Taking Control and Getting a Bailout

This is not a typical post. It’s not about exercise or eating right. But it is about taking control, and how, when we do, sometimes good things happen.

I am not great at finances but I do all the bills in my house. We never have enough money and what I am good at is creative juggling. As a result though, we are in a subprime mortgage that had a ridiculous interest rate (fixed, but crazy high) and and an even more ridiculous payment. I do not live in some big, stunning house but I am paying like I am. Our house is old and we’ve tapped the equity in the house to keep it standing, make repairs and stay afloat. We agreed to this mortgage during our last financial crisis. We took it with every intention of getting out as soon as possible.

But then the bottom fell out of the real estate market and with it, all the remaining equity in our home. We sucked it up and paid the mortgage every month although we were getting later and later and borrowing money when we shouldn’t have been to stay on top of it. Now three years later, all the elements converge, both my husband’s and my pay are reduced because of the economy, our credit has been zapped because we are over-extended, and there is nowhere to turn.

Six months ago, I asked my bank, which got a $78 billion bailout from the government because apparently they can’t manage their finances either, if we could modify the mortgage before we got in any deeper. The woman who handles my loan told me to not pay for two months and let the loan go into default and then corporate would look at it. WTF?!?!?!? Seriously. Not an option.

Four months later, when I asked again (now I’ve fallen two weeks behind on the mortgage with every penny going to interest), she tells me, “Oh you don’t have to default anymore.” You couldn’t have told me this? I had to ask again? I speak with you every month. She obviously doesn’t care.

Two weeks ago, I go to the branch manager, who takes my information, sends the paperwork up to corporate and surprise, sorry, they won’t modify. Mind you, my bills come to more than we take home. I’m not looking to get out of my mortgage. I’m just looking for some help so I can pay it. But ok, corporate says we make enough money and we can afford this loan. We have jobs. This is what the man tells me.

I know there are people out there who are in way worse shape than I am. And my heart goes out to them. But I still can’t afford this payment.

So I start looking at rentals. Because at this point, I’m feeling like my only way out of this mess is to abandon the house I’ve  lived in and paid for for 15 years.

But wait, this story has a happy ending.

I take a serious look at all of our bills and what we spend each week and start creating a budget. My grown kids agree to kick in more money, I start seeing what options I have for debt consolidation and settlement. I start researching and making phone calls. Figuring out where I can get a second job or make more money.

Our new budget is kind of like the food budget on Weight Watchers. We have a weekly allotment, and my husband and I are now writing down every penny we spend to see where we can trim the fat even further.  Control over the finances. What a concept. But I was still feeling like the only option was to move.

So yesterday, I call the mortgage company, because my payment is now a month past due, to get the minimum amount I can pay to stay current so I can bring them a check. My loan person is on another call, and I get this woman, Laura, who looks up the information for me. I’ve never dealt with her before. Laura calls me back a half hour later and says “I see you were trying to modify and they turned you down. This doesn’t look right. Can you bring me some information today? I think I can get this approved.” Sure, I tell her. And I gather the pay stubs and bill information she requested, leave work early and go over there again. At this point, I doubt it will work, but hey, worth a try.

In 20 minutes I’ve been approved for a new mortgage payment that is $600 less than what I was paying, (more than the manager said would even be possible) and a 2.5% interest rate reduction. Plus the payment isn’t due until July 15. They are waiving this month’s payment. I can catch up on all of my other bills now. I can breathe. I feel like I’ve lost 100 pounds.

I thank Laura, I can’t thank her enough. And she says “I don’t take no as an answer from them. Not when this is hurting people who don’t deserve it.” Laura is an angel. And this was divine intervention. I mean what are the chances that I happen upon an associate who actually gives a damn about people like me?

In a past life, this type of stress would have completely derailed any efforts I made to lose weight. My first inclination in times like these is to eat. Eat because I’m scared, frustrated, angry, and not sleeping. But this time, I didn’t do that. I exercised to combat all of those emotions and I’ve kept my eating in check. I’ve been holding onto weight, which may be a result of all the stress. Maybe that will move now.

All I know is that last night, I slept.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Oh God, how wonderful! I have a lay-off in my future and I want to eat and eat. I haven’t, but this worry is mounting. DH says we’ve been in this spot before and the Lord provides. But I can’t stop worrying!! I am SO HAPPY for you that things worked out. What a relief!


  2. Posted by Kyra on June 17, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I’m so happy for you that this story has a happy ending!


  3. Good for you!!

    Budgets really are helpful, too with both money and food situations! Glad things worked out:)


  4. Diane,
    what a great blog and I am so pleased that you got a good answer. I think some people don’t believe that good people can get in tight spots. It seems they overlook us and then act surprise when people fall behind.
    The world needs more Lauras in it!
    We are on a budget and I am amazed on how little we can live on- not thrilled mind you, but grateful that we can until things pick up.
    This way our dog, Ruby, doesn’t have to hide her dry food from us. 🙂


  5. Posted by maggieapril on June 18, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I was really glad to read this. I see my neighbors losing their jobs and abandoning their homes and I know it will take them a really long time to come back from this. These are people who are willing and able to work but can’t find employment that will pay the bills, not ones who try to abuse the system. It’s nice to hear that an average citizen that needed help managed to see a tiny piece of the billions the government is giving away. Good for you!! And good for you for not eating your way thru the crisis!


  6. Posted by melissa on June 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    this brought tears to my eyes, its so redeeming when you find someone willing to go above and beyond to help people they don’t even know. gives you faith in people as a whole.


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