Some people are just plain liars.

I hate people who steal. And I’m not talking about bank robbers here, I’m talking about people who go out of their way to weasel money out of businesses/banks/government/relatives. As far as I’m concerned, it’s worse than highway robbery because they do it with not only cunning, but personal justification. When it comes right down to it, they don’t even see themselves as takers.

Click here to read this week’s Standard Examiner Top of Utah Voices column of mine from yesterday’s paper.


  1. I thought I loved you before but MAN, we are soul sisters. I have not read your blog in a few weeks due to moving craziness. I only read this post and have to comment before reading the other posts.

    Let me just say, I am an Arizona Native. The example you used about the “lovely” couple in AZ is happening ALL OVER the valley of the sun. We had our Stake President get up at the height of the housing boom and tell us, “Just because you can buy that half million dollar house does NOT mean you should, just because you can refinance your home and buy 2 new cars does NOT mean you should.” Just think of all the people who would not have walked away from their homes in our little area if they had only listened to this one word of advice. It is insane. We sold our house because sadly we were not returning to the valley. We lost money and had to take money out of places we did not want to but guess what – we took responsibility and we sleep better at night because of it.

    Last May, my husband and I started Dave’s program for financial freedom because yes, we are in debt and yes, we did it to ourselves. No one held a gun to my head when I went to Last Chance and Costco too much.

    I have found that being on a cash diet and knowing how much I can spend is the best feeling of freedom I have found.

    We have moved to the Pacific Northwest from Switzerland and it is so good to not feel the need to keep up with the Joneses here.

    Keep on writing my virtual and blogging BFF, you are so talented and honest. Sorry to go off on a tangent.

    • annie valentine says:

      Thank you Jenna, and I hope you’re loving the PNW as much as we do. Sometimes we’re so lonesome for all that green. Someday you and I will certainly end up in the same place, if we’re lucky.

  2. I am so with you! Sadly I have family members that have done this and it just makes me so angry! I rather be living debt free with good credit than scared of what comes next and how I am going to survive – it took me a long time to stop caring about who had what and all that crap, but man, am I glad I don’t have their bills!

  3. I absolutely agree. Responsibility and accountability should seem more obvious. I honestly thinking walking away from it all should be illegal.

  4. Brava! Our bishop, who is a realtor, got up a few weeks ago and basically chastised those members of the ward who had decided that since their house wasn’t worth what it was when they bought it, somehow they weren’t obligated to take responsibility for their debts. He was kind, but he didn’t pull any punches. He said, “I’ve been in on hundred of real estate deals, and I have never read a contract that said ‘if the market drops, the bank will be fine with never hearing from you again’. If you want a temple recommend, you’d better carefully examine what it means to be ‘honest in all your dealings’.”

    I was on the stand (assaulting the organ), and I gotta tell you — there weren’t a lot of smiling faces in that congregation!

    We’re in the same situation you describe, Annie: Having acquired a bum-load of debt on the assumption that our house would hold its value and we would move (four years ago) and pay off our obligations at that time, we now find ourselves saddled with an almost stupefying debt load. And we’re paying it off, one peanut butter sandwich, one missed vacation, one piano lesson and yard sale and sacrifice at a time.

    My husand and I decided we had to be able to face ourselves, face each other, and face the Lord. Facing the neighbors just can’t make the list.

  5. Oh my. That is one awesome article and should be shouted from the rooftops. So sad to those who got themselves in debt, so proud of those who look it in the face and deal with it responsibly, so sick of people who walk away-no matter their personally justified excuses.

    Those people are what is absolutely wrong with America right now. This is not a country of handouts, it is a country based on hard-workers, where did we forget that?

  6. Amen, sistah! Annie, I couldn’t respect you more after this post. My hubby and I were dumb newlyweds and made some pretty big mistakes but after years (and I mean years) of hard work, we’ve dug our way slowly out of it. I’m glad and grateful. There’s a real sense of pride and accomplishment in knowing that we clean up our own messes.

  7. You know I love you.

  8. I’ll put it out there. We had to short-sale our home. The house we had to sell was not the latest and greatest, but it was nice. We bought it with the intention to sell when we had to move on.

    When that time came, it was on the market for 22 months. Meanwhile, my husband lost his job (very unexpectedly), and in order to make our payments – we exhausted both roth ira’s, our savings (and then some), had a yard sale, I had to go back to work and after awhile, it still wasn’t enough to even make ends meet. We could not pay our mortgage. It was embarrassing and humbling. We cried. It was horrible. But at the end, it was what we had to do. It was a short-sale, but we did have “default insurance” (which we didn’t know we “purchased” in the fine print ). The insurance covered the balance of the loan, meaning it was “payed in full”.

    I will fully admit, we made some mistakes. We are now in a place where the hubby has a job, and could buy a house if we want to (credit score was not affected due to default insurance). But we aren’t. We are scared to death. Paying rent is just fine for now.

    We didn’t just walk away. We tried our hardest to hold on, and failed. Painfully.

    • annie valentine says:

      Sheri, your experience is nothing to be ashamed of, it is commendable and impressive and painful all at the same time. You have all my respect and admiration.

  9. Annie, I LOVE LOVE LOVED your article. . . you are a genius! I do hope to meet you someday, as you know all my sister-in-laws. . .Love you, Sarah

  10. I couldn’t agree with your article more, Annie! Bring one who pays his debts and having a relative or two who falls behind makes your article hit close to home. Luckily though, I don’t have too many that trash a house and don’t make payments.

    Well, maybe one, but they’ve gotten a TON better over the years.

  11. i’m so glad you wrote this article! After seeing all the things going on in the news and around you, it starts to feel as if maybe you’re the only one who thinks this way! I sooooo agree with you, well said!

  12. Wow. So much judgment here. It would be nice if it was all as black and white as some of you would like to make it. Sure, I hear stories about people who are blatantly irresponsible and who don’t try to make things right. But all of the people who I personally KNOW who’ve been through this? They don’t fit into the picture you’ve painted here.

    My brother’s business collapsed when the real estate market in Las Vegas did. He and his wife were not able to regroup quickly enough and lost their home. When they bought the home, it was certainly one they could easily afford. My sister-in-law was a realtor – a great, flexible job for a mom with three kids. Between the two of them they made a LOT of money. Their house payment, for a 2,000 square foot home, was 1/8th of their income – not unrealistic, selfish or excessive. They put money in the bank, they paid off their cars, they paid off their debts. When the market collapsed her work vanished, his work vanished. He found two jobs – still making much, much less. She was not qualified to do anything that would pay more than the day care would cost. They used up their savings, sold a car, held yard sales – and still lost the house. They could no longer afford their home. Things change. Circumstances change. What would you have them do? Sell one of their children? They’d already sold everything else.

    They just got word that the bank is going to sue them for the balance. They will have to make payments on that difference between what they owe and what the bank got for the property. They accept that reality. Maybe that will make you all feel a little less vengeful – that they’ll eventually “get what they deserve.”

    THESE are the stories I hear over and over again.

    The man in my ward who was a contractor, who made a good living and bought a house he could reasonably afford, and then work dried up – for THREE years. He found a lower paying job, his wife got a job, they sold their extra stuff. But it wasn’t enough, because he was making 1/3 of what he made as a contractor. He had no way of knowing that the income he had worked so hard to make, and had steadily made for 10 years, would just disappear. This month the bank foreclosed.

    Or the neighbor next door with eight kids – who worked for the same company for 18 years. His wife is a SAHM and has never worked. He’s been looking for a decent job for seven months now. They are not yet in foreclosure but their savings are almost gone, and they’re not sure what they’ll do then. The house that was worth $450K when they bought it (and $560K at the peak) is now worth $380K. They don’t have $70K to put on the table so they can sell it.

    This has happened to US. We bought a house we could easily afford. We had a business, no debt, two paid for cars, a paid for boat, savings in the bank. Our business suddenly collapsed two years ago. We sold a car. We sold the boat. We used our savings. Nobody was hiring. We got to the point where we had to use credit cards to buy groceries. Suddenly the payments on our house, which had been so reasonable and affordable, we were unable to pay. It is just not as simple as some of you would like to pretend it is. Even though my husband and I are both working now, we are making NOTHING CLOSE to what we were making before and will probably lose our home, after two years of trying incredibly hard to get caught back up.

    I am not dishonest. I am not lazy. I am not irresponsible. I work until 2AM every night. My husband works 11 hours a day and takes on side-jobs when he can. We will probably end up out of our home, living in a rental. (Don’t worry, I’ll make sure it’s a total crack-house, so that none of you feel that we’re getting too uppity.) I hope my new neighbors aren’t as judgmental as some of your commentors are.

    I really hope none of you ever have the rug pulled out from under you, or that if you do, you are fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who are a little more compassionate. Most of you are SAHMs, too. Cross your fingers that your husband doesn’t get disabled or fired, because then you (gasp) might not be able to afford your home. How irresponsible!

    • annie valentine says:

      Sue, I’m not talking about people who try. I’m talking about people who walk away and take no responsibilty. Trying and doing all you can do is much different than what I was referring to in this article. You are taking this way too personally, I’m not referring to people who sacrifice. I’m talking about people who take the easy road, keep their material wealth, and expect to walk away from their debts without any consequences. Chill out.

  13. And Jenna, I have to wonder if your bishop was raising these same objections when he was profiting off of putting people into those half-million dollar homes. Call me cynical, but somehow I doubt it.

  14. Ugh. You know what? I’m sorry. Ranting in your comments is not cool. I’m not even reacting to what you wrote, just this general feeling “out there” that everyone who loses their home is an irresponsible, dishonest schmuck. It hurts to hear. It hurts to be in this position. I am heartsick about it and sick to death of the whole thing.

    Please go ahead and delete my comments. I feel badly about ranting and raving. You were not my intended target, sorry to hit you in my crossfire. I love ya.

  15. I just wanted to throw in my two cents. I read the article, and I didn’t anywhere get the impression Annie is talking about people who have been honest, hard working, and trying to do everything they can to pay their debts. The economy has hit everyone hard, regardless of circumstance.

    Unfortunately, the dishonest people give everyone else a bad name. And they ARE our there. My mom is one of them. She doesn’t believe she should pay back debt, she doesn’t believe in personal responsibility, blames the credit card and lending companies for everyone’s problems, and thinks that it’s everyone’s right to not just have the basics, like food, shelter, etc., but that everyone should be able to have a nice cell phone, TV, etc., if you wish. I can’t even have a conversation with her anymore.

    I also think that it comes down to poor education and naivete on the part of consumers. When my husband and I bought our condo, we got into one of those horrible subprime loans. 80/20, Interest Only, ARM after 2 years, etc. In that two years, I wised up, and when we refinanced, it was right before the downturn, and we are now in a very good position.

    Would I love a bigger place? Absolutely. But our mortgage is less than rent, and I am grateful for that.

  16. The thing is that it’s not the buying a house bigger than you need, it’s not the buying of the toys. It’s the walking away.

  17. As Jimeny (sp?) Cricket said, “you buttered your bread. Now sleep in it!”

    Great article, Annie!