Archive for the 'Money Management' Category

Dollar Signs in Their Slimy Little Eyes

It’s funny - when you owe someone money, say a creditor, they are MORE than present in your life.. The phone calls.. The fear-inducing letters from “law firms”.. The mean, bully of a collector on the phone who is doing nothing short of threatening to take your first born if you don’t give him every dime you have (or don’t have) right now…. It is disgusting.  But, the second you request something from them - say, a very important letter stating that you have paid the account in full and the account is close, more importantly, responsibly making note of it on your credit report - you may as well consider yourself screwed.  They won’t want to help.  God, I don’t even want help, I just want them to do their job.

I am thrilled to say that we are no longer in a position where we have to ignore our phone.. And when we get an official looking letter in the mail, I can open it with great confidence that we either won something or that we are receiving some sort of notice that our payment was made through our online banking.. We are out of debt and well on our way to making smart financial decisions. 

So, being a lady that can now answer her phone without trepidation - I started noticing a weird 800-number popping up about two weeks ago.  I can’t explain why, but I avoided it.  It’s like they say about addicts: once a junkie, always a junkie - right?  Except in my case it goes a little something like: Once a single mother ex-college student who can’t pay her bills and can’t answer her phone always a… well, you get the point.  I had this wierd feeling that it was a collection agency - even though, as far as I know I have paid off all my debts (with exception of student loans).  But, still, I nerve-wrackingly couldn’t answer my phone - the same old fear and gut wrenching feeling came over me and I started avoiding unidentified numbers popping up on my caller ID.  It’s nearly in my blood now.  Then I realized how ridiculous I was being.

I answered the phone.

Damn if my instincts weren’t right.  It was a “law office” (I put this in quotations because it is really just a collection agency with one or two paralegals working in house - “Law offices” scares people into paying like you would not believe) telling me that I owed money on an account that I KNOW I paid off last December.  I told them this and he said for me to find proof.  Now, with my hectic life and my typical forgetfulness - I started to doubt myself. Well.  Eight days later and several nasty phone conversations later I am happy to report that it is all cleared up.  And, I am even happier to report that it was not my error but the error of the “system”.  I paid the damn thing off and the slouch of a company that I paid it to had never noted it or closed the account. It has been shuffled around from “law firm” to “law firm” and smeared quite smugly on my credit report for the last eight month.  Turds.

So, I called the mongers who were responsible - and, just for the record, they happened to be just the ones that (probably very illegally) bullied and threatened me beyond reason.  Again, I got a ridiculously rude person who - when I tried to ask why the account was not closed and noted as paid in full since I called four times after I paid it off - hung up on me.  I guess they didn’t need any of my money anymore so why waste their time dealing with me, right?  I called back and, thank god, got her again and went toe to toe with her.  You just don’t hang up a girl. I had to get out my exceptionally professional “if you f#!* with me I will find you and kill your dog” voice.  I finally got some answers.  

So, I spent the morning calling every account I paid off and requested an additional letter stating my closure with them, even if I already received it. Because chances are I lost the letters first time around and, now I know, even though you think you have taken care of something it still might pop back up in your life and you NEED documentation to get your back.  A little advice for all you people out there dealing with credit card people and collection agencies - follow up.  I was foolish enough to think that they did their job and that I would be in the clear.  Not true.  At all.

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It Doesn’t Grow On Trees…

Since we don’t have a lot of it, we find it important to talk to our kids (mainly our eldest) about money — specifically regarding the important means of aquiring and the careful decision to spend it — while still not bombarding them with financial stress or worry (they’ll have plenty of time for that in about twenty years). I Have found a great article on iVillage entitled “Kids and Money.” The article looked at different parental views on how to address money with their children. Some of the key quotes included:

“Why in the world would you put added stress on your children about the family budget? Our children have grown up knowing that sometimes we have to wait until payday for purchases. That’s as much of the financial situation that they need to know as children. That is what school-kids are — children.”

“My family was poor when we were growing up but we never felt like we were going to end up on the streets. We did hear, “that’s too expensive,” and we wore second-hand clothes. We always felt secure about having a roof over our head and having warm food in our belly. It is important to teach children the value of money, but it isn’t necessary to include them in the family budget.”

“My kids have known about our finances since they were little so that they could understood why we couldn’t do some things. My 18 year-old son has worked since he was 15. He has his own car, keeps up the maintenance and helps pay the insurance on it. He has learned how to handle his own money.”

They have several more kids and money articles that are astute in helping your kids see that there’s a lot more involved than just sticking a card in a machine and taking out as much cash as you want.

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