There are many things in this small world that makes my stomach ache. Quite frankly between my disease and my genetics it is a wonder that I am not constantly doubled over in painful spasms. With many of those things time literally heals the wound, until of course something else comes up. But there is one topic that no matter how it looks, how it works, or the reasons brings me constant stress. My money.
We all know by now that money runs the world, and has been running the world since the dawn of time. No matter what lesson you are taught in history, the truth is people have been measured by their success and/or failure because of the wealth they hold. The Knights Templar were once systematically persecuted for it; Marie Antoinette lost her head over it. No matter how many people scream religion, politics, or freedom the majority of the fight will come down to money. Hint: if you think the Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery, think again.
Money determines if I feed my children, clothe my children, even how I educate my children. It determines my status, my ability to get jobs and my ability to even get insurance. Of course we know it determines if we get a home, a car, or any number of big items, but what about the thousand of small things that it affects. I imagine everyone reading this post can absolutely relate to the idea of a stomach ache when it comes to money. It is as universal as the discrimination it can cause.
In a former life I was a CMA. All this really means is that I could create and find patterns in large amounts of money, and could predict the outcomes of said money. This CPA but for growing businesses. I was good at it. I liked looking at large and complicated spreadsheets and writing equations to find the answers. It intrigued me; sort of like a puzzle that I didn’t have to cut. And while I stressed in many ways being a CMA, it was a different kind of stress because I hadn’t created it.
But personal finances are a whole other bucket of worms. Despite my background in accounting and finance, my level of confidence when it comes to my personal debt is not in any way satisfying. Despite the fact that I know that my husband and I bought very few toys on our debt, and instead mostly ran those bills up with car repairs and prescriptions from me losing insurance, I still look at those numbers and want to shake. Not because I don’t have a plan, not because I can’t see the end of the tunnel, but because that tunnel is so very far away.
My husband and I are currently looking into debt consolidation. We actually did this shortly after leaving college, and possibly because the programs were so new, were very successful at it. The idea of taking four credit cards, closing them, lowering the interest rates, and systematically paying them off is a great idea. Done right it can lessen the burden tremendously, and move that end of the tunnel so the light is bigger and bigger.
Despite the money that my husband and I are blessed to make, this is something we want to do. Pay off our debt and close the accounts. And hopefully never need to open another. But the risks of this move is so great that the stomach ache I was complaining about is very, very real. I know what could happen, but I sincerely don’t have a crystal ball to guarantee it won’t happen. And with the power money holds, taking the risk isn’t something to enter lightly.
I know that I don’t want to: kill my credit, although I am prepared for that number to go down slightly. I don’t want to put up my house for collateral, simply as a measure of satisfaction for a return not guaranteed. I don’t want to deal with salesman or even a company that decides paying late is just cute. There are thousands of companies, those that are non-profit and those that make a profit. I have no particular desire for one over the other. I am not looking for a miracle, simply the ability to pay the debt I owe at a rate that makes it more affordable. I don’t need promises or gimmicks, just a reasonable program that works.
But there is no guarantee in life; and certainly not in this situation. And it isn’t something I can ask my friends or family for advice. Quite frankly it is embarrassing. So this is what I will do and what I will insist on:
- Less than $50 fees
- Lower interest rates
- Ability to pay early
- No collateral needed
- Open and Available communication (website to watch progress)
- Minimum damage to credit score
- English-speaking and familiar with US law
- In business with a high marked reputation
- Consideration and a degree of respect with those I talk to
I don’t know if that list is out in left field. I don’t know if that list will cure my stomach aches. This could be the worst idea my husband and I ever had. Or maybe, just maybe we will finally find that relief and stomach will once again sigh…until the next emergency happens.