Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

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Total Black: $889.52
Total Red: $230,285.21

As I left my apartment this morning, I decided to stop by the post office on my way to work.  The temp position has had me going for roughly twenty-seven days straight now without a day off.  It’s getting difficult to recall which day of the week it is especially without weekends to mark time by.  I received a few notices from the post office of letters and packages they couldn’t deliver.  So finally today I thought I’d stop and pick them up.  I’m glad I did.

The first piece of mail was a Rent Demand sent via certified mail by my landlord’s attorney.  September’s rent hasn’t been paid yet.  October’s came due on the 1st.  I don’t know why, but I just didn’t reach out to the management company to let them know I was having difficulty coming up with the rent money.  Working at the Recession Art Sale gig plus the hours at the contract attorney position both sort of left me with little time to do anything else.  Plus, I guess, I was afraid to let the landlord’s management company know I was having financial difficulties in case they refused to let me renew the lease.  All completely emotionally-driven, illogical thinking.  One call to the management company probably would have fixed all this and staved off the Rent Demand.  I suspect as well that I’m overreacting a bit to the demand that I received.  Perhaps it’s just a formality.  I was worried that I’d come home today to a notice of eviction on the door of my apartment.  Nonetheless, I’ll be faxing a letter to the landlord’s attorney tomorrow morning.  I had intended to do that tonight but, as Murphy’s Law has it, one of the printer ink cartridges is empty and the damn printer won’t print if any are empty.  So tomorrow morning I’ll have to run to an office supply store to get ink only to run back home and print out my letter, then fax it, then mail it as well.  I trust it’ll all be ok.   By Friday, September’s rent should be paid in full from checks I sent out last Friday and today.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to pay October’s as well by then.  November’s is another story all together though.

The second piece of mail I received was a Notice of Deficiency from the IRS.  In layman’s terms, I believe that means an audit was conducted on me and the IRS has determined that I owe $1,300 more on 2007 taxes.  Not a lot compared to my other taxes still outstanding, but still that’s one week’s pay right there.  And the temp job is due to end soon.  Not sure when another will materialize.  The odd thing though is that I believe this notice was already issued to me in July and that I already paid it.  I’ve not heard of two audits being conducted on the same tax year.

It wasn’t a great way to start my morning, but I decided to turn it around in my favor.  No one else has any qualms about demanding money from me.  Not the credit card companies, the student loan agencies, the IRS, and now the landlord.  Machinations of the corporate beast: past due notices and delinquency alerts all get spit out by computers and sent off to the debtors.  So I decided to start being as aggressive about money owed me as well.  In Slow Going and Pussyfootin’ Around I touched on my difficulties in this area.  I don’t really know why.  I’ve dragged my feet in calling Bank of America to complain about insufficient funds fees that, I felt at least, were unfairly charged to my accounts.  I spent nearly the entire month of August working for a colleague, helping him with his legal consulting work.  It’s roughly two months later and I haven’t seen a cent of the $1,500 we agreed I’d be paid.  What’s more, I haven’t asked for it either and instead beat myself up for not yet having prepared the hours I worked so that he could, in turn, bill the client.  I’ve been beating myself up!  Insane.

So today, the first thing I did upon arriving at work was to send an email to my colleague, letting him know about the situation with my rent, and asking if he had anything he could give me now towards the $1,500.  Twelve hours later and I still haven’t heard back from him.  Then an hour later, I took a break from the temp job and, as promised in Small Town Boy in the Big City, I walked out of the building, across the street, and over to a branch of Bank of America and asked to speak with someone about fees issued to my account.  Sitting in her office, I inquired how a $2 transaction could result in a $35 fee or how a $40 withdrawal from the ATM could warrant a $35 fee.  In both cases, the money was in my account.  The bank representative fairly straightforwardly explained, “It can happen.  That’s how the Bank makes its money.”  And sadly she’s right.  She seemed sympathetic to my frustrations, however, so I found it curious that the ability to waive fees is not in any one individual’s control.  When I asked about reversing some of the fees, she said that she’d have to see what the system would give back to me.  See, the “system” doesn’t allow for sympathy.  Nevertheless, fifteen minutes later I walked out $76 dollars richer.  That amount didn’t cover even half of the fees charged.  But in all honesty a few were properly charged to my account for my own money mismanagement, though quite a few were not.

Despite starting off the day on bad footing, I was happy with how I later regained my footing.  Of course the saying is one step forward, two steps back, but I wanted to be positive about things.  And, since I stood up for myself twice today and demanded what’s due me, I opted instead for a bit of poetic license and went with two steps forward.  I’m not losing any more ground to debt.

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