Bad News Bears – The Current State of My Financial Journey

Bad News Bears – The Current State of My Financial Journey

The current state of my financial journey looks a lot like The Bad News Bears. I tell you, it’s been ugly recently. I’ve got ground balls going through my legs, I’m dropping popups, and I’m striking out at the plate every time.

I feel like I started the season on a hot streak, able to hit any pitch thrown to me…high heat, off-speed in the dirt, and the breaking ball with the wicked 12 to 6 action. I was on it! But then all of a sudden, I couldn’t hit anything. Eventually my team dropped me down to the minor leagues to “work on my swing.” It was a blow to my ego.

Those are all baseball references, in case you’re not into sports.

To put all of that in financial terms, here are some recent events that knocked me down…

• I spent a ton of money in startup costs for my real estate business, only to close zero deals and bring in zero revenue.
• I made a deal for a large loan to consolidate credit card debt, only to have my wife run up the credit card balances again.
• I had two major equipment breakdowns at the house, costing huge sums of money that I don’t have.

This all happened in a matter of months, about 3-5 months. Things turned downward fast.

To put it bluntly, my current financial picture looks like a shithole!

I reacted poorly to the whole thing when it hit me all at once. First, I got into massive arguments with my wife…and let me be clear, it’s my fault and her fault. We are both to blame for our predicament, not just her for the credit card mishap. Then, I went into a depression-type spiral. Drank a lot. Watched mindless TV. I basically gave up on everything for a few weeks, except my regular obligations of work and family.

Diversion Time

I knew I couldn’t stay in my downward spiral for too long. I had to find a shred of hope, a dim light at the end of the long, long tunnel. Some kind of mental diversion. Something!

I turned to investing. I had started funding my stock investing account at the end of last year. I had bought some long-term stocks at the beginning of the year and didn’t touch it much since then. I turned to my stock account for something that made sense to me financially.

This was the equivalent of doing intense exercise to clear your head. I needed to clear my financial head and stock investing has always felt good to me.

So I started obsessing about stock investing. I had made some stock picks earlier in the year by using newsletter services from The Motley Fool. Well worth your time and money, if you are interested.

That’s what I needed and what worked for that time. My focus on investing help divert my attention, gave me something to work on. I was able to forget all the other bad news for a while. But I still wasn’t dealing with my massive debt problem, just avoiding it for a while longer.

Dealing with the Crisis

Debt is a huge anchor for us. It cripples everything we do or try to do. I had taken huge steps towards improvement at the end of 2015, including a big change in my mindset to the positive.

Unfortunately, it was all washed away, or at least it feels that way. I needed to rebuild that positive feeling, but I had to face the debt monster first.

So, I grabbed some coffee and dove into spreadsheets. It was time to face the music once again. No sense trying to bury my head like an ostrich…it doesn’t work that way for debt. Hell, that’s part of the reason for my current predicament, I buried my head for too long. Even after I put us on a better path with a debt consolidation loan, I didn’t track our finances closely for the next few months, which lead us to this current moment.

Now I switched my obsession from investing to my massive debt. I crunched numbers and ran every mathematical thought to the end, coming up with some answers to my questions.

I was all over my checking account and credit card statements, searching for exact numbers and trends over the previous months. I ran ridiculous complex budgets, only to scrap them for something more simple. I figured out our monthly cash flow, then found more expenses and figured it again.

All of the number crunching brought me to one positive thought…I actually have equity in my house that I might be able to use.

Light Ahead

That brings me up to my current decision. I have obsessed over my financial spreadsheets for weeks now and done some research.

I’m looking at getting a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to help consolidate debt.

The positive aspect that I have focused on here is that I actually have equity in my house, enough to even make this HELOC a possibility for paying down debt. The negative aspect is dealing with banks and trying to see if I qualify for a HELOC. Banks are like the government to me…large, regulated behemoths who set the rules and make you jump through hoops to play along in their unfair game.

My thoughts on banks and government aside, I’m going through the process to qualify for a HELOC. I’m looking to get $30,000 in the credit line. If I qualify, I’m excited by the prospect of how I will use it. I’ll define that in separate post because I think it’s pretty awesome. More than just using $30k towards debt…much more.

Thanks for reading my financial ramblings. Leave a comment to add to the discussion of give your thoughts on HELOCs, banks, or even baseball.

Follow me on Twitter as well for more ramblings.

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  • Heloc loans are a great way to consolidate debt. The key of course it to not run up new debt. It sounds easy but many people end up with a maxed out Heloc and a bunch of new credit card debt.

    • I know what you mean, it is easy to run up new debt. The habit of running up debt needs to change first. I’m working on my wife for that one.

      Turns out I can’t qualify for a HELOC right now. Got back two denials. Pretty sure my debt-to-income ratio is not appealing to banks. I’m going to try another route…cash-out refi on my primary residence. There are pros and cons to weigh, but we will likely apply soon.

  • Mrs. Groovy

    Hey Brian. I’m sorry you got hit with all this at once. From everything you mentioned my biggest concern is with you and your wife getting on the same page. You need to work together. Have you ever been through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU)? Or thought about it? We haven’t taken it but we listen to Dave almost every night. And we’ve been debt free for 10 years but we still find his message valuable. The FPU program is ideal for couples. There’s probably one being offered in your neighborhood or you could do it on line.

    I would also think twice about using the Heloc to pay down debt. I wouldn’t use my home for that. You need to attack the habits, first, that got you in debt and make sure they don’t return. Also, I bet much of your debt is unsecured, but your house is not. Don’t put it in jeopardy to pay off debt.

    • Thanks for checking in, Mrs. Groovy. I agree that my wife and I need to get on the same page financially. She’s amazing in many ways, but she sort of glazes over when I talk finances, investing, etc. She is actually very frugal and resourceful with many things in the house. Her achilles heel is a sign that says “sale” or “clearance.” That’s straight kyptonite for her. We have agreed that she needs to avoid many stores because of this. We even took away her credit cards and are going to a debit card with a set weekly limit. We are working on it.

      Admittedly, I was venting here in my post (wife doesn’t read these things, another eyes glazed over situation). I know of Dave Ramsey and his course. I’m fairly certain that there’s no way we would make it happen…four kids, crazy house, two full time jobs, kid activities, etc. That’s why I read blogs, articles, and listen to podcasts, to educate myself on our financial life.

      As for the HELOC, it looks like a moot point anyway…I’ve been denied, can’t qualify. I’m looking at doing a cash-out refi on our house. It will give us a huge leg up in monthly cash flow, which is my biggest concern right now.

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