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A rather difficult look in the mirror - did irresponsibility get us here?

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  • A rather difficult look in the mirror - did irresponsibility get us here?

    I ask this to all of you. But before I go on I'll answer my own question - I say no, I was not irresponsible. But...................

    I've had this discussion with my wife and my father as we passed through bankruptcy's door. We've talked about all the varying reasons that provided us the key to that door.

    I look in the mirror and think about when it all started and could it have been avoided. I know the reasons are many - from medical issues in the family to the economy to my own spending while the world happened around me. [I use "I" here because in fact I am/was the spender in the family which is why only I filed]. I assume each one of us could write a book about our travels to that door. Here's an obviously VERY abbreviated outline of my look in the mirror and some major points in how I got here.

    1970's - in my teens, get my first boom box (hooked on electronics - let the spending begin)
    Got some of the first computers - Commodore VIC-20, Timex Sinclair, 1st Mac, 1st 8088 system (never stopped since and more spending)
    Bought house from family member in 1991 - overpaid but wanted kids to go through towns school system (buried myself right then and there and knew it, but my kids turned out pretty good)
    Daughter had major medical issues for 3 years - I never really recovered - lost my "oomph" and drive for working
    Wife lost her mother and oldest sister to pancreatic cancer over the past 5 years - she wants to live life because she feels there might not be a tomorrow (she's been sick for a year but has been assured she doesn't have cancer)
    Had my ups and downs with W2 jobs and now self-employed, making good $ then bad $

    What's my point here? I sit back and am accountable. I know there were reasons beyond my control. I also know I've made less than stellar economic choices over the years. I've justified almost every major purchase and trip over the years (25th anniversary cruise; 2 trips with entire family to St Maarten to spread the ashes of my wifes mother and sister as that was their wishes; nicer car for me because I drive in it so much (80,000 miles so far in 3 years); etc. All justified in my mind for reasons that meant something when I spent the money.

    Is all of that irresponsibility? Am I irresponsible because at 51 I filed with upside down worth and no retirement money? Am I an abuser of the system that the government has for someone in my economic state because I should have been more responsible by never getting to this point? Should I beat myself up for the restaurants or the various trips? Again, I say no - I brought up two wonderful kids and gave them everything I could, have a wonderful wife who I will be celebrating our 30th anniversary with in August, I have a nice home and other material niceties that I use (honestly, when I buy something it doesn't collect dust - again, justification) and hope I can keep. I don't see it as irresponsible even if I am a CPA and know numbers/budgets etc. I lived and because of all of the factors that got me here, I now need this so I can live in the future. Will it make me "better"? I suppose economically I am learning a lesson, but I intend to still be me, and irresponsible I am not.

  • #2
    We will own our situation and if using credit over the years is not being responsible then I guess we are guilty. We are in our late 40's have always worked, have always owned (last 2 homes have been brand new with husband being the builder so instant equity on both), we were taking back control 5 years ago when we stopped using all CC and paid everthing down (more than 50% of debt at the time) on our way to 0. We did not own alot of toys, drive 2 10 year old cars, don't have alot of electronics and things, we did travel, son goes to public schools etc. The job losses for my husband (2 lay offs) in a very short period of time (less than a year) was what started the downward spiral and stupidly using CC again to supplement our living expenses. I guess where we were not being responsible was by not filing a year ago and trying to keep the creditors happy with payments as we sunk deeper and deeper. We finally realize that its not working for us anymore and coupled with a rental house out of state that is under water and we subsidize the monthly payments we are at the end of road. I guess you have to go through all these issues and crisis before making the Chp 7 decision and it was no means an easy decision but the only one we have that makes sense for us. Oh well...

    Comment


    • #3
      Mine was not so much cc debt as house debt. Bought a house not realizing (how would I have known?) that 4 years later I would be laid off. Don't have much ion the way of toys; old computer, thrift store furniture and clothes, etc. But, the economy got me. At 57 I am having a very hard time finding a job. I was paid a good salary and unemployment was a little over 1/2 of that. Even while working, I had a hard time making all the payments, but make them I did. Then, like an idiot, I kept paying even a year into unemployment. Should have filed at that point, but kept thinking I would find a job - which I still haven't, outside of two long term temp jobs I had. I've been unemployed for over 2 years now, but the temp jobs - 6 months and 4 months - have kept me in the unemployment rolls. I keep trying to find work, but it is tough out there.

      Life just is. I can wish I would not have bought the house, but I did and that is what finally led to my bk.

      Comment


      • #4
        I can't answer for anyone else, but whenever I look in the mirror, the only person I can see is me.

        Regardless of the catalyst that pushed me off the cliff and into bankruptcy, I walked up to the edge all by myself. Over my career, I have made enough money, that had I applied some of the restraints that I have to employ now, I could have retired 5 years ago. It is now water under the bridge. What is in the past is in the past. The future is all I have and all I choose to worry about.

        Comment


        • #5
          Traditionally it has been the banker's role to say no to borrowers.
          Recent industry practice, driven by greed and lobbying, is to say yes to everyone and try and get you in a debt prison you can't get out of.
          This is largely driven by a supreme court decision in the 80's which effectively made national banks immune to state usury laws.
          Coupled with lobbying which culminated with BAPCPA in 2005, and a disasterous de-industrialization policy that has hollowed out the economy.
          It all spells class warfare between the ultra rich and the middle class, and guess who's winning.
          filed chapter 13..confirmed...converted to chapter 7...DISCHARGED!

          Comment


          • #6
            Well said as always Catleg.

            Originally posted by catleg View Post
            Traditionally it has been the banker's role to say no to borrowers.
            Recent industry practice, driven by greed and lobbying, is to say yes to everyone and try and get you in a debt prison you can't get out of.
            This is largely driven by a supreme court decision in the 80's which effectively made national banks immune to state usury laws.
            Coupled with lobbying which culminated with BAPCPA in 2005, and a disasterous de-industrialization policy that has hollowed out the economy.
            It all spells class warfare between the ultra rich and the middle class, and guess who's winning.

            Comment


            • #7
              Yes, very well said.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by catleg View Post
                Traditionally it has been the banker's role to say no to borrowers.
                Recent industry practice, driven by greed and lobbying, is to say yes to everyone and try and get you in a debt prison you can't get out of.
                This is largely driven by a supreme court decision in the 80's which effectively made national banks immune to state usury laws.
                Coupled with lobbying which culminated with BAPCPA in 2005, and a disasterous de-industrialization policy that has hollowed out the economy.
                It all spells class warfare between the ultra rich and the middle class, and guess who's winning.
                Then the question is am I accountable for saying yes? So now it's easy to get buried in debt because of the yes syndrome inherent in the industry. Yet I still had a choice to say no and change my lifestyle prior to getting to this point. Was I unknowingly competing with the rich trying to live a life I couldn't because access to funds was so much easier?

                Comment


                • #9
                  It's very hard to avoid the consumer brainwashing that you are bombarded with from all angles.
                  It includes the government, which wants you to have "confidence" so you keep borrowing and spending.
                  In part all the borrowing has been a cover-up of the deindustrialization of the United States.
                  (read: loss of good paying manufacturing jobs, replaced with jobs as casino dealers and the like).
                  filed chapter 13..confirmed...converted to chapter 7...DISCHARGED!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by catleg View Post
                    It's very hard to avoid the consumer brainwashing that you are bombarded with from all angles.
                    It includes the government, which wants you to have "confidence" so you keep borrowing and spending.
                    In part all the borrowing has been a cover-up of the deindustrialization of the United States.
                    cATLEG - I forget the name of the economist, but he makes an excellent argument that the borrowing - and the super low interest rates - were a way for US - "we the people" - to live with our wages being stagnant or falling - we, as you said, were fed "borrowing" to make up for the lack of wages.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by catleg View Post
                      Traditionally it has been the banker's role to say no to borrowers.
                      Recent industry practice, driven by greed and lobbying, is to say yes to everyone and try and get you in a debt prison you can't get out of.
                      This is largely driven by a supreme court decision in the 80's which effectively made national banks immune to state usury laws.
                      Coupled with lobbying which culminated with BAPCPA in 2005, and a disasterous de-industrialization policy that has hollowed out the economy.
                      It all spells class warfare between the ultra rich and the middle class, and guess who's winning.
                      Sadly we know the answer. The last 30 years wages have been pretty flat -- except for the super rich who have pretty much taken all of the spoils. It amazes me though how many people will vote for the party that has no interest in their well being and is in fact against their own economic interest (At least all those making under 250k / year).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        And then they vote the bums out and get ... more of the same.
                        filed chapter 13..confirmed...converted to chapter 7...DISCHARGED!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by catleg View Post
                          It's very hard to avoid the consumer brainwashing that you are bombarded with from all angles.
                          It includes the government, which wants you to have "confidence" so you keep borrowing and spending.
                          In part all the borrowing has been a cover-up of the deindustrialization of the United States.
                          (read: loss of good paying manufacturing jobs, replaced with jobs as casino dealers and the like).
                          Hard or not to avoid, and regardless of the systems in place to coerce the general public into debt as part of the deindustrialization of the US, if I use the excuse of "brainwashing" I am pushing part of the blame away from where it belongs. The US wasn't sitting on my chest with a gun pointing to my head telling me to borrow - I had a choice.

                          As a CPA I've been watching for decades business being pushed away and importing taking over. "Made in the US" is a shell of its former self. But was I using the system irresponsibly for my given situation? So I was offered over extended credit. I took it. So where is that line of irresponsibility versus brainwashing? I think both sides are accountable here, regardless if I'm just one middle-classed human being going up against the powers that be. I lost this round of economics, and lost rather soundly. Yet the viscious cycle of life has the same government that manipulates the economy against us put into place laws to help those that got buried by that economy.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Have I been irresponsible? Absolutely. There's a reason my father said my middle name should be 'credit' in 1975!
                            Did I plan on my DH, who worked his azz off as a heavy equipment engine builder and made very good money, to have a stroke 4 years ago and the residual effect is all the knowledge that was in his head to disappear? NO.
                            Did I plan on my son, who was just getting started in his career, to become a victim of this suck-azz economy (same profession as his dad). NO.
                            Equipment depends on construction, and we all know where that is.
                            Did I plan on being in an engineering profession that depends on development, to stagnate, and cause me to make the same amount of money that I did 4 years ago? NO.
                            So, am I completely to blame? NO.
                            But I accept the responsibility and hopefully we will learn that less is more. We have certainly learned that there is more to life than keeping up with the Benjamins.
                            Life is one day at a time to us, and I used to quote Scarlet - "after all, tommorrow is another day".....
                            Now I know, that tommorrow may not come, so enjoy today.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by fileda13 View Post
                              I ask this to all of you. But before I go on I'll answer my own question - I say no, I was not irresponsible. But...................

                              I've had this discussion with my wife and my father as we passed through bankruptcy's door. We've talked about all the varying reasons that provided us the key to that door.

                              I look in the mirror and think about when it all started and could it have been avoided. I know the reasons are many - from medical issues in the family to the economy to my own spending while the world happened around me. [I use "I" here because in fact I am/was the spender in the family which is why only I filed]. I assume each one of us could write a book about our travels to that door. Here's an obviously VERY abbreviated outline of my look in the mirror and some major points in how I got here.

                              1970's - in my teens, get my first boom box (hooked on electronics - let the spending begin)
                              Got some of the first computers - Commodore VIC-20, Timex Sinclair, 1st Mac, 1st 8088 system (never stopped since and more spending)
                              Bought house from family member in 1991 - overpaid but wanted kids to go through towns school system (buried myself right then and there and knew it, but my kids turned out pretty good)
                              Daughter had major medical issues for 3 years - I never really recovered - lost my "oomph" and drive for working
                              Wife lost her mother and oldest sister to pancreatic cancer over the past 5 years - she wants to live life because she feels there might not be a tomorrow (she's been sick for a year but has been assured she doesn't have cancer)
                              Had my ups and downs with W2 jobs and now self-employed, making good $ then bad $

                              What's my point here? I sit back and am accountable. I know there were reasons beyond my control. I also know I've made less than stellar economic choices over the years. I've justified almost every major purchase and trip over the years (25th anniversary cruise; 2 trips with entire family to St Maarten to spread the ashes of my wifes mother and sister as that was their wishes; nicer car for me because I drive in it so much (80,000 miles so far in 3 years); etc. All justified in my mind for reasons that meant something when I spent the money.

                              Is all of that irresponsibility? Am I irresponsible because at 51 I filed with upside down worth and no retirement money? Am I an abuser of the system that the government has for someone in my economic state because I should have been more responsible by never getting to this point? Should I beat myself up for the restaurants or the various trips? Again, I say no - I brought up two wonderful kids and gave them everything I could, have a wonderful wife who I will be celebrating our 30th anniversary with in August, I have a nice home and other material niceties that I use (honestly, when I buy something it doesn't collect dust - again, justification) and hope I can keep. I don't see it as irresponsible even if I am a CPA and know numbers/budgets etc. I lived and because of all of the factors that got me here, I now need this so I can live in the future. Will it make me "better"? I suppose economically I am learning a lesson, but I intend to still be me, and irresponsible I am not.
                              You are not irresponsible, it's called denial and poor planning and it can go on for years until something happens that wakes you up, slaps you in the face and brings you down to earth and face to face with reality. It is usually a job loss, major medical issue or another life changing event. Prior to that time, you think the good life will go on forever but without some sort of planning or savings going on, many crash and burn. Many of us in the boomer generation never really learned to budget from our parents and we went on with the same practice but wanted our children to have it better than us and have more than we had. Hence there are many boomers who opened up the big money faucet over the years to now find themselves in trouble with no savings and retirement looming or a job loss takes place which really pulls out the rug.

                              Change is hard and learning to budget is hard. You now need to regroup, start over and just do the best you can.
                              _________________________________________
                              Filed 5 Year Chapter 13: April 2002
                              Early Buy-Out: April 2006
                              Discharge: August 2006

                              "A credit card is a snake in your pocket"

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