Friday, July 22, 2011

Chris McGinty – Enemy of Debt - Episode Two

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Welcome to Episode Two of: Chris McGinty – Enemy of Debt

For an explanation of this feature, and disclaimers that talk about how I’m not a professional money anything, go to Episode One. If you are caught up to speed though, we’ll begin discussing my friend who called me in financial desperation on July 10, 2011. Out of some, perhaps slight respect for his privacy, I’m not using his real name. I am instead referring to him as Genghis Connick Jr.

Genghis called me that night with all the before mentioned financial ailments, and he admitted that he needed help (Step One… hmmm. Maybe I should look those up.), and that what he was doing just wasn’t working. He said he’d even do that budget thing. To explain what he meant, because that makes him sound, unfairly, dumb-ish; he was referring to the way I helped him last time… yes, he got into this kind of situation before… no, he didn’t seem to learn anything. I’ll discuss this previous situation later if I need material, or if it becomes relevant.

The first thing I insisted on was that if I helped him, he would listen to everything I say, without arguing with me about things like buying cigarettes and beer. The second thing I insisted on was that he get a second job at least part time. This was one of the first mini-victories.

My boss at the guard job recently told me that if I knew anyone who was looking for a job that he would hire them by my referral, and not hold it against me if it didn’t work out. I spoke with him the next day about Genghis’s situation, and asked if he could be put to work immediately. He said he could. That was what I accomplished on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, I went and got Genghis and took him to interview for a guard position. They had to do a background check, and told him to call later to see if he would be working Wednesday. After that, we went and started looking for ways to pay his rent and his title loan. The first thing I had him do was call and ask for an extension on the title loan until July 25, 2011, which is when he will get his first guard check (I know, I gave away whether he passed the background check, yes, he did). More importantly, it was when I would get mine, in the event that I have to loan him money.

We stopped at a payday loan place. I would never, ever recommend a payday loan to anyone, but since he already had them out, was getting hit with late fees on pretty much everything, and had no money, I saw it as a way to stop the late fees, and prolong the time he had to get some more income in.

I never knew that payday loans were so bad. I knew they were bad, but I didn’t know they were so bad. The place we talked to said that if he qualified for $800, they would give him a month. At that time, he would have to pay them $1,000. If he couldn’t, he had to pay them $200 to renew the loan for a month, and then in a month he would have to pay them $1,000. That is fucking crazy! As we went to get the information he needed, I bitched him out for being dumb enough to get one, nay three, nay four (if you count the title loan), of those in the first place.

The math guy in me didn’t want to slow down the progress of getting his bills caught up by getting another payday loan, but the guy who didn’t want to blow the $1,000 cushion he had in his bank account didn’t want to risk running around broke. This meant having to get a payday loan, but only if it was enough to stop all late payments.

We went back to the payday loan place with all of the necessary documentation. I want to make a quick aside here, which is – be careful what you wish for. This payday loan place is in the same location as a Papa John’s I used to work at. I’ve passed by it a number of times, and I’ve always been tempted to go in and see how it looked now, but I never wanted to walk in and be like, “Oh, this isn’t Papa John’s anymore? Silly me.” Well, now I had my excuse. It looks basically the same with carpeting in the place of white tile, and all the counters and things torn out, replaced with desks and a new counter.

They ran his information, and he qualified for exactly nothing. Since he has over $1,000 in payday loans out already, they wouldn’t give him anything. This, unfortunately, led to a number of irritating discussions about how the only reason was because one of the companies that normally doesn’t show up when they’re checking his ability to qualify, showed up this time. We just had to go to another place, and they would give us the money. We had no real choice, but what costly optimism that payday loans will save you.

As we drove away, he saw a place and he said, “Oh wait, that’s a title loan place. I already have one, so we can’t go there.”

On a whim, I pulled in anyway, and asked the guy if they were willing to buy a loan from another company. It turns out they were. At the time of this writing, and I’m writing a few days ahead of when I’m posting, we haven’t done this yet; but it might be a small victory, because it would put off the date by which to make payment by about a month. It wouldn’t help with any other expenses, but it would delay one. We may still do it if we can.

Having exhausted most of that day, we went and bought crickets for his wife’s geckos. This is something that I would presume not do, but I’m not cruel enough to let pets starve, and finding someone to take the geckos would probably take more time than getting crickets and the time he’ll have to work to pay for them. We then put the rest of the $20 that I broke doing that into his gas tank.

A quick tally before we end this episode. He thinks he owes me $40. I think his wife paid me that back that $40, but until I either talk to her or remember for sure, I’ll presume he does. He also owes me another $8 that I’m sure of. After the crickets and gas, it was $68 he owes me. On two separate occasions he found $3.18, and $1.21 that he gave to me. I put $26.53 in his gas tank later, and I had to buy him a used tire at $25. This equals $115.14 that he owes me (unless the $40 isn’t owed), and that will come out of his paycheck immediately before we continue on.

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