Dear Mary: My debt is huge, and my husband does not know the extent. This has happened before, and each time the debt has gotten bigger. I have a problem with being honest about money. Instead of telling him we are in trouble, I take out another card and get a cash advance to pay bills. Shopping is not the problem. The problem is that I look at available credit as available cash.
Why my husband hasn't left me is a good question. He is a very honest, loyal and moral person, and I don't deserve to be with him or raise our daughters. His company (he has worked there for 15 years) is about to do a credit check on him. If he loses his job because of me, I don't know what I will do. I feel at this point the only option is to confess and leave. I will get a better job and give him money toward the bills. Thank you for listening. — Cyndi
Dear Cyndi: Tell him everything — and I mean everything — but don't leave. You need to stay and take full responsibility with no expectation of his forgiveness or help with the debt. If you get either, that will be mercy that you do not deserve. You need to devise a plan to right this wrong.
You have a problem, and it goes much deeper than what you've written here. That doesn't mean there is no hope. I believe you and your husband could benefit greatly by seeking professional help from a reputable and compassionate counselor who deals with issues of addiction. Or, if I were you, I would find a Celebrate Recovery group. These groups meet in churches. You will find compassionate people who share your addictive personality and struggles, people who have found the help, hope and the forgiveness they seek. Celebrate Recovery is a wonderful organization, and I hope you will check it out.
Your situation, while grave, is not hopeless. It's just that until now you have never wanted to change badly enough. Your love of credit far outweighs your love for your husband.
Dear Mary: Is it a good idea to go into debt to pay for a solar power system for our home? My power bills get very high in the summer. Instead of paying the electric company all that money each month, I could pay the loan for the solar power and eventually not have a power bill. The estimate we received to fully power our home was about $42,000, including installation. Thanks! — Denise
Dear Denise: No.?That is not a good idea. Look, if you have $42,000 cash, investing in solar power for your home might be advisable. But given the information you offered, going into debt to do it would be really dumb.
Let's say you put this on a credit card with 7.99 percent interest. Let's say you paid $300 a month on that debt (I'm assuming you will reduce your electricity bill by at least $300 a month, which would allow you to use that savings to pay off the debt). It will take 403 months to repay that debt. That's 33 years! Does that make sense to you? Doesn't to me either.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.