The following is the latest post in my "Reader Profiles" series. Each post in this series details the financial situation and challenges of an FMF reader. The purpose of this series is to help us all identify with people like us (in similar situations -- not all will be, of course, but eventually I'm sure you will find someone like you here), get to know the frequent commenters on the site, and hear some financial wisdom/challenges from people other than me.
If you're interested in contributing to this series, then drop me an email. The series seems to be very popular with readers and I need a steady stream of new ones to keep it going.
Also, please leave constructive comments, questions, and so forth. Simply telling someone what a mess they have, how they have made poor decisions, and so forth is not helpful. There is a way to say, "That was a mistake, but here's what you can do to correct it" that both acknowledges the problem and offers a solution. It's this sort of feedback that this series is intended to solicit.
Next in the series is FMF reader KA. She answered my questions (in red below) as follows:
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a 42 year old single woman who managed a group home until I was injured at work for a second time and am permanently disabled. I had to leave my job in April. I am not collecting social security disability, my legs might not work well, but my brain isn't broken. I have been living off workers compensation payments (70% of my previous income) and savings for the last year, my benefits will expire at the end of this month. (Jan)
I have sent out hundreds of resumes, but when it comes time for the interview, they see me hobbling in on my cane and I never get a call back. It doesn't help that I am also overweight. I did finally manage to find a seasonal job as a certified tax preparer which I am starting January 10.
I have also been doing some freelance writing, making jewelry, and selling things on Ebay to supplement my income. I am in the process of write a couple of e-books, and I just created a blog on frugal living that I am hoping will generate some ad revenue. I also have been going to classes, took my test, and just applied to get my license for selling life insurance. I have a Masters Degree in Project Management and a Bachelors Degree in History.
Describe your financial situation (who works in your family, how your income is (general), how your expenses are, etc.).
Current income is $1,500 a month, I have spent most of my savings, only have $1000 left. I have $7,000 in credit card debt, two student loans, one currently deferred for $64,000 and a private loan that I owe $3,200 - $52 a month I have a 6 year old car, I have 7 more payments on before its paid off, but 1/3 of my credit card debt has been spent trying to keep it on the road. Another 1/3 has gone to getting medical care as I no longer have health insurance. My living expenses are $550 rent $340 car pmt $87 car/renters insurance, $70 to $90 utilities, $100 phone/internet $300 credit card payments. My credit score was 715 until a medical bill ended up in collection. Thats pretty much my income - I have had to use what little extra I make on the side and my savings for groceries, laundry, and gas for my car which is about $220 a month if I am careful.
What are the current financial issues you're facing (saving, paying off debt, etc.)?
I'm about to hit desperation mode once my workers compensation is gone, and this seasonal job ends in April. I am doing everything I can to generate income, but I'm afraid it won't be enough.
What are your plans for the future (retire early, build your career, etc.)?
I would like to start my own business, I even have a unique idea, but because of my disability, I couldn't physically do it by myself, nor could I afford to pay someone to help me until things get off the ground. I don't even want to think about retirement
What's your best piece(s) of financial advice and/or your general philosophy on personal finances?
Up until the time I got hurt, I was always paying more than my minimum balance on my credit cards, kept my balances less than 50% of my credit limits, set money aside in my savings account every month, and was contributing to my pension plan and buying savings bonds with my income tax returns.