Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Paycheck to Paycheck {My Story & The Documentary on HBO}

Ok ... so this post is tough. 

Money sucks and is super hard to talk about. 

Why do some have so much while others have so little?

I can't say it is for the lack of trying or laziness. 

I do believe that life struggles can shape you ... positively or negatively ... depending on what you take from it. 

Our story ....
My father left when I was 17 years old. At the time my brothers were ... 15, 13, and 2 weeks old. We were broke. One week a month my Mom only had $8 to buy food. I don't ever remember being hungry.

By 21 years old I was up to my eyeballs in debt! I refused to open envelopes. I just put all my unopened mail in a box. I knew that I couldn't pay them. I didn't spend that money on stupid things but instead helped my Mom pay bills or put gas in the cars or put food in the families mouth. 

I had my son 4 months shy of my 22nd birthday. Jacob's dad forced me to face my debt and work my way out of it. {The best thing I ever did!}

By 25, I bought my first condo. I was working a full time job making great money. I was able to support Jacob and I. Things were still very paycheck to paycheck but I felt like I had everything I could ever need.

At age 28 I quit my job and went back to school. I took out student loans { around $40,000}. I graduated at age 30. My now husband/then boyfriend supported Jacob and I. It was tough. A lot of the time we used change to put gas in the cars. Bills were always paid late. Payment plans were our best friends. It was really really tough. We moved into a rental house. The old neighborhood was getting scary. 

I went back to work for my old company on a part time basis. We used our tax returns and my income to pay for our wedding. We got married in April 2012 and didn't go into anymore debt. 

1 month later I was laid off and 24 weeks pregnant. I stayed home. Collected $160 every two weeks from unemployment. {That ended 5 months later}

August 2012 we had our daughter. I knew I had to breastfeed to save money. {I am still breastfeeding my now 19 month old ... that is a different story ... and I love it!}

We filled bankruptcy to get rid of the debt from the condo we moved out of. We couldn't short sale because of who my loan was with. It sucks but we are over it. Move on.

3 months ago my husbands position changed in his company ... he is able to make more money. I am still staying home. We budget. We work together. I take care of more of the nitty gritty. I fill him in about the details. 

But he works very long hours and most Saturdays.

We only spend $12 a week on our daughter. $9.99 diapers from Whole Foods. $1.69 wipes from Walgreens. They don't irritate her or cause her to get a rash. 

I spend $100 a week for groceries. That includes school lunches and lunches for Dan.

We don't go out to eat. I don't shop. I buy necessities. We don't have new furniture. I try to repurpose what we have. 

We are happy. We are healthy. I couldn't ask for more. {Well sometimes I do when money gets tight ... like real tight ... as in no money until Friday and it is only Tuesday.} But it is what it is. 

We don't take money too seriously. Of course we fight about it. I cry about it. But then we get up, shake off, and move on. 

My husband likes me being home with the kids. I like being home with the kids. I honestly never thought that this would be how my life would end up but I am so happy. So very very happy. 

image from Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert.

Back to the whole point of this post ... Maria Shriver is the executive producer for a new HBO documentary called "Paycheck to Paycheck: the life and times of Katrina Gilbert". 

I love documentaries.

And this was a great one! 

It hit a nerve. 

It is the story of Katrina Gilbert, a single mom to 3 young kids. She was followed for a year documenting her daily life. She spoke openly about her bills and her paycheck. She gave her kids everything and didn't ask for anything. She gave her ex-husband gas money so he could see their kids. She works at a nursing home. She kisses the patients and loves them. 

She broke my heart. 

She made me look at my life. She made me more grateful. She made me cry and she made me smile. 

I couldn't stop thinking about her. 

She could be miserable about her life but instead she was happy. She was trying. 

She is amazing. 

If you have 75 minutes and you have HBO ... watch this. 

It will really change you ... whether you live paycheck to paycheck or not. 

I am not ashamed to admit that in our household money is tight and we barely live over paycheck to paycheck. We don't have savings. We are just one family ... who work our butts off to make ends meet. 

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