Another Pointless Credit Sob Story – I’ve Stopped Caring

October 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Debt and Credit, Fools of Finance

Today’s paper – on the front page no less – carried yet another story about a local resident complaining about his credit situation.  The headline:  “Credit Crisis Hits Even the Diligent.”  Based on the facts reported in the story, the headline should read:  “Another fool of finance pays the price.” 

Here are the opening sentences from the story: 

Mt. Juliet resident Wayne Anderson believed he was doing everything right. He paid his credit card bills on time and sent in regular checks on a home equity loan in California.  But this month, Bank of America increased the interest rate on one of his credit cards from 14 percent to 28 percent, saying the $20,000 he owed on various cards made him too high a risk. That jacked up his monthly payment by $100 per month.  Citigroup had already closed his line of credit on his California home, cutting off his backup plans to borrow if he needed home repairs or living expenses. 

What is it about Mr. Anderson’s money behavior that is supposed to evoke my sympathy?  The $20k in credit card debt?  The unpaid home equity loan?  Or maybe the line of credit as a “backup plan” for “living expenses.”  

Why does the press keep running stories like this?  They never ask the guy what he bought for the $20k in credit card debt or with his HELOC money.  They never ask him about whether he has car loans.  They never question how credit can or should be a “back up plan” for “living expenses.”  (That doesn’t even qualify as a “plan” of any kind.  That’s what I call a “failure to plan.”)  The story calls Mr. Anderson “diligent” because he is paying minimum payments on time.  As far as I am concerned, it is way too late in the credit game for a broke person to be called “diligent.” 

The hard truth is that Mr. ToughMoneyLove has long since stopped caring about credit problems created by people like Wayne Anderson.  With the cooperation of the press and Congress, he wants to make his problems our problems.   Our focus in response is on personal responsibility.   Is anyone listening to us?  I will say this:  If the reporter had called me for comment, it would have been a lot better story, because I would have stirred things up a little bit.  Maybe it’s time for a letter to the editor.  Do you think they would print it if I called old Wayne Anderson a fool of finance?

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14 Responses to “Another Pointless Credit Sob Story – I’ve Stopped Caring”
  1. I couldn’t agree more. It’s hard to imagine how somebody with 20k in credit card debt could “believe he was doing everything right.”

  2. Brian says:

    It is truly sad that he is financially clueless. From the paper:

    “I always thought I’d make my payments and pay it off, but I never thought I’d get robbed like this,” said Anderson, 38, who installs ceramic tile for a living. “I’ve been doing everything I can to pay down these credit cards. I feel like they’ve got me in a situation where I feel like I’m never going to pay it down.”

    I always thought I’d make my payments?? Sounds like he missed some to me.

  3. goldenrail says:

    Go for it! I think the paper would print the letter, and who knows, it might even do some good.

  4. “Mt. Juliet resident Wayne Anderson believed he was doing everything right.”

    Doing everything right? Inadequate savings and $20k in credit card debt is far from “doing everything right”. I’m sick of these type stories as well- the common theme is that someone digs themself into a hole, and then tryings to pass the blame when they realize just how deep they are.

    Write the letter- you’re not alone in being fed up with this victim mentality.

  5. Agreed. I can’t stand when people make their own stupid decisions and then expect others to have pity on them when the consequences for those decisions show their face.

  6. G. Jules says:

    Write the letter.

    90% of the stuff the article is bitching about is a return to traditional lending practices. They expect me to be horrified at lenders not loaning to people bad credit, lenders not financing tax and title as part of a car purchase, or lenders refusing to loan 100% of a home’s value? Ye gods.

    The scary thing is, for a lot of people out there making sure they could afford the monthly payments *was* considered fiscal responsibility.

  7. ObliviousInvestor: What is really troubling is that millions of Americans and the press believe that making minimum payments on time is “doing things right.”

    Brian: If he hasn’t missed any payments yet, it appears he will be soon. Why? He apparently lives paycheck to paycheck.

    Goldenrail and MGL: The letter to the editor is on my todo list. I intend to take the paper to task for publishing such an article without any critical analysis of the guy’s overall plan.

    WiseMoneyMatters: I’m afraid that he is getting lots of sympathy from readers who find themselves in similar predicaments, cheered on by the press in this case.

    G. Jules: You are absolutely right – responsible underwriting is what was needed all along. Going back to that is painful for the debt-addicted but it is a pain that must be endured.

  8. Wow, if he’s crying about a $100 increase in his monthly nut, he really is living close to the line. Every paper is looking for a personal story on the current economic crises. I think most of them are not looking to hard for a subject.

  9. Mary:

    I’m guessing that the media believes that many of their readers have adopted a “victim” mentality, so putting a victim slant on the news sells papers.

  10. Beth says:

    As much as I enjoy reading much of the stuff, I’ve been turned off by the sanctimony so often found in the money blogging world. I find it incredibly odd that some who write on these sites have drunk the koolaid of the credit industry shysters. There’s nothing defensible about the credit company practices described in the article. One can only hope that Congress will rein in the abuses with long overdue consumer protection legislation.

  11. Beth – By no means do defend the credit industry. In fact, I can’t find anything to like about it. On the other hand, if you ask Congress to start legislating to protect consumers from their own financial carelessness, where does it end?

  12. Elizabeth says:

    If they want a human interest story on the financial crisis, find a family devastated by medical bills, or someone whose house got destroyed by a natural disaster and their insurance company is screwing them, or a single parent whose company outsourced her job to China.

    There’s a lot of people out there who really did “do the right thing” and now they’re struggling. Living beyond your means is not doing the right thing.

  13. Elizabeth: Exactly – those are the folks even a tightwad me wants to see helped.

  14. 09allin says:

    I agree. Last week I heard of a lawyer giving the advice to people who just bought a house, without selling their presnt one, to just walk away from the previous obligation. The comment was made that this is “the best time” to do something like that as everyone will understand that you are a good person caught in a bad situation? The people bought the new house and took out a line of credit (maxed it out) to rennovate. Now they have two homes and are seriously considering walking away from the first one. I think that easy credit, instant gratification, and having it all have become, in some instances, considered as “our due”. Now the legal profession is weighing in and advising people to be inrresponsible. I do not see that behavior as a way out of the financial mess in this country.

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