Monday, July 23, 2007

12 days to go...

I got (hopefully) my final bill for my evil nemesis - the shiny, red, 0% card.

I was so happy - at first. Knowing that the debt would be finally gone in a little over a week and a half. The only unfortunate thing is that the due date is incredibly close to when I get paid.

So, knowing that there is a definite possibility of me paying and then suddenly getting hit with 'late charges' I decided to call up the card company and see if I would be able to pay over the phone.
After going through several voice automated prompts I finally talked to a young lady.

I asked "Can I pay over the phone with a check?"

She said "Yes"

I asked "Is there a charge?"

She said "Yes there is $10 charge for paying over the phone"

"Great!" I replied not really happy about the $10 charge but, glad it wasn't the $15 that a prior debt holder charged for paying over the phone.

I was just about to hang up when I asked the $64 million dollar (or in this case $10 buck) question "Will that $10 be able to be paid by the check OR will you have to charge it to my account?"

"...we will charge your account"

[DANG IT!!!]

"o.k. ...." I replied - my enthusiasm knocked down a notch.
I said good bye and returned to staring at my calendar.

I think I will go ahead and 'kite'* a check over to them from my money-market. Hopefully, it does not hit before I get paid a day or two later.

2 other things:

  1. I just listened to Dave Ramsey's podcast today and one caller, a guy I'm guessing in his mid 30's called in to say that he pulled his credit and found there was $25,000 in credit card bills that he knew nothing about. After further investigation he discovered that right after high school his PARENTS took out a few credit cards in his name and began charging random stuff to them. 10 years ago they decided to stop charging stuff and instead started making minimum payments as the interest builds. The guy is from a small town where everybody knows everybody - he has since moved on - but in order to get a proper identity theft notice on his credit file he needs a police report from the small town. The local police, who know his parents personally, have thus far refused to file a needed police report because they state it's past the statute of limitations. I think Dave's advice was something like - 'hire a lawyer' but - MAN - Talk about family drama! I feel kind of lucky now because my parents have lent me money on more than one occasion - possibly with a little bit of guilt but definitely haven't ever put me into debt...
  2. I just had a 'neighbor' from an apartment across the way, knock on my door and ask me "Hey man it's [Chuck] from across the way. Listen, can I get $3 for bus fair tomorrow?" {Now let's back up - and say that on a prior early evening/ late afternoon. [Chuck] and a friend were sitting out by Chuck's porch chit-chatting about nothing in particular. Chuck is a black male also but, he happens to be my father's age - in his 50's or 60's. Chuck's friend, a black male as well seemed to be in his 40's. Anyways, I waved, said 'hi' and everything and as I was coming back from getting my mail the younger guy came up to me and started chatting about nothing in particular. Eventually he asked me what I did. He then explained that his son had done the same thing before was a really nice casual conversation then all of the sudden - almost mid-sentence - the brother changed his tune and said "listen, can I get a $1 for the bus?" - Caught off guard and also caught with my wallet in hand I said "Sure" and i pulled out a crisp $1 bill and handed it to him as he stared - much like an 18 year-old guy stares at shot girls in an underage bar - at the $20 something remaining contents of my wallet.} So back to today, I looked at him funny for about a half-second then said "No" . To which he replied "well how about a $1 or $2" To which I replied "No, sorry man" he turned around and then looked back looking slightly defeated as he walked away. I guess what I wonder is - do I LOOK like I have money falling out of my pockets?! Just cause I am usually dressed up and I do have a job (two in fact) does that mean I should immediately become the community welfare coordinator?
I guess this/these semi-rhetorical question(s) goes out to all the darker skinned people in the room:
  • Do you owe a brother 'in need' bus fair if you know he is just unemployed and will possibly use bus fair for something other than a bus?
  • The moment you are financially able to move out of the ghetto - should you move out or should you stay and try and help out the community - even it seems like a thankless job?
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: Have your neighbors asked you for bus fair lately?
Anyways, with that, I look in my wallet and discover that I do not have $3 I do have $2 but, I'm keeping case I need bus fair.

*although it really won't be 'kiting' the check since the money's in the bank - there's just a possibility the check will go through before I can deposit my paycheck a couple days later. I also don't earn any interest on my money market if it drops below $1000 - which will happen if the bill payment hits before my paycheck does.


hard lessons learned said...

Being of very light skin, I can't help you with your questions. However, I can suggest a technique that my mom used when people hit her up at the bus stop. When she saw someone make eye-contact and head toward her, she knew what was coming and she would turn toward the person, take a step forward and ask if they had some change. Yeah, it worked. She used to get hit up for some change for food. When that happened, she would offer to buy a meal at the nearby McFastfood. No one ever took her offer.

One on-looker chastised her when she outright refused to give a handout. The young man imperiously said that it was a Christian duty to help those in need. My mom nodded and told him to watch the recipient of the handout as he made a beeline for the liquor store next to the bus stop.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your community is to take care of yourself so that they don't have to take care of you. You can't help anyone if you can't help yourself.

When you do give a handout, you must be willing to let it go without conditions. I once gave a woman half my newly-purchased fast food to feed the kids sitting at her feet. When I walked past her 10 minutes later, she was with a guy who had the bag and was eating the food. Maybe the kids got some, maybe they didn't. It wasn't my place to judge their situation but it was an important lesson in giving. When you give, give freely or don't give.

Reggie, the black kid with good credit said...

I like your comment.

By the way no offense to the light-skinned people in the room.

was trying to get opinions of minorities and/or black people without offending anyone.

Obviously that back-fired miserably... Thanks for the post though!

hard lessons learned said...

Well, I wasn't offended because I don't think I can advise you on your situation. There is a difference in how we each get treated in society. You because of the color of your skin, me because of my gender. I may ask my guy friends for advice on some things but there are definitely issues that I only take to the ladies because they have a more similar experience in life. I made a lot of mistakes by following the advice of men who just lived in a world that was so different from mine that it didn't make sense to follow the same path. But I was young and loyal and trusting and optimistic.

I went to high school with basketball player, Kevin Johnson. He has returned and put money back in to his community. More importantly, he has put personal time and energy into trying to help the kids in the neighborhood. I don't agree with all of the choices that have been made but I do respect that he has made an effort to give back to his community. He has done it, though, when he was finished with pro basketball. You will give back to your community when you are able. You are already giving back in ways that you may not appreciate. You set a good example by being a decent human being, hardworking, and educated. You will probably never know which child looked at you and said, "If he did it, I can do it."

Well, that went on for a bit.