FROM THE INVISIBLE OBSTACLES SERIES

Running Up The Learning Curve

AMERICAN CRUCIBLE, Part 3

As told by Arpine Babloyan
Photography & Editing by Ashia Ray

 

Divider line“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

Lewis Carroll , ‘Alice In Wonderland’

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teen girl in bedroom sorting laundry

Image Description: Bianca spreads her arms wide, folding a shirt in her room.

NO TIME TO FEEL

I just couldn’t wait for that year to be over.
My company at the time had a long term disability policy, but it wasn’t 100% and I wouldn’t be able to drive for a month with that hip surgery to manage.
I was working extra jobs to try to see where else I can make an extra income. I worked a lot during my day job, I worked at night from home during second job, and really kept close account to what I was spending.
Being able to work and being able to find that second job was helpful because it was income and it was distraction at the same time.

 

Mother and teen daughter fold laundry

Image Description: Arpine & Bianca sort laundry together

DIGGING & DIVING

When I got divorced I was left with a lot of debt.
Dealing with financial stuff did not come naturally, it was really hard and I had never understood it. Understanding what was required – that was tough and required a lot of learning, digging, diving, and researching. There was so much information and you don’t know which one will work for you.
Working hard at it was natural for me, I wasn’t afraid of taking on extra work – as much as I could.

 

Reflection of woman in curio cabinet mirror

Image Description: Arpine gazes at a shirt before folding it. We see her reflected through a mirror behind a curio cabinet.

 

USELESS ADVICE

When I was trying to get help financially, I was told I make too much money, so I can’t get credit. I was told my expense-to-income ratio was negative so I wasn’t able to get a credit. So I was in a weird circle thinking well if I I quit my job THEN I could get the help. That doesn’t make any sense.
I had gone to a financial advisor and told them my situation. I just needed to make sure my paycheck is enough, to learn what I can change or adjust. I got back a big thick folder of information of what I need to do so that when I die I will have enough saved and I was like – ‘Wait, that’s not what I need. I need to keep a roof over our heads, I’m not at that point yet.’
It was completely useless.
Mother and daughter in teen bedroom

Image Description: Bianca sits on her bed, looking to the side. Arpine stands, looking in the opposite direction.

WHO TO TRUST

I’ve learned that if I am getting advice from other companies or people, I need to assess the quality of their advice.

I spent my money and time with financial advisors because I thought they would help me with my day to day problems – but what they came up with wasn’t helpful at all, it wasn’t useful, and it wasn’t something that spoke to me.

You have to figure it out yourself because sometimes when you go after all these services – you don’t know if they’re just trying to get business from you or if they actually care. There are not a lot of services that actually care about you  compared to the bottom line.

Mother and daughter talk on the sofa while using a laptop computer

Image Description: Arpine & Bianca sit on the living room sofa, looking at a laptop computer.

AN ORDER OF THINGS

So, I sat down with an excel spreadsheet and wrote down all the expenses I had. It was all something I had to learn to do on my own. I started going around all my credit card statements, for example, looking at percentages – something I never had to think about before. You slowly start to learn.
I remember how I literally couldn’t spend an extra dollar on anything that wasn’t on that spreadsheet. That spreadsheet that I still have with my expenses and income – that was a good idea. I still use that now.
And slowly, you start paying things off and… Oh! Now you have 100 dollars a month that you can actually do something with! We slowly started getting activities that Bianca could participate in – little things here and there.
At that time I still had a credit card – I could have increased my debt. There are cases where people can’t afford things but they buy them anyway.
I knew that I just couldn’t, and when I had the extra money, I chose to spend it on an activity for Bianca rather than going back to getting my nails done. I had an order of things that had to happen.

 

…Read out more in Part 4: Other People’s Opinions

 

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This session is from the Invisible Obstacles Series. Families in the Invisible Obstacles series provide a glimpse into daily life while navigating adversity. Names and locations of minors may have been changed to protect privacy. Permission & quotes attributed to Arpine B. unless otherwise specified.

If you enjoyed the Invisible Obstacles Series, find out how to support Ashia’s do-goodery projects on Patreon.

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