A lady I know contacted me, her daughter was my friend and sadly died 2 years ago...and I have a soft spot for the mom's situation...she tells me she is almost $1000.00 behind on her storage unit bill, her stuff and her daughter's stuff is in there. They want half, and weekly payments to get current and they will unlock the units....
I asked for their number to try to buy more time so I could help gather donations for her, since i can't do it alone. They've worked with her....but in the past she has failed to make the payments. She has 3 units, and I told her that she should consolidate to one big one and get rid of what isn't completely necessary, otherwise she will never catch up...I don't think she makes much and isn't good with budgeting....we are working on crunch time to get this current or they have to auction it off....now I find out she got evicted from her last place for being late on rent, and is in a motel now looking for another place...I want to help her but on one hand if she isn't budgeting her money, nothing I can do will last....and nothing I can do would be enough. No idea what to do for her.....any ideas?
Sep 13 13 08:11 pm Link
Biloxi, Mississippi, US
Jay Farrell wrote:
Look for an organization that helps homeless people. They have the resources to get people like her back on their feet. Rent and utility assistance, cheap housing, budgeting class, job searches, food stamps, etc. Most places like that will work harder to help someone who is 'almost' on the street more than someone who is homeless. The thing to remember is that you have to want to help yourself before they will help you. They want to give you a hand up, not a hand out.
Sep 13 13 08:22 pm Link
San Diego, California, US
Simply paying her late storage fees won't help obviously. Anyone that is homeless should not have 3 storage units. It sounds like she could be a hoarder or simply holding on to too much stuff. She needs help but not the monetary kind.
Maybe if you could get some volunteers together to help her clean out and consolidate her storage units it might be helpful - as long as she buys into the plan 100%. She may even be able to make quite a bit of money selling stuff that she has in storage.
Of course the real question is how did she get to this point? Maybe she really needs help with addiction or something. It's very possible that you are looking at a symptom and not the problem.
Sep 13 13 08:38 pm Link
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, US
There is a catch 22. She has to catch up on payments to get the stuff out of the units to sell what is in the units.
Don't loan her any money you can't afford to give her. Good luck, Wish I could offer something more.
Sep 13 13 08:49 pm Link
That's exactly it....she's a wonderful lady, but is on low income and not very educated with finances....living paycheck to paycheck she is used to. She just has trouble making her bills, but she needs so much more help than just this.....if I'm throwing money at this I want it to be a solution, not an enabler or just to limp her along.....I don't have a ton extra now but can help some.....shit. This is hard. I wouldn't "loan" I'd just expect it to be a gift.
Sep 14 13 06:15 am Link
How old is this woman?
ETA: This is not intended as a snarky question. Different age groups have different needs and abilities. Helpful to know when trying to figure out a way to help them.
I will say that until you can provide a **lot** more data, it will be near impossible for anyone to offer meaningful advice.
Sep 14 13 06:28 am Link
Stuff is just stuff.
If you want to help her, tell her to get rid of everything in storage, then focus on getting a steady job.
Sep 14 13 08:57 am Link
Jules NYC wrote:
I disagree. I have an old hand-carved walking stick (circa early 1800) that is probably worth quite a bit. My wife, like you, would probably just toss it. After all, stuff is just stuff. Problem here is that some stuff is really quite valuable.
Sep 14 13 09:06 am Link
Muncie, Indiana, US
Instinct Images wrote:
Sep 14 13 09:08 am Link
It's nice that you want to help her, but I'm not sure you can.
Paying her overdue rent to get her things out of storage is just further enabling her irresponsibility and will not improve the situation.
It's not easy to help people who won't help themselves.
The fact that her daughter died two years ago is very sad, but does not have anything to do with the current situation. It's not an excuse for the way the mother lives her life now.
She has issues that go beyond her unpaid rent at the storage place. She has already broken her promises for arrangements they have allowed her for her unpaid rent. She has exhausted her excuses with the storage people. If you pay for her, then she is using you too and gets a pass once again for the short run.
On the surface, it sounds like you should disengage and let nature take it's course.
I think that getting personally involved and trying to organize her life for her will be futile. She'll probably just stand back and let you do it. When she exhausts your kindness and compassion, she will move on to the next person.
What's she doing with the welfare money she gets now?
Is she a drug user?
This story resonates strongly with meth heads I've had to deal with in the past.
Sep 14 13 09:09 am Link
Instinct Images wrote:
Exactly what I was trying to say, only you said it much better.
Sep 14 13 09:10 am Link
Martin, Tennessee, US
Convince her, that the "stuff" is just material items and mean nothing in the BIG picture.
When my parents died, I donated all their the clothes to an organization that helps the needy. I kept pictures of them, and a few personal items such as coins, gun, etc...
I have no clue what items she has in 3 storage units, but.......
Maybe convince her to sell all the items in 1 storage unit for the late payment so she can get into the other 2.
Sep 14 13 09:17 am Link
is there more than $500 (what it would take to get them unlocked) worth of stuff in those storage units? if not then maybe just let them go to auction. i have a friend who buys them at auction and then sells the contents. sometimes he makes really good money, other times it's most a dump run.
if there is a lot of good stuff in those units then i wouldn't just keep paying on them. i'd hire someone to do an estate sale. but only if they thought you could make more than bringing the units current.
seems like paying for rent is the most important thing right now, not the storage units.
can you talk to social services in your area? maybe there's some kind of safety net for people like her. unless you have significant resources, you may not be able to save her on your own.
Sep 14 13 09:21 am Link
New York, New York, US
You are probably looking at the symptom and not the problem as Instinct Images states above.
I had a friend long time ago who's apartment was an absolute pig sty. There were beer bottles and garbage everywhere. Some other friends of his and I helped him clean up and move to another cheaper apartment to help start a new life. I don't think it helped in the long run. This person had a personality problem that led him to that point. He was also extremely hurt by a girlfriend that had left him a while back and somewhat lost his marbles.
I think most of these people need some sort of psychological help instead. If they drink too much for instance, I've heard the AA 12 step program can help them.
It's almost like the old proverb of either handing someone a fish or teaching them to fish. I'd say teach them, if they want to learn.
Sep 14 13 09:28 am Link
OK, here's another approach and possible solution.
If she's not simply a user pleading for more pity or waiting to hit total rock bottom before she motivates herself to do something to organize her life, and if she's a nice person in a temporary tough place who is worthy of the support of her family and friends, you can try this:
Set it up for her and email all her family and friends for help.
If they all love her and she is worthy of their support, you will have the money in no time at all.
If nobody but you responds, then you will understand her real situation. You are just the next person on her sucker list.
Sep 14 13 09:33 am Link
Sep 14 13 09:42 am Link
if the person in question is an addict then watch out. addicts lie. they can drag you down with them. there is this thing called co-dependency. sometimes i think they are better off in jail (if there's a jail that's not so full they are willing to keep them).
AA has its fans but i've also heard of people who lied to get their pin. to me that only works if they do random drug/alcohol testing.
addiction is truly a horrible thing.
Sep 14 13 09:43 am Link
Sun City, California, US
Yeah - short term cash will not fix this. This sounds much deeper and until the financial responsibility is addressed - nothing will change.
3 storage units for somebody on the brink of homelessness is a much deeper issue. As somebody suggested - offering to help consolidate into one and liquidate the leftovers for breathing room money may be the only way to go.
I would also consider if you are in this pickle - because she has burned thru others (other friends and family) assistance and offers of short term help - but, never had to face or change the behaviors that got her there. Now, you are put on the spot to prevent collapse.
Sep 14 13 09:46 am Link
i see a trip to antiques road show in the OP's future!
my friend who buys units at auction gets a lot of junk but he also gets some really cool things. not to mention illegal things. sometimes he keeps things for himself rather than selling them.
if it's mostly junk (as far as someone who isn't emotionally attached to the stuff) i think just letting it go to auction is the easiest solution.
too bad it will cost $500 to check it out. i wonder if the OP could call the storage company and arrange for a quick inspection to see if it's worth bringing current.
Sep 14 13 09:52 am Link
It's not about emotional attachment. This walking stick image that I posted has been handed down for many generations. Does it have any emotional value for me? None, but I am smart enough to know that a hand-carved piece of Americana is (maybe) probably worth a lot more than $500 to a collector of such things.
Sep 14 13 10:09 am Link
Another possible solution:
Offer to buy the contents of the three mini storage units yourself for $1,000 overdue rent, or whatever amount you can negotiate with the owners as a settlement to close out and vacate their units.
Give the lady the mementos of her daughter.
Sell the rest on Craigslist and Ebay to get your $1,000 back, then split any amount over that with the lady 50/50. Donate the leftovers to Goodwill and throw the rest in the trash.
Take control of the situation yourself. It solves the immediate problem. You make the executive decisions. You give the lady half of any cash proceeds left over to do with as she wants. If there are any particular things of value in storage that she wants herself, she can buy them from you for her half of the proceeds.
Exit, stage left.
No further responsibility. No further feelings of guilt or obligation.
Sep 14 13 10:10 am Link
even if that piece (or even two of them) were in one of the units that wouldn't outweigh the $1K cost of bringing them current not to mention keeping them current. plus it takes time to sell something, assuming you can find a buyer.
also with antiques roadshow i would believe those numbers more if they were willing to provide cash on the spot in that amount.
Sep 14 13 10:40 am Link
Ummmm, if that single piece was worth 10K, yeah it would, and then some. And that has been my point throughout this thread - we simply don't have enough data to offer any meaningful advice.
Sep 14 13 10:44 am Link
but there's no guarantee the contents are worth anything. from a business point of view, i wouldn't do that without an inspection or even an appraisal. when my father-in-law passed we got $50 for his large storage unit and the liquidators said they were doing us a favor by taking it at all (and some family members had been convinced we were going to get thousands for all that junk). i think for them it was mostly just a dump run.
Click Hamilton wrote:
Sep 14 13 10:52 am Link
i misread your post regarding the value of that item. but you still have to take the time to sell it and find a buyer, etc. and for some people time is money. and you'd have to subtract the dump runs from the profits, not to mention any taxes.
but, yeah, if there were a guaranteed easy sale of $10K in those units then i'd probably be willing to put in the time/money to do the dump runs.
this is an interesting situation because it's a mix of business and emotional stuff. but even if he wants to save some memories for her where is he going to put those things? in his garage? in his own storage unit?
it would be easier if she weren't so far behind. then he could pay a month's worth and get it appraised/inspected before deciding whether to help.
you'd be surprised at how many storage units go up for auction. i think storage units are a bad idea in general unless it's just a temporary thing while you are moving or something you can write off as a business expense or you are wealthy and don't care about the cost. so often people just wind up losing all that stuff anyway. might as well have just had a garage sale and skipped the storage unit altogether.
Sep 14 13 10:54 am Link
Vineland, New Jersey, US
I think you're in a tough spot. If you have and give her enough money to pay the storage bill, it's likely that in 3 months, she'll be back in the same boat. If you don't give her enough money (or any money at all), she'll likely say that you've turned your back on her so you're not really her friend.
I'd hate to see someone lose their storage unit and everything in it (especially depending on what it is in there) but she has 3 of them? And she's living in a motel? What could she be storing that is so important?
When I got my storage unit, the "rules" said not to store anything of sentimental value or something to that effect. In other words, no family pictures, etc. They also said don't store anything valued at over $2500. I'm sure she wants what she has, but if it's costing money to keep it and no chance of it ever being useful or making money for her, I'd say she needs to let it go but it's not up to me to tell her what she should or shouldn't do.
For you, though, I don't think there is anything you can do to truly help her. You can help her temporarily by helping with the storage bill but the help she needs is educational .. make up her mind what she wants to do. Form a plan and stick with it until it proves to be not worthwhile or it just plain doesn't work.
I do wish you and her the best, though.
Sep 14 13 11:12 am Link
apparently when they sell the units at auction the potential buyers just get to peek in through the open door, they don't always get to go in and inspect everything. sometimes if you know the owners of the storage unit they might tip you off (or sometimes i've been told they cherry pick the good stuff for themselves).
it works for him because of the law of averages. some units are a bust but others are great and those make the whole thing work. but he doesn't always know in advance what he's getting himself into. and when he gets one that is all dump runs of heavy stuff there's a lot of swearing!
Sep 14 13 11:23 am Link
Biloxi, Mississippi, US
What I see everyone here saying is that you shouldn't give the lady money to rescue her storage because it is a short term band aid to a long term problem. I agree. Never give money. If she's hungry, take her to Wendy's and buy her a meal but never give her cash.
My recommendation stands.
http://www.modelmayhem.com/po.php?threa … st18486338
She didn't get in her bad spot overnight and she won't get out of it with the money you'd give her. Organizations that help homeless have the means to recognize and deal with chronic problems. They recognize and deal with addiction, financial mismanagement, failed relationships, depression, lack of motivation, job loss and all the other issues that this woman faces. Put her in touch with one of those organizations asap. If you can't find any in the phone book, take her to the nearest large church. They will generally have the call lists and other resources to get her in touch with those who can help.
btw... I currently volunteer several hours a week at a homeless day shelter. If you were anywhere near Biloxi, I would tell you to bring her to me and I would turn her on to the resources available here.
Sep 14 13 11:24 am Link
Sep 14 13 02:42 pm Link
Jules NYC wrote:
Maybe yes, maybe no. It all depends on how deep the water is. Sometimes it's just a matter of putting your feet under you, standing up, and walking out of the water
Sep 14 13 03:15 pm Link
Sep 14 13 03:20 pm Link
Jules NYC wrote:
Chuckles. I tend to agree. One the other hand we don't have any idea of how large these units are. It could be three very small ones (and some are very small indeed), or it could be three large ones. We simply just don't know.
Sep 14 13 03:23 pm Link
True, but does it matter?
Sep 14 13 03:29 pm Link
Jules NYC wrote:
Well, maybe yes, and maybe no. She could be sitting on a small fortune without realizing it, or she could have a bunch of worthless junk. The contents could be a real game changer for her with regard to trying to save the stuff or just letting it go. And that's all I have really been saying. Without data it is impossible to reach a rational decision.
Sep 14 13 03:34 pm Link
Let's pretend it's Antiques Roadshow in there. Then OP, keep up the payments and get a percentage and have her sleep on your couch until she gets back on her feet.
Sep 14 13 03:37 pm Link
I talked with the manager, and her at length....I got her caught up for the two units....she is paying for the third by end of month. She is consolidating to one 12x25 unit, and has between now and the 25th to pick through and get rid of things that are costing her space....and move the rest into this one unit. Now I don't feel like it's a band aid. If she refused to consolidate units, I'd not have helped her. I appreciate everyone's thoughts, I feel I made the right call....there were her daughter's photos and things in there, as well as paperwork. She works and now has the support of her BF and I think they'll be ok
Sep 14 13 09:07 pm Link
Jay Farrell wrote:
You are a damn good friend Jay.
Sep 14 13 09:12 pm Link
Jules NYC wrote:
Thanks! I would rarely do this, but truly felt she was deserving, once I gathered info and thought about it, it all came to me
Sep 14 13 09:41 pm Link
Jay Farrell wrote:
That makes me smile.
Sep 14 13 09:42 pm Link
Sun City, California, US
You're a good man - a kind heart will not be forgotten.
Sep 14 13 09:50 pm Link