Drowning in a Sea of Debt

My family has paid down nearly $10,000 in 6 months. I should be proud of our accomplishment, right? Then why do still feel so bogged down & burdened? I know why. It is because our 6 month adventure is actually a 10 month journey mimicked the rolling of the sea. Up, down, up, down… Yet, all I want to make it do is go down!

This proves tough with a family of four with one teenager. Or with the family that wants to embark for Hawaii next spring break but isn’t taking the steps to make it happen (they just think it will happen). Or the family that doesn’t realize the cost impact of everything we spend on (dinner, landscaping projects, birthday parties, etc…). Oh, I am to blame in this family of four, too. Don’t think I am excluding myself in this momentary blah.

I need help. I need your advice.

  • How do you get a family of four to see the financial impacts of your debt repayment program?
  • How do you get a family of four to come together and realize we still have $79,768.59 to still pay down?
  • How do you continue to feel like you are living a life while staying frugal as can be to become debt free?

This is the new importance of my blog right? Learning to overcome the consumer society lifestyle in order to become debt free (and maintain that status). And although I am up for the challenge I need your guidance, tips, and/or advice. I look forward to your enlightening responses to help me regroup my debt repayment journey.

~ Money Funk

8 thoughts on “Drowning in a Sea of Debt

  1. Sharon

    Oh, I feel your pain. We were right where you are now. It’s hard to appreciate the $10,000.00 decrease when $80,000 is still there. And it is excruciatingly painful to try and do this with kids…you don’t want to disappoint them, and you don’t really want to tell your kids about the debt either…I know we didn’t.

    I wish we had done things differently, and really cut down on the extras. We “lucked” out when my husband received a large bonus. We were able to cut the last $40,000.00 of debt to $0.

    Now that we are at the “starting line”, it is difficult for us to save for an emergency fund. (Our next challenge). And, of course, we are paying for college for my older daughter. We have halted our 401K contributions for now (which scares me to death) at least until we get enough in liquid savings to feel secure.

    The only thing I can offer is to continue to plug away at your debt. It will decrease, and you will become debt free. Just know that it will take some time. I do like your goal of going to Hawaii. I think we need something “positive” to focus on when paying down debt. Set goals, share them with your kids. Have them become involved. I wish I had done that. It would have been easier.

    In the meantime, you can join me on my No Spend Month challenge in July! Together we can put some real cash towards our vacation goals! 🙂

    Don’t give up!


  2. admin

    Hi Sharon, You’re right. That is just it… I don’t want to feel that I am “taking away” from the kids. It is trying to find that balance between raising kids and paying down debt. And its tough!

    I just printed a big format of our snowball schedule. I intend to have a family meeting where it will discuss our plans with the kids and let them know what is going to take to get to Hawaii. They may enjoy being involved. Maybe not enjoy… but I think it will make them feel important having a say in the outcome.

    I think if I do involve the kids they may appreciate when they are older dealing with their own money. Perhaps they will get to know the real sense of money and how to respect it. Hopefully. 😉

    Thank you for your input. It is really valuable to me. I can understand your fear in halting the 401K. That would scare me, too. Have you thought of her taking on some of the financial responsibility of college? Perhaps a compromise.

    I think I just may try out that No Spend Month in July. That’s gonna be a tough one being a sunny summer in California. 🙂

  3. jpkittie

    oh no Christine – that sucks that you are feeling that way right now. That is when it is tough to continue on your journey as you are… but know that you are not alone. I am right there also — it is a long grueling process…. we must all stick together.

    Are the kids old enough to know that there are financial burdens right now? You are very right to tell them what it will take to get to Hawaii… if they are old enough to understand it, then they should know. But not the details. You really don’t want them to be stressed about your family’s money situation. They should not have to know that there is $80k in debt… maybe just tell that they you need to have all cash for vacation & new clothes for vacation & everyone getting their own spending money — ask them how they think you all could get there… maybe keep a tally somewhere with different things that need to be purchased (airfare, hotel, food, spending… but show each memeber of the family) Maybe every $500 of debt paid off, throw $100 into the columns of vacation…. Hope that makes sense, it did when I was trying to tell myself, but sometimes I can’t type exactly what I am thinking! haha

    Good Luck.

  4. Ms. MoneyChat

    Hey Christine …

    both sharon & jp bring very good perspectives. i don’t have any children so all i have is “theory.” i’m an advocate for including the kids in the family budget/planning process – but to what extent, i don’t know. i guess it depends on the age, maturity, etc (jpk brings up a good point about the kids feeling stressed about the family’s finances … but again, you know your children so you can make the call as to how much info to share).

    definitely include them in the goals for saving the money for hawaii (if going to hawaii is a viable option). i say this with as much humility as possible, i see over and over again how adults use their kids to continue making poor financial decisions. if hawaii is not in the cards for next year, then it’s not in the cards. set goals, get the family involved with meeting those goals, and if you all come up short, then take the trip later. honestly i think this would be a great lesson for your family, but it’s going to take effort from everyone. i’m rooting for you, i hope the trip works out, i really do. but more than that, i’m rooting for your future, the simple, adventureous and fruitful life you desire.

    ***off the subject …. why did you switch to wordpress?

  5. Money Funk

    @ jpkittie & ms. money chat:

    You’re right for not needing to impose the kids with how much debt. I think that I will keep the snowball schedule between DH and I for reference. But I need to find a way to make it a family event to realize we have X amount of money for the week, spend it wisely and when its gone, its gone until next week. We can’t transfer the EF funds to cover our overspending for the week. I want to help them learn to respect money and that it doesn’t just come out of the ATM when we want it. LOL.

    As for the vacation… I think i will create a meter chart showing how much money we have for Hawaii versus how much we need. I will post it where it is really visible (the fridge). Then when it goes up the kids can mark it up. Hopefully, they can realize that the more we cut back on the unnecessary things the more we can have for our trip. Hence, more fun stuff to take on.

    It will also help us adults continue to learn what a real emergency is versus our wants. Because our EF and vacation fund are one. Whatever stands above the $1000 mark in that account is for Hawaii. And well, if we continue to transfer money out of that for say… our landscaping projects… then we are bumping down the Hawaii fund for the whole family.

    Oh what a journey! Thank you all for your continued support. I do feel much better on this subject. You’re right JPKittie… we need to stick together. 🙂

    And Ms. Money Chat, I transferred to WP because I thought it would offer more. But to tell you the truth it has been a pain in the butt! lol. New stuff to learn. And when I get bored… I hop on my computer and tend to change things all around. I do it to my kid’s rooms, too!

  6. Ms. MoneyChat

    the meter chart sounds like a wonderful idea. just think, if your kids can learn now what we are learning in our adult lives, they are going to be so ahead of the game. how awesome.

    ***i was wondering what the differences were between blogger, wordpress & type pad. thanks.

  7. Dr. Faith

    What a great post. (I’ve been wondering around your site for probably half an hour now)

    It is so hard sometimes to be personally motivated and then have to motivate the whole family as well! Man, I couldn’t even imagine. I don’t have a family so I wouldn’t even know how to go about that.

    We were really poor when I was a kid though, and I knew that it was just “how it was” that we wouldn’t get game systems and lots of new clothes and things like that. But I don’t remember CARING that much. And when my mom did want to splurge on something big for us (like a cute Joe Boxer pajama set or something like that), I remember that I would ASK her if we could really afford it.

    Kids can be very understanding of situations if they know what the limits are. I knew I wasn’t going to get allowance or anything like that. I knew when we started buying new school clothes that I got $100, and that was it. But I never felt disadvantaged. I dunno… kids also feel the “keepin’ up with the Jones’ syndrome” – but I think it is more important for the PARENTS to stay focused on the goal. The kids will understand.

    And having a goal like Hawai’i might be good for them. (I’m not sure how old they are) But perhaps giving them like $100/month to spend on food at school and stuff like that – and letting them know that they have to save for their own souvenirs in Hawai’i. So they can save with you guys and understand how important it is to save the money if they want to spend in on vacation.

    I dunno.. just some thoughts. I’m really enjoying reading your blog. =)

    1. admin

      Well, thank U 4 wandering my site. 🙂

      It’s not always easy, but this whole Hawaii trip seems to be setting a good pace. Everyone is really excited about this trip. So frugality is working great!

      I grew up in a poor family, too. I don’t remember a bunch of ‘not getting’ either. Probably because when I was a child, we actually played outside forever! lol. TV was only the morning cartoons for me. And maybe 1 or 2 shows after school. I didn’t have time to be tubing. There was fun to be had outside! lol.

      I think you’re right. If parents stick w/ their focus now, the kids will understand it when they get older. It will be my hopes that they understand financial goals & control to use in their own life.

      Thank U for your thoughts. I think just at times…like U said motivation can be hard. Sometimes we have our low motivational times and just have to get our financial ego pumped back up!

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