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Personal Finance: Bickering with the boss

Michelle Singletary
Thursday, December 9, 2010; 1:22 PM

With the unemployment rate hovering just below 10 percent, you would think employees who tended to be uncooperative or unproductive would do their best to behave.

But I hear all the time about workers -- who apparently are not too afraid of getting fired even with the high unemployment rate -- habitually arriving late, taking off early, staying too long on lunch breaks and delivering poor work performances.

Take for example, Redskins football player Albert Haynesworth, who has been making news lately for his refusal to cooperate with his coach - his boss - Mike Shanahan.

I guess Haynesworth can afford to spar with his coach since he's already collected so much of his $100 million contract. The Redskins suspended the defensive lineman without pay for the remainder of the regular season for conduct detrimental to the team, report the Post's Rick Maese and Sally Jenkins.

A report in the Post today lays out some of Shanahan's grievances against Haynesworth.

Giving her take on the matter, sports columnist Jenkins says there is no "managing" Haynesworth.

"He's a daily affront to every dedicated player in the locker room, out to do the least amount of work while collecting the most amount of money. He cheats on his contract and he cheats his teammates. Indolence is written all over him, and so is insubordination," she writes.

There are a lot of unmanageable employees like Haynesworth. Many of you manage employees or work alongside colleagues who wear their insubordination as a badge of honor. I wouldn't want anyone to have to be unemployed, but some people just need to be kicked to the curb to make room for people who need the job and will work hard.

I want to hear from you on this issue. Here's this week's Color of Money Question: What's the worse case of insubordination you've seen in your workplace? Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com and put "Bickering With The Boss" in the subject line.

Have You Beat Down Your Debt?

I'm looking for your debt defeater stories. If you've gotten rid of a heavy debt load, I want to hear about it. How did you do it? What sacrifices did you make? How do you feel now having gotten rid of your credit chains?

Send your story and I will give you a shout out during my live video chat.

Here are a few of the stories I've received so far:

--A reader from Denver paid off her $100,000 home mortgage in four years.

--Alex in Illinois erased $20,000 in four and a half years

--A Washington resident got rid of $20,000 in 12 months.

Send your submissions to colorofmoney@washpost.com and put "Debt Defeaters" in the subject line.

It's a 'Me, Too' Holiday

It appears shoppers are putting themselves near the top of their Christmas lists this year.

The Post's Ylan Q. Mui reports that one industry survey shows that an overwhelming number of shoppers - 57 percent - plan on buying for themselves as they shop for others. That's up four points from last year and makes for the biggest jump in at least six years.

Marshal Cohen, senior analyst for a consumer research firm, attributes the jump in self-gifting to a "pent up demand."

Chat Next Week

Do you have any year-end financial questions as we wrap up 2010? If so, join me on December 16th. I'll start with my live video chat 11:45 am and that will be followed by my live text chat at noon.

Responses to Finding Debtors on Facebook

Should debt collection companies use social media sites such as Facebook to track down debtors?

That's the question I asked last week after a Florida woman had this experience.

Your responses were very interesting.

Darrien of Lithonia, Ga. thinks it's desperate and inappropriate for debt collectors to stalk debtors on a social networking site. "I think a Facebook page is an electronic-social phonebook so to speak," he wrote. "Yes, the numbers are there for contact but that doesn't mean you can use a semi-private avenue to coerce debtors into paying their past due financial obligations."

Darrien was in the minority on this issue.

"It's your responsibility to pay your debts or find a way to work something out," said Adam Filbey of Roanoke, Va. "This isn't about privacy. It's about being held accountable for not upholding your part of the lending agreement in the first place."

"I believe that every action possible should be taken to collect legitimate, valid debts that have been adjudicated," said L. Mack Shealy of Augusta, Ga. "There are just too many people out there who have been living beyond their means and consider it okay to just walk away and start over another day! Many ways exists to work your way out of debt if people would just ask."

"I work part time for a constable and I reach out to folks to pay parking and traffic fines," says Paula of Pennsylvania. "It is very hard to track people down. Few have land lines to call, cell numbers aren't listed and so on. We find LinkedIn, the business-networking site, to be a great tool! People list their information for everyone to see. Our take on it is if you list yourself in the public domain, then you are open to contact via the numbers and info you put there. We are always polite and respectful but people need to be accountable too."

Sequana Janifer of Bowie, Md. makes a good case for trying to collect what she's owed.

"I'm a small business owner and I can't afford not to be paid for the products that I provide. So I have reached out to customers on Facebook," she wrote. "I don't say, 'Hey, where's my money?' I just say, 'Hey give me a call.' The debtor should not get harassed, but they should be able to be tracked down that way."

Tia Lewis contributed to this e-letter.

You are welcome to e-mail comments and questions to singletarym@washpost.com. Please include your name and hometown; your comments may be used in a future column or newsletter unless otherwise requested.

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