Time for a change.

September 22, 2011 · 11 comments

I spent way too much time yesterday messing around with my blog layout. As you can tell, things look pretty different. I had the old design scheme for a little over a year and felt like I was going to vomit if I had to look at it another day. While I still have a lot of tweaking and customizing to do, I’m enjoying the change of pace. Over the coming days, you will probably see some additional changes so you’ll have to bear with me if things look a little funky at some point.

As a result of my pathetic attempt to write CSS and HTML code, I ended up staying up way to late working on the layout. That means you have been unintentionally neglected and won’t be getting a blog post today. Instead, you get two writing prompts from me. I hope you’ll take the time to respond to them :)

1) Do you know anyone that is doing everything they can to try and make ends meet, but just can’t seem to get ahead? What’s their story?

2) What have you done to encourage/support that person lately?

Too often PF blogs focus on individual successes and not enough on individual struggles. Take a minute to share, so we can all get a bite of humble pie. Happy Thursday.

p.s. let me know if anything with my blog layout looks funny in your browser. I have a mac and I know things don’t always translate well across systems :)

{ 11 comments }

1 Mo D.

Oh boy, do I!! I have a very good friend from our High School days who, at best, treads water financially (and sinking fast), but her husband (2nd marriage for both) doesn’t have the same drive and desire to succeed; in fact, while she works her ass off for their nursery/gardening business, he complains that she’s not paying attention to him. They’ve been together 13 years, married for 3; a bit of an age gap between them (she’s coming up on 44, he’s in his mid 60′s). He seems pretty happy to just coast through life, while she works from before dawn ’til after dusk doing what needs to be done, and then some. They have creditors calling them what seems like every 30 minutes, yet he seems to be able to find money to support his drinking habit; she goes without what many would deem basic necessities. His health is quite poor (a large part is due to his drinking), and the business did so bad this year, there’s a real possibility they’ll have to shut it down.

I feel so bad for her, and this might sound horrible, but I’ve told her she’d be better off without him. Their relationship is very strained now (she recently said she’s sure one of them will eventually walk out on the other, it’s just a matter of time), but I think she sticks around because she feels if she doesn’t look after him, no one will. They have no children together (IMO, a huge blessing), and he has a daughter in her 20′s from his previous marriage. At first, I was sympathetic, but now, it’s the same story over and over. I really don’t know what else to tell her, because when I agree when she says the relationship’s run its course, she gets defensive… not quite sure what else I can say or do.

2 Jon

I got my B.S. in computer science right after the tech bubble burst. No one wanted an entry-level programmer with so many experienced people in the job market. I was stuck in a rural area desperately trying to find work that could relocate me somewhere there was an economy to speak of. My wife and I had a household income of $8500 in our worst year.

I did freelance computer work, Web site development, music lessons—I even painted apartments. I did anything and everything I could to keep the rent paid and food on the table. It was a rough couple of years.
Eventually things turned around, and I managed to land some good work.

If I could encourage any PDITF readers especially those entering the labor market in a stagnant economy, I would say, I’ve been there and made it through, and you can, too. It’s rough. Dig in your heals. Claw, scrape, fight, do what you must. Don’t give up, and don’t lose hope. These ups-and-downs happen. You’ll wind up on top if you can just ride out the storm.

3 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

I don’t know anyone personally struggling to make ends meet. (I’m sure I’m just naive and don’t see it as well). But I do live in the city with the largest homeless population so I see a struggle between money and freedom everyday.

4 Ashley @ Everything Finance

Love the new layout… very nice.

I do know a family who seems to be doing everything they can but are still struggling. The husband got laid off when the company he was working for went out of business. He started doing freelance work and was doing very well but then the wife got a brain tumor and needs surgery. So now he is looking for a job with insurance so that she can have her surgery but everything pays much less than he is making doing his freelance work.

What have I done to help? Just listen I guess, I don’t know what I can do really.

5 Sandy

Hey Ashley,

I wrote a reply in the comment below.

6 Sandy

Yeah, me! I’ve spent the majority of my 20′s so sick with severe pain that I had to quit working and now am a “professional patient”, meaning that all I do are lab tests, treatments, doctors appts, deal with insurance, etc on a near daily basis. Other than that, I spend all my time at home in bed because I am unable to do anything else, sometimes barely able to dress myself. THe problem is that I’m not getting any better, only worse, and docs have NO idea what is wrong with me, other than there is something that is causing me to get rare conditions piling on and on and on.

As you can guess, it’s a HUGE financial strain…luckily I am married and have health insurance, altho thanks to the “experimental” nature of my treatments and testing (since I have already exhausted the standard ones), many things I do are not covered and even for my standard stuff, the copays still rack up. I did/do everything right financially….I saved 80% of my income from my first job (planned on using that for grad school), but blew through those savings for medical care in 2 years. My husband and I now live paycheck to paycheck, counting pennies, go without some necessities, and still not enough to pay for all the healthcare I need. The fear is that we will just rack up tons of debt, and with no way to pay for it, since I don’t seem to be getting any better and I have had many many doctors tell me that there is nothing left to do and I have to resign to a life stuck at home. We constantly have to make choices – what medication or treatment should be prioritized since I can’t do them all? What appts or therapy do I need to cancel this month because our car blew out AGAIN and my husband needs it to commute to work? Even with some pro-bono medical care, it is still not enough. I don’t qualify for foundation grant money since I don’t have a easily categoriable disease like cancer or AIDS…I just some crazy nebulous thing causiing all these problems.

@Ashley- Everything Finance
There is actually a lot you can do. They must be stressed and the husband overworked trying to look for work and running a household. You can offer to do the dishes or vacuum or mow their out of control lawn for them, or babysit their kids (if they have any) while they go to a doctors appt or just so they can have some free time alone, pick their kids up from school, take their dog out for a walk/bath, drive the wife to a doctor’s appt, make them a few dinners that they can put in the freezer, etc. Just imagine, what kind of help would you need if you suddenly became ill and unable to care for yourself physically and your spouse has to take up doing everything. Most people in that situation do need a lot of on-going help in their day to day lives but will not ask for help out of fear of burdening those around them. I hope that helps.

7 This Guy

I’ve been interfacing with a lot of new Young Life staff people recently, and they have their hands full w/ empty pockets. YL is a Christian organization that focuses on reaching adolescents in schools for Jesus, showing them hope/life in Him, and helping them grow in their faith. Now, the people that do YL as an occupation make low amounts (5+ year employees make between 40 and 50 g’s a year, mostly all raised by themselves. However, new YL staffers only bring home about 20 grand a year. I have one friend who is starting staff 10/1 and getting married in December. He is struggling right now to even raise enough to live, let alone afford wedding and newly wed expenses.

My prayers and heart go out to those doing a mission for Jesus as their job. Most of them bring home very little bacon for doing work that is so much bigger than themselves.

8 krantcents

The changes look good, although I liked the other one as well.

9 Erica

loving the new layout. nicely done

10 notpollyanna

When I read stories of success, I always feel disheartened because they involve good things happening that seem so impossible in my own life.

I’ve struggled with severe depression since I was 14 (I’m 27 now), so that was a factor when I applied to college. I’m really smart, so adults focused on my doing whatever I want in school rather than pragmatic job prospects or economic considerations. My parents advised me to take out all private loans (note: bad advice). It took me six years to finish my undergrad because I spent so much time in hospitals. I borrowed $86K (in four loans), but the principal had grown to $106K by the time I graduated in 2008 (B.S. in Humanities).

I got a job relatively quickly making $25K/year ($1400/month). My loan payments started out at $860/month. Now, the principal is down to $74K and the payments down to $640/month, I’m still stuck in the same job making just $26K. I’ve been looking for more lucrative work without success. I live at home, with my borderline abusive parents. I spend a lot on healthcare (medication, psychiatrist, psychologist, dietitian), I spend a little on other things, and I put everything left over toward my loans.

I desperately want to get out of my parents house, but I can’t afford to. The bare minimum of rent in the area is ~$575, before utilities, and roommate situations are on par with this. Moving out would include more expenses above rent and I still pay a lot for healthcare. I don’t want to leave my (major metropolitan) area for opportunity elsewhere because I finally have a good mental health care team that has taken me 10 years to build. (Most of my experiences in mental health care have been abusive and made me sicker. I seem to garner abusive practices from professionals that work fine with other patients, so this isn’t a wholecloth condemnation of the profession, but it still means I would have a hard time finding someone who can help me. I want to be stable before I leave the area so that I won’t have to build a new team and sort through the chaff.)

I feel trapped. My financial situation means I can’t move out of my parents house, which amplifies my depression. It also means I can’t “get ahead” and build a future for myself. I want to be a conservation librarian, which requires a master’s degree and, usually, a conservation certificate. I know the most frugal programs, but I still can’t afford them. I’m looking for better work without luck. I have always worked very hard and been very good at what I do, but I have also always been treated and compensated very poorly in exchange. Therapy taught me that I don’t deserve that, but the economy makes it hard to find an employer that will treat me better.

Sorry if I went overboard. My misery overflows and sometimes leaks out in places like this.

11 Julie

My brother and his wife live in Maine, and they put the “ooh” in frugal! He and his wife both work and were able to juggle their schedules so their kids were not in day care. However, his shift just forcibly changed, and now they are forced to put their kids in daycare three days per week. They’re doing okay I guess, don’t know a lot of their details, but living in a rural area where there are not enough “smart” jobs makes it tough for them. I think a lot of people have this struggle. He’s got a great side hustle though (fixing up cars on craig’s list and selling them) and hopes to open his own mechanic shop one day. So I commiserated with him on his current crappy job. I guess I need to encourage him with his side hustle…

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