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$110 for Desert boots?

Wait... Desert Boots? Don't they know the nuns won't let us wear those to school?

I didn't even search for those. I got the ad while surfing. This means that somewhere I indicated that I was fucking old as dirt and somehow nostalgic for the late seventies or early eighties. I'm not, although it seems much of the government is, as is the Fed and the housing market... but I digress... no, I really don't digress. I was going to buy the Beast a pair of Docksiders for school, because he doesn't want to wear sneakers all the time. $120. For size 7 Docksiders. What the hell. Even at the outlets the damn things are $80! My damn Sperry boatshoes, the Mr. Rogers kind) are out of stock and over $70! Food is insane. We still have $4 gas. But mileage is still $0.55, same as it was when gas was $2.50. Interest rates are historically low, but I can't refinance my house because I'm not in danger of default (I'm not kidding. If I stopped paying my bills I could refinance), not to mention the house is only worth about $200 and change now.

When Skippy was born, maddmom and I decided to do the Dave Ramsey plan. Buy only what you can afford, with cash. If you want something, save up for it. Pay off your debt. Don't use credit cards. Look for deals, plan for retirement. So we did. Guess what?

That backfired.

I should have borrowed every cent I could. Then paid off my credit cards, car loans, vacations, giant TV's, plastic surgery, etc... with a fixed rate home equity loan then defaulted. Maybe I should have gone to one of those "credit counseling services". I should have bought the $400,000 house instead of the $100,000 house. I should have spent $200,000 on home improvements instead of $50,000. I should have been as irresponsible as possible, everyone else was. Hell, I'm paying for it anyway.

I've just about had it.

When I first started working, a friend of mine was looking into starting his own business as a "credit counselor". A nicer version of a collections agent, he figured he would work on a flat rate or percentage, or both. His big idea was student loans.

Back in the day, and I have no idea if this is still true, if a schools student loan default rate went over a certain percent, they lost the ability to provide Pell Grants. Now, a Pell Grant wasn't a lot of money per student, but it went directly into the school's pockets. That was the reason EVERYONE had to fill out a FAFSA, even if they were paying cash. F'rinstance, I knew a handyman making $12k a year working for *insert large hotel chain here* who went to school for free thanks to his company's tuition benefit. Paid in full every semester. Still got $450 in Pell Grant money. That check got signed over at registration or he didn't get in. I don't think he even knew what it was. It was just, "Sign here. Here's your schedule." School administrators counted on that money, and if it was reduced, there would be no Christmas party that year for the staff.

My friend and I worked together in the financial aid office of a well known for profit school that had a pretty high default rate. We spent about a year digging around and trying different things to keep the default rate low. He was the talker, I was the muscle. I built a skip trace database and tracked students who reported no income on their FAFSA and 1040. He called relatives and roommates, employers and old teachers, not as a collection agent, but as a "counselor". He didn't collect money himself, he talked the student into getting in touch with the bank and helped negotiate payment. We had the idea that we could free-lance, get a flat fee from the school per student and maybe a percentage from the guarantors. We never got too far with this. He got promoted and I moved away, direct lending would have killed the percentage anyway, I think. Anyway, I think this is how those counseling rackets work nowadays and I'm sorry I didn't get the jump on them when people actually cared about their credit.

Obviously no one does now if a company can make money selling $100 desert boots. Seriously, I wish I had paid attention when they liquidated all those Army-Navy stores in the 90's.

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Blogger Adam said...


9:58 AM


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