Thursday, August 20, 2015

Please help Tessa and Marlowe

This is a plea to save my ex from a financial death spiral. The short, short, short version is that she needs about $3500 by the end of next week or she loses both her car and her apartment.

Tessa lost her job soon after the crash in 2008 and hasn't had a permanent job since then. For a while, we tried to build a home business around soaps, lotions, and scents that she made, but that never did more than break even. She's an experienced technical writer and has been able to get short contract gigs from time to time, but nowhere close to enough to live on. When we split up, we divided what equity were able to get from the house, but that didn't last very long. By last year, she was pretty much completely broke. The one bright spot was that she was enrolled in a computer programming course under a state program that came with a modest living stipend. She was doing very well in the courses and it looked things were finally bottoming out for her. Then WellsFargo seized her stipend.

Like many people in her position, she had been juggling her bills, sometimes having to choose which bills would be paid that month and which would be skipped. She closed the bank account from her business so that the card wouldn't be a temptation. And she talked to their support people and thought she had a verbal agreement to pay what she could, when she could. They didn't remember it that way. After a few late and missed payments, they called the whole amount due. A few months ago, when her quarterly living stipend was deposited, they simply drained her personal account. This is completely legal in the state of Washington. Her rent check bounced and she didn't have any money for groceries. This is why people hate banks.

When I found out about it, I set up a GoFundMe account for her. Thanks to some very kind people, we were able to cover about half of what she lost, the rent was paid, and she was able to finish out the quarter. She graduated with flying colors and glowing recommendations. But, that means the stipends have stopped. She's had some short contract jobs and unrelated office temp jobs, but not enough to keep her from falling further behind. Her roommate doesn't make enough to cover both of their bills. Last week, her car was repossessed and her current temp job is in another town.

The world is full of these stories. There's nothing that makes hers stand out from the crowd. She's not a veteran. No one is forcing her to bake a cake. She's not a cute kid with a horrible disease. Its not tied to popular culture like a Tesla museum or new card game. I can't offer clever tee shirts or fun prizes for donations. She's just another person who made some mistakes and had far too many bad breaks. If it helps to make her story more personal, here's picture of her cat.

I restarted the GoFundMe account. There are more details of her fight with the bank there if you're interested. We've made a couple hundred dollars this week. If she already wasn't so far behind, that much each week would be enough to get her by. But now her bills are being called due again. I would completely cover her bills if I could, but I'm already homeless. At this point in her life, she should be looking forward to retirement, instead, she's staring into the void.

If you can, please donate. If you can't, please share her story. Thanks.


Karen said...

I'm so sorry. Indeed, her story isn't that uncommon. I can't help at the moment, but I do want to share that I helped a friend file for bankruptcy earlier this year. She had a mountain of mostly medical debt that she didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of paying off, being quite poor. Then her employer threatened to fire her unless she dealt with the problem. (Is that legal? Said employer is the federal government. I guess they get to make up their rules.)

My friend was totally traumatized by the whole concept, but the process turned out to be pretty painless, at least here in California. It is something to consider in the face of overwhelming debt, especially if the way out seems exceedingly murky.

Anonymous said...

My late husband died on Valentine's Day and has left me with a huge pack of bills-mostly stuff medically-related. Here's what you need to do:
1.) Contact the local Legal Aid Society and ask for someone who is familiar with elder law(which usually affects 50+ people or someone whom you relied upon who was elderly.) They will tell you what you creditors can or cannot do. Ex. If you are at full retirement age in your state, they cannot garnish your social security if it is your only income. And they cannot execute property if it is average stuff. Ex. would be a car for regular transportation if the car is valued at $3500 or less,etc.
If you drive a Mercedes, they could force you to sell it and buy something cheaper. See if someone needs an elder baby-sitter. Ex. a heart patient that cannot be left alone except for short periods of time. They could give you a free room to do this. Usually the person can take care of themselves otherwise, just can't be alone. Years ago my husband and I had a real tough time for about 18 months. He got a job at a pizza parlor run by a family friend. Anytime someone forgot to pick up an order or got the wrong order,etc. WE got free pizza! It was boring, but we didn't starve.