By: Revanche

Will I EVER learn from my mistakes?

June 12, 2007

How many times do I have to make the same mistake before I actually learn from it? I do not trust my brother’s financial sense in the least. After all, he acts like he’s got none. I’ve been really good about not trusting him and he knows it, therefore he has to toe the line with me that he completely ignores in his dealings with our parents. At my parents’ behest, 23 months ago, I bought a truck for the family’s use with the understanding that he would pay the monthly bill and the insurance. It was his last chance to repair our financial relationship, after his years of financial transgressions that I’d bailed him out of.

So what did I do? After 20 months of agonizing over how long he’s going to stay on good behavior and pay his monthly bill to me for the car and insurance, after worrying that I’m going to be stiffed with the car bill because I just don’t know that he’s going to maintain a stable job, I went and made the same idiotic mistake of trusting him, with money.

I knew that he and my parents could not do business together, I knew that I would be forced into the position of peacemaker and dealbroker which I don’t have time for, and I knew that I’d be taking a huge risk of losing that money. Given those odds, didn’t that sound like my answer should have been “No no NO! Bloody no!”? Shouldn’t it have? Every instinct in my mind screamed no! But I didn’t listen. Because ….

1. He came to my parents proposing that they work together. He had been working on his own business for about a year with moderate success, and he thought this would be a good way for them to make some money without doing much work.

2. PaDucky came to me asking that I put up the stake because they couldn’t get it elsewhere and this was a chance at financial independence for everyone.

I desperately wanted my family to start functioning normally again, and I thought that my brother had been doing this on his own for about a year with moderate success already, so wasn’t this a history of having learnt his lesson and all? After some long thought, and with deep misgivings, I said yes. Conditionally, of course, that no single party would make any decisions on their own – all business decisions had to be made in group meetings. And he had a friend/partner who was supposed to keep tabs on the cash flow part of the business, and be his check & balance.

What an idiot I was. What an utter absolute idiot. As predicted, within weeks of their working together, everything fell apart and I’m left as go-between, as peacemaker, and one completely frustrated-to-smithereens loan originator, and kicking myself every single day for making such an idiotic decision. I can’t even express how deeply angry I am at everyone involved, either, because I have to focus on being the peacemaker go-between to make sure that I get as much of that money back as possible as my brother is still working on it, on his own. He’s made one of 7 scheduled payments, missed one, and I’m still trying to get a straight answer about the next one.

I’d used my BT money to make the loan, which gave me a year-long loan of interest free money. I had initially intended to put that money into a high interest savings account and earn my $50 interest a month. I should have done and found another way to support my family. Instead, I have to consider what to do at the end of 12 months when and if he doesn’t pay me back in full. Right now, I have enough in my savings to pay it off completely when the time comes, but that will utterly wipe me out. All that I’ve saved, everything I’ve worked so hard for, scrimped and saved for over the last 2.5 years, gone.

I’ve been trying to make my peace with that. After all, I was the idiot who ultimately decided to go out on this limb in the first place without really truly considering the dire circumstances. I couldn’t even say that even if I have no emergency money, I would at least be debt-free. Because I’d still have that car note. I have one investment that will pay out in a couple more years, but other than that, I’d be back to zero.

This lesson is particularly painful because, well, I was an idiot. I didn’t even really seriously think: Can I pay this off entirely, by myself, if he doesn’t pay up? Every single day, I ponder how much this, losing my life savings because I made a really stupid decision, is going to suck.

And I can’t even guarantee this’ll never happen again. Not even after I collect whatever I can collect. Just because I’ve learned from this lesson doesn’t mean that they won’t need me to help them again and I need to gauge what help I can give vs. what help I should give. I have to understand that my family is collectively financially unsavvy and peculiarly waterproofed against my attempts at helping them make better long-term decisions. So I have to be even more careful not to follow their well-intentioned paths to ruin, again. I can’t keep starting over because of them.

There. My blogging head has been in the sand for a while now because of this. I actually still don’t feel much better for having “said” it aloud. I hoped that I would, but I don’t. It’s like admitting out loud that you kick puppies, or something like that. I did a stupid thing and I’m paying for it.

I definitely need alternate streams of income.

And boy, do I ever hate that it’s so much quicker and easier to get into trouble than it is to get out of it!

5 Responses to “Will I EVER learn from my mistakes?”

  1. mapgirl says:

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. Family ties are the ones that bind the tightest or most painfully. Take your pick of negatives.

    You have time on your side. And you have greater knowledge for the next time. You’ll just say no.

    And if you find yourself waffling, email me with your phone number so I can virtually bop you on the head! *winky*

    Try to remember that you did a good and kind act out of love for your family, even if you’re feeling less loving now than before.

  2. MoneyDummy says:

    maybe he’ll pay it back after all? *Crossing fingers*

    Barring that, *hugs.* I’m sorry you’re in this situation!

  3. ~Mapgirl~ I know you’re right, it’s BECAUSE they’re family that it’s so much more difficult.

    But I will definitely take you up on that virtual bop when the next situation arises.

    ~Moneydummy~ It’s … possible. It’s not probable, but possible. I just won’t hold my breath for it.

    Thank you for the support, ladies.

  4. Yeah–if you don’t help out family, who DO you help out? It’s hard to say no to people you care for and want good things for.

    Just take it as a (huge, hard, PAINful) lesson learned–I know I’ve had to do this with my spendthrift little sister. Everything I give her (notice: GIVE), is a present, not a loan. I no longer expect any monetary payback from her, which works. It’s what I can afford, and no more, but enough to make her feel a little spoiled and appreciative since she can’t afford it herself, which is what I wanted out of the deal anyway.

    My family is also in dire straits financially. I give what I can afford for Christmas and birthdays and whatnot, but I’ve learned that I can’t help them until I’ve gotten myself set up and disaster-proofed first. Once I’m straight, any extra will go to them. In the meantime, I pass along any tips I figure out, like the magic of ING accounts or fatwallet and cashduck, and offer to help set up online banking and things like that. There are other ways to help…

    I really hope it ends up that the bro pays you back and you don’t have to start over.

  5. ~Sense~ I would NOT wish this situation on anyone, but it’s a little comforting to know I’m in good company who understands needing to disaster-proof oneself before helping too much more. Ugh, how uncomfortable this is, sitting on pins and needles for at least another two years!

    I’m sorry to say that I’ve gone well past the “gift only” stage with brother, but that’s because I’m still repairing the damage done from the “help, well meant” part. Perhaps things will get better. m

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