Nina is 38 years old, has an 11-year old daughter, lives as a single mother in her own home, works for the government, makes $44,000 gross a year and she hates her life.
Not all of it, just the part that has to do with work and money. Owner of 3 credit cards, two of which are maxed out, Nina has a credit card debt of $17,000...at almost 20% interest.
Nina also is the proud owner of two "easy payment" loans, both for $5,000. Both loans have an interest rate of 26%. The first she took out in 2002 to take her daughter to Disney World. The second she took out late last year to take a cruise and shop through the Caribbean.
She refinanced the first "easy payment" loan in early 2004 to put a down payment on her car. On the contract for the refinancing, which Nina admits she didn't read, is the total amount she is paying for that first loan: $14,650. She took out $5,000, minus fees and ends up paying a little over $9,800 more for using $5,000.
The car? A 2005 Neon. Her "old" car was a 2002 Lumina. Her house? Pays $635 a month and having owned it for 12 years, she is considering taking out a second mortgage.
Nina's take-home pay is about $3,400 a month, more than twice the median family income for Puerto Rico. She has only one child, who is healthy, and attends a "cheap" private school (about $300 a month.) Nina is not so healthy: she consumes prescription painkillers in high quantities to deal with the "migraines" she gets at work. She can't wait for the weekend, takes frequent sick days, often goes out for long lunch hours and then, wracked with guilt, works like a demon for a week or two, only to slump back into loathing her job.
A job she feels she can't quit. Nina has no savings nor any investments. Her monthly debt load is $2,845 without adding in food and utilities. Nina and her daughter "live" on about $555 a month. To make ends meet, Nina often uses the employee's credit union for "short-term" loans, making her even more dependent on a job she can't stand.
Sure, you can say, Nina's an idiot. But is she? She makes more money than most people here, owns her house and lives the "normal" lifestyle of paying twice for education, buying a new car before the old one warranties out, taking a big vacation every few years and using her credit cards to shop. If that's being an idiot, then many of Us in Puerto Rico are idiots.
Nina may or may not be an idiot, but there's no doubt she's a slave. Her job and the bank "own" her. Her credit cards and loans come directly or indirectly from the same source: Banco Popular, a member of The Jenius' List. But even if they didn't, even if Nina spread her productivity out over several "masters," the situation is the same: she can't change jobs, she has no economic freedom, she is a slave.
The Truth is, Nina and the rest of the slaves, are "cash cows" for the bank, who take over 20% of their productivity in the form on interest rates. Nina works almost 2 days a week to give that money to the bank, to service the debt she chose to have, in order to live the lifestyle she believes is "right", a lifestyle promoted with overwhelming intensity evry hour of every day.
Yes, Nina may be an idiot and she is a slave. But look hard at your own situation. How close are you to falling into Nina's pit of despair? Or how far are you from climbing up to Nina's "freedom"?
The Jenius Has Spoken.