Monday, October 11, 2010
Don't label me with that number, please!
Today has been a rough day. I looked up my credit score and was NOT pleased, to say the least. My score has shot down 200 points in the past 10 months. Why you ask? Well, it all started in 2008 BEFORE the economic collapse. My husband was in Real Estate full time and I was a full time case worker. I was in grad school part time and knew that if I didn't go full time at some point, I'd be in school for the next 5 years despite being in school already for 2 years thus far. So, not knowing what the future had in store for us, we decided that perhaps we could survive on the one income since my husband was doing extremely well and I also had student loans to cover extra expenses. So I quit. Please know that we didn't make this decision lightly. I sought wise counsel (like the bible teaches) and each person I turned to said that it seemed like a good idea, seeing my husband's income was abundantly flowing, plus we had money saved up, etc.
Who knew that the economy would crash the way it did for the first time in decades? Certainly not us. In any event, we survived for a couple of months, then the housing market slowed down terribly. Let's face it, it didn't slow down, it stopped. Real Estate was NOT the business to be in. And now we had barely 2 nickels to rub together, literally. My husband had to search for a regular 9-5 and I came up preggers. Wow.
I don't even know how we survived, but we managed to keep our basic needs met. (Actually I do know how - God - and God working through our family.) And then my husband found a Customer Service job. Hurray! Things were looking up, and soon our beautiful baby boy was born. Happy happy joy joy! Wait, hold off on the streamers. Six weeks after I gave birth, my husband got laid off. This was even tougher than the first time because we didn't have ANY savings since we were living paycheck to paycheck. Again, we managed. Thankfully, 2 months after that fiasco, he found a great sales job. But by the time he found this job, it had been 2 months of having to forego making payments on certain bills and loans, in order to pay for rent, electricity, the car note, and other basic needs. We did the best we could to survive. Finally I got my degree over the summer and recently found a job as a Family Therapist that starts next month. So there's a light at the end of the tunnel, right? What's the problem?
Unfortunately, though we weathered the storm(s), we are still dealing with the after-shock which is my damaged credit. When we got married, we put most things under my name because my credit was perfect. It was in the mid 700s. But after 10 months of difficult times, my credit is pretty much in the high risk range. Sadly, some accounts are now in collections because of being 60 days or more past due. So the creditors keep calling...and calling...and calling. No matter how hard we try to work with them, we can never seem to catch up for the lost 2 months. And of course they don't care about how perfect my credit was prior to 2009. They all paint me with the same brush - as if everyone who has bad credit MUST be irresponsible. No, it couldn't be due to a rough patch. Of course not.
I feel like screaming to each one of them over the phone, "No I am not bad with money. No I am not a shop-a-holic. No I am not a gambler. No I am not lazy. NO I AM NOT A LOSER, DESPITE WHAT YOU MAY THINK MR. CREDITOR!" But that won't help. I'm sure they've heard it all. I've tried to tell them that we've just come out of the hardest year of our lives and are trying to rebuild. Some are nice about it and some are jerks. But all want their money. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand this because the bible says to owe no man anything but love. I know debt is wrong. We just have had extenuating circumstances that have put us in this situation. Yes, things will get better, and God-willing, 2011 will bring amazing things. BUT today is today. And today is tough. Today it seems like the 6 weeks it'll take to get my first paycheck will be the longest 6 weeks of my life.
Try rocking an overtired baby to sleep while the phone keeps ringing every 30 minutes. Which of course leads to me putting the phone off the hook to get some peace. No, I'm not trying to run away from our debt but I don't know how many different ways I can say that we won't have the extra money to pay everything off until I start working. Period. I guess I can rest on that saying "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"... hmm.. but that doesn't make me feel any better. I tell ya, it'll be a difficult road trying to put together what has been destroyed, but we can only go up from here. So thankfully, I can at least feel good about that.