My family moved a lot ... everyone asks me if we were in the military ... we were not ... just moved a lot as my dad followed different jobs. Where it started was Utah ... This is where a lot of the questioning came in ... actually ... it was all of the places ... but let me finish ... My daddy-o had a steady job in Utah ... as far as I knew ... and know ... my parents renovated our house ... it toke them eight years ... just about as many years as we lived in that house ... about a year after we finished it (well ... maybe the timeline is off .. I was only twelve). While living in that house we lived with plastic over a tub that was covered in mold ... the flooring was wood (particle board with nails ... not the pretty wood floors) ... the flooring (and some walls) in the basement were cement ... Regardless ... we were improving ... our house was ever improving ... we always had toys on Christmas ... I always had birthday parties ... We had nice clothes (not all were hand-me-down ... but thank you Betsy Knudsen for giving me your wardrobe after you grew out of it ... my sisters would not have suited my style at the time) ... we played sports (not sure if those are free or not) ... We lived a good life there. However, that is where the financial problems began ...
Before I start this story ... I must inform you that my parents are financially sound ... whatever I say about how they were is in the past is in the past ... when this story is done I will tell you how they did it and how they live now ... it is night and day different ... my parents are true champions!
So back to Utah ... It was told to me that this is where all the financial mistakes began happen ... Mom and Dad took out a second mortgage on our house (which I don't know was necessary or not) to start a business ... a business that would have succeeded if mom and dad didn't use the profits for personal reasons ... hence why we had nice clothes and got bikes for Christmas. However, they did use the money to provide us with a better lifestyle ... and so we had to move to Pennsylvania.
Those of you Hersheyites should know that my favorite place to live was among you guys ... each and every one of you touched my soul and I will never forget you ... my friends were a lot of the reason why I both did and didn't realize that our material wealth began to lack ... I started in Hershey in seventh grade ... just when kids get mean ... My wardrobe lacked a little ... the popular girls looked so nice ... Fashion in PA is different in UT (it also didn't help that a lot of my clothes that I wore were from elementary school) ... but that is neither here nor there. What I saw during the first two years of living in Hershey is what jaded my view of what poor is ... My big sister was always provided with things beyond the means of my parents wallets ... her clothes were new ... she was given a car ... she was given prom dresses (fully altered to fit her) ... her first year of college was paid for ... she was given the luxuries (things that you don't need in middle school ... you really don't need much then) ... I am not saying she was spoiled (if you want to know exactly what I think of her you should read the blog post tribute that I did of her on her birthday) ... She was just lucky enough to hit the big milestones in her life where mom and dad had a little money.
Hershey is around the point where Erin and I got jobs ... mine was only babysitting ... but remember ... I'm only twelve to sixteen here. Er and I didn't keep our money ... it went into what we now call a big family pot ... we gave our money to our parents so they could pay bills. (I am not saying that this is a negative thing ... I am just giving facts ... this kind of thing has been done for many years ... not so much anymore ... but it has)
Then Erin moved away ... dad lost his job ... a lot of things changed ... we still had a roof over our heads (mom and dad bought a house with a pool ... another to remodel) ...we still had food ... but there was no more money for extras ... I remember that last year in PA ... it was rough ... Christmas time especially ... there was little money to heat the house ... there was little money for food (the church brought us a box of food) ... and absolutely no money for presents ... I remember my little brother wrapped up a little toy animal of his for each of us ... to represent our personalities ... it turned out to be the most powerful and family unifying Christmas we had ever had (seriously suggest it if you feel like your kiddos might be getting a little present crazy around that time of year)
Dad finally found a good job in Texas ... we moved to Texas ... I only lived there for two years ... There was so much financial damage brought over from both Utah and especially Pennsylvania that we were in a deep hole ... There was no more money ... period ... my parents continued to be financially unwise ... but in ways I still don't even understand yet ... this is where I started to really feel poor.
I began to hit the milestones that my sister hit when she got all of her nice things ... however, my milestones came without the nice things ... without anything really ... but that is ok ... I have never really been a materialistic person ... but no matter the person ... no matter how they look at life ... it is difficult to see an older sibling get what they don't .... I just happened to be the unlucky one to hit those milestone stages when my parents really had no money to spare.
That is where my taint lies ... you see ... I have always had food on the table ... I have always had a roof over my head and clothes on my back ... my parents always had two cars (even when one was just a company car) ... I was never "poor" ... not in the technical sense ... I guess a better way to put it was that I was poor in spirit ... My parents did not have a lot of money ... at times we barely scraped by ... but I never went without on the basic human needs.There are so many people in the world ... even in the United states here ... that go without these human needs ... and it is a travesty ... how in the hell (sorry ... I swore) can so few people have so much and so many have so little ... It doesn't make sense to me. But that is a different rant for a different day.
I am sorry for saying that I have been poor my entire life ... but I have felt poor ... I never had what my friends had ... heck ... I never had what my own sister had ... and so I felt poor. I still feel I was poor ... I feel I am poor still.
Maybe I should tell that story now too ... it isn't too long ...
Chris (the first hubby ... I wrote a post about the divorce if you want to read it) and I seemed to have the life ... we didn't pay for anything ... we were apartment managers getting our bills paid for and getting paid to live there ... getting paid extra for working on things there ... we each had a job ... the only thing we paid for was our cell phones ... but this was before the data plan became the hype ... so even this bill wasn't too expensive. We had nice things (maybe not exactly my taste ... but nice all the same). This is another way I am tainted to feel as if I am poor ... Chris would not let me buy anything for myself ... I felt as if we were poor because every time I would ask to buy even a new shirt I would get in trouble and told that we didn't have money for that. On top of that there were loans taken out ... student loans ... in my name ... five thousand a semester for two years ... unforgivable ... I had no clue. Before anyone asks if I am going to fight it you have to understand that I can't ... I've already looked into it ... these loans were electronically signed for ... and all of my information was given ... there is no way to prove that it was not me ... therefore ... they are mine ... to pay off ... twenty thousand dollars ... on top of the ten I already had taken out as a freshman to get up to school ... oh ... and the twelve thousand I used to get my car ...
Yes ... I feel poor ... I have felt poor for a very long time ... again ... no loss of basic human needs ... but can you really argue with feelings?
Things to take away:
- When I left for college my parents turned their financial life around ... they found Dave Ramsey and financial freedom. No joke, they are some of the most financially smart people I know now. What they did ... and what R and I are now trying to do ... is they lived on "rice and beans" until they paid off all of their debt that they had accrued over the years ... they barely left the house (luckily they had church callings and friends that got them out) and even more rarely did they spend money ... everything that was bought was basically necessity only. They started with their smallest debt and moved to their largest ... slowly but surely knocking it all out ... until they accomplished their goal! Now ... my parents are debt free and working on their savings ... I am so proud of them ... you cant even begin to imagine how financially wise they are ... I look up to them so much to change completely from where they came from to where they are now! I highly suggest looking at that Dave Ramsey link I gave and following in their footsteps ... it is what we are doing ... it is hard ... but I have seen the sun that comes out on the other side ... and it is brilliant! Remember the saying ... "live like no one else today to that you can live like no one else tomorrow"
- Be aware of your financial situation when you decide to strike out on your own. Make sure that you are managing your money ... not letting it manage you ... if you don't have the funds to go on that wicked cool adventure then don't. I'm not saying don't live your life ... just realize that if you borrow now you still have to pay it back later ... it's harder to play catch up than it is to just have the money in the first place.
- When you get married make sure that the budget making and the financially planning/spending is done completely as a couple. Be completely aware of everything that goes down with your newly combined bank accounts. You don't want to happen to you what happened to me ... It is so easy to just let the other do all of the finances ... but don't let them ... have ... at very least ... monthly checks with each other ... look at your accounts ... rework you budget ... doing it all together.