Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Part One, Skin of Our Teeth

Most people only want to read positive and upbeat blog posts. No one wants to hear the real truth. Life isn't always positive. If I put my head and heart in the sand and don't tell the truth who will I be? This is part one of a two part post, please read both so you aren't left feeling my life is all negative.

We sold our home by the skin of our teeth. Before we sold our home, we sold Gary's Mazda pickup to pay off the loan to get a car we could pay cash for to lower our insurance and eliminate the payment. We thought we'd be OK. Then our three year old refrigerator broke and wasn't fixable. We lost two refrigerator and freezer fulls of food trying to get it fixed and covered under the warranty and it wasn't covered. We bought a new refrigerator on a 'no payments and no interest for a year' plan. Then our riding lawn mower broke and it wasn't fixable. Our house was for sale so we had to keep the lawn mowed and looking good so we had to buy a new lawn mower.

Late last year Gary's employer cut his hours back two hours a day and his salary back by one third. Meanwhile I was looking for a job and couldn't seem to get one and much of the time my back was too bad to work anyway. If we didn't sell our home right away or in the next month, we'd have to cancel our health insurance to make the payment, utilities, pay for food, etc.

A couple of months ago Gary heard rumors at work the deductible was going to be raised $1000 but then I got a statement it went from $2500 per year to $6000 per year for each of us. I only found out by reading a statement from Blue Shield, Gary's employer has yet to let anyone know their deductible was raised. Everyone found out coincidentally. When asked the employer said "times are tough and we had to raise the deductible". We're already paying $450 per month for the premium.

Gary's employer cut every ones wages and salaries at his company and laid off half of the employees, saying all the while, "times are tough and I'm loosing money". This same employer bought a new car for his wife and paid cash; then bought a new car for his 17 year old daughter with a lift kit and big tires and paid cash; then bought a new truck for himself, then bought a new skip loader and paid cash; then bought two landfills (which make huge profits) and then bought... etc etc. How do I know all this? It's a small town everyone knows every one's business. I don't care how they spend their money, it's theirs to spend, but when they don't pay their employees a living wage and rub it in their face every day saying "times are tough", it's a bit much to take.

Next we tried to sell some of our tangible assets to get a little bit of money ahead and no one would give us even one tenth of what anything we were selling was worth. We were liquidating any of the assets we had to pay our bills. I understood why most didn't buy anything, they were all in the same boat we were. The poorest people never quibbled about our prices, they knew a good bargain when they saw one and just paid us.

Then there was someone who drove up in an $80,000 Mercedes - offering us 1/4 of what was already 1/2 of what an item was worth. They told us they couldn't afford any more, and that we could take it or leave it. I knew these people and knew they had high paying jobs in this county. A couple of other people wanted to know if we would donate to their charity for a write-off. I told them I would love to donate the item, but I needed the money for bills. In the end what we couldn't sell and couldn't fit in our moving van we did donate or give away.

Once we had an accepted offer on our home, we needed money for tires for our "moving van", for moving boxes, and for some code compliance repairs for our house. During that time the stress of thinking our home might not close was killing us a minute at a time. But we were just a little bit better off than many others in our situation. We happened to have some money saved before my back got really bad, and before Gary's hours and salary were cut. We had bought our "moving van" and motorhome in hopes we sold our home.

Before we actually sold our home we did try to sell the motorhome for over six months, but no one would buy it. The economy by that time had gotten so bad no one was buying anything unless it was practically given to them. Since our motorhome didn't sell, we thought if we didn't sell our home, at least we had a place to live and somewhere to store our stuff if we lost our home. Besides going through all the financial stress, the last couple of months I've been feeling really bad about all the people in America who've lost their homes, lost their jobs, lost everything, and don't have a motorhome to live in or a moving van to store their belongings.

You might wonder why I never mentioned anything about this before. I was selfish, I didn't want anyone to know how desperate we were to sell our assets or our home because they might offer us even less than they did. Lots of folks who came to our yard sale assumed our home was being foreclosed upon when it wasn't. Others said, "Gee, I hope you didn't sell it too low, that will lower the value of my home". I guess I'm not the only one who is selfish.

I'm not telling you this for you to feel sorry for Gary or me. We are the lucky ones. I am telling you this for everyone else around us who might be going through the same thing. Your next door neighbor might be at their wits end, at the end of their rope, at the doorstep of homelessness and you might not know it. Please look around you and look for the signs. I've been feeling so bad, feeling so guilty because we sold our home when there are so many people around us who want to sell their homes, who need to sell their homes, and they haven't been able to sell them.

Gary and I plan to rest for a while to regain our stamina and energies and see where we will go from here. I did take a few clay pieces to another studio to be bisque fired and I'll be glazing them later this week, so hopefully I'll have some clay pieces to show you. Thanks for listening and thank goodness for blogging and clay.


  1. Linda, I'm glad you shared this with us. I often think about the fact that we (my Husband and I) are only a job and 6 months away from being homeless. Big layoffs happened twice this year at my husband's work. Our home and way of life are things I don't take for granted. When I start feeling afraid, I try to remember what's truly most important to me. My relationship with God, My Husband and Family and our health. The rest is stuff and stuff can be replaced. Maybe not tomorrow or the day after that, but in time. Take care and God Bless. ~ Cindy

  2. Hi Cindy, thanks I figured if I shared I might be able to help just one person who reads this. Hard times sure make me appreciate what I do have that's for sure.

  3. Hi Linda,

    Thank you for sharing your story and I'm happy that you sold your home, but it's sad that so many of us are suffering right now - at this point in our lives. So much for the golden years! I'm in the same boat whereas my blog is upbeat and positive but the truth is that I'm a single mom of two teens and lost my job 2 years ago. I've blown through everything including my kid's college funds to keep my beautiful home in an idealic setting and have to sell it soon. Hence the motivation to preserve memories in clay. I'm signing this post anonymous because I don't want my situation to hinder my job search or house sale. I love your pottery! Best to you.

  4. Dear Anonymous, So sorry about your troubles and all the others in the same boat. it is very sad that so many corporations and executives are profiting from the hardship of others. And the polititians and lawmakers haven't a clue as they have plenty of money and benefits. Until you have been at your wits end it is hard to put yourself in other's shoes. I tried to get my interest lowered at my bank for my credit card and they said i would have to apply, of course I wouldn't have qualified for a lower interest rate only those who don't need money get the lower interest rate. the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I hope it doesn't take long to sell your home, ours took almost a year and in the end we had to lower our price to below what we had in it. I don't blame you for an anonymous comment as we must do what we must do - survival is most important. I try to stay upbeat and positive, but I figured if one person could be helped by my post then it was worth posting and of course I posted after I sold my house, not sure what I would have done if I didn't sell it. thank goodness for clay and for those in the world who still care as humans should. Good luck to you and your children and hope it all works out for you.

  5. My husband was laid off and unemployed for about 9 months. We had to sell our house and move. We are still recovering from it all. I feel so lucky that he found a new job. Then they laid off 1/3 of their staff but he made it through my some miracle. I thought I'd get a job for extra security but not too many are hiring and the competition is just crazy bad. These are scary times.

    According to the BBC news last night, we are going to have to wait for the current prez to leave before we will see any economic recovery. So much for all that hope.

    We have space for a motorhome and then some, if you can get her up the hill. Come park out front and I'll run you an electric cord.

    (((((big hugs)))))

  6. Hi Donna, So sorry for your troubles too, I just know there are tons of people in the same boat. I tried for over a year and no jobs here, unless I spoke Spanish which I don't. I just wonder how this country can survive with all the people out of work and those who are working making less each day. The state of California just said they will increase everyone's payroll taxes by 10 percent starting immediately because they have no money, so those working are taking home even less each day, yikes.

    Thanks so much for your kind offer, we actually are ok now since we did get money out of our house even though we lost money and most of our life's savings, but we will be able to buy another house and have a little left over - we just can't buy a home in the location we wanted to in the Pacific Northwest because we can't afford to live there now and we can't afford to travel to New Zealand or other places like we wanted to, we shall see how we rearrange things for the future. Now that we don't have the bills associated with our home, and my husband is still working even though he is making next to nothing, we are doing ok because our bills are much less - no telephone, no electric, no natural gas, no house insurance, etc. Our RV space rent is just one fee, so there is car insurance and food and medical insurance and that is it for now. He plans to quit his job to get a better job somewhere else and sign up for social security early at 62. I am only 59- only that's a laugh - ha - so I have to wait till then. At work everyone was asking Gary where he was going to go and he told each person he was going to park on their front lawn and run his dump tube to fertilize their lawn - they all gave up asking him after a while. Ha HA - everyone where he works is looking for another job and many have left - it is really bad in California right now especially the central valley, businesses are closing up left and right and houses are boarding up left and right. the BBC is correct, but so many people don't see it - you can't keep spending, and putting no restrictions on imports and immigration, and giving dole outs to everyone and bailing out the banks and expect the country to do well. Oh well, don't get me started, most of the public can't see the writing on the wall and don't realize what is happening. Frugal is our new middle name. Hugs to you too.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment