September 22, 2019
Listen to Podcast Episode:
Don’t be a financial wimp! In this episode, Suze tells us about a heartbreaking exchange she had with Women & Money listener Brenda, who was in danger of losing her home after a bad break-up.
Hello there, Suze O. here and in today's podcast I want to talk to you about you, and a possible situation that one day you may find yourself in. And if you ever find yourself in this situation, I do not want you to be a financial wimp. I want you to know your rights so that you can live the life that you deserve to live. What am I talking about?So, I get an email from a woman by the name of Brenda, and the title of the email is, "Please help me, financial tailspin after 15 years of a relationship." And I look at it and then I go on because there's so many, and it's kind of long like, and I’m like oh, I'll get back to it, and then I forget to get back to it. And then a little bit later, I get it again and Brenda is saying, please, please help me, I don't want to make a mistake, please, I don't know who else to turn to. Brenda was in a relationship with another woman for 15 years, and they bought a house together about 13 years ago. Really, it was Brenda who figured out how to buy the house. It was Brenda who did all the work on it, truthfully. Brenda had a kid, they raised the kid like it was their own, and then about a month ago, Brenda's partner leaves, goes back somewhere and comes back and says, that's it, I'm moving out. I'm not going to be in this relationship anymore and goes, and demands that Brenda refinance the house right now. And Brenda is freaked out because Brenda owns this home in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, as many of you do with your spouse or partner. And now, her ex is demanding that she refinance the home. But the problem is, she can't refinance the home because she can't afford it on just her salary alone, number one. And number two because she was getting her partner out of financial trouble over all these years, Brenda ruined her own FICO score and she doesn't want to lose this home. She loves this home, she loves everything about it. This is her only security, but she's crying every day. She's crying on her way to work, she's crying herself to sleep, she's crying and she's saying, Suze, help me, I don't want to make any mistakes. I don't have any money, I only have some money in my 401k for my ex-employer. I have a pension but it's frozen. Please, she's demanding that I do this. So, should I cash out my 401k and just pay it off so I can keep it? What should I do?And then she tells me, and my ex's sister is a lawyer in Baltimore, and she says, if I don't sell this home, if I don't refinance it right now, she's going to force me into selling it, and I'm going to lose everything. And this woman, Brenda, is so beside herself because not only is her heartbreaking but financially, she is about to lose everything because her ex is demanding what she wants her to do. And Brenda doesn't have the strength or the knowledge to know what her rights are.Now, I am telling you this story because many of you may one day find yourself in a situation where you own your home, enjoy tenancy with right of survivorship or even tenants in common with somebody, and now you're no longer with that person and they are making demands on you. And you need to know your rights and your rights are as follows:Nobody can force you into selling anything except a court. All right? Another person, when you own something in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, absolutely has the ability to sell their half if they want, but I don't know who's going to want to buy half of a house with somebody they don't even know. But they cannot force you into selling your half. The only way that can happen is through a petition lawsuit that involves lawyers and everything else. So just remember that as I'm talking to you now.So now I'm interested in this because you know I'm for the underdog. When somebody is doing something that isn't right and they're hurting somebody, oh, I will rise to the occasion. So now it's 1 a.m., 2 a.m., and I'm finding myself writing back and forth with Brenda, and I find myself saying oh, no, you are not going to back off. You are not going to do what this woman wants you to do, you are going to be a warrior and not turn your back on the battlefield. You have all heard me say that line before. This is where you are going to stand up for your own rights and you're not just going to do something because somebody else is telling you that's what they want you to do. And you think you need to do it because probably for the 15 years you've been with this person, you've always done what they've wanted you to do. They probably have been a bully and you've probably always said yes, yes, OK, OK, I love you, I'll do anything. But not now, not now. They already broke your heart, now they're trying to take everything from you as well, like your sense of security, your home. How many times have I told you that the thing that makes a woman feel most secure is owning her home outright?And now Brenda is being threatened, and I'm like, Brenda, you are going to do what I tell you to do. But I need to know that you're willing to do what I tell you to do, that you have the strength to stand up to this woman. You have the strength to fight this woman. You have the strength to do what is right versus doing what is easy, which is just succumbing to her wishes.She writes back, and she says, I can do that, Suze, I can do that. My next question to her is, does this woman have any money? She says not really, her family does, they may give her money, but she doesn't.Great, because if you get into a petition lawsuit, it is expensive. You have court costs, legal costs, selling costs, filing costs, it is expansive to do. And really, is this woman who doesn't have any money, who left Brenda, is that how far she's going to go? Well, we're just going to have to test and find out.But Brenda then is saying to me, but Suze, I'm $2000 underwater from meeting my bills. I then go through all her bills with her and I say, this is what you're going to do. You're going to take the money that you do have and you're going to pay off the $1500 of your car loan that you have left. You're going to pay off the $900 of your credit card debt that you have left. You're going to cut cable, you're going to do this, you're going to do that, and you're going to possibly have to get another job or get a roommate or do something. But we're going to figure out a way for you to do this. We're even possibly going to take the money that you have in your 401k, we're going to do an IRA rollover with it, and if we have to, we will take out $15,000 this year and I don't care if we have to pay taxes and a penalty on it. And $15,000 next year, again, and pay taxes and a penalty on it. You're not making that much money, so it's not going to be that big of a deal, but it's going to allow you to keep your house until your heart is whole, and you can go out there and get the job that you deserve to get and get paid what you deserve to be paid.And what's so fabulous about this is through the night, I can see that Brenda is getting stronger and her emails to me are getting more powerful. And here she went from being so wimpy and crying and heartbroken, and please tell me what to do, I don't know what to do…to, I can do this. I'm the one that got the loan, I'm the one who got the 2.75% interest rate on that loan. I'm the one who made it, so I only have 10 years left to pay on it. I can sell my car, I can do this, I can do this, Suze. So, I tell you this story because it's not a story. It's the life of somebody that last night when all this was happening, her life has changed. Now, is it possible that maybe her ex may come after her and whatever? It's possible, but I don't think it's probable. And if she comes after her, it's not going to look very good in terms of the things that this woman actually has done. So, let her come and I'll help Brenda take this on.It is very important that if you ever find yourself in a situation where somebody else that you're in a relationship with is telling you this is what they want, this is what you have to do. And you're finding yourself being so heartbroken that you think I'll do anything. All right, all right, I'll do anything. You may even find yourself in a situation where you’re just saying yes, yes, I'll do anything for you in the hopes that they'll come back to you, or in the hopes that they won't leave you. I am asking you not to do that. When your heart is hurting, when you are crying, when you don't know what to do, that is the time that you just have to do nothing but take care of yourself. You have to think logically about what this person just did to you to hurt you to your core, and that you want to take care of them. Not on my watch.So, the goal of this podcast, as I always tell you, is so that you could become the strong, smart and secure women that you are meant to be. But to do that, you really have to take that mantra, the mantra that Brenda took last night, which is I am a warrior, and I am not going turn my back on the battlefield. I am a warrior, and I am not going to turn my back on the battlefield. Now you know. In providing answers neither Suze Orman Media nor Suze Orman is acting as a Certified Financial Planner, advisor, a Certified Financial Analyst, an economist, CPA, accountant, or lawyer. Neither Suze Orman Media nor Suze Orman makes any recommendations as to any specific securities or investments. All content is for informational and general purposes only and does not constitute financial, accounting or legal advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and financial advisors regarding your particular situation. Neither Suze Orman Media nor Suze Orman accepts any responsibility for any loss, which may arise from accessing or reliance on the information in this podcast and to the fullest extent permitted by law, we exclude all liability for loss or damages, direct or indirect, arising from use of the information. To find the right Credit Union for you, visit https://www.mycreditunion.gov/.