.htm

http://karenmlynch.blogspot.com/2007/10/parents-magazine-assignment.html

http://www.ehow.com/how_4477924_find-email-address-magazine-editor.html (Dana Points is the Editor in Chief for Parents, but I haven't looked for her email http://meredith.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=press_releases&item=435)

Also check out http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/sites-that-pays-you-to-blog/

And Google "write blogs for money"

Mrs Furious said...

Mormons101,
Thank you!

Amy said...

Been there. Done almost exactly that. Hang in there.

Mrs Furious said...

Amy,
hey thanks.
I've got to pop over to your blog and see what you thought of BL!!

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