3 AUG 2011 — Three and a half years ago, I asked for a divorce. I knew it was going to be a very difficult financial transition; I just had no idea how difficult. Within three months of my ex moving out, I had left my position as an executive recruiter, gas prices were over $5 a gallon and I was in deep doo-doo. Serious doo-doo. I had been writing and working seriously in social media. I decided to start my own consultancy and make a go at being self-employed. I had a few jobs here and there but nothing substantial or long-lasting. My house payment was $3,100 a month.
Working with Countrywide
I worked with my mortgage holder, Countrywide, to try and come to an understanding of some kind. I knew I was not the only one in this situation, the bottom was dropping out all over the globe. Within three months, four houses on my street were in foreclosure. I didn’t know what I was going to do. Several family members offered us a place to stay but I just didn’t want to give up, so I kept at it. I kept consulting, I kept writing, and I kept talking to Countrywide, which soon became Bank of America. Problem: every time I talked to someone it was someone different and they had no record of my previous conversations with bank employees. They even set up a special branch close to my home specifically for homeowners in trouble. You had to make an appointment and there were never the same employees there – they apparently had a revolving backdoor, too. It was like starting the process all over again, every time I walked through the door.
Making Enough to Cover the Mortgage
That first year, I managed to gross $22,000. The second, just over $6000. That’s right $6000. But, soon, my consulting client base was growing- I was starting to get back on track, my writing was being noticed, and as a result, I was offered a job with a recruitment vendor. When I negotiated a hardship refinance, Bank of America came back to me with an offer making my monthly payment $3200, this would include all my back payments. My new job was 1.5 hours away and the bank refused to consider my commuting costs as part of my monthly bills. In order for me to stay in my home, the one I had clung to for so many years, I would just need to come up with about $4000 a month, in car and home.
I made an appointment and went in to the “specially set up B of A branch near my home.” I sat across the desk from a nameless 20-something and with tears in my eyes, and after reviewing every shred of evidence and paperwork asked him sincerely what I should do… He leaned forward and told me, “Find a new place to live.” I was devastated. I sat in my car in that parking lot for an hour, too weak to turn the key in the ignition. I was a statistic, a cruel statistic of a greedy lending system, of divorce, of single parenthood, of a wretched economy – and I didn’t want to be. I wanted to do my part, I wanted to pay my way…
Starting Over & Surviving
But destiny in the form of a new job – a new life was gently taking my hand and leading me down a new street and my bank was giving me a shove. A wonderful place came up for rent just fifteen minutes from my work, taking fourteen hours off my weekly commute. That was one year ago – last month, finally, I received notice that B of A had foreclosed on my home, the home they told me to leave. And last week, “because the company charged me excessive fees and unlawful practices occurred in the servicing of my loan,” the Federal Trade Commission sent me a settlement check for $177.
I am human and fallible, like hundreds of thousands of others.
Perseverance. Tenacity. Persistence. Determination.
Survival. It wasn’t a choice.