When is it time to just throw in the towel and admit things are hopeless financially (and perhaps in every other way too)?
I know that sounds like a quitter’s question, but before you judge me, I ask you to at least read my story and ask yourself how many setbacks and false hopes one person can endure before they decide to just give up. I apologize this will not be short and to the point but I don’t know any other way to explain why I feel this way:
I am a 54-year-old disabled former healthcare clinician and executive . Early in my life I was abandoned by his father at the age of six months. My mother couldn’t cope with this and suffered a breakdown and was institutionalized for nearly 15 years.
After this happened, I was then raised by two sets of foster parents. All of them were good people. My first foster father, although he was an alcoholic, was a kind man who never raised his voice and never missed a day’s work. He also never took care of himself. He died when I was 5 years old. My foster mother soon followed. She broke her hip and was put in a nursing home (both of them were on their mid-60s when they took me in).
I was taken in by my second foster parents when who did what they could to support me. They both worked hard, though we were not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. Throughout my entire childhood I lived in a small apartment. I did not have my own bedroom but slept in a cot in their bedroom. There was no money to go to college, so I entered vocational school when I was in high school. It was there I was fortunate enough to win a scholarship that let me go to college at a local community college. In turn I did well, which led to further scholarships to a four-year state university. Between scholarships, working, and a student loan I was able to pay for college and my living expenses. I was doing well in college, when during a trip to visit college friends I was hit by an ATV and spent the next 7 months in the hospital. The hospital stay ended when my leg was amputated at the age of 24.
I will admit for a time I was depressed and did nothing to help myself. I had over $30,000.00 in medical bills and my student loan to pay. Eventually I realized I needed to get on with my life so I changed my major and went to college for prosthetics and orthotics. I graduated at the top of class and began a career in healthcare helping people like me regain their function and independence again. I even learned to run again and competed against able bodied runners. I paid off my student loan and medical bills and was debt free. I was happy in both my career and my life and was able to help others regain their independence at the same time.
Along the way I met my beautiful wife, ironically because of my friendship with the man who hit me with the ATV (we are still friends as it was an accident and he is an honorable and decent person who has been there for me throughout the years). We were married and all was good for the first few years together. Around the birth of our first child that began to change.
My daughter was born with a heart condition, which while treatable, has caused obvious stress financially and emotionally. At the same time my foster parents and my biological mother, who were all still alive and who I was responsible for, became very ill and needed both home and hospital care for the next three years. During that period the hospital I was working for began cost cuts requiring me to seek another job. From 2002 to 2004 both my foster and biological mother all passed away, leaving me with both their medical bills and funeral costs. During this period my second child, a son, was born. The birth was an emergency C-section caused by an error on the doctor’s part that almost ended in tragedy. Thankfully both made it through. Despite the error we did not sue or seek damages against the doctor or hospital as we did not want to punish someone for an error that was not done on purpose. However, the combination of all these things wiped out my savings and caused my family a great deal of financial and emotional damage, but we did the best we could and moved on.
For a time things were improving. We had the normal stresses a family has, but I was working and paying the bills and slowly rebuilding our savings. We sent our little girl to school and all was going well. Things became more complicated when our daughter was attacked in first grade and neither the principle nor anyone else felt they could do anything about it. Our desire to educate our children in a safe and supportive environment lead us to homeschool. My wife became teacher to our children, and I provided the primary financial support. That changed in 2011 when I was downsized out of my job. At the same time, we also found that my son had an eye condition that would require surgery or else could result in possible blindness in one eye. For a year I was out of work and again spent all my savings (including retirement and my children’s education savings) to provide for my family.
Thankfully I found a new job in 2012 but it required me to move from the east coast to the mid-West. I was employed as the Vice President of a Rehabilitation Hospital in Michigan and was proud of what I did, as well as the organization I worked for. We continued to homeschool our children. Although I made a good salary, to educate them properly requires more financial resources than most people realize. Still I took pride in the fact my children did very well academically. State tests always placed them in the in the 95th to 99th percentile in comparison to their peers.
Throughout this time, I had been the primary provider for a family of four (myself, my wife, my daughter, and my son). My wife has, and does work, but they have primarily been in part time positions as she does a great deal of community volunteer work. I was doing well in my position
was injured at work in in late 2015. I suffered injuries to my cervical spine and tendons of his right hand; along with additional damage to my right below knee amputation. In 2016, my employer decided to let me go from my position.
For nearly two years I was unemployed, and we nearly lost our home to foreclosure. As it is, the entire situation left us deeply in debt. Eventually, by the end of 2016 I was on Medicaid and was able to get the surgeries I needed. By May of 2017 I was able to work again. To provide for our family and avoid foreclosure on our home I once again had to cash out of all of my retirement savings. After getting a job out of state I had slowly been attempting to resolve our debts and avoid bankruptcy but it has been difficult while also providing for our family. Just renting a room cost an additional $500.00 a month, and that does not include the costs of food and gas for my car. Living out of state had cost me approximately an additional $1000.00 in expenses. However I was working, although at less than my previous salary with the added expense of living out of state while trying to help us get back on our feet again. Because of our financial situation, my credit was damaged, and this has also made things difficult.
To add insult to injury while traveling the 1200-mile round trip journey to visit our family I had an auto accident in 2017 which left him having to buy another car (used) so he could still get to work. This cost nearly $12,000.00. These further setbacks worsened our financial situation and we also faced the fact our house also needed repairs I could not afford. We were once again facing insolvency and potentially bankruptcy.
However, in September of 2018, another disaster struck when the facility I managed was
closed, and I was laid off from my job. Because of previous financial difficulties and this new hardship, I was unable to make the mortgage payment on our home and it is in forbearance once again. This requires I pay approximately $18,000.00 by the end of April or face foreclosure. I am also unable to make his car payments and am at risk of losing our family vehicle (he owes approximately $2500.00 on it).
I kept trying to find a job. I have a great deal of experience, but as a middle-aged disabled man I have found that I am less desirable to many organizations. However I was recently able to once again gain employment, though at a lower salary than my previous positions.
I was to begin on 02/11/19. I was ready to start when just a few days before he was to leave for Wisconsin the polar vortex hit. This resulted in our losing power for approximately 4 days and delayed my start date to 02/14/19. I was preparing for my departure when my mother-in-law on became gravely ill and was placed in hospice. As we were told that she could pass at any time,
my wife wanted to travel to see her (she lives in Up-State New York). Despite the fact we could not afford it, we borrowed $500.00 for a plane ticket so she could get there before her mother passed. This delayed my start date to 02/18/19.
My wife did visit her mother and returned. I left for Wisconsin on 02/17/19 during yet another snow and ice storm. During the trip the car I bought in 2017 began to develop issues with suddenly accelerating and decelerating as well as losing power. I came to find that his car, a 2015 Nissan Sentra, utilized a CVT transmission, which unbeknownst to me was known
to have problems.
I filed a consumer complaint against Nissan and brought his car to a Nissan dealership where it essentially died. I was told that the answer was to replace the transmission for approximately $4100.00. Nissan decided that, despite the known issues with the CVT transmissions, they would not help at all. As I need a car for my new job, and cannot afford to have his vehicle repaired, I am forced to now rent a car, another expense my family cannot afford.
To make matters worse, as all this was happening, we received news that my Mother-in-law passed away in the early morning hours of 02/19/19. As my vehicle was not working, and we afford a plane ticket, my wife decided she would attempt make the 10+ hour drive in the family van to her mother’s funeral. Before making the trip she thought she would take the van in to have it serviced (as it was overdue because of our financial issues). When she attempted to do so the van would not start and we were faced with another bill of over $500.00 to get it running again. These constant setbacks stretched us past the point where none of us could attend my
Despite this I am trying the beat I can to help my daughter achieve a college education. We are fortunate that she has received multiple scholarships, however the aid does not cover everything and we are struggling to pay the portion that remains. The college has allowed me to be late with the payments currently due but somehow I must come up with $1700.00 by the middle of May or else her freshman year is in jeopardy.
As you read this you may feel this all strains credulity. I understand that. This partly my point. It is unbelievable and I am finding it unbelievable that I can ever get out of this onslaught of disasters. I have tried to be strong and convince my family that we will make it as we have always made it in the past. However, I know longer see a way to do that.
Many might say that I just have to suck it up and pull myself up by my own boot straps. My response is that I have been doing that for over 50 years and, while thing seem to improve for a while and it looks like I have made it and am successful, there seems to always be some unexpected disaster that ruins everything.
I have tried to be responsible. I have saved for my children’s education and my retirement. The disaster strikes and I am forced to deplete those savings. I once had a credit rating above 800. Now I am below 500. I cannot repair or replace my car and am caught in a cycle of renting a car to keep a job which doesn’t which doesn’t pay enough to allow me to save my home, my car, or my family. Even if I sold my home, my family would have no place to live and my poor credit would not allow me to buy or rent another. I am afraid I will likely go from former executive to homeless man in a few months’ time.
I’m sorry if this all sounds very self-pitying and bitter. I suppose it is, but even now I would like to know what I could do to return to self-sufficiency. I don’t want to give up – but based on what I have said – am I just fighting a fool’s battle.
At this point, I am reduced to simply pleading for help. My family’s and my life are in a tailspin and I don’t know how to pull out.AS it stands I face the loss of my home and my family vehicle. My daughter faces not being able to continue college. Somehow, I need a working vehicle again to be able to work. Tying to rent a car is just driving me deeper into debt. If someone can offer any help, even a loan or a mechanic who would be willing to repair my car (it is currently in Green bay Wisconsin), I would be deeply grateful. I am just trying to survive but no matter what I do more things seem to go wrong. Any help would be appreciated.