A Mixed Bag Life Update VIII

Life Update

It’s been five months since the last mixed bag life update, and we are still slowly making our way towards being debt-free. There have been some big chunks of debt eliminated, mainly thanks to President Joe Biden’s $5,600 stimulus check. We used the stimulus to pay off my wife Erin’s car payment, my Best Buy credit card, Google credit card for Erin and I’s Pixel phones, and the Ford Quick Lane credit card, cutting over $400 in monthly payments. But, of course, there have been a few financial setbacks as well.

Kansas Department of Labor has been super incompetent, repeatedly denying Erin her unemployment, claiming she had not submitted the required information for her part-time student status. I can assure you that she did submit form K-BEN 317 repeatedly, we have Email and Fax confirmations to prove it. Erin appealed their decision to deny her unemployment, and we have a hearing later in May to dispute their claims that Erin did not submit the required information in a timely manner. Reading comments on the Internet, Erin is far from the only person being screwed out of their unemployment entitlement.

If we are successful, the backdated unemployment benefits will be over $2,500, as Erin has not received anything in 2021, which will further help pay down our debts, but I won’t be holding my breath that KDOL will find in our favor, the whole system is broken and corrupt, the Kansas Republican legislature has been underfunding KDOL for decades, leaving it understaffed using legacy IT systems that are not capable of handling the level of unemployment requests created by the global Coronavirus pandemic.

Necessary, but unexpected costs have come up, paying the out-of-pocket expenses for our son, Conner’s Invisalign, which came to over $1,200, and another $750 as our cat, B’Elanna needed some veterinary care. These were installment payments, which was adding $120 to the balance of my American Express card, monthly. So, in an effort to control rising monthly debt payments, I paid off these balances in full on the AMEX card, before taking out a consolidation loan of $18,500 from Marcus by Goldman Sachs.

I opted for a 39-month term, with a payment of $557 per month, at a 9.9% interest rate, which will cost us $3,244 in interest over the loan period, although, I hope to be able to pay down the loan faster to reduce that interest amount, of course, this will only be possible if no more unexpected costs arise. This new consolidation loan does not really reduce our debt payments, but it does reduce it to a single payment, also significantly reducing the interest rate, from an average of 19—20%, cutting it in half.

Money has been a constant bone of contention between Erin and me; I feel she is being financially irresponsible, for example, 2 weeks ago, we had $225 in our checking account, which had to last us another six days. I asked her to watch her spending, and literally the next day, she went to the woman’s fair and started swiping her debit card, to the tune of $230, putting us overdrawn, forcing me to transfer the remaining $7 from our savings account to avoid ISF fees. This has been a fairly consistent issue in the last couple of years, where I log in to online banking to find our checking account in the red.

My wife has a mentality that debt is a necessary evil in the United States of America; I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement, before moving to the US and getting married, I never had any debt, other than a small authorized £250 overdraft, and I never missed a rent payment or bill payment. For me, unstructured credit card debt is a terrible thing that can get out of control real quick. I like store cards like my Best Buy card as I can spread the cost of something I want over 6, 12, or 24 months depending on price, and pay the same as cash, as long as the balance is paid before the promotional period ends. But, that is only if we are able to make the required monthly payment, if not, I don’t make the purchase.

I believe that credit cards should be for emergency use only, or maybe use for cash back on things like groceries, immediately paying off the balance before the next statement date. With having such a high monthly loan payment of $557, roughly 22% of my net income, if credit card balances start to rise again, with Erin being out of work, with no unemployment, and due to health issues will be unlikely to hold down, even a part-time job, we will have to default on something, there is simply not enough money.

Erin applied for and was approved for a PayPal credit card, which she, of course, is entitled to do, but adding me as an authorized user, without permission is not acceptable. Despite me not being responsible for any debt she occurs, it does affect my credit, just being added dinged my score by 14 points, so if she defaults, that affects me too, which basically puts me on the hook as a default on my credit reports would be disastrous for my score, affecting my chances of future successful applications for credit.

Our financial issues have done massive damage to our relationship, we argue frequently about money, which has become a circular argument, leaving me feeling angry and resentful.  I feel like my depression is spiraling out of control, I throw myself into my work to try to avoid thinking about our financial situation. I dearly love my wife, but there are days when I seriously think it would be better for us to separate, but then I think that I cannot leave her, because of her health issues, she would be unable to manage a home and two kids, I have really become a full-time employee, parent, and carer for my wife.

Erin wants to launch an online store selling new-age items in partnership with her friend from Texas, which seems to have dissolved recently. I have been very angry with this partnership, as we have paid out of our own finances to set up an LLC, while Erin’s friend has paid nothing, and done next to no work in regard to setting up the business. The LLC has been in existence for four months and a business plan has not been made, nor a business loan secured, and I am unwilling to put any more personal finances into her business. Over the years, we have put approximately $12,000 of our personal finances into her business ideas, as a real estate agent, and photographer with a significant negative return on investment.

On the photography front, this is another bone of contention, Erin keeps on giving away her services for free, which costs us money, even if it’s just the cost of gas to travel to the shoot location, cost of electricity to charge batteries, and processing photos, in addition, to wear and tear on the camera, even the most expensive camera gear has a finite life. If she works for free, no one will ever take her seriously, and as soon as she does ask for a fee, it’ll be no thanks. I do not work for free, EVER, I try to market myself every now and again as a real estate photographer, and often I get, “can you do one shoot for free, so I can see the quality of your work”. I have a massive portfolio already, I don’t need the exposure, GTFO!

Sorry about the negativity, but this has been my mindset over the past five months since the last update.

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