outrunning the repo man.

18 03 2010

economy, i tire of you.  the layoffs, the foreclosures, the whole hopeless mess. with a good chunk of my friends presently on unemployment, i feel pretty lucky to have a job, but still pretty nervous about the security of said job. economic turbulence = unrest. every day is a new day where the rug could get unceremoniously yanked out from under me at any moment, without hope for the cushy severance packages that people were getting before our little recession morphed into a full on downturn. it’s scary. but obviously scarier for the people who already had their rug yanked and are just trying to figure out how the hell to pay their rent.

but today isn’t really about that. surviving a layoff is a post for another afternoon (probably a series of posts). today, it’s about watching people that you love fall to rock bottom, and not knowing what the fuck to do about it.

so i have this friend who is a freelancer. which is basically code for  no insurance, no unemployment, no safety net at all…  i believe the word roughly translates to: “first person to get slashed when budget cuts are on the table”. back in 2007 before the economy had started to visibly wilt, she was pretty much kicking ass. in high demand, edging up to 6 figures, feeling positive about the future. she bought a moderately fancy car and a condo, and hit the tropics during slow season. then 2008 rolled around, and things started to sag a little.  but, she forged ahead like nothing was happening, attempting to keep up her standard of living while she was waiting for things to pick back up. but they didn’t. 2009 was was the worst. she was able to pick up bits and pieces of work here and there for food and gas the phone bill… but the big boys, the credit cards, and mortgage, and car loan started to fall behind and behind and behind.

fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. she was completely broke and totally freaked out, but she’d been so good. i never once saw her dodge a creditor, and she never stopped trying to find work. there just wasn’t any. so when the repo man came knocking for her vehicle…it wasn’t a surprise. $1,100.

she’s one of the nicest people i know… and i really wanted to give her the money… but i told her that i didn’t have it. even though if she ever read my blog, she would know that i do. i felt terrible, and i still do.  luckily, the fairy tale didn’t end too badly, and she found another more liquid friend to help her out of the financial pinch of the week. but what about the next car payment? or the pending foreclosure? she’s in serious financial trouble right now, and it’s probably going to involve some really serious life changes before the economy even starts to catch up. technically i have the money, but do i really? i have a rule that i never lend money that i can’t afford to say goodbye to permanently. i’ve worked so hard for my little nest egg (which is still pretty sad), and if i let it go, what happens when/if i lose my job?

did i do the right thing? am i being greedy?



11 responses

19 03 2010

I don’t think you are being greedy.
Melissa and I back each other up in times of crisis by buying the other groceries and/or gas if we can so any money that is found can go towards bills. Sometimes we pay each other back, sometimes we do a favor.
So do what you can afford if you feel the need to help. Maybe help her start her own coupon folder?
But no, you are not greedy, you are surviving- I’m sure she knows you care and will be there at least as emotional support.
That really sucks this is happening to your friend and I do hope things start looking brighter soon.
We’ve been in tight spots like that before- it drove us out of Maine!

19 03 2010

thanks babe. it’s nice to hear. i’ve definitely bought her lunch or lent her a couple of bucks before without even thinking of it, but 4 figures is just so much. i really just hope that she’s able to find her way out of it. it would be really sad if she lost her condo!

19 03 2010

you have the right attitude – don’t lend money you can’t afford to lose. i have lent money to just about every one of my husband’s relatives, and none of them paid us back. it pisses me off to no end, but it’s HIS mom, his brother, his dad. i have friends in similar situations right now also, and my feeling is while i was saving money and investing in real estate, they were buying fancy cars and other bullshit on credit, so it may seem heartless, but i can’t feel too bad for them. they’re adults, they’ll figure it out. bankruptcy is always an option, and i figure i’m only helping them out of the jamb for that month, it ain’t going away.

19 03 2010

thanks. after purging it all out yesterday, i actually am feeling a lot better about my decision. it’s just so hard to watch people that you love struggle, and to know that “helping” them isn’t really helping them. i can’t even imagine how tricky things would be if it were family! i definitely don’t envy you at all. although i have to say that one of the most formative moments in my life was when i lost my job, called my mom for money, and she said no. i sold my cds for food money, but i made it. what can i say, tough love works. p.s. i’m totally impressed that you were investing and saving while i was racking up my credit cards. you’re my hero!

19 03 2010

that is so sad, and i think that you feel bad about it indicates that you are a good friend. but i think that rule you have for yourself about lending money is a good one. money often wrecks relationships, and so it’s best not to go there unless you can say sionara to said money. but how sad for your friend. you can probably afford to buy her a bottle of wine at rosemont and drink it with her though! 🙂

19 03 2010

that’s a really good idea! good wine is kind of amazing that way. any recommendations from the food expert? (do you like or hate being referred to as a “foodie”?) if the wine doesn’t work, hopefully things will start to even out for her sooner than later, i would really hate to see the awkwardness over this money situation ruin our friendship.

19 03 2010

I feel bad for your friend but I agree– that’s way too much money between friends. God knows when the economy will pick up again, so $1,100 may just end up being a really expensive car rental payment until the repo men come knocking again. If the car is moderately fancy and new in 2007 she could trade it in for a more affordable ride. Also what would happen to your friendship if you needed that money back down the road and she didn’t have it?

Has she tried Hour Exchange Portland for free services or temp agencies for a little work?

19 03 2010

it’s so awkward! i want to help her out, but i feel like everyone and their grandma is giving her money advice- and she’s just overwhelmed and not really listening. plus, i’m sure it’s annoying to get money advice from people who can pay their bills. it’s like when skinny bitches tell me how to lose weight. have you used the hour exchange before? i’m curious.

20 03 2010

I think you made the right choice and I say this as a person who has been on the receiving side of family generosity that got me through a rough time. But at the same time, there were times I could not pay the inlaws back in a timely fashion and they had the money to spare yet it created some tension for a while. I only recently started reading your blog but it sounds like you are trying to get yourself together financially and while you technically have the cash, could you really afford to lose that money? If the answer is no then you made the right choice.

This is a rough economy and as someone partnered to a freelancer its all become an economy where freelancers have to make some choices. I hated the advice my inlaws gave when we were struggling but what they were saying was the truth and I needed to change how I handled my money. Sometimes tough love works and its needed.. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

It sounds like her financial woes are deeper than just a couple of car payments and require some real change far deeper than a temporary infusion of cash.

21 03 2010

in a lot of ways, i hate money. so much trouble!! but you’re completely right. just because i have it, doesn’t mean i can afford to give it away. if nothing else, maybe i can make sure that i don’t end up in her position someday. i think she’s just afraid of change. maybe losing her car and her home will force her to reconfigure her life in a way that will make more sense and make her happier. it’s like leaving a boyfriend that you love but that’s not right for you… sometimes it’s just hard to let go, even when you know it will make your life better.

28 06 2011
surprise attack. « broke 207

[…] are not helping anyone. i had a friend who recently hit a really really rough financial patch (repo man rough), but actually made it through with her house, car, and dignity intact (and without having to file […]

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