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Sorry, I missed some of this when I first read your post......

In the meantime, I've finally stopped dodging collections calls and am setting up payment plans with them, as we are expecting a decent tax return plus my student loan money next month, and quite probably an increase in my husband's income.
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we owe my parents $4000 from the time we were living with them, and from them helping to pay our lawyer for a lawsuit that we have been working on for our ex slumlord since last year (it's a long story). And we have promised to pay them $2000 from our tax refund and they really need the money.


Okay, let me get this straight - you are okay with making payment plans because you are planning on using money from your tax refund (a big chunk of which you have already committed to use for paying your parents, not for payment plans), borrowed money (in the form of your student loan) and a hypothetical increase in your husband's income to make payments on those plans? And you are still paying a lawyer to sue your former landlord, but haven't collected any money yet?

Your actions are just digging the hole deeper. If you really want to get out of the hole, you need to STOP DIGGING! You really need to sit down and look at what you are bringing in, and what you are spending. If what you are spending is more than what you are bringing in, you need to stop spending on anything that is not necessary for survival - rice, beans, a roof over your heads, heat (but not A/C) and make do with everything else you already have. In fact, you probably need to sell a good part of what you 'have', since you can't afford it. And you need to make some type of contingency arrangement or some other type of payment arrangement with the attorney you are using to sue the landlord, because you can't afford to pay the attorney, either.

Then, you need to figure out ways to increase the income you are bringing in. You need to get a job. You claim that you can't find a job that will bring in any more than child care, but you are apparently somehow managing to have the children cared for when you go to school. If you can manage to have the children cared for while you are in school, you should be able to figure out a way to get a job, too. And you need to stop assuming that your husband's income will increase, and start spending less than he actually brings in.

AJ
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