Searching here, searching there, searching almost everywhere – four long months of searching for another job, any job and on the eve of 2009, an actionable New Year’s resolution to redouble my employment search efforts – my current income (50% salary reduction) had put me back to what I earned in 1989. Sherman, time to re-set the wayback machine. An aside – the effects of underemployment are not just financial but psychological. It’s very depressing. That said, in the world at large unemployment was rampant and the fact I still had a job, even at a dramatically reduced salary, was something to be happy about. Put up and shut up. I worked as many freelance hours as I could but it became apparent that using my savings to supplement the mortgage payments was going to be a much longer term remedy than I’d envisioned. I needed a way to stretch my savings as long as possible so I could continue to meet my mortgage obligation while seeking more rewarding work. The solution: apply for a mortgage modification.
Washington Mutual had a web site with a Borrower Assistance Form and the notation “We’re in this with you. We offer options for resolving your home loan issues.” They offered a two page form that was easy to download and complete. The tone was upbeat and helpful, with phrases like “Thank you for taking steps to resolve your home loan issues!” and “We’ll contact you soon!” Even the mail drop was designed to ensure confidence and optimism: WaMu Home Ownership Preservation; yes – this was the solution I’d been seeking. Home preservation help was within my reach.
Numbers 1-8 on the form were the standard address, phone and account number sort of queries, while Number 9 asked: “Why are you having trouble with your home loan payments? Select all that apply:” The answer was simple; only one box applied to me: Reduced Income. The multiple choice section was followed by an empty white box titled: “Please explain:”
So I did.