Tuesday, October 5, 2010


My tenants are those who fall through the cracks in qualifying for government housing assistance.
I charge rent based on ones income.
Sometimes it can be as low as five dollars a week for a one bedroom sharpshooter - most of the time it's about a hundred dollars for a two or three bedroom home.
The thing is - none of my tenants save the money they would normally spend on paying the full cost of rent.
Most just buy more of the stuff they are already buying.

All except one.
Miss Dorothy is a nice eighty-five year old lady who fed the hookers, felons and drug addicts in her neighborhood.
She attends church regularly and always pays her tithes.
I bring her fruit from my trees, food from local diners, clothes from my wasteful cousins, furniture from vacated houses and a lot of other things.
Miss Dorothy has been renting the same home for nearly thirty years and neither my grandparents nor myself has raised her rent even once.
When her brother moved in to split the bills - I still didn't raise her rent.
When she gets raises in her Social Security check - I still don't raise her rent.
When she lost her job - I let her skip three months rent.
She made a budget twelves years ago (When I first took over for my dead grandparents) and has stuck to it.
Whatever was left over she put into the bank.

Yesterday, while paying her bills and buying groceries, I discovered that the lady had put away nearly $55,000 in cash.
She has no 401k, stocks or bonds.
She has good credit and has paid off her funeral expenses.
I moved her to a safer neighborhood in a retirement community (Which she hates because there is no action.) where her rent is only $125.00 a month.

But this woman can barely read.
She thought she only had $5,500 in the bank.
When I explained that she had saved nearly $55,000, she couldn't speak.
Today I took her to set up her will.
Most of her relatives will be upset - two will be pleased.
Most of her money (the 55k plus insurance payouts) will go to the niece who drives over 500 miles (each way) twice a month to check in on her and a poor older sister who sends her five dollars a month to help out with bills.

In an age when many people are in debt - this woman may not own much, but she does not owe anything.
When she asked if I was mad that I had always helped her out even though she had money, I had to think about it.
But that was the point of helping her.
She did what I had hoped the others would do.
She was smart with what she had.
She didn't waste money on frivolities.
She can enjoy her retirement without having to worry about paying her bills.
She can watch The Young and the Restless and the judge shows knowing that her newly bought T.V. (her only splurge) is paid for and not rent-to-own.
Her net wealth and quality of life (She already has everything she wants) is probably higher than many people making a lot more money.
Miss Dorothy may as well be a millionaire.


D.Freeman said...

Maybe the trick is not letting people have access or know how much they saved. Or maybe it's asking the government to set aside some money for the downtrodden as long as they are on public assistance. Maybe it's a debt that they have to save to contribute to their own retirement although they don't directly contribute to it.

Wealth in this day and age is what you have. My grandfather told me as a Black Man wealth is not owing anyone and not asking anyone for anything. It seems Miss Dorothy is from my grandfather's generation and they knew to live within their means.

I guess I was a good listener because I learned to value owing no one.

Those of whom you help know the way they are going has no benefit but they have seen Miss Dorothy never splurge on anything and just can't understand how that's better than blowing it on a kid's party. Some people think for a lifetime while others think for a day!

Freckles said...

Kudos on this post. I often feel that I need to be better with money. This is a strong testament to being blessed with what you need and not consumed with what you want.

Liam said...

wow, i applaud you and your family for all of your efforts in helping this woman simply out of being kind and understanding people. its good to know kind hearts still beat.