Today Mr. Brickie talked to NACA for his second intake interview.
To their credit, they had all 65 pages of the fax organized and only needed to go through about six questionnaires. They covered budget, expenses, and other financial things. The irony (and I know you are not going to be surprised) is that he used the information we faxed over to answer the questions.
So that was an hour and half that didn’t need to happen. He didn’t mind and was super-polite but still, what is the point of hunting down and sending over all that information if you just have to answer the same questions over the phone? Ah well. Not the worst thing in the world. They got the fax and that is the number one concern I had.
Where this story gets a little crazy is in the “budgeting” section. If you have seen my budget, you know we don’t have a lot of expenses. We cut our lifestyle drastically so we didn’t end up in a deep, deep hole by the end of winter. The line items are a little different now because I had a panic attack and ran up a couple credit cards for Christmas shopping and since Mr. Brickie isn’t working we don’t have a hundred plus dollars in toll expenses right now. Plus, we spend almost nothing on gas since we aren’t going anywhere.
So the intake person says we have to look like we are making budget concessions to show we are serious about getting our mortgage right. With the expenses we have she suggested four things very strongly:
Do not buy any more clothes.
There were some expenses for clothing on the budget and she said that had to stop. The items in question? Boots, snowpants, and shoes for the children. Also, one pair of jeans for Mr. Brickie four months ago.
Do not eat out anymore, ever.
The expense in question? A $30 payment for the one time we went out to eat in the last four months. With a coupon. Because I can feed people at a casual dining restaurant and leave a good tip for $30. I’m magic.
Get rid of the Internet.
So, that happened. When my husband informed her that we use the Internet for our freelance businesses she said, “You can go to the library and use theirs.” While he was silently dumbfounded (because who wouldn’t be?) she followed up with, “You have smartphones. Use those.” I am not exactly sure what to say about that except if you knew how much more money we would spend if we didn’t have Internet and the answer to the question, “What do I do with my kids while I’m at the library on the computer for an hour because they have time limits?” isn’t even in the top three of reasons I cannot conceive of getting rid of my Internet connection.
Get rid of hosting.
“Get a free website and free email for your businesses.”
Stop paying your credit card bills immediately.
She said her prior job was as a third party credit card collections person and since that was unsecured debt we didn’t have to worry about anyone taking anything away from us. She advised we call and get them to put us on a payment plan that could be “as low as a few dollars a month” and then use that tax return money for something more important.
Did I mention Mr. Brickie stayed kind and polite during this whole conversation? The man is a saint.
After I picked my jaw off the floor I asked him if he thought the advice was valid about the credit cards. “Maybe she knows what’s what better than I do. This is my first house-issues rodeo, this is her job.” He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “No. We pay those debts off.” I nodded.
If I’m only making little payments – less than the minimum – for years and years the balances are going to become intense. I mean it will actually become more expensive every day I don’t pay it off. She recommended putting our tax return toward the car. If I could pay the car off entirely, that would be valid advice. But a car payment plus credit card payments or only a car payment seems like a no-brainer to me.
Mr. Brickie reminded me that the woman he talked to was an intake person, not a housing counselor. She was trying to help based on her personal experience and view of the world. She was trying to help.
For that, I appreciate what she said.
But the only way you’re taking my Internet away is by killing me first. It’s my only luxury and I’m not getting rid of it. I regret the two weeks I cut off hosting and quit blogging like you wouldn’t believe. I may not be the best blogger on earth but I can’t stop doing it. I guess that’s almost as good as passion.
We won’t be eating out again for at least four months because we’re cheap and thank goodness for my family I’m a good cook. If that makes things look better for the mortgage company, that’s wonderful.
As for clothing, I haven’t bought clothes since I got that awesome $12 dress from eBay a year ago. Mr. Brickie got a new pair of sneakers for Christmas from my cousin so he’s all set with shoes, too. I did buy him a pair of Levi’s that were on sale for $20 four months ago so we’ll have to cut down on that. The kids clothing, however, is not really negotiable. The last time I replaced their sneakers it’s because one of my kids had a flapping sole and there wasn’t enough shoe to glue it to.
I hope the housing counselor can look at the numbers and see that we are living a bare bones lifestyle. I can assure you the $68 for Internet and the hosting price aren’t going to be the difference between paying a mortgage and not paying a mortgage.
In the meantime, they are supposed to somehow get our loan into forbearance which would halt the foreclosure. It would give us a reduced monthly payment for a specific period of time based on the probability of increased income.
So, we’ll see what happens.
We still need to have a follow up appointment with the downtown legal aid people when they have an opening with a housing counselor and then there’s the court date downtown on Valentine’s Day (I really do love the irony of going to court on Valentine’s Day).
Tomorrow I have to decide if I want to put my 4yo through an assessment through the UofChicago. She’s one of the control group because she didn’t get into the lottery-based charter school. They get to be impressed and have fun with my kid and they’ll give Mr. Brickie fifty bucks for putting her in the study.
They just ask her about shapes and stuff, plus they’ll send me the assessment. I do like having information about my kids academic prowess. I’ll check in and see if he’s in the mood to do it.