This morning I was awakened from a sound sleep by the ringing of my house phone. I answered the phone and it took a second to connect; you know what that means…
Usually telemarketer… It wasn’t even quite 8:30 in the morning! But when the voice connected on the other end, it was not a telemarketer. There was no sickeningly sweet voice pretending to be nice. This woman was certainly not trying to get me to buy something; she was abrupt, firing questions at me as if I was at an interrogation! Even in my half asleep state, I quickly realized this was not a phone call that was meant for me.
She demanded that I verify my name. I didn’t have a problem with that, other than she could have asked politely. Then she kept asking me about me living in Tampa Florida. I told her that I do not live in Tampa Florida. She demanded that I verify my address. I refused. I demanded to know where she was calling from. (Mind you, I had already tried asking nicely, and I was ignored.) She said she was calling from a collection agency and that she was calling for Pen credit or something similar. I said I don’t owe anything on credit, I’ve never had credit from Pen credit. She said ma’am I did not disclose anything about whether you had credit from them or not! You know I can’t do that! What?! Really?! How am I supposed to know that? Anyway… Finally she said if you will not verify your address will you verify your date of birth? I said sure it is February 23, 1968 (… note that I am again giving y’all ample warning so that I get lots of Happy Birthday emails!). That’s information you can get almost anywhere on social media, so I didn’t have a problem giving that information. Suddenly she completely backpedaled, as she realized she had the wrong person. She said I’m sorry ma’am, this isn’t you. You are not who we are looking for. We have the wrong information. Thank you. She then actually just hangs up.
I get off the phone I’m still foggy from sleep but now I’m also anxious and worried. It wasn’t me, I don’t have any debt to make me feel is if I had done anything wrong. And it’s not even for me. This woman with her abrupt attitude and centering upon almost rude behavior, was just doing her job. I’m sure she’s very good at what she does. But it’s crazy that the debt collection has come to such a point that they need to have people fire questions so rapidly and have no courtesy during the phone call. I’m serious, I believe this woman probably used to work for the police or the FBI in interrogation and it wouldn’t surprise me that she was fired because she was too rough. As someone who used to have debt and used to have debt collectors calling, the feelings that this phone call reawakened were not pleasant. It saddens me to think that this country has come to be a place where the collectors need to be so firm, so up in your face to try to get money back from people. Is that the point of how far we have come as a people that we are taking advantage of the system? Borrowing money with no intention of paying it back? That no longer is our word our word? No longer is a promise a thing you actually meant to keep?
I don’t believe it. I am sure that there are a small few, that will get credit and know that they have no intention of paying it back. But I believe for the most part much of this stems from either lack of financial wisdom or from uncontrollable circumstances, that most people have every intention of paying the money back that they borrow. Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward teach in the Financial Fitness Program that often times people don’t have a financial mentor that can look at something objectively and help them see what would be the best move (Principle 19).
Principle 3 teaches to live within our means. This right here is where I feel we get sidetracked. Every where around us we are being encouraged that if we can make the payments, we deserve it and we should do it. I know personally that is what got my husband and I in a number of tough situations. We would decide to purchase something, that we hadn’t saved up the cash for, and since our credit was really good, there was never an issue for us to get that loan. The problem came in when our circumstances would change, and suddenly we were overextended and couldn’t see a way out. Suddenly we were avoiding calls like the one I received this morning. Feeling miserable as we played ‘bill roulette’ to determine which bill could get paid on that paycheck. Having to say no to things that we really didn’t want to say no to. Scrimping on food, fighting over money, resentful over what had taken our money. It is a hard spot to be in, when you look at your beautiful vehicle sitting in the driveway, that you can’t afford to put gas in to go to the store to buy the milk your little girl asks for, as you make Koolaid with the little bit of sugar left and pray for something to change.
This isn’t an uncommon theme across America. Education, vehicle, mortgage, recreation all of these debts are on the rise. What used to be a land of single income families has now evolved into a necessity of multiple income households just to survive.
Flashback to my phone call this morning. Maybe it was unexpected hospital bills, maybe the loss of a job, maybe the birth of a baby, something caused the person that they were calling to not be able make payments. Whatever it was, they are hunting that person down. They will find them, and they will belittle them, boarder on harassing them, and demand that they pay. The feelings of remorse and shame will surface for the debtor, and they too may pray for a way out.
There are options out there. Please, if what I have written of hits too close to home for you, research the options. Don’t let the stress of living under the noose of debt hold you hostage. Personally, I feel that the Financial Fitness Program available through LIFE Leadership is the best. (you can email us for a video link) It is what my husband and I used, and still use today. It was simple, affordable and it gave us the roadmap we needed out of the financial hell that our lack of financial wisdom had us in. The noose that was around our neck, that periodically would loosen, as we both worked like crazy to get ahead, and then would tighten because unexpected changes is no longer. The freedom we feel because of that, well, it’s almost like walking in to a house where someone has just taken cookies from the oven. The fresh baked smell, kind of indescribable, a scent of chocolate in the air, or perhaps of cinnamon, maybe peanut butter, a fragrance of sweet gooey goodness wafting toward the nose. The mind clicks in with pleasant thoughts, the seductive aroma causing senses to heighten to an elevated awareness. Suddenly the possibilities of the endless options danced upon the air….
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t quite that tantalizing, but honestly, the freedom to have options and not fight over money, it is delicious!
Thinking of you, Amy