Brand Strategist

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A friend forwarded me this letter. His friend (actually someone he hasn't talked to in a while) had sent this mass email to people and he wanted to know my opinion. Well, to start, I couldn't read the thing all the way through because I didn't want to projectile vomit all over my computer.

here it goes.. and this is a long one..

"I've had an unexpected financial emergency come up and would like to request your help.

Nature of the Issue

One week ago, I received a letter from the IRS telling me that they found a problem with my 2006 tax return. The issue was a discrepancy between the income I reported and what had been reported by banks, employers, etc. I checked out their records and compared them with my records and found that IRS is indeed correct. I had forgotten to report some interest income earned, and the result is that I owe $809 in taxes and interest. If I do not pay this by September 10, I will incur additional interest until I pay this.
I spent the last week thinking about how I am going to deal with this issue.
If I pay out of cash I currently have saved, it would exhaust my entire savings and then some. I already have two big expenses that are impending in the next two to three months that I haven't figured out how I will deal with: a new catalytic converter for my car (probably at least $1300, and that's just for the part, not the labor), as well as a move to SOMEWHERE, because my current position is seasonal and my contract ends on October 31. I don't currently know where I will be moving and what my job situation would be, but I know that it could potentially be costly, involving cross-country driving and/or security deposits for housing, etc. My current savings is not enough to deal with either of those things, likely.
If I put the $809 on my credit card, it would quite nearly exhaust the rest of my credit line, leaving me even more vulnerable to any future financial emergency that could come up, unless I were to take out another credit card and perpetuate the problem. Also, I currently have more debt than I can sustain at $4189.02. Before I understood what I do now about money, I made some decisions that were way beyond my means to pay and keep myself financially free. In March, I completely got my financial act together and changed my whole outlook on money, credit, and saving. Since then, I've been saving very consciously and carefully a portion of every paycheck, and allocating various percentages to things that would help me take care of my entire self, all at the same time: investments, saving for big things like my upcoming move and a home and a new car when mine eventually dies, personal development, and charity).
I feel great about my new outlook on money and saving; however, it is taking time to build up the savings and reserves I need, because my take-home income is only about $500 every two weeks (though I do NOT have the expense of rent and certain utilities where I am living now). This amount is ALMOST sustainable based on things I need to buy...but not quite. What's keeping it from being sustainable? Credit card payments. If not for those, I am confident I'd be able to afford almost everything I need without cycling new debt back onto the credit cards. I currently cannot afford to make substantial monthly payments on this due to my income and expenditures, and if this continues (and who knows whether it will or it won't?), it will take me at least four or five years to pay it off, thus perpetuating the cycle.
So while I can certainly put out this fire in the short term using the resources I currently have available to me (savings, credit, etc), I don't see how it will be helpful in the long term. I see the cycle perpetuating, and I have no desire to do that.
How I'd like to try and generate some funds to put out this fire
I am asking certain people in my various communities who know and like me if they would be willing to contribute some money to help me deal with this. And I am requesting that anyone who is willing and able to contribute do so ANONYMOUSLY. Why? Several reasons:

1. I don't wish to put anybody in a position where they only contribute out of guilt or wonder "if I don't contribute, will Bethany still think of me the same way? Is our friendship/relationship contingent upon whether or not I help with this?"
2. I don't wish to put MYSELF in a position where I feel indebted to any one particular person and feel guilty in the future if I do something that person doesn't like or doesn't agree with.

I would much rather that anyone who gives does so joyfully and unconditionally out of a desire to help and contribute, and that if I receive anything, I feel thankful and grateful to God (or the universe, or Divinity, or the source...I'm comfortable using any of those words, personally) for taking care of me, rather than feeling indebted to any specific person or people.

"I would be happy to help; how can I give an anonymous gift?"

I've enlisted the help of several willing third parties who have each agreed to receive gifts on my behalf, and whom I trust completely. I've listed them below. I have chosen to use SEVERAL third parties, not just one, for the trust and comfort of anyone who might wish to give to me. I know you all from many different areas of my life, and you don't know all each other (or even know OF each other). So by having multiple third parties, anyone wishing to give can choose the third party that they personally trust most and feel most comfortable sending gifts to.

If (and only if!) you can willingly and joyfully and anonymously give, please send a check made payable to "cash" to any one of the third parties listed below (by August 29 if possible!). For each third party, I've also included a way to contact the person (phone number or e-mail address or both) that the person has agreed to share, in case you would like to tell them things like "I just sent this, so watch for it in the mail" or ask "did you receive the letter I mailed on Friday?"

The third parties have agreed to do the following:
On September 3, they will take any checks or cash received to the bank, deposit them into their own checking accounts, and write me a check for the amount out of their own accounts.
The third parties would then send me an e-mail or call me and let me know the amount sent (so I have a week to plan if necessary to make up the difference somehow), but would NOT disclose the identities of the givers, nor the number of gifts received.

"I'm not sure whether I would like to give; is it okay if I ask you further questions, --?"
I'd prefer that people do not ask me further questions, because that could potentially compromise anonymity. This is why I disclosed as much information as I feel comfortable in this message.
If you are really not sure whether you would like to give and your decision is truly based on knowing the answer to a specific question, I would prefer that you e-mail the question to one of the third parties so that they can ask me the question and preserve the anonymity of the asker.
If you would like to send me messages of support or include me in your prayers, I would of course welcome those!
"What will you do if people give more than you need to deal with your financial situation as you have described it?"
I will joyfully and gratefully contribute the surplus to a consciously chosen cause and/or to a person(s) in need (I have not yet determined what/whom that will be. Right now, I'm still focused on putting out this fire).
Thank you so much for reading this and for considering giving to me. Thank you also for anything you choose to give.


Then this email-
----Inline Attachment Follows-----

Hi everyone,

I'm considering myself fortunate to have received a little bit of feedback on my letter, some supportive and some less so. I'm assuming that for each person who was brave enough to send me feedback (and I consider it very brave, given that I had asked not to receive it in my original letter), there might be some others who also have some strong feelings that they have not yet shared with me. One person shared with me some very strong thoughts and feelings she had in response to my letter. From what I read, it seemed to me that she felt very angry, among other things, and she expressed that she does not wish to receive communications from me in the future. I felt incredibly sad and regretful when I read that, for two reasons:
1. I have a deep respect for this person and have received so much from her presence in my life (possibly more than she knows), so I would feel awful to know that my letter triggered those feelings in her to such a degree that she would not wish to communicate with me at all in the future; and
2. I'm imagining that others I care about might be having similarly strong feelings and are not telling me because they are thinking that I don't want to hear it (and I know I caused that completely by SAYING that I would prefer not to hear it in the original letter).
I feel really sad and regretful to think that my letter may have triggered such feelings in friends of mine to the degree that it may have damaged more relationships than I currently know about. For that reason I would like to change what I originally said: If you are having any feelings you would like to share with me in response to my letter, any at all, I would like to invite you to please, please share them with me. I would like the opportunity to talk through them and hopefully come to some understanding in our friendship. I will make every effort to respond in a timely manner to any message I receive about this.
Also, if you are feeling anger, annoyance or anything else like that in response to the content of the original letter...I guess I'd like to share some things too.... I hope that you can hear that I fully understand that I created that situation myself due to my past actions and oversights and lack of knowledge and understanding...and that I was feeling really scared and desperate and hopeless about my situation because every way of dealing with it that I could think of at the time would leave me in worse-off place in the future, and because I had been making efforts to save and turn my situation around before I found out about this large and unexpected expense. I hope that you can hear the panic I was feeling because of the approaching deadline I have, and that if I'd had some more time to "sleep on it," I would have handled certain things differently.
I really, truly hope that if anyone has anything that they would like to share with me they will share it. I care about my relationships with each of you far, far more than I care about any gift you might have been thinking of sending (or not).



NOW, if you managed to get through the sob story.. here's what makes me so angry... We all go through situations where we knowingly may have to put ourselves into more debt. But that's our responsibility. I'd ask my parents and family but never my friends to help me out and I'm grateful because my parents have helped me. Over the past 4 years I've had random medical issues such as my gallbladder removed (despite being in perfect health otherwise) and $1,500 worth of unexpected dental work. I've accidentally broken my computer, lost a job, had to pay out of pocket health insurance, etc. etc, in the end, accumulating way more than $4,000 worth of debt including school loans. Trial and tribulation that some close friends didn't even know about until it was casually brought up in conversation THIS summer. The average American household debt is $7,000! so this girl is ahead of the curve!

In her email, she discusses her discipline in finally being able to save and INVEST money! Hi, I would have loved to have had the privilege over the years to invest money, but instead, I was too busy paying down my debt and trying to live from paycheck to paycheck! Okay, that's all I can say for now. Need to do deep breathing exercises and think positive thoughts. I can only hope that this girl is actually not serious, and instead, this is all a social experiment. That being a migrant farmer on organic farms is a cover for the secret psychology masters she's getting. I mean, she's taking money away from the Mexicans! Perhaps she should put that college education and obviously decent writing skills to better use..