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newbie here, with huge debt :)

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    Originally posted by Petunia 100 View Post
    Do you receive a W-2 or a 1099? Or nothing at all?
    I get a W-2


      Originally posted by hamchan View Post
      I get a W-2
      Then as an employee, you do have to itemize on Schedule A to deduct your work-related expenses. And it is considered a miscellaneous deduction, subject to a 2% floor.

      But for the income you are reporting as "other income", you could report that on a Schedule C and claim all expenses related to that income. You do not need to itemize to claim those expenses.

      I apologize if my earlier answer was confusing. I was thinking of your earlier remark about "other income", and forgot that you work multiple jobs.


        Oh OK, I have two jobs which I get W-2s for both, and all of my income including tips is on there. But I also do 3-5 massages on my own each month and am paid directly by the client. I don't make enough from it that I have to have a state or city business license.
        Last edited by hamchan; 11-11-2013, 10:07 PM.


          Originally posted by Petunia 100 View Post

          Is your divorce recent? If so, I suggest you slow down. Take some time to think about what you really want.

          Do you really want to be in consumer debt another 10 years while you work two jobs? You are setting yourself up for very lean retirement years.

          I think finding a better paying job, relocating, selling your home with equity, and using the proceeds to pay towards debt makes a great deal of sense for you. Then, you can use your 50s to build up a big nest egg. Once you retire, if you want to move back to your rural area, use some of your nest egg to make a big downpayment on a modest home.

          Are you an RN? An LVN? A CNA?
          My divorce is more than a few years old. So I've been on my own a while now. I'm an RN. Most jobs that I could find in the area are for 11-7 shift (something I've never done in my life).
          I am perhaps, as many of you are probably wise enough to realize, in a bit of denial. I am worried that just a few months of missed payments will due to late fees and whatever, be absolutely unreachable, and it will only take a few months of such nonsense for creditors to put liens against my home. I am seriously not sure how I will be able to emotionally bear with the whole juggling of things, as this has been creeping up for a while, and it's been worrying me for months, interrupting my sleep, causing digestion issues, and without a doubt, I deserve it for getting myself into this mess.

          No matter what I do, at least this is my feeling today, my retirement will be lean, especially if I change jobs. I am in with the state retirement right now, which is far better than anything in the private sector,e I am just a few short months away from not having to pay my part of the contribution to the retirement/pension, as once you hit a certain years of service milestone, the complete contribution is made by the employer, which will increase my net income by $200 month or so. As it stands now, if I were to retire at 55, my retirement benefit would be something like $600/month, with the option to buy my health insurance through them ( under $100/month for medical and dental). Obviously, the longer I wait to retire, the higher my monthly benefit. If I can make it until I'm 65, I will be basically bringing home the same amount of money that I currently make. Of course, I do have social security benefits also, that is not included in the amounts I just gave. So actually, I guess if I can work till I'm 68 or so, I may actually retire with more money than I make now? Ok...I need to check that out again I guess, that doesn't seem possible, will double check my last retirement system statement.

          It's not that I necessarily enjoy rural living, but the taxes are so very very reasonable. When I bought this house, I was living in an unsafe neighborhood, in a very small apt that was decrepit. I kept it clean obviously, but the windows were barely in place, the floors were disgusting, the stove wouldn't work right, oh, it goes on and on.

          I also feel it's all a relative balance as far as relocating to a higher paying job, I'll try to explain.
          So, let's say I make it through the next few months, list this place for sale, which by the way, it would need about $2000 worth of work for a sale (money I obviously do not have, but no one is going to buy this place with a main bathroom that literally has a tub with a crack in it making that shower/tub unit not fit for use), but just say someone comes in and buys it cash without the repairs needed, and I make some profit. There is not going to be much profit, but maybe enough to pay off some of my bills, and cover my moving costs and the costs of a security deposit for an apartment (first, last and deposit could equal 3K easily).

          So I move to a different job, in which my health insurance triples in cost, if they offer a pension it's going to take me years to get vested, (and it's just not going to ever match what I'm getting now), and my housing costs (renting), are going to be at least 400 to 500 more per month and that is for a 1 bedroom apt in a reasonably safe neighborhood in an unassuming basic apartment (I checked real estate and rental listings during the past week). Yes, I guess it's possible to rent a room of someone's home for less than that, but I'm a single woman and that is not always a safe or wise choice.

          Between the costs of increased health insurance premiums, the loss of the exceptional retirement system I'm currently in, and the increased health insurance costs, I'm going to be basically be in the same boat as I've checked on salaries, and the conclusion to me is that my take home pay at a better paying job will be easily dwindled by the costs associated with that new job as far as health benefits, loss of retirement, and housing. While I may see a modest net income gain, it's really going to take a toll on me to get to that point.

          Perhaps I'm just depressed at this moment, but I've done a great deal of research this week.

          For now, I think I have to stick to my plan of working, and trying to get credit card companies to negotiate with me.

          I did take the advice given by one of the responders here and looked up creative ways to talk to the credit card companies, I've got a script written out and I've been practicing it. It basically includes getting someone on the phone who can actually assist with a negotiation, being forthright and emotionally balanced, presenting the true financial picture emphasizing the length of my relationship with the company and the fact that there has not, up until now, ever been a late payment. Making them an offer of payment of x number of dollars per month for x number of months.

          I honestly have no idea if that has ever worked for anyone, but I guess I need to try it.

          So, that is my goal for this week. Talk to 3 of the credit card companies, and see what I get for a response, and go from there.


            Originally posted by hamchan View Post
            I would honestly talk to a bankruptcy attorney. At your income level you should certainly qualify for a chapter seven, and they can't take your car or your primary residence. Believe me, it's a massive relief to get a fresh start. It doesn't sound to me like you have a ton of options for cheaper housing or better paying work. And you are already working a lot of hours in a demanding job. Taking on another job would very likely start yo cause you health issues. Your physical stamina is finite. Without adequate rest your body cannot repair itself and you increase your risk for injuries, GI problems, cancer, etc. If you didn't have to pay out 800 a month to debtors you could finish your BA and be in a much better position quickly. Some people are dead set against bankruptcy, but I believe it is both valuable and often necessary. None of your creditors would have any compunction about taking you to court to have your wages garnished. You have just as much right to use the laws to look out for your best interests. It will not cost you anything for a consult with a bankruptcy lawyer, and they can give you all the info on what will and won't happen. Don't look at it as a failure. Look at it as a new start.
            Do you have ESP?

            I've recently been diagnosed with a very painful nerve disorder, called Trigeminal Neuralgia. I had an exacerbation of the illness 2 wks ago. Missed some work, but I'm fortunate I have sick time which I was able to use. Of course, it doesn't help that I've had to make some co-payments for visits to my primary MD, and a neurologist, but aren't I lucky I have health insurance and am able to have access to health care!
            No more second job for me at this time.

            I did consult a bankruptcy attorney, and my gross income is over the limit for a chapter 7, so I'm just going to have to dig my way out somehow, as the attorney indicated that a chapter 13, while it would save me all the interest I owe, due to my gross income and what he called my relatively low amount of debt, he felt the local bankruptcy trustee would probably have me pay back balances in full. Which is fine with me. But somehow it only saves me a $150 a month. Truth is, I'm not completely comfortable with a bankruptcy, I would maybe feel differently about that if I had children who were suffering because of my choices, but it's just me, and I made this mess, I feel I should live up to it. Of course, should my health condition take a turn for the worse (I seem to be in a remission period right now), that could also affect my view of bankruptcy as an option.

            I'm going to pause my deferred compensation account (which will put approx $90 per paycheck back into my paycheck), I've deferred my student loan for 12 months which saves me another $88 per month. (Of course, I know it's silly to defer the lowest interest debt I have, but it's the only one that offers that option, and in the end, it will cost me a total of an extra $220 for that loan once I start paying it back and pay it back in full). Oh, and I completely forgot that I had a Christmas Club account that is deducted from my paycheck, I've discontinued that, which was $25 per paycheck. So let's see...that totals approx $300 more money per month in my paycheck!
            I really feel this is doable.

            I did call 2 of my credit card companies, and they are willing to close my accounts and set up a payment plan. But, they do charge an interest rate and the payment plan can be for no longer for 5 yrs. In one case, the payment would have been more than my current monthly minimum payment is.

            However, I will probably do that as it will save me thousands in interest in the long run, I just need to see how all these other changes I've made affect my take home income. And who knows, with my tax refund that I should be able to get by March, I may be able to pay off some of the smaller debts, freeing up just a little more cash.

            So, maybe I'm just going to spend the next few months somehow juggling the bills, and resting better than I have in the past. My employer has recently had 2 nurses leave (one due to retirement and one was terminated), and they have opened up the possibility for PAID overtime (the unpaid overtime still exists, they are not allowing OT just because we actually need it to get out jobs done, but are offering OT for direct patient care, they demand we get our electronic charting done, but are not realistic about the time that actually takes to do). It's better for me to take every bit of OT I can rather than expend my time at a second job as obviously I make much more money with OT.

            I was able to pick up 6 hours OT last week. But other than work, my life consists of nothing but walking moderately, eating as well as I can afford to, and resting, resting, resting.


              No ESP. Just BTDT. I am sorry to hear you wouldn't be able to file a chapter seven. That is surprising to me. The threshholds may vary by state or something. A 13 might be worth it if worse comes to worse, but if increasing health issues are the reason for that I would have a very strategic low earning year, if you get my drift. I think a 13 can be converted to a 7 if your income drops enough during repayment as well. A lawyer could give you more info.

              For now you are probably doing the best thing you can. Hopefully as you get a few things here and there paid off you'll be ale to get a better foothold. Good luck!


                I want to extend great thanks to the members of this forum who have given me advice.

                ***I will be writing a long drawn out post here, with questions at the end, and I would appreciate your advice on those questions.***

                There have been some changes in my life since I last posted.
                I was running errands one day, and the car I had that was paid for basically went kaput...while in front of a car dealership.
                I was able to pull it in and park it. I didn't let on that I knew it had major issues (it also needed some body work and electrical things were going haywire too), was that a bad thing? When deciding what to give me as a trade in value, they did not inspect the car thoroughly, they just checked the outside of it. Maybe they looked underneath, I didn't see them do that.
                I knew it was going to happen, it's some sort of axle/tie rod thing or something (it's all Greek to me) or other I think...I had the left side repaired a few months ago, and noticed the right side was doing the same thing. In any case, I may not have the right name of what the repair was, but it was and $1800 repair on the left side, and the right side was acting the same way as the left side was prior to the repair.
                I need a car, there is no way around that right now.

                So, whilst I was emotionally distressed, I bought a slightly used car with a great tires, great warranty and then they suckered me in to this extra warranty thing that covers things like tires when they get hit on curbs and all that jazz. Basically. I bought a really expensive warranty. But my mindset was that I needed a warranty. I needed as much covered as possible,, as I don't have the ability in the next few years to pay for anything but basic maintenance.
                I know...never make huge financial decisions while under duress...but it's done, and now I will deal with it.

                My father also had to stop helping me with my fuel expenses, which is fine, I'm grateful I had his help for a month.

                So, this is my current situation and thinking.
                I'm not going to sell my house and move. According to the type of mortgage I obtained, I have to stay here at least one year, I bought the place in June. Moving is so expensive, between the rental truck, workers to do the heavy lifting, supplies, security and first/last months rent...I just can't come up with that kind of money. And emotionally and physically, I just don't think I could do it.

                My monthly household expenses add up very quickly.
                Mortgage-- 700 (includes escrow)
                Propane-- 180
                Electric-- 120
                Cable-- 10
                Internet-- 60
                Cell-- 80 (I'm locked into this plan until Aug 2014)

                My neighbor plows my drive, I do my own shoveling and yard maintenance, garbage removal is done by the town, my water taxes are approx $125 yearly.

                My paycheck, well gosh, I hate to be ungrateful...I've got great hours (days and some weekends and holidays), and if you read any of my other posts, there is some overtime that is not paid for (yes, I work for free), but there is the unusual occasion for paid overtime. I've had some health issues and my employer is allowing me to be flexible with my sick time and working hours to work around the pain and effects of pain meds. I am 5 yrs away from being able to take retirement (granted, there is a 22% decrease in benefits if I retire at age 55 vs age 62, but the option is there should my health take a turn). I was able to check and if I stay on track with where I am now, my pension will be 800/month, with $100/month being deducted for medical/dental, so a net of 700/month. Every year I stay, the higher it gets. (I've only been with this employer so far for 8 yrs, so in 5 yrs I'll have 13 yrs with this employer. I know the number looks sad and dismal to many, but to me, it's an absolute gift!)

                I still need to make some adjustments with the payroll dept.
                I need to consider cancelling my deffered compensation fund (it's like a 401K, approx $40-$60 per paycheck depending on earnings)
                I need to cancel my Christmas Club ($25 per paycheck).
                I need to adjust my deductions so that I'm able to be closer to the right dollar amt of taxes withheld that matches what my tax liability is). Last year I got a Federal Refund of $2500 and a state refund of $300.
                I am thiinking, and am hopeful, that I may actually get a larger refund this year since I bought the house? I can now itemize deductions...not that there are many. But I did buy a new energy efficent furnace (borrowed against my penion plan, but will be repaid by the time I am age 55).

                So, my net income, should be somewhere in the range of $1200, biweekly, meaning I get paid every 2 weeks.(that net income reflects medical/dental, christmas club of $25 per pay period, deferred compensation fund of $40-60 per pay period, union dues of $60 per pay period, retirement constribution which is separate from deferred compensation of between $60-80 per pay period, and $52 repayment of loan from pension fund for cost of furnace). According to our union contract, I will get raises the next few years, but they directly correlate to the scheduled increase in health isnurance premiums, so it's basically a wash.

                I estimate getting a federal tax refund of $2500, same as last year (it may be higher due to the house purchase and credit for energy efficent furnace, but I'm not counting on it) That money unfortunately can not go into an emergency fund, but must pay off debt. Once that debt is paid off, I will have an extra $100 per month to spend on paying off other debt.

                I found a calculator (via this site), and after crunching the numbers a few times, the next few years will not be financially pleasant, however, it is possible of reaching my goal of being debt free in 5 yrs.
                Bascially, after I pay off some debt with this years tax refund, I will be left with approx $100 per month to put toward paying down other debt, and my discretionary funds per pay period will be approx $120. However...that discretionary fund would be used for food, toiletries, clothing, haircuts, that type of thing. I don't mind getting my hair cut at the cosmetology school.

                But using an adjusted version of the snowball method, I can be deft free ((other than mortgage) (or a few hundred dollars close) by April 2015. Not as impressive as some of the people who are completely debt free in 2 yrs.

                My debt, not including mortgage, is $17000. I know it seems like I should be able to do that sooner.

                But running my household is $1570 per month ($18,840/yr), and my debt is $17,000, and my take home pay is approx $2400/month ($28,800/yr).

                These are my questions:

                1)Considering my age, should I discontinue my defffered compensation contribution?
                2)I usually do my own taxes via TurboTax, should I consider the cxpense of paying a profeesional?

                Thanks for any feedback.