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No. of Recommendations: 4
My .02 at the bottom of the long list of everyone else's...

First, you need an EXACT accounting of where EVERY dollar is being spent. Groceries, clothing, vehicle taxes, entertainment, eating out, etc. EVERYTHING. It's impossible to clearly budget diminished expenses if you don't know what they are.

Think of your debt as cancer. You can't completely remove the tumor if you can't see it. A clear definition of your spending habits is essential if you truly plan on making a drastic turnaround.

An excellent, and previously posted question: Is your husband on board with changing lifestyle and spending habits? If he's not, then all the handwringing in the world won't help. This MUST be a united effort. The debts were probably mutually accumulated, and will have to be mutually dispensed.

Get your daughters involved... let them use your experience, painful as it is, as a lesson in money (mis)management. Whatever personal expenses they can cover, let them.

I also second the suggestion of dropping the trade school right now. It's not saving you money... it's costing funds you do not have. (Rather like using that ubiquitous 20% discount coupon from the Linens-N-Bath-Bigbox Store... you're NOT saving 20% if you're buying something you don't need or can't afford in the first place.)

Sell the trucks and bike. Buy used vehicles and plan on driving them for at least a few years. Set up a vehicle maintenance fund for unexpected repairs. If you're hellbent on keeping the trucks because of what the neighbors might think, it doesn't matter what the neighbors think. They're not paying your bills. Keeping up with the neighbors isn't what you're doing right now. And those same neighbors won't be funding your retirement either.

Dump the house phone line and the cable. Those two items alone are nearly $200.00 a month.

Another endorsement of a previous comment: do some diligence into reducing your electric bill. Turn off unused lights. Install a programmable thermostat and bump up the temperature at times when the house is empty. Change the power settings on your computer to hibernate when it's not being used. Shut off the printer too. Install compact flourescent bulbs in frequently-used fixtures. Make sure windows and doors are closed and sealed properly.

Hope this doesn't sound harsh; I don't mean it to, but it does appear you're looking for a quick fix. A band-aid will not fix your problem. Major surgery is required, and expect some side effects and recovery time.

The time to address your debt is NOW. Don't wait until the collectors come knocking or your house is auctioned on the courthouse steps. Research where exactly ALL your money is going, and post here again. Help is available from an experienced community, but only if:

1. You truly want it.

2. You're as honest as possible with disclosing your spending habits.

No one here is trying to make you feel badly, so don't take our comments as personal attacks. Moral support and previous experience are two things that can help sustain you at a time like this.

You've definitely come to the right place for advice; be open-minded to it, receive it in the spirit given, and know we also collectively rejoice when one of our own has successfully thrown off the yoke of debt. (And yes, we've all fallen off the wagon or otherwise screwed up from time to time!)

MadamHusker 1
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