Who has ten fingers, ten toes, and stayed up far too late on the Internet?

I’ll give you a hint. The same woman who ran through about a hundred potential outcome scenarios based on different decisions we could make and their potential outcomes. While it may be pointless to live in the future, sometimes when there is a big decision it does not hurt to schedule a few hours to travel there and make your best estimates for most likely decision outcomes.

Big thanks to Annaleah because without her encouraging words I would not have had my “A-ha!” moment. She mentioned people being understanding of our circumstances and that made me think how understanding the man on the phone must have sounded and I asked Mr. B about it and he said that the man sounded more like a caricture of a used car salesman – pushy and excited – and not calm and reassuring at all. This led us to a conversation about what he said and we broke down what we thought it meant.

For those of you that have taken a moment to wonder how I slog my way through all these horribly emotional decisions, I present to you, “How Jenny deals with horrible decisions!”

First, you pick your top contenders. Because life is kinder that many people think, there are usually only three major things to choose from. This is one of those cases.

Scenario 1 – Chapter 13 and Refinance

In a perfect world, this would be our solution. File the Chapter 13 to buy some time, come up with the $2400 to restart the refinance process, begin paying the new $700 mortgage payment, and live happily ever after! Of course, the mortgage is probably 40 years and there’s a $30k balloon payment at the end of the 40 years and we are in a house we have come to hate because we wish we could go back in time and rent something instead.

Conclusion: It is a bad idea. We will end up paying almost $200k in principal and goodness knows how much in interest over the life of the loan. A monster debt that we just don’t want to be saddled with. Going through all that to sell it is also a possibility, but it would be sold for so much less than we owed we would be trapped again. The Chapter 13 would make us seem even more financially irresponsible and renting would be that much more difficult unless we were sure to find a place where people wanted to hear your story and not just see how you look on paper.

Scenario 2 – Chapter 13 with New Foreclosure

The “extra shady and morally bankrupt” version of the plan is to go through with the Chapter 13, get a modified mortgage, pay on it for a while and go through this whole thing again, buying us another two years of no payments while this goes through the motions for a second time.

Conclusion: Financially this might actually be the best decision. By the time we got through a second foreclosure Mr. B would be a Journeyman making twice as much as he does right now. We could easily pay rent and save money. Decisions, however, are more than just dollar signs and decimal points and it would be immoral and best and illegal at worst. I want to teach my children to make wise financial decisions and getting charged with fraud is not a good way to start that process. My foreclosure now was not an intended outcome of buying the house, I certainly won’t go into another two years of freefall and sacrifice what morality I do have for the sake of money.

Scenario 3 – Current Plan Continues

The current plan – wait out the foreclosure until the last minute while getting rid of every unnecessary item we own – still seems to be the clear winner. We are taking care of the house and the yard, the interior of the house is in good shape, and the house will be resold fairly easily once we are out. The six month eviction timeframe will allow us to get through Taxmas and have money ready to spend on a new place.

Other Warning Signs

Upon further inspection, the language in the letter we received was similar to the law advertisements. Once Mr. B talked to the man and he revealed he was an attorney with NACA, we realized it may be the case they don’t have to disclose the advertisement because they are not-for-profit and thus it is not an advertisement for profit.

2. The man would not further discuss the class action lawsuit with Mr. B on the phone even though he brought it up and asked for the criteria for plaintiffs multiple times. He did, however, whip Mr. B into a lather with the urgency of needing to get to the federal courthouse first thing in the morning to file the Chapter 13 and call him with the case number right away so he could stop the auction.

3. A Chapter 13 is a restructuring of debt that involves payments. The lawyer made it sound like they would take all the arrears and put them at the end of the modified loan in order to make our payment $700. This now adds a balloon payment at the end of the loan, which is an offer I already turned down because it is not feasable to pay a mortgage another 30 years from this point in order to have a $25k balloon payment on the end.

4. The only way this is actually a good deal is if we get the remodification, pay some payments, stop, and go through another two year foreclosure process. I may be a little hither and thither in the moral compass area but that’s really, really fraudulent stuff.

We have come to the conclusion that the letter was an option but not one in our best long-term interest. I don’t like solutions that only work if I’m emotionally desperate to keep a physical object. Financially it’s a bad deal, but it’s being presented like a Christmas present wrapped in golden paper. I don’t know what the company we would be working with gets or how they benefit but the pressure Mr. B felt says to me there is something beyond helpful people wanting to use their helpful organization to be helpful. While I can’t put my finger on it, I know there’s something wrong.

I keep thinking of that lawyer at the legal aid place. When I asked if she ever saw a circumstance when keeping the house was in the best financial interest of the client and she reluctantly said, “No. Not in my experience.” When a woman who sees hundreds (thousands?) of people doesn’t see one who is making a smart financial decision, it’s my responsibility to make extra sure I don’t make the same mistake if I want my family to thrive.