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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Need More Money? Stop Paying Your Mortgage

If someone were to write a book entitled A Slacker's Guide to Financial Success, I'm sure "Just Stop Paying Your Bills" would be one of the chapters included. But some people are already discovering that strategy for themselves:
    For Alex Pemberton and Susan Reboyras, foreclosure is becoming a way of life — something they did not want but are in no hurry to get out of.

    Foreclosure has allowed them to stabilize the family business. Go to Outback occasionally for a steak. Take their gas-guzzling airboat out for the weekend. Visit the Hard Rock Casino.

    "Instead of the house dragging us down, it's become a life raft," said Mr. Pemberton, who stopped paying the mortgage on their house here last summer. "It's really been a blessing."

    A growing number of the people whose homes are in foreclosure are refusing to slink away in shame. They are fashioning a sort of homemade mortgage modification, one that brings their payments all the way down to zero. They use the money they save to get back on their feet or just get by.

    This type of modification does not beg for a lender's permission but is delivered as an ultimatum: Force me out if you can. Any moral qualms are overshadowed by a conviction that the banks created the crisis by snookering homeowners with loans that got them in over their heads.

The lesson to be learned is that you are not responsible for making stupid financial decisions, such as buying a home you can't afford. There will always be someone else to blame.

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