Matt Fell On Black Daze.

So I'm down to begging. It's all I have left...

Here's the thing, I've made some bad life choices. I own that. I'm trying REALLY hard to fix that. I really am. But I just can't do it any more without a little help. I'm trying, but I CAN'T. There's only so much pay check in a month, and everyone wants a slice of it. I'm trying to get it taken care of, but there just isn't enough money to fend them all off at once.

Let me break it down:

I have me. I'm... not a great person, but I'm not awful either. I have 2 daughters (50% of the time) that are each in their own way truly shining stars.
I have a job. It's not great, but it's ok. It's... almost enough. I work hard. I drive 20 miles to get there, and I put in a good days work. I do. My boss likes my work. My lead likes my work. My peers like my work. I get my pay check. I get good reviews. I've been there almost 3 years now, and really hope to work there until I die.
I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes. Bad life decisions. I have a LOT of debt. That's my fault. Those were my decisions. For better or (obviously) worse, it's my responsibility. I'm working on it as best as I can, but there's just too much.

Here's how my reality exists.

I have my house. I love it. Don't get me wrong, it's no mansion. It's a run down dump. I need a new roof, I need new flooring all over. I haven't had a working oven in years. It's habitable, barely, and it's mine. It was mine and my fathers. He left his half to me when he passed. I have sentimental attachment to it. It's my dad's. My girls were raised here, grew up in this house. Grandpa's house. They loved him, and they love his house. My house. Our house. I love it. I pay my mortgage. I need a place to live anyway, and because I've been here so long, the housing situation in my area has evolved such that keeping the house and the monthly payments is cheaper than it would be to sell it and rent. Seriously, cheap 2 bedroom apartments go for $100-$200 or more monthly than my payment. It runs me $807 and change. Course, with that I have utilities. Gas water and electric run me $155. I'm as cheap as I can be. Thermostat's set to 68 in the winter. I don't have AC for the summer. Clothes get line dried (which is because the dryer doesn't work but that's another sob story) and I don't water the weeds. Lights are almost all flouro-tubes, and anything that has a bulb has LED's. So... shelter for me, the kids, and the cats, runs me ($807+$155=) $962

I have a car payment. I pay it. I didn't want it. I'm 42 years old, and this is the first car loan I have ever had. But I need it. When I started my job, I had a car, but it was old, and dying (turns out it had cracked heads) and, well it was a full size Dodge truck, and got 10MPG. Remember that 20 mile one way commute I mentioned? So I got something that I'd hoped would be more reliable, and got twice the mileage. It's not new, it's not shiny, it's not fancy. It's a 2003 Subaru, and I've rolled it to 200k miles now, and it's mostly still working. Please keep working car... please. The payments are $203 and change. Insurance is compulsory in my state, and I have to have comprehensive for the loan. That runs me $110 give or take.  It's 20 miles to work, and another 20 back. There's no buses or trains. I'd walk it, but even at my accelerated 3.5mph on foot that'd be about 6 hours one way. Gas runs me $25-30 a week, depending on the market. Just getting to work to make my money costs me around $413 every month. For what it's worth, I've paid the loan down from the original $5700 to about $1400.

I'm paying on a credit card settlement. I got the card for emergencies. Well... I'm poor. Everything is an emergency. The original limit was $5k. About $4500 of that was used to make house payments 3-4 years ago before I landed my current job, I was unemployed. Long story short, I couldn't make payments on that. They passed it to collections. They took it to court. I have a settlement that after court costs, interest and all that came to about $5600. I pay $230 a month which is as low as they would go. I'm down to just under $2000 now.

I have a couple other piddly bills. My cell phone. It's my only phone. Runs me $38. I have internet. That's $35 or so. Then... well... really that's it. I don't have cable. I don't have a gym membership. I don't rent movies. I do have a library card, and occasionaly I'm late getting a book back. I don't have... much of anything really. I've pared things down about as tight as I can.

So lets do the math then and see where we are. Shelter, house and utilities, $962. Car, insurance, and just enough gas to get to work and the grocery store, $413. Credit card settlement $230. Miscellaneous monthly expenses, $73. Brings us to $1678.00 if I totaled that right. I really don't think that's too bad...

Except...

After taxes and deductions, my paychecks are $430 weekly. Four checks a month, $1720. Pull out the bills, and I have $42. $42 a month to feed myself, and the kids, and the cats, and to buy soap and shampoo and school supplies and every other thing under the sun that a guy might need. It's not much. I get by. I was getting a fair bit of overtime at work. That has dried up completely. Most of it went to replacing the transmission in the car that I'm still paying on anyway, but that's (yet) another sob story. I make stuff in my garage. If you're reading this, you might already know that. I make helmets mostly, for medieval re-enactors to wear. I make them and sell them. I've been getting by. Barely.

That's where I am now. I was getting by. Barely. Paycheck to paycheck for sure, but I was getting it. I've been trying to do the right thing and pay down my debt, and get myself back into the black, and it's been working. It's been a long hard slow climb, but it's been working.

Well... it's not any more.

You see, I also have student loans. I have a MOUNTAIN of student loan debt. $35k or more. I don't really know even. I wish I didn't. I wish I had a degree, and a good job, but I don't. College (or really in my case fly by night now defunct tech school) was never the right choice for me. It was a very expensive mistake. I've been running from it, and hiding from it. It has caused near crippling depression for as long as I can remember. Because I know I can't get out of it. I know the only way to make it go away is to pay it off. I KNOW that I, and I alone OWE that money. But I have a measly $42 every month to live on. Don't get me wrong. I am grateful for that $42. I've been unemployed, and had nothing. I've been employed, and earning far less money for far more work than I do now. But, creditors are not patient people.

I had a plan. I really did. I knew they, the creditors, were coming for me. They've been taking my tax returns for a few years now. I really could have used the money, but, I owe them, so I was ok with that. I got a bonus this spring at work. I had wanted to use it to pay off some of those other bills. I didn't get to. There was a dental situation with my daughter, and I spent the bonus and then some on surgery. But the plan was to get rid of them, get myself some breathing room. I had wanted to pay off the car, and the credit card settlement, and I was going to have over $400 less in the expense column every month. I was hoping I could escape the student loan creditors long enough to have $442 a month that wasn't spoken for. It sounded like a win-win for me. I was hoping I could talk them into a $300 payment, and then have $142 in “disposable” income. More than 3 times what I have now! Even if it's still pretty much nothing. That was my light at the end of the tunnel. Given where I am now, $142 would have me playing “Puttin on the Ritz.” I don't think it was the worst plan. It clearly wasn't the best, but it was the best I could come up with, given what I had.


But, the creditors were not that patient.

I logged into my bank account this morning and they have taken everything. They've wiped me. I had half a house payment sitting in there. I had a payment for the credit card settlement I needed to make. I had a little left for gas, and the internet payment. I don't have that anymore. They took it. ALL of it. I guess I had it coming you know... but... it hurts right now. It hurts in ways that I can't even really wrap my head around. I have no idea how to get out of the mess that I'm in. I'm at an absolute loss. I've been trying to puzzle this out as I type this, and I'm shaking. I saw the bank accounts drained, and my adrenal gland dumped everything. I am in blind panic.

I need help.

I'd love options. But I don't have any. The ideal situation would be to refinance the house, pull out some equity, and pay off the debt (and if I'm honest try to fix the house up). But I can't do that. Running from the student loans, and not paying the credit card, it's TRASHED my credit. The mortgage companies won't touch me with a 10 foot cattle prod. They're sorry, they'd like to help, but they can't. Even if that weren't the case, the house is in dire need of repairs (namely roof and flooring, oh, and the furnace is really old so there's 10k minimum I'll never have). Even if I had golden credit, they wouldn't touch it.

I don't want to be homeless. I don't want to never see my kids because I have no place to put them. I don't want to surrender my animals to the humane society, and further break the kids hearts. I don't want to sleep in my car in the parking lot at work, sneaking in early to use the showers until they figure out what's going on and fire me for it. I don't want to live in a state of constant fear any more. I don't want to keep running away from my problems, making them worse in the process.

But I really, REALLY need a little help.

I can't take out loans. I can't pay you back. I can't make you stuff. I can't give you anything. I can't promise you anything. All I have to offer is “PLEASE”, and by the gods, all of them, ever, “THANK YOU.”

I'm not asking for everything. I'm not asking for a lot. If you have 50 cents, or a dollar, man, that's awesome. If you don't, that's awesome too. If you can share this, that's great too. Literally anything you can do will help. I can't see it hurting.

I've set my goal at $5000. That will pay off the car. That will pay off the credit card settlement. That will make a house payment, and float me back to where I have a handle on things. I need that. I don't expect that. I don't expect anyone to cut me a check and call it a day. I don't expect $5000. I don't expect $500. I don't expect $5. I don't deserve anything. But I will appreciate it. I will appreciate anything that anyone can do to help. I will appreciate everything I have, and have had. And I will try to learn. I will continue to try to do better. I will continue with this struggle. I WILL get through this (even if I can't see how right now).

If you want to berate me, and tell me it's my own fault, well, that's fair. I've earned that. I can respect your opinion. I can't argue that you're wrong. But really, don't think for a minute you can come up with something that I haven't already chastised myself over (and over, and over, and over and over). I'm sorry, but I'm just not interested in hearing that. Again. I'm not trying to stay positive. I'm positive that no matter how optimistic
I am about this, it's not going to be enough. I'm trying to stay FOCUSED, and get myself together. I could really use a hand.

Thanks for your time. Thanks for your sympathetic ear. Thanks for everything.

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Organizer

Matt Reuhl 
Organizer
Colorado Springs, CO
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