Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Retail Therapy

So I have been hiding this from friends and family for like three weeks. It is eating me from the inside out!!! I don't think people understand that if I don't share every single thing in my brain that I will blow up. Seriously though, I can't seem to quit thinking about it until I have had an in depth conversation about whatever my latest idea/epiphany (something everyone else learned a long time ago) with at least 4-5 (okay more like 45) different people. Until I get a good rounded view on what everyone else thinks about my epiphany/latest challenge I can't decide what I think about it/if I really am crazy/am not alone in my problems, etc.

Three weeks. Yup, that is how long it has been. Although I have told a couple of people about it, I have not even reached the minimum of four yet. Hence the blogging about it. I hope to reach my goal of 45 in one fell swoop. In other words I am being lazy and only want to tell it once and get massive amounts of compliments/comments instead of calling everyone individually... which I may still do just so you can tell me how amazing I am in person (yes, over the phone is now considered "in person").

Without further ado... okay, just one more thing. I was reading this article on people with anxiety disorders. One of the symptoms is the need for an abundance of encouragement from everyone and their dog, or at least everyone including strangers randomly met in line at the grocery stores. It had always driven my Dad nuts and I never knew it was a symptom. He is always asking why he constantly has to rave about whatever accomplishment I have achieved. Now I can tell him, "Because if you don't I am going to have a massive panic attack right here, and I won't be able to breathe, I will think I am going to die, and I will never try and do anything ever again in my life that might be met with even the tiniest trace of uncertainty that it was a good idea (i.e. dinner, cleaning, massaging, talking, living...)." So, this is why I have been baring my soul to the blogging world, I need you all to tell me what a good job I am doing, and how awesome I am. Yup, the comments from my last post have been my encouragement that you all may remain nice to me through this one.

Now, really. My shopping. I have always had issues with money. I would spend my allowance within about thirty minutes of receiving it. Saving has never been a concept I could comprehend. My Grandparents might comment that my money was always "burning a hole in my pocket." I have been much better since I married, but I had issues (as I know we all do). I wonder sometimes if my issues have to do with my parents. My parents are the epitome of frugal. They never wanted anyone to know how much money they made (on one of my college applications it asked how much my parents made and my Dad called the school to get out of telling them). But despite that I knew my parents were pretty well off. Still my parents bought lots of thrift clothes (we did get some new clothes for school) and even sewed some for us. My parents are also extremely indecisive. It drives me crazy!!! So, I rebelled against this. I went to McDonalds and fast food drive thru's for the first year of our marriage (my parents mad eit a very rare treat). Luckily after 30 pounds of added fat and finally getting sick of it, I don't do that much anymore. I will say I still enjoy a McD's coke a couple times a week (My Aunt likes to call it Mormon Alcohol).

I am a huge budget person. As in I like to make them, but never stick to them. I use Microsoft Money Plus and it downloads my expenses from our bank's online website so I can see exactly where my budget went out of control for that month. I love playing with our finances, figuring out where we could cut back to save but never actually doing it, or spending the supposed savings on some other random unneeded 'junk'.

After Ethan died I went on a huge spending spree. I maxed out my first credit card and tried to fill the hole he left in my heart. It didn't work. It gave me immediate satisfaction, but then I would try and hide my spending from my Hubby and my family. I would feel so guilty, but not near guilty enough.

Then Scott graduated and got a fantastic job at USAA and started making really good money. I wanted him to get to live like we should have been able to had I not been spending money left and right. So the random spending sprees changed to things like getting cable, pest control, a new house and living how I thought we should be living. I put gas, groceries etc. on credit cards and commenced to max out a couple more. When we started getting our student loan bills, Scott realized we were in trouble. He told me to cut back and we started to fight a lot about my spending.

It all came to a head when I realized we had no more room on credit cards, no money in our bank account and not enough money to get groceries and pay for gas. On a side note I do need to mention the amazing amount of medical bills incurred by our darling new addition. We have probably spent close to 5k out of pocket for Cade's medical bills. That of course went onto credit cards. So, I finally broke down and told Scott how bad it really was. We talked for a good week and I taught him how to use the finance program and showed him all our monthly bills. He has taken over paying the bills and I have asked him not to give me any access to money. He wanted me to keep my debit card, but I told him I couldn't. It is hard and even scary being out without money, but it is worth the freedom I will have in the long run, being out of debt and finally being able to live like I want to (years and years down the road). We called to cancel cable and received a month free (I have the day I need to call and cancel on my calendar with the phone number so we don't get charged for a month and so I don't try and 'forget' so we can have it for longer). We tried to cancel our land line but couldn't afford the cancellation fees, but got two months free and then realized with me building up my massage business I really needed a home phone line (my cell phone minutes wouldn't be enough). We figured that I would have to stay at home a lot more and not drive, and I can't go shopping for food on my own (My idea, not Scott's)

So, that is the epiphany and the actions taken, here are the blessings and the reactions. We had to get help from our church for a couple weeks of food. It is a program called the Bishop's Storehouse. I met with the Bishop (Scott stayed home with the boys) and brought in our budget and counseled with him for an hour. Then the Relief Society President came over and helped me fill out an order form for the food we would need for two weeks (they didn't have Cade's special formula and a couple of spices I needed, so we still had to spend some money at the store). I went to pick up the food and the lady who helped me load it into my car works for united health insurance. I mentioned I was a massage therapist and it turns our she had been looking for a massage therapist to go to one of her clients and do chair massages. United is paying for it all and I just show up and give massages to the people that signed up. It was only supposed to be a one time deal, but she has since emailed me and said that if it goes well she has some more clients she would like me to do this for. I am just grinning from ear to ear remembering how this all came about. I can't even tell you how much I had to humble myself to even ask for help.

We were going to have to get help again for another two weeks when Scott called to me while he was working on our bills on Saturday. He had a check for over a couple hundred dollars and a notice saying that we have been paying too much on our escrow (housing taxes calculated into your mortgage payment based on previous years taxes) and that our payments would be dropping $60/month. I was flabbergasted. I looked at Scott and uttered my Mom's favorite saying when thing are going well, "We've been paying our tithing." Scott looked at me and replied, "No, we've been paying too much on our taxes." Cheeky little thing! In the same pile of mail we finally got our notice that we would be receiving our stimulus package soon too.

I am so grateful for this church and the programs they have set in place. I did mention I have been praying and reading my scriptures too right? I'm sure you all just guessed that.

Despite the good things, it has been hard. We realized that we wouldn't be able to drive to AZ to see Scott's brother when he gets home from his mission (it would cost $450 round trip just for gas to get there and back, not including food and driving while we are there). There was also a fun family activity we were invited to that was 45 minutes away that we had to forgo because of gas prices. I have a whole theory about my generation and our entitlement issues. But that will be for another post.

I think it is just so cool to see the blessings and help we are getting right now. I know I often pray for help and don't always see the results until years down the road when I look back at the different situations. I also have trouble knowing that Heavenly Father has a grand master plan and my wants/needs may not be part of it. Or my thinking that maybe I have to go through this to be able to help other's later. But this time, we got what we asked for immediately and in so blatant a way. "We are struggling financially, here is some extra money, oh and lets lower the mortgage payments while we're at it." I love it! Would that it would happen more this way more often! Nope, I won't complain. I have been truly blessed, and truly avoided a potentially horrible situation (the ruining of our credit, etc.).



that is all scary! glad it is coming under control and that you and scott are pulling through it together with the Lord's help.


Sarah said...

I'm keeping you in my prayers. I'm glad the blessings are coming so immediately.

joy michelle said...


Lyssa said...

You are so brave Christine. That takes a lot of courage to come out and that. I am so proud of you!! I go through phases like that, spend like crazy and then I have to stop because it gets scary...it doesn't help that I have my own credit card that Joe never sees the statement...ya, we're working on that too. Well if you need a friendly ear, give me a call anytime!
And yes, this church is amazing and, to me, it just makes sense that it all works like this. I mean, it is the Lord's church so it should be organized like this!