Help me figure out what to do?
February 1, 2015 11:25 AM   Subscribe

So I have a job, and I work freelance design on the side. Due to several circumstances in the past month, I have less than half of this month's rent and the direct withdrawal of the rent is scheduled for tomorrow morning. What can I do?

I am by no means the type of person who'd leave themselves right to the next moment to pay their dues, but this last month has been difficult financially due to a number of dear friends finding themselves in extremely difficult situations and needing my help. I myself don't have anybody to borrow money from. There was a payment that was supposed to make its way to me yesterday, but it hasn't arrived as of yet. My rent payment is due tomorrow morning, and since it is automated, I don't know who to talk to to put a hold on it. I am pretty sure that another transfer will make its way to my account by Wednesday, Jan 4th and make everything right, but I don't know how to postpone the rent payment till then (I don't know if it's even possible).

One of the freelance projects was already supposed to transfer enough money to fix my problems, but told me they will do that shortly. I am thinking that I can tell them that I'd need at least a down payment in order to make purchases that are important for the research of the project, but I don't want to be pushy, unprofessional, or unfriendly. Any suggestions?
posted by cyrusw8 to Work & Money (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Call your bank and talk to them about it. Also call your landlord/management office and let them know. You may avoid "bounced check" fees this way. Worse comes to worse, you pay some extra fees. Consider it a "learning the hard-way tax" so that you NEVER find yourself in this situation again.

Now, some love for you. HOW do you give away your rent money? You can only help your friends to the extent that you don't beggar yourself. We all want to be a super hero to our friends and as much as we want to be endlessly generous, you are allowed to keep rent and food money out of the pool of potential money you use to help out your friends. As you are now discovering, people aren't reciprocating.

When you freelance, 50% of your job is doing the projects for your clients, the other 50% is collecting money. Call the person who has claimed to have transferred the money and say, "I need your down payment before I can start on your project." NEVER, NEVER, NEVER front money for ANY project, at the very least you will need to tell a customer, "I'll need $$ for the materials and $ as a deposit on the labor."

Why do you so freely part with money you cannot afford to part with? What do you hope that money is doing in your life? Buying your 'dear friends?'

This last month has been difficult financially due to a number of dear friends finding themselves in extremely difficult situations and needing my help. I myself don't have anybody to borrow money from.

As hard as you would find it to say no to dear friends, if you don't have it, you don't have it. Could you help any of them out if they asked you to, today? No. Why? Because you're broke. You were actually broke when they asked, because that was rent money, not 'dear friend bail out money.'

Money isn't dirty or shameful, it is how we live in our world and you shouldn't feel so guilty about it that you'll give it away when you can't afford to, or that you won't press customers for what you are owed.

Schmucks don't have rent money because they gave it to a friend for HIS rent money. Don't be a schmuck anymore.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:44 AM on February 1, 2015 [45 favorites]

There was a payment that was supposed to make its way to me yesterday, but it hasn't arrived as of yet.

Seems like your best bet is to find this person and shake them down.
posted by milk white peacock at 11:52 AM on February 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

If payday loans are available where you are, you may be better off paying their high interest rates than paying fees to your bank and your landlord.
posted by in278s at 12:45 PM on February 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

You won't have enough time to stop an automatic withdrawal. For most banks, you need to stop the payment 3 days prior to the scheduled date. You landlord won't be able to stop it easily either. You have to either have whoever owes you deposit money immediately or get an emergency loan (some banks do this depending on various factors). It'll be hard to beat the withdrawal as it's Sunday.

Seconding Ruthless Bunny. Don't help others by destabilizing your own housing and security. Don't give your rent money away. Perhaps some friends are ready to pay you back now? Worth a try.
posted by quince at 12:54 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Or if payday loans aren't an option, you might be able to pawn something to make up the difference. Or take out a credit card advance. Basically all ways of getting cash quickly come at a high cost, but it may be cheaper than bounced check fees, damaged credit, and an irate landlord.

There is likely no way to stop the transfer and if it's like banking in the US, it's likely to happen before the banks open, so this might just be an expensive lesson.

This doesn't help now, but give thought to creating a three to six month's worth of expensive savings account as an emergency fund, particularly if you're counting freelancing as part of your budget. If failing to get a single payment is enough to put you in this situation, you're cutting it too close.
posted by Candleman at 12:55 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Did you try logging into your bank's website and stopping the transfer there? I'm guessing it's too late, but worth a try. (This law also seems to say you can request a stop on an automatic payment anytime UP to three days before: "A consumer may stop payment of a preauthorized electronic fund transfer by notifying the financial institution orally or in writing at any time up to three business days preceding the scheduled date of such transfer"...but of course banks aren't open today). Maybe sell or pawn something, and put that in your account?
posted by three_red_balloons at 1:16 PM on February 1, 2015

" I am thinking that I can tell them that I'd need at least a down payment in order to make purchases that are important for the research of the project, but I don't want to be pushy, unprofessional, or unfriendly. "
I'm a career freelancer. I ask for a retainer upfront--usually 1/3 of the total, if I've made a flat-rate deal. If you can't talk about money in a calm, businesslike manner, you're an amateur, not a pro. You can be perfectly friendly, and still state your rate, your terms, and the schedule of payments. "Direct" is not the same as "pushy."
And ditto with helping friends etc.--put on your own oxygen mask first. Do you have a credit card that allows a cash advance? The interest rate may be high but beats being late with rent.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:17 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

For next time: Fuck You, Pay Me - this is an excellent overview of how to get paid as a freelancer.
posted by heatherann at 1:37 PM on February 1, 2015 [11 favorites]

If you can't stop the direct withdrawal ahead of time, call the bank anyway and explain the situation -- if you're a good customer, they might waive the overdraft fee.
posted by phoenix_rising at 1:42 PM on February 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

I don't know if this is standard everywhere in the US, but the past few places I've lived in California have a day the rent is due (on the 1st, in my case) and a different day (in my case it's the 5th) after which you're charged a late fee. When I lived in Austin, many landlords would advertise rent as, say, $575 payable on the first of the month, and $600 after the 5th. I have no idea why, but this may be the case where you live, too. Call your landlord if they're at all sympathetic?
posted by tapir-whorf at 2:04 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, I avoid ever setting up automatic deductions, if possible, because of just this sort of thing. Definitely "neither a borrower nor a lender be," but slightly easier to triage if you're making one-time payments eg by check.
posted by mmiddle at 2:54 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Call your bank. I think it's probably too late to stop the charge, but you might be able to sign up for overdraft protection (basically the bank extends you credit for the amount you are overdrawn.). There will be a fee and you'll pay some interest, but probably not as much as an NSF charge or the aggravation involved in pawning stuff.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 3:05 PM on February 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Lots of good advice up-thread. Call your landlord and explain the situation (no need to mention all your friends, come up with a reason that won't make them worry that this will become a recurring theme). If you can pay something now, tell them that. And give them a hard date when you can pay the remainder (give yourself a bit of cushion on this one).

Call the bank and ask if they can work with you.

It sounds like you might be the kind of person who is very generous and makes a lot of loans - in which case, there might be a lot of people out there who owe you money, not just the friends who recently borrowed from you? Call them and let them know that you are in an emergency situation and you really need them to repay you now, even if it's only a portion of what they owe you.

Unless you are a disaster as a tenant, the landlord will work with you, though they will likely charge you a late fee.

Going forward, start telling people that you can't afford to lend them money, and put that money towards a rainy-day fund for yourself instead. When you are more financially stable and want to lend, here are some tips:
* establish the date of repayment before the loan is given. It's ok if this is broken out into chunks.
* Put that date on a calendar and follow up
* NEVER lend money that you actually need. Only lend money when never getting it back will not break you - might ruin a friendship, but not your bank account.

Good luck.
posted by bunderful at 3:15 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can you do a cash advance with your bank? The interest is awful but it will cover this. It counts against an automatic deposit if you have any of those setup.

Otherwise I would call the bank and landlord. Pay the fees. Learn a lesson. Shit like this happens. It is not a crime against humanity.
posted by cairnoflore at 4:21 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ruthless Bunny is giving you the hard truth right there. Your lesson is: don't let people borrow money from you when you don't have money yourself. It sounds like a great, self-effacing thing to do on paper, but in practice, you can only do it so many times before you become a) a door mat and b) homeless.

As a rule of thumb, assume that anyone you loan money to is never going to pay you back. This goes double for family. If you let someone "borrow" money, basically think of it as a gift that might make its way back to you some day.

This isn't to say "be greedy and never help out your friends", no, not at all. Sometimes life calls on us to give someone money anyway even when we know we'll never see it again, but don't make these kinds of no-interest quasi-loans a regular habit.
posted by deathpanels at 4:21 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't you have a week or something to pay your rent? And usually if you are late once and ask, they will waive the fee. Can you log into your resident portal and turn off the automatic payment, or do you not have control over the automatic payments? Maybe you can call and say you need to payment schedule delayed a few days.

I do think it wasn't smart to put yourself in this situation. I don't know how good of friends these people are and if they would give away their rent money to help you, but you should really set a higher bar for who you give money to.

Also, I avoid ever setting up automatic deductions, if possible, because of just this sort of thing.

That is really not the solution here. The solution is don't spend more money than you make. Automatic payments or not, the issue here is OP not having the money and not knowing when the money will show up. By not doing automatic withdrawal, you risk being late and missing payments. From rent, to cars, to student loans, to utilities, if I have to remember every payment I make, it would be a disaster. I got dinged on my credit report because one of my loans wasn't on automatic payments and I forgot about it because the loan had been recently transferred to a new lender. My advice is to always use automatic payments, but always have enough money in your checking account. Simple.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:00 PM on February 1, 2015

Go to your bank today and try to attach a line of credit to your account for overdraft protection; usually a bank will over several options for reserve lines or will allow you to attach a credit card.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:53 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Came back in to see if you had figured something out. I thought overnight about this and thought your landlord might have a website or that there might be some arrangement via internet to either cancel the automatic withdrawal (via the bank website) or pay the rent by credit card (your landlord's site).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:47 AM on February 2, 2015

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