No money or credit, plus my job stinks. (Advice request)

66 Replies

Hi y'all!  Despite the dour tone of this post, I'm a genuinely happy person.  I half-need to vent, and half-need some help.  This isn't me looking for a hand-out or a pity party.  I need good, solid advice how I can make my way towards achieving my dreams.

The situation:

  • My wife lost her job shortly after Christmas and has had trouble finding something else. 
  • Her aunt and two kids live with us, and they bring in no income; in fact, they're a drain because I have to pay outrageously for a place that can fit all of us (I'm paying almost $1300 a month to rent; in Lexington, that's why on the higher end). The only relief they provided was that when my worked, her aunt watched our 4-year-old kid.
  • I work at a lower-end bank; I won't say the name, but suffice to say I get paid $12.80 an hour and have to work about 66 hours a week to make ends meet. 
  • Since December 31st I've only had 4 days off, and that was only because my wife had to have some dental work done.
  • Over the last year the bank has essentially made it impossible for promotion by removing assistant branch manager positions and almost exclusively doing outside hires for managers. 
  • Due to the weird nature of our bank, there's no room for lateral movement into commercial banking or mortgage lending or anything.
  • My wife refuses to let me kick out her aunt and cousins because her aunt is disabled (but doesn't get disability because apparently it take around 9,000 years to get approved for that) and they have nowhere to go.

Now that the sad stuff is out of the way, here are some things I have going for me:

  • Work ethic! I work 66 hours a week but I love doing it. I've gladly given up my nights and weekends when I wasn't in such dire straits because working hard is in my genes. I consistently hold more than one job and I crush it.
  • Time management: Due to the amount of hours I work, I have to structure my life around schedules; as such, I have been able to accomplish everything I need to accomplish by exercising extreme control over my time.
  • Personality. I said it at the top, I'm a genuinely happy person. I know the stuff that's happening to me is mostly my own doing, and the stuff that isn't is fixable if I'm willing to sacrifice a little, so I'm not raging at the heavens and being all 'Woe is me,' about everything
  • Budgeting! Like I said, money's tight.  Every penny is accounted for; every dollar has a place in my budget, and any extra I get (very rare) goes into a savings account to help out the next month.

Again, this isn't a pity party.  I don't need a hand-out.  I need advice.  I can't pay down my debts and build my credit until I lower my expenses and upgrade my income; I can't move until I figure out what to do about my wife's aunt; I can't take time off to interview or job hunt until my wife finds a job, but if she finds a job we essentially have to keep her aunt around to watch our kid. I feel like I know what I need to do, but it will help if I can hear it from other people.

Please, people of Bigger Pockets, give me advice.

@Erik Mogan You're in a tough position but hang in there. 

  • You've got the work ethic and time management skills. These, alone, are worth their weight in gold. 
  • What job experience/qualifications does your wife have? For instance, if you're interested in RE, your wife can start developing her RE knowledge. She doesn't have to become an agent as there are multiple other facets - marketing, bird dog, admin work with a local developer. 
  • What other career options do you have? For instance, you could connect with local bankers through LinkedIn and get the word out there. Try to get a few informational interviews (Google them) under your belt.
  • Have you considered running a side business? For instance, given my background in institutional finance, I teach people how to develop financial models and underwrite. They use these models for their own deals as well as using them at work. 

Your wife's aunt should get a lawyer for her disability.  They will take a cut of the money but from you say it should help.

Given your situation, my advice would be to focus on your career and increasing your salary. it can be at your current place of employment or going to another one. your wife should focus on hers as well. simultaneously, cut out any unnecessary expenditures. obviously you would want to kick out your aunt, but that is between you and your wife. if you cannot kick her out, she should be told that she must collect disability to contribute to the household.

investing in real estate should not be on your radar right now until you get your own financial house in order. once you do that, consider saving up and purchasing a duplex/triplex using an FHA 3.5% down loan. live in it and rent out the other units.

that's where I would begin if I was you.

Life is tough for those that find reasons to not change.

No pity party here. Based on pure assumptions on my part:

Your wife is not working hard enough to find a job, she has plenty of options she is not considering.

Your wife is your biggest problem in your life. She is placing her aunt and cousin ahead of her family. This needs to change or your future is not promising. Get rid of the problem.

For yourself you need to hunt for a new job that has a future. Job hunt on line and make time for the interviews. Stop making excuses.

You need to take the initiative to change your life and unload the albatross. Excuses are avoidance.

I could give you more specific advice as to what decision you are facing but it is highly unlikely you would listen.

Sorry but compassion is not in my job description. 

Let me pile on to Thomas' uplifting advice :D  (I'm being facetious, actually I think he's right on the money). 

I hear a lot of avoidance and excuses in the post - not necessarily just yours, but those around you:

- wife can't find another job (really? Not even McDonalds?)

- Aunt can't get disability but is disabled (really? What kind of disability?)

- wife can't get a job because then Aunt needs to stay around to watch the kid (what did you do before Aunt?)

ETC.  What it sounds like to me is that these people are going to ride your gravy train - even if the gravy is watery and store-brand - until you decide to stop driving. I bet if you stopped going to work for the next month or two you'd see a *boatload* of changed behavior in your household. 

What do you dream for your family? Could you share that with them, and see if they can find ways of collaborating with you? Your wife, aunt, all the kids, if they are excited by the dream they will find creative ways to help all of you get there.

@Thomas S. said it correct

stop fitting your ambitions into boxes you CHOOSE to be in.

your wife WONT LET YOU kick out the family and remove overhead, like to hear it or not, you agree to this choice.

wife isn't working.....yet she still eating, someone is choosing to subsidize her

find a new job. I work a small pay job in banking as well, not easy to find great paying work, but possible. consider moving to sales, personality is valuable there and hours are long. perfect for you! yu can make a ton of money in a short time.

fact is, life is tough and unfair. You're going to have to work harder and make REALLY hard choices to undue all the bad choices you've already made. it'll be hard, or you'll choose not to do it and get what you already got.

what's actionable -

  • active networking. This should be done every single day, through the internet and in person. You aren't going to get better at life alone, it takes people, and you need to start working to meet the ones who's goals align closely to yours
  • education. you can learn in the car, at the gym, when you go to sleep, and when you're in the shower. podcasts are free and audiobooks are cheap/free
  • reducing overhead. look you can live strapped now and forever, or you can live a little more strapped now but start funding your future. it's only hard at first to cut expenses, the rewards add up quick though. time to get tough as ****

Get on indeed and look for a better job.... look for something that gives you the $ needed so you can hit your budget. You write well, what's your resume look like?

But seriously, indeed makes it beyond easy to apply, they have 1 click apply jobs just apply to everything (at a higher wage, no point in a lateral job). Has your wife tried the work from home customer service jobs? Lot of BS to wade through, but there are legit ones out there...

@Erik Mogan your salary at $12.80 is low. Costco hires people between $13 and $13.50 per hour starting salary, just for reference. If you got trained in a high demand trade like welding, you could make way more money. You could get a new day job and then deliver pizza on the weekends. Why pizza delivery, because it pays great with tips. One of my tenants made $400 a weekend delivering Friday and Saturday night.

There is really no reason in this economy that your wife shouldn't be able to find a job. There is obviously more to that story. None of my business, but you need to figure out a way to get her producing income.

Disability is relatively easy to get approved for. I have an aunt and uncle who both get disability. One has bad knees and the other is deaf. Both of them could technically work, but that is another story.

I am not trying to be negative, but a working smarter, not harder needs to be your priority. You need to focus on higher paying professions or jobs with career path to better income.

@Joe Splitrock you're spot on with the pizza (or sushi/Chinese food) delivery........ so much more earnings than most people give credit. Don't fall for the rideshare trap....

Also, look at sites like upwork or others like found here

you'll probably start slow, but again, stick to it build a name and could be great way to augment your income (or even replace a lower wage).

I think I should point out that the economy in Lexington Kentucky is nothing like California, or anywhere in Canada. 

Originally posted by @Michael Biggs :

I think I should point out that the economy in Lexington Kentucky is nothing like California, or anywhere in Canada. 

 They have low unemployment rate and his income is under the income per capita..... I'd wager to say he has room for growth.

You keep saying you are a happy person. Well maybe thats the problem. If you got a bit less happy, a bit more angry, it would drive you to make the changes you know you need to make.  Both at home and at work.

You sound like me when I was young and felt so stuck.  Yes, you can work yourself out of this swamp.

 Can your wife work nights while the kids are asleep? Then you won't need the aunt living with you to take care of the kids.

Can you start a business on the side and have your wife run it from home while you work?

Can you take some on-line classes to help you with your job skills and resume? There are cheap classes and free materials available for the asking...

Can you buy a small house with owner-carry financing?  That  gives you the chance to make the aunt very uncomfortable since she wouldn't have as much space. It sounds like the only way out of having her live with you (without fighting your wife), is to get her to decide to move on.  Fish and company get old and smelly in 3 days.  The aunt is definitely over her limit.  You could sell the idea to your wife by reducing your monthly rent "nut" by having a lower payment and the benefits of home ownership.  And that would give you a break.  Then you could take monthly windfall and use it help you make a career move...

Another way to solve the "aunt problem", is take a job far, far away from your present home.  I bet she won't wanna make that move.  Then you may "have-to" have a smaller living space to make the transition.

Look at other careers and see what else is available.  You might not need your suit anymore. There are blue collar training programs that pay more than you are making.

AS a note: I think that your wife is using her aunt as her "security blanket".  She's terrified of being on her own and having to grow up.  This is a common problem with young people who aren't used to making grown-up decisions.  It's easier for her to have someone to rely on.  And the aunt is using you guys, as a couple, to not have to make it on her own either.  You are all co-dependent.  Confronting your wife, kicking out the aunt and causing a fight will be ugly and it won't work.  You need help sorting it all out.  This is a human problem -- not a real estate investing problem...

The book I would read is called 'Boundaries' by Dr's Henry Cloud and Townsend.

Gotta set clear moving out and get to work expectations on the home front.  Living with all this will hold you back career-wise even if you are a happy person @Erik Mogan !  

I always end up looking up and yelling 'I've had it!' right before I effect real change in my life.

@Wenda Kennedy JD

"Confronting your wife, kicking out the aunt and causing a fight will be ugly and it won't work."

It is the only option that can work. His wife is the root cause of all his problems. Getting rid of the free loaders must be his first step. Avoidance is not a solution and he has to make it work one way or another for his life to improve.

Resining himself to a unacceptable situation has gotten him where he is today. Everyone lives the way they choose therefor the solution is obvious, whether he has what it takes to implement it is the question.

Sorry Eric but if you don't man up and take control of your own life, regardless of the risks, you are at a dead end. Set a dead line of a couple of months for the aunt and cousin to be out and your wife to find a job, any job. 

You will then have the ability to start working on yourself. 

Thomas S. Investor from Canada, Ontario

"It is the only option that can work. His wife is the root cause of all his problems. Getting rid of the free loaders must be his first step. Avoidance is not a solution and he has to make it work one way or another for his life to improve."

I was saying direct confrontation won't work.  He's got to create a situation where his wife and/or the aunt get uncomfortable enough to make a change -- he can get the aunt to reject them; he can get his wife engaged in working themselves out of the situation; they can move to another setting; he can change jobs...  there are several solutions.  If he directly confronts his wife or the aunt, he's in for the fight of his life and he'll probably end up single.  The problem is not the freeloaders -- it is his wife's insecurity. A frontal assault will most likely exacerbate his wife's insecurities and she will cling  harder to her aunt -- whom I assume she feels really understands her -- like he can't. 

He has to change what he's doing, rather than try to change the other people in this love triangle.  He has 3 adults in his marriage rather than just the 2 of them.  Relationships are like a dance.  When he changes his steps and cadence, the other parties has to one of 3 things -- dance with him at his new pace, get him to go back to the old dance steps, or leave the situation.  That's the only 3 things that can happen here.  He has to be ready for  those results if he decides to take on his situation.

The grandmaster, @Scott Trench , hits home on this notion in his book "Set for Life" (which transformed my worldview). It's so simple too... You can really only influence two things in this situation, 1) Money coming in & 2) Money leaving your possession. 

Since it sounds like you've got a pretty good handle on the outgoing money part (budgeting, etc), I would highly encourage you to refocus on the money coming in. Some initial questions I have...

1) Can you negotiate a raise?

2) What else can you do for a living that will pay you more than $13/hour?

3) If there's nothing immediately available at more than $13/hour, where can you go that would offer overtime?

4) If there's nothing immediately available at more than $13/hour, can you pick up a second/third job?

5) Why can't your wife work? It doesn't have to be glamorous. Minimum wage is still better than no wage. 

6) Why can't you charge your aunt rent? Even $100/month. Heavily discounted. Still doing her a favor.

7) Have you called every bank in your county to see who's offering special mortgage programs for low-income earners? Sometimes it's easier to get a a mortgage when you DON'T make a ton of money. Pursue these programs to acquire a 2-4 plex in order to live for free.

8) What personal property do you own that can be sold/bartered to put some money into savings and provide a cushion/peace of mind?

Just some thoughts...


To each their own, I personally do not believe that dancing around the wife will accomplish anything. Adults need to be upfront and honest otherwise their relationship is built on deception. The weaker personality, Eric in this case, does not stand a chance.

She is obviously in control and will not relinquish it without a fight. The three options you point out I see similar but different. He accept his present lot in life, fight or flight. The process is secondary since I see the end result as being inevitable regardless..

The solution we agree is obvious I just don't see wasting time getting to it. Additionally, based on his present life, I only see a upside regardless of where the cards end up falling.

Regardless, as I stated in my first post, it is doubtful he will act on our advice either way. He asked to hear it from others and plain and simple it is time for him to boot the aunt and stop making excuses.

Thomas S. Investor from Canada, Ontario

"it is doubtful he will act on our advice either way"

Yes, he probably won't listen -- this time around. Next time he maybe wiser. Yes, I agree.  The aunt has to go.  The only questions is IF the wife and kids go with her.  Yes, the cards are going to fall no matter what.  They are breaking his back by him having to carry them.  

Personally, I'd find a way to get her to want to leave.  And she would leave sooner rather than later.  BUT, I'm an old lady who has fought many of these battles over the years and I'm not afraid of much these days.  

this is awesome feedback. following this thread and agree with Thomas.

You can't change someone's mindset, only they can.

If it were me, I would only buy bread, milk, peanut butter, and jelly.  Tell them that is all we can afford.  After a few weeks of cold sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner hopefully someone breaks (the wife gets a job or the aunt gets disability)

But seriously, I think you need to have a family meeting.  Break down the financials; income, expenses, ect and sit down with the aunt and wife.  This needs to be a team effort.  You can't continue to work 60 hours a week and be the only source of income.  Show them how much comes in, how much goes out, and at what point you are all homeless.  Scare them.  Make them make sacrifices for the team.  If they aren't willing to contribute and sacrifice for the family you need to decide if you are going to continue to work till exhaustion while they do nothing 

Originally posted by @Michael Biggs :

@Joe Splitrock   Social Security Disability is different state by state.  I do not understand why but there are HUGE differences on how long it takes from one state to another.

If anyone can explain to me why people do not get equal protection when it comes to this let me know.

Here is what I am talking about...

Filing for disability is a fairly uniform process, since it is a federal program. The difference is in the review process which is managed at the state level. If your state has a long process, then it is due to how the state manages (mis-manages) the program. I don't know the history behind why the states are responsible for this aspect of the program. 

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