Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Well, hi there

It's been a while, so I thought I'd drop in again and give you the highlights about some things that have happened recently.

First, I took two reasonably significant financial hits. Remember my New York Mom and New York Dad? They're an older couple I rented a room from as a grad student, and I secretly bailed New York Mom out some years ago with a few hundred dollars when she overspent. (This couple has never been able to manage money.) New York Mom also had a major, major health crisis and nearly died a couple of years ago, so I pitched in with a lot of logistical and emotional support during that time.

Well, I got a call from New York Mom and New York Dad a number of weeks ago. They asked if they could borrow some money because of a cash flow problem. They inherited an apartment from a friend they cared for when she was ill for a number of years, and it's been on the market without selling for quite some time. They never changed the way they spend, and I think they also made some sort-of investment decisions with property in Florida that are inappropriate for how they live and how much money they have. They hit the wall and ran out of cash, and from what it sounds like, they were about to lose property as a result.

I asked how much they needed, and New York Dad said "Ten thousand. . . maybe twelve thousand?"

In other words, they had no idea what they need.

I needed 24 hours to think about this and talk it over with my sibling, who is really good in these situations. In the end, I decided the following:

1. I offered $6000.
2. It's a gift, not a loan.
3. This is a one-time deal and it never happens again.

They accepted and insist that they'll pay me back, but I know it won't happen. I'm actually fine with it; the only thing I find slightly galling is knowing that some of it will go to support their slackass daughter (Grifter), who still has no real interest in getting a job even though she's getting divorced, since it's a lot more fun to be a mommy.

(By the way, what does it say that this nice couple came to me for money and not their own two adult children??)

I know I'll probably be pilloried for doing this, but there have been times in my life when people have helped me out, i.e. my parents giving me the boost I needed to pass my co-op board financials when I bought my apartment. I have enough to help them, and my gut is telling me it's the right thing to do. We'll see if that's how it really plays out.

The other financial hit I took is that my washing machine finally died, and in a most dramatic fashion: It flooded my bedroom as well as the basement. I was extraordinarily lucky that there was no permanent damage to the electrical panels in the elevators, as that would have been my responsibility to fix. I stayed up late researching compact washers and dryers (since the dryer is 27 years old), and the next morning I sailed out to a store in the neighborhood and bought Bosch replacements. There's not a huge market for compact units and these have the best consumer reviews, much better than the Maytag, LG, and Whirlpool equivalents I looked at. The two machines plus taxes, installation, new outlet (Bosch hates US outlets), unexpected extra costs based on the old dryer not being up to code (!), and removal of the old units came to $2360. Ouch.

I tapped my emergency fund for both of these major expenses, so there was no question of either racking up debt or liquidating investments. It means I've had to divert new money into rebuilding my emergency fund, but the fact that I had the money is peace of mind like no other.

And finally, the third major event: I met someone. For some reason, I have (ok, the right word is probably had) a lot of readers from Australia; I hope you folks in particular will be pleased to hear that he's Australian. He came here a few months ago on an expat assignment with a one-year visa that's renewable indefinitely. It's early days yet, but so far it's been fantastic. That's about all I want to say about him for now, but the spark is definitely there, and it's there in a really big way.

If anyone's still reading, I hope all is well and that your own personal economic recovery has legs. Back again when there's something else to report.

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