The Big One

What pushes your buttons?  What makes you take action?  What gets you thinking ahead – preparing for a possibility.  For some, it’s a simple worry like – my little boy has a new skateboard.  I better buy some extra bandaids.  Hope he doesn’t break a bone.  Will our insurance cover it?  For some, this is about as far as they can stretch the possibilities of imagination.  For others, like Jules Verne, imagination seems to break the barriers of time and space.  As it turns out, it seems that whatever you can imagine, can come true.  For others, a stretch of the imagination is as natural as a stretch of the muscles before exercise.  I am one of these.  I believe that anything can happen.  Not necessarily when somebody says it will, but eventually.  The fact of the matter is, we never know.  People have been preparing for the unknown since the beginning of mankind.  What if it rains?  We’ll find a cave or shelter.  What if the winter is long and cold?  We’ll store some extra wood.  What if?

Current economic numbers show that unemployment now stands at a whopping 9.2%  How long will the government extend benefits?  When will jobs be returning to our cities?   And, whatever the cause, the climate is changing.  As of July 1, 2011, The National Climatic Data Center, released the new normals for U.S. temperatures and precipitation.  Until now, they have remained the same since the 1930’s.  Are you ready for chronic extreme weather?  Although, the USGS maintains that earthquakes are not more frequent or larger than usual, there is more potential for damage and disaster due to more and larger population centers in earthquake prone areas such as, Japan, Haiti, Christchurch, Indonesia and Chili. Imagine, if you will what would happen to the American machine if one of these mega-quakes hit California or the New Madrid area which may have the potential of dividing the U.S. and literally stopping the flow of supplies to the city in which you reside.  Like Katrina, the Gulf Oil Spill, and more recently the tornado in Joplin, MO, any large disaster affects everyone even if it only means a rise in fuel prices in your area.

Tornado damage in Joplin, MO
What constitutes THE BIG ONE for you?  Whether it’s the possibility of a skinned knee, unemployment and foreclosure, a natural disaster wiping out your farm, a nuclear WWIII, or Planet X pulling earth out of orbit or causing a major pole shift and killing off 2/3 of the Earth’s population, what will get you to think ahead and make the appropriate plans and preparations for you, your family, friends or neighbors?
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Falling down – not recommended!

There is no age limit for adversity.  We all experience it in life, some more than others. One out of 600 homes nationwide is currently in foreclosure.  Two years ago, I never imagined I would become a part of this statistic.  I never missed a mortgage payment, was never late, bills were paid on time, credit was in great shape.  Then illness struck.  Everyone in foreclosure has a story, whether it was a bad adjustable rate mortgage, sudden unemployment, MERS, illness, bankruptcy or other unexpected fall from financial grace.

I think my situation is a lot like falling down.  When I was young I fell down on purpose thinking it was funny to entertain my friends with clownish antics.  It didnt hurt… much… not more than a bandaid.  Have you fallen lately?  I don’t recommend it.  Now, it hurts.  The older you get, the harder the fall, there is much more at stake.

Being the stubborn type, I took the proactive approach which may soften the blow.  When I realized I was not going to be able to return to work after a 12 week leave, I began weaving a safety net.  After some extensive research on disability, I started the paperwork with SSDI.  One of the best resources I found was The Disability Digest at http://www.thedisabilitydigest.com.  It turned out to be my ace in the hole, so to speak.  An invaluable support system.  I also hired a disability attorney which speeded up the process.  In my opinion, it was well worth the money.  I was careful to bypass legal counsel on several other occasions including pro se divorce and bankruptcy to have my massive medical bills dismissed.  That worked out fine, but in this instance, time was not on my side.  It often can take years to be approved for disability.  I filed in January 2010 and was approved in October 2010.  Employment checks ended in March and my State Employee’s Disibility began in July, but that only provided about 1/3 of what I was getting from my regular monthly paycheck.

As soon as the disability procedure was in play, I took all the steps I could to avoid foreclosure, including applying to refinance my mortgage.  Because the value of my home had declined and there was only five years of equity, the reduction would not have been enough to make a big enough change in my monthly payments.  I called several other mortgage assistance agencies, but did not qualify for assistance.  Of course, I kept in touch with the mortgage company and asked them to temporarily reduce my payments.  They not only wouldn’t cooperate (like absolutely EVERYone of my other creditors, but when I sent a partial payment (my last payment to them) in July, they not only did not return it, but also did not apply it to the principal or interest.  They just kept it and sent a statement with the full monthly payment owing and past due.  I was livid!  This meant war. 

Are you sitting on the edge of your seat yet?  BTW, if this blog is the book I’m supposed to write, and each chapter is a year of my life, then this segment of my life is Chapter 61.  No fair peeking at the end of the story!