Don’t They Get It?! – A Rant By Joseph Sangl

Note: This situation has occurred MULTIPLE times in multiple venues and does not reflect any one situation.

As a financial counselor and teacher, I have encountered many horrible financial situations.

There are times that I leave the conversation thinking, "I don't think they get it!"

I have had people approach me for advice.  Their situation?  They are three months behind on the house payment and cars have been/are in the process of being repossessed.  Their car payments are 40% of their take-home pay.  The amount owed on cars is equal to two year's salary!  The list of horrible, depressing situations could go on …

When I ask them how many hours they are working and how many jobs they have, the answer is forty hours and one job!

How is that possible?!!!  If being three house payments behind does not motivate one to go get more hours and income, at what point does the fire alarm start ringing?

If I were even close to being behind on a house payment I would have five jobs by the end of the day!  I would work eighty or ninety hours each week to get out of the situation!!!!!!

I feel like I am having to sell the concept of earning more money to pay the house payment.

I hear excuses like, "I'm not going to work at McDonald's.  They only pay $7/hour."

I understand that they don't want to work at McDonald's, but desperate times call for desperate measures!  By working 20 hours per week at McDonald's, they will bring home an extra $400 take-home pay to address the past due situation payments!

Don't get me wrong.  I want them to earn as much per hour as possible, but when McDonald's is the option available – take it! 

There are times when the world seems all wrong, the bills are stacking up, and life is just not fun.  There are two choices available – stand around and watch it all be taken away OR take matters into one's own hands and generate enough income to recover!

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  1. Enough Wealth on November 9, 2007 at 3:40 am

    Yes, but…

    I suspect the real reason many of these people don’t start working an extra 20 hours a week and/or both partners get a job, is that then they’d have no time to spend their income on entertainment, conspicuous consumption and diversions.

    If they were the sort to buckle down and work at McDonalds for $7 an hour then they’d probably not get into this situation in the first place – they’d have never bought a car on terms, and would cut back on other spending in order to keep up to date on the house payments.

    There are of course exceptions – those that suffer loss of income due to illness or losing a well-paid job. But in those cases a second (and third) job at $7 an hour isn’t likely to be the solution as it isn’t sustainable over the longer term (working more than two jobs for more than a couple of months is likely to impact your health).


  2. Julie Brown on November 9, 2007 at 4:46 am

    I agree with enough wealth but would like to add another thought. Spending money and applying for credit is like an addiction for some. Probably the same kind of people who think “that will never happen to me”. Rock bottom becomes inevitable but it is different for each person. For some it is losing a job or having the creditors call the house several times a day. For others it is losing a car, the house, a spouse, or even everything. We have to pray for these folks that they see the error of their ways before a desperate situation occurs.

  3. Tina Harkey on November 9, 2007 at 7:20 am

    One of my friends told me that they purchased a refrigerator for a family that didn’t have one (so the children could have milk, etc.) and the family sold the it and took a trip to Myrtle Beach for the weekend. Many people that don’t have value entertainment. It’s like their break from reality. What they don’t get is the possibility to break from current reality and create your own new reality by changing habits.

  4. Moneymonk on November 9, 2007 at 9:36 am

    I think Joe gave an option of McDonald’s as a temporary help.

    Joe, welcome to America, where living above your means is normal.

    You cannot expect 2 cars on one salary to be living BELOW their means, they seem like materialistic people, where image is everything.

    So why you think they will take a McDonald’s job? They have too much pride.

    Sell the cars and sell the house and start all over. You cannot push a rope, you only can pull it. It seems like you tried so you did your part.

    You cannot help people that do not listen.

  5. Blythe Adams on November 9, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    I took a job at McDonalds when I got behind this summer. The main problem is what is more important your fun or your family?? I’d rather have a house over my head than an ipod or iPHONE. GROW UP People!! And I only made $6 an hour.

  6. y on November 10, 2007 at 7:49 am

    It doesn’t matter how much money a person does or doesn’t have, if their values are screwed up, no amount of money will pull them out of their situation if their habits don’t change.

  7. kitty on November 12, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    There are other jobs, not just Mac Donald. In my area cleaning houses pays over $15 an hour cash, and I think I’ll be lucky if I could get a good, honest cleaning lady for that. This is just for houses and condos that belong to professionals like me, not the super-rich. Super-rich in the area would pay a lot more, maybe $25 an hour. This is for regular cleaning, nothing special. Sure, this is a very expensive area, but I’d imagine most areas have busy professionals who wouldn’t mind some help with housework.

    “They are three months behind on the house payment and cars have been/are in the process of being repossessed. ”
    I used to work with a guy like this. He was earning 6 digits, a scientist working for a corporation. His wife wasn’t working, though, and they had 3 kids (the third one “just happened” as he was considering divorce). Sure 6 digits may not be enough to support a wife and three kids, but his wasn’t an expensive house. He commuted from the cheaper area an hour North of hear; had owned the house for quite a while and had a normal 30-year fixed mortgage. He claimed that the reason he faced foreclosure was that his wife “forgot” to pay the mortgage. He also claimed his wife was very irresponsible with money and could buy a $2000 vacuum cleaner because “the salesman looked nice”. If so, why did he let her handle finances? But then his car was reposessed as well, he couldn’t blame the wife for that. At the same time he was taking figure skating lessons for over $90 an hour (or even half an hour, I don’t remember). When I asked him if it is a bit late from him to train for the Olympics given that he was almost 40 and just starting, he said it was the only thing in life that gave him joy. When I got totally bored with his lunch time complaints, I mentioned that just bringing his own lunch and using one of the microwaves we have in the cafeteria to warm it up would save him $30 a week. He told he couldn’t cook and his wife wouldn’t prepare it for him; anyway he was divorcing her. The most amazing thing was that he borrowed money for his next car from an Eastern European live-in nanny friend of his. The nanny was earning $150 a week and supplementing her income by cleaning houses on Saturdays. She also had some savings and no debt. I’d think a guy earning a 6 digit salary would be embarassed to ask a nanny for a loan.

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