Archive for June, 2010

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Yes, it has been quite some time since my last post. As with most posts, I will try to stick with one theme, expand on it, then draw to a tidy conclusion that will bring it all together and leave you feeling that the time reading it was not wasted. That being said, let’s begin.

If you read the title of this installment, you already have a synopsis of it, but please allow me to expand upon that title. For the past four years, I have been dealing with so much uncertainty, stress, and financial difficulty that I have had moments where I wondered just how long it could possibly continue. Well, it would appear that the worst of it will be ebbing quite a bit. I made it through the off-season down-cycle of my business without incurring any additional debt. That may not seem significant, but considering the alternative, I am quite relieved.

Probably the most significant financial burden has been the debt owed on my credit cards. The total had been six figures when it was at its worst. No, it was not my crazy shopping sprees for kitchen gadgets, but rather bridging loans to complete construction of my house and carry me through the off-season when the business literally died. Well, I have crunched the numbers and if I match the dismal numbers of last season, I should pay-off the last of the credit cards by the end of September. Seriously, six-figures paid off in less than five years while paying two mortgages and everything else like utilities, taxes, insurances of every type, as well as sometimes buying food. No small feat, in my humble opinion.

So this road has been rife with speed bumps, potholes, and a few near breakdowns (pun intended). All the while, there was one thing that was constant; a belief in myself. All through my life I have faced any number of challenges and difficult situations. Over the years I learned how to best confront and deal with what was before me, with varying degrees of success. I would view this latest episode as the most challenging and difficult. To say that I almost did not make it would not be far from the truth but I never gave up. I never doubted my ability to utilize every resource and make the most of every opportunity that would bring me closer to the goal, even when I felt the goal was being moved further from me as my struggle continued.

There were setbacks. Credit card companies kept lowing my lines of available credit, both for business and personal use. They closed accounts without notice and raised percentage rates by four-fold. Instead of being disheartened, I strengthened my resolve and used the accounts like pieces on a chess board, pitting them against each other to move the debt around while paying off a little each time. Every off-season was a struggle, forcing me to borrow a bit more before I could pay it down after each season’s profit made itself available. Last season may have been the worst yet, with my income being almost exactly half of what it had been the previous year. Yet, even that had an upside.

Earn less money, pay less taxes. Yes, it sounds silly, but there comes a point where the tax brackets favor you more if you earn less. Crazy, huh? It would seem as though the government would rather see more taxpayers closer to minimum wage earnings than middle class. Go figure. Well, with less money going toward taxes, more went toward debt and it was then I saw my first glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. Funny how things went my way, but I’ll take it any way I can get it. I bet you would, too.

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