WE ARE HERE
Originally published January 28, 2012
Recently, we made a very difficult decision. We packed up our things and moved our family of 4 into the basement of my in-laws house for an indefinite amount of time. I say “indefinite” because the timeline is completely dependent upon us paying off my student loans and saving up a decent downpayment for a house of our own.
Those of you that know us know that we have been on a financial roller-coaster since 2008. Moving to Hays was, by and large, one of the worst decisions we’ve ever made. However, I didn’t have a job, and Ryan was offered a position that payed slightly more than he was making – and it used his degree, which was kind of important – so we went. We went without doing the math. Without realizing that his salary was not going to cover all of our bills and expenses. I tried to supplement our income in several ways – starting my own advertising business (I had a grand total of 2 clients, who were both related to me), working from home (which actually worked very well except for the software updates that left me unable to actually….work), and then finally working at Dillons. However, we still never made enough to actually support ourselves – with student loans, credit card debt (which kept racking up because we didn’t have enough for food, and didn’t qualify for assistance because we made too much), and all the other “things” that kept popping up. And my endeavors in freelancing and entrepreneurship cost money that we didn’t have as well. All in all, it was a difficult couple of years in Hays, to say the least. We also had a baby to take care of during that time and, of course, conceived and delivered our second child while we were there as well.
In retrospect, we know we should have waited until we had our shit together before we had babies. But we can’t give them back, they’re here now, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. So, crappy decisions aside, we had a family to support and were unable to do so.
Thankfully, Ryan was offered his position in Hutch, and we were able to move here. The house I chose for us to rent was, literally, the best thing we could afford. And $700 a month for that heap of garbage was certainly not a fair price, but that’s Hutch for ya.
Anyway, we have been doing fine for 2 years. We can pay our bills, have cable, buy the occasional extra. We thought we’d be golden when I got the job at SRS and started making double what I was earning at Dillons – but then MY student loans kicked in, and we really didn’t gain any ground. The problem is not that we were struggling, because we weren’t. Yes, we have some credit card debt – not much – and yes we’ve had to watch our spending, but we’ve been pretty much ok since we moved to Hutch. The issue we finally had to come to terms with was that we had no end to being “just ok” in sight. Unless one of us started earning substantially more, we were only ever going to be “ok.” We had no savings and no way to move forward.
We finally decided that if we ever wanted a home of our own, retirement savings, college savings for the kids, or even more kids, we had to get rid of my student loans. And the best case scenario we were facing was paying them off at the same rate for 20 years until they could be forgiven. Not exactly ideal. So, the solution we came up with was that we would suck it up, make some sacrifices, and move into Ryan’s parents house so we could be spending our salaries solely on paying off my student loans. I have close to $47,000 to pay off, and we’re looking at it taking us about 2 years. I’m looking for at-home jobs that I can do after work, or just better full-time jobs so that I can earn more and pay them off quicker. Ryan is looking for extra work as well.
We are lucky that we have such wonderful families that this is an option. I know that there are parents out there that wouldn’t do this for their kids – move their whole lives around to fit a family of 4 into their basement. My parents and Ryan’s parents were both willing to do that for us, but since our lives are here, Ryan’s parents get the *cough* privilege of undertaking the task.
They’ve been wonderful, and we now have a cozy little space to live in with no rent, utilities, or food bills for the next year or two. We are finally on track to giving our family a future, and though it was heartbreaking to leave our home and the memories there (even though it was a heap of garbage where the sewer backed up into the backyard every few months, mice and snakes and spiders kept trying to overtake the place, and the carpet looked like someone died on it – it was still the place where Logan learned to crawl, walk, and talk and Ethan learned to ride a tricycle, catch a ball, shoot a basket, write his name…), it was the smartest decision we’ve made since we got married.
So, that’s where we are now. As I’ve alluded in previous posts, it’s going to be a tough couple of years, but it will be worth it when it’s all over. And it better be, because the next time we move, I’m going to burn every cardboard box that has ever existed.