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Mom's Foreclosure Suicide

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For one woman, losing her home led to losing her life.

Carlene Balderrama, mom of one, had a secret. Her family was heading into foreclosure. But because she handled all the family finances, her husband had no idea. Hours before the house was to be auctioned off, she faxed a letter to her mortgage company, saying that "by the time they foreclosed on the house today she'd be dead." Then she fatally shot herself with her husband's rifle.

Balderrama, 53, left a note for her husband and 24-year-old son, saying they should "take the [life] insurance money and pay for the house," police said. But, tragically, most insurance companies won't even pay in the event of a suicide.

"Put yourself in her shoes," police chief Raymond O'Berg told the Boston Globe. "You handle the finances, and you're hiding everything from family. It's a lot of pressure."

Momlogic contributor Rabbi Sherre Hirsch, author of We Plan, God Laughs: Ten Steps to Finding Your Divine Path When Life is Not Turning Out Like You Wanted, says that sort of pressure can feel like too much to bear. "A lot of women handle all the finances, but are hesitant to talk to their spouses when troubles arise," she says. "Maybe they don't know how he'll react, or they don't want to emasculate him." But in those cases, women are not only forced to deal with the stress of the family's financial woes alone, but also must bear the burden of harboring such a deep, dark secret.

With the economy getting worse and worse, gas and grocery prices skyrocketing, and foreclosure on the rise, the financial pressures have never been higher. But that's why it's more important than ever to communicate with your spouse about money, according to Hirsch. For her tips for moms, click here.

next: Caylee's Grandma's Frantic 911 Call
20 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris ferrin July 25, 2008, 9:08 AM

With all the billions of dollars banks and mortgage companies have made off homeowmers over decades of monthy interest payments why can’t banks just give people a break and stop forcing people to pay off loans when they can’t afford it anymore. If Congress can bail out Wall St. why can’t they give real homeowners a break? Something’s wrong with our system and values in America

Herman Cho July 25, 2008, 9:16 AM

Life is like a piece of cake…Do not settle for raw or half-cooked…Wait for the right time, till it becomes a delicious cake…Then enjoy it…

Tough times never last, but tough people do…

Hollie July 25, 2008, 10:18 AM

My heart goes out to that family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

In the end it’s not the years in out life but the life in our years.

Karen Putz / DeafMom July 25, 2008, 10:22 AM

Gosh, this is an incredibly sad story. :(

Anonymous July 25, 2008, 11:42 AM

Most women handle the finances because men are too lazy to do it.

AM July 25, 2008, 12:15 PM

“Most women handle the finances because men are too lazy to do it.”

Based on what evidence?

Ginny July 25, 2008, 12:38 PM

Just because one person or the other handles the finances, doesn’t mean that they are the only one who should know what the budget looks like. One person might implement it, but it should be agreed upon by both partners. Problems with finances should be shared and resolved together. Sacrifices in wants should be agreed upon so things that are needed can be taken care of.

Her husband should have known they were in trouble. It was a terrible burden for this woman to have had to deal with on her own.

You know, the bottom line is, and the WORST part about this story? That this poor woman thought that that house was more important that she was.

We can live without stuff people. It’s just stuff. Life is FAR more important. My deepest sympathies to this woman’s family and friends.

sari July 25, 2008, 8:50 PM

I read that her husband had unsuccessfully filed for bankruptcy for two or three years in a row within the last five years. How could he NOT have known they were in financial trouble? It sounds like he was burying his head in the sand, and letting his wife take the heat. My husband handles most of the finances, too, but I know how much money we make, and roughly what our bills are. I’m sure I would know if we weren’t making enough to meet our mortgage, unless he suddenly developed a gambling or drug problem.

vlscpa July 26, 2008, 9:54 AM

BS, her husband didn’t know about it. He’s one of those folks who doesn’t have to attend ANY of the three creditors’ meetings, required by the bankruptcy court. He’s one of those folks who doesn’t have to make payments TO WHICH HE AGREED to the bankruptcy courts. He’s one of those folks who uses the bankruptcy courts to delay, but he knew that he was tens of thousands of dollars in debt to that mortgage company when the last Ch 13 was dismissed, as it should have been.

This is a $232,000 house, and the central A/C isn’t working, by the looks of the window unit. This house is owned by an owner who can’t take care of things, and then says “I had no idea.” The vehicles in front are nice, though, aren’t they?

Makes me wonder what else Mr. Balderrama found fit to do with all that money he wasn’t paying to his creditors. Those police need to look closer at this matter.

vlscpa July 26, 2008, 10:03 AM

BTW, whatever habits Mr. Balderrama has were most likely not at all recently developed. He’s probably got quite a court record, lawsuits, if not arrests.

This guy’s a liar and a fraud, and the cops really, really need to look closer at this sad story, because I suspect that it’s actually a mystery story, easy to solve if you can get past the “oh that poor lady” crap.

Chris July 26, 2008, 10:42 PM

The woman hadn’t made a house payment in 42 months… and another article said her husband was a plumber earning $95K/year as of Apr 2006. Looks like two new vehicles in the driveway (I assume theirs), so even though I DON’T know the ENTIRE story, this is not the typical foreclosure issue due to predatory lenders. I feel bad for the family, but it sounds like more than the mortgage was a problem.

Smith  August 13, 2008, 3:13 AM


nikki December 10, 2008, 8:29 PM

It is pretty pathetic that us americans would rather live in the house, drive the cars, wear the clothes, that we can’t afford, rather than be thankful for our family and this great country and most important BEING ALIVE to enjoy it.

Mike December 10, 2008, 8:41 PM

There is certainly more to this story. One major discrepancy in the story, life insurance DOES pay in the case of suicide provided it occurs after the suicide clause has expired, typically 2 years. After that period, suicide is just as measurable a risk as any other cause of death. It centers around the idea that few would buy a policy with the intent of commiting suicide and be able to wait the 2 years. Has it ever happened? YES! But, very seldom. This limit is designed to protect the beneficiary. The initial period is designed to protect the company - which means all the policyholders!

Mike December 10, 2008, 9:04 PM

Reply to: Chris Ferrin
Chris, People have been paid by GM/Ford/Chrysler for years. Why can’t their employees just give them a break and work for free for a while? Why should they be forced to continuing to meet payroll when they can’t afford it anymore? Check your premises – SHOULD the govt be bailing out Wall Street? Maybe. They caused the housing crisis by their legislation over the last 30 years (Including R’s AND D’s!). Maybe they’re just trying to cover up the truth that government is NOT the solution, it is the problem! However, there are people who have made way too much money over the last years running those companies into the ground. Maybe they should be going to jail or reimbursing the millions in income paid for their LACK of results!
“Who is John Galt?”

john December 10, 2008, 10:08 PM

after seeing today the auto makers got their bail out it only proves its all political,the rich feed the govt in return the govt feeds the rich,people like carlene balderrama and myself mean nothing,im in the same position as carlene and feel like she did,after seeing what the great us govt is doing with and for whom with all these bailouts just worssens things.all you heard at the start was all the govt was going to do for homeowners was and is just a farce.its truly sad!!!!!!!!!!!!

Patty January 30, 2009, 5:22 AM

I got in trouble to with all the new programs out there you can get help from your mortgage company I was scared to at first because of scams but my own mortgage company helped me. The good banks dont want to foreclose they try to work with you, you have to get help it is out there if you look.

Debbie January 31, 2009, 12:55 PM

This is so sad. Most life policies do pay even if suicide if the policy has been in force for more than 2 yrs. So that is probably not an issue. But, having gone thru extreme difficult times myself a few go rounds, this is really uncalled for. If you have drive and determination, you can get thru anything as long as you have your health.

Advocate January 5, 2010, 1:57 PM

This government supports only the rich.

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