Smart and Simple Matters

I was both terrified and thrilled to hear her story.

At first I just heard it second-hand from my mom. I remember thinking:

“Wait. They horded how many years of paperwork?! Hold on. They had how many credit cards with unpaid balances?! Get out of here. The Fire Marshall condemned the house with zero notice?!”

Then I thought that this was a story that needed to be told. My mom knew I was all about Daily Money Management, so she encouraged me to contact her friend and former co-worker that the story was about.

Jen Koontz and I exchanged emails for a month until we first spoke in early August. She had every reason to be wary of me because we had never spoken and I was asking some rather probing questions about her family.

After an hour on the phone, I asked Jen if she would be willing to be a guest on the Smart and Simple Matters (SASM) show and she was game. It took three months to coordinate the episode and involved my first field report with new equipment. The podcasting gods smiled upon us because it worked out better than either of us hoped.

In this episode of SASM you'll hear about some things that, frankly, are shocking. Jen's an open, honest, and very good person, so I won't be ruining the surprise when I mention that her mom and step-dad were:

  • Years behind on tax filing and payment.
  • Happy to have debt collectors call Jen at 6:00 am instead of them.
  • Prime candidates to be featured on the TV show Hoarders.
  • Not having anything to do with being “fixed.”
  • Refusing to take responsibility for any part of the situation they created.

This is a horror story without ghosts or physical harm, but the emotional, mental, and spiritual anguish is probably worse. Heroes show up on the scene and the situation does partially improve with some valiant efforts. I can't promise a happy ending because the story is ongoing.

But there's a lot to learn from Jen and a number of actions to take after listening to the tale of “Becoming an Accidental Daily Money Manager.”

She deserves a special thanks for her courage and desire to help people avoid or deal with unpleasant family madness. Let Jen know how much her story means to you in the comments and how you plan to help her spread the word about her ordeal.

What You'll Learn

This one is all Jen. I don't teach you anything other than how to facilitate an interview and ask good questions, but Jen makes up for it.

In this episode you'll learn about:

  • How many layers of debt someone can withstand (especially on a fixed income).
  • What it's like having your house condemned by the Fire Marshall with no notice.
  • Why compassion is essential to surviving tough times.
  • How to play the parent role to your parents.
  • First steps to take when you uncover a financial or organizational time bomb.
  • Why uniting with your support team is critical.
  • How to dive into the “need vs. wants” and “them vs. me” discussions.
  • Why simplifying and automating is so valuable when you have major debt.
  • Having stress-free money conversations with family to prepare for the stressful ones.

Resources and Items Mentioned in This Episode Include:


  • [03:19] Just how bad Jen's parents financial and organizational situation was
  • [11:40] Jen's team that helped relieve her of some financial responsibility
  • [20:07] Sound first steps to take when you uncover a financial or organizational time bomb
  • [24:00] Holding your ground and staying consistent in your message
  • [34:00] Self-compassion and feeling it's OK to lose your mind periodically
  • [41:46] Recap of lessons learned

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