My Grandmother is Immortal

My Grandmother may in fact be immortal. The woman is 92 years old and is in great mental shape. She lives in the same apartment in Brooklyn for the past 30 years. She also basically pays the same rent she has for the past 30 years. Her expenses never change much and her SSI payments and Medicaid basically take care of everything. She’s got nothing to worry about financially. Forever. Because she’s immortal and will live forever. Ate fatty foods her entire life and smoked. My mother says “It’s because in Russia, everything was fresh.” I have no idea what that means.

The rest of us, to the best of my knowledge, are not immortal, and therefore we have to do some prudent financial planning going forward. Our life expectancies are going up. Our money has to stretch farther than ever. Which means we have to save more for retirement. Which means we have to put more money away now towards retirement. Which means we need to free up more money to put away but not paying for unnecessary expenses. Which means I have absolutely no idea whatsoever why you are paying credit card minimums when you are so neck deep in debt that you will never, ever, ever, be able to get out of it by doing the things you’re doing now. Like that buildup? It was OK. No big deal.

Heres my point: You have to assess your financial situation immediately and take steps to rectify it and put you back on the path you need to get on. If you’ve got a ton of credit card debt that you know you wont be able to pay off, and your sacrificing putting money aside because of it, then maybe you should stop. Or at least talk to a Bankruptcy Lawyer. Almost every single one of my clients, before they came to my office, thought that their debt was manageable. But how can you manage interest accruing at 30%. The Mafia doesnt charge that (there, um, is no mafia).

I’m not telling you to simply stop paying your bills and put money aside. Specifically if you’re not in over your head. But I am telling you that if you realize you’re only making minimum payments, then you have to have a conversation about what to do going forward. You can’t simply say “I was doing OK because I was paying minimums”. It would be weird if I owned a car and could only afford to put one gallon in at a time. Maybe thats telling me something. Maybe I shouldn’t own a car. Maybe I should figure out why I keep driving my car when I can only put in one gallon at a time.

Realistically speaking, you know when you’re in over your head. There is no magic formula. You just know. You might want to trick yourself into thinking if you just wait another year you’ll get that promotion or someone will give you money or your grandma will die and leave you the money in her will, but that likely wont happen. More importantly, thats another year of bad credit. Another year where you haven’t contributed to your IRA, 401k, your kids college fund. For what? For the sake of saying you’re paying minimums on cards you wont be able to pay off? Or making interest only mortgage payments on a house you know you can’t afford.

Its time to have a conversation with yourself. My grandmother may be immortal, but we are not. We’re going to need money to live on.