To Owe or be Owed; that is the Question

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2012 at 1:01 am

The other day I was talking to one of my clients who was way behind on her bills, and she told me how she was getting collection calls left and right. It was so bad, she had to unplug her home telephone, and she had keep her cell phone on silent because it wouldn’t stop ringing. She actually had to keep the cell phone plugged in all the time, because, so help me God, the battery kept dying because it was always getting calls from debt collectors.
Man I felt bad for her. It reminded me of something I was told when I was young, before I ever became a financial counselor. I knew a guy named Kenny who owned a bar I liked to hang out at. One day I was in his bar, and some ad sales rep came in to sell him some ads. I watched Kenny tell the guy that he was going to pay him for three months worth of advertisements in advance even though the sales guy offered to bill him monthly. When the guy left, I asked Kenny why he’d want to pay more than was required.
I’ll never forget what he said to me in that rough, gravelly voice of his: “I don’t like to owe people money. I’d rather have somebody owe me, instead of me owe them.” I didn’t really get it at the time, but seeing what my clients go through, I get it now.
In his younger days, Kenny was a member of a biker gang, and one his club’s activities was loaning out money at high interest rates to people who couldn’t go to a bank. The technical term for this is loansharking. And when you don’t pay your loanshark, your phone doesn’t ring off the hook; instead your thumbs get broke.
And while it’s no fun to walk around in a cast, it’s a pretty big pain too to always have your cell battery constantly die on you. My point is this: it doesn’t matter who you borrow money from, if you can’t pay what you owe when it’s due, your life is going to have stress in it. Like Kenny said, it’s better to have people owe you, instead of owing other people.


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