Monday, August 3, 2009

Critical anonymous commenters

I could say that anonymous comments are cowardly, but then I have wanted to make some myself. However it would be nice to know who the person is so I could see their blog and try to see where they are coming from. The first response to a critical post is to feel angry and defensive. Especially with an anonymous comment, the temptation is to dismiss the commenter as some jerk not worth thinking about.

Here is what someone said to me about my last post:

One reason your house lost value is because other irresponsible people stopped making their payments. And you would do the same to others? Ironic.

And this deliberation comes right after complaining about your sister spending money on her wedding. Forgive me, but you sound very hypocritical and self-righteous; her error is minor at best and foreclosing on your house would destructive to many, many others.

Instead of dismissing this comment I decided to think about it and if any of the criticism was on target. Am I hypocritical and self-righteous? Sometimes I am, and the person who denies ever being a hypocrite is 99.9% likely a liar. Sometimes my actions and my desires clash with my principles and ideals. Sometimes I talk about eating healthy and have doughnuts for dinner. Sometimes I talk about the environmental benefits of public transportation from behind the wheel of my car. Part of the journey of life and tracking it in a blog is to be more aware. Life is a learning process and if I already had everything perfect and made post after post charting my perfection it would annoying, kind of like the female protagonist in a romance novel.

Has any frustrated mother fantasized, even for a moment, about walking away from her children? Has anyone in a relationship been tempted to split with his/her partner when things were rough? Ever wanted to just walk away and start over in month five of a home remodel? Of course! It's natural to contemplate what it would be like if your problems just went away. I am in a rough patch with my house now and I do fantasize about mailing in the keys. Will I do it? Not likely.

As for irresponsible people making the values of their neighbors homes drop, that seems bad to people like me who are left behind but not to others . For investors and other buyers just coming into the market this is a time of opportunity. Economists, pundits and the like who complained about the "insanity" of the market at its peak are of the opinion that this "reset" was necessary and ultimately good. For some of you out there those irresponsible people did you a favor.

Keeping to the contract I signed if I am able is expected of me by society, part of the ethical behavior expected of an individual. Of course, if I was a giant corporation and bailed out of a contract because it became unprofitable then it would be "just business". I think some of my frustration comes from the different ethical standards applied to individuals vs business, especially with all the current hardships being endured by responsible individuals when irresponsible corporations and local governments are getting federal bailouts.

As for my sister's wedding, now that the shock has worn off I am fine with the idea of her spending all that money on her wedding. It's her money and her judgement call to make; I would choose differently. I will reserve future complaints for expenses I incur personally. I also reserve the right to comment on following along with some of the more ridiculous expectations of society such as dream weddings.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Loan modification denied; now what?

Today I received a letter from my bank denying my request for a loan modification. The reason given:

"This request would be outside of your investor guidelines."

When I called to ask who actually owns my loan, who is this investor with guidelines I didn't meet, they couldn't tell me but gave me an address to write to and inquire. I was also connected to the Loss Mitigation department, and they said they could look at my information to see if there was anything they can do. I have to resubmit the exact same information that I already sent to the loan modification people.

I am a good risk, I guess. Although my house is deeply underwater ($150,000 or so) I am making the payments, including extra principal payments, and I have steady income and no other debt (40% of my gross income for shelter is all the debt I can handle!). Maybe they figure that they shouldn't lower my rate since I'll keep making payments at the current rate. The conversion date of my mortgage from interest only to principal and interest is too far away for their short term thinking.

What do I do? Wait for my home value to stop sinking and return to its original value plus the 6% realtor's fee (don't forget, you don't break even on selling a house if you don't sell it for it's purchase price plus realtor fees)? Do I send my mortgage servicer jingle mail? I'm not sure what I want to do. I need to learn more about the system so I can figure out how to work it. Mortgage companies are in business to take care of themselves, not me, and I need to figure out how to get them to believe that taking care of me is taking care of themselves.

In the meantime, I am planning to send the requested information to Loss Mitigation. When I make phone calls to the bank, I write down the date of every contact and what the call covered. I stopped the automatic payments for my mortgage. This means I will have to remember to make the payments every month but I think I can handle that. I also decided to stop making extra principal payments for now. I'll set the money aside so I can continue if I change my mind. I'm glad I decided to hold on to my income tax refund instead of using it to pay principal!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Glacial progress on my loan modification

I mailed the loan modification application in late May, in late June I received a notice saying my application was received. Today I called to find out the status. According to the bank, they received the appraisal on my home last Friday and that was the last piece of information they needed to work on my application. I should be hearing from them in one to three months. When I asked why such a long time, the operator said that they have applications from December that they are still working on and that one to three months is pretty fast. Frustrating!!

My plan is to call again in another two or three weeks.

I am starting to fantasize again about just walking away from this mortgage, especially if I can't get a modification. Mr. K-M's name isn't on the loan so we could buy a place in his name instead. At current prices he'd qualify for a loan on his lower salary. I doubt I'd actually do that, most likely I am just expressing my frustration with my current situation.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Once I binged, now I purge

Several years ago I had a shopping problem which led to the accumulation of a large debt and a large pile of stuff. The debt is long gone but I still have a lot of the stuff. Unfortunately (although at the time I thought it was fortunate) when I was shopping I lived overseas where there was lots of great stuff for dirt cheap. The money I spent got me a much larger pile of stuff than a similar amount of money would have purchased in the States.

Every so often I comb through the stuff and find more to toss. This time was especially productive and I filled my car for Goodwill. It is hard to think of all the use I could get out of that stuff but more important is the truth that I have too much to ever use and it doesn't offset the burden of having all that stuff lying around. Yes, I could have sold a lot of it because it was nice stuff in new condition, but it would have taken so much energy to do that, energy better used to move me forward.

I feel so much better, I have less clutter, and I can better organize what I want to keep because I can actually find it. Hurrah!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Loan modification

I received a letter from my lender that my application for loan modification was received and is in the process of being reviewed. I am annoyed, because I know that I am a good credit risk (sheesh, I'm a better risk than most people I know. dammit!). If I wasn't underwater on my mortgage I wouldn't have any trouble with a refi, instead I have to do this humiliating loan modification thing. However, if a little humiliation saves me a couple hundred a month in interest, I'm willing to do it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Just a reminder...

When was the last time you checked your credit report? You can get a free report every 12 months from each of the big three companies. Go to to get your report. If you get one report at a time you can check your report three times a year for free.

Checking your credit report is one of those things everyone should do periodically, like checking the air in their tires (you check the air in your tires, right?).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Contemplating a Fixed Income

I am on vacation this week (but staying home and relaxing) so my paycheck will be just for straight hours. Usually my paychecks are bolstered by shift differential and taking call and such so there is some flexibility in how much I make. I was thinking about what life would be like if my income was fixed, as it will be when I retire. It was a scary thought. The result of this contemplation is that I feel more committed to making sure I have a really good retirement savings.