Hack the Banks – Chapter 8: The Definition of Insanity

Photo Credit: Alison Cassidy

The greatest danger to a person who has been down to the very bottom financially is that once things are starting to improve the same patterns of behavior that get them in trouble once will take them back there again. I thought it might be worth spending a few minutes thinking about that as this book wraps up.

It’s not always possible to avoid debt. One emergency surgery can devastate an uninsured person. Being laid off from work can happen to just about anybody in this economy. Nothing is absolutely guaranteed.

There is one thing we can all control, however, and that’s how we deal with our individual wants. There are really only two helpful ways to deal with things we want and don’t have: one is to work harder, the other is to want less. Whichever you choose, stay well clear of believing that easily available credit is anything but a trap.

I learned a lot of things while getting off the debt treadmill:

I learned that paying $800 a year in overdraft charges is insanity and I got a new bank account that wouldn’t allow overdrafts.

I learned that actually reading the books I had before I allow myself to get new ones makes me read more.

I learned that, if possible, it’s better to negotiate directly with a hospital than put charges on high interest credit cards.

I learned that my kids love games I invent on the playground with them just as much as they love new toys.

I learned who my true friends were (because they were still my friends even though they had to pay for lunch whenever we went out).

I learned that there is a way out, a way up, and a way ahead.

That’s my story.

If you’ve found a way to opt out of the endless cycle of interest and debt feel free to drop me a line and let me know your story too. I would love to hear it.

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I've written a few blogs here and there full of the things I thought people might want to read. This blog is the one I'm writing for me.

3 thoughts on “Hack the Banks – Chapter 8: The Definition of Insanity”

  1. Arrived by way of your last post on SFL. I was so dismayed to read that the blog is going dark, but this morning I’m thrilled for you given the reasons that are bringing you to this point. I remember similar moments in my recovery from high-demand religion–from an obsessive what-the-hell-was-that? to finally feeling an eagerness to think about life and an identity beyond that sub-culture. But I’m subscribing here because I’m banking on it that your sense of humor and writing style that make SFL so great will be just as awesome in this venue.

  2. Not sure if you heard last week’s This American Life, but they had a fascinating segment on wage garnishment that said lenders are suing & winning wage garnishment for defaults at a much higher rate than they used to, and turns out it’s especially high in African American communities. They didn’t really get a good explanation of why. I think more systemic issues of African Americans living in the neighborhoods that their formula says is likely to pay out to sue, than targeting of African Americans.

    Either way, it might not be as simple/easy now to hack the banks/default & pay % of the debt as it was just a few years ago.

    I did like the series/posts though. I’ve been a newcomer to Credit Karma as of 18-24 months ago or so, and love it. Very helpful & informative. Things that I feel like parents should be teaching their kids as far as $ management are very simple to understand on their layout & info. Even if you have a terrible score & don’t want to know you should check Credit Karma regularly just for education purposes. It helped me go from 0 credit history to being a good credit risk in less than 2 years, after having gotten myself into financial mess and living just cash for everything for like 5-7 years that was pretty much wasted and could’ve been repairing my credit instead of a black hole.

    1. If a creditor does sue you and win a judgment, you always have the option to file for bankruptcy to stop wage garnishments.


      The method that I used is in a sense a DIY bankruptcy that has none of the legal protections built in. It’s also cheaper and will allow for a faster recovery — but there are inherent risks as you point out.

      In the end every person has to get professional advice, look at the risks and do whatever makes the most sense for them.

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