Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our Personal Financial Circumstance

One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog and encourage others that may be experiencing hardships is in large due to my own families personal struggles right now. A few years ago we were making decent money, unfortunately we did not sock away any savings for an emergency and we seemed to still live pay check to pay check. I kept telling myself we had time to start a plan and thus always put it off in lieu of having fun in the moment.

In 2009 hubby at a young age of only 38 while managing two restaurants had a heart attack. Partly due to stress of managing two stores but also due to lack of exercise and way too much fast food in his diet. Tests revealed this had not been his first heart attack either, test revealed he had another heart attack about a year prior to the one that landed him in the hospital. At the time my whole family seemed to be facing emergency, life threatening health issues including my then 11 year old son and his 9 year old sister. Well after the heart attack, he was on the brink of a third heart attack any day so needing drastic measures, we packed up on a wing and a prayer and moved our family from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where it averaged 30 feet of snow a year down to North Carolina at a time the economy had utterly collapsed in Michigan.

We had this stupid idea that at least fast food restaurants would always be hiring so work would be no problem. We could not of been more wrong, while North Carolina did provide for a complete change in lifestyle where we grew our own food in gardening, goats, pigs and chickens, and provided for the ability to exercise 11 months out of the year, it DID NOT provide any work. We lived for a whole year, our only income coming from Scrap Metal and odd jobs for a local mechanic. The competition for scrap metal in the area was intense as so many were out of work. Yet we enjoyed all the time we had together even though we had very little money. We managed to pay our rent and bills however.

The kids hated North Carolina however so we made the decision to come back to Michigan although this time it would be central lower Michigan, close to the area I had grown up as a child in and fairly close to my family as well as hubby's family. We sold everything we had and only brought what would fit in the trunk of our car, which for a family of 5, let me tell you is NOT much! A few clothes, blankets and a couple pots and pans was about it.

Back in Central Michigan, my family really made a difference in our lives and all showed up at our new rental place ( a 2 bedroom 14 x 70 trailer in the country on almost an acre about 5 miles from town)  and they showered us with food, beds, couches, dishes, TV, Dvd players and all the conveniences we could ask for. Hubby found work the first day here however the only work to be had was fast food at minimum wage. For awhile he came close to 40 hour weeks and even then was not quite cutting our expenses. It use to be in a couple of weeks he would be making decent wages with all the overtime he could ask for. Now however restaurants are loosing money so most work there does not come with regular raises nor is it full time work anymore. We never thought we would see  the day where fast food has changed so much and maybe it has not in the larger city areas but we tend to stay away from large cities and choose more rural areas where rent is cheaper, but jobs are fewer.

A month ago, hubby got the news of hours being cut and his went down to 20 hours a week, he has been there a year and has not received one raise and it does not look like there will be one in the future. He is looking for something else but so far no luck, not too many places hiring at the moment in our area.

So hubby makes $800 to $900 a month right now, our adult disabled daughter lives with us and contributes $200 a month from her small social security checks, it helps her and helps us at the same time. I receive another $250 from child support from one child and that is what we have to live off of. A Whopping $1200 to $1300 a month with $475 of that going straight to rent! At least we have work, I know of many others in Michigan that have been our of work for a year or two even now.

My propane is on 28% with snowflakes falling outside as we speak, I am about 4 months behind paying on the budget plan , I was paying originally but when our car died, me and hubby used a bike and biked 5 miles to town all summer every day until we came up with a little money to put down on a car. Thankfully we have a car but also now a car payment of $180 a month which was the fuel payments.

I am 2 months behind on phone and electric and all this is only paying $300 or less a month in food for a family of 5. While $300 a month is meager compared to the national average of $700 a month this still is the largest area I really need to cut back on in order to make our bills. Also I really need to work on increasing income. It really looks like there will be no Christmas at all this year for the kids, the last 2 years Christmas was $30 for each of our 2 youngest kids for a total of $60. I did luck out though and have a few extra dollars yesterday seeing Walmart Turkeys for .58 cents a pound! I was able to get 4 Turkeys! What a blessing!

While my story may be different than yours, it has a familiar tune of so many out there right now going through similar experiences. The things I will be sharing here are things that have worked for my family and I will be putting in tons of research time to bring you the best ideas I can find to reduce expenses while increasing income! Together we can support each other and together we can do this! Mind over matter!