Today’s post is something of a rant about my recent problems. Yes, Mr. Tako has problems too! Normally I’m not big on ranting, but today you get the special treatment!
Remember how last week I mentioned some of the difficulties on The Road To FI? These kinds of obstacles are typically hard to avoid, and usually have a big financial impact. Well, one of these fabulous situations happened to the Tako family recently: We’re getting sued!
The Car Accident
A little over a year ago Mrs. Tako was in a car accident. At the time, Mrs. Tako was driving our 2001 Honda Civic (with just over 100k miles). From the parking lot of a local strip mall, Mrs. Tako pulled-out onto the street, and was quickly hit buy a Mercedes SUV.
Apparently, Mrs. Tako failed to see the oncoming SUV. The speed limit of that particular street was 35mph. Based upon the damage to both vehicles involved, I would guess the Mercedes was traveling a bit faster than the posted speed limit.
The driver of the Mercedes SUV was not seriously hurt. She was out of her car moments later, yelling at Mrs. Tako and calling the police.
At the time, Tako Jr. #1 was not in the car, but Tako Jr. #2 was. Mrs. Tako was pregnant with him at the time. She suffered a concussion, and some significant bruising, but no broken bones or significant external damage. A ultrasound scan of the baby a day or two later revealed he was OK. We all breathed a big sigh of relief.
The police determined the accident was Mrs. Tako’s fault, and our car insurance payed out the value for both vehicles. Both vehicles were totaled. We used the cash to buy our next vehicle a few weeks later, adding our savings to cover the cost.
End of story, right? That’s life, car accidents happen, and that’s why we have insurance. Right? Right?
One Year Later
Fast-forward one year later. The car accident was a distant memory, albeit an unfortunate one. We had just returned from our Hawaii trip, and the doorbell rings… Who could it be? Surprise! It’s a nice man from the courthouse serving us papers. We’re getting sued!
So why are we getting sued? Turns out, the driver of the Mercedes SUV wasn’t happy with the insurance payout. Unfortunately, she had just purchased her Mercedes a month or so earlier. She bought it new, from the dealer.
As we all know, once you drive a new vehicle off the dealer’s lot, it loses significant value. That’s just the cost of buying new cars. Well, unfortunately for the driver of the Mercedes, the insurance payout for her vehicle didn’t cover the cost of buying a new Mercedes SUV. Boo-hoo!
Let’s everybody shed a few tears about the reality of depreciation.
Well, instead of learning from her financial mistakes, she decided to get her lawyer involved and do a little sueing. The Mercedes owner wants us to pay an additional $60,000 and cover her lawyer fees. Yeah….
As you can imagine, we’re a little peeved about the whole situation…we’re getting sued because she’s not able to buy a new Mercedes. In contrast, the value we received for our Civic came nowhere close to covering the cost of a new car. We covered all additional costs with our savings. Why couldn’t the Mercedes driver?
Note: According to our lawyer, the Mercedes driver originally paid $75,000 for the vehicle. Not exactly a small sum.
Getting sued is no fun. Typically a person needs some legal representation, and thankfully our insurance company stepped up and provided a lawyer for us…at least up until the limits of our policy. In this case, the insurance company will handle a settlement of $50,000 or less. Anything over that $50k amount, (or appeals) and we’ll going to be on our own.
So far, the odds are looking pretty good that the Mercedes driver (and her lawyer) are going to settle for less than $50,000. They’ve agreed to arbitration, which should happen sometime in June or July. Usually this means her lawyer (and our lawyer) sit in a room with a third party mediator, and hash out some form of reasonable settlement like civilized people.
Cross your fingers that it ends there! We certainly are!
Stealth Wealth It
Thankfully, the driver of the Mercedes has no idea what we’re worth financially, and she definitely doesn’t know I’m Mr. Tako. She’ll probably settle for less than the aforementioned $50,000.
I haven’t mentioned it before, but NOW it’s time. We need to talk about Stealth Wealth.
What’s Stealth Wealth you ask? Stealth Wealth means you don’t show off your wealth. You don’t talk about it, or giving any indication of wealth to the outside world. In the litigious society that we live, any sign of significant wealth makes you a target for lawsuits! Stealth Wealth is a way of protecting yourself.
So here’s a little tip from Mr. Tako: Don’t tell people you have money. Not even family members. Don’t wear fancy clothes, or drive fancy cars. Don’t give any indication you have wealth, or someone is going to try to take it from you.
Ever notice I never reveal my true identity or location on this blog? Many personal finance bloggers are more forthcoming with their actual identities. I think this is a bad idea. It puts them at additional risk.
For now, please be content with my super hero identity: Mr. Tako.
Mental Age Frustrations and Thoughts
If you’re a regular reader of my posts, you know we’ve had family visiting us for the past few weeks. Extended visits from family can be great, but they can also end up being a lot of work. It all just depends upon the family.
In our case, we happen have a family member that’s quite a handful. She has a “mental age” equivalent to a teenager, even though she is far older than me.
We get to see all the usual stuff you might associate with unruly children: pouting, fighting, fits, self-centeredness, and disagreeable behavior. The whole emotional roller coaster you’d typically see from a child (or teen), only in an adult.
Think I’m kidding? Let me give you an example:
We all went to lunch this weekend at a local brew-pub. Fun times, right? Who could get upset about that?
The location was decided on the day before, with all family members present. We arrived at the restaurant with no fuss, until we were seated. Then, our “favorite” family member decided this wasn’t the restaurant she wanted. She started an argument, and ended up walking-out in protest of our (collective) restaurant choice. This kind of behavior I might expect to see in a child, not an adult.
The incident got me thinking about “mental age”, and financial independence.
Are the minds of financially independent people somehow different from perpetual wage-slaves? Are the brains of the financially independent somehow more “mature”, allow us to defer spending and put-off hedonic pleasures to achieve financial independence?
I don’t have any specific evidence to support my thoughts here, but I have a guess there’s some truth to it. The mental control and maturing we (hopefully) develop in early adulthood is probably the same mental ability that allows me to live with imperfection.
From what I can see, the mental ability to put-off spending, and save 50% of my salary for a very long time is quite rare. Then again, maybe we’re just jerks for eating at the wrong restaurant.
What do you think? Does a person’s “mental age” help their chances for financial independence?