Family loan turns relative into scofflaw
Dear Amy: I lent some money to a young relative to buy a used truck. His mother thought that because he didn't have any credit record yet, he would learn to make payments on a regular basis by paying me, in addition to having a vehicle he needed for his job. We signed an agreement, which specified how much he would pay (both principal and a low interest rate) and how many payments he would make.
He made the first few payments, but then stopped paying altogether. I have tried to get in touch by phone, email and paper mail, with no results. I left messages that expressed concern, not anger, asking that he please contact me to discuss the situation.
He hasn't lost his job. His mother knows he stopped paying, but doesn't know how many payments he has missed. I don't want to cause a scene at a family event where he might be present. I just don't know what to do next.
Dear Perplexed: There will be no scenes at family events, I assure you, because your young relative will not show up at any events he suspects you will also attend.
That's the problem with lending money to friends or relatives; it creates problems when the money is not repaid. This young scofflaw will ghost you, rather than face a fairly straightforward problem in a mature way.
I'm not sure why your relative's mother thought this loan (from you) would be a good idea; she could have co-signed a bank loan with her son, unless her own credit is poor.
At this point, you might start by asking a lawyer to send a friendly letter on your behalf. Include a copy of the promissory note and ask this young man to contact you to arrange for repayment on a new schedule. Otherwise, he could face you in small claims court.
Generally speaking, it is wise to consider that loans to family members often end up being gifts.
Dear Amy: There's a guy who has made it known that he likes me. I am interested in him, too, but here's my dilemma: We are of different ethnicities (I'm white). This is not an issue for me, but he has strong beliefs in the "Black Lives Matter" movement. In the city where we live he hangs mainly with residents who are mostly (their words) brown and black people.
I am already trying to figure out where I fit in. Some people have embraced me, while others play the reverse racism card. How do I know what he feels for me is genuine when he espouses views that openly favor people of color?
I am open to his invitation for us to get to know each other, and I really don't care what others may say, but I am mindful of the backlash. I don't want to face racial prejudice. How can I even attempt to have this conversation with him? Should I?
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Dear Wondering: You state that your race doesn't matter to you, and yet it does. Of course it does.
Black lives do matter. It would be hard to argue with this true statement about the value of human life, and the importance of acknowledging the reality and challenges of contemporary life for people of color.
If this man and his friends are racist, then you aren't going to want to hang out with them. But if they are trying to explain themselves and their view of the world, given their perspective as people of color, then this might be an eye-opening and potentially life-changing experience for you.
You can only have this experience by diving in and having it. Talking about race is important. You could start by asking this guy to explain how he feels about people who don't have his skin tone. Does he have white friends other than you? Do you have friends of color, other than him? You may find parallels between your experiences.
Dear Amy: I identified with "Pet-Friendly Guy," who had just spent a lot of money on veterinary bills for his cat.
I was in his shoes several years ago. After hearing that I spent a lot of money on vet bills for my cat, my aunt said, "You are too attached to that cat." My response: "At least I'm not too attached to cocaine, alcohol, etc."
-- Still Attached
Dear Attached: You've just made the argument for why some people seem to prefer their animals to people. Our pets don't judge us.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may send postal mail to Amy Dickinson, c/o Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Drive, Suite 175, Addison, Texas, 75001. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.)