This is a long email. I’m sorry in advance.
For almost two decades now there has been one thing that I have had a small amount of pride in, and that was my ability to do what I can (when combined with Christina) to provide for my family.
We have gone through many changes in our lives. Stability has not been a friend. Whenever it looked like we were finally in a good place, something would happen. One of us would lose our job, or the other would lose their ability to work for a time, or an unexpected debt would rear its ugly head. But whether it be by refinancing, or shuffling around debts, or job searching for a better opportunity, we were always able to come clean out of whatever hole we were in.
Christina lost her biggest client suddenly and without notice in the last quarter of 2018. She has been unable to "hustle" to find new clients, having been mostly bedridden due to degenerative health problems for the better part of two years. We found ourselves coasting on my salary alone, and the small amount of business savings that Christina had set aside. But the debts don’t stop no matter what, and with a decreased (more than halved) income the ability to address those debts grow more difficult.
Last month, March, we reached our limits. Literally. All three credit cards were maxed out. This happened right before my birthday. Since losing her client in October, she has been paid exactly once, and that was just yesterday. Thankfully, my paycheck is the most stable now that it has ever been. It’s just not enough for a family of three and the accompanying debt collected over these past two decades.
I am at my breaking point. I am prideful that we’ve come this far with minimal requests for help... however I do not see many avenues forward from here. I see:
1) Sell the house. The Pro to this would be twofold. First and foremost it would be an immediate release from one large debt payment each month. Secondly, it would free up an undetermined amount of capital to pay off other debts. The largest Con to this is, quite simply, that we would have absolutely no place to stay.
2) Refinance the mortgage. The Pro for this would be the simple consolidation of debt. Payments would likely remain large, however it is unknown whether or not they would be too large to handle on just my salary. Also there is no guarantee there is value enough in the property, or that our credit scores would allow for the refinance.
3) Explore bankruptcy. Take the fairly permanent hit to our credit rating. Likely limit TJ’s ability to receive financial aid for college, at least where help from his two parents is concerned. The Pros to this are difficult to see. It’s the one I’m least likely to move forward with unless absolutely necessary.
4) Ask for help. Those of you closest to me know this one is the hardest one for me to move forward with. As mentioned a few times already, I am very proud of how far we’ve come through hardships and strife abound.
I’m sitting here typing this up on my contraband cell phone that I’m not supposed to be using at my desk, attempting and failing to not show my emotions on my face, because... well... this is my roundabout way of choosing option 4.
So that you all completely understand where I’m coming from here, I will disclose all of our current debts that hurt us the most every month.
Christina’s Health Insurance - $800 a month. This may sound like more than necessary, however believe me, with no deductible and a $2,200 Maximum Out of Pocket, combined with Christina’s numerous health problems this is the best plan financially for us. We saved thousands of dollars last year by taking her off my insanely high deductible employer-sponsored plan and putting her on a plan like this.
Chase Disney card - variable payment per month. This is our card we use daily. It is currently at $6,000 with a limit of $7,000. I pay what I can when I can in order to make sure we can continue to use this from month to month.
Discover card - $300 a month. This card is currently sitting at its maximum limit of $11,000 and getting paid around the minimum payment. I backed it down to its minimum in an attempt to free up some monthly capital. If there is balance free, this is usually our back up card in case something happens to the Chase card.
Bank of America card - $600 a month. This card is currently sitting at its maximum of $23,000. This is the “set it and forget it” card. Whenever this balance gets low enough to allow for it, I will transfer chunks of either the Discover card or the Chase card to it.
Citizen’s bank - $325 a month. My car loan. This is our newest debt. It is only in its first year out of six. The remaining balance is $16,358.
PHH Mortgage - $1,100 a month after escrow. The house. This loan will mature in 2038 assuming we continue to make the minimum payment each month. There is currently $101,555 remaining on this loan.
Sunmark - $200 a month. A personal line of credit we opened years ago to attempt to alleviate some of the pressure of the other debts. The current balance is $10,582 with a maximum of $12,000.
Please note this is not an exhaustive list. It does not include monthly expenses such as TJ’s health insurance, car insurances, home insurance, energy, cable/internet, or other such smaller expenses.
As you probably can see, any amount will help relieve some pressure. Whether you would like to help us for a month make a payment, or if you would be able to help us pay down something, I would be forever grateful. I would never dream of asking anything like this if I weren’t allowing this to affect not only my personal but my professional life.
I feel lost in the dark and it is very difficult to see the light.
From Christina: This was very difficult for Tom to write, and difficult for us to share. But financial stress has been affecting both my mental and physical health, and it's been doing the same to Tom.
How I picked our fundraising goal
This is approximately the amount of income I have lost since my big client fell victim to its own financial problems and could no longer afford to pay my company to write content for them every month. It does not include the income I will continue to lose every month, nor does it account for extra fees we've incurred for going over the limit, making late payments, or having insufficient funds.
How we will spend the money
We'll be paying off the bills Tom listed above as much as possible. Our fundraising goal is not even close to paying off all of our unsecured debts (credit cards and the like) but if we're lucky enough that people donate more than our goal, we can make additional debt payments to help us get back on track financially. If we didn't have to worry about credit card debt, we would probably be fine. But we've used them for emergency after emergency, and we can't fall back on them anymore. This last emergency was the end of it.
When do we need the funds?
We need the money as soon as possible. I'm still waiting to be paid by my clients, and the bills keep coming in.
How grateful will we be?
Eternally grateful. I'll probably cry in relief. Heck, Tom might, too. TJ doesn't know how bad off our finances are because he's a kid and doesn't need this kind of stress.
Paying it Forward
Though I am autistic and multiply disabled, I already do a lot of written word advocacy for disability rights and other worthy causes. I will continue to do so, and you can view your financial support as being a patron of my activism efforts. If there is a specific topic related to the causes I support that you would like me to write about when you donate, please let me know, and I will do so!
I may not be able to go out of my way to thank every individual donor, though every little bit is much appreciated and we are so grateful for your support, but if anyone is financially blessed enough to donate a more significant amount of money, you will get a personalized thank you video live on my Twitch stream that I will share all over the various social platforms I am on.
And we will, of course, continue to donate when we can to various charitable organizations like St. Jude's and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York during local fundraisers.
Other ways you can help
If you can't make a monetary donation because you are, yourself, having financial problems, you can help us by boosting the signal and sharing our fundraiser on Facebook, Twitter, in your local church or community group - wherever. You can also hire my company to write content for you, become one of my Young Living essential oil customers , or hire me as a disability consultant for your business or organization.
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