My dad was in debt before my parents met. When he died at age 47, he was still in debt, having never gotten out of debt.
Money was always tight when I was growing up. My mom mostly stayed home with us 5 kids, but she did work some from home. We almost never ate out. We wore hand-me-downs and thrift store clothes. They actually weren’t even from a thrift store; they were from a free store, a charity store operated by a church.
It wasn’t until I was in high school that I actually had an outfit that was bought at a store. My mom sewed clothes for us. And it was the hand-me-downs from my aunts, who were just a few years older than me. And the charity clothes.
We had one car – an ancient station wagon. One house we lived in was close enough to where my dad worked that he could walk to work, so he often did, to save money.
We always lived in rented houses.
I did go to a small private church school. Actually a couple of them. My parents figured that was worth the expense. For 5th and 6th and 7th and 8th grades, I went to public schools. Then one of the private church schools re-opened in time for me to go to high school. My parents paid for the first couple of years, but then my dad told me that if I wanted to go to school there, I would need to pay for it. So I worked summers and some after school to pay for my high school and to save money to go to college.
My family didn’t have the money that the other families at that school had, so my clothes were never as nice as the other kids clothes, which I’ve already told you about. I didn’t get to go on ski outings and stuff like that that the other kids did. Or go to the movies, unless friends took me.
Sometimes my dad would even borrow money from me.
In one way, I didn’t mind working to go to school. But in another way, it really made me feel not taken care of, like someone who was supposed to provide for me, didn’t.
So I went to college for a couple of years, working to pay for college. I met my husband. He went to college for 4 years. We got married at the beginning of his senior year. I had actually paid of his college bill for his junior year, since I was working at the time, and I wanted to get married. Looking back, I think that was a very stupid thing to do and it should have been a warning to me. His senior year, our first year of marriage, he worked part time and I worked full time. We didn’t have a car; we walked everywhere. We lived in a studio apartment.
Then five months after we got married, my dad died. He left life-insurance money to my mom. She suggested to my husband and me that she use part of the life insurance money on a down payment on a piece of property with 2 houses on it and then we would share the mortgage. Her thought was that it would help her to have us near. I am the oldest and the rest of my siblings were still at home. So we did that.
It worked for a few years. But then she met a guy and decided that she wanted half of the down payment back! As a young couple, with a baby now and me a stay-at-home mom, we did NOT have that kind of money. She was going to take us to court to get it. We split the property, refinanced to a mortgage we really couldn’t afford, used all of our savings. And that ended my relationship with my mom for about 15 years.
In 2004, when we decided to move to this state, we sold our house for a ridiculous price, bought this property here outright and had a chunk of money left over. I was thrilled! At last we could have have savings! At last, we could start saving for retirement.
Except…. my husband didn’t get a job when we moved here. He kept telling me he would, but he didn’t. I was home-schooling our daughters so I wasn’t working. And I kept believing him that he would get a job. He spent his time hanging out with his dad. Then he got a part time job mowing at a golf course for a few months. After that, it was part time at Wal-Mart. Finally, he went to a trade show with his dad and bought a piece of equipment to start his own business. He spent several thousand dollars on this equipment, but he didn’t talk with me first about buying it. And even after he bought it, he didn’t tell me he bought it until a couple of days later. Then he spent several more months modifying the piece of equipment with his dad.
So by the time his business was going enough for him to quit working at Wal-Mart, we had no more of that chunk of money left.
We still have no savings or retirement to speak of.
We don’t talk about money, except he’ll tell me I spend to much, but he won’t discuss with me priorities of money or create a budget with me or anything.
I started working so I wouldn’t have a tarp on the leaking roof for the rest of my life. But honestly, I am more scared about not having any retirement money than having a leaking roof.
This house needs more work on it than I think he will EVER be able to afford. He seems very content with his income. He doesn’t have plans for expanding the business. He doesn’t have any plans for fixing the major problems of the house. He doesn’t have plans for how to afford retirement.
I guess I am repeating the pattern in my life: my dad couldn’t provide well for me. And my husband doesn’t provide well for me.
And, no, I am not a prima donna.
I’m working on spending more carefully. Which is good for me. It is discouraging, though, to think that it won’t actually have any effect on our ultimate financial situation. He’ll find a way to spend whatever I manage to save. But in trying to improve my personal spending/saving skills, it will help me in the future, if/when I get to be on my own.
I started taking some on-line certificate courses to improve my skills so I can get a better paying job. I also am planning to take a local class designed for women who need to make enough money to support themselves to help them get back into the workforce.
But if my husband and I cannot work together on our finances, I’m not sure how all of this is going to work. He seems to be very jealous of me working, jealous of what money I earn, however pitiful it may be. I do keep it in my own accounts rather than giving it to him for a household account. He doesn’t like this, even though what I spend out of what I earn goes to the house or for our daughters. It’s not like I am buying myself furs and jewelry!!!!
I want to make enough to support myself. To support myself well. And to have money for retirement. I don’t want the reason that I am married to be because I can’t afford to be single.
I like to listen to Dave Ramsey. I find him to be very encouraging, not only about money, but about life in general. I’d also like to change my view, my family history of money. I don’t want to think of myself as poor. Just because my parents were in debt, and their parents before them, even if they weren’t in debt, were at least very poor, doesn’t have to mean that I can’t be successful financially in my life.
And I don’t want to be destitute when I am old.
I’d also like to be able to do for people whatever I’d like to. I get very frustrated sometimes when I know that somebody would like something and I can’t get it for them. I’d like to change that.
I want money to be a positive thing in my life, not just one more frustration.