This & That: Good To Hear From You Edition

D wrote: I have had a really bad relationship with money most of my life. I have usually not had much money and what I could manage to find, I spent on my children. I really racked up the debts when I returned to school for 5 yrs with 3 kids at home and one out on her own. Near the end, I even bought groceries on credit cards.

I have been remarried for 4 and a half years now, and almost two years ago, I had mono and could only lay on the couch and watch TV for a few months. I mostly watched your show. I couldn’t believe the messes you got people out of. My husband thought it was the perfect time for me to educate myself about our finances and he quit the budget. I bought your book and began the process. It was painful and delightful at the same time. This year, we sold our house and paid off all our debts, including my $60,000 debt from before we married. Thank you so much for giving me a clear guide I could follow.

So we were all out of debt in May 2011, but we had to pay lawyers for a custody case which we won; my 21 yr old son moved into our downsized house and took over our wreck room; my oldest daughter is getting married in El Salvador in December and my 19 yr old is moving to Toronto in January to attend college. We still have a 13 and 15 yr old at home. There is also Christmas coming. I am not working this year but am collecting some EI. We are renting our home until we can afford to save up for another one but at this rate, it may be a long time. We have gotten back into debt $6,000.00.

QUESTION: I can pay back $4000.00 before the wedding. My husband says if the debt is not all gone, he and the 2 kids at home won’t come to the wedding. I really want them to come. I know I can pay back the other $2000.00 and the cost of the flights and stay in El Salvador by April 1st, 2012. He says no wedding if it causes more debt. Does debt free come before big events in life? Am I being unreasonable? Do you have any advice to help us?

Gail Says:  Let me get this straight: You’re not working, you had to sell your house to get out of debt, and you’ve gotten back into debt to the tune of $6,000. Why?  Didn’t you learn from your past mistakes? I don’t blame your husband for saying no debt or no wedding trip! He’s absolutely right. And so what if it’s Christmas? If you don’t have money, you can’t spend what you don’t have. Using credit is just plain dumb. If you are determined to have money to do the things you want to do — like the wedding — then get to work earning money to pay off the debt and save up for the trip. Is your 21 year old working? He should be paying rent if he is. And you need to put the needs of the younger children front and centre. For goodness sake, think!

D wrote back: Well Gail, I appreciate your honesty. I think you should know a few things:  Getting back into debt wasn’t just my doing. My husband has one son who is almost 13, and he moved in with us this year.  My husband has insisted we buy him everything he had before, that his mother wouldn’t give him such as computer, snowboarding equipment, iphone, etc.  My husband likes his child to have good stuff. I understand where my husband is coming from, but it was money we didn’t plan for. We also put him in a private school which is almost $600.00 per month. I assure you, that our younger children are a lot more spoiled than any of my 3 other children were. I went back to school for 5 years as a single mom. We lived on little and I was happy that fun was free. I have already paid back $2000.00 of the $6000.00. I am used to saving and he is used to having what he wants. We are doing our best to get along.  I do have an issue with my 21 yr old that moved back in around June of this year. The conditions were that he must have a job, he has to respect the rules, he has to keep the house clean and he is not to ask us for any more money. He got a summer job in which he got to choose his hours and didn’t go in but once or twice a week. We had several discussions with him and he still didn’t take more shifts. Now that college has started again, he is supposed to be tutoring 15 hrs a week, but he has not started yet. We believe he is addicted to gaming. Still we had a few discussions with him and there is no change with work. I am happy to have him back home to restore the relationship but he is not integrating into the family and he is not working. Simply it seems we should kick him out. I do want him to graduate. He has two more years of school. Any suggestions?  I love and appreciate your honesty. Keep it coming.

Gail Says:  It is always hard with “adult” children who are not acting like responsible members of a family. I always told my children that I would never kick them out. My mother kicked me out (for disrespect… me, imagine!) and I would never leave my child to the vagaries of the world. I have a roof, they have a roof. But that does not include “fun.” So I would disconnect all the gaming, television, internet (except for work/school, which would be where I could see it) and if you want to do nothing but stare at your navel, have a great time! A child who was not “contributing” to the household (cleanliness, pulling weight, fulfilling responsibilities) would also not be entitled to any of the pleasure of the household: cook your own food, do your own laundry, and if you leave a mess in the common areas, expect to find it in the middle of your bed! It’s tough, but sometimes tough is necessary.  Good luck.

L Wrote: I want to send you this e-mail to tell you, a wonderful experience I am having with my girls.  I have been married for 19 years and we have 2 wonderful girls 6 and 8 and we been watching your show for a while but only in the last month due to your book “Kids and Money” we have involved them in the money matters.

I have to confess, yes we are in debt, and thanks to your “Gail’s tip” found on your website we want to get out of debt in 3 years.  I told the girls there will be a lot of hard work and commitment, and no trips or extras until this happens.  We told them they need to help and pay their dues.  Today we did not have any money in the jar for food, so no money to buy groceries so the girls had a garage sale, (too bad no pictures) they picked the toys did not play with anymore and I picked up clothes and shoes they did not wear anymore and sold it.  The girls made $29.63.  Later that day, my oldest did a list with all the things she thought they needed for lunch for the week and we when to the grocery store and got $29.59 worth that the oldest pay for herself, she was very proud of herself, we are even more proud.  She asked me to send you’re this e-mail and the pictures of to prove it. She has also open he own bank account, she also wanted me to show you that.  Thanks Gail for helping us to put our lives back together, but the most important my kids is learning a bigger lesson thanks to you.

Gail Says:  Tell your daughters I send them the biggest hugs ever. Congrats to you all for recognizing how important it is to share your journey back to financial health. Remember to always reassure your girls that you will do whatever you must to take care of them so your 6 and 8 year olds aren’t worrying about money.

M wrote: When do you know it is time to leave a job? Do you think you should keep a job because you have debt (less than 10K) even though it makes you miserable, physically gives you headaches, everyone in the building is on edge as they are laying off and firing almost weekly. We were told that we will all be replaced as soon as they find full time replacements for us (most of us are moms working 24-30 hours). We work hard. (Therapist and assistants) I loved my job and thought only 2 months ago that I would be there until I left the field. (Therapy is a time limited career boy I wish I knew that in college 22 years of lifting people is starting to hurt me) My coworkers are like sisters to me but the overall environment is so unhappy. I have been following you for years and have been working on balance in my life. Christmas is coming and I was trying to hold out but now I dont think I can. I had bought plane tickets to take my kids away next summer as a holiday gift. I would still have 8 months to save for the hotel. The tickets are Paid in full (thanks to you). I have been carrying around my letter for days to hand in but have not had the guts. Any advice?

Gail Says: You NEVER quit a job until you have another one in hand unless you know you can provide for your family in the meantime — meaning a big fat emergency fund with gobs and gobs of cash sitting in it. I know it’s hard to stick it out. But that’s what responsible grown-ups do. In the meantime, take your sick days, your unused holidays and any other time you can, and get busy finding another job.

M wrote back: Update: One of my co-workers did quit last week.  I decided to listen to your advice and stick it out.  My new boss is temporary til they find someone. I hope that is soon but we will see.  In the meantime, I look everyday for a new job and til I find one I will stay at my job.  I do have a second job as a fill in and did check there but it would be unreliable.  I will save the money to pay off my bills and some for my vacation next summer.  My daughter (12) and I have been watching you for years.   She said exactly what you said.  Curious isn’t it?  You already made an impact here.  Do you think it would be possible to sell me an autographed copy for her for xmas given we live in the states we would never be able to see you in person? My son , funny boy, thinks he will have a Lamborgini and lots of money with little effort.  I have some work to do with him.

I have truly learned a lot from you.  Prior to show I had not saved, charged everything, and had no emergency fund.  Now, I have an emergency fund.  It gets used every 3 months with hubbies blood disorder.  Without you, I would not have that.  I contribute to a Roth weekly and 12% each paycheck goes to retirement.  I pay weekly on all debts and hope to have them paid off by summer.  I have a xmas club and vacation club.  I even have a 529 for kiddos.  I wish my parents taught us money.  There was no money education growing up.  I am glad I am teaching my children as I learn myself.  Thanks again.

B Wrote: I didn’t know any other way to get in touch with you so I’m sending a huge thank you your way. My hubby and I are both on our second marriage and both and have exes who don’t pay child support or financially support our children in any way, because they are “broke”. I just read your article (kick your bad habits-Moneysense). I Love, love, love, you for the bottom paragraph, “You can’t say you don’t have money to save if you smoke, drink booze, buy lunch, purchase lottery tickets, use an ATM that isn’t your bank’s or carry a balance on your credit cards. Since you have the money to waste on bad habits, you’re just making excuses for not saving.”  These are all bad habits of the exes. My kids and I read your posts together and you just confirmed what I have been saying for years. You are helping to reaffirm the money lessons I teach and negate the bad influence from the other side. Thank you isn’t enough, but it is from my heart.

Gail Says:  Hi B, thanks for your note. I truly do appreciate hearing from you. Keep teaching those solid money lessons. I’m happy to help bring some of them home.

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Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Gail Vaz-Oxlade wants YOU! Join MyMoneyMyChoices.com to get smarter about your money and help others get smarter about theirs. Isn’t it time we eliminated financial illiteracy? Come find me on Google+ and on Twitter.

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18 Responses to “This & That: Good To Hear From You Edition”

  1. Re: D – Add a lock on the fridge, too, if possible! :)

    Put your Internet modem in your husband’s car and he takes it with him to work. Only reconnect when you and your husband want to use it. If the son needs Internet for schoolwork, he can do it at the college’s computer lab. (If you just leave the equipment around, he’ll probably be savvy enough to reconnect it while you’re not there.)

  2. It must be great to get back positive feedback and see how you are changing lives for the better. Your life isn’t like a ripple effect, move like a wave on the shores of others. I love reading messages from people who sound so excited and hopeful about their futures. Very good work Gail.

  3. A bit off topic, but I started the using the jar system a few months ago and am finding it works like a hot knife through butter. I had credit card debt, tax debt, a mortgage, thankfully no vehicle to suck the life out of me, no emergency fund and wasn’t contributing to my RRSP. Since I have 2 pensions and work at a good job, I justified not contributing…. but I have now set up a small contribution strictly for taxes and making myself save. Yes, I have a small emergency fund, and even a jar to start saving for a vehicle…. cash.

    Today was my red letter day… I want a star on my calendar! For the first time in my memory I paid every bill due on time and in full, filled up my jars, still saved for my vehicle and my emergency fund and had a bit of money left over…… I see myself debt free in a year, backfilling my RRSP, paying off my mortgage by age 60 (I’m single) and having that emergency fund bursting at the seams. My power bill had some back charges (paid what I could for a few months) and that’s up to date, so I have one very small high interest credit card which will be paid off next month…. that’s the money that’s going half to my RRSP and half to my next highest debt…..

    Discipline and hard work has paid off. So has the money well spent on “Debt Free Forever” That’s paid for itself in spades!

  4. Aww- I love that the kids held a garage sale for lunch money! I really hope that when our son gets older we will properly teach him about money so that he can be that responsible.

  5. I love the advice you gave D! “if you leave a mess in the common areas, expect to find it in the middle of your bed!” That’s funny, but think of the lesson that would learned. Great parenting advice for when I become a parent.

  6. @Michele! Congratulations! Way to go!

  7. avatar Christine Says:
    March 29, 2012 at 9:58 am

    To everyone that have probleme white time computer kids.
    We have a good computer programme that you could try.

    TimesUpKidz.

    It is free for 1 month and I think it is around 30$ to buy.

    Each member that use the computer must have an account with prefererably a password.

    The thing is it’s the computer that is telling the young one the time is up!
    And when the times is up the little one can’t do anything.

  8. @shondell, When I was a kid it was my job to empty the cat litter box. It was one of those jobs I hated doing (who doesnt?) My mom threatened me that if I didn’t empty the box on the day I was supposed to, I would find the cat litter box in my bed.
    I didn’t empty the box, and I did find it in my bed when I got home from school.

    I NEVER forgot to empty the cat litter box again. (same thing happened w my brother and taking the garbage out)

    My girls have heard that story about a million times, and it was a pretty effective deterent. Although, come to think of it, I did chuck all the shoes at the front door in the back yard one time. But only Once :)

  9. My kids were always told that if they didn’t pick up their toys when play time was over (like before dinner, etc) and I had to do it, that they would go in the garbage. They were very good about pickup, but one day they didn’t – just testing mom. I got out a big black garbage bag and started putting toys in. Needless to say there was a lot of crying and scrambling around picking up toys. They learned their lesson that day and I never had to remind them to pick up their toys again. My oldest was telling his daughter about that the other day, so it definitely left an impression LOL.

  10. Well while I love reading these blogs, I bought for $4.99 Gail’s download book and the jar info was supposed to be there and I can’t understand a darn thing and no jar info. I feel jipped. It’s the book advertised on this site…yet all it has is spreadsheets etc. No jar info. I wish someone would show me where to find this?

  11. I like the idea of the girls having a garage sale, but I think something is amiss in the budget if there was no $$ for the food jar!!

  12. April, the $4.99 download is just the spreadsheets that go with Gail’s book including examples of how to fill them in. You still need to read the book to learn about the concepts. You can buy the book at most bookstores and I’ve seen it at Save-On-Foods too. Plus your public library probably carries it so you can check it out for free (assuming you are in Canada?).

  13. I just started the jars too and am so happy. I used to track pretty carefully, and it worked for me (15k of student loans paid off in three years, plus 15k in RRSPs during that same time). But I think that when I was used to using my cards, it was easy to just pick up stuff—I was still within budget, but I was spending all the time. Now, we put into the joint account twice a month and withdraw jar money twice a month and that’s it! We don’t have to track every penny to make sure we are on track because we just spend from the jars and if there is money left, it’s all good. We actually found after the first month that we could revisit the budget and lower some amounts because we were spending so much less than we thought we were.

  14. @April and @Amber. You can find on Gail’s website under Resources – Gail’s Interactive Budget Worksheet. You fill in your exact numbers including your income etc. and the “Jar Money” is worked out for you…amazing…so-o-o-o helpful. I’m now DFF as of YESTERDAY and an emergency fund of over 6 months. Yippee!!! Thank you Gail!

  15. For Person #1–I don’t think you’re even allowed to leave the country when you’re collecting EI, are you?! While collecting EI, you’re supposed to be out looking for work. There’s a stiff penalty if they catch you.

    http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/types/regular.shtml#while

  16. avatar Elizabeth A Says:
    March 29, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Congratulations Terry!

  17. April, scroll to the bottom of the budget worksheet. The jar info and the life pie info are both there. You have to fill in the budget to see the numbers in the jar/life-pie section.

    You don’t have to buy the book. You don’t have to use the interactive budget on the website. It’s all included in the package you bought.

    You DO have to read the instructions. And you DO have to look at the whole thing.

  18. Speaking as a mother of a teenage boy (just turned 18), I can attest to the difficulties living with and loving a teenager brings. I have four more babies (ages 7- almost 2) and while it would seem that teenage-hood is a long time away for them, I know better and know that it will be upon me in no time at all. I have learned SO much with my 18 year-old that I’m really, really hopeful that I avoid the same parenting traps that I’m pretty sure lead to many of the problems I now face with my first born.

    I will not make the same mistakes again and I hope and pray for a different outcome for my youngest four. My eldest, while I love him always and forever, I really don’t like who he is right now. I hope it’s a phase and he grows out of it, but in the meantime, he will find his mess dumped squarely in the centre of his bed for him to deal with.

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