On the Cost of Not Having a Decent Divorce Lawyer

Greetings from cyberspace! You know the old saying, 'hindsight is 20/20'? When I think of what I went through during my divorce, and the terms of my marital settlement agreement (MSA), if I could go back, here are the things that I would change.

Child Support
This was a very touchy subject, and I was the bread winner in the household. I had primary custodial care of Buttercup, thus she lived with me until she went to live with her father when she was 14. Her tather is on social security disablity and received family benefits. What I did not realize, and it was not disclosed to me, nor did my lawyer do her due diligence, is that the family benefit for Buttercup should have gone to me as she lived in MY household. Granted, he was ordered to pay child support, but the alimony I was ordered to pay was more than the amount of child support. If I knew then what I know now, I would have had the amount deposited in my account, and then mailed the supposal support to him. And speaking of alimony or otherwise know as....

Spousal Support
I would have put a sunset date implicitly decided in the MSA, and not have the implied 'sunset' date (one half the length of the marriage), thus why I am STILL paying. So, as it stands, I will have to file an motion to get this ammended and thus removed. I still can't believe that I did not catch that there was no sunset date, and my lawyer knew how I felt about it, because I told her that he felt that I should pay him for the rest of HIS life. We were married in 1996. I filed for divorce in 2003. The divorce was final in 2004. You do the math. So, I will need to retain an attorney to help me fight this. Hello goal for 2016. So not only do I need to get rid of this financial burden, but also his last name, which is a good segue way into...

Changing Back to My Maiden Name
Yes. Granted my married name is shorter, and easier to say, I should have put it into my MSA to have my name changed back after Buttercup turned one year past the age of majority, which is 19. Again, this subject was not brought up during any of my proceedings. And so, it will cost of charming $435.00 to file an ex-parte to take back my maiden name. Well, at least that is what I saw online. I need to schedule a day off and go down to the courthouse where I filed, speak with the family law legal aid office for assistance, so I don't mess this up. The good news is that I believe I will be able to pay this in cash by the end of the year. Someone asked me if it was worth it to me. Yes. It. Is. I need this for my sanity,

Some last thoughts. I never thought I would have ever been a divorcee. It was not in my plan, but then again I ignored the red flags that were present, thinking that I can handle it. The only good thing that came out of my marriage was my daugher. I came out of the marriage in debt, and am still in debt, because honestly, I learned a lot of bad financial behavior from him, always trying to please him. And guess what - I did it again with the Ex BF and I somewhat do it with my daughter and my cousin. Guess the real lesson here is to stop trying to please others - you can't do that Rhitter, because you are in debt and will never get out of debt unless you start paying attention.


On Getting Loan Offers in the Mail

Greetings from cyberspace! Over the past month, I have been getting bombarded with offers from various loan companies, such as Lending Tree, Prosper, BestEgg and so forth. I mean, I get at least 2 a week. Oh my gravy? I know I have a ton of debt, but honestly, wow. How did I get so lucky to get on their radar? The offers are tempting, but then again, it doesn't cure the problem, does it? I would still be in debt. And frankly, I am not sure if I am comfortable of giving my bank information for the automatic payments. I already do that for the consolidation loans. But it does bother me, because each time I see one of these offers, I am reminded of bad decisions or what I like to call 'my complete failure to say no'. And before anyone comments, this is not a self-pity thing, it is a reality thing. I freely admit that I have been incapable of saying 'no' to certain people, but they sure like saying 'no' to me! Truly aggrivating, let alone disrespectul. But I digress. The ironic thing about these offers that I am getting, the interest rate is comparable of the averages I currently have on my credit cards. The one and only pro if I were to take any of the offers, is that it is just one payment. That thought appeals to me. It is still a debt, and I have tried this before, and I still accrued more debt. So, I don't think it is a viable option for me. Or it could be. I just don't know. I know what is NOT good. Me obsessing over it. Either I pull the trigger or I don't. Am I strong enough to not use my credit cards once they are paid off? So many variables. So many thoughts. Guess it is time to lay this out, pray about it, be still and wait for guidance.


On Having Deadlines

Greetings from cyberspace! Let me preface this post with this little insight into my mind. I have a love/hate relationship with deadlines. In my professional life, I love them. They make sense in that arena. Without deadlines, nothing would get published, developed, sold and then yours truly would not have a job. So, when I get an assignment, I know there is an end date aka a deadline, and the job gets done. Of course, there is always the mitigating circumstances, but other than that, deadlines don't bother me for work. However, in my personal life, and I am talking about paying off debt, ugh. Now, let's be honest. We have all at one point or another said to ourselves, 'I want to be debt free by this time.' I know I have. I have even done the 'I will pay off this amount of debt by the end of this year'. The problem I have with these type of deadlines, like in the professional arena, are those pesky mitigating circumstances, or in my world - EXCUSES. (Sorry for the caps.  Just wanted to get my point across). I can honestly tell you this, I don't plan on being in debt for the rest of my life. I don't want to leave that legacy to my daughter. In fact, I have been working with her on paying back her (mainly to me), and it has been an eye opener. I did not set a good example to be a financially responsible person when I was with her father or with the Ex. They were both big spenders, trying to keep up with the Jones' and thus so was I. And now I am trying to back pedal, and guess what, (shocker) it is NOT working. So, with all that in mind, I have decided that for my debt, the only deadline that I will put upon myself is to be debt free in 5 years or by the end of 2020. And considering the amount of debt I have, this is about how long it is going to take me to pay it off. So, I have a little over 48 months. For the rest of this year, it will be about setting up boundaries with my myself and others around me regarding money, and this includes Buttercup and my cousin, whom I have the hardest time saying no to. Deadlines - they can be a good thing. As long as you keep your eye on the prize. If not, they can be the enemy. And I am tired of fighting this fight, but fight I must and will do. So, eye on the prize Rhitter.  Eye on the prize.


On Being Overwhelmed

Greetings from cyberspace! NDChic made a comment on one of my post that each time I have written about my struggles with my debt, that I appear to be overwhelmed. That my dear is an understatement. I don't appear to be overwhelmed. I AM overwhelmed. In all my lfe, I have never been in this much debt. Four credit cards, three signature loans, two vehicle loans and a sad emergency fund. Ugh. And I have been in a deep depression recently due to some extremely personal stuff, and this feeling of being overwhelmed by my debt is NOT helping. In fact, life (all aspects of it) is a bit overwhelming right now. Everything from my job, my personal life, my finances and even my spiritual life has just been a little too much. And there are times I just want throw my hands up and just scream. Truly scream. In fact I am screaming internally. It is just as the Bible says, the borrower is a slave to the lender. For those who are in debt, particulary deep debt, we are enslaved by our debt. And right now, mine is choking the joy out of my life. So, color me overwhelmed, depressed, angry and all those wonderful negative emotions. BUT... I know that I can turn this around. I can find the will and fight to battle this. I have the skills to do this. I have been able to make MAJOR progress in paying of debt. Like I said, it is going to take me changing my mindset and sticking to it. That's the problem I have. The sticking to the Plan. Grrrrr... 


On Being Ready.. Or Not

Greetings from cyberspace! In my current role at work, I am a project leader in getting our software ready for something wonderful called ICD10. If you don't know what that is, Google it. Trust me, it is a fascinating subject. And, yes, I am being facetious!! As a nation, we are severely behind the eight ball in implementing this new system, where as most of the world is already using it. In fact, ICD11 is in the development stage. The original implementation date for ICD10 was October 1, 2013, but then the powers that be realized that as a nation, we were not ready, thus it was delayed for one year. Then there was a bill in Congress that created another one year delay.  And why did this occur? Because again, we as a nation procrastinated but we sure love to spend money getting ready for this big event. Money spent on education and training, upgrading systems, beta testing, and more beta testing, and communication. Not too mention the amount of money spent on lobbyists representing medical association that are resistant. For those are still resisting, I quote from the Borg from the television series Star Trek. 'Resistance is futile.' So what is the correlation between this and debt. We, as a nation, are resistant to change, whether it be on our personal habits, or the way we bury our heads because we are not ready for the change. We can get educated on how to get out of debt. We can test out several theories. We even buy software packages or apps to help us figure out a payment plan. But when it actually comes down to executing or implementing the plan, we are resistant. We are afraid of change. Let's face it. Change is scary. Very scary. And it is not easy to change. Case in point. When I decided that I wanted to lose 20 lbs, I knew that I needed to change my lifestyle, via eating right, exercising more and adopting a healthier attitude. It was not easy, but I am doing it. And now, I am at a comfortable weight, feeling stronger and healthier, and if I do say so, look pretty good. The same thing applies to our financial 'weight' aka debt. Similar changes are necessary to get out of debt. However, like I mentioned in a previous post, one has to be in the right mindset and be ready for that change. And so like our healthcare industry, change is coming, whether you like it or not. ICD10 - bring it on! Debt - get ready to get your butt kicked!

On a side note, responding to the comments on prioritizing my debts - I will get my current numbers and APR's and solicit advice. I am interesting on reading the suggestions. I thank you in advance for them.


On Prioritizing Which Debts to Focus on First

Greetings from cybersapce! Happy Hump Day!!! I am so glad the week is halfway over. Oh heck, I can't wait for this month to be over. It was a very expensive month with the car repair bills, the cost of groceries, miscellaneous items. Ugh. Which leads me to my LEAST favorite topic. Which debt should I focus on first, after I get my emergency fund re-filled. I've blogged about this before, but I thought it would be a good idea to blog about it again. And like the nerd I am, I did an online search to see if there were anything new and exciting out there. Nope. Still the same three: Traditional Snowball, Dave Ramsey Snowball, and David Bach DOLP.

Traditional Snowball
This method traditionally focuses on the debt that has the highest interest rate. The theory is the more principal you pay, the less interest you will be charge.  That is all fine and dandy, but what if this is your highest balance. It will take FOREVER (or at least it seems so) to pay off this debt. But consider this, if you are focusing on the debt with the highest interest rate AND it has the highest balance, one could get discourage quite easily. Now, if the debt has the highest interest rate AND the lowest balance, this could work in your favor.  It plays into the next method.

Dave Ramsey Snowball
This method focuses on the lowest balance, paying a debt sooner, which becomes a great emotional boost. As many of you know and feel it, being in debt really can weigh heavy on a person, sometimes making them physically ill.  Each time you pay off a debt, it feels like a little win, and then you just want to keep going. You may end up paying more interest, but the feeling you are paying something off is priceless. I've talked to quite a few people, and they prefer this method for tackling their debt.

David Bach DOLP
This is not a well known method, but it is interesting. DOLP is an acronym which stands for Dead On Last Payment. The premise is that you divide the balance of the debt by the minimum payment due, and the focus is on the lowest DOLP number. In the past when I have done this, the order is almost identifical to the Dave Ramsey method, because the lowest balance will generally have the lowest DOLP number. Thus it too can be a good motivator.

So which method should one chose? Well, that would depend on YOU. How quickly do you want to get out of debt. How focused are YOU going to be? For this gal, I like the Dave Ramsey method. I don't know about you, but I need that emotional boost in getting the win. Once I get that motivation, I get laser focused. Hey, I did it when I started on my weight loss journey. Small step, little wins, great motivation. It is all about being positive and staying positive. And don't worry, we will slip up, but we just need to dust ourselves off, and press on. Well, that is what I keep telling myself. Now I just need to believe in it.


On Getting Healthier

Greetings from cyberspace! One of my goals this year is get fit, lose 20 lbs, maintain a healthy lifestyle and just have total new perspective on life. I started this journey in January. In fact, it was right before I met Hawk. I recall telling him about changing my lifestyle. Andd so my journey began. Here are the things that I did to help me reach my goals.

Food, Glorious Food  (aka What I Eat)
One of the first things I did was look at what and  when I was eating. I've always been a proponent of eating breakfast, but now, I pay attention to WHAT I have for breakfast. Generally for the summer months, it is non-fat organic greek yougurt with fresh blueberries and KIND granola. It is quick and satisfying. In the winter months, I have quinoa porridge a small serving the yogurt and berries, or apple cinnamon oatmeal with a hard boiled egg. For lunch, chicken with veggies, turkey chili or lentil soup with small spinach salad. For snacks, usally fruit and nuts, or celery with almond butter.  For dinner, I generally have turkey, chicken or pork with either rice or quinoa (small portion) and always a veggie. I try to drink a lot of water throughout the day. That is really important to stay hydrated. 

Push It (aka My Workout Routine)
In January I started going back to the gym. Heck, I am paying for it. So I started to get up before I went to work and started working out. I would run 3 days a week, and do strength training.  Or so I thought. I kept straining my knee. Well, one of the staff members recommended that I consult with one of the trainers. And WOW, what an eye opener. I was doing EVERYTHING wrong. So I had to unlearn some stuff and start from scratch. And what a difference! Before I started working with him, I was at 153 lbs, but within a few months, I met my first goals - 140 lbs and 25% body fat.  For me, because of my knee issues, I had to strengthen my core, modify my cardio workout and work on building lean muscles. He also recommended incorporating some yoga in my daily routine. Even though we only meet once a week (wish I could afford more than 1 session per week - next year...), what he shows me, I work on during the week, and now have quite the 'portfolio' of exercises to work on, so it is NEVER boring, and I don't hit a plateau. Yes, I have lost the weight as well as inches, and look pretty amazing (so I have told), it is how I FEEL is what makes it worth every penny, which is why I keep this in my budget.

Get Out of My Life (aka Reduce Stress)
This has been a little more challenging, and I am still working on it. One of the things I have done to help me in this area is to make of list of things, events, people who stress me out. On one side of the list arethe 'stressors' and the other side I write down ideas how I can deal or elminate them completely. For example, when Buttercup calls me up all frantic, I calmly tell her that I am not going to listen to her rant, and I hang up. It has worked amazing well. In fact, she turned the tables on me a few weeks ago. Brava Buttercup! It is not always easy. It takes a lot of prayer and reflection and patience, but I am slowly reducing or dealing with these day by day. It is when I am super stressed that I tend to fall off the 'pay off debt' wagon and incur more debt. So, I am going to deal with MY own stress, and let others deal with theirs. So, I make sure that I have downtime. It is so important.

Get Me to the Church on Time (aka Walking in Faith)
This has been much easier than I thought. I attend a church that I love. My church family is supportive and kind. I have been blessed to meet some wonderful people and have fellowship with them. And through the church, I have a wonderful mentor. She has been a rock for me in the past year. I've grown so much in my faith by working with her, that even though I stumble and fall, she encourages me to not give up and take my problems to God for guidance. There are several members that have been so supportive during this journey, that I feel blessed. And by doing so, I have more peace in my life.

With a Little Help from My Friends (aka Motivation)
Of course, the biggest key to this is find motivation, and it does not matter where you find it. I find it through my cousin, daughter, co-workers, old friends, new friends - everywhere. When I tell my story, I get asked, how did I do it. I say the usual stuff - watch my diet, execise regularly. I don't think that there  is no real 'secret'. It is NOT a fad diet, or a trendy workout routine (you all know what I mean). It is just a lifestyle change. And believe me, several friends have jumped on that bandwagon, and we have al supported each other, When we are down, we pick each other up. Even Hawk provides encouragement, and is impressed by my dedication. I support his activities as well as my other friends who are on this path. And trust me, they each appreciate it!!

There it is. My journey to getting healthy. It has not been quick. It is still a work in progress. I am a work in progress. But then again, you knew that. I just need to remember that when I get frustrated. I will survive. I am a survivor. I have the Eye of the Tiger. Roar!!!!