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Attempting life balance in the face of debt and family crisis

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  • lookingup
    replied
    For a long time I was very reluctant about any rented space with a roommate I didn't already know because it's been tough to find an unfurnished room for rent. I have some (emotionally and financially valuable heirloom) furniture I wanted to evacuate along with myself lest it somehow go missing in my absence. Since then I have had one good lead on a friend who might have a contact for an empty room. We'll see what happens. It's the most exciting prospect I've had so far and I'm really hoping it works out; it's exactly what I would have wanted if I'd let myself get so optimistic.

    Balancing the costs of rent, commute, and the storage space I might have to get if I was able to find the other two at a decent rate has been the difficult part. Rent anywhere remotely near (as in, within an hour of) work tends to run more than one third of my dual-employment income, and with loan burdens that's nearly untenable. The main advice I get in my daily life is to renegotiate my loan payments, which would ease things in the short term but keep me barely treading water into my forties, which is not at all how I want my life to go. So far I've been able to pocket almost* everything I've made and my emergency fund is two days away from topped off, meaning I can attack the loans in full force with my next paycheck without setting off my own anxieties. I've been trying to keep liquid because I don't yet know what kind of expenses the move will incur, but I want to get back to paying down more than required.

    (*I put down a deposit on an apartment I liked in case I had to move in short order. The peace of mind this bought me is well worth the price, even though I don't expect I'll actually be moving there unless I can't come up with another option. Rarely has spending money on a gamble been a good choice for me, but the difference it has made in my outlook knowing I have an escape rope is inarticulable.)

    Panda, I'm beginning to think we're a sizable minority at the least.

    Leave a comment:


  • pandaindebt
    replied
    Props to you first of all for putting up with this situation. Makes me feel like I am not alone in my battles.

    I don't know how much of your situation has changed since you last posted, but have you considered just renting a shared room in the meantime? It sucks that you have to be cooped up in your room. Most people who offer a shared room for rent usually aren't home much anyway. Plus, if you're getting a second job, it might just work out for the both of you.

    Plus, you never know who you will meet. I've met great contacts who were roommates or friends of roommates.

    Good luck to you.

    Leave a comment:


  • snafu
    replied
    I suggest you seek accommodation in a share situation. these are always available in pricy communities since there are always folks in over their head. By renting an extra room, basement etc. they mitigate expenses, you get cheap rent with kitchen 'privileges.' If you don't see anything on grocery store bulletin boards or community newsletters, put your own WANTED adin Craig'sList or Kijjiji. It isn't forever, merely until you feel financially comfortable.

    Leave a comment:


  • lookingup
    replied
    Once again, thanks so much to everyone for just making it clear it wasn't just me, for their suggestions and their time.

    Dontgopoor, your view was largely the same as mine. But I've been forced to admit it's not a "crummy lifestyle" - in my case - so much as emotional abuse. The attempt one family member made at causing a public scene to shame me reinforced that and has increased my anxiety that things could get physical after all. I wouldn't have thought it was appropriate for anyone else to go through, but I could tolerate it for myself because I felt like they needed help. Another large factor is that our public libraries have had very restricted hours (open four days a week and only in daylight) in recent years - when I got back to town it was the first safe haven I tried to look into. But I'm glad to see there was some variation in the voices and thanks especially for the Club Med suggestion.

    The best news is I was able to get on track for a very good job and I'll be moving out soon. It's going to be expensive because my new job is in a pricy area, an hour from cheap rent. I'm well-aware I won't have a lot of money to work with between debt and rent but I'm doing the most I can to reduce my need to commute and cut into my car bills. As it is I'm very frugal by habit and the money will only get better when I'm not driving as much or paying into so many loans; as long as my move doesn't cost too much to accomplish (I have wonderful friends) I should still be on track to having at least one loan paid off by the end of the year and I can add that to my snowball.

    Thanks again to the community for the support. It came at a time of crisis, when it was most needed, and I'll be writing some additional updates in case it gives anybody here a sense of having made a difference for someone who just needed the shove.

    Leave a comment:


  • dontgopoor
    replied
    Just had a thought - since you imply that you are good with languages, have you thought about working for Club Med? You work a lot of hours but you live in a cool place, eat very well, have a place to sleep, enjoy camaraderie, meet interesting people from all over the place (some of which may lead you to a job), and can bank all the money you make.

    Leave a comment:


  • dontgopoor
    replied
    Another thought

    It's been a month since you posted but I'll offer a bit of a different spin than others. I had a similar situation as you but not nearly as bad. As long as your life is not in danger, I think the key is to pay of debt and build up savings, even if you have to put up with a crummy lifestyle for a while.

    Find something to do with your time and use the house as a place to sleep. Find other places to hang out and relax - library, cafe, friends, etc. where you won't spend money, public places - I used to spend time in a library music room, playing sports leagues, etc. You're young and have time. Until you're debt free or have the kind of job that can cover all the expenses and still allow you to pay off the debt, not having to pay rent (the biggest expense for most folks) is a big plus.

    Leave a comment:


  • Barclay
    replied
    For a minute, I thought you lived with my mother. I second the idea of another job. If you are in your room most of the time anyway, you may as well be at work.

    Good luck. I empathize.

    Leave a comment:


  • Lavish Frugality
    replied
    Just a suggestion

    To help out with your finances you might want to consider tutoring, and being that your are a polyglot you can teach another language for a small fee.

    Leave a comment:


  • sandrark
    replied
    Pet/house sitting. It could get you out of the house to a safe/quiet place, and can be done in mornings and evenings.

    I have two cats; our geriatric cat who needed meds recently passed. When we traveled, we'd typically pay $20 per day for someone to come and feed them and administer the meds.

    Without the meds, $10-15 per day was not unusual.

    If you have nearby vets or petfood stores, post a flyer.

    Good luck!

    Leave a comment:


  • Shaabenanizer
    replied
    I echo others that my first thoughts were "toxic" regarding your home environment. Your parents and grandparents have been adults a hell longer than you have been, I would venture to guess at least twice as long as you, and it is not your job to make up for whatever are the holes in their souls. Even the bible does NOT command children to love their parents, simply honor them while parents are commanded NOT to provoke their children, which is what your parents are doing. Frankly, you owe them nothing.

    I second EEinNJ's suggestion about contacting college friends and see if you can make arrangements to stay with them and contribute to the household expenses. If that is not an option I still strongly advice to move out, it's not unusual on Craiglist for people to rent out their couches in the living room (and you basically get the living room), heck they offer to move out to the couch and rent you their bedroom! Debt is NOT a bad thing as long as you have the discipline to manage it, and it sounds like you do have that discipline. Don't be so debt phobic that it contributes to your isolation but use it as a tool to salvage yourself.

    Does your town have dog-obsessed people? Even in times of recession childless couples with dogs are still willing to spend money for dogwalkers to come in the middle of the day while they're at work and walk their dogs. When my friend was unemployed for 6 months she walked dogs to support herself and it was enough. Fee is about $18-$20 per dog walk.

    Good luck.

    Leave a comment:


  • lookingup
    replied
    It's a very ugly situation in a lot of ways, some I haven't mentioned, and I did my best to escape it when I went to school - moved three hundred miles away, then to another location on the three-hundred mile perimeter when I graduated. But getting called back for a medical crisis when I did meant quitting the moderately better-paid, high-potential position I'd clawed my way into, and I've had very few options since due to eating through my savings to keep the debt at bay. I spent a year mostly playing caretaker and working odd jobs to mitigate the effect on my savings picture.

    The stress is almost entirely circumstantial, but I feel like I wouldn't be in this spot but for the money. I was elated to live away and always anxious to get back to being a free adult, rather than what amounts to the only (remaining) adult in the picture. My (four years junior) sibling, who did not conform to the expectation to get straight As and proceed-to-uni, do-not-pass-go, do-not-collect-job-experience, hung back after high school, took up classes at a community college and a succession of service jobs, and is now living quite well. One can probably guess how much I envy them, but I've encouraged them to stay away from family entanglements as much as possible because I am sincerely glad they're not in anything like my spot.

    Everyone's advice has been appreciated beyond expression. Hearing any second opinion is an immense comfort, not to mention it's wildly validating to hear something other than the narrative of the ungrateful child. Trying to tell anyone they're sinking their own ship (that you happen to share) and having them come back at you that you're overreacting/ melodramatic/ out of line - and THEN that you "don't care about your family" - is enough to give anybody a Cassandra complex and I know it, but when people tell you you're crazy for long enough it doesn't matter how stubborn you are - you harbor doubt. I really needed to hear what I already knew, as EEinNJ pointed out; I just needed to hear it from any mouth (or hand) not tainted by reflexive suspicion inculcated since childhood.

    Now just to find something I can transition with. I need more income, or at least more in my emergency fund, before I can reasonably budge. I've been trying to strike a balance between padding my emergency/ escape savings and cutting into the nastiest loan, and fortunately(?) the very loan I'm trying to uproot first is handled by a company who rather slyly defaults to applying my excess funds toward future payments, so I've actually let that slide for a couple months and let my "extra" cash land in the bank. I've been keeping the lines out for roommates also, and fortunately being in my hometown helps that significantly. I'll see about regimenting my current contract job down to two or three hours five nights a week and spending more of my "free" time seeking supplementary work.

    I'd still be glad to hear any other feedback of any stripe, and suggestions for the "meanwhile" can't hurt, either, especially as I know there are bound to be others who could use them. But I think I got at least a sense of orientation of just hearing my thoughts in other voices. A thousand thanks.

    Leave a comment:


  • JoeP
    replied
    After reading your post, the word that stuck in my mind was "toxic." The money issue, if you want to call it that, is a very small piece of what is causing stress. Even if you made 3 times as much money, you'd still be unhappy due to the conditions at home.

    Once you move out, the jabs and mental abuse will lessen a lot. You'll still have an emotional connection because they're family, but at least you can start focusing on your own life in your own environment.

    Leave a comment:


  • bjl584
    replied
    Originally posted by lookingup View Post
    Any reply at all is a huge relief and the first real input I've had in I don't know how long. THANK YOU. You're absolutely right about being isolated.

    I am working fulltime and have for some months, I'm not sure if that's clear, but it's just a sales job, for under $10/hr. I'm a very good salesperson but I don't make commission in my current spot so it's a very meager income. I've been doing a few types of contract work to supplement but finding part time work when I have an unstable shift schedule hasn't been easy. I'm almost always off by late evening, though, and have been thinking bartending might work if I could learn the basics and get used to the noise.
    Bartending can be a great way to earn extra money so long as you are prepard to deal with the bargoers. Stick to more upscale places like bars inside hotels or in clubs. A local bar with cheap drinks can lead to bar fights.

    Leave a comment:


  • lookingup
    replied
    Any reply at all is a huge relief and the first real input I've had in I don't know how long. THANK YOU. You're absolutely right about being isolated.

    I am working fulltime and have for some months, I'm not sure if that's clear, but it's just a sales job, for under $10/hr. I'm a very good salesperson but I don't make commission in my current spot so it's a very meager income. I've been doing a few types of contract work to supplement but finding part time work when I have an unstable shift schedule hasn't been easy. I'm almost always off by late evening, though, and have been thinking bartending might work if I could learn the basics and get used to the noise.

    Leave a comment:


  • EEinNJ
    replied
    I'm sorry for your situation- your pain, desperation, and loneliness are very poignant. Of course you need to do something, or it will only get worse. I'm sure you already know your best chance is to get a good job. You may have to relocate to do that. Do you have college friends in other parts of the country? You could try staying with one for a short time while you look for work. At the very least you need a break from the environment you're in. Even in your day to day life, find some other activities and places to be besides work and your bedroom, before you go nuts!

    I know you feel your family needs you, and feel guilty, etc. but you are a young adult, not a parent or caregiver. You are not going to "fix" a spender, a drunk, or someone with dementia. You have a right to start your own life, you worked hard and paid a lot of money for college.

    Leave a comment:

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