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what-would-you-do

This week’s dilemma is as follows:

You’re happily married, with two kids, aged six and eight. Your husband goes to the doctor one day, because he’s been feeling off.
Eventually he is diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Your husband needs vital treatment, and you discover that your insurance isn’t enough to cover for the care he needs. Months go by, and the medical bills mount up.

Your husband dies, and you struggle to bury him, due to the cost. But bury him, you do.

Your work does not pay well enough to cover all of your bills and your normal home expenses. You start getting behind with your mortgage payments.

A year goes by, and you now owe $10,000 to the bank, and the other bills are piling up. The bank eventually give you a foreclosure date, unless the money is paid up.

You are scared, and desperate. You don’t even have enough money to scrape for the cheapest rental property. You know that your extended family cannot help you out, because they too are going through their own hardships.

Your only choice is perhaps asking some cyber-pals to help you out.

You don’t want to do it, because in truth, you hardly know some of these people, and you don’t want to take advantage, especially when others are in dire need due to the downturn in the economy.

What do you do? Do you swallow your pride, and ask them for help, or do you risk being made homeless?

What would you do?

23 Comments »


  • Emmy
    March 20
    11:37 am

    I’d have done the smart thing as soon as he was diagnosed: divorce him so the kids and I aren’t left with his crushing debt. Put all the assets in my name so the hospital can’t come after them. We’d live together and I’d take care of him and we’d be a couple for all intents and purposes, but you have GOT to have a little more sense than to leave yourself and your kids homeless paying inflated bills.

    Yeah, it amounts to insurance fraud, but so what?

    Also, and it’s a personal decision for every family…but you really need to weigh outcomes vs benefits for treatments. Chemo is expensive. It sounds like that brain tumor was likely terminal to begin with, so you need to consider quality of life. Do you take medication that will make you sick and miserable, but will extend your life by a few months, or do you enjoy what time you have left without losing all your hair and throwing up all over? The end result is the same: death. Do you take the red pill or the blue pill?

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  • Sparky
    March 20
    12:05 pm

    Declare bankruptcy, inform the local council that I am becoming homeless through circumstances beyond my control and that I have kiddies (priority list) and try to start again.

    Even if I asked for help from friends there’s a good chance that the house (and whatever other regular debts I’m accruing) are now beyond my means anyway and I’m likely just going to delay the inevitable. And tragedies like these are why we have a welfare state in the first place methinks

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  • Fae
    March 20
    12:10 pm

    No, I wouldn’t ask my cyber-pals for money. I’d have long since let the house go and moved somewhere I could afford. I wouldn’t have gotten into that situation in the first place. Yes, the husband is dead and it’s tragic and devestating, but as a parent you’d have to take care of your kids well-being first (said as a non-parent here).

    This part:

    Your work does not pay well enough to cover all of your bills and your normal home expenses. You start getting behind with your mortgage payments.

    A year goes by,

    No, a year would not have gone by. If I cannot pay my bills I would not sit there and let them pile up for a year. Who does that? Irresponsible people, that’s who. I live within my means. I do not have credit cards, I pay for things when I can afford them and if I can’t afford them, I don’t have them. If I can’t afford that house it would have long since been put up for sale or rented out and I’d be living somewhere I *could* afford and then I wouldn’t have to ask strangers on the internet for money, would I? 🙂

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  • Marianne McA
    March 20
    12:57 pm

    I agree with the others – asking other people for money isn’t going to solve the problem – might get me through a few months, but at the end of that time my salary still isn’t going to cover my outgoings.

    I think I might ask – real friends, not virtual ones – if my children were involved, and I’d exhausted other possibilities, and if having the money would enable me to solve the problem.
    And then I’d try and pay it back.

    However, in this case, I’d be more or less throwing the borrowed money away on servicing my debt and, as Sparky says, I’m going to have to declare myself bankrupt in the end anyway.

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  • senetra
    March 20
    1:09 pm

    Depending on where you live, divorce isn’t that quick or easy. Declare bankruptcy; most bankruptices are medically related anyway. Let the bank have the house and move somewhere cheaper. Since my husband is dead, I’m getting Social Security for the kids, so based on my earnings now, we would get $900/m per kid. I could get benefits, too, but I’m working full-time and not a SAHM.

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  • Went through something similar about 4 years ago when my Mom got sick and moved into a nursing home (and subsequently died). Went from 2 incomes to 1, had to suddenly pay child care for a pre-schooler, couldn’t afford my mortgage or my life in any way…

    We now live in an apartment and almost had the house foreclosed on, it sold just at the last minute. Didn’t make a lot of money on it but had money to move and buy a used car (cause the other car was repo’d). Went bankrupt and began all over, slowly building my life back up.

    We live simply and within our means. It was hell to go through but we came out of it. And if I lost my job tomorrow, I would go directly to Social Services and get every benefit I could as well as unemployment.

    I don’t scorn others who ask. But I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. I’d make sure my daughter was taken care of and I know there are state and federal funds to do so.

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  • I’m gay and don’t have kids but I had this happen.

    I used whatever I could to cover the mounting debts in his name. When he died I moved out of the condo also in his name and slept on someone’s couch till I got it back together.

    The point was not to try and save everything since the scenario in my case was a losing one. He was going to die and it was going to be expensive and the property was not mine to begin with. There was no way I was gonna save anything and thank god kids were not involved. All I could do was try and help him have as normal a life till it ended.

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  • Areader
    March 20
    2:13 pm

    Maybe its the way the scenario is written but I don’t agree that your only choice is to ask *cyber friends* for help. If I’m having money troubles the I would do is get rid of my non-essentials – Internet, Cable, Phone etc. Next I would start selling my stuff – yard sales, fleabay etc. Every little helps. Next that house would be going up for sale. There is no way I’m going to let a year go by when I’ve got kids being unable to pay my mortgage – that is irresponsible. I would also talk to my bank because it helps no one to avoid them and be constantly worrying about the next knock on the door. Finally I would ask my immediate friends and family for a small loan to pay a deposit on a new place. At least when I get back on my feet I’ll be able to pay them back.

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  • I don’t have a large enough circle of friends, cyber or otherwise, to make a dent in debts like that, so no, I wouldn’t ask. And if I did have a larger circle of friends, I’d be more likely to try some kind of fund-raiser if a one-time cash infusion would fix the problem instead of merely postpone it happening again.

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  • Sam
    March 20
    3:07 pm

    I haven’t faced this *yet*. My DH has survived 2 bouts of ewing sarcoma (bone cancer). He had very low white counts during chemo and had to get blood transfusions. Well, one was tainted with hep C and he has had to have a liver transplant (after about 8 or 9 years on the list).

    The day may truly come that I face this. But, we’ve been planning/saving/preparing ourselves financially as well as we possibly can. I can tell you now that my DH would not take the care if it meant beggaring us later, especially if he were going to die either way. He’d let nature run it’s course. Actually, after the last bout, when chemo was done he told me he’d never go through that again.

    My worst case scenario has me and the kids moving back in with my parents until I/we can get our lives turned around. The house would be gone. His hobby sold off and that money used as needed. Never have I thought I’d tap the cyber groups I go to for cash.

    Just because I can’t see myself doing it at this point doesn’t mean I can say ‘never’. If my kids were starving, I’d do most anything.

    SamG

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  • If I cannot change *how* I got to be in those circumstances, and I have already exhausted all other means and ways to keep my head above water, I would swallow my pride for my kids’ sake, yes.

    Not so much to hold on to the house as much as not to drag debt with me which would, sooner or later, hamper my ability to provide for the kidlets.

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  • farmwifetwo
    March 20
    5:15 pm

    Since I don’t live in the USA I wouldn’t have to pay for chemo and other treatments. OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) would pay for the whole thing. http://www.cbc.ca/cp/health/090319/x031908A.html If he died I’d get his portion of our life insurance and monthly Canada Pension Plan amounts. The children would receive $$ from his CPP as well that would be set aside for them. All of his stuff, would become my stuff and all the legalize was done a month after our eldest was born.

    There would be no going bankrupt.

    Personally, I would NEVER give money to strangers and find it ignorant to be asked. You should always look ahead to “what may happen” and even if it’s $25/wk when times are good… put money away… just incase.

    S.

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  • MB (Leah)
    March 20
    6:22 pm

    I’d never let a year go by without selling the house and downsizing straight away. I mean if I’m in debt and don’t make enough money to support myself and the kids as well as pay my mortgage at the moment of my husband’s death, that’s not going to change in a year.

    I’d also think outside the box and maybe see if I couldn’t do some shared housing with another single mom with kids to cut down on expenses. Or if I kept the house then maybe I’d rent a room out or something like that.

    But I’d certainly be figuring out the best way to cut my expenses in any way I could.

    There are so many options.

    I would seriously avoid at all costs actually asking cyber friends for money. And it’s not because I think there’s shame in it. In fact, I’ve helped out a cyber friend who got really ill and who I knew had no money to begin with because he already had serious medical issues. He didn’t ask though. I knew he needed help and I offered.

    I might blog about my problem, or share it and if some people offered without me asking then I would accept help.

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  • In Canada, if you declare bankruptcy, creditors can’t touch your residence or your car (not sure if that’s the case elsewhere). So that’s what I’d do. Sure, there’s a stigma attached to declaring, but for something like medical and funeral bills, I wouldn’t feel like a failure.

    Of course, in Canada, there would be no medical bills to deal with…

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  • Ignoring the other issues because they could be changed or modified and getting to the “would you ask for help if things were desperate” question — well, no. I grew up with a parent who kind of bounced from emergency to emergency and someone always bailed her out with no strings attached. I think it’s a knack you either have or don’t. I don’t. Everyone has different survival skills, I guess.

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  • Jen
    March 20
    7:23 pm

    I’d be more likely to solicit my friends for ideas rather than money. I’m one of those people who believes that there’s always another idea to try. And I’d make sure I tried ’em all.

    I’m also one of those people who believes one of the jobs of the government that takes my taxes should be in providing me, and the rest of my fellow citizens, with a social safety net, and considering the years I’ve paid into it, I would go through those official channels as much as possible. That’s what they’re there for. The internets is for pr0nz.

    If it turned out to not be enough, for whatever reason, I’d declare bankruptcy. Good friendships will get you through a patch of bad credit better than good credit will get you through a patch of bad friendships. I’ve lived poor before and I can do it again if I have to.

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  • sallahdog
    March 20
    9:10 pm

    I am not knocking those that do ask for help, and have given help in the past. It would not be my first move in this situation though… I would be more likely to ask my church for help, or real life friends… Although some of my cyber friends are also real life friends, so I might throw myself at their mercy…

    I own enough property now, free and clear that if I had to, I could sell off anything with a mortgage (even at a loss) that I could still have something to live in (it wouldn’t be the ritz, but it would be a roof over our heads)

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  • I think it was a Lisa Kleypas book I read that said this:
    Friends last longer the less you use them.

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  • Venus wins!

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  • Yes but if the situation is as stated–nevermind what you would have done different before getting there, assume you *are* there–would you rather keep your friendships or feed your kidlets?

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  • I have no words. I think I would do everything I possibly could before I turned to friends and family. I have been learning of late that family and money DO NOT mix. But then, everyone has to make that decision for themselves.

    Where I reside chemotherapy is paid for the Government and the Cancer Society provide a lot of support. And I don’t mean to pry, but did the family not have mortgage protection insurance?

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  • sallahdog
    March 21
    4:36 am

    but here is the thing, AL, is that cyber cries for help, just like asking for help from real life friends isn’t likely to get you far if your as deep in the hole as the situation stated…

    So are you fixing the problem, or just delaying the inevitable..

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  • Fae
    March 21
    12:40 pm

    But that’s the thing AL, some of us wouldn’t have gotten there. Getting there as stated would be impossible due to the way I live my life. So I can’t just accept “Suspend belief, pretend you got there exactly as stated” because I wouldn’t. Period. That’s like saying “Pretend you’re a fundementalist christian.” Would never happen and is so far out of the scope of my reality I cannot fathom it. Same thing here.

    I do not have the mentality and lifestyle to ever be in the situation stated.

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