Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Can we talk for a minute?



This is the first blog post of this type I have written.  It’s been inside me for a while but in the happy snap world of blogging it doesn’t seem appropriate to talk about real life stuff sometimes.  So please forgive me if it’s not to your liking, certainly move on but I hope you don’t.

This last year has been quite difficult for us.  We made the fateful decision to move to a larger property so that things could be scaled up a bit – like more sheep, some cattle and more productive ground.  It had always been hubby’s dream and I didn’t feel that standing in the way of that was the right thing to do for my husband. 
   
I probably would have been ok to stay at Boonah but in truth, it was becoming quite suburban, with houses going up all around us, and the suburban sounds like people talking, playing tv/radio loud, dogs barking for hours on end; were becoming more noticeable to us.

So, the plan was for hubby to get a job in the region we wanted to move to, sell the Boonah house and move.  Of course when you say it quickly it all sounds very easy, but as everyone knows, talking the talk and walking the walk are two very different things.   

So, we put the pedal down on the renovations on the Boonah house, including an extensive build-in downstairs which added a big chunk to our debt.  The new job came up, he got it and for about six months he commuted the 80kms odd each way daily.  That worried me, him being on the road that carries so many semi-trailers loaded with goodness knows what.  We investigated us renting somewhere for him, renting somewhere for us and every other alternative we could think of; but the $ numbers didn’t stack up.  As well, we looked at some wonderful real estate, but most of the places had no fences, water, sheds, house – at least not those in our price range.

Then as so often happens, while looking at something else, I saw our new place on the net.  Hubby went for a look, liked what he saw, we both had a look with the agent on a Sunday afternoon and made a successful offer that night.  We were elated – off to the bank for bridging finance.  Hubby moved into the new place straightaway, only coming home on weekends to keep pushing on with renovation work.  Towards the end of 2014 I made the move up to the farm as well, it was good to both be in the same place again, and then followed six months of hard slogging to get all our ‘stuff’ from one place to the other.  Hubby is one of those ‘I might be able to use this one day’ types which is pretty handy when you do need stuff, but boy there were a lot of ute loads involved. 

Thankfully we finally got the Boonah place to a stage where we could rent it out and start getting some money in the door for it.  Now we get to the bit I lie awake over at night – when our bridging finance ran out in March, our bank couldn’t accommodate our desire for an interest only borrowing for two years to cover both the farm and the Boonah place.  It was too tight.  So we started looking around for another lender.  The idea was that two years should be enough to get the Boonah place sold, hopefully giving us enough cash left over to add onto the house at the farm, put more infrastructure into place, and maybe get some newer vehicles.  We contacted a broker who previously had specialized in health insurance (I won’t name names) but for some reason now did mortgages too.  They hooked us up with one of the big 4 banks with a ‘package’ that included the two loans, a credit card and all sorts of ‘discounts’ on things like insurance etc.

What a nightmare that has been.  Right from the get-go these people had problems, the wrong paperwork was the major thing – timeframes were getting tight, two settlement dates came and went before finally settlement occurred.  I might add, since the date of setting up our accounts with this new bank, no less than $764 in fees, charges, penalties etc have been charged to us for various reasons.  Valid in the bank’s ‘business process’ no doubt but quite upsetting to me nonetheless.  Anyway, we’re getting to learn the lie of the land now and what to and not to do with the accounts.

The next thing weighing on me is that I believe, after nearly six years of being out of the workforce, I feel as though now is the time I have to go back to work.  Aside from the actual dollars in the door that a pay packet would bring, I think/hope I might feel less stressed about the situation and feel like I’m contributing more.  Like much of Australia, jobs are thin on the ground in this region, and someone in their 50s probably isn’t high on an employer’s hit list.  Anyway, these days I’m trawling job sites, sending off CVs, registering with employment agencies and the like.  New territory for me in some ways.

The only problem is I don’t want to work outside the home – yep, I said it out loud - am I a bad person?  Since hubby and I had a discussion about this just before we bought the Boonah house in 2009 and decided I would stop working, I have absolutely loved being at home.  I have felt free, unstressed, and very happy.  I don’t get lonely, rarely get bored, and like looking after my family including us, the dogs, the chooks, the sheep, and anything else that ventures onto our patch.

Friends and family have suggested applying to Centrelink for assistance, and I have unsuccessfully applied for a health care card and I know I should register for Newstart, but something is holding me back  – pride, embarrassment?  I don’t know.  I’m not looking for a career, just a job to earn some money to keep things ticking over budget wise.  I’m doing as many of the money-saving things that everyone suggests and advises that I can but each fortnight is still a struggle.  The Boonah house is still on the market so we are hoping that there will be a result there in the near future.  Honestly though I feel as though we will need every day of those two years to get it sold, the market being what it is.  Anyway that is out of our hands.  That’s the part I have trouble with – I’m so far out of my comfort zone financially and there are so many things that are out of our hands and out of my control.  I never thought of myself as a control freak, but I’m perhaps in some things I am.

So there it is friends, it’s the thing that’s been grieving me in a way I can’t tell to people.  I have a friend who says she has a little money she could lend me.  If that was all it took, a little bit of extra money, I wouldn’t be too worried, it’s the weight of such a huge (to me) debt and only one income to address it.
So, I’m doing the money saving things, looking for work, praying my tail off, and loving my husband.  I can’t think of much else I can do. Can you?  I’m sure many would say ‘oh boo-hoo – get over yourself’ but to me it’s a big deal.  Right, get on with it.  Thank you for reading.  Hopefully things will look up soon.

13 comments:

  1. Oh Barb, sorry to hear that money is so tight. I know that my girl was so stressed when she was dealing with the lenders to get a loan for their house as she had no idea of what was involved and I couldn't help as I have had no experience with that either as hubby had bought this house before we married. I hope you can find some part time work somewhere. I don't suppose you could make some money from doing craft or sewing as you would probably need to earn more than you could from that option. I understand perfectly why you lie awake at night with all that hanging over your head. Perhaps check out where you stand with Centrelink. I am used to dealing with them so can give you some hints :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chel, even just their website seems to be a minefield where you go round and round.

      Delete
  2. I can't imagine why anyone would say 'boo-hoo - get over yourself'. You are facing very hard times. Do try talking to Centrelink, if it is a dead end then you don't have to think about it anymore, but if it helps in even a small way it will be worth it. Remember too Lifeline can provide an understanding ear during times of crisis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes you are right Sherri thank you, that is a good way of looking at talking to Centrelink - "just do it" and then move on.

      Delete
  3. Hi Barb I hope by posting your thoughts and feelings you can fell a bit of weight off your shoulders. It is a hard situation to be in and I hope that I can be of some help. Rather than write you a big long comment here I am going to send you an email tomorrow as I might be able to help. In the meantime chin up and don't be afraid to ask for help from friends and family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fiona thank you. When I started writing that post, I really was afraid of what might come back at me. I do feel better reading the kind things you and others have said and I look forward to reading your email.

      Delete
  4. Oh Barb, I'm so sorry to hear you guys are facing a tough time. And what a brave thing to blog this, I believe all of your readers are supportive. I have not much advice unfortunately but I've been in a similar situation myself when I bought my first house on one of these 103% loans as I had no deposit. That was before the GFC and interest rates went up and up and also I was working, I only had about $400 left a month to live on after I paid the mortgage. I was also trying to find a new job as I was being bullied at my old one but none of the jobs paid that well, so I couldn't afford to move on. All this stress made me sick.
    The only piece of advice I have is: be persistent, stay strong, don't give up. Yes they're hard times but they will pass. I can imagine you don't want to go back to work but maybe you can do something from home you enjoy doing and get paid for. Best of luck and sharing your struggle will ease them a bit, so don't stop doing that!
    Frances

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know Frances, I just knew that, by hearing others' experiences - like yours, that it would remind me that I'm not the only one who has been in this position. When you're in the middle of the muddle, it gets quite gloomy and you forget that, as you said, these things do pass. Hopefully we'll make it out the other side in one piece. So, thank you Frances for your kind words.

      Delete
    2. No worries at all Barb! I just had an idea which might help - sorry I didn't think about it before. As you have the house as an investment property, you will be able to tax deduct expenses incl the loan. Your accountant therefore should be able to reduce the tax you're currently paying. What I mean is this: Let's say your husband currently pays 30% tax but once the investment would be deducted, it would only be 20%, so your accountant can arrange that less tax is paid which would give you in the example above 10% extra. So when you do your tax return you might not get anything back but you paid less during the year. I have been offered this before by my accountant. Good luck!

      Delete
  5. That was a sobering post and how brave of you to do so. I cant imagine the stress that you have been living with but i do think that you have handled it exactly right. I love your phrase "So, I’m doing the money saving things, looking for work, praying my tail off, and loving my husband" because that is exactly what you should be doing. The last thing you want during financial pressures is a broken or damaged relationship. Being kind and understanding of each others feelings is so important. Thank you for trusting us with your story. No one who follows you is going to think anything less of you, in fact the opposite. Big hugs from down South. For goodness sake though, don't be tempted by a pyramid selling get rich quick scheme. The only one who makes money is the one at the top of the pyramid. When you stay at home you are working. Making every dollar earned work twice as hard (a dollar saved is not taxed) and being the support your husband needs is so valuable. I wish you well. Keep us in the loop. You never know where an opportunity might come from.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you dear Lynda, for saying you don't think less of me, because one of the things I've struggled with is that sense of having failed in some way by ending up in this position. Hubby and I are a team and we are both in it together, so that does help. And no, I won't be doing any get rich quick things - it will be the slow and steady way. Thank you for your caring and kind words.

      Delete
  6. Barb,
    sounds a hard place to be in. But where there's a will there's a way. Do you have to sell the first house? Could it be rented to long term tenants to provide extra money to put in the second house? You might also consider going in as a part time carer for someone who needs only a few hours a week to be looked after. They might only need someone to drive them to the doctors. Centrelink might help with that there. You could also advertise for a couple of hours a week of house cleaning just doing light cleaning or ironing or something in that similar frame. Doing ironing or laundry could mean doing it at home so you can stay at home. Another though is maybe consider studying externally, which means you find a course to stay at home to study.
    I wish you and your hubby well. Things always eventually looks up.
    -Shiralee.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Shiralee,

      Thank you for your suggestions, I will find out what I can about Centrelink, you're quite right, there are many people who need a bit of a hand now and then. Hope you are well, see you at next months get together. Patience and faith are not my strong suits but I think I'm receiving a lesson on them both now.

      Delete