My Debt Story

My get out of debt story…every post from 2007-2012…right here. If you have a few hours and want to read an interesting story about my journey, grab a cup of joe and dig in. It’s all here.


If I spend too much time blogging…I’ll never get out of debt

JANUARY 21, 2007

I love to write. I really do. I also love to sell.

I really should be selling right now.

But, I want to get this blog set up, so that I have a place to vent, and document my frusterations, elations, and all that jazz in between. I have alot of work to do between now, and March 1st 2007. And I mean alot.

I went out to dinner with friends last night, spent $12! Yikes. I can’t do that again. I don’t have $12 to waste at the moment on expensive dinners. I did go to costco yesterday and stocked up (spending $39) on chicken, rice, beans, and some seasoning. Should keep me fed for a few weeks at least.


I have the most debt of anyone on NetworthIQ

JANUARY 21, 2007

Crap. So, I thought that NetworthIQ seemed like a pretty cool little tool I could use to help me track my assest and debts.

I have alot of debt. I realize that. I looked at some of the other really super high debt amounts on NetworthIQ, and everyone with a higher (or lower, however you want to look at it) number had something messed up, like they forgot to count their house equity as an asset. So, I’m gonna go bankrupt, right? Wrong.

Here is how I rank vs. average people on NetworthIQ:

My debt vs. others at NetworthIQ


exhausted, tired, but thankful for no paper cuts.

January 21, 2007

So, It’s Sunday night and I’m at my office trying to sort through everything to prepare for tomorrow when I will begin negotiating with my creditors. I went through about 3 months of mail, opening old statements and bills. Not very fun, actually. I’ve created folders for each of my creditors, and one file for my student loans (which I am not including in the “bad debt” I owe of $344,442).

Some good news
One piece of good news: I found a ‘lender option forbearance application’ for my citiassist private loans. I can defer payments for a year (interest continues to accrue). I will send this in tomorrow, should allow me to postpone these for a year. At this point, I need to conserve as much cash as possible, so I have to do this.

I haven’t decided what to do with my credit cards yet. They are the smallest amount of the debts I owe, but they all have horrid interest rates. Here they are not looking very happy:

What should I do with my cards?

I have a few ideas, some better than other. If anyone has any creative ideas, please comment, and I will make a video of how I destroy/rid/injest/burn these. How about:

  • I make a credit card milkshake. Like a normal milkshake, but I shred up the cards and drink the whole thing in like 60 seconds. Is there any ink or anything that could hurt me if I do this. I want to “eat” my sins.
  • I blow them up.
  • I burn them
  • I shred them (boring!)
  • Video taping the best suggestion I receive from a viewer

I’ll make the decision about the cards in a few days. Time to fill out that forbearance application…

Oh, and I had my chicken on my george foreman tonite. not bad. I’d better get used to it.


since when did cheese become so expensive

January 22, 2007

I’ve never used to pay attention to how much cheese cost. But my gosh, I paid over $7 for a “baby” loaf from tillamook cheese! I felt guilty going to the grocery store, but I can’t eat out…and I have to eat something. I’ve never been one to shop, now I have too. No more eating out.


Goals For Monday, January 22nd 2007

January 22, 2007

Goals for the day

  • Call 7 of 17 creditors to work out payment plan issues, starting with citibank
  • Post record of all debts/amounts owed, ect on the blog here
  • Finish e-mail project at work, get ready to send out by Wed.
  • Sell 4 advertising packages at work
  • Call Sallie Mae and Citibank (studentloan.com) for forbearance programs on my students loans there

how I got forbearance on my student loans

January 22, 2007

Read here: http://www.debtkid.com/how-i-got-forberance-on-my-student-loans


XM radio just offered me 2 month of free service if I would not cancel

January 22, 2007

Cancelling my XM radio was fun. Not.

I called last saturday to cancel and was told to, “call back in one hour because we are having a problem with our system and cannot cancel you at this time”. That sounded like bull, but whatever, I called back today.

After giving all my info to the first rep, I was transferred to the “deactivation department”. After explaining about 10 times why I was cancelling, the guy asked a whole wonderful script of qustions, “what is your favorite XM channel?” “what can we do to keep your business?” (my answer. cancel my account). “what if we offered you 3 months of service at a reduced, $4.99 rate?” (no, not interested). “what if we offer you two free months?” (interesting, but no).

Lesson? If you want 2 months of free XM radio, pretend you are going to cancel. It’s actually a pretty funny experience listening to the script the guy went through. It’s cancelled now. Another $15/month saved.


citi they aren’t shi*y

January 22, 2007

Whew. Just got off the phone after about an hour of calls to creditors. This was my first time ever calling someone and having to say, “I can’t make that payment”. It was tough.

Luckily, the two citicard reps I talked with were EXTREMELY helpful. Let’s review my first call about my 4 citibusiness cards:

CitiBusiness (4 cards, total balance: $26,407)

I have 4 citibusiness cards with balances of $7,747, $9,132, $4,619, and $4,909. My ‘current amount due’ is around $2500 in total. I don’t have that cash available at the moment.

I talked with a guy, explaining my situation, and we started throwing out numbers. He asked how much I could pay a month (on one card), I said, “$150″. He said the best they could do was $346 and drop (yes, drop) the interest rate to 25%. No joy there. That doesn’t work. He said I should look into a credit counciling service that would reduce the rate to 9.99% and I would pay around 1/45 of the balance. I have read so many bad stories of this…I am quite weary. Does anyone have a good story about a service that would deal with citibusiness? Thanks in advance.

The guy did however give me one great hint. I asked, “is there anyway to lower these apr’s, or amounts each month”. He said, “well, as time goes on, new options become available”. I of course asked, “well, in my case, what time will that be?”. “tomorrow” the guy says. Apparently there will be a “cycle” of some sorts, and I will have new (and better according to his unspoken hint) payment options. I hoping for a 0% hardship program like I got with…

Citi Personal MasterCard (balance: $3,598)
Yep. I talked with a very nice lady about their hardship program, after explaining my situation. I asked, “how do you calculate the payment” She said, “Well, we basically have to have a payment amount that allows for positive amortization, and that is how we base the interest rate”. That may sound like greek to alot of people, but I work in the mortgage industry, and to me that means, “the lowest payment amount will be a 0% interest rate. find the lowest amount you can pay, and that will set your interest rate at 0%”. So, I said I could pay $50/month. She said that would then give a 4% interest rate. Not bad.

But, why get 4% when you can get zero right? (I was assuming I could get 0%). So I say, “gosh, you know, I think I can only do $40/month”, she replies, “well, than your interest rate would be 1%”. She totally knows what I am doing at this point and just says, “look, $36/month will get you 0%”. Sweet! So, I signed up for their hardship program for 12 months at 0%. The payment comes directly from my checking account, and if you miss a month, you are booted! But this was a big upper that I needed today. I’m still nowhere near budget, but I have alot more calls to make tomorrow. It’s past 8pm now, and I’m still at the office.

I realize my once great (730+ when I was 22) credit score will now be shot (under 500 I imagine by the time I negotiate everything) for years. That is the price I have to pay, just to stay out of bankruptcy. Sad that it has come to this. I should have never gotten in this far…


this is much more emotionally draining than I was expecting

January 23, 2007

Emotions.

They are a good healthy thing. But sometimes they suck.

I did not realize the emotional impact all this debt was having on me, until I began dealing with it all last week. Having to tell my parents wiped me out for 2 days. Now, after a good 12 hour work day yesterday, I woke up this morning in the same spot…exhausted, even after a good 9 hours of sleep.

I need to go to the gym today, I think that will help me feel a bit better. I’ve been eating OK. It’s just alot to deal with at the moment. I have to:

  1. negotiate all my debt down to at least 6K in payments
  2. Bring my net income up to around 9K to cover those payments and business expenses
  3. Tell my brothers about my issue sometime early next week
  4. Start seeing a counselor as early as next month to deal with all this (parents orders)
  5. continue to run my small business with 5 part-time employees and myself
  6. try to have somewhat of a life

So, It’s just alot at the moment.


chase, citi, and amex, oh my

January 24, 2007

It’s felt like a trifecta of pain today. After a full work day, I began getting on the phones again to deal with the creditors.

American Express (total balances: $2,783)

I have two AMEX cards. Lines of $500 and $2000. The balances are: $772 and $2011 respectively.

When I reached the CSR (customer service rep), I asked first about loweing the APR. “not possible”. Any hardship or forbearance programs available? “No”. “What can you pay?” “$25/month, I say”. She says that is fine. I was taken aback by this. I asked about the consequences of this, and her only answer was “higher finance charges”. She really didn’t seem to understand what I was trying to do, and while nice, not very helpful. So I paid $25 on each card and will have to come back to those in a week or two (both of the “current amount due” amounts were over $50).

Chase (total balance: $10,579)

What a mess. I calll around 6:20pm PST. I know that they close at 7pmPST, so I figure I have lots of time. I wait on hold, and wait, and wait, and wait.

30 minutes go by. I hang up.

I call back….”our offices are now closed (6:57pm), please call back…”

Grrrr. This is an important card for me to take care of. The balance is: $10,579, but I am quite behind and the amount due is nearly 2K. I have to get this payment down to at least $150/month

Citi (total balances: $26,407)

Another dissapointment. I was hoping to get my 4 citibusiness cards resolved today, but apprently my “new options” won’t be available til tomorrow. Bummer.

I spoke with my father for a good amount of time tonite. He is seeming a little more optomistic about my progress, and hasn’t called the lawyer yet…

Yet.


all your money are belong to us

January 24, 2007

All my sins…

all my debts


responding to some comments

January 24, 2007

I figured I’d post a response to some of the insightful comments the past few days…

…Advice: take a really hard look at where you spending money (then stop it), get a part-time job (instead of going to the gym and writing a blog), use the part-time money to help pay off the loans… – amazed in austin

I have cut my spending dramatically, no more eating out, cancelling a few superfluous (ohh, smarty pants word!) programs, ect. As for the gym membership, it really helps me work and feel better to work out, so even it is $30/month, I use it quite regularly (it is only a block from my office), and net-net I think it helps overal more than hurts my present situation.

As for geting a part-time job. Not an option at this moment, unless I figure out a sweet way not to sleep! (then I could get a graveyard shift somewhere). I am already working 11-12 hour days at the office, not counting commute time (another 40 minutes total).

So? have you thought of putting your business on hold for a while and going out an getting a job? You are 23. You have PLENTY of time ahead of you to be self emplyed. – Chris in Boston

Running my business is the best option I have at this point. I also have 5 part-time employees (10-20 hours a week each) that I would have to fire. I have been running my own business since I was 20, and when it is going well, I do pretty well. Example: In March of last year we did over $13,500 in Gross Profit on $18,000 in revenue. Net/Net 9K to me that month if needed. So, if I can ramp up my business again to those levels, I might have a shot at avoiding BK. If someone were to offer my a $150K salary job right now…of course I would take it! But, I don’t see that very likely being 23 with a bachelor’s degree.

My question is how on earth did you get this far into the hole? Did you have a margin call? I mean even a bad trader would see warning signs and perhaps take action sooner than later. – Chris in Boston

I deluded myself into always thinking I could make it all back (classic addiction…right?). So, over a period of 3 years, it all added up and snowballed as I got more credit to cover expenses and such from the loses I was taking. It wasn’t fun, and I didn’t get a “rush” from trading, I did however for a long time think it was the only way I could get back to even. Dumb. I did have numerous margin calls trading stocks, options, and forex (currency). Should have traded with Zecco.

Good question though, I mean really, who does this? I’m still trying to figure out why I let myself get into this sitution. From all outside appearances I have a successful small business, a half-million dollar house, and lots of friends, all at 23. If some people only knew the real sitation I’ve got myself into…

have you tried selling some things? I know it takes time to go through the process but Craigs List and eBay can be great resources for generating a little extra money. – Kim L.

I am working on this front. I have a box of things I need to put up on ebay/craigslist. I think this will be a weekend project at some point, because I do need the extra cash. Thanks for the tip Kim L.

get a part-time job (instead of going to the gym and writing a blog) – Amazed in Austin

Why write a blog about my experiences? Two main reasons:

1. Mostly for myself, writing helps me process things, and also keep progress of my goals, successes, and failures. I think writing is good for the soul.

2. Advice. Already I have gotten some great advice. And I need it. I cannot do this all on my own (to quote my father), and the wisdom of many can come up with better ideas than my little brain can.

Thanks to everyone so far for the helpful comments.

Keep them coming, and please subscribe! (I’m a very goal orientated #’s person…so it feels good to see any numbers in my life going up!)


the good, the bad, and the WellsFargo

January 25, 2007

I had some time this afternoon to work on my payment reduction strategy.

Right now, I’m hating WellsFargo (my own bank of 8+ years), and loving Citibank. Let’s recap

The Ugly (WellsFargo and Chase)

I have 3 lines with Wells. A $500 limit student credit card, which I plan on keeping current, as the payments are low. A 25K personal line, and a 20K business line. I called today to find out if they offer any payment programs on my two lines of credit. Bottom line: nope.

Apprently my personal line needs at least 9 payments before they can consider “re-age”, which, I don’t even know what that means. I did learn no charge off til 120 days, I’m at about 45 at the moment. So I have some room there. My goal is just to stay away from collections at this point. So, I’m going to be doing about a 1/2 payment on the personal line, if I can do it.

The business lady was not helpful at all. She basically said, “in one week, this will go to the legal deparment”. Charge off is at 120 days. I paid a small payment of $285 (seems big now) today. Need to watch this one.

Chase

The Chase lady was no help at all. All her options were, “I would recommend making the min. payment”. Like a broken record that is all she could say. She did tell me that the next “cycle” (billing cycle) would be Feb 16th, and that options might be available then. Humph.

The Bad (WAMU and Citifinancial)

I have a 15K personal line at citifinacial and a 30K SBA line at WAMU. Both are less than 45 days late. Neither have any sort of payment plans available at the moment.

I told citifinancial I would bring $200 to their branch tomorrow and a post-dated check for $300 on Feb 15th. (I’m just trying to buy some breathing room here) So that takes care of them until March 1. It was more than I was hoping ($500), but the best I could get.

My WAMU payment was/is late as of today, so I now behind on it. I have 90 days on this before write off, so this account is getting put very low on the priority list. WAMU didn’t seem too concerned, could be because it is SBA backed and it they have to write it off, they don’t lose much (I think that is how it would work).

The Good (CitiBusiness)

I talked with a wonderfuly nice fellow from Texas in the collections department at citibusiness. We basically did the “how much can you pay on this” dance for a bit…I made a few jokes, we bonded, and he started just telling me what payments would get me down to the 0% level on their repayment program. So I got three of my citibusiness cards down to 0% for 12 months!!! Awesome! This was definetly the highlight of the day. I dropped my monthy minimums by over a thousand dollars by going into their repayment programs. Yes, my credit score is going to suck, but 0% for 12 months is an offer I cannot refuse at the moment! I’ll take it.

Other Creditors

Staples – learned that the rate (APR) is not negotiable until 60 days. I am current on this. No joy here.

Litton Loan (1st Mtg) – I found a good “hardship” phone #, but the dept. was closed by the time I called. That is my big goal for tomorrow, talking to Litton. My payment with them on my 1st Mortgage is around $2500 a month. I need to get that down to $1500 a month for a least a few months. I’m just trying to buy time at the moment without adding more debt to the pile.

So, my monthly payments are now down to $7,469. Still not to my goal of 5-6K. If I can shave off another $1500, that would be a big, big help. I was at around $9,100 to start the week off. So, $1600 in 3 days, not bad. Just gotta get that mortgage down for a few months…

My Business (income side)

Business future is looking good at the moment. We started a new advertising division back in Sept. I testing our concept for a few months, and it worked, so we are selling our services full time now. If I can devote myself to selling for 8 hours a day, I can sell about $300-$400 a day in MONTHLY subscriptions to our services. That is assuming I can keep up our leads coming in as well. As soon as I get all my debt arrangements worked out, I should be posting more and more about my business side of things to get my income up and over 10K a month.

I’m off to a pickup basketball game with my younger brother (he still doesn’t know about any of this…I’m planning on telling him next week). I’m exausted, but a good b-ball game will make everything better!


our ad packages are selling like furby’s in december of 1998

January 25, 2007

No updates today on reducing any of my payments…I didn’t get around to calling Litton, and its too late in the day now.

Business Stuff

I had a great last 24 hours business wise. Our advertising packages are selling like hotcakes due to an article I sent out to a few contacts. I sold 7 packages today, and should have 10 before the day is out. I’ve got about 40 e-mails of interested people to follow up with the next few days, and that is only after contacting 1 of the 5 groups of contacts I have.

My Goal: 10 packages sold (and paid for) a day for the next 4 weeks.

If I can do this it will bring our service revenue up to around 10K a month. And I’ll survive…

But I’m tired. I spent a huge part of the day of the phones following up with leads, and I’m pooped and its only 6:20pm (I’ve been working till 8 at least each night).
I did have to go to CitiFinancial in the middle of the day to drop off the $200 I promised. I’m getting pretty low on cash at the moment, having paid alot out to creditors (in small amounts) this week. I have 2.2K coming in early next week from a old trading account, which will be well needed.

I have a $800 bill due monday for this months rent of my office. And payroll is Tuesday, I’ll need another $900 for that….

So I just need to sell!

Current ad packages sold: 40

Goal: 300 by March 1st


I fracking hate citifinancial and wellsfargo right now

January 27, 2007

So, I worked out a deal with citifinancial to give them $200 (I did this on Thursday this week, with a money order), and a $300 post dated check for Feb 15th, of next month.

The bastards cashed it on Friday, overdrawing my account.

I’m going down to the local cifinancial office on friday to have a chat with the nice lady that I worked out this agreement with. Lord help me if I end up on the news for taking out a whole office with my screams (I’m just kidding of course, but I will give her a piece of my mind for sure)

Wellsfargo is gonna get a piece as well, for a cashing a check clearly dated for Feb 15th, 2007. Anyone know any rules on cashing post dated checks?

Frack this.


On the road again…

February 11, 2007

Whew. It’s been awhile.

Not sure why I haven’t felt like writing lately, but I have a few theories:

  • When I don’t write about what I am dealing with, it makes it seem almost like it doesn’t exist, thus I think about it less.
  • I have been pretty busy (but I could have written)

So, I would probably vote that the first reason is why I have not been writing much lately. Every time I thought about it, it kind of gave me a bad feeling, so I just need to force myself through it.

Since my last post, of the debt side of things:

  • I worked out repayment on my last citibusiness credit card. Payment is going to be around $112 a month.
  • I talked with my 1st mortgage company and can “skip” two payments, Feb. and March. If I can pay January on March 1st. Good news. Then they just roll those two missed payments into future payments over a certain period of time.
  • No deals on the 2nd mortgage side of things…just been kind of avoiding them…
  • My current “bad debt” monthly payment (not all is “bad”, as $4,152 is my mortgage): $7,406
  • My current monthly business expenses: $3,300

Total Cash Needed Monthly: $10,706

Yikes.

Income

Luckily, my advertising packages at work have been selling well. I haven’t been selling as often as I would like, but we are now up to 107 packages. I think the program will max out around 225-250. I will have to spend around 2K a month in expenses on that program once it reaches that point.

Monthy Rental Income: $1,500

Current Monthy Business Revenue: $6,200

Total Current Monthly Income: $7,700

Amount Short: $3,006

Bummer. Once I hit 200 for our advertising program, we will have enough cash to cover basic expenses. Bear in mind though, the above budget does not include my personal expenses for food, clothes, ect. It does cover my insurance, car payment, and some gas though in the business budget.

I’m really probably around 5K short.

I’m spending around 1K a month right now on our advertising program, and that is not anywhere in the above numbers, so business expenses are really about 1K higher.

So, am I going to make it. I keep trying to tell myself I will, but I just don’t know. I know I can get us to 200 packages a month, which will generate 10K a month on the business side. Net of 8K though, add my 1500 and I’m still short or barely brakeven. Also, If I cannot generate enough business for our advertising client’s business…they will cancel their monthy payment, and then I am screwed.

I think that is the biggest thing I need to avoid, once I hit 200. Making sure people stay in the program by giving them great results…I just hope I can do it. I’ve got another month maybe to really get some results before I see mass cancellations…

On my personal side…I’m all over the place. I’ve talked with 1 of my brothers (I have 2) about the situation, and I am due to talk to the other one some time today. It sucked. Takes alot out of me.

It’s also almost valentines day which just makes me think of how I cannot date anyone at the moment, or anytime seriously in the near future…also kinda depressing.


god I love the internal revenue service

February 26, 2007

Who would have thought that the IRS would turn out to be my best creditor?

Crazy, right?

They gave me a 120 day extention on the $990 I owe from 2005 and instructions on how to set up an installment plan for my back 2006 deposits. Sweet.

I’m very relieved right now. Not that I really should be, as I have alot of stuff going down the next few weeks, but just know the IRS won’t be seizing my bank accounts at least until July is a big relief.

Why would that be bad? Let me count thy ways:

  1. If the IRS froze my bank account (not sure if they can do that, but my dad says they can), my growing income from my business might come to a halt
  2. You don’t want to mess with the government
  3. I met a IRS tax attorney this weekend at church….yikes!

So, I have until June 29th, 2007 to pay the $986 I owe from Q4 of 2005. That helps…now I just need to get my 2006 941 stuff figured out. I should have used Paycycle to manage my payroll earlier.

A general update

My father came to visit me this past week to look at my craphole of a situation and give me some fatherly advice (I have not, nor do I intend to ask him for $). It was nice to have his help, but he doesn’t share my optimism on the situation.

He basically thinks I am screwed and need to buy an hour with a bankrupcy lawyer.

I don’t want to go that route.

One thing he did suggest was checking out a DMP (debt management plan) for handling the creditors. I had thought that maybe I could just do everything myself, but I am getting behind on too many things, and this could be a good route. Anyone have thoughts on this? I’m assuming they do not do business debts, is this true?

Even if they only did my personal debt, between my 25K wells line, my 15K citifinancial personal loan, and few misc credit cards we are talking around 50K right there.

And if they could deal with my mortages…that would be awesome.

The House

So, I haven’t made payments on my mortgage for 2 months now….nothing for Jan or Feb on my first or second. In speaking with my first mortgage company they indicated I could “skip” two payments (feb and march), if I can pay january come the beginning of March. We will see…its going to be tight.

All my cash at the moment has been going towards Payroll for the business, my lease for the office, and bare minimum payment to SOME creditors. Only SOME.

The Bussiness – Some Good News

The good news is my business is booming now that I can focus 100% (well, minus the creditor distraction) of my thoughts and time on it. If only I had done this a year ago instead of trade away 150K….live and learn, right? Just hope I can keep living!

So, we are up to over 150 of our advertising packages sold, so this is my current montly income: $9,000/mo

BUT,

Current Expenses (newly calculated to include some advertising costs I’m incurring with the new growth in the business) are at: $12,500/mo

Yikes. So, I’m still short….but the gap is closing….I think I can maybe….just maybe close it this month. But then I have a TON of catch up work to do for my advertising clients who pay a montly fee…

Thoughts

I discussed the idea of doing a short sale on my house. I would have about a 15K prepay on the first, plus say another 10K in closing costs….BUT, my mortage payment right now is totally 4K a month. If there is anyway to get rid of that, I could make it for sure…well, not for sure. But I would have a better shot.

I have also thought about living at my office (we have an extra room that is just basically storage, and I could easily put a small twin mattress in there and sleep quite well), and renting out my entire house. This would be a net $700-$800 difference. I could then get $800 more a month from my house (to $2300/mo). So, that is an option.

I wish I could keep my house…but it is looking more and more like that there is no way. The problem is that my 2nd is at nearly 14% interest and its a 150K 2nd. That is huge. So, I’m paying $1500 a month, and that is all interest. Thought, advice here, anyone?

My Health

As for me….I’m holding up. There have been some rough days as of late. Some days I just want to give up, or not come into the office. But so far, I haven’t and I won’t. I’m often very exausted, more so than I should be, and I think this has to do my mind just never being able to rest.

I have started seeing a counselor. This was not my idea, (my paren’ts insistance) but now that I have gone twice, I think it will be a good thing. It’s going to be hard dealing with some of the issues that caused me to make such poor decisions, but I think I am ready to face them.

Thanks

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has given me helpful comments the past month or so. I really appreciate it. This is just a place for me to keep track of this giant mess I am in, but if I can get some good advice or support from it, that is great as well. Keep the comments comin’


to short sale or negotiate?

March 1, 2007

Read here: to short sale or negotiate?


CitiFinancial….are they in love with me?

March 3, 2007

Sometimes I think the girls over at CitiFinancial are in love with me. I mean, they call me like 4 times a day, and yesterday they even sent me this overnite package with a single page inside! Wowee…

Then I remember they are calling for money. Sigh, oh well.

Check out this letter:

they love me


a subway special and a batch of payments

March 5, 2007

So, I live for the subway special.

It’s not the cheapest way to have lunch (rice, beans, chicken would be cheaper…but that is usually my dinner), but its pretty close.

$2.99 for a 6″ sub. That and a little free water, and you’ve got yourself a good little lunch meal. And today’s special is turkey and Ham. mmm…

Mon-Savory Turkey Breast and Ham
Tue-Meatball Marinara
Wed-Savory Turkey Breast
Thu-Italian B.M.T.
Fri-Classic Tuna
Sat-Roast Beef
Sun-Oven Roasted Chicken Breast

Payment To Make Today

So, since I am not making mortgage payments (still looking for a short sale expert agent in Seattle), I need to keep up on some of my other debts. So, I’m going to mail checks today to:

WAMU SBA Loan – 1 Payment (I’m 3 behind at least!)

AMEX – 2 $25 payments on each card

Wells Business – 1 Payment (maybe)

Wells LOC – 1 Payment (maybe)

Citifinancial – Feb. Payment (even though I despise these guys….I still owe them money. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be paid back).

Still trying to get a time to go see a consumer crediting agency to look at my personal debt situation (looking at debtadvice.org) Gotta get that done.

It’s really hard dealing with this stuff at work, because I have 4 part-time employees. They don’t know about this situation, nor do they need to. But, it really restricts my ability to do some things I need to do (like go see the consumer credit place). I pretty much have someone else in my office 24/7. Wed. I have about 3 hours in the afternoon with just me, so I’ll try to get that appt. in there.

OK, time for my ham and turkey.


pulling all nighters and loving ramen…

March 12, 2007

I pulled three all nighters at the office last week. And by that I mean I came home at:

noon (the following day), 6am, and 6:30am wed. thurs. and fri. of last week.

Needless to say I was pretty tired. But I got a ton done.

What did you do?

I moved my company webpage, where we host all our advertising clients to a new server. A zillion pages had to be redirected, and it was just a giant mess, that is just now starting to get back together. The good news is that the new hosting company is ten times faster, and we are already seeing better search results for our clients pages. Whew. I had to hand edit nearly 2000+ 301 redirects….that was a nitemare, but mindless so I caught up on a few TV shows I love but have missed the last few weeks (friday night lights, lost, grey’s).

What about the house?

The bad news with my house is that I haven’t made any payments since December. Yikes. The good news is that I finally found a short sale expert who I am talking with tomorrow, and hopefully he will be able to handle that process for me. I know I need to get rid of the house, and I am pretty OK with that. It kind of sucks, but hey, I’m dealing with it.

creditor news

Not being able to pay the mortgage has left a little extra money (after business expenses which have to be paid, payroll, lease, advertising, ect) to pay some of my debt payments. So I finally sent a payment to WAMU on the 30K SBA loan I have with them. Also, Wellsfargo auto-drafted a payment from my checking account to my line of credit with them. That kinda sucks, but I figured it would happen eventually. I do need to make a payment on my Wells business line sometime soon.

Citifinancial continues to be the bane of my credit existance. Their solution to everything seems to be re-applying for a higher credit line. Yeah, like that is going to work. I sent them their Feb. payment today, and plan on sending the March in shortly so they will stop calling me.

credit counseling

I have an appointment Wed at a credit counseling page (debthelp.org). From what I can tell, these guys are legit. I have to bring all my folders/correspondence in when I see them. I’m hoping to work out a debt management plan with them so that I can pare down the number of bills to worry about.

counseling

I’ve continued to see a personal counselor. And its interesting, I am actually really enjoying the sessions as of late. The first one I was pretty unhappy to go to (this was something my parents insisted I do…but now I am glad they did), but now I think it will be good for me. I have not seen a counseling since I was 18 (23 now), and I had forgotten that its nice to have someone who is completely confidential. Friends and family are wonderful, but there is something about knowing you can tell someone anything without fear of judgment or gossip. One of the goals of this is to figure out why and how I got myself into the situation I did. One of the big things I discovered, just in the past session is that I tend to not ask for help in situations where it will show my failings. Sadly, those are the situations where I usually need help the most.

For example, I could have easily asked my father for help (to stop trading) after I lost my first thousand. And he would have helped me keep myself accountable. I could have asked for help after the first 100 thousand. But I did not. So, in the future, when I am in trouble, I need to realize that often my bad behaviors have a snowball effect that if not stopped early.

It sucks to learn stuff like this about yourself. But encouraging at the same time.

income stuff

My business has slowed down on the sales side of things as I’ve been working so much on our web stuff. We are probably around 160 packages sold. My initial goal was to rush to 200 and then catch up with all the work to be done. Well, its too late for that, and so now I am doing the catch up work, but we are not at 200 yet.

I would say as long as I can keep our clients happy with the amount of business they receive from our ad packages, we should be able to reach 200 by the end of April. And 250 by the end of May.

Also, I’m really close to selling my scooter for about 2K. I need to get it into the shop, but just didn’t seem to have the motivation this weekend.

business taxes

I have to do our business taxes by tomorrow. I was supposed to get this done this weekend! Crap!

Ramen

I got a hot pot for the office (that is how I survived 3 nights here. I realized that one of the major reasons I would go home was just to eat food. So, I brought some snacks, soup, and ramen into the office) and I love it. Thanks to everyone for the lunch tips!

And regarding updates,

I do wish I could post more, it’s just not a priority at the moment. I’m sure if I end up living in the office for a few months (which is looking like a strong possibility), I may post more as I’m bored.


deed in lieu, short sales, and salsa…oh my

March 15, 2007

Thanks for all the positive comments as of late. I appreciate them, its good to hear some reinforcement that what I am trying to do seems to be the right track according to others. Not that I base all my actions on what others think, but you know what I mean.

Meeting with the consumer credit counseling lady

This was good and bad. Good because she gave me some good tips about dealing with the mortgage companies in trying to get a short sale or other arrangement worked out. Bad because I was late, and apparently I set up only a housing appointment, so we didn’t get to set up a debt management plan for my other personal debts. We did a budget (very quickly…I was late), that I will maybe put online somewhere if I have time this weekend. I have another appt. next week to look at setting up the DMP. It doesn’t sound like it would actually reduce my payments, but it would allow me to pay off the debt much, much faster.

This is all assuming I don’t declare bankrupcy (which the counselor brought up…). I still don’t want to go this route, unless I absolutely have too.

Short Sale Agent

I am meeting with a short sale real estate agent specialist tomorrow (well, today now, as I’m up late working) morning. Should be interesting. I’d like to sell/get out of the house by July’ish. Maybe even June if possible. From what we talked about, it seems like getting bank approval will be the most difficult part (in 3-4 months it may be easier, in the pre-foreclosure process, but I am not that far behind yet).

Back to boring, tedious, but important work…

Ohh…the salsa (in the title). I just had some chips and salsa…it should be an interesting night for my dreams!


when life gives you lemons…

March 18, 2007

Make more money.

No, I am just kidding. I don’t believe money equals happiness (although I swear I saw some study about upper-income, but not super rich people being slightly happier…whatever). But in my situation at the moment, I can’t have any fear about trying to make lots and lots of money. In fact…I HAVE to make lots and lots of money. Pressure, huh?

The House

I met with a real estate agent this week who specializes in short sales (99% of what he does is short sales). The guy knows his stuff, and I think this is the route I need to go with my house. So, I’ve made my deicion on that, and he will be dealing with the 1st and 2nd mortages on his end, which will be nice. One less thing for me to worry about.

This means I can now update my budget to completly exclude any mortage payments (not that I could pay any anyway at the moment. I’m going to do a budget online somewhere (I looked at budgetsimple and pearbudget)
The Business

Business stuff is going OK. Expenses are running around 5K a month, and revenue is hovering right about 7K a month at the moment. I have not been selling our advertising packages for a few weeks now and have been soley working on our existing clients and improving their service and return on investment. We’ve had some people drop out, but longer term, I think this new project which I lauched about 6 months will be stable in a few more month (assuming I can keep all the balls in the air until then) and should ramp up to around 10K-12K a month before the market is tapped out for what we are doing. Hopefully I can get us to 12K by June.

I’m doing some exciting stuff at work. Now that I am not trading and staying up 20 a hours a day doing that, my mind has been much more creative and able to focus almost 100% on building the business. Also, my interactions with my employees and even my friends have been much better since I tapped all my money out about 2 months ago.

And for anyone curious, no, I have not traded since I stopped two months ago and really took stock of what I had done. I have no intention of ever doing it again. It has no appeal to me whatsoever anymore. I have many other good things in my life I can focus on. I do not worry about falling back into that bad habit again.

The Life

My life is going OK. I feel I am at a HUGE transistion point. I’ve come to terms with how I had been living the past 3 years (basically a huge lie), and I’ve told all my close family. I’ve still yet to tell any of my friends yet, and I’m not sure that I will. If I end up having to declare bankruptcy or they house vultures show up in another month, some may find out.

My goal is to get myself doing well enough so that I can feel comfortable telling them in like 2 years or something when I have everything paid off (that is my goal….2 years, if I can get through this summer…). But for now, I’ve told my family, and I feel comfortable with that. I’ve made other mistakes in my life, some fairly big, and sometimes you tell people, sometimes you don’t. It’s not that I’m hiding anything, you know, its just not everyone needs to know everything about your past. Maybe I’ll write a book someday and I can air all my mistakes then! That would be the day.

I actually feel pretty good as of late. I’m stressed for sure. I still have to do the 2006 taxes for my business, and I have a zillion other things to do at work, but I’m handling it OK. It’s just such a relief to feel more like an honest person now that I am not trading. My business is honestly doing OK, and so when people ask, its very nice to be able to be upfront and exciting about what I am doing. I haven’t been able to do this for like 2 years, so its very freeing.

The Girl

or lack there of.

I am in no position to be dating…right? The thing is…I haven’t dated anyone for almost 2 years now. And now that I am feeling honest with myself and a little more confidant…I actually feel like I want to date someone.

Worst timing ever, right?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Let’s say I actually do make it through the next few months, and maybe into the fall. Without my house payments…suddenly all my debts + business expenses is under 9K a month. So, say a few hundred for groceries (my insurance, and car and cell phone are all under business expenses), and some social money, and suddenly now I only need 10K (only 10K!) a month to pay all my bills.

I’m at 9K right now! (with my 1500 a month from roomates…and that is only for 2 more months).

So, its looking possible. Granted, I need to add in a payment plan to the IRS that I haven’t set up yet, so maybe more like 11K a month. But that is possible…

So back to dating. My thing here is…yes, I made some huge mistakes. But should I completly put my life on hold and punish myself to death for the next 2 years? I just don’t know if that is the best move life wise.

I just don’t know.

I just don’t know about alot of things these days.


nothing to lose, everything to gain

March 22, 2007

My whole life seems to be turning upside down these days.

  • I will be living in my office (for at least a short time…maybe longer) in 2-3 months, assuming I can get my house sold
  • I am no longer in the business I began 2 years ago, and though in the same market niche, am doing something I never imagined (but I do enjoy)
  • 2 of my close friends are moving out of the state, leaving me looking for new friends (in all my spare time! right…)

I am meeting with the credit counsling place again today. We are going to get a debt management plan set up. This will be a good thing for me longer term. The only problem I have is that a good portion of my debt is under my business (though personally guarenteed by myself and my social security number). The lady was not sure if business debt could go in the DMP. I really doubt it.

The good news is that I already negotiated my 4 Citibusiness cards down to 0% for 12 months. The bad news is that I have 50K in 2 business loans with WAMU and Wells. WellsFargo closed my business account, and I told them I would be calling them this afternoon to figure something out (after I talk with the debt counseling agency).

So, at this point, with nothing to lose (my house is going, my friends leaving town, the girl I was interested in has a boyfriend now…) what am I?

Very dangerous.

Not in a bad way. No, I’m very dangerous in the sense that with no ties, very little commitments (outside my business), and a hell of determination to get out of this mess, I have a freedom I’ve never had before.

Since I stopped trading and came clean with the family (it’s been over two months), ideas have been flowing like water. I’ve had more great business building ideas in the last 2 months than I had all of last year.

And I am actually acting on them, not just dreaming about them. Our advertising program is generating over 7K a month now, and I have a pretty solid plan to stabalize this income, and grow it to around 12K in the next two months.

12K a month? Holy crap. That’s a lot of money. And with my biz expenses running a little over 5K a month, that’s not bad for takehome pay (not that I would take all that home of course).

But that’s just the beginning. I think I can start up two new programs this year (in our same niche) that will generate 20-30K if they go as planned. 40K a month? I could stop writing about all my problems here with 40K a month!

I have alot of work ahead of me. Lots of work.

So, I am excited. I am scared. I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Side Note: I’ve noticed that nearly half of the traffic to this blog comes from that crazy Casey Serin kid. I don’t have time to read all his posts, but my gosh, that guy is crazy. I have to give it to him though, he does know how to write compelling content, no matter how nuts he sounds most of the time. I think I should challenge him to a business contest or something (ie, whoever gets to 20K a month first in net profit buys the other dinner or something). Anyway, just a thought.

P.S. Thanks for all the comments, some have been very useful! (that is one of the other reasons I keep writing here…some good encouraging comments) Some people bash, but that is totally understood, and I deserve it. I won’t deny that. But it’s nice to hear encouragement as well.


the times they are a changin’

March 28, 2007

The Housing Situation (good news)

So, I’ve mentioned that I am trying to short-sell my home (with its over 4K a month mortgage payment). It got an offer this week, and now it will be up to the 1st and 2nd Mortgage companies to decide to approve it or not. If it goes through (which, I hope they see is the best option for them…otherwise it will go to foreclosure), it will be a big relief for me, although not really financially, since I haven’t been able to make the payments on the house since Dec. anyway. But still, it will allow me to focus on my business, and the plans I have to work out the rest of the debt hole I’ve gotten myself into.

I’ve told the renters in my house (my roomates) that they have until early summer to get out. So, it looks like I will