Friday, December 29, 2017

The New Year

I think in order to talk about what I want for the new year, what my main resolution is, I have to talk about how we got here ... Adam and I are declaring bankruptcy. We're also currently on unemployment (he is), medicaid (all of us), WIC (me and the baby), and food stamps (for our family). Admitting that and going so far as to say it's a good thing is definitely frowned upon in our culture. When I say that I'm glad about it, that it's an excellent solution to our problems, most people wouldn't really agree. In fact, when I mention these things, as a matter of fact, most people apologize for us. I don't know why. This is a solution to a situation that partially fell upon us and partially we got ourselves into, and quite frankly, it's a good solution.

Here is how we got here :

When we were dating, Adam had some credit cards and I had some credit cards. Adam had a great job and I was bouncing around as I always do. While we were dating, Adam overspent on some of his credit cards and ended up maxing them out. I was actually doing fairly well financially. Early on in combining our lives, Adam helped me by cosigning on some student loans and I worked to pay off my credit cards, which we did. We were also working on paying off Adam's credit cards, but we didn't make the best decisions. We cancelled one of his cards, so we wouldn't spend on it, but we kept one for just in case. In the meantime, we also opened up a credit card in his name to pay for emergency vet bills, to buy furniture for my mom (she took over both of those card payments), and to make car repairs. We loaned out the credit on both of our Goodyear cards for a friend who was in need...and she would've paid us back, but our friendship dissolved and I cut her off and decided to take on the debt. This was obviously not a great decision.

So, we were not quite in over our heads regarding debt, but we were clearly not in a great position. And then Adam lost his job and was unemployed for a few months while we were planning our wedding. He wasn't eligible for unemployment so paying off our debt took a backseat. He put his student loans on forbearance. We both took jobs at Put-in-Bay for the summer.

We continued to work on our debt, but as always, life can get in the way. After our first season at Put-in-Bay, he was on unemployment for the winter months. He was pursuing jobs that turned out to be far more competitive than we realized. We stayed paying off our minimum payments, and I worked to pay off all my credit card debt, which was not particularly large. Then he went back to Put-in-Bay and I stopped going to college and stopped working because I was pregnant. I mean, I stopped having a regular job with a paycheck. I continued to take gigs as an artist.

Over this past summer, we were still trying to pay down our debt, but we made a mistake that I really think did us in. We would pay off the credit card and then spend on it...because Adam was up at the island and not coming home every week, it was easier to put money on the card for him to use on the island. This ended up increasing our interest and our minimum balance suddenly went from manageable to unmanageable.

Also, I got in an accident in my mom's car and had to pay her deductible, which is one thousand dollars. And we were trying to get things settled for a baby. Plus his car died.

In short, did we make some poor choices and some mistakes? Yes. But we also fell victim to our circumstances.

Right around the time of the baby, I floated the idea of bankruptcy to Adam and he was reticent to agree to it. Both of us feel responsible for the debts we have created (him way more than me, I'm inclined to give everyone a big fuck off, as you know). Also, there is so much cultural baggage tied to declaring bankruptcy. I also started to consider getting back on WIC...which I had during pregnancy and found it to be useless...but since the babe is on formula, WIC would be useful. WIC fully covers our formula expenses. I also considered the possibility of food stamps. I wasn't sure we'd be eligible or how much we'd get, but honestly, any little bit helped. And still, despite these possibilities, with Adam going on unemployment for the winter, our credit debt would be too much to handle. We would have nothing left.

We were in over our heads and we could be very prideful and struggle so hard that we would be able to do nothing at all, or we could admit to our mistakes and take the solutions available.

So this is where we are : currently paying our bankruptcy lawyer instead of paying our credit card debts, we're all on Medicaid (which is super helpful, because it will pay for Adam's vasectomy), me and the baby are on WIC (which takes care of all the food we need for the baby), and we receive $96 per month in food stamps. We are able to pay my two student loans, though Adam's is still on forbearance. We are also able to have lives. We can save to buy a car, but we can also afford to meet friend's for coffee, buy a couple Christmas gifts, repair Adam's boots. Some things are necessary, like shoes, and some things are not, like going out to dinner for my birthday. But everything improves our quality of life.

In the meantime, Adam has renewed his teaching license and is waiting to receive it so he can begin applying for teaching jobs and he has applied to be a postal worker, because we feel like it could be a suitable job. He hasn't given up on the more competitive jobs he wants, but he knows he needs to get a job that will enable us to get off food stamps and medicaid, move out from living with my mom, and buy a car.

I know that I'm supposed to feel ashamed for the position we're in, but I'm not. I contributed to Adam's credit card debt, though we did manage to pay off mine. I contributed to us falling behind because I was in a car accident and had to pay the deductible. It is no one's fault that our cat required emergency vet care or that Adam's car died, but these things contributed to our situation. And the truth is, these solutions are there for a reason. Bankruptcy exists for a reason as do welfare programs like WIC and food stamps and Medicaid. I'm not too proud to take the help that is available to us and I'm not ashamed to admit that we made mistakes.

So for the New Year, my resolution is for Adam and I to get real lives. I need Adam to get a job so we can get off of social service programs, move out from living with mom, and buy a car. I want us to have an actual future and a life. But it's not a resolution that is exactly in my hands. I'm going to stay home and take care of Taran, and I won't stop taking artist gigs, but Taran requires a lot of care right now. So for my part, my resolution is dependent on someone else...but at the same time, I think we can both learn from our mistakes and use these solutions to get us on stable financial footing and not make the same mistakes in the future.

Just a note : Adam read this post and approved it, 'cause I don't share our business without him knowing, duh.

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