A Mountain or a Molehill?

14 Feb

It does not please me to inform you that today my debt has jumped from -$8,709 to -$13,248…that’s a 52% increase. This amount seems…well, gross to me. Both in the financial and non-aesthetically pleasing sense. I feel ashamed, less than, like a failure. I should have seen this day coming. Honestly, I knew it was always looming but I didn’t think my debtor would be calling it in so soon and I was happy to avoid the conversation.

Three Quick Lessons

#1: Never, EVER borrow money from friends/family/significant others unless for cash only purchases that you can and will pay back with one quick visit to the ATM.
#2: If you must, and only if you absolutely MUST, borrow money from these people get it from someone that wont resent you if you honestly, for whatever reason, simply can’t pay it back, even if you sincerely have every intention of doing so; like a grandma or a rich uncle…it lessens the strain on the relationship.
#3: Always, ALWAYS map out terms BEFORE the money is exchanged and plan for those terms to endure, regardless of external circumstances (make sure that you can [and will want] to pay it back regardless of whatever happens, i.e. breakups, etc.) until it is paid off.

Now don’t get me wrong. I loath being in debt and more so when it is to a person and more so when it is to a friend. But the thoughts that ran through my mind when that email came through. I couldn’t help myself. I was upset, angry, overall just very torn up by it. Not because of the money really, nor at the person. I saw it coming as this person’s money situation has changed recently. But all the subtext: the cheery introduction and close (total ‘criticism sandwich’ style and what made it worse is I knew it was sincere and not a ploy), the conversations that would need to be had as a result, and the embarrasment of feeling like I wasn’t in a postion to pay it back right now. For a moment I considered “what would it be like to put that friendship on hold, at least until I paid it off?” I didn’t know if I could do both. I was that upset. But my higher self said “be cool, step into their map of the world and you DO owe them money, so…stop bitchin! Respond. Now. Not tomorrow. Itemize everything so you can agree on the amount, propose a starting monthly amount that you think you could make up in odd tasks or gimmicks on the 3rd St. Promenade. Just get it over with. The sooner the better.”

There are now 2 personal debts that I must pay back and this latest one won’t be avoidable. Not like I would try that on purpose but my last one hasn’t really been asked for and I haven’t really had the money to pay it back so I’ve been letting it sit, thankfully, without accruing interest. Which is the only good aspect. So starting at the end of this month I will be auto transferring via BofA $100 every 30 days. That’s not much, I know. But it is certainly something when your monthly budget for all necessities is below $1500 on a good month and all that this budget can withstand at the moment. My phone was stolen in January and I have a $200 cell phone bill sitting in my inbox as a result of my replacement deductible + regular monthly bill. Otherwise I would be looking at something in the $1400 range. I had my Evo (without the 2 year plan it’s about a $270 investment even now after 2+ years on the market) for 10 1/2 months with a $7/mo insurance plan. $7 x 11 = $77 + $100 deductible for an Evo 3D, closest I could get to the original, so $177 over a year instead of another $250-300 for a brand new phone or $270-350 to terminate my contract. Phone insurance = worth it. One of the only types of (American) insurance I actually believe in having…but that’s a blog for another time, and it WILL be addressed, don’t you worry.

Anyway, I was so disgusted with my new scarlet digit I went into my Mint account settings and turned my car asset status from ‘hide’ to ‘show’ resulting in a jump back into the black for a cold hard $3,751. Phew that was a close one. Totally artificial but it makes my total money owed much less intimidating. I suppose it feels nice to know that if I ever get into dire straights I can always sell my car instead of moving back home (i.e. mom’s house, dad’s house, this grandparent, that grandparent…turns out my aunt is pretty cool…there are many options but none in LA and none could I handle for more than a couple weeks before firmly pulling all my hair out and acquiring a new habit to something far more harsh than the occasional 6 pack).

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to overcome a MOUNTAIN of debt like some. Perhaps a large foothill? Although, a mountain is what it feels like. No More Harvard Debt Guy is well on his way with his formerly $90k debt. He’s paid off over $60k in 5 months. To be fair he had $24k lying around, a corporate job somewhere in the $60-70k range and 2 expensive cars and a motorcycle that he eventually did liquidate. I haven’t done the math as to how much was liquid, how much was cutting costs and how much was increased revenue but I’m looking forward to knowing the answer to that. And to think all I have to sell is my Jeep Patriot and maybe my very small guitar collection. With all the film equipment, office furniture and friend’s apartment contents I’ve carted around in the last 2 years including that resulting from my own change of address this vehicle was a damn good investment and still has gas milage equivalent to a decent traditional 4 door sedan.

On the bright side 97% of that $4,540 went towards education and personal enrichment. I had a lot of personal growth as a result and perhaps a useful certification that can pay for itself in a few months once my paperwork is processed. So I suppose I can’t be that upset. Besides almost all of my friends either spent half a mortgage on graduate school and will be paying for it for the rest of their lives or they figured a BA was enough but will be working in corporate for…as long as they can stand it I guess. By choice? I’m not sure. Honestly, I don’t think they’ve considered if there is in fact an alternative or if they’d even want it. I also suppose their reality is just as probable an alternative for me as my reality is for them…Until then I’ll be paying it off with my creative juices, my great work ethic and my dashing good looks (and tomorrow, probably the pursuit of a second job).



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