Making Hard Decisions - Frugal Country Living
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Making Hard Decisions

Haven't been around awhile on cyberland; it's a busy season here with gardens, fields, animals, and a multitude of marryin' and buryin' ceremonies. Life has come down to some hard decisions.

The unemployment rate here is 15.2 or 15.6 % (I've heard 2 reports) and dh is not happy with his $5 an hour payCUT job. I feel bad for him, and I wish I could help him more. He's found the older he gets, the less patient he is with nonsense, especially at work. We are barely making it on the new wage, but we are making it. He finds that the other jobs he applies for are flooded with people looking for work and willing to accept less money than he is. It is an emloyer's market right now....if the employer is still staying afloat, that is. We know that his job has no security, it's just one week til the next and we are thankful to have a paycheck, albeit missing any benefits.

The field we planted at a friend's father's property in speculation of harvesting the corn, grinding and feeding our animals.......well we've lost it. the friend and her father had a loud disagreement over something else, and well all our corn is gone. It's still there, and he gets it, but we'll not be able to be on the property to harvest. We were depending on that as the price of feed keeps skyrocketing and the money I get from eggs, milk, cheese just doesn't cover it. We will either get rid of all our goats by September, or cut back to one milker and our buck and see how that goes. Chickens and rabbits are cheap to feed, we will keep them.I have 2 goats and 6 rabbits in the freezer right now.

This has been the worst year ever for our garden. The insects and the weeds keep taking over. I've never had pests start so early in the season; I've never had the garden grow so slowly! It seems at least 3 weeks behind, mostly due to cold weather all season. I have done a count of what I have left canned in my canning room downstairs, and what I'll need for a year. I am concerned that the garden will not produce what I need, and I'll have to buy some at the store during the fall sales....which are terrible sales compared to years past. I will be content with whatever we can glean from the garden...and learn to be happy with it! Dh has suggested doing like the Bible says, and every 7th year let the garden rest. The thought of going a year without a garden sent shivers down my spine, but perhaps we can claim another area of land to till next spring.

I did a mortgage calculator recently. The problem with adjusting to a new income is that my mortgage doesn't adjust. We pay $884 a month. On dh's old income we could do $975 a month. (So to critics of foreclosures, we didn't buy too much house, duh) On dh's new income we can do $625 a month. AHA there's the rub. I was online figuring if we could fit any of the housing stimulus plans that Obama started last February. Unless I have a FannieMae/Freddie mortgage or are already 4 to 6 months into the foreclosure process, I don't qualify. There was another program, but I was disqualified from that by $9. From what I've read, the banks don't HAVE to offer any of these refi plans either. So most banks would not want to mess with someone that's already struggling to meet bills. They'd rather write a conventional mortgage to a steller buyer. At this rate, we cannot afford to do the needed structural improvements (ie roof and foundation repairs). So coupled with the ever-present possibility of job loss, well we may as well move out of state where there's work and let it go back to the bank, like so many others that have left Michigan. I will risk losing our fantastic credit score.....but hopefully I won't need it.

 IMO, these housing-mortgage-stimulus programs are absolutely worthless to most people. The people ... and states..that truly need the help most are the least likely to get it.




juju_mommy said:

I just wanted to tell you that I said a prayer for you!

Hang in there girl! God will see you through.

This might sound horrible, but reading about people going through situations like this helps me to remember over and over again how fortunate we are to still have jobs and to never take that for granted! To realize that it can happen to anyone, even the best planners...

Be blessed!


July 20, 2009 2:26 PM

Cinnamonhuskies said:

So true Julie!

In May, a friend of ours with 15 yrs in a Automotive Parts company was permanently laid off. This month, another friend that had over 20 yrs in a HVAC supply company was permantly laid off. Both have families. There is no guarentees anymore, it can happen to anyone.

I have learned in the past 2 yrs that God provides and to just roll with punches, so to speak.

July 20, 2009 3:44 PM

Gary said:

There's no guarantee, but it might be helpful to talk with your bank. Some are willing to work out a lower payment (unfortunately, not all). They recognize that they're better off with a lower payment than no payment at all (and trying to sell a home in a tough market for real estate sales).

Hope that your garden produces an unexpected bumper crop!

July 21, 2009 7:44 AM

Cinnamonhuskies said:


My concern is it negatively affecting our credit rating. Maybe it wouldn't...I think it will be a last ditch effort, however. It is with JPMorgan Chase, i have not been happy with their handling of the loan and would love to pay closing costs to refi with someone else. When I got together last September with a local mortgage originator, the problem was that our home isn't worth what it used to be. The best break is to wait for housing values to rebound.

Since then there is another government backed program that will loan 125% of your home value to refi. WHAT THEY DON'T TELL YOU is that right now it's only 100% of the value with an October deadline to begin loaning at 125%.

But it sure looks good to say the current government has created all these programs to help regular joes avoid foreclosure. Don't believe the lie.

July 21, 2009 10:26 AM

frugal_fun said:

"But it sure looks good to say the current government has created all these programs to help regular joes avoid foreclosure. Don't believe the lie."

I thought that when I first read the details of the new plans.  It looks like they doing something, but designed a program where most people don't qualify and the emphasis is on reworking mortgages already implicitly backed by the US government.

It's hard to believe, but it's sort of a good thing.  Banks have made a decade worth of insane loans.  It is not a good idea to keep people in mortgages they can't/couldn't afford or to backstop those insane loans with the US treasury.

And I hate to say this, but your absolute best bet might be to walk away.  People get hung up on credit scores, but they aren't a measure of your character.  I'm pretty sure St. Peter doesn't check FICO scores at the gate.

I'm aware banks used credit scores that way for quite a while, but they are only mixed picture of things you can control (disciplined spending) and those you can't (job loss, illness).  Smart bankers and business people recognize  plain old bad luck can happen to anyone.

Also, if you are counting on a rebound in prices to refinance, you might want to take it out of the picture as you consider your options.   In a normal real estate market, prices go up for about 7 years (or so) and then spend then next 7 years coming down or going flat.  We're coming out of the largest real estate bubble in history, with rising unemployment, and record inventory.  (That's not counting the snails pace at which banks are repossessing property, which is shadow inventory.) There is no reason to think we're going to see a rebound in the near future anywhere. :(

Good luck with whatever you end up doing.  

July 22, 2009 2:35 PM

tripletree said:

I was recently up in Michigan, and saw first-hand all of the shuttered houses/businesses.  It hurt my heart, knowing that many people were suffering because of the severity of the recession in that area.  The roadways were in very poor condition as well, I assume due to the overall economic woes the state is experiencing.   What I was wondering, though, when I was reading about your gardening troubles, is whether you have taken a soil sample?  If your soil is lacking N-P-K, or the PH is too low or too high, it will stress the plants that are trying to grow.  Research has shown that stressed plants are more apt to attract bugs and experience disease issues than healthy plants.  You would only need to take one sample from your garden and your extension office or a local farm co-op would probably be able to send in the sample for a fee of $10 or so for the basic test on your N-P-K and your soil PH.  They can also test for micro-nutrients, but that is more expensive.  I don't know if that is the issue with your garden, or not, but if it is, you can still buy fertilizers to help boost your plants.  Down in Indiana, we have also had a fairly cool, wet season so I know what you mean about the garden being set back.  My tomatoes and peppers are not very happy with life.  On the other hand, the late-planted broccoli that I thought would give me fits with broccoli worms has been pretty much pest free this year.  Which brings me to something else.  I wonder whether it might be worth it for you to plant some fall-harvested crops like broccoli, spinach, etc. to help stretch your harvest.  I know your season is fairly short, but it might not be too late to get out some fall crops.

Good luck and best wishes during this difficult time.  I hope things turn around soon.

July 23, 2009 10:12 AM

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