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Social Clubs / Fuskie's Town Hall Exposition
|Subject: Fuskie Has A New Gig||Date: 4/1/2013 4:49 PM|
|Author: Fuskie||Number: 2037 of 2086|
Some of you already know this, but for the last year, I've been hiding a secret. 2012 was a really difficult year for me. I thought after 7 years of hit and miss contracting, I had a stable and long term job. I had been working on a home renovation for a couple years, replacing my 30yr old doors and windows, living behind plastic curtains while my master bath was gutted, finding holes in my uninsulated floor, having my living room jacked up 3" because the outside posts had settled. It's cost me an arm and a leg - I've actually spent more on the remodel than I did on the original purchase nearly 20 years ago - and I finally got to the point where if I wanted to finish it, I was going to have to take advantage of some zero-percent financing deals.
So paint on the walls - 12 months financing. Sofa and love seat? 18 months financing. Finally replacing my 19 yr old mattress with a Sleep Number bed? 24mo financing. The good news is I had the credit to get these purchases approved. The bad news is my employment was not as secure as I thought it was. I fell behind on my payments, had to deplete what was left of my eFund, and eventually was able to save my house but not save my credit and had to declare bankruptcy. After 13 years of counseling others on the Credit Cards/Consumer Credit discussion board, I had become a victim of my own self-confidence.
But a funny thing happened along the way, and it happened so quickly, I was kind of swept away by the experience. As most of you know, I have made my bones offering common sense solutions in responding to posts and questions. I'm not a financial or investment expert - I'm computer science by education and information technology by trade. I couldn't read a balance sheet to save my life, but after a decade in the world of business intelligence, I know how to learn how a business works pretty quickly. So when this opportunity came along as I was working through disappointing my creditors, I realized it was something I could do, and I could do well.
Please don't hate me, but I have become a debt collector, specializing in working with a law firm that targets debt in the throes of bankruptcy before they are discharged.
I almost didn’t want to post this today lest it be taken for an April Fool’s Joke, but for real, this has turned out to be a kick-arse job! I have been able to take everything I have learned from my business clients, from my own experience and from The Motley Fool to become a specialist in getting debts to my clients paid before the debtors complete the bankruptcy process.
What happened is that a guy threatening to sue me for past due bills said he was a lawyer and wanted to make me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Now, I didn’t check out his law license, but he said he had passed the bar. I just didn’t ask him if it was happy hour at the time. He said he thought given my education and skills and ability to fake empathy, I would be perfect for this idea he had of going after debts before they are dead. And it turns out I am good at it. Six figure salary good.
First and foremost in my arsenal is guilt, and being Jewish, the guilt trip comes naturally to me. Don’t you want to honor your commitments? What would your father think of your welching on your debts? What would your mother think? Do you really want to take money out of the mouths of minorities who won’t receive microloan funding for their low income businesses because you stole money from your bank? Or doctor? Or failed to pay your taxes?
Another great weapon is the rule of math. If you look at debt as one large amount, it’s daunting, but if you break it up into individual components, it becomes easier to convince debtors that they can pay up after all. A $5000 credit card debt is intimidating but can be reduced to 500 Super Grande Mocha Lattes, and wouldn’t you be willing to give up just 10 visits to Starbucks for the next 50 months and be done with the debt in just 2 years? Amazingly, when broken down like that, people are much more willing to pay.
Alternately, you can identify the original individual charges on the credit card or hospital statement to package payment deals. If you bundle the pedicure with the dry cleaners with the 3D Blu-ray copy of The Hobbit, you can establish a sense of accomplishment and ownership that your payment covered something identifiable, rather than just a small pebble on a huge mountain of debt. This method works great when you have lots of little charges – there is a psychological pay-off in being able to remove dozens of unpaid items from your list in one swell foop.
I have also learned to take the lessons from debt consolidation agencies, but to legitimize the process.