People always say “Forgive and Forget”. There are things in life we all know we should just let go. Cut your losses and move on. But then there are times that you want to stomp your feet like a small child and scream “It’s not fair!” As child-like as it may seem, are there times when you should stand your ground?
Many moons ago, my older sister and I had a brilliant (i.e. ridiculously flawed) plan. We both had cell phone contracts that were coming to an end. We both were interested in the same smart phone. We were both single, working, no dependents. It seemed to make perfect sense to get a plan together, and split the cost! Having two phones on a shared plan was much less expensive than having two separate plans! We’d each be saving tons of money! I researched to find the company and plan that would best suit our needs, and we went and setup the new contract. In my name, of course.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you can probably guess how things ended. The monthly bill was $150, which we agreed to split 50/50. The first month she paid, and then she didn’t. I demanded that she keep her end of the deal. A few months later, she wrote out post dated checks for the next six months or so. I deposited the first one, which apparently bounced some other checks she had coming through. She asked that I not deposit the next until she gave me the go ahead. I followed up, she said she’d get back to me. From time to time I’d bring it up, and she’d make comments about my “angry blow-ups”.
Fast forward to 23 months into the 24 month contract. My sister’s phone gets stolen, and she needs a replacement. I go with her to the phone company, since the phones are in my name. We go with the idea that we’ll transfer the phone over into her name, and we’ll each sign up for our own plans.
But, as it turns out, transferring a number is a long process that must be done through a call center, which is already closed for the day. The bubbly young sales girl gives us two options: Take an old, loaner flip phone to use until the new plans are set up, or sign up for a new two-year contract, get two new phones, and separate the plans later.
My sister begged and pleaded, promising to switch to her own plan the very next day. The sales girl went on and on about how much of a deal we’d be getting with a combined plan. Apparently, I look stupid. Finally I looked at the sales girl and stated firmly “You know, as a single girl I find I really only need one phone. So paying for two phones for the last two years really hasn’t saved me a dime!”. We took the flip phone. The next day we called and got my sister setup on her own plan, and then I took her back to the store. I even fronted her the money to buy her a new phone (which she actually did pay me back for!).
So, 23 months times $75 per month equals out to $1,725. I didn’t track exactly what she paid in the beginning, but I believe in all she may have paid $300. In January of 2012, less than six months after separating out the plans, my sister mentioned that her tax refund would be for $1,000. She asked if she gave me the refund, if we could call it even. I agreed. After all, getting something was better than nothing.
And then, I waited. And waited. Nothing. A month or so later, I called. My doctor was sending me for an ultrasound for possible gallbladder issues. I had insurance, but a high deductible, so it was going to cost me approximately $600. Had her tax refund come yet? It had, but she admitted to already having spent half of it. She’d get me the rest next time she saw me.
I never saw a dime of that money. She moved into a new apartment with her new boyfriend. They bought furniture, and rugs, and artwork. The started eating at all the hot new restaurants, and became craft beer aficionados. This year’s tax refund is going towards a vacation fund, since they both like to travel, but both live paycheck to paycheck. And then they bought a new TV. And another couch.
At the time we signed up for the phone plan, I was making approximately $5,000 per year more than my sister. Then I was between jobs. Then I took a job making less money. All the while I had student loan payments and a car payment, which she did not. I paid the bill, every month, without fail. We were both offered two opportunities to vacation with friends. I turned both down. I couldn’t afford it! My sister went on both, and many other trips. She laughed that she couldn’t afford it either, but she’d figure it out!
I shouldn’t judge what other people do with their money. But every step along the way, my inner child screams “That’s my money!”. Our mom has expressed the same sentiment; My sister owes her approximately $3,000.
Dave Ramsey says that if you lend money, you should give it with the expectation that you may never see it again. And if you don’t see it, then let it go. That’s easier said than done! Do I need the money right now? No. But there have been times in the last few years that things were tight, and I really had to scrimp to make ends meet.
Part of me says that I need to let it go. I knew there were risks involved in combining phone plans, and I chose to do so anyway. But then part of me keeps screaming out: It’s not fair!
Who ever said that life was fair?
What would you do if you were in my situation? Would you demand repayment? Or would you let it go? And if so, how do you let it go?
– Ms. W