Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The worst...

I am a stay at home mom, for those who don't know. It wasn't a decision that I reached easily. There was a lot of anxiety and sleepless nights wondering if I was making the right decision. The biggest hurdle for me wasn't staying home with a brand new baby (that came later) but it was the fear of being completely dependent on my husband for our welfare. It was panic-inducing to think about going down to one income and that income being all his. Don't get me wrong, my husband makes a decent income and we could easily afford for me to stay home. I know that I am blessed to have that opportunity. I know plenty of moms who are not so lucky that have to work at least part-time if not full time and don't get nearly as much time with the kids as they'd like. Still, it gave me butterflies whenever I thought about not being self-reliant. It had been drilled in my head as a young girl - "Go to college. Get a good job. Never have to depend on anyone but yourself." So, I definitely felt some trepidation at letting my husband "take the reins" so to speak. But, as time went on, I stopped thinking as much about his working and my staying home and started thinking of it as both of us working. Only my job was more emotionally taxing and (in my mind) more stressful.

Then, two weeks ago, I decided to apply for a credit card. We had paid all of ours off some time ago through credit consolidation and had both agreed it would still be good to have one for emergencies. Not to mention that I wanted to be able to buy stuff for birthdays/Father's days/anniversaries and not have the charge show up in our checking account and ruin the surprise. So, I filled out an application, cringing only slightly when they asked for my occupation and I had to put "homemaker" because at least they also asked for my mortgage payment amount and annual household income. So, I wasn't that worried about it. But then - I was denied. Denied! Rejected! You guys, I have never, never, never, been denied credit before. For anything! I had like 5 credit cards in college (hence the reason for the credit consolidation)!

And there it was - all my doubt and anxiety about not being a working woman. All my fear about being dependent on my husband. I was so embarrassed and disappointed. But more than that, I was panicked. What if something happens to my husband? I won't be able to get a credit card. Or a home loan. Or a car loan. In fact, our current car loan is in his name as is our home when we refinanced due to some nonsense about his debt to income ratio giving us a better rate than our debt to income ratio combined (which probably doesn't help my credit AT ALL).

So, in the midst of all of this worry and irrational thinking, I pull my credit report and find that I have a negative mark on there because I was sent to collections for a medical bill back in 2006. From the last state we lived in. Where I haven't lived for more than 5 years. So I assumed it was just a case of delayed billing and them not being able to track me at my new address (which is crazy, since we left a forwarding address) but whatever. I contacted the clinic, got the info for the collections agency and promptly paid the past due balance. I felt horribly guilty that they might have thought I was trying to skip out on the bill and wanted to be expedient. So the collections agency very politely sent me a copy of my receipt along with a copy of the invoice from the doctor's office. That's when I see the service date was May 2006. MAY. 18 months after I had moved! I started to think that seemed like a VERY long time for them to delay billing. There was also a note on the invoice that I did not have insurance at the time of service. Wait, what? I have never not had medical insurance. So, now I am really suspicious. So I call the medical clinic and speak to the billing office. The woman I speak with says "Oh!" in a   oh-shit-we-screwed-up kind of way and puts me through to the voice mail of the office manager explaining that I will need to talk to her to clear this up. Somehow, I doubt that I will be at the top of her To Do list so I wait a few hours and call back. I explain the situation and she is very apologetic and also puzzled. After checking a few details with me, it is very obvious to me that I was not the recipient of service. But, how do you prove to someone four years later that the person who saw the doctor that day wasn't you? She agrees to look in to it further and get back to me today or tomorrow.

I then contact the collection agency and explain the situation hoping to get my charges reversed. This lady is much shall we say helpful? She refuses to help me saying that she needs to talk with the medical clinic and confirm that this is, in fact, an error. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that the conversation slowly deteriorated from there and may or may not have ended with me hanging up on her rude self. I also contacted the credit reporting agency to try to rectify this matter but, of course, will need to wait a momentous amount of time to see if their investigation actually resolves anything.

Meanwhile, I sit here ruminating about my poor credit. Wondering if I am denied the privilege of being a Visa or American Express holder because of one error on my credit report? Or because the car loan and the home loan are now both in The Husband's name? Or, is it like he says, that I am currently not working and therefore have no income to offset any potential debt? In which case, is getting a job the only way I can resolve this issue of bad credit? Does it really come down to a choice between being a self sufficient working mom with limited time to spend with the tot or a completely dependent Betty Draper-esqe housewife with no resources of my own who actually gets to watch my son grow up? If anyone knows the answer, I would love to hear it!

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