Money Karma


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Money Karma

Do you believe in karma — that what goes around comes around? Well, today I want to talk about a little something I like to call “money karma.” Let me tell you what this made-up word means and then you can decide whether you’re a believer in this hocus pocus nonsense, too.

When Johnny and I moved from New York City, we loaded everything into a Budget rental truck, parked it on Third Avenue on the Upper East Side and spent the night at a nearby friend’s house. The next morning, we woke up at the awful hour of 4:00 a.m., trying to avoid any and all city traffic. But before we could bid adieu to our beloved city, we had to swing by our old apartment one final time to grab a few items and leave our keys. As Johnny pulled up to double-park the moving truck in the street while we quickly ran into our apartment, an impatient cab pulled up behind us and started honking. Because NYC is NYC, even at 4 a.m. So Johnny decided to pull up to an empty spot in front of a fire hydrant.

That’s when we heard a “crrrrrrruuunnnnchhhh” and a “crreeeeeeeeakk” sound from somewhere behind us. When you’re driving a ginormous truck, those are the worst possible sounds to hear. Someone swore (Johnny). And then we both got out of the truck to assess the damage. The metal bumper of our moving truck had completely ripped off the bumper of some poor stranger’s van. The sickest feeling took root in the pit of our stomachs. We’d just caused thousands of dollars in damage to someone’s car. We were just a few months away from paying off our student loan debt, and this would probably set us back a year. And of course, to save a little money, we’d foregone any insurance on the moving van. Perfect.

“So what should we do?” one of us asked. Well… hmm… It was 4 in the freaking morning. And not a soul was in sight. Well, there were two very drunk girls sitting on the front stoop of our building. But they were too busy drunk-crying/laughing/puking to notice what had happened. And this was New York City. People who park their cars on the side of the street in NYC are basically asking for this kind of thing to happen. And most car insurance policies cover this sort of thing. It could be our little secret. None of this was said out loud, but let’s face it, it crossed both of our minds. “Let’s put a note on the van with our name and phone number,” I said. Johnny went back to the truck cabin to grab a pen. The sick feeling in our stomach grew even sicker.

Wrecked Vanthe van with our note attached

We then grabbed what we needed from our apartment and drove to Boston, neither of us speaking a word for two full hours. At about 7:00 a.m., we got a phone call from the owner of the van we’d Hulk-smashed with our 16′-metal tank. Rather than being angry, he was mostly surprised and grateful we’d bothered to leave a note. Maybe he’d let bygones be destroyed bumpers and tell us not to worry about it? Funny joke. We exchanged info with him, and that was that.

When we arrived in Boston, Johnny called Budget and submitted a claim. And then we waited for the verdict. How much would this set us back? A week or so later, Budget called Johnny to get some additional information. After Johnny confirmed some specifics of the accident, the Budget employee said, “All right, that’s all I need.” “When will I know how much this is all going to cost?” Johnny asked. “Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. We’ll take it from here.” “What?” “Well, in New York State, we’re required by law to be the primary insurer. So you don’t owe anything.” “I don’t owe anything? At all?” “Nope.”

Whoa. WHOA. Let me tell you, that was a good day. Johnny and I had smiles plastered to our faces for hours. And without missing a beat, we finished paying down our debt the following month, right on schedule.

And that is what I call money karma. I know it doesn’t always work out that way. But I do believe that when you’re trying to do what’s right with your money, sometimes magical things happen.

What about you? Do you believe in money karma? Have you had any money karma moments of your own?

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24 Comments

  • Reply Cori June 23, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Love this story. Clean living and honesty paid you back big time. Now as for Johnny…watch the language you are a father now. Just kidding .

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      Ha! He pretty much never swears, so when he does, you now something *really* bad just happened!

  • Reply Anna // Gone Banannas June 23, 2014 at 9:13 am

    You guys are so nice for leaving a note! And, I totally believe that brought you good karma. I got a new car at the end of April this year. I had it for less than 48 hours when someone decided to smash the front bumper in in a parking lot. They didn’t leave a note so I ended up having to pay my $500 deductible because insurance can only waive that if they have someone to blame the accident on. The only silver lining? That I chose a $500 deductible and not a $1,000 deductible!

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      Oh no!! That’s the worst. $500 is a big bill to swallow, but I’m glad it wasn’t more! Way to see the silver lining in everything, Anna… you crack me up!

  • Reply Miranda June 23, 2014 at 9:57 am

    I totally believe in money karma! I just didn’t know it was called money karma until now. I accidentally scratched a guys brand new car in a crowded parking lot once and had to leave a note. He too was super nice about the whole thing, and said to not even worry about it. The scratch was pretty minor but I still felt horrible.

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 10:48 pm

      I don’t know if it’s really called that… I made the name up, ha! So glad it all worked out in your case, too!

  • Reply Michelle June 23, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I definitely believe in money karma. Good for you guys for leaving a note. I used to have a scion tC. I bought it brand new when I was 18, and it was hit almost 20 times by people who just drove away (it was always parked). That car definitely had some bad mojo and I haven’t had a hit and run since I’ve sold it!

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      Wow!! That’s craziness. Glad you don’t have that car anymore!

  • Reply Shannon June 23, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    That’s so awesome that everything worked out for both parties involved! That happened to me once and the other party was not impressed that I left a note and he told me I should just have my parents pay instead of the insurance company. As if. I had to kindly explain to him that my parents don’t have the financial ability to shell out several hundred dollars and that he really shouldn’t assume everyone is in the kind of financial situation that they can. I no longer remember how much I paid out of pocket after insurance, but I can say I felt a whole lot better taking care of the situation than I would have if I didn’t leave a note. Guilt-free is always worth it!

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 11:11 pm

      Agreed, Shannon! That’s too bad the guy was so lame about it. Accidents happen, buddy! You did the right thing!

  • Reply Chris June 23, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Awesome story! Do I believe in money karma? Are you sure that’s what it was, not CARma karma? Well, I believe in plain old, tell-the-truth-and-you’ll-be-happier-in-the-long-run karma, and I bet money karma, carma karma, and all the others are twin siblings. I mean triplets. Whatever they are, love the story and the lesson behind it!

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      Ha, I like that. It was definitely CARma!!

  • Reply Sharon June 23, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Oh yeah, definitely money karma. I like to call it the spiritual laws of money. Most recently for us, we had decided once and for all to pay off our debt. We became committed and religiously (no pun intended) started to put all of our money towards our debt. Guess what happened? My husband received a large bonus for completing a project. The amount? The exact amount we needed to pay off ALL of our debt, plus put money into our emergency fund. Oh happy day! Also, I remember a time when I gave my last $25 in my checkbook to our church for a special need they had. The very next day I received an unexpected check from our insurance company for an overpayment. So, yeah, I believe in money karma. :)!

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      Wow! What a cool story, Sharon. My parents had similar things happen with their money when we were growing up, but I never really believed it until it happened to us. Needless to say, Johnny and I are big believers!

  • Reply Aldo Rancier June 23, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Cool. It’s always good to be honest. My mom always told me “you wouldn’t want somebody doing this to you, right?” This is not just about money karma, but about being a decent human being. Good job.

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      Thanks, Aldo! All we had to do was imagine this poor person waking up and seeing the damage to their van, and we knew we absolutely had to leave a note!

  • Reply Brian June 24, 2014 at 9:13 am

    That’s a great story. The only thing that bothers me is that they tried to sell you more insurance when they were required by law to be the primary insurer. That’s pretty lame. I guess in their defense you were going to another state.

    • Reply Joanna July 8, 2014 at 10:44 am

      I know what you mean… it seems like it’s the norm for companies to be shady like that. Super lame.

  • Reply Little House June 24, 2014 at 10:04 am

    It pays to be honest! That’s a great story. I would have freaked in this situation, but probably left a note as well.

    • Reply Joanna July 8, 2014 at 10:44 am

      It’s one of those situations that you don’t know how you’re going to react until it slaps you in the face. I’m glad we have no regrets about it!

  • Reply Melanie June 24, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Ahh how I cringed with the crunching noise you described…the worst!! I scratched a car in college when I was attempting to parallel park, left a note…I ended up paying for the damage I caused.
    I have another weird thing that happens to me a lot. I find cell phones all the time. At a concert on the ground, in a bathroom at a bar, on the train, on a bus, in a laundry room (this is over a series of years). I always go through great lengths to return them-even once writing a sign in Spanish for the people who lost it since I noticed all their data was in Spanish. It always feels good to get the phones back to their owners!
    Now I’ve been “upgraded” to finding keys. Recently found a set of Toyota keys on a lanyard right on the ground by a Toyota…jeesh. Had to turn those into the grocery store after waiting outside for a few minutes for the owner. Yesterday, I found a key on the ground at the gym.
    Oh and a lost dog found his way to me a few months ago and I returned him to his owners promptly! I fear lost children will be next.
    In return–I have left my wallet in a gym bathroom stall and someone yelled after me within a minute, and handed it to me…so between my phone and key returns, I think I have good karma coming my way.
    Doing the right thing feels so much better! :)

    • Reply Joanna July 8, 2014 at 10:47 am

      Haha, that’s crazy!! You have a load of good karma coming your way, Melanie! You deserve some kind of medal!!

  • Reply Kassandra June 25, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    I could write a ton of personal anecdotes on how I benefited positively from money karma. You and Johnny must have felt so relieved when Budget said that they would take care of it! I believe in being honest and taking responsibility for one’s actions. It pays off dividends in life, seen and unseen!

    • Reply Joanna July 8, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Agreed. Sometimes the payoff isn’t immediate or even recognized. But I have a guilty conscience, so keeping that clear is good enough for me!

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