Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Lotto!

So I admit, every now and then I get the urge and go buy a Lotto ticket.  You can't win if you don't play!  Well, apparently I can't win anyways.  I promise, if I win, I'll let you know.

Is playing the Lotto still largely a Lower Class event?  The infamous "THEY" say that more and more of the Middle Class have started buying Lotto tickets since we've entered this recession.

We all have fantasies about what we would do if we won - come on, you can admit it!

What I don't understand is all the winners who end up broke in a few years.  I don't care what any financial planner tries to tell me - if (when) I win, I'm taking the annuity.  Know why?  Because in twenty years, I'll still be getting it!  I won't get the chance to be stupid with the whole thing!  I can do stupid in small chunks, but the rest will be safe.

In reality, the chances that you or I will win the lottery are very, very small.  So how do they get people to play week after week?  It must be the dream itself.  It's just a dollar after all.  We'd probably blow it on a candy bar, and who needs the extra calories?  (That's it!  I'm not wasting a dollar on a sure loss - I'm losing weight!)

So back to the Lotto habit creeping into the Middle Class.  Do you think this is harmful?  I know some very low income people who's dreams of winning the Lotto seem to color all of their spending habits.  Is it getting to be a problem for the Middle Class?  What would someone's spending level have to be before it would be considered a problem?

Personally, if I spend $2 a week on the Lotto, that's a lot.  Not a problem, though.  If I was spending $10 a week on Lotto tickets, I'd have to seriously rein myself in.  I've noticed that when the jackpot is up into the $100 million dollar range, I (and everyone else!), start going a little overboard.  Believe me, right now I'd be just as happy with $1 million as $100 million.  And for that matter, if my husband got a job that paid, oh say, $75,000 a year, instead of $16 an hour, I'd be even happier!!

You know why I'd be happier if he got a better job than if we won?  (Not that I'd turn it down, mind you.)  Because we would be earning it.  There is just something about that feeling!  Me, the wifey and mommy staying home raising our kids, and my husband going out slaying dragons and bringing home the bacon.  How iconic is that?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Student Loans

Nalamienea's comment to my first post really hits home.  When my husband lost his job in 2001 I was scared.  Even worse, he worked in the tech sector and couldn't find another job.  I was a mom and wife, and a high school graduate.  I had no skills that would pay me above minimum wage. 

So, I went to school on student loans - we both did.  For three years we both went to school full time.  I earned a bachelor's degree, he has a bunch of mis- matched credits that don't quite add up to a degree.  Now, he's the one working full time and I'm staying at home.  Of course, I'm still going to school - pretty much just to avoid student loan payments.  I'll have my master's degree by the end of this year.

Once those loan payments become due, I'm not sure what we'll do.

He needs to go back and finish his degree.  First, we have to figure out how to get his loan status out of the dumps.

Filing bankruptcy doesn't help get rid of student loans.  I don't by any means think anyone should borrow money with the intention of filing bankruptcy to cancel their debt.  I do think, however, that there are some financial situations in which student loans should be forgiven.

My husband and I have a few little credit cards we haven't been able to pay on in a little while, but except for student loan debt, all of our unsecured debt together is less than $5,000.

So, even though we are having trouble now, without even making any debt payments, the biggest anchor around our necks is our student loans.

Back when we took the student loans, they were a life saver.  He couldn't find work in his field, so the money kept food on the table and a roof over our heads.  But easy money comes with consequences - and we're about to start feeling 'em...

Sunday, August 23, 2009


What does the economy mean to you?  Is it affecting your everyday life?

I know it affects mine!  For two years now, the company my husband works for has either given a very teeny, tiny raise (last year); or no raise at all (this year).  The reason (excuse) - "The Economy".  What does that mean, exactly?  How far does it go? When does it stop?  Does it stop?

I can't find a good definition of "middle class."  So, here is my definition as it applies to my life:

If I were firmly middle class then

  • When a bill comes in the mail, I could open the envelope, write a check, and put it in the mail - no waiting until the next paycheck or putting it off until the day its due and floating a check
  • I could get a loan for a home.  Apparently, I can pay $1,050 a month in rent, however, the bank doesn't think I can pay the same (or less!) on my own home!  (More on this later!)
  • I wouldn't have to tell my kids that they can't play sports because I can't afford it
  • I wouldn't get free food once a month from the care center
  • I wouldn't have to hear my mom tell me that I shouldn't have quit that good job I had to stay at home and raise my kids (OK, so this one will never happen, but I can dream, right?)
  • I could get the A/C in my van fixed!  Seriously, I'm not even asking for a new one - have you been in SC in August with no A/C??  (Imagine Chandler Bing from Friends saying that last line, "Have you been in SC in August with no A/C?"
  • And finally (although I'll think of more later), my husband could quit his second job!
So how would your life be different?  What are your money struggles?  Don't get me wrong, there are many things in my life that are going well.  But doesn't it seem like when we have money problems that it colors the rest of our lives?