YNAB helped fuel my win
I was a Stay-at-home parent who divorced an abusive (& narcissistic) spouse after being married for a decade. Actually, I was legally separated for a year and then decided I was done playing nice -- I had my kids to think about. It took 2 years to finalize my divorce and get out of that emotional/mental hell. The courts moved slowly as my ex dragged his feet thru the process, and my savings was being depleted very quickly. I was paying the mortgage (my ex refused to abide by the temp court order), I was paying off our only vehicle & other debts for as long as I could, I kept my kids fed, and I tried to not let them feel the struggle of our situation.
I fell behind and eventually stopped paying on everything but the basics -- food, clothing, fuel (for job hunting etc) & heat over the winter. That meant the mortgage, the vehicle loan, my student loan, & other things weren't getting paid. The sheriff eventually posted a notice on my front door about the house going up for auction. Our situation sucked financially, but I knew that it was still better than staying in a marriage that caused nothing but emotional/mental/physical harm to my kids & myself. I knew that our struggle would be temporary even though it felt like things were taking forever to move forward.
I had to go on welfare (which I hated doing)... I was trying to find work despite the fact that there was a gap of several years of unemployment on my resume & job applications. I had an associates degree in what's now an over-saturated market, so that didn't help. I tried to survive & keep a positive outlook for my kids, even though I often stressed & cried myself to sleep while wondering if I would have to "work the streets" to keep them fed & taken care of. Money was going out faster & in greater amounts than it was coming in. Eventually, the divorce took my credit score from 745 down to 300.
I decided that as much as I hated the thought (& consequences/stigma) of filing for bankruptcy (Ch7), I went ahead & did so -- knowing that my situation couldn't get much worse. I had gotten a job and making $9 an hour a year (with no benefits), so the outflow was still greater than the inflow of funds. Once I had money to finalize my bankruptcy (which took me over a year to save up for), I jumped on the chance for a fresh start. Surprisingly, the bankruptcy made my credit score go upfrom 300 to 350. This gave me the feeling of momentum and hope, and I decided to try out YNAB to help keep me going.
Looking back to that time versus where I am now (1.5-2yrs after bankruptcy), I'm glad I had filed. I'm not rich by any means, but my kids & I are happy & in a much better situation. I got a better paying job in 2016 ($40k annual net w/ full benefits) and raised my credit score to the high 500's. I was able to sell my gas-guzzling vehicle & purchase a new, more efficient one for me to commute to work. Within 6-8 months after getting the car (& recovering from the slight dip in my credit score for buying it), I applied for a $300 rewards credit card to rebuild my credit. I didn't want the credit card, didn't need it, and hated the high interest rate -- but I had to rebuild my credit somehow.
My score's now 635. I make more than the minimum payments on my car & my student loan. I no longer live paycheck to paycheck and in fact, all of my bills for April were paid up by the 2nd. I keep looking at my budget & thinking I should be paying a bill, but nope -- they're already paid ahead. Heck, I could pay my May bills today if I wanted to, but I'm holding off until I know where my tax refund's going. I was able to set aside roughly $6k in savings (plus $1k for each child), not including my retirement fund(s). Assuming that my tax refund doesn't get offset towards my student loan, my savings will double. (If it does go toward my student loan, it's ok anyway -- as it was 1st on my list of things to pay off, since it has a lower balance than my high-interest car loan.)
I was able to achieve a lot of this with the help of YNAB's rules -- it changed my thinking, and helped give me focus to achieve what I had set out to do. I see where my money's going, where it's coming from, and what I have to keep an eye on or adjust. For instance, once my $17k student loan is paid, I will take the monthly pmts & apply it to my car loan. After the timely, above-minimum pmts I've been making towards my car loan -- I intend to get it refinanced to further lower my expenses.
I would say that bankruptcy sucks, but honestly -- it was the bankruptcy that gave me the slight credit score bump, which gave me hope and fueled my focus, so that I could find the funds (& courage) to try YNAB & be where I am now. The divorce & bankruptcy gave me a semi-fresh start; but it was YNAB that really enabled me to stand on my own 2 feet & provide for my kids without being in a constant "survival" mode.
Take a look at your own situation as objectively as possible, and decide whether it's just a temporary setback (like a little speed bump), or if it's a bit more dire (like a huge road block or dead end)... and then go from there. Use YNAB, a little bit of focus, & a lot of patience to help your situation for the better, like it has mine. I wish you all good luck! :)
Hi BlueJhay !
Thank you for sharing this - your story is amazing! I love it when users are able to look back and see how far they've come and pinpoint at which point things began to turn around. It sounds like you put on your superhero cape after the bankruptcy and you've been soaring ever since! Great job! :)