November 28, 2006

DELL, Debt and Dumb Decisions

As a debtor, I have to say that living without credit is hard (especially as a debtor in a ONE-income family of 4). I'm being transparent here, so be gentle if you respond in my comments section. Kev and I just broke down and bought something on credit after two years of being "credit card free" (aside from Old Navy - which in our case is a necessity and rarely used). Most of our debt is in the form of vehicle loans (2), college loans (1), unsecured loans that we took out when it took 8 months to sell our home and my husband was commuting between cities (almost paid off now... just 500$ left), a government loan due to a flood (1), family loans (3), and of course, the Old Navy card. So, you see, most of our "plastic" debt has already been paid off. Our main debt, aside from transportation, is due to circumstances that were out of our control... and the lack of having any sort of "nest egg" to cover said circumstances. If you include the vehicles, our debt is a hefty number... and our monthly payments are outrageous. We've been nearly two years without adding extra to the debt pile (other than a few minor loans here and there from family)... until today.

Kev and I broke down and ordered a Dell Computer online. Kevin has been asking me to let him buy me a computer for over a year now. I am forever having trouble with the slow outdated one I use. This year alone, it has crashed two or three times. Now that I am running a Vista Beta version on it, it is slower than a snail. Even so, I almost couldn't force myself to click the button when it finally came time to apply for that Dell Preferred card. I shudder even thinking of it.

I've worked so hard to stay away from any more debt. For the past few years we haven't even bought any gifts for Christmas other than ONE for each member of our immediate family (4 total). I've worked so hard to finally tread water and see the scales tip in our favor. $800 more of debt is like waving the white flag of surrender to me. Maybe I'll feel differently once the shipment arrives and that brand new 20 inch flat panel and my super fast PC pops out of the box. No more waiting a few minutes between clicks for me. Imagine how much time that will save in my day! Our piles of PC junk, stacks of software, and ancient towers have finally seen their last daylight around here. I banish them to storage indefinitely!

So... when is it OK to fall off the bandwagon and use a little plastic? I wish I could feel OK about it... and actually enjoy the fact that a new PC is on its way down my "chimney". But I don't like credit cards and owing money - I see it as slavery, pure and simple. I also don't believe in filing bankruptcy... I believe you should pay what you owe - even to "evil" credit card companies. Somehow I just don't see that "Santa" and the "American Way" is really what Christmas is about... and all this prolific shopping and mall-scene stuff for the holidays really bums me out. I dream of cabins in the snow (far away from civilization) for Christmas. I wish there was a way to escape how commercial it has become.

Maybe I should post a debt ticker on my sidebar to keep track of how my debt is doing and keep me accountable. Do any of you have one like that? Am I the only debtor out there this holiday season? Hellooooooo out there?

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Anonymous said...

I've gone through several cycles with debt--paying off all credit cards, then getting a couple of new ones, which I used when I felt that I had to (it's tricky being a single mom). I currently have several debts. One of my favorite books says that living out of a footlocker for a year will leave you intolerant of clutter. Similarly, I think that if you are truly poor, it makes you less tolerant of debt. One of my friends told me about the precepts of Debtors Anonymous (DA). I purchased the book by Jerrold Mundis--How to Get out of Debt, etc...--which explains the DA principles and is fun to read. DA says that secured debt is okay while unsecured debt isn't, and they talk about the importance of building a contingency fund. I found it tremendously useful. Now that I'm moving out of a phase of abject poverty, I have a plan to get out of debt soon. One of the things I went into debt for was this Dell computer. It was worth it to get a machine that works well, and it enabled me to get an online job, which has enabled me to enrich my life by being more involved with my kids and with volunteering at school. Some debt is worth it.

Rhonda said...

Aw, sweetie, cut yourself some slack. So you took a couple of steps back. Look at how far you've come!

It may not be the best use of credit, but it's truly not in the same league as using credit for everyday expenses (eating out, etc.).

Enjoy your new computer. Let Kevin see how thankful you are for it. It is truly going to bless you and your family.

We've been trying to get out of debt ever since we pulled the kids out of school and it's a long process. Just accept that and move forward.

Kim said...

Funny you should post this. I just posted on my blog about something similar. ( ) We have our debt down to: the house, a large home repair and that's about it. However, that's about it, as in, nothing extra. We use a credit card for our gas purchases and vehicle fixes. These usually get paid every month. That is until the roof gives in at the same time the van does. But, read my post and you will see how having less can be really good! By the way, I have been enjoying my visits to your blog. Thanks!
Blessings, Kim

Anonymous said...

Hey girl! You are gonna LOVE your new Dell. We are on our 2nd one and wouldn't have anything else. I think it's sweet that Kevin wanted to do this for you! Tell him I said "Thank you!" because he may not realize what a great help and inspiration you are to us here in cyber-land.

I also blogged about this topic, last night as a matter of fact. So no, you're NOT the only one!

God bless,


Sprittibee said...

Thank you Jude for your encouragement. I stopped by your blog and left you a personal note there. I agree that living in a confined space makes you more intollerant of clutter and living on fumes financially makes you much more thrifty! Both are the story of my life lately (and for the past two years, really). I am praying that I can find a job like yours - and would love to hear more about it. :) I am a FAST typer and a skilled computer user... so I don't think I would have a hard time doing an online job. I have a friend who is a medical case worker (she audits healthcare providers and hospitals) and she does a lot of computer work when she is not driving to her sites. My problem is that I can't drive to places often with homeschooling... I have to work my hours around my children's school schedule at home. This has been the thing that has prevented me from getting a part time job. I have so much on my plate with schooling them, I hate to divide my attentions any more than a limited amount each week (less than 20 hours if possible). How many hours do you put in online?

Sprittibee said...

*HUGS* Rhonda! I enjoyed your humorous posts this week. Ruthie's "Can we call him Mr. A" and your alarm clock saga were just what I needed to get a grin going today. I was praying for God to help me smile more (after seeing the Walton's episode where Mama Walton tells the mean old "Bible" thumping mother that "a child can only handle so much gloom"). That's good advice, don't you think!? We should smile more. The joy of the Lord is my strength! Maybe that is why He tells us to REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS. ;) Even when we can't even afford to go eat at Taco Bell! Hahaha.

Sprittibee said...

Hind's Feet:

I know the feeling on the leaking. We had 2 feet of water in our WHOLE 1-story house and lost almost everything we owned (twice). We actually flooded three times but the last time was just our kitchen. Believe me, we've had an interesting last five or six years... always one crisis after the other. Have you seen that Farside comic with the building (on fire) floating in a huge river (about to go over a waterfall)? On the building it says "Crisis Clinic". I get such a kick out of that comic. I want a huge poster of it framed for my office one day! You are blessed that you had some storage and a credit card to help you with those "purchases" you just had to make. :) As for me... we are plastic-o-phobic and cut ALL of ours up except for the Old Navy.

Sprittibee said...

**HUGS** Thanks for the up-beat note. I enjoyed your post and left you a message there, too. What kind of cookies are your favorite? Just out of curiosity? Kevin always knows who you are when I mention your name... even though we've never actually met in person. I was looking forward to that orchestra trip... too bad it was cancelled.

MommyLydia said...


Rebecca said...

I have been reading your blog for quite some time now & don't even remember how I found you. Anyways, this very topic has so been on my heart lately too! Um, yes, I'm out here! I'm a debtor too. We are a one-income family & sometimes I wonder if there is any light at the end of the tunnel. At times I feel hopeless & helpless. Especially when I am not the only one doing the spending *sigh*. We have credit cards from 3 months of unemployment with no nest egg & foolish spending. We have really old cars which are barely running. DH just started his Master's so that adds $19k to the $8k in student loans we have already. And now with all the Christmas consumerism?! It's enough to make me want to crawl in a hole & not come out. Oh wait! I'm supposed to be encouraging here. are not the only one...does that help?... Christ is doing some sort of work in us...I just have yet to figure it out *smirk* Thank you for your honesty! {{hugs}}

gomomyourock said...

You are not alone. You're just more honest about your predicament that most.

We're a 6 person family on one income (by choice), living in a extremely high cost-of-living area. We have kids from 3 to 13. I left a completing satisfying job (intestingly enough in the bankruptcy field) to be home with the kids. I love being home and wouldn't go back. The problem is there is no money.

We haven't been as good - we do use plastic...and write checks, and as of yesteray morning had to borrow money from my husband's father. Great. Now we owe him too, not only money, but the homage that one has to pay to one who helps out. Don't get me wrong, I AM VERY GRATEFUL for the my FIL's generosity. He's wonderful. MY problem is that my MIL makes it clear that she thinks I'm the cause of the finacial problems, because I quit my good job (at my husband's behest), and because I spend the majority of the everyday items for our brood. She also send not-so-gentle hints about how we should be doing things - "you should have a low-key Christmas". Well, duh. I know that - don't you think it could have been left unsaid? Maybe I'm just too sensitive, but I've had enough. Now I have no room to complain though because they've helped us out. UGH!

We have decided to live on an austerity budget for the next year. It will be hard. Don't know how we'll do it. Gotta try though.

Blessings to you & your family. I really enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

You are not the only one. After many years of not having a credit card we got a BP Visa card to use for gas. With gas prices so high we were constantly running out of money. It came down to buying gas, food, or paying a bill. We needed gas for dh to get to work, but we were scrimping so much on food we were eating at my mom's too much.

Our water heater also broke down. We went 2 months taking showers at my parents' house and heating water in a kettle before breaking down and getting a Lowe's card. We bought the water heater, my dad helped us install it, and we're slowly paying it off. It became clear that we weren't going to be able to save the $500 for it anytime soon after 2 months had passed and the money kept disappearing.

We also recently took a large plunge and dh quit his job to go to school. I'll be going to school in January and we'll basically be living on student loans. I'm also so very tired of living from one day to the next, saying "one day we'll do this or that", never knowing when that day will be. We aren't using the card extravagantly, it's used primarily for gas purchases, but we are eating better and we are making memories now. We also decided to use our tax refund next year for our first ever family vacation to Orlando. We've always used it to pay bills before. We've been married for 16 years. I figure right now it's time to enjoy life while ds is still young enough to enjoy it with us.

Kim said...

For all of us out there that are needing to tigthen the budget, cut it down, or completely start over, I would suggest the Hillbilly Housewife site. She has menu plans for very small amounts of money per week. She has been, sort of still is, where we all are, one budget, kids, etc.
There are lots of links at the top of the page, lots of useful information to glean. Currently her blog is down, but the other sites are up and running. Just something to help as we learn to do with less.
Blessings, Kim

Anonymous said...

Hi Sprittibee,

Thanks so much for your sweet and encouraging comment on my last post - I am now 'back into blogging' :)

And I hear you on the debt thing - I'm of the same opinion as you about the whole issue. We're also working on some in our family (again single income with 3 kids now) and it's a very slow process!

Sprittibee said...

My Boaz's Ruth: Thanks for the hugs. :) What is your real name, by the way?

Rebecca: Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it. I actually spent time yesterday evening just reading everyone else's blogs instead of writing. It was nice. I enjoyed it a lot. Sometimes I get busy with my own little bubble and don't get out enough! I'm sorry that you are in the same shape we are financially. It would be nice if I could wave a magic wand (maybe just hijack one of those multi-million dollar grants that the government gives to "prove evolution is true") to help others like myself get back on their feet. I can think of a lot better use for that kind of money! We try really hard to make Christmas about JESUS, LOVE, CHARITY, and OTHERS - rather than focus on the material stuff. We do a tree, but nothing gets on the tree that doesn't have some kind of family or religious significance. We have enjoyed doing the Jesse Tree also (with its Bible study). I am not sure why I decided to be honest/open about this particular flaw of ours... other than just the frustration I feel around this time of year when I want to buy presents for everyone I know and can't. I can't even afford to do crafty things because we can't afford the craft supplies! Hahaha. It is very HUMBLING to have people give you things when you can't afford to give them something back.

Sprittibee said...


6 people! Wow, and I thought I had money trouble. :) We live in a "medium" cost of living area compared to east and west coast. It is much higher here than in Texas where I'm from, though. That's why we are in a small apartment instead of a big house like we were before. I also do not miss the job and career life... although I will most likely enjoy going back to it once the kids are in college or moved out. I would probably not even mind doing some computer stuff on the side if people were willing to work around my homeschool schedule. ;) We also owe to our inlaws and to my mother. Every time we have had a disaster they have taken us in and helped us financially. I feel very indebted to them and they never make us feel bad about it. They have been very patient about waiting for us to be able to pay it back, too... all of them! I am so blessed in that area. I hate borrowing from them, however. I would rather be lending to them! What exactly is an austerity budget? Ha - that tells you how good of a budgeter I am. We don't have hardly any money, so what is there to budget?! :)

Thanks for your sweet words and God bless you and your family this holiday season, too. :)

Holiday = Holy Day!
Merry CHRISTmas!

Sprittibee said...

Christina - Wow... seems like everyone else is in the same boat. I did the gas card thing the year before last and it got out of hand. Once, I owed up to 1,400 on it! I finally paid it off and moved out of state where they did not have that particular station anyway, so we cut off the card and have paid with cash since then. Believe me, it was nice to fall back on it... but it got us trapped into interest and late payments on top of the gas prices for my guzzler! We just had bought a SUV before the gas prices went WAY up... and over the past two years, our brand new SUV ended up so far upside down that we couldn't sell it if we wanted to. You can buy a new one for what we owe! Choices like that one didn't help us with our financial decisions. At the time we made it, though... my husband was using a company vehicle and we only had ONE car note (plus gas prices were a lot lower). Little did we know that the rug would be pulled out from under us!?! ;) God likes to keep us guessing! :)

My husband and I are coming up on our 14th year soon. He is starting back to school again also. In a few more classes, he'll have an associates. He makes pretty good money without a degree, but he will hopefully do better once he gets his bachlors. Once he finishes and I get my kiddos graduated, I am going to go back, too! I love learning and hope to remain a life-long student - even while working. Homeschooling allows me to do that (even though I'm not getting paid for it monitarily)... and also blesses us with the kind of relationship with our kids that we desire.

Even though the purse is often empty, our hearts are certainly full and we have many reasons to feel blessed. :) Sometimes I don't think we would really count our blessings as much if we didn't know just how precious they were in light of our "poverty". God is gracious to the rich and poor alike.

Sprittibee said...

Yes, I love Hillbilly Housewife's recipes! I need to go look at her other things as well. I made her "Welfare Burgers" the other day and my kids loved them!!! Thanks for the reminder to check her out again. Today is the day I put the grocery list together and go shop... so this was perfect timing! What a blessing.

Sprittibee said...

Howdy Faraja! I'm so glad you are back to blogging. I was cleaning up my computer the other day and ran in to the graphic you made for my blog before I had it redesigned! :) It got me to thinking about you. Congratulations on your third baby! What a blessing.

MommyLydia said...

We are not currently in your position. And we have some savings. But we could still get there. Both because, on two incomes, we have become used to spending. and because my husband is quitting his job at the end of the year and going back to school to become a high school math teacher. He's got a bachelor's in Economics but it isn't getting him even nibbles on his resume so we've decided he needs to head in a new direction and this is where God is leading. (Plus it looks like it will get us back to Texas!)

And then--
last night I tested positive for pregnancy! We'd already decided if this happened that my husband would be a stay at home dad while he finished schooling and I'd support him, then I'd come home to be the mom I want to be when he is up and running in his teaching. But it is going to complicate things :)

Anonymous said...

You will love your Dell! :) I understand your freak-out (trust me!), but it'll be ok...especially when you turn on that brand-new computer!

Sprittibee said...

MBR: CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! Hope you can get back to Texas. I know how hard it is to be away from the Lone Star State. At least I'm within driving distance. I would love to visit Washington and think it is some of the most lovely land on earth... but to live there would be a different story.

Sara - Hey cuz. How's that little bambina doing? When do you have to go back to work? Been getting much sleep?

Yeah, I figure with all these nice comments, maybe I should relax a little and not be so hard on myself. I can't wait to get my computer... it will be here next week! It's my Christmas-Birthday-NewYears-Anniversarry present. :) Our whole family's birthdays, our anniversarry and Christmas all fall between the middle of December and the middle of February. So, we usually stay broke from Thanksgiving to Valentines! ;)

I'm expecting a photo of that baby in my mailbox this month, girlie!



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