Category Archives: Finance

Student Loan Debt Horror

I’ve been seeing lots of major newspaper articles on this subject recently.

The most recent one entitled “This Life: An existence she loves, under a growing cloud of student debt” ran in the Washington Post this week.

It’s a cautionary story about this librarian in Ohio who owes over $60,000 in student loan debt.  Realistically, she’ll never be able to pay it off from her income alone.  Her monthly payments only pay off the interest accruing.  She says her loan debts scare off potential boyfriends, and justifiably so – debts of that magnitude are a future killer.

I personally know two people in their early 40s who have student loan debts in the six figures: one owes $100,000 and the other $250,000 dollars.   They both make average incomes and can still barely even keep up with the interest payments.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them, but they will never be able to pay off such massive sums from income alone.  It’s nearly impossible.

American Health Care System is a Rip-Off

The NY Times published a detailed article showing that the key reason for our current health care cost epidemic is not because people are getting sicker and using more medical services, rather it’s simply the costs that keep going up —

“A single-payer system could also regulate prices. If attempted nationally, or even in a state, either of these would be met with resistance from all those who directly benefit from high prices, including physicians, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies — and pretty much every other provider of health care in the United States.”

Elder Financial Abuse & Wealthy Boomers

I recently came across a book on Amazon entitled The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse by California lawyer, Michael Hackard.  It’s just unfortunate anyone even needs to write a book on this stuff, but it’s happening more frequently. 

We live in a ruthless “dog eat dog” society with questionable morality.  Many parts of our society are corrupt in one way or another and elder financial abuse is a symptom of that overall decay.

I had to deal with it when my beloved aunt (a wealthy boomer) reached the end back in 2011. Some scoundrel like relatives (the ‘wolves’) didn’t like her final wishes and foisted themselves at her bedside (she was blind & had dementia) and used ‘influence’ to get her to sign a ‘revised’ amendment to her trust and will papers, which enriched some in the family and cheated others. A “new” lawyer, solicited by the wolves, was glad to help with it, too.

While this sounds heinous, the current legal system essentially legalizes elder financial abuse by making it so expensive to contest in court.  Hundreds of thousands in legal fees just to start a lawsuit.

Elder financial abuse is looked upon as a “business” opportunity for the lawyers involved, either in defending or prosecuting it.  Even if you win, there is no real set punitive penalty against the bad actors.  And the best witness to testify – the victim – is dead.  So good luck!

If you don’t have the money to file suit (and which would likely take years), the ‘wolves’ get away with it.  I guess that’s why so many people are doing it – family members, caregivers, nurses, lawyers, etc.

Our society doesn’t seem to respect the elderly much.   It’s sad.  Elder financial abuse is only going to become more frequent in years to come. 

And, be forewarned, it’s usually the ordinary church going types – the ones you least expect  – that commit these greedy acts.   They will sit there and look at you and proclaim their devout holiness, as they reach around behind your back, hold up grandmas hand and ‘help’ her sign her revised will.

Read this recent article from MarketWatch about one person’s account of elder financial abuse and how they were cheated.  It happens every day.

Why I left Los Angeles …

LA Weekly recently published an article saying one needs to make $109,000 dollars per year to be able to reasonably afford a two-bedroom apartment, which now costs, on average $2,556 per month, not including utilities.  To earn $109,000 per year, one would need to be in the top 10% of all earners in the United States. 

Back in 1995 to about when I left in 2003, a typical two-bedroom apartment was about $1,250 and that was on the low end .  In 2000, my old bungalow style two bedroom apartment off of Melrose Avenue was about $1,000 per month because I got grandfathered into the low rate.