Lost in my financial haze, I don’t know how I made it work. An income tax return bought me a couple of months and then there was that 401K I kept pulling from. I bought lottery tickets and dreamed not so much of retiring, but of just somehow, getting out from under what had become not an elephant sitting on me, but a herd of elephants.
There was no one to confide in, no one to advise me. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I couldn’t even tell the D-Man.
It is so cliché to say that good things sometimes come out of bad things happening, but it is true.
My mother passed away at the end of 2011. She had been renting one of my homes from me and after she died, it sat empty for three months. On top of credit card debt, I now had to try to make a home payment with no rent money coming in. A second one had a tenant leave in the middle of their lease.
I went in to have my taxes done and thought maybe I could get a couple more months of keeping the circus running. Not to be. You know how they tell you to NEVER pull money out of your 401K to pay credit card debt? Yes, I had heard that, but that didn’t apply to The Girl In The Band!
Imagine how Ms. Superior felt when an accountant I had just paid a good amount of money to (now you know why I do Turbo Tax) looked me in the eye and said, “That money you pulled out of your retirement fund really hurt your taxes this year. You owe the IRS over $9,000.00. Did you want to write a check?”
Did I want to write a check? Sure. Problem was, I would have been about $8,995.00 short in my checking account.
It was over. The juggling act was leaving the big top. I walked out of the accountant’s office and seriously considered driving my truck off a cliff. The only thing was, I figured I would just end up totaling it and it was actually paid for!
We had a week long gig coming up at a casino in Arizona. It would give me one more month of making the credit card payments and then, unless the Super Lotto came in, I was done.
During the week away, I managed to put it out of my mind. Coming home though, I felt like I was driving back into a tornado waiting for me. Four hours in the truck, with Eric, my bass player riding shotgun, I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
I started telling Eric the whole story. How bad the credit card debt was, my now huge tax bill, everything. That making minimum payments every month was really only chipping at about 50.00 per month of the almost six figures I owed. He didn’t really say anything until we were driving down my street. Then he looked at me and said something very simple and obvious. The something I had run from for so long.
“You have to do something about it. Debt settlement, bankruptcy, something. You will NEVER be able to pay off $80,000 in credit cards and you know that. You have to stop what you are doing and admit it. It can be fixed, but you have to fix it.”
“I know people who have done debt settlement,” he told me. “I will get you some phone numbers. Call them Monday.”
He texted me the numbers when he got back to his house.
Monday morning, back at my office, I closed the door. It was finally over. I admitted defeat. I had lost. Eric’s mini-intervention had made it clear. Like every other type of addict, I had hit rock bottom.
I picked up the phone and started dialing……..