Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

Coming Back Around

with 11 comments

Total Black: $426.61
Total Red: $225,563.13

I pushed myself to return to work today.  I would have preferred to stay home.  I wasn’t up to full speed.  But I need the money.  The day started late though because I had to run around town dolling out sums of money.

This week’s pay through the temporary attorney staffing agency was late by a day.  Good thing I didn’t have any of those automatic bill payments set up.  With the money my mother lent me, as noted in Try With a Little Help, and with this weeks paychecks, I started the day off with a visit to Bank of America for a few cashier’s checks.  I requested two in the amount of $220.65 each, a third for $2,000, and a fourth for $1,000.  The first two checks went to cover COBRA payment for February and March.  I was late with February, and since it was already March, if I figured I’d best use some of total amount I had available to cover those two payments.  Health insurance, especially since I spent the past two days in bed, is not something to play around with.  The third check covered February’s rent.  But the fourth check, well . . . that one was a bit of a misstep of sorts.  Not exactly a misstep, but let’s just say the landlord’s management company struck once again.

Last night, in a moment of excitement, I decided to allocate an additional $1,000 to one of my student loans.  Maybe not that wise.  Certainly not a “conservative” approach.  But at least student loans, generally, aren’t like credit cards in that they’re not going to slowly creep back if left alone.  Well, at least not by as much since those interest rates are locked.  So today, total red it down to its lowest point yet.  Just over $225K.  The sacrifice, however, came from half of March’s rent.  Since the landlord’s management company took full payment for January two weeks back, even though I didn’t have February’s yet, I assume—wrongly—that they’d again accept the check for February, and this time half of the current month, March, as well.  The woman in charge informed me that, since I hadn’t returned in a week as I had said I would, that they ordered another rent demand.  She handed me back my cashier’s checks and said that I should return next week with the full payment instead of paying in “drips and drabs.”  I believe that refusing to accept payment on a debt actually operates to extinguish that debt.  I don’t know the law on this point, but I don’t know if a debtor can rightly refuse part-payment solely because you don’t have all payment.  If you dispute the entire amount, and instead say I’ll give you this amount, and you then accept that amount, at that point there’s an argument to be made that you agreed to the reduced amount.  But if we’re in agreement about the total amount due, and you then refuse my payments toward that amount, I don’t know if that works in your favor.  Especially, in this case, since I had the entire amount for February on me.

I just don’t understand these real estate get-ups.  But, once again, I’m learning another lesson.  Postpone payments to anything else except the damn landlord.  This is the first time I’ve had a corporation as a landlord.  I guess it was silly of me to assume they’d operate similarly to individuals.  It’s funny too because individually are typically those who really aren’t in the situation to let a month’s rent go late, but they often cut you a break.  And here the corporation is the one coming down hard as if every cent matters.  I’m really sick of renting.  If only I had a lump-sum, I could instead be paying on a mortgage—but then, late one time, and I’d be facing foreclosure.  I wonder why everyone’s in such a hurry to render people homeless.  What does it say about the state of our country?  I did get that same “drip ‘n drab” woman to say that I should call or email if I’m going to be late.  That at least implies a touch of humanity remains.  Maybe a smidgen of hope?

So, yes, despite today’s stressor, total red is down to it’s lowest point.  And $3,000 for rent is sitting safe and sound cashier’s checks—untouchable by late fees or automatic payments or anything else (including myself).  I was already late with March’s rent, so that would have cost me another $75.00 in late fees regardless.  And COBRA is paid up.  Now with being out sick for two days, I just hope I net at least a thousand next week so that I can pay the rent in full!

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

March 5, 2010 at 23:52

11 Responses

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  1. you need to move. I pay 1/3 of that in Chicago for 3 bedrooms and a huge yard.


    March 7, 2010 at 13:55

  2. Hi, just checking back in after a few weeks.

    I did notice a couple posts ago that you borrowed $4,000 from your mom, and someone commented that you needed to increase both the total black and total red because of that–did you ever do that (i.e. add the $4,000 to the total red)? If you did, and the red/black numbers are correct, then good job. If not, then I guess you’re kind of in the same place you were when I last checked.

    If you ARE in the same place, every month that goes by just looks more and more like a grind… you are working your ASS off with all of the hours you are putting in, but you are gaining no traction. How long will this go on before you just have to get out from under some of your expenses?

    Since you don’t seem to mind it too much, how about if you keep on your same path until that 1 year mark (August whatever…) when you planned on having your debt paid in full, but then commit to some new, additional changes? If you don’t, I fear you are just going to continue to wear yourself out, physically, emotionally, financially (even more), etc. and never get near the place you want to be.

    If that’s the case, seriously…wouldn’t it actually be better to just fall off of the grid…get a P.O. box somewhere, find an under the table job (I’m sure those abound in NYC), live at home or in a cheap efficiency somewhere out near a subway line…

    At least then you could afford to have a latte without fretting over it, you wouldn’t have to work 100 hours weeks just to fall deeper into debt, etc.

    In sum, I guess I’m saying that eventually you might just have to give up the goal of paying that debt down the way you’re doing it. The above scenario is an exaggeration, but still, maybe you need to place yourself somewhere closer to that end of the spectrum than where you are?


    March 8, 2010 at 08:16

  3. I think I made the comment about the total red not going up, even with the loan from Mom. I’m not an attorney – I’m a bean counter for a small company. I’m fascinated by this young man’s debt journey because I know of other individuals in a similar predicament and I’d like to see his strategy for debt reduction in such a small time frame.

    That being said, my concern is that he is including monthly expenses in total debt. This is not a wise thing to do because monthly expenses are for the most part short term expenses (rent, internet, food, health insurance) and should not ever be included in debt service.

    He may get a more realistic view of his long term debt if he removes the short term expenses from his long term debt. Indeed, he’s paying a short term expense (rent) with long term debt (loan from Mom). This is never a good strategy from a financial perspective. (Any debt not payable within one year is considered long term debt).

    In sum, my concern is, as you stated above, that if he continues to mix short-term expenses and long- term debt, he will continue to grind his wheels without any traction.

    I find this blog to be fascinating, and I wish this young man all the success in the world.


    March 8, 2010 at 12:26

  4. Sorry all. It’s been rough coming back from this cold. Still not feeling the best, but push on we must, eh?

    Regarding the borrowed money from my mother, I haven’t included it in total red for a few reasons. First, I borrowed it to pay rent and since I do not include rent in my total debt, I figure money borrowed for rent also wouldn’t get calculated in amounts owed. Second, I need to pay this loan back fairly quickly because my mother’s monthly payments will increase and she’d have difficulty making them if I don’t. Third, I really need the encouragement that’s coming from seeing my debt go down. Adding $4,000 to it, even if only for a few weeks, and shooting it back up to $229K would not be good for morale right now. Besides, not every drop of debt has to be calculated into total red. I’m already being grossly over-inclusive, especially where my mother is concerned and the $42K I owe her.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 9, 2010 at 22:48

  5. You are not being realistic about your debt. You borrowed money from your mother. Borrowed funds are debt. Period. It doesn’t matter if you used the funds to purchase Girl Scout Cookies. Debt is debt regardless of the source or use of the funds. The fact that rent is not included in debt does not mean you should not include the source of the payment (the loan) in debt.

    I know you need encouragement, but you also need a reality check. You are really not getting a realistic picture of your expenses and your debts. If you borrow money from your mother, and she expressly or implicitly stated that it is not a gift, then you have incurred debt. Pure and simple.

    I wish you all the best, but you do need to get a clearer idea of what you owe and to whom. You need to do this for your own financial health.


    March 9, 2010 at 23:11

  6. No, it wasn’t a gift; it was a loan. So I see your point but I also disagree somewhat.

    One reason that I forgot to mention as to why I haven’t added this “debt” in with the others is because I don’t want to include it in with my other debts. Keeping it separate in my mind means it will be paid first. It must be paid back quickly and so I guess I’m looking at it as a sort of unadjusted difference, so to speak. Plus not every cent of every debt needs to be accounted for in one’s total debt load. If I borrow $10 until payday from a friend I’m not going rush to update my debt software to reflect that $10 debt. At some point we can get a little too OCD about counting the beans, no? My memory is still intact; it’s not as if I’ve forgotten about the money I owe my mother just because it’s not reflected in my daily debt numbers. But if it does takes more than a few weeks to return this money to her, then yes, I’ll add it into total red.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 10, 2010 at 00:23

  7. Fair enough, but $4,000 is a large enough difference from $10 that it likely won’t get paid back as fast or in one simple exchange (i.e. taking out your wallet and saying, “Oh, here’s that 10 I owed you…”

    Being that you updated the total numbers and added the $4,000 to the black, I don’t think it would have been too terribly difficult to add it to the red also. Otherwise, you maybe should have just left it off of both.

    However, as Donnelly stated, that’s not being very realistic. The simple fact is that no matter what the specific expense is, if you need to borrow to pay it then it is debt. It is no different than tapping a Home Equity Line of Credit for your $10,000 entry fee into the World Series of Poker…money that you spent that you did not have and had to borrow….same as what you did for your student loans.

    But…it’s your site and your numbers, so you can do it however you want!

    Take care,



    March 10, 2010 at 08:07

  8. $10 is totally different from $4,000. And if that $4,000 is going to make things difficult for your mom, she never should have loaned it to you. No way you pay that back quickly.


    March 10, 2010 at 08:20

  9. You really need to get control of your accounting. You and your blog will lose credibility if you do not. At present you are losing your ass. Get your head out of it amd get serious.

    Dump the motivational self-help books. They are selling you a fictional dream. Before you ever buy such a book do some real research on the author.


    March 11, 2010 at 00:30

  10. You need to explain this comment because it’s illogical. Total debt is down to the lowest yet. How much more “serious” should I get. Three jobs? Four? Should I just live at work? It’s nearly 1am and I’m still at work. I work my ass off to get my finances under control. And don’t give me line about how I need to leave New York already. A few weeks ago I came across an ad on Craigslist for a $75.00 / hours contract attorney position, posted on the Scranton, Pennsylvania website. I could “telecommute” as they call it. I never heard back. Right now, New York is the only option now for any viable source of income.

    So yeah . . . explain yourself instead of just pissing on someone else’s minor triumphs.

    I find it so interesting that the vipers resurface once I note a bit of success.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 11, 2010 at 00:55

  11. Total debt is only lower because you’re lying to yourself (and everyone else) about the most recent $4,000 you borrowed.


    March 11, 2010 at 08:58

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