I’ve always prided myself on being savvy with money. My description for Consumer Catholic on Facebook is “Savvy Stewards of God’s Money.” Well, I’ve been humbled. I’m not as savvy as I thought as I fell for a Craigslist apartment rental scam and lost $2000. It’s been a little over 2 weeks now, and I consider it a very expensive blessing.
So here’s what happened. I accepted a new job after leaving my job a few months ago. The new job requires (at least) a 4-hour round trip commute each day (part drive-part train-part walking). So I wanted to move closer to cut that down significantly.
Now, you’d think I’d be making a boatload to commit to such a commute, but sadly no! (The job offers great flexibility and potential to work from home, plus I really I believe in their mission.) I live in a very expensive part of the country and rent hovers around $2K for a studio. And so as many great scam stories start, I went to Craigslist (dun, dun, dun)…to find a furnished apartment.
I didn’t want to have to buy furniture or commit to a full lease. I found a place for $1000 per month near the train (cutting out the driving part). It covered utilities, parking, cable, and internet and was fully furnished. As I type this, I’m thinking, “Well-duh! It’s too good to be true.”
Long story short, I signed a lease and $2K later, I realize I’d been scammed! Yes, I tried to recover the money and no, I was not successful. That could change but I’ve let go of any hope for that.
I was a mess when I realized my mistake. I judged myself harshly for not following my intuition on several red flags. I felt scared, dumb, and angry. I’m one of the most skeptical I know when it comes to advertisements and marketing. And yet, I fell for this. I chastised myself:
- How could this happen to me, who champions financial stewardship?
- How many times have I judged others for falling for scams, proudly saying I’d never fall for one myself?
Teeny Tiny Shred of Hope
Somewhere underneath all of that, there was the tiniest shred of hope that everything would be OK. It was after midnight when I was pretty certain it was, indeed, a scam. The thought of sleeping made me panicked: I needed to get my money back now, I reasoned. That little glimmer of hope, I knew, came from the Holy Spirit. So I thought that maybe God could orchestrate things so I’d get my money back when I woke in the morning. But I also felt a voice say, “Will you trust Me if you don’t the money back?” I didn’t want to think about that.
The next morning, it was looking very bleak that the bank would/could do anything to help me get my money. So I questioned God as to why I’d have that glimmer of hope if He wasn’t going to refund me!
I’m not going to lie. The rest of the day I threw myself a pity party. I pouted; I cried. I was miserable to be around. I felt so wronged. I’d still be playing the victim card if it weren’t for a few people who helped me see things differently.
Thank God for family, friends, and acquaintances who kept it in perspective for me. I was embarrassed to tell people initially because I thought they would think I was just some dumb millennial. I didn’t think I deserved anyone’s compassion because I was the one who’d gotten myself into this mess.
God is so good. He was giving me an opportunity to receive love and mercy when I didn’t feel like I deserved it. Honestly, that means a lot to me! It’s tempting to want to feel like I don’t need mercy and don’t need to rely on others, but I do. It’s both hard and humbling to admit that.
I also realized that I had rushed into this apartment situation too quickly: I hadn’t listened to my intuition when I sniffed some red flags. There was actually a sense of relief when it fell through. I’m staying put for now, which means I’ll still get to live with my grandpa, be 5 minutes from perpetual Adoration and 3 minutes from my favorite hiking trail, and close to my gym and favorite grocery stores!
I’ve shared before that I’ve had probably an unhealthy attachment to money: it’s security and I have a hard time letting go. I needed to lose that money to grow. I needed to lose it to know I’d be fine without it. I needed to take my own advice on knowing God will provide.
Everything is OK. I just have a little less money in the bank and a lot more conviction that trusting God is the most important thing I can do.
I do believe God allowed this to happen for several reasons I can see and for several more I don’t even realize. I believe the devil took away some thing so important to me (money) and tried to get between me and God. Sorry, not sorry devil – it didn’t work! Maybe it did for a few minutes, but I’m glad this happened because I’m more free than before and less attached to money.