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The_Ink_Goddess
07-31-2018, 12:58 PM
Hey guys!

My protagonist is a 20-year-old college student who is on some financial aid but is still broke. It's set in the contemporary period, but not necessarily in one state.

What would her financial situation look like? Whatever financial resources she'd have, though, I want her to lose them instantly. I know that there are tons of ways to lose money, but I want it to not be her fault, so she can retain sympathy from the audience. Theft makes sense, because she has a lot of shady "friends" -- but it's mostly still an inciting incident and I don't want it to overtake the whole novel.

How can she lose it then? Under what circumstances? I don't want the police to be much use, but they can be involved. Her money just can't come back.

Bacchus
07-31-2018, 01:20 PM
Is the money physical or virtual? Some kind of Crypto currency fraud (or simple market volativity) if it's virtual, or some kind of pick-pocket if not? Have her cash bundled up safely and go on an underground train to discover after a few stops that she is only holding the handle of her bag?

As an aside the Bank of England destroys old notes in a furnace, but if your "wad" is involved in a house-fire or something they have a pretty good forensic department for identifying them!

EMaree
07-31-2018, 02:01 PM
Gives it to a friend to help them out of a bad situation, friend skips town and there's no record of the money being a loan rather than a gift so the banks shrug and go 'you sent it willingly'.

Spend it all on a car because they desperately need a car for work, get a great deal from one of their friends if they buy it in cash, car turns out to have been stolen/has a faulty head gasket/is a cut 'n shut.

Bacchus
07-31-2018, 02:59 PM
<tongue_in_cheek_mode> she could write a novel and pay for editing, artwork, and vanity publishing... </tongue_in_cheek_mode>

Jason
07-31-2018, 05:02 PM
Typographical error from the bank...happens more often than you'd think.

Makes a deposit from her paycheck, and deposits $1500. Auto scanning instruments at bank presume the last two zeros are cents, so credits her $15.00.

Only takes a few days normally but those kinds of "losses" do usually get sorted out and the correct monies deposited. So, if it's temporary, maybe that's a way. Or did you want a more permanent loss?

talktidy
07-31-2018, 05:21 PM
If she was wandering around with a lot of cash in her pocket, it might attract the attention of law enforcement, who might seize the cash after accusing her of coming by the monies by illegal means.

I read something about this the other day, where an elderly man had his life's savings seized by highway patrol officers because it was cash.

lizmonster
07-31-2018, 05:25 PM
Is she working? There've been cases where companies have shut down abruptly without paying people wages they're owed, due to things like embezzlement or just abrupt business failure.

mrsfauthor
07-31-2018, 05:31 PM
Hey guys!

My protagonist is a 20-year-old college student who is on some financial aid but is still broke. It's set in the contemporary period, but not necessarily in one state.

What would her financial situation look like? Whatever financial resources she'd have, though, I want her to lose them instantly. I know that there are tons of ways to lose money, but I want it to not be her fault, so she can retain sympathy from the audience. Theft makes sense, because she has a lot of shady "friends" -- but it's mostly still an inciting incident and I don't want it to overtake the whole novel.

How can she lose it then? Under what circumstances? I don't want the police to be much use, but they can be involved. Her money just can't come back.

Invest in a friend's business or a too-good-to-be-true stock? Gamble at the racetrack? Carrying the money somewhere and she is mugged? Buy a used car that is a lemon then it dies?

benbenberi
07-31-2018, 05:36 PM
Cash: she's been robbed. Maybe a break-in, maybe a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend wandered through, maybe a pickpocket (though if she was carrying large amounts of cash on her person, that's careless, not blameless).

Money in a bank: Identity theft or some other cybercrime -- some unknown bad guy drained her account. Some may be recoverable eventually... (but dealing with this is potentially time-consuming & could get in the way of the story). Or maybe the bank gets shut down & accounts are frozen/inaccessible. This is probably a short-term inconvenience rather than a long-term loss. Bank error: what Jason just suggested. Also temporary but annoying.

Investments: can vanish in a flash for no particular reason. Mark Zuckerberg just lost BILLIONS in a day [cue the tiny violins]. Or possibly some trusted somebody persuaded her to put all her eggs in this super-safe scheme that's been giving tremendous returns to everybody. !!!Ponzi scheme!!!

Or maybe she's lent her money to somebody who really really needs it, who just blows it all in a hurry & promises to pay it back but never will. (The triumph of hope over experience. This isn't the first time people have taken advantage of her good heart.)

bwebs
07-31-2018, 09:13 PM
Double or triple it up. She gives the last of her little bit of cash to a friend in need (extra sympathy points) knowing she can get by, only to have her aid not come through, and then her parents cancel a co-signed credit card because it's time for her to grow up.

cbenoi1
07-31-2018, 09:27 PM
She left her smartphone at a coffee shop. By the time she realized it hours later and came back to get it, she finds someone used it to stream a soccer game from Niger at US$75 a minute. It racked up quite a bill - which happens to match her savings - and the phone company would not let her off the hook. The police is not interested because watching soccer is not illegal and she can't prove she didn't do it. The only option is to bring the phone company to court and she is not really into it because she can't afford the time and the legal fees.

-cb

ironmikezero
07-31-2018, 11:50 PM
Illegal (and rigged) poker game?

cmhbob
08-01-2018, 12:04 AM
Cryptocurrency fraud or loss was the first thing I thought of.

Playing off the phone idea: she banks by phone and loses the phone long enough for the bad guy to drain her account via a transfer.

waylander
08-01-2018, 01:04 PM
As happened recently with TSB, her bank does a software upgrade/migration that goes wrong. She is unable to get through to their fraud team while an identity fraudster drains her account. She would get her money eventually but it could take weeks.

Friendly Frog
08-01-2018, 04:18 PM
Unexpected, sudden veterinary or medical bills? Some of those can set you back a few hundreds to thousands at once. And some want the money immediately.

It can be for friends or family, so the MC isn't incapacitated for the remaining story.

WeaselFire
08-02-2018, 08:47 PM
Hit the track. Happens every day. Drunk weekend in Vegas. Internet gambling. Finance a drug deal where the dealer is an undercover officer. Fire at her dorm/apartment that burns up all her cash?

What, exactly, do you need as results for your story? Lose it but get it back at the conclusion? Lose it permanently? Owe it rather than lose what she already has? Be forced into poverty so she turns to the sex trade? Borrow from her pompous sister to pay bills? And how much money? A hundred bucks? $1,000? $10,000? When I was a college student, losing a $20 bill would bankrupt me. Now days it's more like a $10 bill. :)

Jeff

mewellsmfu
08-03-2018, 09:51 AM
Hire my idiot nephew.

alkin
08-03-2018, 07:04 PM
An accident and paying for damages suits your idea.
Breaking merchandise or property by car crash, fire, or simple mishandling.

jclarkdawe
08-04-2018, 07:53 AM
Especially with shady friends, I'd go with the modern but very common scenario of someone swipes her bank card numbers. Debit card can be wiped out, credit cards maxed out. Happens a lot these days. My wife was nailed for $800 a month ago. Getting it back is a matter of how long it takes the bank(s) to unravel the mess. I've got a friend who got dipped for over five grand three months ago and the bank still hasn't replaced the money. Admittedly my friend is not the best for dealing with people, but the bank is also screwing the pooch here.

Not her fault and a lot of people will identify with her.

Jim Clark-Dawe

L.C. Blackwell
08-05-2018, 06:29 AM
A vital car repair can knock out your savings in a hurry--like $3000-$4000 to replace a bad transmission.

Or, your weak tire that you've been hoping to replace blows out, you get into an accident while driving without insurance, which you were a week away from being able to pay, which equals traffic tickets, plus fine for not being insured, plus totaled car, plus (maybe) other driver suing you, plus a $2000 (at least) emergency room bill, which your car insurance would have paid if you'd had insurance....

Thomas Vail
08-07-2018, 03:05 AM
Hey guys!

My protagonist is a 20-year-old college student who is on some financial aid but is still broke. It's set in the contemporary period, but not necessarily in one state.

What would her financial situation look like? Whatever financial resources she'd have, though, I want her to lose them instantly. I know that there are tons of ways to lose money, but I want it to not be her fault, so she can retain sympathy from the audience. Theft makes sense, because she has a lot of shady "friends" -- but it's mostly still an inciting incident and I don't want it to overtake the whole novel.

How can she lose it then? Under what circumstances? I don't want the police to be much use, but they can be involved. Her money just can't come back.
As been mentioned before, investing in something. Especially with the financial and social situation that you describe her in, it would be understandable if she's vulnerable to a charismatic acquaintance talking into sinking everything she's got into a 'sure thing.' It doesn't even have to be a swindle or a scam - the friend actually believes that what they're doing is going to be the big score, but everything goes sideways somehow and all that money is gone.

That makes the loss total, functionally irrevocable, absolutely legal, as well as story-wise, something of a sidenote.

frimble3
08-13-2018, 10:01 PM
I have a mean suggestion, for which I apologise, but, based on LosPollosHermanos's thread above, how about your character trustingly lend her money to her 'friends'' struggling little restaurant? They fully intend to pay her back out of the 'profits', which never materialize, and they close, slinking off without her recovering a penny.

jennontheisland
08-14-2018, 12:02 AM
As a student in Canada, my federal and provincial student loan money was paid directly to the school for tuition then the rest would be directly deposited in my account. Even with loans maxed out, I didn't get enough for expenses. I worked part time because I didn't have savings or parents to cover the difference, and put any non-budget expense on my cc and hoped I didn't max it out before graduation (did, but just barely). Losing my job would have been catastrophic. So would having to buy a new car (2-3 months living expenses) or any kind of major repairs to my car. I budgeted like a boss and still would have been screwed if I lost that same $20 that Weaselfire did.

I've had "shady" friends but I'm smart enough to not have cash around when they are, and if I did I wouldn't let them know I did, so I'd have no sympathy for a character who loses substantial cash in that way. That's self-inflicted and dumb, IMO. And any kind of loan to anyone when you're strapped for cash and living on borrowed money is also self-inflicted injury and general dumbness. "Investments" in other people's businesses fall into this category as well. I guess if you want to play up how young and naive she is you could use one of these, but you'd really have to set her up that way for me to think her anything other than TSTL.

Scarabia
08-22-2018, 03:45 AM
I am a 20 year old female college student currently, something that set me back financially recently was a car crash. Insurance goes up, and paying for damages depending on whose fault the crash was, and all of the different factors involved. You could play around with that to see how much you can set her back financially.
The shady friends you mentioned could get her in trouble with the school and she could lose her scholarships.
Her car/dorm room/apartment could be broken into.
In an attempt to make some extra cash she could get scammed and her bank account could be drained.
She could get kicked out of whatever housing she was in and need to suddenly afford housing on her own.

neandermagnon
08-22-2018, 10:15 AM
If you want the money to be lost instantly, as in it's in her bank account one minute and out the next, fraud would do that. Maybe fraudsters got her online banking details, logged in and emptied her account. This could be as a result of a phishing/vishing/smishing scam - this is where someone phones/emails/text messages pretending to be from your bank, saying there's been a security breach (or some other cover story) and you have to go to this internet page and log on to your online bank, or give them all your passwords/security info/numbers/etc over the phone. They then use this to log in to your online banking.

Data theft (e.g. stealing your old mail from your bin) may result in the above if they have enough info to get through all the security questions by phoning your bank pretending to be you. (Always shred anything that has your personal info before throwing it in the bin.) There are lots of other ways thieves can steal your data. I'm currently really pissed off with Curry's/PC world as they had a data breach where customer data was accessed... no fraud has happened as far as they can tell, but data thieves can steal data from one company then use it to pretend to be you when contacting another company.

Also, some thieves put devices on ATMs that read the data on your card and video you putting your PIN number in. They then make a copy of your card and use it to access your money - you won't lose so much money instantly though, as there's a limit to how much you can take out at an ATM. They may be able to make online purchases although if they don't have the 3-digit security number on the back, they may not be able to make large purchases.

On a more serious level - the bank would be in very deep shit if this happened, and you'd get your money back eventually, but there would be the time while you're waiting for the bank to sort their shit out when you have no money - data thieves could hack the bank's computers, steal customer data and use it to empty people's bank accounts. IMO I'd find this less plausible in a story as this sort of thing would be headline news and destroy a bank's reputation. Like the whole TSB fiasco (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43923561), only possibly even worse. But it could be done if you have a fictional bank name and also make reference to all the media fallout and other severely pissed off customers.

There are various other ways that scammers operate. If your bank's on the ball about fraud prevention, they should already have given you info about the various scams and how to protect yourself. It's usually also on the bank's websites. Personally, I would not continue to bank with any bank/building society/etc that wasn't up-to-date with their fraud prevention/detection/etc. Some of the consumer protection websites will also have info about this, and on how to get your money back if you've been scammed. Bear in mind that the kind of scams that involve you making outbound transactions of your own volition, you're unlikely to ever get your money back. If the bank's at fault (including failing to protect your money and data) they are obliged to return your money but that may take time.

spork
09-09-2018, 11:59 PM
I know that there are tons of ways to lose money, but I want it to not be her fault, so she can retain sympathy from the audience. Theft makes sense, because she has a lot of shady "friends" -- but it's mostly still an inciting incident and I don't want it to overtake the whole novel.


You could have her financial aid take the form of a grant, since those are generally subject to change. When I was in college, my financial aid package changed from one semester to the next because of a grant. In that situation, you don't need to incapacitate your character with some kind of emergency, but she still loses all of her money through no fault of her own.

shakeysix
09-10-2018, 01:26 AM
My daughter had her entire bank account siphoned off in a few hours, almost 3,600 dollars. Someone had her PIN # and took the entire amount out in increments of 600$. The bank notified her immediately--we were shopping at IKEA for new furniture for her apartment. We rushed to the bank in less than 20 minutes. Too late. A camera at an ATM showed clearly that she was not the person making withdrawals. The bank to;ld us this was good news because it would shorten the time it would take to reimburse her account--ONLY 4 weeks. Luckily she had the proper account protection, an extra charge. Without that protection she might not have been reimbursed without a lot more time and paperwork. IF the camera hadn't proved she was not the one making the withdrawals, she might have had to hire legal counsel.

All in all it was best case but she still had to move home for 4 weeks, the reimbursement took almost 5 weeks and she was plagued with late payments on her bills. Her bad luck might work for you. -s6
PS-she never did get that new bedroom furniture. Still sleeping on a mattress on the floor and using clothes baskets for a dresser.