“How much money do you owe the banks now?” asked my husband, and I replied, “Around $5,300.” He went on to ask me why I owe so much money. I explained that it was due to two years of freelancing and old bills, and quickly added that I have a full-time job now, so he doesn’t have to worry, as I can easily clear the bill.
Little did he know that I am in a lot of debt. In fact, I owe credit card bills by $15,000 on two separate cards. On one card, I am making monthly payments of around $500 to clear a quick-cash plan, and another has snowballed to $10,000. I don’t have a solid plan to clear these bills except to make monthly payments of around $2,000.
Every time my husband asks me about my finances, I would say that I’m doing OK. I’m not sure if he knows I’m lying and closes one eye. But I hope he believes me. Around six years ago, my husband caught me lying and demanded to listen in when I called the bank to check on my credit card balances. After that, I managed to clear that bill and was debt-free for a while. He had continued to listen in on my bank card calls and has since stopped after I kept a clean record consistently. I can’t imagine him listening in now — it might just ruin our marriage.
Even with my current debt, I continue to spend money, as usual, buying daily supplies and indulging my husband and kid with small snacks like crackers and chocolate. I honestly don’t know how exactly I ended up in debt.
My insurance plans come up to about $4,500 a year. I only own two designer bags. My mobile phone is 3 years old. I don’t have a car (my husband does) and I book a Grab or take a bus wherever I go (ok, more Grab). And we are even renting out an apartment. We also have a helper who’s helping out his elderly parents. I may have overspent on baby stuff when my kid was small (strollers, car seats and milk formula are not cheap) but I have always shared those expenses with my husband. Perhaps I didn’t pay them off on time. I can’t remember.
Recently, he made a bad investment and lost all our savings (around $70,000). Thankfully, we still have our apartment churning rental income, and I still have a job that pays around $5,000 a month. My husband’s job is commission-based and his income is not fixed.
Sometimes, he brings home $3,000 and other times, $8,000. And of late, with the Covid-19 circuit breaker situation, the nature of his job doesn’t allow him to work at all. He couldn’t work for almost three months during the circuit breaker period. And that means that all expenses fall on me and my debt kept growing.
The only good thing to come out of this Covid-19 outbreak for me is I don’t go out, and therefore, I spend less and I drastically cut down my commuting expenses. (When we need to go out for essentials, my husband would drive.) I also can’t cut off big expenses like having a helper as that would make life more troublesome for my parents, and more importantly, it would also bring attention to where we allocate the new shared savings.
So every now and then, when he says things like, “Thank goodness, one of us has a full-time job,” I would feel extremely guilty. I would then do my best to put on a brave face so that he wouldn’t suspect anything. I really want this debt nightmare to quickly end, And I am doing whatever I legally can to clear my debts before I get discovered. That is my greatest fear now.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of The Singapore Women’s Weekly.
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