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Was visiting family last weekend. Lately it's the trips "back home" that make me realize how happy I am that my kids are being raised 120 miles away from this motley bunch who share my bloodline.

As I've noted in past posts, I have 4 sisters...2 who have dealt with and are still dealing with credit card debt but not dealing with their overspending. Then 2 sisters (Oldest sister and Youngest sister, btw my mom's "favorites") who have both declared bankruptcy...both of them had around $20K of debt and could have paid it off. Oldest sister just declared last fall. Youngest declared back in 1999 and from the looks of it, is probably counting down the days til she can file again.

In the 4 years since declaring, youngest sister has managed to get a mortgage, car loan, and 4 credit cards. She's recently acquired credit account #5 in order to buy a new digital camera that she insisted she "needed" back in April. By May, her and her hubby decided they also "needed" a new DVD/VHS player from the same electronics store. The store gave her a $1900 credit line.

With 6 payments to go on their car, they started looking for a new car just last week. Reasons have varied from "we need more room" which is what she told my mom to "all the other kids get dropped off in new SUV's and I'm tired of my son getting out of an old wreck!" which is what she told me a few months ago when she called me for digi-camera recommendations.

Because I've finally gotten the point across to my mom that I don't owe these two sisters all my time when I come in for a visit and I'd like to spend my time there as I please instead of spending the whole time entertaining these two, I only had to deal with them on Sunday. Thank God!

Sunday, when they came over for their usual free meal at mom's where mom does all the cooking and babysitting, dad does all the cleaning and oldest sister does all her laundry for free. Too damned inconsiderate to bring over a bucket of chicken every once in awhile to treat my parents. Too damned lazy to wash up in exchange for the free eats. Won't even bring her own detergent. And the youngest sister doesn't even pick up the toys her son has scattered all over the place.

Have I mentioned that my parents are both in there 70's? I can just see them tripping on some of this crap and breaking a hip one day.

BUT...I've also come to realize they are like this because my mom allows them to be.

Anyway, as it always does, the subject of money gets brought up. Now all of my sisters know how much we owe in debt...or at least how much when we started paying it off 2 years ago. Mom just knows it's rough for us right now and we're working to pay cards off.

Conversation starts:

Younger sister begins with how she can't really afford her cell phone that she just had to have last fall.


Older sister starts complaining about how high her car insurance is for the new car she bought just before she declared bankruptcy.


Both sisters continue to discuss how they still can't afford to pay everything each month and where in the past I would have joined in, that day I just sat quietly, grateful that I'd stumbled across a message board where complete strangers helped me learn a better way.

Finally, youngest sister can't stand it anymore and asks me: "What do you think?"

"Well, it's cause you spend more than you earn."

<uncomfortable silence>

"And you need to have a spending plan and learn to live below your means."

<loud harumphs and a cynical chuckle...even from my mother>

Oldest sister smirks, "Don't kid yourself. After you get that debt paid off...IF you get it paid off... you'll be right back in debt too. "

Mom added, "Your father and I have been married 52 years next month and we STILL have debt. Get used to it."

Youngest sister finishes off: "Everyone's in debt. We'll all die in debt."

Had to hand her my hubby's favorite line:

"What's this WE sh*t, Tonto?"

I'm getting out. I'm breaking the cycle. I owe that much to my kids and to myself.

So thanks for the info, the encouragement, the head-ups on underhanded cc practices...and especially the slap-you-in-the-face-with-the-truth posts that helped me realize there's something better than dying in debt.

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