Sunday, June 29, 2014

The story of a co-worker

So in my journey to be debt free I have looked around me to try and learn lessons from others.  One person that I have learned a financial lesson from is a coworker of mine.  She is about three years older than me and has worked at the firm about 6 months longer than I.  She is the one that I have complained about in previous posts about not coming to work.  This is her story. 

Prior to coming to work at this law firm she worked as a legal secretary for another law firm.  She worked there for around 5 years and made around $50,000 a year.  She also received huge bonuses, one at least $15,000 due to a huge settlement in a case.  She squandered all of her money and bonuses. She spent the entire $15,000 on wedding preparations.  She bought a new SUV (with payments) while her husband still owed money on his truck.   She bought just about every  $50 wii game that you can think of and then never played them.  She ran up huge balances on her credit cards and had little to no savings.  She bought a mobile home in a nearby city with a 40 mile commute to work everyday (80 miles roundtrip).  She didn't have enough money to close on the mobile home and had to take out another loan just to close.  She bought the biggest and best mobile home you can imagine.  She bought a house full of furniture to fill the mobile home.  Suddenly, her boss decided to shut down the firm and retire. She received no severance pay.  She was out of work for approximately 1 month and was desperate for money in just that short time frame.  She interviewed and got this position.  Our boss told her in time that he would get her back to what she was making at her old job.  She took about a $15,000 pay cut for this job and that was not enough to pay the bills. Debt collectors were calling her all day, everyday.  She took on a second job, but it required very early hours and she quit not long after.  She began harassing  the boss for a raise, reminding him that he promised her that he would raise her pay.  She got about 2 or 3 raises that first year.  She learned that he could be manipulated and soon continued to press for raises and received them.   Now 3 years later she is making more than she was at her old job and receiving gifts from the boss (lunches everyday, money for haircuts, phone cases, extra days off, foot tickets, jewelry, etc.).  She is back to her old habits, spending every dime that she receives.  She put new flooring in on the mobile home, built a front porch and put a deck on the back.  A few months ago she bought a brand new smart tv for $800.  Her family is from the midwest and so she buys plane tickets home to visit. She'd digging deeper and deeper into debt.  Once this gravy train ends she will be back in the same boat. She used to watch our bosses money so carefully and complain everytime he took a raise or gave himself a bonus, because she thought that money should go to her. 

From watching her story play out and I see how important it is to save money and pay off debt.  When things are good it's easy to get lax and spend money, but it's so important during those good times to save for the lean times.  A emergency fund is to important otherwise you fall deeper and deeper into debt when times get tough.  Bonuses are wonderful gifts from employers, but they should be used to do the greatest good. 

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