Do you, or someone you know, need help?
Summer, for most of us can be a time to stop and smell the flowers. Enjoy a barbecue, friends, and relaxation. I hope this is something you have been able to do–it is July already!
Here is a short summer beach read with the ending to be determined:
A friend of mine, Joe, who knows I teach about money and the psychology of money (as he asks my advice often!) told me about friends of his from work, Mr. and Mrs. Allen. Mr. Allen was laid off and the couple can’t afford their mortgage payments, credit card payments, insurance–you name it. So what did they do? Come on guess. I’ll give you a hint:
Joe told the Allens he had a great resource for them who knew everything about money, the money system and their fears. Try to guess now.
They did Nothing. No, I am not kidding. They did what 85% of people who have money problems do: Nothing.
I say nothing, because I do not consider worrying to be something productive. They were doing plenty of worrying. Worry is a virus. It spreads through every part of your body, making unpleasant sensations and as the dis-ease of worry spreads, the more frantic and crazy you feel.
WORRY PRETENDS TO BE NECESSARY. WORRY PRETENDS TO SERVE A PURPOSE.
Worry is a repetitive habit that keeps you stuck in the problem. So, worry they had plenty of. And of course, reaction. Reaction to every phone call and nasty letter creditors were sending them. They told creditors their situation; they felt victimized that out of no conscious choice of their own, they were out of a job/income and couldn’t pay the bills due. They told their story again and again. Worry loved it. Worry loves a good victim story. The creditors, on the other hand, didn’t love their story.
Joe called me again. He told me the basics of the Allen’s problem and then, being a good friend, he sat next to his friend Mrs. Allen while she spoke to me. She was embarrassed she was in this position. She apologized for taking my time. She said things like, “I don’t think you can help us” (worry always see no hope) and “I just want my old life back.”
So I told her two things I know to be true for everyone when worry is in charge: first, you have crazy talk going on in your head! And that crazy talk only has the power you choose to give it. Mrs. Allen had the choice to let her “right” mind do the thinking and talking. If you don’t recognize the crazy talk, and work hard to put an end to it (or at least banish it to a corner and take away the microphone you are giving it) you will not act upon any solution that presents itself. Or worse: you will let your fear do the acting and pick a solution that speaks to your fear. In my experience, deciding out of fear is never a good decision.
The second thing I told her was that she was never going to have her old life back. Change is a part of life. And her old life was what led her and her partner to this circumstance. You want a new life. One where the lessons learned are the foundation for a life of joy. Think about that. What if you could live your life knowing you could handle the curve balls thrown your way? Think about how free you would feel.
That was three months ago. Today, they are still in their house, paying negotiated minimum payments on their bills and “doing”. Doing everything it takes to move through the difficult time. Yes, the process to work out of a difficult situation can be cumbersome; even more cumbersome when action is delayed. The Allen’s old life didn’t allow them to take timely action to weather the storm with a “better boat.” But I can assure you timely action is much easier than the worry.
The critical factor in success: Action. The sooner the better. Doors close to you when you pass certain milestones.
I was reminded again over the holiday that many folks are consumed with the “chatter” of bad news circulating in the economy. Just like Joe’s friend; unable to sort out what is opinion and what is fact, they worry. And then worry some more. “News” agencies are part of the problem, deriving a profit from pandering to every fear imaginable, and posturing opinions to sound like fact. Folks are left with the “sky is falling down syndrome” and don’t know what to do.
You may not need the information below. But perhaps someone you know does. Or someone they know. The information below is not a magic pill. Each group below tries it’s best to be informative, but the courage to face the worries will make all the difference. Remember, someone you know (or someone they know) needs this information. Please pass it on, and encourage them to ACT NOW.
- Homeownership Preservation Foundation is dedicated to helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. This is an independent non-profit organization that provides HUD-approved counselors dedicated to helping homeowners. All services are free. Counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are trained to set up an action plan that is specific to your situation. Call 888.995.HOPE or “Google” 995hope.org.
NJ HOPE (The New Jersey Home Ownership Preservation Effort) is a voluntary public/private alliance of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and financial institutions, committed to enhancing home ownership preservation by raising consumer awareness of available mortgage products and funding; providing increased access to credit and loan counseling for those who need it; and providing temporary assistance to consumers who are in immediate danger of foreclosure. OTHER STATES BESIDES NEW JERSEY SHOULD HAVE A SIMILAR PROGRAM; please visit your state’s website to find one. The NJ HOPE website, www.state.nj.us/dobi/njhope/alliance.html is filled with resources and information including, but certainly not limited to, the following:
- A listing of financial counseling organizations, licensed debt adjusters, HUD Approved Housing Counselors in NJ
- Resources available through the alliance’s banking partners
- Borrower Assistance Programs
- Foreclosure Guidance which includes remarkably comprehensive series of pages focused on how to avoid foreclosure; foreclosure recovery programs and foreclosure education, tips and even success stories
- Additional web links that will take you to sites for resources, including agencies and programs, that are available within the state
- Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) is a national non-profit community advocacy and housing services organization offers mortgage refinance programs. You can find them on the web by ‘googling’ naca.com
- US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides information about how to avoid foreclosure with special emphasis on alternative arrangements that you may be able to reach with your lender. Additional solutions are offered for people facing foreclosure due to money problems, disaster events, or military commitments. http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page?_pageid=33,717348&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL Here you will find information on such programs as:
- FHASecure, a program designed to assist people who are in danger of foreclosure due to recent or imminent mortgage reset.
- Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), a program to assist active military personnel who had mortgage commitments before enlisting or being called to active duty.
As you work to find a solution to your housing difficulties, you may find it helpful to have this comprehensive glossary of mortgage terms. You’ll find a good glossary at the NJ Hope site (referenced above) to have on hand for reference purposes.
(This article was originally publish in my July, 2007 Ezine. I submitted the links and references to NJ211 and they can now also be found at http://www.nj211.org/031108Foreclosure.cfm )