Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A Stay of Execution

I don’t worry a whole lot. I figure it’s a non-productive behaviour that just saps energy so better to use the energy you have to try to find a solution to a problem and I certainly don’t spend precious time worrying about something that will probably never happen. But today I’m worried.

I don’t actually have a problem myself. Well, I do - we all have our problems but I don’t have anything major going on in my life, and certainly nothing that would warrant worrying about, but somebody I care about has a serious financial problem and as I can see that it’s dragging him down into that black place where nobody really likes to be, I’m worried. I heard about this during dinner last night and even though we were having vegetable stew, one of my all time favourite meals, it put me right off - my appetite just flew out of the window. And I didn’t sleep well last night. I had dreams that were related to the problem and woke up at 2 am thinking about it.

I could dip into my kitchen fund and bail the person out in the short term but I can’t see how it would have any long term effect and I’d still be without my kitchen. Now I know that sounds kind of selfish, but I’ve been saving for a long time and that money hasn’t come easy. I’ve saved coins in a jar, put a fiver away whenever I could and gradually the fund has grown. I’m already owed £200 from it by another person, and that kitchen means a lot to me.

What’s more, I should have had the kitchen a long time ago. I originally took up a £3000 loan for it but due to circumstances at the time (very little income coming into the house), I had to keep dipping into it in order to survive and eventually it was gone. I’m still paying the loan and £98 a month makes a big dent in my income, especially when it’s for something I never had the chance to enjoy.

But I do feel terribly selfish. I mean, compared to some people in this world, my life is one of luxury. Even compared to the life of the person I’m worried about, my life is extremely comfortable from a financial point of view and that’s saying something because I struggle too. Is it selfish of me to put my own needs first? That kitchen’s really important to me as mine is very impractical with hardly any storage space and I’m fed up with keeping things in boxes and stacked on top of each other. My mobility is impaired, I get worn out quickly, and although I enjoy cooking, it’s just no fun when everything’s so difficult. It also has a floor that’s nigh on impossible to keep clean.

However, I’m not about to lose my bank account and neither do I have the threat of bailiffs at my door. I have had in the past, but not now. Not since I sorted myself out and decided that racking up debt and living outside of my means wasn’t the way to go.

I really don’t know what to do.

I know nobody here can help me make a decision or help the person concerned, but getting my thoughts down on ‘paper’ helps a little. My mind doesn’t feel quite as muddled.

Last week, I actually offered to lend him some money on the condition that he paid me back a set amount each week but because of his unstable financial situation, he isn't able to make a repayment plan - there just isn't room for further outgoings.

If I knew for sure that £500 would be all that it’d take for this person to turn his future around then I’d give it to him without hesitation, but it isn’t that simple. He has no way of paying me back on a loan, I don’t feel I can afford to lose the money, and it really would only be a short-term bail out. What then? What happens when my kitchen money’s gone and he’s still in the same position, just a few months down the line?

If only I knew the answer.

Sharon J


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Chaotic Kerri said...

Sharon, you can not help your friend, and you are not being selfish. If his situation is as bad as it sounds, I think £500 would not be the end of it and your good nature could mean the end of your kitchen fund again. Don't get me wrong I have been both a lender and a borrower at times but never without a payback plan. As much as you want to help your fiend, and I would want to help my friend too but you really must be careful. As you said your money has been hard to save.

The Friend said...

I would be grateful if you would close the comments on this as the commenters do not know the full story.

Sharon J said...

@ Chaotic Kerri. It's the fact that it won't help in the long-term and the lack of pay-back plan that is my problem. If I thought I could actually solve the problem by lending him the money then I would. Definately.

@ The Friend. Well I couldn't write the whole story as that would make it obvious to the world who you were and I wanted to preserve your privacy. I don't think there's any reason to close the comments though (I don't even know how to).

Anonymous said...

I don't think you are doing your friend any favours either.

I presume they have got themselves there so they are going to have to get themselves out of it.

You don't seem in any position to bail anyone out yourself.

Maybe losing their bank account and baliffs at the door will be a good thing, it might force your friend into facing up to the situation instead of expecting you to go without something you seem to desperately need.

Anonymous said...

Sharon, ask your friend to seek professional help from one of the well establoished advice centres such as the CAB so that every single opportunity is given to get things sorted out. It is scary but as long as its not debts such as council tax then most creditors will work things out with the person IF and only IF the person is able to ask for help now. IF it is things like housing payments or council tax again unless there is a huge huge debt which has been ignored even in todays weird economy there are ways around it. Imprisonment for debt is a rare situation...its for those who wont' rather than make no effort to pay in most situations! Is the person getting the benefits they might be entitled to? HAve they asked eg at the CAB?
To the "friend" we don't need to know the full story unless you wish to tell us somewhere else eg on your own blog etc. Risky though and the web is full of people to read it!

Pink Bunny Ears said...

Sharon - you have worked too hard for that kitchen fund! And you are getting so close to being able to actually do up your kitchen the way you want.

We all know that if you had a couple thousand pounds laying around you would help out your friend and a bunch of others with loans based on promises of "pay it back when you can". (And hey...if you are ever in this position let me know eh? cuz i could use one of those loans!!!)

I am sorry to hear that this is worrying you and causing you bad dreams and interrupting your sleep. But this is not your problem.

The Friend said...

It's actually quite upsetting to read ill-considered comment such as "expecting you to go without" when I never expected anything of the sort. It was that kind of comment that I knew was going to appear and would anger me. Sharon's done more than enough for me already and not only financially.

I turned down the offer of Sharon's help twice and I do know where to go to get advice, thanks. While the problem is only partly of my making I do actually feel duty bound to sort it out myself. Old-fashioned honour. The last time I called the consumer credit counselling service I was dealt with by someone who really could not be bothered to speak to me and that put me right off. As for the CAB - you can't phone because nobody answers and you can wait all day to get seen on the days they're open and I can't do that.

It is not quite as bad as it's painted, just a set of financial events combining in one week to completely put the skids under me. The bank's advisor I spoke to last night went through in great detail what would happen if I sought help and because I've already arranged things with most of my creditors bar one (my bank, who refuse to budge and who take over one third of my income in loan repayments) to repay the minimum amounts, to put it all on the level and treat the payments on a pro-rata basis (everyone getting a slice of the pie depending on the size of the debt) would actually leave me no better off than I am at the moment, unless I lied about how much I need to live on and there isn't much scoope for that.

I have none of the creature comforts that everyone takes for granted. No television, no washing machine, no curtains (scary when I spotted someone walking round my garden the other evening), no carpets, no phone, no computer (I'm using a friend's) and no internet. I light second hand candles from the charity shops to heat my living room - it's cheaper than gas. The furniture in my house cost a grand total of £15. I hardly drink, rarely go out and my views on smoking aren't pleasant. I'm fairly happy with that situation but I wouldn't mind my computer back because at least I could do something worthwhile on it. I don't need advice on reducing my running costs because I make Sharon look like Christina Onassis. Unfortunately, when prices go up I have nothing to absorb the rises with. Plain and simple.

Grow Ur Own said...

Sharon, I understand your concerns, seeing a friend go through any period of difficulty for whatever reason is naturally bound to cause upset and worry. Be assured that you are not selfish, your post alone shows that. You are not someone who goes and spends "willy-nilly" and your kitchen is something that is not only important to how you want your home (where you spend much of your time), but also to your physical wellbeing. Your mountain of medical supplies needs an appropriate storage area.

To the friend - I am sure that Sharon did not post this to paint you or your situation in any bad light, but only to air her concerns for it. As we can tell, Sharon's circle of friends is selective and the fact that you are within that should show you that she has a lot of respect for you, and a connection with you. I can understand that you feel aggreaved by some of the comments that are here, but opinions on such matters are always going to be diverse and often critical. As you say, circumstances have fallen in such a way that caused this. It happens to thousands of people every year, and it is obvious that you are intelligent enought to try and sort it out. With regards to your bank, I would recommend Martyn Lewis's site for ways of dealing with our high street bullies. I had a loan repayment issue with my bank some time ago and the help on there was great.

Jack said...

If he is in the position you are describing there is not much you can really do to make things better. I know that's tough, but it is your life and the things you value that are at stake. Can he get public assistance? Maybe a local fundraiser could do the trick.



Pink Bunny Ears said...

To The Friend...

my name is Kymber. I am an interntet and Facebook friend of Sharon's.

my email address is: kymberlovesjamie@grayling.net

Please, please send me an email. I think we might be able to help you.


Anonymous said...

i don't think the situation at hand has much to do with your friend, but more to do with you. it would be much like if i had posted about wanting to solve world hunger - i could give away everything i possess and it wouldn't solve the real problem: whatever is compelling me to feel like *i* have to address this problem.

Sharon J said...

@ Anonymous. Sometimes circumstances lead us into places we'd rather not go and to be honest, that's pretty much the way things have been with my friend. Yes, he got himself into it but a lot of the debt happened because of circumstances he couldn't control. Having had a good long talk with him yesterday, I realise that he has been trying to do quite a bit to get himself out of it but things aren't always easy.

@ Anonymous 2. He's answered your questions himself so I won't repeat it. Thanks for commenting though.

@ Pink Bunny Ears. If only I had a couple of thousand then yes, I'd help without hesitation. Alas, with my debts, a decent savings fund is a long way off yet.

As I already know about your offer of help all I can say is send a huge virtual hug for even thinking about helping somebody you don't know. The world could do with more people like with a kind heart the size of yours@.

@ The Friend. Thanks for explaining everything more clearly to everybody. Some of what you've said I could have written in the original post but didn't want to because the more detailed things became, the more chance there was that some people who read here and know you would understand who you are, and that wasn't (and still isn't) for me to reveal.

I keep looking on Freecycle - you'll get a home together someday soon I'm sure :)

@ Grow Ur Own. Thanks a lot for your well thought out comment. It's really appreciated. I'm pretty sure my friend will feel the same way too when he sees it.

@ Jack. He's already on public assistance (what we call benefits) and as for fund-raising, people wouldn't even give it the time of day as there are so many 'scroungers' around that he'd just be considered another one. And with the credit crunch going on too... well, I think we can definitely forget that one. Thanks for trying to come up with a plan, though :)

@ Paradgimshifted. I just hate to see somebody suffering and have been brought up by a mother who would give away her last pound rather than see somebody else go without. Those things rub off. I know I can't solve the problem but I do what I'm sensible able to help out. He's also helped me out on when I've been desperate (not necessarily financially but he's given up other things in the past to help me in other ways) but there's only so much anybody can do.

Pink Bunny Ears said...

To Sharon and To The Friend -

yes. there is only so much each of us can do individually. but when we all come together as a whole....
we can change the world.

i believe this with every fibre of my being. maybe its time for all of us to get up off of our butts and start saving someone.

To the Friend...please send me an email at kymberlovesjamie@grayling.net.
i promise to try to help you with no strings attached. and i know that jack will too. and chaotic kerri. and grow ur own. we can all help. i promise you.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Sorry this is so bad.

What about organisations such as the well established charities who will help with one off grants etc. The free to use library where you can also use free internet accesss will have a book with charities in it or the link to the web sites to help you. Good luck!

Sharon J said...

@ Pink Bunny Ears. Oh, I agree. If I didn't, I wouldn't see much point in recycling, green cleaning, shopping locally and all the rest of the stuff I try to do in order to make this planet a better place for us live. "Every drop counts", said the mouse as he pi***d in the ocean :)

@ Anonymous. To be honest, I hadn't even thought of charities. I'll let my friend decide on that one (and probably answer) though. No doubt he'll be reading here later :)

Anonymous said...

I really don’t understand this idea of bailing other people out of their debts. There’s only one way they get into that state in the first place and that’s by spending more than they have and if they were stupid enough to do that in the first place, why help them? I’m sick of hearing people whinge about how the banks shouldn’t have lent them the money in the first place or how they felt pressured into having a credit card. If you’re over 18 you’re an adult and capable of making your own choices. As long as your friend was capable of signing on the dotted line then he must have known what he was doing. If he didn’t and can prove that then the courts will dismiss the debt but otherwise it’s up to him to get off his backside and do something about it HIMSELF. The world doesn’t owe anybody anything.

Shocked said...

I didn’t comment yesterday because as your friend said, we don’t know the full story but after reading the above I just had to say something.

There can be numerous reasons why a person gets into debt. Job loss and health problems are two that spring immediately to mind. Nobody knows what’s in front of them and although debts may be easy enough to control while you’re in a well paid job or have good health, when things go pear shaped it can be a very different matter. I know because it’s happened to me in the past. I was forced to give up work to look after my elderly and very sick mother. She was too scared of nursing homes for me to put her into one so the only option was to move in with her and get on with it. I found a part-time job but my income was less than half of what it had been and although I no longer had rent and utlities to pay, repaying my credit cards became increasingly difficult. Late payment charges kept being added and instead of them shrinking, they actually grew. If a friend hadn’t “bailed me out” by lending me the full amount to pay them off and agreeing to a repayment plan that I could afford, I’m not sure where I would be now.

I wish some people would think further than their own narrow minds before opening their very wide mouths.

The Friend said...

Thank you Shocked.

I had originally written an answer to that comment that consisted of something along the lines of "Boil your head. You're an embarrassment to the education system that absorbed thousands of pounds on your behalf as you've singularly failed to be able to read anything and extract any tangible meaning from it. I demand my tax money back" but I thought better of it. It was precisely that kind of stupidity that I was trying to warn Sharon would appear here.

Sharon J said...

@ Anonymous III. While I agree that blaming the banks and other credit institutions is wrong - it's their business to make money out of lending money so obviously that's what they're going to do - and that yes, generally we do know what we're doing when we sign the contract, I have to disagree that it's ALWAYS the debtor's own fault when things get out of hand.

I certainly didn't know that I'd have to give up work after spending 4 months in hospital with a very serious condition. If I had done, I would never have taken up the loans etc that I have either, but unfortunately I've yet to find a crystal ball that works for me. We can only base our lives on what we expect will happen.

@ Shocked. You've hit the nail on the head. It's so easy to judge others but nobody knows what's in front of them.

@ The Friend. Well mate, you said it anyway.

As for that type of comment, if nothing else it adds to the 'debate'. And let's face it, the person who wrote it probably doesn't even knowyou and even if they do, it's just one person's opinion and has no real bearing on your life whatsoever. You'll always find ignorance.

The Friend said...

Kymber, btw thank you. There may actually be a way you can help so I'll be in touch.

Chaotic Kerri said...

For Sharon and Friend.

I'm sorry if my comment offended, I certainly didn't mean it to.

I am horrified by the comments of Anonymous3. No one knows your circumstances "friend" and even if we did who are we to judge you. Anyone could find themselves in the same situation tomorrow no matter how well they think they've managed their finances.

Like shocked said, we never know whats around the corner. Nearly every blog I've read since joining blog land is trying to pay off some sort of debt or build a bigger bank balance. Including myself.

Anyway, pink bunny ears said there was some way for us all to help so I have emailed her to see what I can do.

Anonymous said...

You are NOT being selfish. These things are always very difficult and I feel bad for you and your friend and have no judgement because I honestly think anyone can find themselves in a bad situation. To the friend, could you get a second job? I've done that in the past and even though it was tough, oh so tough, the months were made easier knowing I could pay towards bills etc.

Sharon J said...

@ Chaotic Kerry. I can't answer for my friend, obviously, but I can assure you that I wasn't offended by your first comment.

@ Frugaltrenches. I know I'm not being selfish really, but still I feel selfish. I can't explain it really.

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