Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Slipping and Sliding and Going to the Mailbox

Walking to the mailbox can strike fear in all but the most fearless. Why is this?

There is an awful, even debilitating, thing going on inside our reptilian brain that says, oh no, there's probably really bad news in the mailbox. I should probably move, or maybe just throw away the mail.

Stop the presses.

There's nothing inside the mailbox that can hurt you. Open the mailbox, pull the letters out and see what's inside them. Too many times there has been an unexpected windfall I had not counted on. And once, in 2006, I had the experience of opening up a statement from the IRS....

Here's what happened.

In 1995 I had been considered "non collectable status." But in 2000, I called and told them I could pay $25. Five years later, after religiously making payments of $25 each month, I called them again and asked if there was anyway they could help as I was not moving forward but backward. The gentleman told me to write them a letter asking to remove the penalties and interest. I did that and heard nothing back. I continued with the $25 payments, but the penalties and interest continued. Six months later, I went to the mailbox, opened their statement and found the balance for 1998 was not there. I called and this time a woman said, "It's been paid in full."


"Okay," I said softly, afraid she'd find that was a mistake. What the IRS had done was forgive $2800. The remaining balance owed was for 1995 and was only $350. That December I got a Christmas bonus for exactly that amount and paid off the delinquent taxes owed.

Why do these things happen? I believe such miracles happen because when one is honest, forthright and willing to pay even the smallest amount and on time and communicates with the creditor or IRS, they no longer bare their incisors and are willing to help you out. Again, they aren't the enemy.

As for slipping and sliding around with the Financial Genie's formula for getting out of debt, you can lie to some of the people all the time and you can lie to all the people some of the time, but you can't fool them. When you face the reality of debt and what it's done to you and your family, you'll knuckle down and get blisteringly honest with everyone.

So many people thought they could handle the debt themselves, and I was one of them. But the debt just grew until I put both arms up in the air and surrendered. Surrendered my inability to pay, my feeling worthless, my shame and sadness that I just couldn't figure this out. Then I started praying like I was driving to New Jersey. And that's when everything changed. That's when people, places and things showed up on the horizon to help me get out of debt.

A word about professionals. I don't generalize to the entire population of lawyers and Certified Public Accountants, but I can tell you as the debt started climbing, I was told by one attorney that I should file bankruptcy and later told by a CPA that I should forget about the IRS, that they would forget about me. I found that incredulous and knew I would never forget about my debt. I sought credit counseling, but they couldn't help me. I didn't earn enough. So I said my prayers and one day, the miracle happened and I was off on the same journey you're hopefully going to embrace.

"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." ~ Woody Allen

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