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Old 03-15-2013, 05:18 PM   #61
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Also, I would like to compliment you and say that you have a good character. You have accepted some pretty realistic information here. Not everyone could. You also are clearly intelligent and you write well. These are all big plusses.

Ha
I just have to agree with HA here. You have a lot of plusses.

As long as I'm writing again... I'd get on the deadbeat dad ASAP. You are about to get REAL busy when the baby comes. Take care of business first.

Oh, and forget the new car! Make the old one work.
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Old 03-15-2013, 05:25 PM   #62
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I don't like to include his income when working out my budget, because he isn't consistent. Sometimes he helps, mostly he doesn't. Someone else asked if I get child support. No, I don't. That's my fault. I should apply, but he keeps saying he needs to pay off some bills before big chunks of his check starts missing.I guess I'm being too nice in even caring about all that... ..
Well, guess what? Big chunks of your checks have been missing for 3+ years as you have taken care of almost all of his child's expenses. Get a court order and get his wages garnished. Don't wait on this.

I second no more school til you get a job after your BA. Look for one that has a tuition reimbursement program and go part time for your masters that way, or look for anything with a college or uni that might offer free tuition for employees.

You are only digging the hole deeper by thinking about a newer car. Forget it.
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Old 03-15-2013, 05:27 PM   #63
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By not paying child support while you are working 2 jobs and attending school, he is not being respectful of or responsible toward you and the children.

Ha
More 'tough love' comments coming from me, and I'll take that even further - to paraphrase... 'you are not being respectful or responsible toward the children, if you don't push the issue of child support'. Not having a responsible father figure around will likely put those kids at a disadvantage already, don't add to it with additional financial disadvantages.

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Pardon my bluntness, but you need to get your act together pronto, for your own sake and that of your kids. Evaluate the cost effectiveness of your proposed educational path.
Meadbh
Agreed. From what I read, going for MS/PhD was about pushing out the time that payments would need to be made. If those advanced degrees don't provide a reasonable chance of a significant income boost, you are just digging yourself into a deeper and deeper hole.

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Old 03-15-2013, 05:31 PM   #64
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...

Also, I would like to compliment you and say that you have a good character. You have accepted some pretty realistic information here. Not everyone could. You also are clearly intelligent and you write well. These are all big plusses.

Ha
Very good points. Though many of us have focused on the negative issues that need help, the positives that haha points out are very important. These put you far ahead of many others in your situation. Put those skills to work for you! I'm sure that you'll come out on top. Good luck to you.

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Old 03-15-2013, 05:56 PM   #65
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And if he is or if he isn't, he can be made to pay up if it is established that he is the father.

He seems to be missing from all this discussion and planning, which seems very odd.

What is his income? What hours does he work? Do you want him around the children?

This entire discussion has a very odd tone as it is missing references to one of the main actors. You problems should be quite a bit less dire if there were 2 people rowing this boat instead of one.

Ha
A women I knew years ago has 2 children from 2 different fathers. One father has never had a job in his life. Can't get child support if the father doesn't make any money. When she tried to get child support from the other father, he countered and requested full custody. He won because he had a good job, no debt and clean record and she had very little income, thousands in debt and a drug charge. Now she only sees her kid when he says she can and she pays child support from her very small income. My point is, be careful sueing for legal custody or support payments when you are in a dire financial situation yourself. If the father has any interest in being legal guardian you could end up worse off than you are now.
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Old 03-15-2013, 06:54 PM   #66
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As you believe your current car payments are choking you, it must be obvious that upgrading to a newer/bigger/pricier car is out of the question.

What sort of counselling do you want to do? You need to research the following questions (preferably by conducting information interviews with multiple people with significant current experience in the field):

- What sort of average annual experience could you expect in the first five years?
- What is the job market like in the location you'd like to live in?
- Is a Ph.D. actually mandatory, or merely desirable?
- Are there related occupations that pay more and/or require less education?

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You have accepted some pretty realistic information here. Not everyone could. You also are clearly intelligent and you write well. These are all big plusses.
Good point.
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Old 03-15-2013, 07:59 PM   #67
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Have you looked into peer to peer lending to try and get that car interest rate down?
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Old 03-15-2013, 08:33 PM   #68
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I truly do what early retirement; always have. I just have no idea how to dig myself out of this hole I am in. I made a lot of bad financial decisions a few years ago, and I am still paying for them. Trust me, I desperately want to turn this situation around, get out of debt, and live a happy life with my children.

My priorities: survive and give my kids a good life. I just need to get to that point. I feel like this car is choking the life out of me. The car is the big issue on my credit report, the car payment is too much, the fact that I still owe so much is too much... I think if I just get this car paid off I can FINALLY start improving things (along with moving my daughter to that cheaper school I previously mentioned).
First step in getting yourself oriented is to take the emotion out of the equation. You can't think straight and focus when you are emotional. Keep telling yourself that "Financial decisions are not emotional decisions." No worries. You are healthy, your children are healthy. You have the capability to make what you want out of your life.

Ok, now tough love. I have a daughter too, so I understand a bit and have some compassion for your situation,...so here goes:

Put a plan together...much like you might make a list of things that you need to do to prepare for your studies (papers due, exams etc) and use it in your financial life. Here is a starter list. Modify it as you see fit....

1) Go to the courts NOW and get a child support order in place. DO NOT allow ANYONE to dissuade you. PERIOD. You cannot collect back support unless the order is in place so anything you think is owed up to the point you get the order is not enforceable. You will then at least have some income AND a bit of a safety net.
2) Keep the car. Drive it and be glad you have one. There is lots of good advice here on re-negotiating and I included a link in an earlier post about how to apply anything you do pay to principle. Pay 2K NOW on the car, follow the process to get it applied to principle.
3) Keep the other 2K until you have the child support order in place. If the payments are coming, then you can apply the other 2K to principle on the car loan once you have a safety net.
4) Forget about the credit score. It will not change until you are ON TIME with your payments for 24 months. Doing 1,2,3 will put you in the best position to not miss another payment.
5) Move your child now, or ASAP to a cheaper school.
6) When you have excess income (from child support payments, or from the extra funds from moving your child) take 50% and apply to the principle on the car loan and put 50% aside for emergencies.
7) Learn as much as you can about the careers and salary associated with each level of your educational approach (BA, MA, PhD). Understand the cost of each and how much debt you will have at the end of each. Use an online calculator to understand the monthly payments associated with each level of debt. Figure out if it is really worth the debt for the additional education. If you are worried about the car now, you have a rude awakening when the student debt loans come payable...I think it will be long term hurt that you don't expect.

Put a date next to each one of these tasks and hold yourself to it. I bet you will feel a bunch of relief when you complete 1-5. You will congratulate yourself in 10 years if you complete 6 & 7.

Hopefully this helps and good luck...
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Old 03-15-2013, 08:44 PM   #69
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See the cautionary tale a few entries back about starting a custody war and risking losing.


Aside from that, child support isn't for YOU. It is for YOUR CHILDREN. You should not be allowed to waive THEIR right to be supported by both parents. Please rethink your choice to allow dad to provide no support.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:14 PM   #70
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I agree with all the advice given, especially the steps listed above. I sense that right now you've got motivation to make these improvements. Take advantage of that. I also predict that if changes are not made, in a few years this energy will have been depleted, you could be burned out with two kids, a 7 day a week schedule and mounting resentment. A larger amount of debt at that point will just increase your stress.

I watched this exact thing happen to a relative of mine. Divorced, raising 3 teens and pregnant, she chose to give her boyfriend a free ride and not expect (or enforce) anything from him. Too afraid to lose him. Fast forward a bit, the little one is now 3; mom's working 2 jobs supporting everyone, is furious all the time that she has to "do everything". She is currently suffering with shingles her stress is so high.

So you are definitely doing the right thing making changes now. In addition to all the great advice here, spend some time considering what advice you would give someone as their counselor and then follow it. Could be one of the best ways for your education to pay you back!
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Old 03-15-2013, 10:26 PM   #71
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Thank you all for the advice and kind words. I am too sleepy right now to reply individually, but I will try to tomorrow. For now I will just say that I have a lot to think about and a lot of work to do. Biggest lesson I have learned from this: don't buy a new car right now. Reducing/eliminating my debt is the priority. I will use my tax refund to pay down my car bill, while putting some in savings. I'll be back tomorrow.... Thanks so much everyone!
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Old 03-15-2013, 11:23 PM   #72
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REattempt's advice above is stellar.

Before you commit to graduate school be VERY clear about what the employment prospects for your planned career are. Do not count on being able to be a professor (3x as many Ph.Ds graduating as tenure track positions available in many fields) and also be VERY clear about what the licensing requirements are for your chosen field if you plan to go into counseling as a profession. I believe in many states you are required to work a serious number of hours under a licensed counselor before you can yourself qualify for a license. that is often at very low pay, if you can find someone to sponsor you. Also be aware of how changes to the health insurance system may impact the field in the coming decade. Hard to predict, but there should be some guidance that you will want to consider before you commit yourself to a long a gruelling academic road that may not pay off as you like.

Also, educate yourself NOW about whether or not your current student loans will continue to accrue interest while you are in grad school. This is a huge issue, and one of the reasons there are often stories about people with thousands of dollars in student loan debt. The initial amounts they took out may have been reasonable at the time, but when you are in school for 10+ years (not unusual for MA+PhD programs in some fields) and interest is accruing at 6-7% or more, that adds up VERY quickly.

If you do commit to going to grad school by all means AVOID MORE DEBT! If you are good, you should be able to get scholarships/research assistantships. A program that won't offer you at least partial funding should be avoided at all costs. Do research now to determine which programs do provide full funding (or at least 5 years of support in some form that would cover your tuition and basic living costs). Consider cost of living when choosing a school, too -- costs of living with 2 kids in NYC will eat you alive, whereas if you are in Minneapolis you might actually be able to save a bit if you have a good stipend.

Start reading the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education NOW to educate yourself about the state of graduate education/Ph.D. employment trends in the US. They often have links to other resources that can help you educate yourself.

Don't be scared of waiting a couple of years between finishing your BA and starting grad school. Better to get a good foundation under your feet and really know what you want, and not rush into anything that will put you in dire straits financially. It is EXTREMELY difficult to juggle pre-school aged kids and grad school, especialy if you have to work, even with a supportive partner. I wouldn't do it. Wait until the youngest kid is in at least the latter stages of preschool before starting your grad program. That's what I would do if I were in your position (DH and I met in grad school and deferred starting our family until we had been working for over a year in our first professional positions).

good luck and keep coming back here. You have a very different background than most of us, but I hope you have found the advice helpful. We really are pulling for you and hope you can make this work for you and your kids.
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Old 03-15-2013, 11:51 PM   #73
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There has been a lot of good advice in this thread. I think with your financial situation, I would take a good look at some of the higher paying careers you could get with an AA degree at a community college. Look for something with a higher salary potential for a lot less educational debt.

A good place to start your research is the Occupational Outlook Handbook -
Occupation Finder : Occupational Outlook Handbook : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Compare the pay, career prospects and amount of educational debt for your current plans to something like a dental hygienist and think long and hard about which one would provide a more debt free life and a more financially secure life for you and your children. You can always go back to school nights and weekends for additional degrees once you have a solid income and an emergency fund built up.

Good luck.
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:17 AM   #74
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There has been a lot of good advice in this thread. I think with your financial situation, I would take a good look at some of the higher paying careers you could get with an AA degree at a community college. Look for something with a higher salary potential for a lot less educational debt.

A good place to start your research is the Occupational Outlook Handbook -
Occupation Finder : Occupational Outlook Handbook : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Compare the pay, career prospects and amount of educational debt for your current plans to something like a dental hygienist and think long and hard about which one would provide a more debt free life and a more financially secure life for you and your children. You can always go back to school nights and weekends for additional degrees once you have a solid income and an emergency fund built up.

Good luck.
+1 great advice! Advanced degrees will always be there. Stop with the school debt and get more work experience. Your graduate work will be more meaningful to you and you will bring more to grad school and later work in counseling with some years of experience under your belt.
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Old 03-16-2013, 06:03 AM   #75
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On this board we understand that many young people have huge debts, but we also understand that they will be lucky to ever retire at all, let alone early. And many of these people have no children. I think you might profit from some good but realistic career counseling. Unfortunately, most career counseling is done by people in the high schools or colleges, who may function as shills for the education and student loan industry.

Also, I would like to compliment you and say that you have a good character. You have accepted some pretty realistic information here. Not everyone could. You also are clearly intelligent and you write well. These are all big plusses.

Ha
I completely agree with HaHa, not many people would have been so willing to accept the rather tough advice you've gotten here. You are to be congratulated for doing so.

While this forum does have some 20 something, most of us are considerably older than that and honestly it is kinda of hard to relate to your hole.

I know there are other forums on the internet that are more geared to helping people get out of a financial blight. Hopefully the forum member can provide some suggestions.

As for child support no matter how much you love your boyfriend, you simply must tell him. That he has to start paying to support his children (I am assuming that both our his). You can do it the easy way, or you can get a court to make his life a living hell until pays up.


I'd start with handing him the tuition for your preschool, although you can give him the option of taking care of the kid while you are at school and working.
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:03 AM   #76
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Thank you all for the advice and kind words. I am too sleepy right now to reply individually, but I will try to tomorrow. For now I will just say that I have a lot to think about and a lot of work to do. Biggest lesson I have learned from this: don't buy a new car right now. Reducing/eliminating my debt is the priority. I will use my tax refund to pay down my car bill, while putting some in savings. I'll be back tomorrow.... Thanks so much everyone!

I wanted to compliment you as well for staying around here and taking some tough advice. Many of us have been in bad financial situations, I remember graduating college and having that "new car", then realizing between student loans and the car plus no savings that I was in a $15,000 hole and my starting salary after taxes didn't cover what I thought it would all while in school.

The first thing I'd do is stick the $4,000 in the bank and swear that you'll never pay a bill late ever again. You can see by the car loan that a high interest rate is a painful cost and burden that comes with poor credit. Paying down the car loan may save some money short term, but good credit for a lifetime is far more valuable.

Then you probably need to go and formally file for child support. You may or may not consistently get money, but it's formalizing the obligation the father has and it will hopefully improve the monthly finances. A large portion of your budget goes to your child and you should be able to effectively communicate that to the father when he gets upset about you making his obligation formal and legal.

After those two things, you may want to get a copy of your credit report and score and try to delay the newer car until you can get prime financing in that 2-5% range these days. I would normally say go shop used, but financially all cars are expensive right now and the cost of ownership is about the same.

I hope we will see some updates about your progress soon.
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:52 AM   #77
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... when you are in school for 10+ years (not unusual for MA+PhD programs in some fields) ...
Read Wilfred Cude's book, The Ph.D. Trap Revisited (2000).
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:09 AM   #78
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I truly do what early retirement; always have. I just have no idea how to dig myself out of this hole I am in. I made a lot of bad financial decisions a few years ago, and I am still paying for them. Trust me, I desperately want to turn this situation around, get out of debt, and live a happy life with my children.

My priorities: survive and give my kids a good life. I just need to get to that point. I feel like this car is choking the life out of me. The car is the big issue on my credit report, the car payment is too much, the fact that I still owe so much is too much... I think if I just get this car paid off I can FINALLY start improving things (along with moving my daughter to that cheaper school I previously mentioned).
Edit to add... posted this before reading all the replies.... seems like a lot of others said the same thing..... I will leave my post as is... just pointing this out to others...


If you REALLY want to get out of your hole, then why do you want to saddle yourself with a NEW car payment

And this will sound like a moral judgement, but why are you having a second child It is what it is now, but that was not a smart decision...

And why are you not fighting for EVERY CENT you should be getting from the father (or fathers since you have not said)...



Your main problem today is your car... there is nothing you can do about it... (well, you could stop making payments and have it repoed, but this is just digging you deeper)... You owe $8K with a $3K asset.... this means there is nothing you can do except pay it off as fast as you can... once you do that, then start SAVING....


I do not remember your degree choice.... but it seems like you are going to be in a bigger hole once you stop college... you will have a big debt that you will have to pay off... will your new job make you enough to pay it Will getting an advanced degree pay enough to pay off the higher loan amounts IOW, if you were a teacher a masters degree in Houston will only get you about $1,000 a year... so if it cost you $20K to get a masters, it is not worth it....

Good luck in your future... but it will take awhile to get where you want to go... it will not be easy and you have a lot to do.... (hint, start getting child support NOW and try for back support.... and take NO excuses... be a hard ass... it is for the benefit of your child)....
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:32 AM   #79
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In order to respond further and appropriately, we need information regarding your relationship with the father of these children. I see that as the "elephant in the room" and child support as the number one priority, now that you have made your decision regarding a new car.

I no longer know what the minimums are but I dare say you are giving up over $7,000 plus a year for the 3 year old and when the second is born, well over $12,000 or more. Of course this also depends on his salary, what he does and what he can afford. There are minimum calculations. This is a huge amount of money in light of your circumstances. A phone call to Social Services or the Child Support Enforcement division for your city/state may tell you what the minimums are.

Care to share more about this relationship? Is it on? Is it off? His parents in the picture?
Any way to get him to sign a written agreement regarding his support for these children? Consider it "documentation" if you go to court in the future.

Perhaps a free legal clinic visit is a possibility so a lawyer can advise you of the possible approaches...IF ..this father is still in the picture. If he is not, well then, as you said, there is no reason not to pursue this in a court proceeding.

Do you risk a custody battle.? Maybe. But in light of what you have told us thus far, I see this as a remote possibility. You are the best judge of whether or not this may happen. Do you think it might?
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Old 03-16-2013, 06:54 PM   #80
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I would like to compliment you and say that you have a good character. You have accepted some pretty realistic information here. Not everyone could. You also are clearly intelligent and you write well. These are all big plusses.

Ha
I wanted to echo this also. You are obviously bright, strong and determined. Keep up that attitude and work towards your financial goals. The longest journey starts with a single step.

I'm so glad you didn't run away from us when we started with the "tough love" speaches !
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