Sunday Times, Oct 30, 2005It makes Mr Wang a little sad to see how some people mess up their own lives. If you probe a little deeper, you can always see a little more and that makes you a little wiser. Yes, we all can learn something from the errors of other people's lives.
YOUR PERSONAL ADVISER
How long can I hold off credit-card debt repayments?
Q I AM a divorcee with a young child. About five years ago, I was burnt badly in share trading. It caused my marriage to break up.
I get maintenance of $1,300 from my ex- husband every month. I live in an HDB rental flat. I have credit-card debt of about $50,000 owing to a few banks, averaging $5,000 each. I have a job as a sales manager and drive a company car.
Though I make about $5,000 a month, I always delay the payments I owe the banks. I want to provide my child with a comfortable life and I need to dress myself up as I meet clients every day.
When the banks call me about the late payments, I always try to avoid their calls.
When a lawyer's firm sent me letters of seizure and sale, I paid the minimum to prevent that action from being taken against me. But since I did not service the debts regularly, the banks have started chasing me again.
Can I get my ex-husband to pay, since the debt was incurred during our marriage?
What can those banks do to me if I pay only when they start to take legal action?
How long can I avoid the banks? In my rental HDB flat, can I claim that my assets there belong to the flat owner?
Does the bank have the right to call my company to find out my income status?
This woman speculated in shares and lost a big bunch of money. The consequences were not merely financial. She lost a husband as well - "it caused my marriage to break up." That was five years ago. She now earns $5,000 a month and also gets $1,300 in maintenance from her ex-husband.
If you learn your lesson, then you move on. If you don't learn the lesson, it always comes back again to revisit. The form is different, but the substance is the same. This time, it's not shares - it's $50,000 worth of credit card debt, snowballing at some astronomical rate like 24% per annum.
When you examine this woman's underlying attitude, you can see why she's made such a mess of her life. She doesn't take any responsibility for her own actions. She doesn't sit down and say to herself, "Okay, I really screwed up - now how do I try to solve the problem?". All she wants is to either run away or make someone else suffer the consequences.
Look at this:
"Can I get my ex-husband to pay, since the debt was incurred during our marriage?"
[Mr Wang's translation: "I'm not responsible for my shopping on my credit cards. Surely the man who used to be my husband should pay for it?"]
"In my rental HDB flat, can I claim that my assets there belong to the flat owner?"
[Mr Wang 's translation: "When the banks come to take my computer and TV set and furniture away, can I tell some lies and say that they actually belong to someone else, so please leave them there?"]
"When the banks call me about the late payments, I always try to avoid their calls ... How long can I avoid the bank?"
[Mr Wang's translation: "Of course I don't intend to pay my debts on time. Quick tell me, how do I delay them?"]
And there's abundant self-deception as well. Look at this part:
"Though I make about $5,000 a month, I always delay the payments I owe the banks. I want to provide my child with a comfortable life and I need to dress myself up as I meet clients every day."
Don't kid yourself, woman. You're not the only person with young kids. They don't cost that much. As for your own pretty clothes, well, with $50,000 worth of credit card debt and a bunch of banks chasing after you, I suggest you place your priorities elsewhere.
When I read accounts like this, I start to get worried about the casinos coming to Singapore. There are so many Singaporeans whose worst enemies in money matters are themselves.
Mr Wang's Biscuits: Automatically pay your credit cards in full every month. Pick up the phone and call your bank for a GIRO application form right now!