Thursday, December 4, 2008

What Geek Chick Thinks About The Economy

For those who know me well, it is obvious that certain issues are not paramount in my mind. Politics was one (until I met AG and J), money was the other. I look at money as an aid to my life, not a result or something to obsess about. One of the things that annoyed me most about MFE was his constant neurosis about money. Who has how much, who got what, and where they kept it were the main topics of conversation with him. I used to chalk it up to being born to immigrant parents who scratched and saved all their lives to have a good living. And I am sure part of this is true. But it got to a point where it became fanatical for him, and it totally turned me off. I was not one to fret about such things. As long as I had money to live, I was happy. Because of his preoccupation, he began to influence me and I started to worry about money too. Did I have enough? Was I making enough? Did I save enough? Was my 401K going to help me when I retire?

That last statement is really the only thing I should be concerned with, in my mind. I cannot and WILL NOT live my life wondering what everyone else is doing with their money. But, I do have to think about how I am dealing with money, and that kinda scares me. See, I was not raised in an environment where my parents were very wise about finances. This led to me never learning to manage my money well. So, now at 40, I am on my own once again and starting to realize that my attitudes have to change. I have thought I was better at handling money (and worked really hard on getting myself out of the gutter with debt and my credit score) but I am finding myself starting to struggle again, and I don't like that. I would much rather have a little cushion to make me feel "safe".

I am trying to be realistic here. With me only 7 months post divorce, I expected to struggle some. When I didn't experience any problems right away, I believe I fell into complacency. Now reality is setting in. And I am scared.

Add to that the fact that the economy is so bad. Add to that the fact that I lost 40% in my 401K in that time frame. Add to that the fact that I had to recently purchase a new car, adding to my debt.

Still, I know I will be ok. I will make due. I have plenty of ways to try to make my dollars stretch more and I know I can rework my budget into something a bit more comforting.

MFE, however, is in dire straits. The house is not selling, which I believe is the direct result of him trying to get more out of it than it is worth ($60K more!). He informed me that his credit card debt is still very high (was >$30 K when I left him) and he lost a significant amount in his IRAs (at least 58% from the form I received to sign off on the accounts recently). He also is responsible for the home equity loan he took out to purchase the rental property - equity of the VALUE of the house, not on what we paid for it. Then there is the loan he took to buy me out. That puts him into the unenviable position of being way upside down on his debt. If he doesn't sell the house for what he currently has it listed for, he will not be able to pay off all the loans. He makes less than I do, so I know he has to be hurting right now.

Why do I care, you may ask? To be honest, I am only mildly concerned. I think that he brought this on himself. I believe that what goes around, comes around. For all his preaching and (hey J, this is for you) pontification about saving and having money, he was not following his own advice. He dug himself a really large hole.

What I am concerned about is the child support. I didn't want to "need" it. I wanted to have it for those extras that Dino wants or needs. I find myself in a position now where I actually have to have that payment each month to get groceries or to buy Dino new shoes. That is where my concern lies. I suspect that MFE is crying "poor" now to try to do something to shaft his son. Hell, he tried it before during the settlement negotiations. He had his lawyer offer an amount that was HALF of what it is now, and only when I threatened to go to court did he concede. The man doesn't have an ounce of decency when it comes to supporting his kid.

I know the market will eventually turn around. I have faith in our newly elected president that he will find a way to make this country strong again. And, I am not freaking out about my 401K. It's a long term investment, so it will recover as well. Having this optimism doesn't help me when it comes to worrying if MFE will declare bankruptcy and not pay his child support.

Well, that's enough fretting for now. I must get to work to earn the money that keeps us going. I am going to try to put this out of my mind for now...


Jeff said...

Coupla things...

First, I thought my favorite word for that kind of thing was "speechifying," though I have to admit that I like "pontification" just fine.

Second, don't worry about his debt vis-a-vis the child support. If worst comes to worst and the courts get involved, the child support will be calculated based on his pay vs. your pay and a few other factors, such as who is paying for Dino's health insurance and how much, and taxes and so on. Believe me when I say that the courts will set that aside first before the debtors get to come in and have their share. And they'll probably issue a court order to his employer (assuming he stays employed, that is) to take it right out of his paycheck, send that money to the court, then you would get paid from the court system. They will make sure you get your money. Now, that's not to say that you won't have something to worry about to make sure you are "in line" to get some of his money (might have to file something with the court ... not totally sure, but maybe), but once you're in line, you'll be at the front.

I still have no idea how I'm down only 15%, but my amount is so low because I started so late that I can hardly feel proud of myself.

Anonymous said...

I don't know the laws of your state, but I do work in payroll and have in several states. Also, have experience with my son and his daughter re: child support. In the surrounding states where I live, child support comes first after standard tax deductions. And they can hold up to 50% of the net income (for current and past due). And by court order to the payor's employer. You may have to hire an attorney or see if you can go through the child support enforcement agency in your county. But, I think they usually only assist someone if they are receiving benefits from the state, hence the attorney. But anyway, states are really cracking down HARD on non-supporting parents. His IRS return can also be levied. If your divorce papers state X amount of dollars, that is a court ordered amount for him to pay. Some states will also suspend their drivers license for non-payment. So, hopefully, he realizes that child support is his #1 obligation until Dino becomes of age. As far as debt, I have cut back to the bare necessities (and have for a long time). Little things you don't realize add up quite a bit before you can even realize it. Soft drinks, for example. $1.70 for ea. 20 oz. drink. etc. etc. Anyway, focus on your work and your MK. and being frugal and I think you will be ok. Margie

Adorable Girlfriend said...

I am glad I could turn you onto politics.

I would try not to worry about him paying support. It's just a really scary time out there for most of us and we all need to talk about it. I hope the house sells soon. Mine needs to sell too!

CryssyeR said...

Thank you all for your comments (and for Margie, who pointed out that I have not responded to them)... I am feeling better about things today. In fact, I just received my 401K loan to pay off the bank loan and just pay myself back.

And for Margie - yes, I have a divorce agreement that is a court ordered child support amount. I should enjoy it now. I already know I make more than my ex, and when the time comes to re-evaluate, he may end up paying a good deal less. However, I put in the divorce agreement that I have the "right" to have it evaluated every 2.5 years, not that I have to do that. In any case, since MFE is being so cordial, it just makes me REALLY nervous. I know him too well. I don't think he will skip out or anything. I just think he has what he considers to be a trump card up his sleeve. He is evil and enjoys making others feel out of sorts....