In January, Consumerism Commentary will begin the Naked With Cash event and series. Several Consumerism Commentary readers will share their financial reports and analyses at the beginning of each month, with insight from financial planners and other experts. To introduce each of the participants to readers, I asked them to share where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re going, and to describe their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Meet Naked With Cash participant JW. He is offering the following introduction before the series begins in earnest in January.
I am 31 years old, married to MJ. We have a 3 year-old son and a daughter due in the middle of February.
We got married a little over 4 years ago at which time I moved to a new area where MJ already lived, starting fresh with no job. MJ was working as a para-educator with the local school district. We didn’t see the details of each other’s money until we joined our finances. The first goal we set as couple was to become debt-free. We had two vehicles, both with loans. Both of us had student loans, and both had credit card debt.
Now we have one car that is paid for and no credit card debt. The student loans are the next to go. Mine are in income-based repayment (IBR) deferment, and we are now focusing on paying off MJ’s student loans.
In finances my greatest strength has become learning to combat materialism. Back in college I had the largest DVD collection on anybody around. I only found one person who had a larger CD collection. I used to buy CDs and DVDs because just because I did not have them, while most people buy things because they want them. My next biggest spending category was concerts. I attended so many my friends gave me the nickname “Concert Fiend.” Going to shows and musical theater is still be my biggest weakness. I’ve been budgeting for concerts since I was 16.
The greatest opportunity I is due to my underemployment. I work in retail. While I have moved up from the sales floor, I am still in that retail environment. Last year, our family’s adjusted gross income was less than $20,000. We have managed to get by through the generosity of others. We are on Food Stamps to supplement our food budget. We live in a home owned by MJ’s grandparents so we have no current housing costs. Tomas is on state health insurance. MJ is on state pregnancy medical. I currently have no insurance.
This ties closely to my biggest financial threats. First would be our single source of income. MJ teaches piano for additional income but with a baby on the way that may be affected. If I were to quit or lose my job our remaining debt would crush us.
My top goal in life is to be a successful father and provide for my family, allowing my wife to remain home and care for our children. To me a father should be willing and able to provide for his family, something I feel inadequate about since our finances are so meager. We are religious and that is where my strength comes from. Many others in similar situations are crushed under their burdens while we thrive. Even with sub-poverty levels of income we have managed to pay off our car loan — we got rid of one car — and credit card debt. We tithe at 10% and contribute to our church efforts to assist those in need.
I first ran across Consumerism Commentary about two and a half years ago, and I began reading and actually digesting the knowledge a few months later.
Thanks for sticking with this site for so long, JW, and I’m happy to see you participating in Naked With Cash!
Updated December 27, 2012 and originally published December 21, 2012. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.