MisIdentified, Again!

Yes, another customer of the web has stumbled onto my site and misidentified my passion for Dave Ramsey and his message for my actually being Dave Ramsey.

Hmm, I won’t recreate how I feel about this, I’ll simply link you back to my write-up of the initial instance.

However, as is my style, I want to address this head on.  Therefore I’ve added some clarifying text to my “Contact” page, as this has been the entry point these inquiries.

Additionally, before getting to the details of the story, I’d like to ask you guys your thoughts on the matter.  Is there confusion in my presentation?  Short of simply changing the name of my site, how would you suggest I further address this confusion?

I look forward to collecting your ideas!

Now on to the fun part… sharing the question and my response.  I actually love doing this so I welcome more questions and promise to provide an honest and considered response.

If in this instance, my response seems rushed… it’s because it is rushed.  I received the initial mail mere minutes before having to leave to catch a flight.  As I would be away from a computer for a few days, I hammered out a quick note and committed to providing more ideas if the recipient was interested.  Alas, I received no response…

…and on with the show – names of course have been omitted.

The Original Inquiry:

I have listened to you frequently on radio and appreciated your advice to others.  Now we find ourselves in GREAT need of help.

We did the very thing that you have warned others against …..in that we helped out one of our children to the point that we are now without any resources and in tremendous debt due to allowing the use of credit cards and refinancing our home to help this son start up his business.  I suppose you could consider all the funds used for him as an “investment” in his business – which looked very good over the years,  and  still does, but has not delivered as yet – leaving us with a debt load – NONE of which has been incurred for “things” (material desires) or incurred for us personally  – that I couldn’t pay off in 2 lifetimes given my income.  All the debt is because of unwise allowance of what resources we had for our son’s business endeavor with the following avenues.  The grim facts are:

The ‘refi’ on the house balance:     $102,760.00

Line of Credit (against the house:……55,862.00+

Credit Cards:………………………..    75,400.00

My husband is retired with no pension. (Self employed previously.)  He is currently receiving just over $1000 a month of Soc. Sec.).   I teach piano and with my social security ($605 a month) bring in around $33-3500.00 per month.  (We are in our 70’s)  Additionally, we have about $9,000.00 in Sep/Ira accounts.  Fortunately, I am in good health.  My husband is not.

I have spoken directly with the credit card companies – but – as you can imagine – with NO results or hope for bringing down the interest rates –  in spite of impeccable payment record which has been maintained either by myself or our son – whenever possible – which has been, until now, a goodly portion of the payments.  In fact, letters have arrived from 2 of the card companies  INCREASING the % rate — “due to -‘ they say’:  economic times necessitating that the banks raise their rates so that they might make money” -the reason stated in the letters!   (I found this incredibly greedy on their part – especially in light of the current economic conditions!)   They really don’t care about the person at all – even if one’s track record is impeccable – which mine is at this point, but can’t keep it going.  It is looking very grim now as I simply don’t make sufficient income to keep this up, and the business just isn’t coming alive as hoped.  I have paid the entire amounts for the past 4 months and am looking at a 5th one right now with insufficient income to make the ’rounds’. 

            My questions: 

Do you have a productive suggestion regarding contacting HOW to approach credit card companies?

Would you recommend bankruptcy at this point (something we have NEVER before considered or in our wildest imaginings entertained.)?  

What can we do to help ourselves keep our home and food on the table at this juncture in our lives?  

We do have medical insurance, fortunately (my husband through the V.A. – which has been a HUGE blessing in light of all his health issues), and I will continue to teach as long as humanly possible and students will keep coming.  I have managed to hold on to “long-term” care insurance for both of us as well, but I feel ‘painted into a corner” now with no way out.  Can you help?  We both appreciative your wisdom and willingness to share and look forward to hearing from you.

            Thank you so very much.

 

My Response:

Hello e-mailer.  I appreciate your message.  I do want to take some time to provide a response to your question.  However, I want to point out from the start that I am NOT Dave Ramsey.

My name – as you noticed in my email – is Dave Ozment.  I am a huge fan of Dave Ramsey and I even named my blog in his honor – DoYouDaveRamsey.com

As you are looking for Dave Ramsey you may contact him via the email he provides on his radio show – DaveOnAir@DaveRamsey.com

At this moment I can only provide a quick “2 minute” response to your question.  But I’ll be happy to come back with a deeper response if you are interested in hearing more from me – Dave Ozment…. please check out my site to learn more about me so you know what you’re getting.

I guess for starters, you have yourself in quite the pickle, but you know that already.  Of course you should not have been so free with your money in trying to help your son.  I respect your love and willingness to support his endeavors – that’s what good parents do – but there has to be boundaries in terms of what is offered and what is requested.  It seems that you guys have crossed that line coming and going.

The first thing you should do is have a heart to heart with your son.  He has put you guys in a bad place and that should be pointed out to him.  He needs to step up and do what’s right by his parents.  He has a TREMENDOUS obligation in that regard.  Based on your message I don’t know if he knows that or how he may think about that.

I don’t know how much equity you have in your home or how much other savings you may have to address these debts.  I have to assume very little based on your message.

Now here are some steps I’d take – given my VERY LIMITED understanding of your position.  Again, if you’re interested in more advice from me then feel free to help fill in some of my gaps and I’ll do what I can to help from an advice stand point.  

It is VERY IMPORTANT that you know I am Dave OZMENT not Dave RAMSEY… and there is plenty of information about me and my perspective on my website – DoYouDaveRamsey.com

OK, I wanted to be clear before listing action steps… I’m sure you understand.

  •  
    • talk to you son… he needs to step up. If that means selling the business, closing the business, taking 3 other part time jobs… as a man and as a son he has tremendous obligations here.
    • your son needs to take over some of the debt immediately… ideally he puts the debt in his name to completely remove the burden from you.
    • you are not bankrupt… not yet anyways…. but your son needs to know that you might be close…and that you both played key roles in this as the giver and taker
    • I’m not mad at your son as it may appear…. but I’m not happy with him either…. I hope you understand
    • prioritize the debt and the rest of your expenses… food, shelter, electricity, transportation… credit cards fall at the very bottom of this list if not off the list at this time
    • Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you drop the long term care insurance!!!
    • In that order, some of this debt needs to be transferred to your son… – It sounds like you’ve had good credit until now…. until now being the key… you’re in a place where you need to stop paying on the credit cards while you clean up the rest of the mess. These companies should not have loaned so much money to people of your age nor should you have borrowed. In return… they may not get paid and you’ll have to accept this in the immediate term…. this may be mitigated depending upon actions taken by your son…

Please know that these are only starting steps… and that I’d be more than willing to talk through this with you more if you want.

God Bless you in this challenge.

 

So, what do you think…. Good advice or not?  I’d welcome to hear your thoughts and to learn from your wisdom.  Feel free to add your comments below!

One thought that I wanted to add for the purposes of this discussion but was reluctant to include in the message back to a woman in her 70’s – at least not in my initial response – has to do directly with the character of her son. 

Clearly his intelligence is in question but his morals and character may be suspect as well.  The e-mailer suggested that she has considered the business and investment for many years but that it has never made money.  Hmm, has this man – presumably in his 40’s or 50’s – been hiding the business earnings so as to not have to pay the debt back?  Has he simply been living on the money while doing nothing?

Is there a sinister undercurrent of this son bilking his siblings out of their inheritance or is he an idiot that thinks his parents are sitting on great wealth – there are people out there who expect more in an inheritance than there is to distribute.  I also wonder if her son is calculating enough to know the debt will die with his parents while his business lives on.

I understand that these are tough thoughts to weigh but as I reflect and re-read the original message I simply cannot beat them back.

Again, I welcome your contributions!

Category: Personal Finance

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