Picture me, the queen of the trailer park.. Dave proudly standing next to me with his wifebeater and meister brau beer can. In the back yard is where we’ll keep our Chrysler K-Car, it has no wheels, of course, so it’ll be up on the cinder blocks for eternity. Our next two children will be named Bobby Sue and Rocco. Ahhhh… that’s the life… or it will be for us, very very soon.
We have hit an all-time low in our finances. We started 2010 with such high hopes. Dave got his new job where he’s making $10,000 more a year than he was before. We finally had a budget planned out where we can accelerate all of our debt payments and be virtually debt-free in two years (well, except for that pesky mortgage and school loans). At that time I could retire and become the mommy extraordinaire that I’ve always dreamed of being.
Last week I got a letter from a lawyer stating that I owe $60,000 immediately to them because of school loans that I have DEFAULTED on. These MEFA loans have been nothing but trouble since the first day I applied for them. On my due date I received a letter from a debt collector telling me that I was delinquent on said loans. Delinquent? Doesn’t that imply that I had received a BILL? I promptly called and stated my case, which I’m sure they hear every day… I never got the bill, therefore I never paid the bill. Well, if I want this to not go to a lawyer and have these accounts stay up to date, then I must pay the $4000 in back payments immediately. Rewind… this was on my DUE DATE that I had this conversation. A day when I was not quite thinking about bills and savings accounts and delinquency. I was more concerned about the fact that my nursery wasn’t done.
I politely explained to them again that I had never received a bill, and doesn’t that mean ANYTHING to them? No. I understand the logic, I really do. I’m guessing for the many delinquent accounts they have, 50% of those people will play dumb and exclaim that they are not responsible in some form or another… but I was TELLING THE TRUTH!! So, I explained to them that I will make my monthly payment, but I will in no way be able to pay the back amount for some time.
Fast forward 4 months and a lawyer explaining the same thing to me. Even though I never received a bill, I should have known to be paying. Really? I was just going to magically know how much my monthly bills were, AND where to send the check? Granted, if I had done some research and made a few phone calls, I could have probably found out when I was supposed to start paying back these loans, but I was a tad bit busy with an infant, 3 dogs, a husband, and life. Well, here are my options:
1.) Pay it in full now. Honey, if I was able to pay for my $60,000 education, don’t you think I would have paid for it THEN??? AND, if I can’t even pay the $4,000 in back payments, how in God’s name do you expect me to shit out an additional $56,000? “Well, can’t you take out equity on your house?” I paused. Ma’am, I bought this house 2 years ago, my house has DECLINED in value substantially thanks to the geniuses in government, so, no, I cannot take out equity on my house.
2.) Settle with the company to pay less than the full amount… say $40,000… see response to option 1.
3.) Pony up some hefty lawyer bills and put this in front of a judge so HE can determine how much I owe them every month. But first, I must put down a hefty down payment of one big lump sum (again, see 1. and how I can’t pay the back payment.) and then for 6 months pay an accelerated amount (way more than the $620 I should be paying, which is already almost paralyzing us).
As I sat on the phone, crying to this lady, trying to reason with her and convince her of the fact that I am not delinquent, and that if I can’t even pay the back payments, how in the world was I going to come up with all that money, I kept thinking “I’m not one of those people” I don’t resemble the characters they have on COPS or Operation Repo. I’m an educated, middle class, professional. I have an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and an MBA. I graduated in under two years with my master’s going to school at night while ALSO working full time and planning a wedding. People like me don’t fall delinquent on their accounts. How could this have happened?
I finally told the woman that I would need to call her back on Monday, I couldn’t even speak I was crying so hard. Doesn’t she understand? How do they expect anyone to be able to fulfil any of their options? Yes, I know, in order for them to ever recoup their money, they have to do this… I know. But not me!
I had no choice. We’ll be dealing with lawyers from now on until they can put this to rest and we can continue normal payments in 6 months. Until then we are going to be poorer than dirt, since we already have debt that we’re trying to pay off, and a 4 month old infant at home. We were so excited that this year our taxes should top over $10,000 and that was going to our planned trip to Sweden with my family, and ALL of the rest to debt. What a weight off of our shoulder that would be. Now, however, it’ll all be going to this lawyer.
What is more devastating to me is that Dave now has to deal with it. He works so hard to make what he does. And now every extra penny he’ll be making is going to MY mistake. He should not be responsible for me. But, because of a lovely piece of paper, he is. I’ll never be able to repay him for this. The real kicker is that I spent $60,000 on this magical degree that would bring me riches and endless job options, and instead I make $3,000 more than I did in my last job and I spend my time writing emails and doing shit data entry. Had I not gotten this amazing degree that would make me so valuable, I would have gotten my raise in my previous job and by now would be making the same amount… and using my brain way more often.