Voluntary Repo is Bad Practice

No way home

There’s a new rash of bad behavior streaking across the American landscape – Voluntary Repos… people are willingly allowing their cars to be repossessed and some are actually walking away from their homes, and mortgages, simply leaving the keys on the kitchen counter.

The irony should be lost on no one that this wave of bad behavior comes on the heels of previous bad behaviors – namely buying crap that could not be afforded in the first place, but that’s another story.

Instead, my intent here is to share my perspective on why a voluntary repossession is a bad idea on the basis of both personal accountability and simple mathematics.

Personal Accountability

This one should be easy, but I suppose if that were truly the case the larger topic would be moot.  Today folks are walking away from purchases because they are no longer convenient.  I think this should be a crime.  Folks are walking away from homes not because the payments are suddenly too high, but because the house is no longer worth what it once was.  Are you kidding me?  Is there a better example of gutless, irresponsibility in our society today?

Where has accountability gone?  I sign-up for the deal, I have an obligation to see it through.  I’ve never seen a mortgage with an “inconvenience clause”.

The decline in the housing market is exposing the inner selfish idiot in many folks.  Yes, housing values are down today, but they’ll be back.  There is simply too much history to think otherwise.  For generations these same folks have been comfortable with the idea that new cars drop at least 40% of their value in the first 2 years of ownership – with no hope of that value ever being recovered.  Why react so haphazardly when the housing market takes an odd, but correctable, turn down such a familiar and well worn path?

***Related Article:  Bankruptcy, If you’re going to do it, do it right! ***

Intersection of Accountability and Financial Mathematics

In the gap between personal accountability and the simple budgetary math of inflows and outflows there exists an odd formulaic model originally designed to assign a value to our fiscal intelligence.  Yes, I’m talking about the good ole Credit Score.

So there is no surprise that walking away from debt – defaults, foreclosures, repos, or the like are crater-making events to your score.  Simply put, you have behaved badly in your financial dealings and now your credit score will reflect those misdeeds at least 7 years into the future.  Or well into the next boom period during which the pockmarked face of your credit score will severely limit your ability to enjoy the ride.

Check the Math

Voluntary Repos are simply bad math.  If I owe $20,000 on a car but can only sell it for $15,000, I find myself $5,000 in the hole.  In reality, I have a $15,000 asset and a $5,000 unsecured debt.  But this arrangement, as self induced as it may be, isn’t working for me so I’ll just return the car.

All is good, now I have a clean slate and can start over.  Until the court summons arrives and I find the dealer or finance company has sold the car for only $10,000 and sued me for the $10,000 difference.   Hmm, now I have no car and a $10,000 judgment against me.  Exactly how was this supposed to be better?

Alternative Solutions

Are there alternatives?  Well of course there are.  The very premise of this article is on Voluntary Repos.  Why not grow a backbone and opt for an Involuntary Repo.  Sometimes you’ll fight and still lose, but never as badly or with the same certainly as rolling over and not fighting. 

Be an adult and make the payments if you are bailing simply due to an inconvenience factor.

If you want or need out bad enough try to sell the asset, then lower your price until you find an interested buyer.  If you’re dealing with a house, attempt to score a short sell with or without recourse.  Similarly with the car, try an offer in compromise or sign an unsecured loan for the outstanding balance.  Borrowing from my previous example: every time I’d rather owe $5,000 than $20,000.

Take on extra jobs and call your debt holders daily trying to negotiate better terms.  Basically you need to fight, fight , fight to improve your situation… and isn’t working hard to better your status something of a theme in this life?  What happened to grit and the American way?

Interesting News Item

As something of a bonus, I also want to share an interesting news piece that was recently reported on NPR’s Story of the Day.  It seems that a new trend is emerging in the world of bankruptcies.  Some banks are simply refusing to accept homes abandoned by the owner.  In this cases, the bankruptcy is incomplete leaving both the owner and mortgage in place.  In extreme cases, owners are being fined by local municipalities for upkeep violations due to the decay of the abandoned property.

I personally think this approach, in cases of abandonment, is genius.  Banks should not have an obligation to clean up someone’s mess when that individual is not also involved in the clean-up process.  If I’m working extra and trying to arrange short sells then I’m trying to do everything possible to mitigate the situation.  I am at least trying to partner with the bank to resolve my issue.  Alternatively, if I just walk away I’ve essentially asked the bank to clean my dirty diaper.

I don’ think the banks should be required to perform such duty in these cases and I would love to see stronger legislation in this area.  

Photo By: akashgoyal

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Category: Personal Finance

49 thoughts on “Voluntary Repo is Bad Practice

  1. “Is there a better example of gutless, irresponsibility in our society today?”

    Nope, can’t think of one…

    I really enjoyed this article, Dave! I usually try to put myself in other people’s shoes, but have to admit I get really frustrated when I hear of people walking away from homes, cars, and other obligations only because it is inconvenient or has dropped in value.

    Like you’ve pointed out, someone in a true emergency may not have another choice. But they are certainly in the minority this day and age. I think you nailed the problem on the head when you discussed how people’s credit will be destroyed ONLY until the next big upswing in the markets when their score won’t even matter anymore.

    I heard Dave Ramsey once say, “Even a turkey can fly in a tornado.” I feel like people are voluntarily committing to being turkeys and waiting for a economic tornado to come pick them back up so they can fly!

    Keep up the good work!

    Baker @ ManVsDebt’s last blog post..Help! House Fever Is Attacking Us!

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Yes, I love that line from Ramsey… I’ve heard him say that too… and it is so very true. So many folks thought they had it figured out and now are bailing on their responsibilities. I hope this comes back to bite them in the ass. Not out of cruelty but folks must be made to pay when they crap all over the process and hurt innocent people in the process.

      Thanks for your comments! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this one!
      Dave

  2. Yes, voluntary repo’s are horrible, but may be the only option if someone’s back is truly against the wall. Case in point: I know one production home builder that turned in the keys to 80 (EIGHTY) homes to his bank. He ran out of the funds to finish them and he couldn’t sell them in their current state. He’s more than willing to do whatever he can, but when the well is dry and the kids are thirsty, there aren’t a lot of options. Now, he did this at the end of summer 2008 and things have evolved in the economic and financial world since then. I don’t think he would have been able to pull this off today, just like you pointed out in your article.

    The key takeaway is to learn from the bad practices of others and make dead mortal certain you don’t replicate them in your own life.

    And that goes for the banks as well. The bank in this case had used some strong-armed tactics to get him to bring everything current. What they didn’t know was that the accounts he maintained at other banks were dry. They thought he was jerking them around, but in reality, he was tapped out.

    Last I heard, he was trying to be a lumber salesman. Yeah, good luck with that…

    Ron@TheWisdomJournal’s last blog post..Don’t Forget About The Free Book Giveaway — How A Second Grader Beats Wall Street

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Yeah, some circumstanes make a bankruptcy unavoidable. It may be easy to dissect this guy’s situation from today’s vantage point and to suggest that he could have avoided inserting his head into the lion’s mouth… but once there, he had little room for fighting.

      Surely he’ll never paint himself into such a corner again and we’d all do well to learn from his example – as you suggest.

      On the flip side… so many folks are bailing as a strategy for advancing rather than as a means of escaping an other inescapable mess. Dumping a house I’m upside on just so I can use that payment stream to buy into a larger house with a depressed value is wrong and should be illegal.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting over here Ron. I enjoy your work!

      Dave

  3. Dave,
    This concept of just “walking away” from your responsibilities is becoming an uglier and uglier part of our culture. Walking away from an auto loan or a home you no longer want to work for…it’s kind of like divorce. “I don’t feel the same about you anymore…so I’m out of here” Crazy how divorce is becoming the norm, not just in our personal lives, but in our financial lives too…what is next? We live in crazy time brother. Nice article!

    The Almost Millionaire’s last blog post..Blog Income Report

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      I LOVE the divorce analogy…. I’m thinking through another bankruptcy related article and may steal this concept!

      Yes, it is a crazy time… we see many of the excessive behaviors of the boom being punished today and I imagine we’ll see many of today’s bad behaviors punished in the next turn of the business cycle.

      It remains true that slow and steady will win the race… the beauty of it though is that slow and steady sometimes does allow for explosive pockets of growth. As we’ve discussed in another comment string – recessions allow tremendous opportunities for those equipped to benefit. I plan to plod my course and build my bank over the coming years and I should be in a position to clean up in the next recession……. some may ridicule this attitude as sinister or capitalizing on the weak but the mother of all ironies is that if everyone shared my approach there would be no recession – the ups and downs would still occur but the waves would be gentle as compared to the torrents and crashing waves of today.

      Great discussion… I think there’s 2 or 3 articles here!
      Dave

  4. We know of one lady in our neighborhood who just stopped paying her mortgage because she was underwater – even though she had the money. She just decided she didn’t want to continue pay and started saving her money to move into a rental. the place was foreclosed on and she moved away like she was proud of herself for getting out of the place.

    C’mon people – you sign a contract, you live up to the deal!

    Bible Money Matters’s last blog post..What If I Die? Make Sure Your Family Has All Your Important Information In One Place

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Ugh, that is exactly what I had in mind when writing the article. You’re neighbor is all smug as if she has it figured out but frankly she disgusts me. I hope she’s never able to purchase a home ever again.

      Thanks for sharing this example Peter and let me know if you need any help egging her moving van.
      Dave

  5. This doesn’t piss me off like it does you. These people are playing the system to their own advantage, in a fairly dishonest way. That’s what the banks were doing when they loaned them $650k to buy a 25-year-old three-bedroom home in an average neighborhood a couple years ago.

    Yeah, a lot of people have been screwed in this whole mess. Homeowners want to pass it onto banks, banks want to leave it on the homeowners, but they seem willing to pass it onto the taxpayer too, if they can get away with it.

    Who’s really at fault here? Probably everyone who bought a home, sold a home, encouraged people to buy more home than they needed, approved the loans, etc. They all contributed, and they’re all going to end up screwed to some degree. I’m not going to lose sleep over which of them gets screwed more than the other.

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Hey Tyler, thanks for commenting… allow me to jump right into the discussion…

      If I’m reading your words correctly, you’re really saying that people behaving in a dishonest manner does not piss you off. Can that really be true? If the repair man promises to arrive at a designated time and never shows up or calls, does that not piss you off? It does me.

      What I’m afraid that you may be disconnecting is the pain or blow back from the dishonest behavior. Now I may be interpreting your words incorrectly but what I’m sensing is that you’re ok with this dishonesty because it does not land directly in your lap. Alternatively, the AWOL repairman is squarely in your lap.

      Well, if that’s ultimately what you’re saying… I, personally, find that troubling. It’s like calling it a victimless crime….hmm, tell that to all the stock holders and former bank employees. While no one may be able to say exactly which straw (or foreclosed home) ruined a specific bank or pierced the housing bubble’s skin but there is no doubt that one did.

      I believe that moral restraint is a necessary element for the sustainability of a free market economy. As you so well state, there indeed are many groups and players in this fiasco who must share the blame. However, the impact of their misdeeds is not limited only to them. We all get to share in that side… and the government’s expensive attempt to clean up those misdeeds ensure our children and grandchildren get to share in the mess too, by way of raised national debt and taxes.

      Cliche’s from my childhood come to mind… “just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it a good idea” and one of my favorites “2 wrongs don’t make a right”. I’m glad my father taughted or rather drilled these ideals into me. I wish more fathers had done so over the years.

      So many barriers were broken legal and otherwise to land us here… the bank can’t loan me crazy buckets of money if I’m capable of working a calculator and vice versa… for example. And just because these previous behaviors have landed us in a mess doesn’t give me the freedom or justification to crap on the pile for my own benefit. It seems that if greed and fancy financial manipulations got us into this mess, it is not likely the way to extricate us as well.

      Thanks again for the comments. I appreciate the discussion!
      Dave

  6. Yeah, this is definitely becoming a bad habit in our society today. I wish I could I say that I didn’t think of another idea similiar to this a awhile back and it involved credit cards and student loans.

    Back when credit cards were given out like candy with their balance transfer to your checking account options the idea was to use that to pay off student loans. From there the debt was now unsecured and I could go ‘bankrupt.’ This would then alleviate that debt from my life.

    I didn’t do it because I have personal responsibility and integrity. Now I am working my butt off to get rid of all the debt in my life. Having to do this changes that behavior and to give debt a different view in my eyes. Never again!

    MrPlasectomy’s last blog post..Finally, It Is Finished, The Gas Guzzler That Is

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      You are so right… there are so many “genius’s” (read idiots) that try to fast forward to a miracle solution. They say “let’s load up massive debt and then go bankrupt” or “let’s shovel diet pills down our gullet so we can lose weight and not change our diets”.

      These plans are recipes for disaster. Morality and character and integrity still have meaning today – perhaps even moreso today.

      I believe – as do you – that good behaviors will be rewarded in time. We may not see it coming and it may not even be visible to the naked eye. But one day we’ll just wake up and know… “yes, I’ve done right and I’m content and I’m not running or hiding from anything literally or figuratively”.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting! I love the discussion and exchange of ideas!
      Dave

  7. I guess I don’t understand why the value of your home would necessarily matter unless you were trying to sell it. If I were to buy a home, it would be to live in, not to profit from. So what if my home has a market value which is less than I owe? If I’m going to be living here, raising my family here and barbequing with my neighbors, my house value isn’t important.

    I definately agree that people have financed depreciating assets (cars) without blinking an eye, never questioning if it is a fiscally responsible decision, but when their home value sinks, it is the end of the world. Maybe it has something to do with their HELOC…if their home value goes down, would that reduce their available credit? It may be possible if this were the case that they simply could not afford to finance their inflated lifestyle anymore.

    I am not an expert when it comes to home-ownership or HELOCs, just a thought.

    Steven@hundredgoals.com’s last blog post..What Factors in Your Life Influence Your Goals?

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Your line of questioning is right on track…. there are people today that can afford to continue to make their payments but simply elect not to do so. In fact, I’ve heard stories like this… a person or family has a 200k mortage with a monthly payment of $1500…. but the house is only worth 125k in today’s market which means techically they are overpaying for the house relative to what it would cost today. It’s an entirely contrived comparison point but not all people are logical or smart. So these clowns are walking away from their house in attempts to find an ever bigger home that may be purchased for the same $1500 payment. I have to think that this type of ignorance and disregard will catch up to them at some point…. that’s when the folks to “played by the rules” will be able to step in and truly profit by the situation.

      Great stuff… thanks for commenting.
      Dave

  8. It’s not an option here in the UK. If you borrowed money to pay for somthing (house, car etc), you cannot simply hand it back and walk away. They will hunt you down and demand the outstanding arrears.

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      As it should be…. here in the States the theory is the same… they are supposed to chase after you but with the housing market and economy in the can people are getting away with more and more. In my mind this is both counter intuituve and counter productive but that’s the beauty of allowing gov’t a greater role in the process.

      I agree that these folks should be hunted down and made to pay. I hope that this will begin to happen as we move forward.

      Hey, thanks for visiting and commenting!
      Dave

      • I am all about accountability… but I am also a big fan of “due diligence”. Too many lenders make their lending decision based solely on a FICO “I-Love-Debt” score.

        The last round of Bankruptcy reform made it nearly impossible to wipe the slate clean, and effectively allowed the lenders to have their unsecured debts secured by court order.

        I would have liked to see the lender’s due diligence as a required part of that decision. Stupid loans that should never have been granted do not deserve this level of protection.

        • Dave Ozment on said:

          It is funny how decisions are made and their consequences are not fully appreciated until much later. Making lending decisions based solely on credit scoring “sounds” reasonable until it fails.

          Loosening credit restrictions so lower income folks can participate in home ownership “sounds” nice, creating bond investments out of mortgages “sounds” smart, and both Marked to Market and Bond Rating services “sound” like good ideas until together the 4 good ideas conspire to cripple a global economy.

          Oops, didn’t see that coming.

          Due diligence sounds boring and slow and we live in a mircowave society with ADD-like attention spans….. ah, what was the question again?

          Thanks for commenting!
          Dave

  9. Dave Ozment on said:

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I do appreciate it.

    …But by the tone of your message (the bold text) I can only imagine that you won’t much care for my response.

    I’m not a fan of government invasion in our lives – a comment I believe you’d agree with – but I see that cutting both ways. I don’t see the governmental social programs helping my day to day life but I don’t see their taxation necessarily hurting me day to day either. Sure, I’d like to have more of my money, but I can or should be able to carve out a nice life with what I have left.

    In other words – more bluntly really – the government has nothing to do with folks filing for bankruptcy or repo, forced or voluntary. The governement has nothing to do with folks buying something they can’t afford, beyond perhaps the poor example set by the government. If I buy a new car and house and charge up my credit cards its mine. I own it. I can try to blame the government but that’s just lying to myself. I crapped in my hat and now I get to wear it.

    It’s easy to blame someone else for our shortfalls and failures but that’s rarely the answer. Most often you’ll run into the culprit next time you lather up for a shave… that’s where I often find the source of my largest issues.

    Hey, thanks again for commenting. We don’t have to agree on everything to have a good conversation… I love the exchange of ideas and I hope to have you back.

    Dave

  10. cindy on said:

    Could you all please wake up to the cold reality of what corporate America and the full circle of government assistance and taxpayers are creating!!! For the individuals that create more credit than their pay is worth, how could a bank agree to this and worse…why would anyone sign up to a contract that they are not sure they can pay in the the 5-10-15 years of payoff? I will tell you why. From the statements here, you all have apparently never grew up on government assistance, never worked for miminum wage, never felt the effect of a layoff or rebuilding a house you bought from back taxes and reconditioning it just to own a roof over your head only to have a flood take away. For you see, some states uphold it’s citizens with free medical, food coupons and a check to go to school and daycare. When an individual grows up from a life like this, you try to do better; you try to hold a job; you try to play corporate America…only to be abused with the high finance rates of not having credit…so you sign…it’s what you have to do to “better” yourself…and then when you run out of options because your salary decreases and your cost of living becomes more than you can afford…then what? Until America opens its’ eyes to the reality of every culture…every income bracket and living situation…it won’t change…just look at the intelligent people out there that create computer viruses just to destroy something that is good for others…until we are all on the same page of financial understanding…it doesn’t make a difference if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth or a government check…cross each other’s fences a while and teach each other something about living…because until it happens…you can expect the rich to screwed and the poor to get poorer….welcome to my world and pardon my tone…but all i read is…is of better income status….PS…Did you know banks, car finance companies, credit cards and any company that finances and takes loss does get that government assistance back in tax write offs for bad debts…now who is getting screwed!

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Hey Cindy, thanks for commenting. Wow, you certainly unpacked a lot here, though I’m not sure how to organize it – aggressive agreement or rabid rebuttal. In either case, I love you passion and willingness to share from your experience.

      I certainly agree that banks gave a blind eye to some of the loans they made, though it’s fair to say also that many of the lending requirements enacted under Clinton played a role as well. Mandating huge loans to low/no income folks is a recipe for disaster and that’s part of what we saw happen.

      At the same time, a healthy dose of personal accountability is even more critical. There’s no need to try and keep up with the Jones’s when they’re up to their eyeballs in debt and monthly payments. Trying to look rich or accomplished by borrowing is a losing approach and then falling back into a victim mentality is a loser’s path.

      It would seem that you agree with some of that but not all. That’s fair. It appears that we come from different backgrounds but the great thing about this country is that we can both succeed if we put our minds to it and go about bettering ourselves in the right ways. Education, hard work, diligence, and smart money decisions are sure fire ways to advance. Don’t worry about what it looks like while you’re at it. A purchased picture of security is a trap but security acheived over time and through proper methods is a bedrock.

      Thanks again for commenting and contributing to the discussion. I hope to see you again.

      Dave

      • cindy on said:

        HI Dave:

        I couldn’t help but to respond again to your comment. People and humanity of life are my passion. I see the unfairness from both sides with regards to financial aspects.

        I do not sign more loans than I can afford and I don’t have any credit cards and never will. I research diligently and constantly online finding solutions to my problems and to gain insight on every topic that an adult life consists of.

        Your posts disturbed me just because you may consider voluntary repossession to be bad, filing bankruptcy or walking away from credit responsibilities. However, I have read both sides from businesses and consumers.

        If a company won’t work with you due to circumstances beyond your control, layoff or drop in salary due to less details or bonuses; then what is a person to do. I have heard your responses on what these people are that “intentionally” do it…but what about the individuals that truly fall on hard times?

        It’s easy to see why America plays the money game when you are highly rewarded with more debt when you pay on time…but doesn’t this supply wear short too when people live beyond their means? Honestly what sense does it make? Everyone reaches a point sooner or later of not being able to pay and if you don’t do that, it just hasn’t happened to you yet, thank heavens…but do you think any company,no matter your years of loyalty will have mercy if you miss one payment or a late payment; I think not.

        Let’s just say, there are alot of people who use the system and who do treat it fairly; but I don’t have enough faith in the plastic and investments of this country to trust no one with my cash but me and I screw it up sometimes enough just to live and not survive anymore.

        The list can go on and on about money…do you ever read other blogs of complaints and comments on companies, it’s sad and hilarious at the same time…but the real truth is, we could all use more education to teach each other about the lifestyles of diveristy here in America to understand what our government can or can’t do and to what degree of accountability is fair. It’s not a standard world we live in and we shouldn’t have standard numbers either.

        • Dave Ozment on said:

          Hey Cindy!

          You make some good points and I hope I can clarify my position. In general, I think there are 2 kinds of people who files for bankruptcy or who have their possessions repossessed.

          1 – there are good folks who fall on hard times and then backed into a corner after doing all they can and while being as honorable as they can through the process, they simply run out of rope. They have to do something to reset the clock and start over. In these instances giving up a house or car or filing for protection under bankruptcy laws is an acceptable (though unpleasant) path to take. Folks in the group never intented or and never wanted to fail on their commitments but thats how their ball bounced. I do have sympathy for these folks.

          2 – there are also some bad and lazy folks who only look out for themselves and are looking for an easy way out. I have a family member like this and this perosn went on a shopping spree not long before filng for bankruptcy. There was no fight and working long hours and extra jobs to save their financial name. Rather it was like a joke to them.. spend all the money, keep all the goods, and wipe clean the debt. If people like this want to be supported on the backs of the masses then I say we put them all in jail or some fenced in encampment so their laziness doesn’t hurt so many other folks.

          Now the folks in group 2 are often beyond help… or at least the help that I can give because they first have to want to help themselves. Folks in the first group can help themselves by starting to remove debt from their lives. You are a good example as you don’t use credit cards… that is debt some folks never escape from but you know how it’s done. If more folks in group 1 moved to your example, there would be fewer folks in group 1.

          Thanks for returning to comment again, I enjoy it.
          Dave

    • Agreed.

      Cindy, it is unclear what you are trying to say.

      Are you in favor of Government intervention or not?

      • cindy on said:

        I do believe we already have government intervention, don’t you? If someone falls on hard economic times such as most working Americans are these days; or something of humanity steps in that prevents us from paying debts as signed upon…and the businesses are held with debt…why is it that the government gives them write offs and bail out money? That’s government intervention but do I think it’s fair…no, because it comes full circle in our paychecks, taxes, property taxes, state taxes and federal taxes…you see, we all still pay in the end no matter what happens.

        There has to be a medium somewhere for the wealthiest of Americans and to the poorest who want to try to better theirself. I don’t see how it’s fair for disadvantaged survivors of cirumstances to have to suffer the previous generations lack of trying and government dependancy.

        Have you ever been to WV? I know too many people on both sides of the road, the wealthy who spend it like the money will never run out on every credit card you can imagine to the individuals who maintain living on government assistance and programs given free by our state.

        We have such a financial diversity in the state that we live in. I am a hard working American everyday who has overcome more obstacles than most people could fathom; however; to be down graded and talked about as one of those non-paying people repulses me.

        It does no good for either side of financial wealth or poor to trash each other and I would really like to see the government to better manage with all parties in mind.

        If you buy it, you should pay for it. If you sign it, you should be committed to it; however…what is the divorce rate in America again? How many children have no fathers or children that have no families? What about the foster families that use these children for income or the parents that have children to keep up their government assisted of living?

        I for one, see both sides of the stories and can feel for all parties involved because I have seen it or been close enough to it to know it. If everyone would sit back and start thinking more of solutions and think out of the box toward the humanity of others; I know…somewhere….we could all make agreements that would be suitable for all income status walk of life.

        I really think something needs to be done…

        • Dave Ozment on said:

          Cindy, I appreciate your comments. You sent a couple today and I’ll try to do each of them justice. But I want you to know that I appreciate your passion and willingness to engage the discussion. I hope I’m contributing to your internet learning experience. Thanks!

          OK…. yes, I agree that we have government intervention today. Way too much of it I’d say. And you are right that it comes from every angle… welfare to individuals and bailouts and tax incentives to businesses. A true solution needs will need to cover several bases but it does need to start at home, yours and mine and everyone elses as well. We need to do smart by ourselves and do right by others. If we start by taking care of ourselves and then each other, the issues we have with the economy and government will take care of themselves.

          I have spent time in parts of WV and I agree there are certainly some underpriviliged parts of the state. Certainly it is easier for me to say than for others to do, but success and wealth can sprout from these types of environments. That is too often an exception rather than the rule but many things are possible.

          Thanks again for your comments and good luck to you in your adventures!
          Dave

  11. Kelly on said:

    I haven’t seen this so much in Canada where I am, but I’ve definitely heard of this from colleagues and friends in the USA. I really don’t believe this is the solution. People should take responsbility for their own actions, including their debts.
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..NOVA: Solar Energy – Saved by the Sun =-.

  12. Wow. Great article and discussion. Too many creditors use deceptive practices in lending and consumers really must be protected. Yes, we are a law firm so we are biased and there are many very good lenders, however we have seen too many clients that have been taken advantage of.

  13. tomtom on said:

    Im sorry but I do not agree with everything you have said here. First of all some people still have a backbone and have fought to keep their home. For example I am currently in the situation of either short selling my home or doing voluntary. I have come to the point that I have no choice. My property has been in my family for 20 years and it kills me to think I may lose it. I have been working 3 jobs to pay for it, taking extra side jobs and my kids hate me right now because I will not even take them to McDonalds after their sports. I have cut all extras only basic living, sold all valuable assets. All of this due to my wife and I are only making half of what we used to due to paycuts and rising health insurance. Also not to mention my mortgage company decided that since the governement stepped in and said the average american can afford 31% of their GROSS income in house payment that is what my new payment is which is 11.6% interest. I was not a day late for the past 5 years until this happened. The government forgot about the fedral tax, social tax, state tax, oh and I have to pay 2% of my gross to the county i work in because they are considered a tourist attraction even though there is not a damn thing here to visit. Now after all of the sleepless nights I have had not from money stress but awake to work 18 hours per day how in the hell can you say everyone in this situation has no back bone? Now let me ask you and Mr. Ramsey something! Why is your classes and books so expensive? Hell the people who need them are already broke! Couldnt they use that money to save or pay a bill? Would you offer expert advice to someone who is in desperate need for free to try and save their home so they do not fall into your god forsaken judgement? I think the answer is NO!

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Thanks TomTom, I appreciate your message. You set forth a lot of ground for me to cover, but allow me a chance to cover as much as possible. I owe you at least that much considering the passion with which you wrote.

      Where to start?

      Well, let me start by saying that I commend you for your effort and diligence. I applaud a man willing to sacrifice for his family, and so sir, I applaud you. In no way are you participating in a Voluntary Repo, rather you fighting tooth and nail. You may still loose your home but not before you put up one hell of a fight. I call that backbone and in no way would I criticize you for your efforts.

      There are people – people with far less character than you – that will voluntarily stop making mortgage payments just because their home is worth less than they owe. They will forfeit their home not because they can’t make the payments but because they simply don’t want to make them. I consider that cowardly and a far cry from what you are doing.

      I can’t speak for all of Ramsey’s product pricing but most of them are actually priced pretty low and he’s always running sales. Check out his web site. His books are routinely $10 and there are plenty of free articles and resources on his site too. Heck, his radio program is 3 hours everyday and free. He offers tons of great advice everyday for free. The first hour is free for download on iTunes. While I applaud your work ethic, I have to say you’re missing the boat on the pricing and availability of free advice, sorry, I’m just being honest with you.

      As for me… I’m not selling anything so every article you’ll see here is free. I have free budget downloads and invite you to give them a look. Ask me questions and I’ll do my best to answer them. Click the ‘contact me’ button and send me an email. If that doesn’t work for you, write it in the comments and I’ll gladly spend time with it. I have your email as a result of commenting… post a comment asking me to email you and I will. In the spirit of free advice… I’d encourage you to revisit your mortgage paperwork. Your lender can not restate the terms of your loan on a whim. Even adjustable rate loans have terms that the bank is bound to follow. I encourage you to recheck the interest rate. If you’re at 11.6%…. mistakes have been made. You’ll want to know which are yours and which are theirs.

      Keep fighting the good fight. You sound like a hard working man trying to provide. That’s noble. In the meantime, please reach out to me if you have questions I can attempt to answer. I can’t promise a perfect answer, but I’ll tell you what I’d do in your position.

      Thanks for commenting!
      Dave

  14. We live in a free country. If a person wants to walk out on their debts they can do that. If they want to pay their debts they can do that to..

  15. With inflation still growing and unemployment high, far more folks are struggling to generate ways to save on their finances, but voluntary repo is never an option or a route to go.

    The cost of running a car is a significant burden on a lot of household budgets: Gas costs are high, not helped by the instability in the Middle East that looks to be a characteristic of the political panorama that is going to be with us for most time.

    Current inspections in the press suggest that some groups of friends are picking to burn the car to conserve money. While the price of motoring regularly seems to be rising, there are most other options to cut the price, various than waving goodbye to the wheels. Some of the other options to save money is by getting the right kind of insurance. People should learn to cut back on their expenses than looking into voluntary repo, it will literally destroy your purpose and business in life.

    Go now and find out additional information about cheap discount and savings on car insurance coverage(s)

  16. Bob Kimrey on said:

    OMG! What a asshole you are Dave! Wake up and get the sleepy out of your eyes and really really look around. Your article showed your ignorance of the envitroment that banks and other lenders operate against the common man. Greed of those institutions is what has caused this problem, inability of those enities to work with a troubled economic costomer base. Damn Dude Get Real!
    Just sayin!

  17. Jane doe on said:

    Yes there are a lot of lazy ass people but there are also people with unexpected crappy situations. My husband worked hard all his life 2-3 jobs at a time and all the overtime he could get. Then one day his back starts hurting. He later finds that the pain is cancer and has spread all over his body. Within 3 months of the back pain atarting he is on deaths door . Now the creditors he has faithfully paid without missing a payment ever refuse to work with me on his debts. They are his debts might I add, which he had prior to our marriage, I am hard working too aNd pay my own bills. So what does he do walk away is the only Answer IcN think of. If you have a better one I’d like to know cause I’m stumped and I don’t see why I should assume pre-marriage debts.

  18. Robert on said:

    Banks and businesses file for chapter 11 or 13 all the time it’s part of the business cycle. Although those who can afford to pay for their obligations should not walk away but for those who have lost their jobs because of the current financial crisis created by the Fed and the Banksters people are forced to implement drastic measures such as a voluntary repo.

  19. Max Payne on said:

    Wow Gutless those are some pretty strong words. Hey genius do you think that people who have to leave there house are just going to pick one up with there stellar credit with a forclosure. If some allows forclosure I am pretty sure they have exhausted every option. This article is totally irresponsible just like the people you are criticizing. Average House in 1950 was $8,450, average salary was $3,210, gas was 18 cents, average cost of a new car was $1,510. Just under fifty years later in 1999 Average House in 1999 was $131,700 average salary was $40,810, gas was 1.22 cents, average cost of a new car was $21,100. You do the math since your so good with numbers and while your at it add interest as well which is a whole new ball game. Which by the way is the reason why people are in this stuation in the first place. Now fast forward 2012 how is the economy now. I dont know why dont you tell me.

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Thanks Max, I apprecaite your comment but I wonder if you missed one of the main points in my article. At the time I wrote the article there was a rash of folks simply walking away from their homes simply because the market had turned. They bought a home for $300k and it was now worth $150k. They could still make the payments, nothing else in their lives had changed except for the number on a piece of paper. Many of these folks moved into a very similar home – or even upgraded – secured a lower mortgage on the new home, and walked away from the old home. Collectively, this form of repo created a tremendous burden on the banks and many local governments. With these folks bailing out, it became harder to help those with legitimate needs.

      I think it’s critical that you understand the context before simply attacking. Perhaps you overlooked that point or maybe didn’t understand it. Or perhaps a nerve was struck.

      For the record, I don’t believe interest is new. I think it’s been around for a while. It’s referenced in the Bible, but I do agree that interest or at least the debt it represents is indeed the reason some people are in such trouble. Avoid the debt – or at least limit it – and an individual’s risk profile is greatly reduced.

      Again, thanks for your comment. Good Day.

      • max payne on said:

        I appreciate your reply. Yes it did strike a nerve because I have considered BNK and Voluntary repossession for legitimate reason. I have chosen to do things the hard way even though my credit suffers and I am stuck with high interest loans and flat out rejections. I might also add that I am not here due to irresponsibility of finances I live well below my means. On another hand people I know personally have pursued these options and are in a better position financially for doing so. In addition they somehow have better credit options. What I’m trying to say is the system is broken and it gives me no real incentive to be responsible. In spite of that I will be responsible for my debt the hard way. However I felt the article generalized people making those types of decision. Also my comment about interest was that it should be taken into account in addition when talking about the enormous gap of income and the power of currency. Sorry for being so rude I was just upset at the time I appreciate your professional reply/comment.

        • Dave Ozment on said:

          Thanks for circling back Max. I agree that there are flaws with the system. Anytime huge mortgages are being given with little regard to someone’s income you’re asking for trouble. People who did it the right way, borrowing within their means but purchasing at the height of the market are suffering for no fault of their own. I’d consider myself in this boat. I’ve been upside down on my home for 4 of the 5 years I’ve owned it. But it would be flat wrong and irresponsible for me to walk away just because the value dropped. I signed up for this trip and I need to ride it out. If more people shared that belief, the entire situation would not be nearly as bad.

          I’ve heard lots of good investigative stories on the housing and financial markets. I think the financial crisis is a symptom of a crisis of character. Some how I just believe I’ll be better off in the long run just doing what is right. Confidence in that belief system doesn’t always protect me from frustation and I probably used strong words to express myself in the original article.

          Hang in there Max, it’ll get better for us all.

  20. Those are good points. I know tons of people who literally did that. Just walked away (not after fighting hard first though). Most of them are now kicking themselves in the pants.

  21. Anthony on said:

    Good points! I understand the backlash because most people just don’t want to accept responsibility or be criticized for their poor decisions. I work at a dealership and I see if; not often, but I see it. Just last week a client desolved her company (a shell company) so she turned her third car over. And the week before a gentleman was going back to school so didn’t care about his score til after he graduates. You’re right; sign a contract, follow through. It’s that simple. I miss the days when a handshake meant something. Now so many feel their owed something. You’re owed NOTHING. Work hard and do the right thing. And help someone other than yourself along the way..

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Spot on, Anthony. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  22. DeShuana on said:

    What do you do if you can’t afford the vehicle any longer and you find a buyer? You owe 20,000 and the buyer is willing to give you 15,000 but the bank says no they want at least 17,000. How do you handle that situation? Because if they take the car to auction they will get less and come after you for the rest.

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Thanks for the question DeShunana. You need to come up with $2k as fast as you can. The bank will settle $20k in debt for $17k. That’s a good deal from the jump. They don’t care where that extra 2k comes from. The buyer or your pocket. If you can come up with the 2k you’re set and you’re lucky you’re not having to bridge the full 5k.

      If you don’t have access to the money, you need to work with the bank to do a separate loan for it. Heck, I’d sign a separate loan for 3k for a total of 18K and a better deal for the bank than they are willing to make just to bridge the gap and get out from under the 20k debt.

      Hope this helps.

  23. Karen on said:

    Great post Dave! We have the same issue in parts of Canada and I strongly agree that people should take responsibility for the debt they got themselves into… it is called being a grown up!

  24. martin on said:

    Your Kidding right! Banks don’t care about you anything you do is a waste of time and MONEY! Give it back and walk away and live life again. To much stress to deal with a losing cause. I beat my head to the ground trying to work with Debtors and there is no way to help you. Credit goes bad and no bail out for the middle class here Bro. I resorted to God and he has taught me to say no drive a car that is pay for and rent a house cause it is easier to evict yourself from it then owe money to anyone else! Pay cash for everything and don’t trust anyone but yourselves. If you can’t buy it you do not need it put your trust in the lord and he will provide to you. I did not say the lord will pay your bills I said put Faith in the lord to make good decisions. I pay all in cash give to the church and have a stack of Money put away now after I filed Bankruptcy my life is grand! call me gutless, irresponsibility or selfish who cares!!! I live for today and not for tomorrow I’m happy as ever and no longer stressed over material world. Peace out Ramsey ………………………….Element Church Wentzville Missouri

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Hey Marty, thanks for your comments. I love some of your advice, put faith in the Lord. I completely agree. I also agree with the sound financial decisons it sounds like you’re making now. Good for you. However, I’m not a fan of filing backruptcy as an escape hatch or a fast track to easy street. You should be pulled into bankruptcy court kicking and screaming. Negotiate to the hilt and only then do we yield. Sounds like you gave some fight, and turned over a new leaf. Good for you in Wenztville. I lived in St. Charles a couple years back in the 90s. Great place.

      Take Care.

  25. Paula Barry on said:

    Okay – here is my deal. Lost my company in 2010. Husband accepted job in Middle East- and I am now an expat wife. We have an RV we bought “when we were rich” and it was STUPID..we didn’t expect my business to go belly up, or to leave the USA. Had the RV for 5 years. NOT Late on any payments- but have now sold everything and living in middle east- everything EXCEPT the RV- which has depreciated so much, we are now 25K upside down. We plan to stay gone from US for at least 5-10 years (the RV will ROT sitting still that long)- we will NEVER be right side up…and we owe 70K – had it on a lot- and not one buyer offered, or even bit. NOW WHAT should we do? Keep paying it off- and have no asset at end of loan in 10 years…or WHAT? I’m so confused.

    • Dave Ozment on said:

      Thanks for commenting Paula, good questions, lots of layers here. Sounds like you’re out of the country at this time, so you may need some assistance pulling this off. I’d notify the lender of the situation and deliver the RV to them or let them know where to pick it up. Send them the keys, etc. Then, let them know that you are willing to negotiate a settlement. You may need to stop payments to get their attention, but set that money asside because legally and morally it is theirs.

      This is not an easy recommendation. I do feel strongly about taking ownership and responsibility for your actions. But sometimes all you can do is all you can do. It sounds like – I only have the benefit of 1 paragraph, but it sounds like your husband took work in the Middle East for the sake of finding work. Hopefully good paying work.

      Sounds like you really did try to sell the RV but the market was tight. If you were stil full time in the US, I might tweak my response, but if you’re overseas, you’re limited and that can be a bargainning chip. Use it, but do seek a settlement rather than walking away completely.

      Good luck to you.

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