Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I found it funny that a marketing organization has taken the phrase and used it to apply to the email/Internet marketing industry. It's a fabulous way to capitalize on the current economy. Dave has been using that phrase for a while now. I wonder how many other companies have caught on?
Monday, March 30, 2009
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Will and I made our first purchases for our new home over the weekend. They're mostly maintenance items, but still...
Anyway, we bought some new locks for our home at Home Depot this past weekend. They had some with both the deadbolt and the knob included. We found a set we liked and then discovered that they didn't have a second set for the other door. So...we picked up a knob and a deadbolt sold separately that were in the same style as the set we picked up. Long story short, we got to the register and asked the cashier if she could price match the set with the two being sold separately. It was a savings of about $6. She agreed and sold the two for the same price as the set.
The moral of this story is that you shouldn't be afraid to ask for what you want. The worst they can say is no, right? And we saved $6 just by asking for it. Next time, it could be $100.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Image by Paul Chenoweth via Flickr
So...we've come to an end with this house buying fiasco I found myself mired in back in February. At 11:30 A.M. this morning, we signed the final documents to take possession of our new home here in Nashville, Tennessee. I think it's fitting that we closed exactly four years to the day after we got married. Financially speaking, it shows just how far we've come as a couple. We are officially homeowners!
Now, I'll move on to some truths and consequences. While I slammed Select Portfolio Servicing in this post, Michelle Simon--an ombudsman for SPS--really stepped up to the plate and made a solid effort to resolve this issue to the best of her ability. She has my gratitude for making this whole mess go away. Another person at SPS who has my thanks is Patrick Pittman, director of the REO division. He contacted me personally to apologize for our predicament and make sure that Will and I were being taken care of to our satisfaction. If it weren't for these two people, we almost assuredly would still be waiting on Countrywide in California to get the quitclaim deed signed and returned to the title company so that we could close. However, because of their persistence, we were taken care of very, very quickly. A week after that post hit the Internet, I have house keys in hand. A big kudos goes to Ms. Simon and Mr. Pittman. They were apologetic and professional despite my initial displeasure with their company.
I've most likely angered people across the country--from California to Utah to Tennessee--and I truly am sorry for that. I'm also more than a little embarrassed because that kind of "temper tantrum" is out of character for me. I don't understand why I had to have that temper tantrum in order for someone to pay attention to our problem. What I won't apologize for are the results that the open letter I wrote brought us. We were in a time crunch and incredibly stressed out from this entire ordeal. I made a little noise, got some attention, and now I think Will and I can walk away from this with smiles on our faces. I hope that everyone else can, too, because we really pushed hard for a resolution.
The biggest lesson I've taken away from our home-buying nightmare has been this: If you have a problem with a company, you should always try to resolve it with the company first. If that doesn't work, look for someone else. And when all else fails, there is a certain power to the Internet when it comes to consumer advocacy. But wield that power with care and above all, be professional. The people you come into contact with are just doing their jobs.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Today, Dave announced that he would host a Town Hall for Hope. I can't imagine a better person than Dave to host such an event.
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I'm hoping that I'll have two things to celebrate this Friday: 1) Our wedding anniversary and 2) closing on our house. One of these is a guarantee and the other, well, not so much since we're still working on that.
Will and I have been married for four years this Friday. That's hard to believe. It seems like yesterday that we were in Las Vegas saying our vows and looking forward to our future. And our future only continues to brighten as we get older and make different plans for our lives. I can still remember the day I met Will and the first conversation we had. My life would be entirely different without him, and every year that we celebrate, I thank God that he's in my life. He's been my rock during some unbelievably difficult times.
So...to celebrate, we have reservations at Miel, a Nashville French restaurant. I love French food, and it's become a bit of a tradition for us to eat it on special occasions. In Chicago, our favorite French place was Kiki's, and they had a bouillabaisse Marseillaise to die for.
Two years ago, we were in Europe to celebrate our anniversary. This year, we're at home, but for five years? You'd better believe we're going out of town!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Image by cuellar via Flickr
I don't like confrontation. It's really outside my comfort zone and outside of my personality. For some, it's a gift. They don't mind it and won't care if someone doesn't like them. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people.
For the duration of most of this house mess, I allowed Will to handle the majority of the business. I don't like to make business phone calls, don't like negotiation, and I want nothing to do with confronting someone about a problem I'm having with their company or services. However, during this process--particularly in the last week--I've been pulled into that realm. And I'm okay with that even though it isn't comfortable with me. I'm learning a little bit about myself as I go along. One thing I've learned is that while confrontation is never comfortable for either side, it is necessary sometimes. You don't have to be a jerk to address a problem. But you
Monday, March 23, 2009
I don't think anyone has any idea just how exhausting this whole process has been. If I had truly understood what buying a foreclosure or short sale entailed, we most likely never would have embarked upon this journey. But now it appears that we're nearing the end of it, so I suppose we'll stick it out at this point.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Thanks again, everyone, for your continued support.
Friday, March 20, 2009
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Sometimes, a little clarification is all one needs to get things moving in the right direction. I experienced this myself this week. But after a brief chat and an example or two, the "problem" was quite easy to rectify. Communication is key. But often, because we're afraid or intimated, we don't communicate well, and the problem never gets resolved.
Take a moment to understand the whole situation, and a new light may be shed.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Apparently, billions of dollars in taxpayer money wasn't enough. I've decided that you'd also like to keep the property that I'm trying to purchase from you as a hostage in a hostile takeover of my life.
As a subprime mortgage lender, you've made me realize just why homes are not selling these days. You don't return phone calls, you've taken weeks to place a signature on a quitclaim deed (that still hasn't been signed, by the way), and you don't seem to be able to pass on any information to the title company handling the transfer of this property to my husband and myself. You've earned a distinguished "F" with the Better Business Bureau. I commend you for that well-deserved grade. I suppose getting a property off your hands isn't nearly as important as lobbying Congress for more of my paycheck because you placed yourself in the position of handing out interest-only and rip-off loans to well-meaning folks who wanted nothing more than to own a home of their own only to find that those same folks would not be able to repay the money that you loaned them at unbelievably high interest rates. While you express surprise at this astounding revelation and your incompetent employees continue to figure out ways to fleece the consumer, I would love to relieve you the burden of this lovely home.
While you may find that other consumers are content to sit back and wait, I am not. Therefore, you will be hearing from myself or my husband every day until this matter is settled. I suggest you get busy.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
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There are people in this life who have seemingly endless amounts of patience. I am not one of them (but I wish I was).
It has been two and a half weeks since our closing date on our house, which we still have not closed on. I lost my patience two and a half weeks ago. At this point, I'm boiling. The sellers are not cooperating. Apparently, in the 10 years our closing coordinator has been working with clients, she has not run across a situation like this. No one knows anything. No one is taking responsibility for the situation on the seller's side. And to make matters worse, one of the owners is a subprime mortgage company. Fabulous.
Will and I ready to walk. I'm starting to think it's time to find another house because I simply do not feel like being strung along for weeks. I am not that attached to this particular house.
Will has more patience than myself, and he's been telling me to chill, that it will happen, that he has a good feeling that it's going to happen this week. That was last week. This week, he's ready to blow a gasket.
All of that said, this is a ridiculous situation. As Will said, "No wonder they aren't selling houses. No one has any competence to get it done."
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Today is St. Patrick's Day, and I've never seen the Chicago River dyed green.
For the two years I lived in Chicago, I was never able to make it. The first year, we were traveling in Europe. (I think it was okay to pass for that one.) The second year--last year--Will was working as usual. One of these days, I'm going to make it to see the river dyed green. Another place on my list to visit during the St. Patty's holiday is Savannah, Georgia. I've heard they celebrate it almost as well as they do in Chicago. Finally, I want to see a St. Patrick's Day celebration in Dublin--the country where it all began. But the Irish don't celebrate it the same way that we Americans do. Yes, they have the parades, festivals, and what have you. But to the Irish--and I'm descended from Irish heritage--it is a sacred religious holiday known as Lá ’le Pádraig. (That's Celtic, in case you were wondering.) It is such an important holiday that it's considered both a national and bank holiday. Pretty cool, huh?
Anyway, I think it would be a ton of fun to celebrate St. Paddy's Day in a traditional way. I haven't had a chance to do that just yet.
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Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Now, on to your regularly scheduled programming...
I'm starting to think I should steal Ben's blog title. Today's pet peeve: adults who haven't left high school.
I was never popular in high school. To tell you the truth, I never really wanted to be. Even today, I'd still rather stay home and read a book than go to a movie theater with the crowds. Then there are those who really only wanted to be popular but got over that obsession by college. College brought other priorities and responsibilities. And then there are those who didn't. This last group is the group I'm talking about. I have absolutely zero desire to go to my 10-year high school reunion. This is why. Nothing ever changed for these people. They didn't move on, instead choosing the continuation of cliques and popularity contests.
I thought that as an adult, those cliques would vanish. They haven't. In fact, some of them have gotten worse. Or maybe I'm the problem, putting off some kind of vibe that says, "Stay away." I hope not. Whatever the case, I've always preferred to have a few close friends rather than a plethora of shallow "friendships" that don't mean much. Part of that could also be my artistic tendencies. In high school, I was a theatre geek who turned into a writing geek. On top of that, I was a nerd.
Come to think of it, I really didn't stand a chance, did I?
Monday, March 16, 2009
Image by harold.lloyd (sneakering off) via Flickr
This morning, I had the distinct pleasure of listening to Rabbi Daniel Lapin speak at our company's weekly devotional. I actually could listen to the man speak all day because of his lovely South African accent (which if you've never heard it sounds much like the English aristocratic accent). His topic this morning was about the four pillars that everyone needs in their lives to be healthy on both a physical and spiritual level. And all of these needs are completely intertwined on a complex level. I could never do it justice by trying to explain it to you myself, so I won't attempt to. Rather, I'll direct you to Rabbi Lapin's website. It was a fascinating discussion, and I can see why Rabbi Lapin is so popular with people from all religions.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Image by john curley via Flickr
If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. — Stephen King
I'm an avid reader and have been since I was a small child. I've been a prolific writer since my high school days. The above quote by Stephen King is just about perfect when it comes to describing writers who say they don't have time to read.
I find that most of my writing is influenced in one way or another by other works. That doesn't mean I'm plagiarizing. It simply means that in one way or another, another author's work sparked an idea for my own work...and I rolled with it. Plagiarizing is stealing intellectual property. It is probably the worst offense one could commit against a fellow author.
If you're plagiarizing, stop it.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
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I'm feeling a bit cranky about the whole house buying process right now, so I've decided to focus on something happy: my fall vacation!
I think I've almost decided upon this fall's locale, and it's looking like it's probably going to be Ireland. I have a strange fascination with all things British (namely English), but since my family heritage has a strong Irish influence, that's a good choice for me as well. While England has the lovely accent, the Irish have heart and fields of green that seem to go on forever.
On my lunch break today, I was perusing some YouTube videos and trying to get some ideas about which sites I might like to visit. But you know what I enjoy more than hitting the tourist spots? Sitting in a pub enjoying a good local beer and chatting with the locals. Or driving through the countryside enjoying the scenery and exploring the tiny villages. Waking up in a locally-owned hotel and smelling a home cooked breakfast while we chatter about nonsense with other guests. The stories about the people I bring home with me. Those are the reasons I love to travel.
While we were traveling by train to Venice in 2007, Will and I had the pleasure of meeting a couple on their 40s from Australia. They were traveling by themselves, and their children were back in Australia. As we chatted with them and got to know them a bit, it turned out that they were on a six-week first-class vacation. The woman was ill, and she wasn't going to get better. She said it was probably the last time they'd be able to travel this way, and they were going to do it all out. They both said enough that made us think she was terminally ill. I'll never forget her or her husband, and I often wonder what happened to them. I truly hope she found her way to Heaven.
I collect these stories as my souvenirs. I carry them with me...these people who touch my life whom I will most likely never meet again. But they make me stop and think about my own life, my own experiences, and how I might want to change the direction I'm going to appreciate my life just a little bit more.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
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I am not generally a social person. For most of my life, I've been the wallflower. Part of that is a self-confidence issue, yes, but part of it is also that I'm comfortable being alone and would rather have a handful of close friends than many acquaintances. Will spends a great deal of time at work, and that's okay. I'm usually at home chilling with my dog, a good book, or my laptop while I work on my novel. When he comes home, we spend time together. But I can also be frequently found on some online forums...mostly at MyTotalMoneyMakeover.com.
My mom is 58. Being 58, she can't really understand why myself or my sister spend so much time on the Internet. (My brother is somewhat irrelevant to the conversation since he's eight years older.) We grew up with computers and really can't remember life before them. I was addicted to the MyTMMO forums before I began working at Lampo and knew them inside and out. I've made lots of friends there, and even now as a forum moderator, I'm often still treated as "one of the gang." Socially, I know participating online isn't the same as making friends in real life. But I do have friends in real life. I did meet a few of them online. But connecting with someone and having something in common is much easier to discover in that format for me than introducing myself to someone in person. Is it shy or ridiculous? Probably.
I sure do love the Internet, though.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
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So...we're officially more than a week past our closing date, and we still haven't closed. Why? Countrywide is apparently holding our title hostage. When the house was foreclosed on, the title wasn't changed over. Countrywide's name is still on the home's title, and the reason we haven't closed yet is because we're waiting on the title change. And according to our realtor's office, no one knows how long that's going to take.
By this point, I'm a more than a little PO'd. Our rate lock is only good until April 13th. We've already given our apartment our notice that we're leaving when our lease is up on April 30th. I'm going to be very angry if 1) we lose our interest rate because people were dragging their feet and 2) we have no place to live or have to sign another lease and/or pay extra to do a month-to-month lease. Money and time is being lost in this deal, and I'm nearly ready to walk away. Will isn't yet, so I guess I'll hang in there for a while longer. But...
I. Am. Not. Happy.
Friday, March 6, 2009
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It always pays to ask questions.
When I was interviewing for my job, I was invited to three separate meal - interview occasions. And once I was offered the job and accepted, I asked if I could meet with my new co-workers once more for additional questions. Again, it was a lunch meeting. I mentioned this to another co-worker the other day...that I ended up receiving four meals out of my entire interview process instead of the usual three. He asked me how, and I told him that it was because I needed to ask more questions. He seemed surprised.
The meals notwithstanding, it's always a good plan to ask questions and get as much information as possible. I had additional questions before starting my new position, and I wanted an opportunity to ask those. I wasn't afraid to ask for that. As a result, I ended up receiving an additional meal out of the deal that I didn't expect nor ask for.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
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Apparently, Twitter is the hot new thing on the Internet. It is what Facebook was before the older folks joined. I generally avoid fads like these for a while and eventually get sucked into the madness. Yesterday, as we were having a conversation about Twitter, I decided to sign up. You can't see anyone's "tweets" on Twitter unless you do sign up. So...to satisfy my morbid curiosity, I did.
This is what I've discovered: All kinds of people--including celebrities, politicians, musicians, and the like--are uploading tweets of the mundane details of their lives. I found myself doing the same thing at different points yesterday. Surprisingly enough, I already have three followers. Incredible. Me typing out things like "just got done with the elliptical" merits a following? Really? Why didn't I think of this strange phenomenon known as Twitter?
As a side note, it's interesting that Twitter is fast gaining in popularity but much like Facebook does not have a solid business plan to take advantage of it...yet.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Cover of Confessions of a Shopaholic
I've had the book Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella on my nightstand as a "to read" for months. To be clear, I had the book before I heard that it was being made into a movie. Generally speaking, I don't read much chick lit. But when I read the description on the back of the book in my local Barnes and Noble, I thought it might be a worthy read.
I finally picked it up to read it a couple of nights ago. Ms. Kinsella has exactly the kind of dry wit that I love, and I've found myself laughing out loud at the ironic bits of her novel. The heroine is Becky Bloomwood, an in-debt 25-year old financial journalist who really knows nothing about finance! (She writes most of her articles from the PR releases.) Living in the trendy Fulham section of London, Becky justifies every purchase as a necessity.
While I can't relate to most of the brands and restaurants mentioned thus far (because they're all in Great Britain), I can see the irony of the book and the humor that comes from that. And all of the money amounts are, of course, in British pounds. Ms. Kinsella herself was a financial journalist before leaving the industry to become a novelist. So she understands all too well how quickly one can justify a purchase if given the right motivation.
All of that said, Dave Ramsey would be pulling his hair out within ten minutes of starting this novel. Sometimes, it's a little hard to read poor Becky buying something when she knows she shouldn't but does it anyway. You just want to scream at her, "Cheetah!" I'm hoping Becky learns her lesson by the end of the book.
Monday, March 2, 2009
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I was reading Seth Godin's blog today, and he wrote an interesting post about the way companies often shoot themselves in the foot instead of seeing an opportunity. A good example of this is the way car manufacturers fought against fuel efficiency regulations or the way the RIAA sued music fans for downloading music through filesharing programs. Rather than recognizing an opportunity to perhaps revitalize or reshape their industries, they stuck to the status quo and chose to remain in "the old days," so to speak. As Godin wrote, "You don't have to like change to take advantage of it." Be proactive, and when you see a change coming, be the first to jump on the bandwagon rather than the last. He who resists the most will not be the one who attains the most gain.