Friday, February 20, 2009

Money Post

Back in the summer I wrote a couple of posts about our problems with debt. A couple of people wrote and thanked me for sharing it. Things have changed significantly and I haven't written about it for a variety of reasons. But I do sort of feel like I left a bunch of people hanging in the middle of the story, so I thought I would write about it. I may delete this post after a while.

As long-time readers know that the family owned a piece of property in Maine and that this summer it sold. Years and years ago my FIL gave it to his three sons. Technically it was owned by a trust and the brothers were beneficiaries of it. When it sold my FIL convinced the brothers to roll the sale back into the trust along with new rules that would keep it in the trust until they retired. I had some strong and mixed feelings about it. Everyone knew that one of the reasons for the trust was that one of Roland's brothers may end up divorcing. The in-laws didn't want it to become community property. This of course means that the money in that trust is not mine in any sense of the word. Given that we had high debt for which I held Roland responsible*, it seemed so fundamentally unfair that he had caused us to be in debt AND had more enough money to cover it.

So September through December I handled the finances. We were able to make all the payments, have a nice if modest Christmas AND I put money into savings every month. We agreed on a cash allowance. I saved mine (I just spent it all on a Kindle 2), and he struggled with his. Still, the debt did not go down much. Anyway, there were a series of hoops we had to jump through, but on Jan. 1 we were given enough money from the trust to pay off all the unsecured debt. All of it. We still have a mortgage and a car loan, but nothing else.

I of course am greatly relieved. Previously 25% of our income previously went to pay unsecured debt. Now all that money goes into savings. A big chunk of that is going back out to pay the electricians, but even after I pay that we will have more money in the savings account than we have had since we got married. I feel a sort of guilt at being rescued. Though I have blamed him, I was there. I am responsible too. We were as irresponsible as millions of Americans and we got our own personal bailout. I am relieved, but I am not proud.

I am bothered that Roland is not at all bothered by it, that he seems to have absolutely no shame at all about being middle aged and needing (and getting) rescued.

I am also nervous that Roland won't be able to stay on what I regard as a very relaxed and generous budget. I am trying to keep him from knowing how much money we have in the savings. It could so easily happen all over again. I look at the savings account and I see a degree of security. He knows that I am beginning to feel relaxed about money, which means there must be a significant amoung in the savings, and he sees a big screen TV. He is committed to staying out of debt, but the fundamental reality that one stays out of debt by having savings to pay for unexpected expenses, is still foreign to him.

So that is where we are. Financially we are secure both in terms of our debt, savings, and in terms of our jobs. No one is entirely safe, of course, but we are as secure as one can be in this very scary economy.

I think money will continue to be a problem for us. Though in many ways he seems to have "got it" I don't know if he will have the discipline to do what we need to do.

Anyway, like I said I felt like I left you hanging without knowing the next part of the story. I may go back though and delete this post...and if I do I may delete the old posts about debt.

I want to be fair here. Many of the expenses that went onto the debt I knowingly put there with him. It isn't like the debt happened without my knowing. My frustration with him was more about there never being savings for things like new tires. Only a portion of the debt consisted of expenses that were hidden from me.


  1. None of my business of course, but I'm curious to know if the trust still exists, and if you and Roland will benefit at a later date. I only ask because I can feel much better knowing that a portion of it went to help out, as opposed it all going to pay off unsecured debt.

  2. A bit under 1/3 paid off the debt. The rest is still in the trust.

  3. Sort of off-topic, but I'd LOVE a post about how you like your Kindle!!

  4. Have you thought about investing some of the savings in secure-but-accessible investments (e.g. GICs)? Stuff that can be cashed in if there's an emergency, but that avoids a large pile of cash sitting in a savings account to tempt people into impulse purchases?

  5. I don't know if your husband might be interested, but I use Pear Budget to help me manage my money. This service keeps it pretty simple.

  6. Wow this is so similar to the issues I have with my husband. He will never be the one to suggest going out to eat, but is always willing to. I am the one to say we better not. We are trying to get out from under a mountain of debt, mostly from roofs and AC units but we have our share of Laptops that I enjoy using so it's not just him. It's just that I am usually the voice of reason. It would be nice if he would be that voice once in a while and I didnt feel I had to hold myself so rigid. (it would be nice to not worry about it too I guess I am saying!)

  7. mine too very similar to what happened to my brother in law... small world hehehe

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