Posts Tagged ‘budget’

Taking Control and Getting a Bailout

This is not a typical post. It’s not about exercise or eating right. But it is about taking control, and how, when we do, sometimes good things happen.

I am not great at finances but I do all the bills in my house. We never have enough money and what I am good at is creative juggling. As a result though, we are in a subprime mortgage that had a ridiculous interest rate (fixed, but crazy high) and and an even more ridiculous payment. I do not live in some big, stunning house but I am paying like I am. Our house is old and we’ve tapped the equity in the house to keep it standing, make repairs and stay afloat. We agreed to this mortgage during our last financial crisis. We took it with every intention of getting out as soon as possible.

But then the bottom fell out of the real estate market and with it, all the remaining equity in our home. We sucked it up and paid the mortgage every month although we were getting later and later and borrowing money when we shouldn’t have been to stay on top of it. Now three years later, all the elements converge, both my husband’s and my pay are reduced because of the economy, our credit has been zapped because we are over-extended, and there is nowhere to turn.

Six months ago, I asked my bank, which got a $78 billion bailout from the government because apparently they can’t manage their finances either, if we could modify the mortgage before we got in any deeper. The woman who handles my loan told me to not pay for two months and let the loan go into default and then corporate would look at it. WTF?!?!?!? Seriously. Not an option.

Four months later, when I asked again (now I’ve fallen two weeks behind on the mortgage with every penny going to interest), she tells me, “Oh you don’t have to default anymore.” You couldn’t have told me this? I had to ask again? I speak with you every month. She obviously doesn’t care.

Two weeks ago, I go to the branch manager, who takes my information, sends the paperwork up to corporate and surprise, sorry, they won’t modify. Mind you, my bills come to more than we take home. I’m not looking to get out of my mortgage. I’m just looking for some help so I can pay it. But ok, corporate says we make enough money and we can afford this loan. We have jobs. This is what the man tells me.

I know there are people out there who are in way worse shape than I am. And my heart goes out to them. But I still can’t afford this payment.

So I start looking at rentals. Because at this point, I’m feeling like my only way out of this mess is to abandon the house I’ve  lived in and paid for for 15 years.

But wait, this story has a happy ending.

I take a serious look at all of our bills and what we spend each week and start creating a budget. My grown kids agree to kick in more money, I start seeing what options I have for debt consolidation and settlement. I start researching and making phone calls. Figuring out where I can get a second job or make more money.

Our new budget is kind of like the food budget on Weight Watchers. We have a weekly allotment, and my husband and I are now writing down every penny we spend to see where we can trim the fat even further.  Control over the finances. What a concept. But I was still feeling like the only option was to move.

So yesterday, I call the mortgage company, because my payment is now a month past due, to get the minimum amount I can pay to stay current so I can bring them a check. My loan person is on another call, and I get this woman, Laura, who looks up the information for me. I’ve never dealt with her before. Laura calls me back a half hour later and says “I see you were trying to modify and they turned you down. This doesn’t look right. Can you bring me some information today? I think I can get this approved.” Sure, I tell her. And I gather the pay stubs and bill information she requested, leave work early and go over there again. At this point, I doubt it will work, but hey, worth a try.

In 20 minutes I’ve been approved for a new mortgage payment that is $600 less than what I was paying, (more than the manager said would even be possible) and a 2.5% interest rate reduction. Plus the payment isn’t due until July 15. They are waiving this month’s payment. I can catch up on all of my other bills now. I can breathe. I feel like I’ve lost 100 pounds.

I thank Laura, I can’t thank her enough. And she says “I don’t take no as an answer from them. Not when this is hurting people who don’t deserve it.” Laura is an angel. And this was divine intervention. I mean what are the chances that I happen upon an associate who actually gives a damn about people like me?

In a past life, this type of stress would have completely derailed any efforts I made to lose weight. My first inclination in times like these is to eat. Eat because I’m scared, frustrated, angry, and not sleeping. But this time, I didn’t do that. I exercised to combat all of those emotions and I’ve kept my eating in check. I’ve been holding onto weight, which may be a result of all the stress. Maybe that will move now.

All I know is that last night, I slept.

Managing Weight Watchers On A Budget

So, these days money is tight. And I’m trying to limit trips to the supermarket to once a week. However, since I’ve been on Weight Watchers, it’s been really important to me to have the foods in the house that get me through the day. I NEED tomatoes, lettuce, bananas, apples, lean cuisines, eggs, yogurt, strawberries, WW chocolate chip cookies, WW fudgesicles and Hostess 100-calorie chocolate cupcakes…those last three being the most important!! There are other important foods too but these are things I can grab and make something quick and easy and prevent me from making bad choices.

Right now, I’m out of WW cookies, and 100-calorie cupcakes (my son ate the last package and I could brain him!), strawberries and the apples are getting a little funky. I’d hoped to make it to Saturday before shopping again, but I don’t know…..

I’m going to give it my best to make it to tomorrow at least. I have Weight Watchers tonight so it shouldn’t be too tough. And for my mid-morning snack today, instead of a cookie or an apple, I had WW cherry cheesecake yogurt, and can I just tell you? Yum. And probably much better for me than the cookie (although they are both only 1 point).

I suppose it’s good to change the food routine up from time to time too.

I weigh in tonight, and despite a tough post-Halloween week, I think I’m doing ok. I should hit the 25-pound mark this week. I’ll keep you posted!!