The ax just started to fall

The mood was tense and serious. A meeting was called at 10:00 this morning. Two of the directors entered the room. J particularly didn't begin with his usual jovial greeting whenever he was down there to meet with one of the supervisors. He didn't even crack a smile. He quickly got to the point. He laid out the gloomy economic picture of the company. Then the announcement came-- all the departments needed to make cuts. And so it was my colleague VR that was let go. Her last day will be Friday next week. A long silence followed. Everyone was looking down at their desks. There were no reassurances and all of us knew this was just the beginning.

Before leaving the building after my shift, I stopped by and handed some paperwork to someone at another department. As I was heading out, I bumped into Tim. He was back in school this semester studying illustration. I asked how his department was doing and he said they were lucky that a manager moved to a different job and that the position will not be filled. No cuts were made.

As we said goodbye, he said, "Hey-- I'll continue to draw while you continue to take pictures." He grinned and then walked away. Needless to say, he made my day.

The Persuasive Mortgage Broker

As the media bombards us with the grim news on the economy, I am reminded of a phone conversation I had with a very persuasive mortgage broker four years ago. The mortgage company was partnered with the home builder and the salesperson we dealt with suggested that we check with them first before seeking other companies for financing. After we exchanged pleasantries, I inquired about applying for a loan with a 30 year fixed rate and a 25% down payment. We had done our homework and we knew exactly how much we could afford.

"Why would you want to do that?" the gentleman smugly replied to my request. I wasn't pleased with his tone. He sounded as if I did not know what I was talking about.

"It works for our situation." I replied. He ignored my request and began launching into a passionate explanation on the advantages of creative financing. "You don't have to put that much money down. Why would you want to do that when you can use the rest of the money to buy furniture?" He pushed for adjustable rate mortgages and clearly emphasized that as home values rose that we could refinance our loan. He definitely painted a rosy picture.

I was not buying it. Our salaries would not rise dramatically in the next several years so we knew that locking in a decent rate made the most sense. And, it was very important for us to be able to sleep at night and not worry about losing our home if the market conditions changed. The risk was not worth taking. I repeated myself and my request for the fixed rate mortgage. Again, he pretended not to hear me and made another attempt to change my mind. Exasperated, I cut him in mid-sentence and thanked him for his time.

As I hear and read the stories of homeowners who are in the brink of foreclosure or those who struggle to pay their mortgages by getting a second job, I am so thankful that we stood our ground and refused to go with the trend. Upon a friend's recommendation, we ended up with a mortgage broker who understood our concerns and processed the loan we wanted. Sometimes, it really pays to be prudent.