Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Have You Heard The One About The 35-Year-Old Woman And Her 401K?

It goes like this:

So a woman works for the same company for almost 10 years, right? And, she hates it almost the whole time. But then she finally leaves, happy to be free and really happy to have built up a nice little nest egg in her 401k.

The woman has a degree from a good university and a steady work history, she thinks she'll finally have a good job that she enjoys within a few months. But, the woman was wrong. The economy dips to the ninth circle of Hell shortly after she leaves her old, hated job and she can't get hired. Not even Best Buy, Walmart or Target will take her.

So, when almost three years have gone by and all unemployment benefits have run out, the woman and her husband are in deep, deep, shitty credit card debt. They are scared and angry. They know they should have done things differently: lived more frugally and had the woman back-burner the dream job search sooner. But also! They weren't out buying yachts and crap. They mostly used the credit to pay for much needed (sudden) home/car repairs and groceries.

The woman talks to 10 Consumer Credit Counseling agencies. Some won't offer any deals at all because of the negative income the couple has at the end of the month. The others offer deals that they still cannot afford.

The woman gives in and gives it all to God. She's tired of the phone calls, the crying, the constant math-doing and bill shuffling. She's tired of the stress, the sleepless nights, the headaches, body aches and the constant beans and rice eating, the woman is gassy enough without all that.

That woman? She lets go of her fear and obstinacy and sees one way out. She cashes in her 401k.

I freely admit that when HUBS brought up the idea of using my 401k to help us out of this jam it made me incredibly angry. Not because he suggested it. Because it felt like I would then have nothing to show for my unnecessarily long stint at a job I mostly despised.

Then last Saturday, after yet another talk with a creditor, I felt something change. The idea of doing this big, major thing made me feel free. Things will still be tight, but not can't-afford-groceries-must-eat-the-same-things-day-and-night tight.

I can see that I needed this; to have a financial fuck up so big that I had to use my retirement fund to fuel my rescue. And, if we had done this over a year ago, when HUBS first suggested it, there would have been considerably less money to work with.

I can also see what a blessing it is that I had that option in the first place. (Well, last place really. Believe me when I say using your retirement fund to bail yourself out is always an absolute last resort option.) Some people get into this kind of bind and only have bankruptcy to look forward to.

I am committed to not using credit cards until we dig ourselves out of this mess totally, and then only sparingly. I am committed to finding an in-the-meantime job until someone realizes how fabulous I am and pays me lots of moolah to write. I am committed to living within our means and helping HUBS do the same.

Thank God, y'all.


SoMuchSugar said...

I'm sorry you have to do this but I am glad it is making you feel freer, giving some relief -- it is worth it. I had to do that with part of mine some years back too, and it was a relief. You've got lots of time to build it up again. Some employer out there is going to find out how fabulous you are, it is going to happen!!

citygirl said...

I keep telling myself that if I just keep writing, some day within the next year I'll be making $100,000 and I'll have no trouble at all starting an IRA.

Yes, this is what I'm saying to myself now. It's so much better than constantly saying I'm full of shit and un-talented.


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