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Old 11-17-10, 09:00 AM   #1
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It's so easy to become homeless

People don't realize that it only takes a few mistakes to screw it up real bad and end up with no home. I've seen the story play out so many times... poor budget planning, a few bad decisions, that's all it takes.

Now-days (or at least here in Florida), every single landlord does background checks on all applicants. If you have been behind on your rent (they DO report those, no exceptions) it makes it really difficult to find a place later on. If you have ever been evicted, it makes it near impossible to rent a place.

One of the most common mistakes is when people don't realize they are living outside their means. You do a budget that looks tight, but you think you can make it. Soon you realize that your budget was poorly done. You didn't took into account things like car repairs, medical expenses, cold/hot weather snaps spiking up your energy bill, etc.

Even worst is when you refuse to see that you are doing it wrong. "It's not my fault, I was OK until the car broke". Well, emergencies happen, and you should be prepared. People that never learn are doomed to have the same problems again and again.

Another group is the people that keep screwing it all up but never deal with the consequences because friends and family always step in and fix the mess. Till one day everybody gets tired and leave them alone to figure it out.

And why Rube' is talking about this? Well, let's just say that somebody around here is homeless at the moment... you'll probably guess who. Children have been with me for 3 weeks now and counting. They've been told Mommy is working a lot of overtime (they don't need to know). Hope she finds a solution soon.

So, for all the people out there...

* A tight budget is a BAAAAADDDDD budget.
* Emergencies happen, be prepared.
* Save money whenever you can. If you just can't resist spending your savings, then pay up stuff upfront (your car insurance being a good first choice).
* Paying the rent on time is your #1 Priority! Pawn your TV, sell your computer, eat ramen, whatever it takes, but NOTHING is more important than paying your rent, on time, every time.
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Old 11-17-10, 09:17 AM   #2
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Sadly, Rueben, a lot of people in the US are learning this.
Thanks for posting.
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Old 11-17-10, 09:24 AM   #3
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Thanks Ruben. It's always good to hear a gentle reminder, even for those of us who think we have our stuff in order.
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Old 11-17-10, 09:33 AM   #4
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It's really gotten like that, yes. Hell, credit reports can keep you from getting some jobs! (And THAT is CRAP.)

Funny thing, though -- when I stopped thinking of my mortgage payment as a long-term investment, and considered it rent (since some say that since I pay property taxes, I really DON'T own), it was easier to keep up with it.

Now, FOOD prices are making that a little tougher lately; I'm behind right now. Oh well -- not starving the kids to make that payment, or going without gas and lights. There are credit report hits from my old mortgage holder from 6 years ago, and I really don't care. I'm not going to sell and "buy up", I intend to leave this house for the last time as a passenger in the coroner's meat wagon. That's AFTER I ride for 90 minutes on my 90th birthday, remember.......

(Budget? What's that? I pay the bills that are in front of me, buy food, maybe some other necessity that crops up, and I'm done. Can't do anything else.)
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Old 11-17-10, 10:15 AM   #5
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Ruben, I'm glad you can give your kids a stable living environment. They need that with their mom being so unpredictable. Hopefully she will get her act together.
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Old 11-17-10, 10:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by RubenX View Post
People don't realize that it only takes a few mistakes to screw it up real bad and end up with no home. I've seen the story play out so many times... poor budget planning, a few bad decisions, that's all it takes.

Now-days (or at least here in Florida), every single landlord does background checks on all applicants. If you have been behind on your rent (they DO report those, no exceptions) it makes it really difficult to find a place later on. If you have ever been evicted, it makes it near impossible to rent a place.

One of the most common mistakes is when people don't realize they are living outside their means. You do a budget that looks tight, but you think you can make it. Soon you realize that your budget was poorly done. You didn't took into account things like car repairs, medical expenses, cold/hot weather snaps spiking up your energy bill, etc.

Even worst is when you refuse to see that you are doing it wrong. "It's not my fault, I was OK until the car broke". Well, emergencies happen, and you should be prepared. People that never learn are doomed to have the same problems again and again.

Another group is the people that keep screwing it all up but never deal with the consequences because friends and family always step in and fix the mess. Till one day everybody gets tired and leave them alone to figure it out.

And why Rube' is talking about this? Well, let's just say that somebody around here is homeless at the moment... you'll probably guess who. Children have been with me for 3 weeks now and counting. They've been told Mommy is working a lot of overtime (they don't need to know). Hope she finds a solution soon.

So, for all the people out there...

* A tight budget is a BAAAAADDDDD budget.
* Emergencies happen, be prepared.
* Save money whenever you can. If you just can't resist spending your savings, then pay up stuff upfront (your car insurance being a good first choice).
* Paying the rent on time is your #1 Priority! Pawn your TV, sell your computer, eat ramen, whatever it takes, but NOTHING is more important than paying your rent, on time, every time.

I've talked with other people online in the same situation. The choices that they make are downright bizarre. One woman I chatted with had said she was about to be thrown out of her house, but had already cut her "budget" down to the bare minimim. I asked for a quick overview of what she considered to be the essentials that HAD to be paid first.

They included:

Smartphone with data plan, $100+/month
Landline phone, $50+/month
Cable TV bill, $100+/month
Gym membership, $75/month

etc. You get the idea.

When I pointed out that if she dropped the smartphone, got a pay-as-you-go phone for $15/month, dropped the landline since it was redundant, etc, she wouldn't even *consider* it. Because, they were all "necessities" to her. She was spending easily twice as much each month on cruft as she was on her mortgage. It was insane.

A few weeks later, she posted that she had been evicted and foreclosed on, and said she had "no idea how she had gotten to that point". *headdesk*
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Old 11-17-10, 10:27 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
I've talked with other people online in the same situation. The choices that they make are downright bizarre. One woman I chatted with had said she was about to be thrown out of her house, but had already cut her "budget" down to the bare minimim. I asked for a quick overview of what she considered to be the essentials that HAD to be paid first.

They included:

Smartphone with data plan, $100+/month
Landline phone, $50+/month
Cable TV bill, $100+/month
Gym membership, $75/month

etc. You get the idea.

When I pointed out that if she dropped the smartphone, got a pay-as-you-go phone for $15/month, dropped the landline since it was redundant, etc, she wouldn't even *consider* it. Because, they were all "necessities" to her. She was spending easily twice as much each month on cruft as she was on her mortgage. It was insane.

A few weeks later, she posted that she had been evicted and foreclosed on, and said she had "no idea how she had gotten to that point". *headdesk*
I know this is going to come across as cruel and uncaring, but probably the majority of people who are in that situation are there by their own doing. You just gave a great example, and I've personally watched several others do pretty much the exact same thing.

But Rueben did point out the importance of budgeting and that a tight budget is not a good budget. Its important for people to read that and understand its implications. If you are living on the edge, one slip is all it takes to fall off that cliff.
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Old 11-17-10, 10:58 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ModoVincere View Post
I know this is going to come across as cruel and uncaring, but probably the majority of people who are in that situation are there by their own doing. You just gave a great example, and I've personally watched several others do pretty much the exact same thing.

But Rueben did point out the importance of budgeting and that a tight budget is not a good budget. Its important for people to read that and understand its implications. If you are living on the edge, one slip is all it takes to fall off that cliff.
I don't think it's cold and uncaring at all; There comes a point where you simply can't fix stupid. Unless you're going in for physical therapy, considering a gym membership to be a "necessity" when you're weeks away from being thrown out of your house is so far beyond the pale that anyone with two neurons to rub together simply doesn't live in the same universe as that kind of person.

Much like several people I know who bought houses at the height of the housing boom - they thought that it was a good thing that the prices in their towns had gone up 50-200% in less than a year, and considered themselves "lucky" that they managed to dig up enough coins out of the couch cushions to meet the minimum downpayment. What sort of person can possibly believe that price inflation on that scale is sustainable? The lack of common sense when it comes to monetary decision-making skills in the U.S. is simply appalling.
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Old 11-17-10, 12:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
I asked for a quick overview of what she considered to be the essentials that HAD to be paid first.

They included:

Smartphone with data plan, $100+/month
Landline phone, $50+/month
Cable TV bill, $100+/month
Gym membership, $75/month

A few weeks later, she posted that she had been evicted and foreclosed on, and said she had "no idea how she had gotten to that point". *headdesk*
WOW. Live, and *hopefully* learn.
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Old 11-17-10, 01:00 PM   #10
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I've talked with other people online in the same situation. The choices that they make are downright bizarre. One woman I chatted with had said she was about to be thrown out of her house, but had already cut her "budget" down to the bare minimim. I asked for a quick overview of what she considered to be the essentials that HAD to be paid first.

They included:

Smartphone with data plan, $100+/month
Landline phone, $50+/month
Cable TV bill, $100+/month
Gym membership, $75/month

etc. You get the idea.

When I pointed out that if she dropped the smartphone, got a pay-as-you-go phone for $15/month, dropped the landline since it was redundant, etc, she wouldn't even *consider* it. Because, they were all "necessities" to her. She was spending easily twice as much each month on cruft as she was on her mortgage. It was insane.

A few weeks later, she posted that she had been evicted and foreclosed on, and said she had "no idea how she had gotten to that point". *headdesk*
Yeah, it's sad to see how people prioritize things in their budget. For me, food and a roof over my head comes first and everything else is a luxury that can be cut back or cut off completely if necessary. Even then, the roof over my head must be in the black from the very beginning or else I'm not doing it. Having a secure place to live for me and my family is too important to have it belong to some greedy old men sitting in an office somewhere.
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Old 11-17-10, 01:57 PM   #11
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Heck, with Florida's "rocket docket", you may not have to do anything wrong at all to become homeless.
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Old 11-17-10, 03:41 PM   #12
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it is amazing how far you can come on bike forums.
from posting on library to owning a macbook :-)
I do know I will not live in Orlando again.
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Old 11-17-10, 04:00 PM   #13
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The lack of common sense when it comes to monetary decision-making skills in the U.S. is simply appalling.
Yeah, and these people are in our local and national governments making monetary-policy decisions for us!!! Well, really for their handlers and cronies.
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Old 11-17-10, 04:07 PM   #14
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Sadly, Rueben, a lot of people in the US are experiencing this.
Thanks for posting.
Fixed. I don't think a whole lot actually are learning from it.
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Old 11-17-10, 05:30 PM   #15
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I know this is going to come across as cruel and uncaring, but probably the majority of people who are in that situation are there by their own doing.
It comes across as callous and ignorant. In the best of circumstances people faced with economic crunches can make smart choices and forestall doomsday. But people aren't perfect and they don't. Even in the case of the woman cited above, would cutting those frivolous expenses kept her in the house? For a while perhaps, and maybe that's all she needed. But to say that 'the majority' of those who are being dispossessed are in that situation through their own stupidity is silly, inaccurate, and yes, cruel, even if that's not the intention. Hard to quantify such claims, but from my own anecdotal experience, people are up against a no-job employment market in the worst recession since 1939. Add to that the wonderful world of information in the internet age, where anyone with a bad credit rating (highly represented in the newly unemployed) may not even be able to get a menial job at Wal Mart when they run a credit bureau and find out that they are credit criminals. That practice is fine if somebody is applying for a loan, but it strikes me as un-American to deny employment to somebody down on his luck who is trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job, ANY job, on the basis of their bad credit. How the eff can they pay their bills if THEY DON'T HAVE A JOB? This is happening to somebody I know, and unless they're going to be working in a bank vault with unsecured millions, that's bullshirt.
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Old 11-17-10, 09:01 PM   #16
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Not to mention the countless numbers of people whom, through no fault of their own, became injured or sick, could not work, and burned through the savings. Medical bills are one of the primary causes of bankruptcy in the US.
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Old 11-17-10, 09:45 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by RubenX View Post
.....So, for all the people out there...

* A tight budget is a BAAAAADDDDD budget.
* Emergencies happen, be prepared.
* Save money whenever you can. If you just can't resist spending your savings, then pay up stuff upfront (your car insurance being a good first choice).
* Paying the rent on time is your #1 Priority! Pawn your TV, sell your computer, eat ramen, whatever it takes, but NOTHING is more important than paying your rent, on time, every time.
Good advice, but more to reality. How about being very longterm unemployed and exhausting all your savings and other whatever is left of the safety net cushion. That is where many people are finding themselves. You might throw out all your hard earned possession in order to buy yourself a month or two reprieve, but in the end....our country does tolerate homelessness more and more and it seems not to ever be solved or in EnMass for the whole country or in each individual case.
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Old 11-17-10, 10:32 PM   #18
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Good advice, but more to reality. How about being very longterm unemployed and exhausting all your savings and other whatever is left of the safety net cushion. That is where many people are finding themselves. You might throw out all your hard earned possession in order to buy yourself a month or two reprieve, but in the end....our country does tolerate homelessness more and more and it seems not to ever be solved or in EnMass for the whole country or in each individual case.
If selling all the hard earned possessions only covers a month or two of rent, either the rent was too high or you had very little stuff to begin with. Don't pawn camping equipment tho... you might need it.
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Old 11-17-10, 10:43 PM   #19
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If selling all the hard earned possessions only covers a month or two of rent, either the rent was too high or you had very little stuff to begin with. Don't pawn camping equipment tho... you might need it.
A little over a year ago, my wife spent 2 weeks in Urgent Care and another week in a regular ward followed by a month of out-patient treatment. Even with insurance the bills cleaned out our savings account and we'll be making payments on the balance for several months to come. I'm still fighting the $900 they want to charge us for the 10-mile ambulance ride from one hospital to another.

Like most people in the US, we probably have too many material possessions but even if we were to sell them all, I doubt we would clear more than 2 or 3 thousand dollars.

Other than the medical bills and the mortgage, we have no other debt and right now we're getting by, and slowly rebuilding the savings. But if I should lose my job, as 15% of my co-workers have already done this year, we'll be on the street in about 3 months.
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Old 11-17-10, 11:18 PM   #20
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^^^ Unless your medical bills go up with interests like credit card debt, send them the absolute minimum every month, just enough to keep them from reporting you to credit agencies. Remember that if something else happens and you end up homeless, they won't come to help you... so screw them, let them wait.
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Old 11-18-10, 06:54 AM   #21
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It comes across as callous and ignorant. In the best of circumstances people faced with economic crunches can make smart choices and forestall doomsday. But people aren't perfect and they don't. Even in the case of the woman cited above, would cutting those frivolous expenses kept her in the house? For a while perhaps, and maybe that's all she needed. But to say that 'the majority' of those who are being dispossessed are in that situation through their own stupidity is silly, inaccurate, and yes, cruel, even if that's not the intention. Hard to quantify such claims, but from my own anecdotal experience, people are up against a no-job employment market in the worst recession since 1939. Add to that the wonderful world of information in the internet age, where anyone with a bad credit rating (highly represented in the newly unemployed) may not even be able to get a menial job at Wal Mart when they run a credit bureau and find out that they are credit criminals. That practice is fine if somebody is applying for a loan, but it strikes me as un-American to deny employment to somebody down on his luck who is trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job, ANY job, on the basis of their bad credit. How the eff can they pay their bills if THEY DON'T HAVE A JOB? This is happening to somebody I know, and unless they're going to be working in a bank vault with unsecured millions, that's bullshirt.
You are taking the typical short term view. If people started saving from the day the get their first paycheck...you know, a rainy day fund, a lot of this could be avoided. Add to that luxuries being considered a necessity, and well, its a recipe for being out on your keister.
But some, and I won't name any names here, think its callous to say it as it is. Oh well.
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Old 11-18-10, 06:57 AM   #22
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Not to mention the countless numbers of people whom, through no fault of their own, became injured or sick, could not work, and burned through the savings. Medical bills are one of the primary causes of bankruptcy in the US.
Totally different topic then what the OP was writing about. And anyone who blames someone for getting sick is a moran.
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Old 11-18-10, 08:12 AM   #23
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Totally different topic then what the OP was writing about. And anyone who blames someone for getting sick is a moran.
At the end of the day, if you are homeless due to financial difficulty, does it make much of a difference how you got there? Is one path more blameless than the next?
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Old 11-18-10, 08:16 AM   #24
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At the end of the day, if you are homeless due to financial difficulty, does it make much of a difference how you got there? Is one path more blameless than the next?
yes, it does make a diifference. One is in your control, one is not. Lessons to be learned from what you could control versus what you can't really learn from.
Again, I know I am coming across as an uncaring SOB, but face it, we live in a society that has morphed into caring more about luxuries then making sure our finances are in order (or as much in order as possible). When people are making $20K/yr and trying to buy BMW 3 series, its financial suicide. And yes, I've actually seen this.
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Old 11-18-10, 08:17 AM   #25
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Heck, with Florida's "rocket docket", you may not have to do anything wrong at all to become homeless.
I just read that article you linked - that is so effed up in a million ways.
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