By Alan Sorensen
My parents always said that their financial situation was
nobody else's business. That's why we never applied for any
college scholarships or loans when I came out of high
school. I paid my fees and books and my parents gave me a
place to stay and food to eat the first couple of years. (I
came out way ahead on that deal.)
Now I find myself on the brink of divulging my own
financial woes to the entire community (at least those who
have nothing better to do than read this column).
Just as other people have done for centuries, I have
financed cars, a home, appliances and furnishings. While
other people have refinanced some of their purchases,
usually their homes, I was forced a couple of weeks ago to
refinance my life.
I would have refinanced my home, but I didn't have enough
equity in it. Actually, I didn't have enough equity in my
retirement plan (they won't take that as collateral, anyway)
or my life insurance policy. I guess you could say I'm just
loaded with inequities.
What I do possess, however, is earning potential. It
doesn't work for banks, unless you're one of those who won
the lottery or are Steven Spielberg, so I went to a credit
counselor almost three weeks ago. (Note, I've never been
delinquent on any of my accounts and I paid them all more
than the minimum amount each month, sometimes by writing
credit card checks to my bank to cover the checks that I
wrote to the credit card companies. Robbing Peter to pay
My counselor is just like the credit counselors the ads and
government suggest we go to. She went over every monthly
expense I have and settled on a payment plan that will take
down all of my credit card debt in a little more than four
After looking at the money I'll actually be able to keep
out of each pay check for the next four or five years, I
decided I should probably cancel my TV and phone and spend
more time in the library.
I feel happier being able to take my credit card bills
(they're the culprits I used to raise the kids) and give
them to someone else to pay. I do have to sign over about 85
percent of my monthly check to do it, but that's OK.
Besides feeling satisfied that I'm taking control of my
life (with my counselor's help), I'm feeling healthier.
Walking up the stairs to see the counselor has increased my
wind and chopping logs to heat my house has helped my
After four years on a $2-a-day food allowance, I should be
able to eat hamburgers and pizzas again. I'll keep you
posted on how the belt-tightening is going.
Right now, I'm doing a lot of reading and taking care of
chores around the house. I used to feel like a muggle at a
quidditch match when it came to yard and house work, but now
I'm starting to feel like Harry Potter astride his golden
It's been two weeks of beating a path to the Havre-Hill
County Library to get my doses of Hillerman, Grafton, Mrs.
Pollifax and Rowling.
Speaking of the library (some segue, eh?), I hope to
approach Bonnie Williamson about using the library meeting
room for a merchant genealogy meeting. I figure that since
the library has a collection of Polk Directories, it would
be a good place for everyone to meet and write down the
stores they remember and where they were located. We could
use the Polks for reference.
Here's an "oops" for you.
I covered the police beat for about 10 years, have been off
it for a year and am back on the circuit again. That's why
it's hard for me to understand how I could have made such a
rookie mistake last week.
Not only did I refer to the Hill County Sheriff's Office as
a department in a Wednesday story, I also announced in two
bold headlines Thursday salutes to the Hill County Sheriff's
Department and Blaine County Sheriff's Department. They are