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An Introduction: Leah

Hi, my name is Leah. I found out about Family Budget Boot Camp when a friend sent me the call-out offering a financial makeover. I thought, "No Way! This is perfect!"

Back in early 2008, my husband and I felt like we really didn’t have anything to worry about, financially. We were living in Rhode Island, in a house I had bought four years earlier. He had a union job as an operating engineer -- he’d had it for 9 years -- and made very good money. I had a job as a substance abuse counselor. I had very good credit and had always financially done everything "right." We were expecting our first baby in June.

Then in May, my husband lost his job. His work was construction-based; he wouldn’t work much in the winter but would typically start getting called in again in the spring. According to him, last year, “they just stopped calling.” Then, when I called my boss in August to tell him that my doctor had cleared me to go back to work after maternity leave, I learned I’d been laid off. “Lack of work,” he said.

My husband had been serving with the National Guard, so he contacted them about work. This turned into an offer of a one-year active duty assignment as an instructor at an Army base in Georgia. He left at the end of September. My daughter and I stayed behind in the house, because this was supposed to be a temporary fix. But it was extremely difficult physically, mentally, emotionally and, of course, financially to be without my husband. It killed me to see him missing out on watching the baby grow and change, and I know he missed her, too. In addition, the bills were piling up: I couldn’t find work, and keeping up two homes was expensive. My savings account began dwindling down into nothing. Sadly, I even gave up my dog, taking him to a pet adoption agency, because I was concerned about spending money we didn’t have.

This past January, it hit me that I couldn't hold on to my home any longer, and I missed my husband too much for us to be apart. I convinced Eric we’d have to sell and did all the research. The value of the house had plummeted and we owed much more than it was worth, so I decided to settle for a short sale just to get out of this situation. It will take a toll on my credit and make it very difficult for us over the next few years, but I’d rather do that than go through a foreclosure. I have a potential buyer now, but I already lost another last June because the banks would not come to an agreement.

In joining Family Budget Boot Camp, I am not trying to seek sympathy. I know that I am partially to blame for this situation. I believe that everything happens for a reason and you just have to roll with the punches. However I think that we’re your standard middle-class working American family who is struggling greatly and can be helped with some financial guidance. I’d like to think that our experience can offer hope to all other families in similar situations.

 

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