update: I racked up $20,000 in personal charges on my company credit card

Remember the letter-writer a couple of years ago who had racked up $20,000 in personal charges on his company credit card and was in a horrible cycle of using the card to take Paypal cash advances to pay it off each month, thus moving it to the next month, along with interest charges? He updated once a few months later, and again late last year. Here’s the latest update.

I am (now, after the promotion ) on $60k. Previously it was $55k per year, so while not easy with two kids, rent, and car payments, I was soooo relieved not to be jobless, I just made it work … And I discovered that beans are marvelous!

As a side effect of this, I must tell you guys. I learned to cook at home a LOT … This was such an amazing journey, not only cheaper and healthier, but damn tasty.

In terms of stress management, I was seriously in trouble this time two years ago. I turned to exercise as a stress management relief source, and I have dropped 20 kg, with only changing diet and starting a running routine each week.  

I know I messed up bad, but to be honest I am a better ( less depressed, more active, more thoughtful, and happier) person now. Looking back, it was a serious kick in the butt and I made use of it to get on a better life path. I am so glad to hear everybody cheering me on along the path. This website (and the community here) were literally my backbone during a turning point. The advice I took away and what I did with it has truly made me a better human. I cannot express the gratitude ever enough … Thanks to you all.

{ 166 comments… read them below }

  1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

    Heck yeah! Great update. I’ve been rooting from you since the beginning and I’m glad it’s going well!

  2. Kittymommy*

    Wow, OP, you should seriously be proud of this accomplishment and what you have taken away from it. Hell, I’m proud of you. You are a perfect example of how an individual’s one mistake can change a life in a good way and that sometimes great employees are worth giving a second chance.

  3. fposte*

    Yay OP! And yay to the OP’s company, which dealt with an unexpected situation thoughtfully and humanely.

    1. AcidMeFlux*

      Right? Too many commenters rush in here with a “fire their asses!” solution to rmployee sctewups. Nice to see second chances pay off.

      1. sstabeler*

        Sort of. I suspect it’s more because OP was already trying to fix the situation- so, from the company’s perspective, since the only reason the employee wasn’t making any progress on paying it off was the attempted coverup, letting the employee keep their job legitimately increased the chance of them being paid back. Firing employees in this situation is usually because the employee paying it back is…aspirational, shall we say, either due to unwillingness to repay it, or unwillingness to make the lifestyle changes required to be able to pay back the debt.

        Essentially, it’s about what will cost the company less. Normally, the debt will just keep rising- with OP’s case, they could be reasonably sure they’ll eventually get their money back.

        1. fposte*

          Yup, true. But it’s common enough for employers to fire out of anger that I still feel they’re worth a thumbs up for being reasonable.

          1. sstabeler*

            Oh, I agree. I was just pointing out “fire them” would not actually have been an unreasonable option/

    2. Future Analyst*

      YES. I’m so happy that they took a long view of it, and didn’t make a crappy situation worse.

    3. MoinMoin*

      Yes, I was thinking it’s nice to have these updates for some other person in a similar situation to know how to possibly navigate it, but it’s also a good road map for a company to consider if they ever find themselves in a similar situation with an employee.

      1. Fiennes*

        Yes, totally agreed. Everyone involved here contributed to the best possible outcome. I couldn’t blame a company for reacting more negatively this–but I definitely applaud this one for working with their employee.

        1. Psychdoc*

          It’s funny you said comments first, because I was just thinking about how lovely it is that most of the commentors, in general, are really kind and genuinely want to help. And are all also genuinely happy to hear that things are improving for LWs who update. It’s nice to be nice and around nice people.

  4. Colorado*

    How great it is that you took full responsibility for your actions and instead of claiming the victim, you came out a complete winner! Sometimes the worst moments of our lives teach us the best lessons and make us better people. So glad to hear you have turned your life around. Good on you!!!

  5. Silver Radicand*

    That is so cool, man! I am so glad to hear that things are looking up for you and that you let this be a motivator to change things. God bless!

  6. Bibliovore*

    Thank you for the update AND
    Good job! Flags waving! Parade down Main Street!
    AND that you were able to stand up and take responsibility. And that your employers were able to work with you.
    And that you shared on this website and there are many out there who can learn from your example and courageousness.
    You have shown managers how to be kind, compassionate, and fair.
    You have shown employees who are screwing up how to change a vicious cycle.
    No I am NOT crying. There is just something in my eye.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        I’m totally crying, I’ll admit it!

        OP, congrats and thanks for keeping us updated. Your story would make a great memoir… hint hint. :)

    1. OhBehave*

      Confession, Forgiveness, Redemption, Renewal.
      I’m very certain OP, you know how bad this could have been had your company not been as understanding and compassionate. It’s a wonderful lesson for us all!

      Such a joyful update! Thanks so much for remembering to update us.

      p.s. it’s really dusty here….. Not crying at all.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Count me as another one who is “not crying”, OP. I am so flippin’ happy for you. Sometimes we enjoy other people’s success more than our own. For me, this is one of those times.

      You’re gutsy and you are smart. You have everything you need in life, OP.

  7. AndersonDarling*

    Thank you for the new update! That letter was one of my top 10 memorable letters. It had everything, drama, suspense, and a real connection. I could see myself making the initial bad decision, making choices to try to make it right, and ending up digging a bigger hole for myself.
    Throw in a few characters and you could have a movie script!
    I’m so glad that this turned into a learning experience instead of a tragedy.
    But I’m wondering how the relationship with your boss is? Do you talk about what happened? Do you feel it is still holding you back?

    1. op*

      Actually, my manager was very much “on my side” when it came time to report up the chain to his boss and her boss about the situation. My direct report even went so far as to show the cost of firing me would exceed the credit card bill :) I am sure had he not advocated me so well, things had a great chance of going badly. We are a team, he trusts me implicitly because he knows when I make mistakes I own them and fix them, he sees me as having integrity and doing what I say I will and willing to clean up the mess when it all goes south … It has really made me appreciate him as a person and as a boss , I know he will take the support role , so when I have issues I feel free to speak to him about it without thinking it will go badly .. Weirdly what could be seen as an inital loss of trust turned into a real bonding moment

    1. Rovannen*

      Honestly! I find myself making sure I take responsibility for the good and bad, just thinking of how he handled it.

  8. Anon Accountant*

    This is one of the best updates on the site. Glad it’s all working out well for you.

  9. Mallory Janis Ian*

    Love this update! It kind of makes me want to swap cheap recipes for hard times that are actually secretly delicious. One of my favorites is the lentil tacos recipe from the Skinny Bitch cookbook.

    1. Meredith*

      Leanne Brown’s Good And Cheap cookbook is meant for a food budget of $4/day! It was designed specifically for SNAP recipients. The recipes are really good! Link in reply.

        1. OhNo*

          I use that cookbook religiously, I can safely say that they are amazing. (Try adding some cumin to the cauliflower, as well, if you like that flavor.) That cookbook really is great for anyone who is trying to keep a budget.

      1. Adam*

        Thank you for this. My budget is tight at the moment (not dire, but tight) and my goal one year from now is to be completely debt free. Food is such money sink if you’re not careful!

      2. ZVA*

        I just moved to NYC & I’m watching my food budget like a hawk so this looks like an amazing resource, thank you!

    2. silvertech*

      Please do! I’m on a budget right now and I could use some new recipes to try. Maybe in the next weekend free for all? :)

      1. FoodieFoodnerd*

        Asian groceries often have excellent prices on fresh meat, fish and produce, and fresh or dried rice, noodles and Asian sauces.

        The ones in my area really mark up the American shelf (processed) items, but who wants or needs that crap with delicious real food at decent prices? :^D

        A few varieties of rice and noodles, some different sauces (while you’re learning to make your own better and less costly), and you can make countless different combinations with whatever meat and veggies look best this trip.

        Tortillas are ridiculously easy, and cost pennies vs. the store shelf ones.
        And even mediocre homemade as you learn are vastly better than pre-made.

        Most butchers and stores sell soup bones for a dollar a pound or less; get those and/or save from your other meals to make delicious homemade stock that you can use in a variety of soups, sauces, gravies, etc.

        To the OP: A huge kudos for fixing your life, paying back what you took and having the balls to acknowledge it in the hopes of helping others.

        1. Gadfly*

          And while I should warn the vegetarians to look away (do it…do it) things like TVP or soy curls that have been soaked in meat broth or drippings or added to the pan when cooking things like hamburger work REALLY well in things like stews and chili and add some protein while stretching the meat. And are CHEAP.

          For any vegetarians that have made it this far, I also can make just as good faux hamburger with Braggs and oil and some spices. But if someone has the broth already…. *shrugs*

          1. FoodieFoodnerd*

            My 17-year-old niece is now vegetarian, so any tips there are appreciated!

            Ignorant question alert: By Braggs do you mean the higher quality brand of apple cider vinegar that includes the starter yeast (known as “with the mother” style)?

            Or am I hilariously off-base as to how that totally wrong ingredient would mess up the recipes? :^D

            1. Maxine*

              I’m guessing probably Bragg’s liquid aminos rather than the vinegar. It’s a sort of unfermented soy sauce.

    3. Yenny*

      I recently bought Good Cheap Eats and that food is goooooooood! Also the soup recipes are always super bulk so you can freeze it. So if you’re looking for more cheap recipes to add to your repertoire, I HIGHLY recommend this cookbook.

      1. SansaStark*

        Seconded!! I love those step by step photos when I’m making something unfamiliar. And the recipes seem well-tested, which is really important to me so I’m not wasting more $ when a dish doesn’t turn out right

      2. Fellow Moomin fan*

        Came here to see if anyone had mentioned Budget Bytes… I love the site and have recommended it to so many people! The author really goes out of her way to explain how to complete each step, and why. It makes you how much other recipe writers take for granted…

      3. Lily Rowan*

        I also love that she has some smaller dessert recipes (like for two cookies or whatever) – sometimes that’s just what you need!

  10. Formica Dinette*

    OP, thank you for this wonderful update. The significant changes you’ve made are hard enough to do, let alone keep up over time. Many congratulations!!

  11. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Yes! Go you, OP — I’ve been rooting for you since your first post, and I’m so happy to hear that this turned into a positive life change for you. You are honestly an inspiration. Thank you for keeping us posted!

  12. Commenting for the first time for this*

    OP, I teared up. Thank you for these updates, and your honesty and I’m so, so glad to hear about the fantastic outcome on more than one front. (Also, costs are in USD, but my family is a big fan of the Budget Bytes blog – terrific food with an emphasis on low cost.)

    1. Justme*

      That’s my favorite too. But I find that her food costs and mine vary widely. Mostly because I’m an Aldi shopper, and because weird things are more expensive here than other places.

    2. Treecat*

      I was going to comment on Budget Bytes as well. It’s a great website and I use it all the time, but iirc the woman who writes it lives in New Orleans and you can tell she’s from a warm place because the produce costs for her are way lower than they are for me, a resident of a much more northerly clime. Still, many of her recipes are low-cost, and they are delicious!

      1. Commenting for the second time for this*

        Agree – my prices (in the northeast) vary quite a bit from hers. I don’t plan my grocery budget based around her meal costs, but I can use it as a general guideline (if she says something will be $2 per serving vs $6, I know the second recipe will be more expensive.)
        The other thing I loooooove about her recipes – they tend to call for ingredients that are pantry staples. Fresh ingredients are usually ones that I always have on hand (e.g. fresh onion, fresh garlic), unless it’s a particular cut of meat. And her recipes are so well-written and well-tested.

  13. Collie*

    :’) They grow up so fast!

    In all seriousness, congratulations on pulling yourself out of everything. Not many people could and it’s incredibly impressive.

  14. zora*

    OP, I am actually tearing up over here, WAY TO GOOO!!!! I am super impressed how you went from a really bad place where you were trapped by your own bad decisions, and have managed to turn it around and make your life even better than before! I am honestly really inspired!!! Thank you for sharing your story and your journey!!!

  15. SL #2*

    I remember when you wrote in with the original letter, OP, and have cheered you on through subsequent updates. This is such good news and I’m so glad you’re still on the right path.

  16. INFJ*

    I will not cry on my lunch break

    I will not cry on my lunch break…

    Thanks so much for all the updates, OP, and congratulations on turning things around. You are truly an inspiration!

  17. joie de vivre*

    This update made my day. Thank you for letting us know how it turned out. And congratulations on the promotion

  18. AMG*

    I am very proud of you! Change isn’t easy, and few people manage the truly exceptional change that you have. Congratulations!

  19. Kristine*

    Congrats on the cooking at home – I really got back into it after getting my MA only to start over at $11/hour. Making dinner from scratch is time consuming, but cheaper when it’s really from scratch (homemade tortillas? YES), plus you’re not flopping onto the couch after work. (We got rid of cable/satellite too.) Now it’s routine and I whip up many meals quickly. Healthier, tastier, more money in my retirement account, and who profits when you don’t eat out/eat prepared gunk? Welcome to beans – yes, they are marvelous!

    And am I correct in remembering that all this started when his supervisor told him to buy a car, and commenters advised OP to get an attorney? This outcome could have been SO bad – I’m glad it wasn’t!

    1. Kristine*

      (Oopsie, I didn’t mean to imply that commenter’s advice was also part of the “start.” I meant to say, “and commenters improved the situation by advising OP to get an attorney” which was GOOD.) ;)

    2. TootsNYC*

      “plus you’re not flopping onto the couch after work.”

      “Taking care of oneself” as a hobby!
      “Saving money on food” as a hobby!
      “Cooking from scratch” as a hobby!

  20. Venus Supreme*

    You’ve certainly made lemonade (even an artisanal cocktail!) out of your lemons, OP. Thank you for giving me motivation to push through my personal stressful life by eating right and exercising. :-)

  21. Old Admin*

    Cheering the OP on!!!
    You have turned yourself around so wonderfully!
    I agree, another favorite updater, and than you to AAM to giving the courage to face the music and WIN!!!

  22. Alex "Barney" Barnaby*

    Congratulations! What great news. :) :)

    Your ability to ask for help, then take the help and encouragement that was offered, was what made the difference. :)

  23. gingerblue*

    I’ve been having a lousy week, and this update honestly makes me feel better about life, humanity, and dealing with the ups and downs of existence. OP, I’m so happy for you. You sound awesome.

  24. GreyjoyGardens*

    I am really glad to hear this, LW. Kudos to you for handling this situation so well.

  25. Artemesia*

    What a great update. Living below your means whatever they are is really a major secret of happiness. And cooking for yourself can be surprisingly cheap if it must be. During my poverty stricken early days as a HS teacher (making 5K in the late 60s and putting a husband through law school) we learned to cook with very little meat (when we had steak it was chuck steak marinated in tenderizer for a couple of days) and lots of beans and rice and noodles. I made our own yogurt from powdered milk which was virtually free and one year made jam for the year from an abandoned plum tree. We never ate out; we literally could not afford it. It is a lot more pleasant now being able to buy fresh squeezed OJ, fresh veggies and fruit and whatever cut of meat or poultry appeals to us — but we do know how to make 4 meals from one chicken for 2 people and how to acquire bulk grains, beans and such for dirt cheap meals if we need to.

    The OP really turned his or her life around by recognizing that the issue was not just the misstep with the credit card but also that a good look at lifestyle was needed and then took the hard steps to manage within the budget and adopt healthy habits. Heroic turn around.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Smeone on another forum I participate in is a mega-thrifty cook. Saving money on food is a major focus of her time. Like, “she grinds her own flour” focus.

      She pointed out that an economist had said to her: “If you buy food at half price, it has a return on investment (ROI) of 100%–you have doubled your money.”

      of course, you have to buy food you would actually eat, but there’s a reason it used to be called “home economics

    2. Brandy*

      Have you checked out thriftyfun.com. It has lots of recipes and tips for living on less. This makes me recall an episode of Judge Karen where a couple ate out every meal. Every. Karen said even as a Judge she still eats at home mostly and they planned to give any kid they had lunchables. Karen was doling out basic recipes in the courtroom.

  26. Jenn*

    I just want to say again that the behaviour of everyone in this situation (except maybe for the start of the credit issues) gives me hope for humanity. We mess up, but when people work together to find real solutions that recognize the dignity of everyone involved, that is awesome.

    OP, you rock and congrats on the major adulting.

  27. Elizabeth H.*

    This is so wonderful. I really admire OP for all of this, admitting the mistake, changing his behavior, taking responsibility, putting everything on the table out in the open. Making changes and getting out of patterns is one of the hardest things to do (in my opinion) and it can often be easier to just try to keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing with increasingly worse results while everything spirals downwards. It takes effort and initiative to make some kind of change and this is one of the most valuable abilities in life, I think.

    Alison, this must be so rewarding, congratulations on a great site that continues to help people in such significant ways.

    1. TootsNYC*

      It really is.

      Alison, if you never, ever, ever do a good thing in your life, you can say that you have contributed to the world in a major way because you helped this letter writer.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I saw a psychic while I was in New Orleans last week (don’t judge!) and she told me I have unusually good karma*, and I was like “yeah, it’s from my letter writers!”

        * I do think I have weirdly good luck, for what that’s worth.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          And people say there is no such thing as karma. hmmmm.

          I do know that the attitude we most use is the attitude that draws or repels people.

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Good karma isn’t luck, it’s savings in your bank of “making the world a better place” and by that measure you must be very rich indeed :)

    2. caligirl*

      Same here!

      OP, I think about you often (at least several times a month when I am doing my own reconciliations for work expenses) and am soooo happy for you! Very inspiring on many levels. :-)

  28. Stephanie (HR Manager)*

    Way to go! That’s amazing progress, and it takes a lot of courage to do what you did.

  29. ZVA*

    I’m so impressed by what you’ve achieved, OP. Thank you so much for sharing all this with us and best of luck in all your future endeavors!

  30. Hillia*

    OP, I’m so impressed! You really are an inspiration and a wonderful example of personal growth and responsibility. Congratulations to you!

      1. Middleman*

        I refrained from even getting into why I disagree with the responses here and feel that this person simply avoided well-deserved karmic retribution. I could be a lot harsher, and I have much harsher feelings about this that I refrained from expressing. Is nobody allowed to dissent from the lovefest in even subdued terms?

      2. Middleman*

        By the way, the term “mistake” implies a lack of intent, when this writer indicated from the outset that they had been informed they were not to use the card for personal expenses (and this is common sense regardless). That’s not just kindness, that’s an outright misrepresentation of what the OP actually did.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I don’t think it does imply a lack of intent or something that only happened by accident. It includes things that happened because of bad, even terrible, judgment as well.

          1. Middleman*

            “Mistake” certainly is a term used to mitigate and soften things and put aside the concept of personal responsibility when used in relation to immoral, unethical and criminal acts. This personal deliberately stole from/defrauded their employer. Paying it back doesn’t make that okay.

            I don’t know why anyone thinks this outcome is heartwarming; job loss and criminal charges would have been more appropriate as well as more of a fell-good ending for me personally.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Okay, you’re now banned. I just linked you to the commenting rules above so you should be well aware that talking to people like that here is not okay.

                1. sstabeler*

                  The difference, fundamentally, is that sacking isn’t actually usually punitive in these cases- or not entirely, anyway- it’s to stop the employee costing the company any more money. In this case, they were already trying to pay the company back- it’s just that the Paypal scheme caused more in fees and interest than the balance.

                  Combine that with the fact that they’d almost certainly be out a total of $40k if they fired they OP (I doubt they are going to be able to repay the $20k if they are fired, and definitely can’t if imprisoned for fraud. Combine that with it costing them $20k to train a replacement, and it ads up to a lot of money lost if they fired the OP) as well as the fact that the OP owned up- had the company discovered it themselves, I would be entirely unsurprised if the first OP was aware the company had found out was receiving a pink slip ( I don’t know how termination works in the US, but over here, you receive a form P45 when you leave a job- thye at leats used to be coloured pink. As such, an unexpected P45 turning up means you just got fired, since over here, redundancies require being notified up to 12 weeks in advance (it’s one week if less than 2 years service, a week per year of service from 2-12 years of service, 12 weeks thereafter) so the p45 isn’t a surprise.)

              1. FoodieFoodnerd*

                I do understand Middleman’s and your anger and frustration here! I’m generally for the harshest penalties and no mercy for scumbags.

                But the reason most of us (including me) are praising this person is because he actually put back every cent — he didn’t feel entitled to, or even want, a free pass just because he admitted it once caught.

                The person also shows genuine remorse, whereas the scumbags have none.

                Again, I see your point and want the person to pay just as badly as you, but in this case, they have.

              2. Frances*

                Same here… It’s great he’s paying everything back, but he shouldn’t have used company money in the first place. And there are tons of unemployed or underemployed people out there who work themselves to the bone every day and would never dream of doing such a thing. Not ALL unemployed/underemployed people, but a great deal of them.

                1. sstabeler*

                  and nobody is disagreeing that he shouldn’t have done it. However, there are 3 big reasons why OP gets something of a pass:
                  1) OP owned up- and not due to him being caught being imminent. As such, OP is entitled to some slack for having had the courage to own up to their misdeeds.
                  2) they went out of their way to pay the company back as quickly as they could- indeed, they were prepared to restrict themselves to food and rent to pay the company back ASAP. Most of the unrepentant scumbags try to minimise the inconvenience of paying back what they took.
                  3) it would have cost the company far more to hire a new employee than to give OP a chance to make good.

                  In short, yes, there are under/unemployed people that wouldn’t dream of using company money like the OP did. However, that does not mean that OP should be fired. Appropriate consequences, in my mind, would be two-fold:
                  1. Take away the company card- if OP has business expenses, they can claim for reimbursement in future.
                  2. if not, if OP does it again, they WILL be fired.

            1. Papyrus*

              I can understand the impulse to punish the person, because what they did was wrong. But, the company was smart in thinking beyond that impulse – in a past update, the LW said that it would have cost the company more than the $20k if they hired and trained a new person. Plus if the LW was fired, they would be unlikely to pay that money back as quick as they did. So, the company gets to get their money back and keep an employee that they value, and the LW gets to keep their job, their promise, and redeem themselves for their behavior.

              Everyone is better off than where they started, and I’m not saying that this will happen to everyone who is given a second chance after a serious mistake, but it honestly is wonderful when everything works out for the best.

              1. FoodieFoodnerd*

                Yes, the employer who knows OP far better and for much longer, saw in the OP something worthy of redemption, an opportunity to right his wrong (when so many wrongs are unfixable), and a second chance.

                Based on the updates, that boss made the right call.

                It’s especially refreshing when so many will only take responsibilty in exchange for not being held accountable (i.e., plea bargains) for their poor choices that seriously harmed others.

              2. DArcy*

                I don’t think it’s a bad thing that the employer chose to show mercy and kindness. The part that makes me uncomfortable is knowing how grossly unlikely it would be for similar mercy and kindness to be shown to an employee in a lesser economic tier, even if the amount they took from the company was far less than the $20,000 this person stole.

                I don’t wish for a moment that OP hadn’t gotten the chance to make things right, but it makes me a bit uncomfortable celebrating.

                1. sstabeler*

                  a) strictly speaking, it wasn’t stolen. (this gets legalistic, but theft- the actual crime- is where you take something with no intent to repay it.In this case, the OP had always intended to repay the money, and had come up with a mechanism to repay it (said mechanism, unfortunately, failed) so it wasn’t technically stolen.)
                  b) $55k isn’t actually a high economic tier (it works out to be lower middle class)
                  c) if you read the updates, the company was definitely pretty hostile when it first came to light (thye got dragegd inot a meeting with HR, where HR more-or-less said “we’ll try to arrange something, but don’t get your hopes up”
                  d) they are from New Zealand, where it seems the attitude is not to take the hard road with employees, so someone from a lower economic bracket might actually also get a break.

                2. RGB*

                  Just for context, $60k is often a entry level salary where OP is from. So when you say “lesser economic tier”, I suspect that is relative.

                3. Gadfly*

                  RGB, Now that I am in such a place where that is entry-ish level, I kind of get it. But still, growing up where that was good money still makes it hard to remember that isn’t upper middle class at least.

            2. Nameless Today*

              Well, one thing that affects my judgment of the situation is that the letter writer’s actions didn’t involve taking any actual money from the employer. The balance of their unauthorized usage was rolled over every month, and the LW paid all the interest charges. So while their actions were definitely wrong (and they themselves knew that and regretted it), it never cost the employer anything. The LW was paying both the financial and emotional costs for their poor choice. In the end, the employer was fully “made whole” and lost nothing.

              1. A*

                Yeah I don’t think anyone was applauding the OP getting into the situation; it’s more that they did the right things and hard work to fix it. And I think it’s a good message to anyone who finds themselves in over their heads (for whatever reason) that a lot of things can be recovered from with honesty, owning the responsibility, hard work and a realistic plan for how things will be different going forward

            3. LBK*

              I think most people tend to reserve that kind of vengeful schaudenfreude for people who don’t seem to be aware of the immorality of their actions. The OP came to Alison at a point where he’d gotten himself way in over his head and basically begged for help. He never tried to downplay how much it was his fault or what he’d done. There’s usually a certain level of empathy that arises from seeing someone convey that level of humility.

              I don’t think anyone here would’ve found firing or criminal charges undeserved, but if you’re looking for harsh consequences and gleeful enjoyment of retribution, you’ll have to find another site. We practice sympathy, kindness and ends over means here.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I’d like a show of hands for everyone who has never, ever stepped in crap in their entire lives.
                I think there are too many of us quietly thinking, “Oh, sh!t, I remember the time when I _______.” We know what it took to pull ourselves out, and we can kind of guess at what an enormous effort it was on OP’s part to turn this around.

                OP, in a ironic turnabout, you will probably come out ahead in life because of your soul searching and your changes. Additionally, your family will have different/better life because of the changes you have made.

            4. ABC123*

              There was no stealing going on — you are misrepresenting or misunderstanding what happened. The OP has paid back what he owed to credit card company.

    1. CeeCee*

      I am with you. I unsubscribed from AAM after this. I am glad this person decided to do the right thing after they misused company money on purpose, but I am not going to throw them a party for doing what is right. Nope. Allison I love your blog but this 3rd update was just more than I can stand.

      1. dawbs*

        Can I ask why no party for finally doing right?

        I’m going to harken back for a hot second, to the religion I was raised in (regardless of my distance from that in my own life currently, there are parts of canon that I still admire), but the return of the lost sheep, the homecoming of the prodigal son,…there’s so much in life that talks about how one person who is doing lousy ‘repenting’, trying to do right/make right/fix it than for 99 people who haven’t ever left the straight and narrow.

        YMMV, obviously, but someone who genuinely shows contrition for the big crap in life (especially when there’s wee tiny hint of “there but the grace…”) seems much more party worthy than a lot of the crap that I see get parties IRL.

        1. C Average*

          +1. This is a tale of grace given and grace received well. How can you NOT celebrate that? Like you, I’m a lapsed Christian, but I remain firmly convinced that grace is something the human realm can use a lot more of.

        2. NEW YEAR, NEW ME*

          We’re done condoning his actions, and he has been working on paying off this debt. Granted, I think he realizes how lucky he is that he wasn’t fired or even prosecuted. (This is coming from a person who has worked in retail and has seen former coworkers fired for blatantly stealing, even taking the minimum amount for a register shortage from their tills.)

          1. NEW YEAR, NEW ME*

            Correction: We’re NOT condoning his actions, and he has been working on paying off this debt. Granted, I think he realizes how lucky he is that he wasn’t fired or even prosecuted. (This is coming from a person who has worked in retail and has seen former coworkers fired for blatantly stealing, even taking the minimum amount for a register shortage from their tills.)

      2. Zillah*

        So you unsubscribed because Alison posts a positive update once or twice a year from a grateful LW whose updates many readers are actively interested in? You obviously have to do you, but honestly, that seems like a massive overreaction to me.

        1. JessaB*

          I don’t think the unsubscribe was for the fact that there was an update, I think it was because we’re being positive about the outcome when some people think that no matter what the person should have been fired and charged with a crime immediately. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. And don’t get me wrong, I was on the fire them side myself at the beginning. But the more and more info that came out the less I was on the fire them side. And that’s the difference I think.

  31. MsChanandlerBong*

    Who’s chopping onions in here? Seriously, great update. I am so happy for you, OP.

  32. spek*

    I’m always befuddled when I read posts like this – is $60K outstanding money in New Zealand?

    1. TeacherNerd*

      “Outstanding money” is a relative term. I’m a full-time high school teacher earning $40k (I have two master’s degrees), and I’d consider a $20k raise pretty awesome.

      1. TeacherNerd*

        Or, rather, with my background, experience, and education, I’d be delighted to earn $60k.

    2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      It’s certainly a solid salary. Full time minimum wage is around $32,000, the median income in June 2015 was about $45,800 — so on $60k you’re certainly doing better than average. It depends on where you live, too; $60k in Auckland/Wellington/Christchurch isn’t going to stretch for miles, but you could live pretty freaking well in the regions.

        1. RGB*

          $60k is entry level in NZ corporates these days, in Auckland. So he’d be struggling in my opinion. Especially if he’s bought a home in the last few years.

  33. memyselfandi*

    Mmmmm. Home baked beans and brown bread. My mother made it every Saturday night. Beans are good, if indigestible. They were served with a lesson on enjoying what you have. I need a regular reminder of that lesson, and for me that is the contribution the OP has made to me with this update.

  34. SanguineAspect*

    Yaaaay! Congratulations, OP! Like most of us here, I’ve been so glad to see your updates along the way and this one is just as great. So happy to hear that you’re in a better place all around–getting out from under debt is one thing but getting out from under depression is also a HUGE deal.

  35. Katie the Fed*

    I love this update so much! I’ve really enjoyed following your story and growth, and I’m so happy for you.

  36. RB*

    Wow, you should become a life coach, if they have those in New Zealand! Maybe you have missed your calling.

  37. Merci Dee*

    OP, I’m so glad that things have worked out for you. You employer showed a massive amount of grace in how they treated you. Someday, someone may need as much grace from you. I’m positive you’ll remember this situation, and do what you can to help. Going through rough times like these gives us more appreciation for the trials of others. We’re all in this crazy life together.

    1. Merci Dee*

      Also, OP, please disregard the commenters who complain because you weren’t punished with job loss and jail time. People who are so obviously upset that someone “didn’t get what was coming to him” are only so strict about outcomes until they’re the ones who mess up and risk losing everything. Then they wonder why where the mercy and forgiveness are.

      1. ABC123*

        Also, for those wanting to take a hard line: What crime would the OP actually have been thrown in jail for in your vengeful fantasies? Not theft, since there was no stealing involved. Fraud? Possibly, depending on the rules of the credit card and laws of the country. Breaking an employer’s internal rules is not equivalent to breaking the law.

        You can’t just decide someone has “deserved” being sentenced, they have to have committed a specific crime…

        1. JessaB*

          I’d not be surprised if someone TRIED (accent on Tried, I have zip clue about NZ law,) to have a go at an embezzlement charge. Just because you’re trying to pay it back doesn’t mean you didn’t take what you shouldn’t have. But if I were having a go, that’s where I’d start with the corporate lawyers.

  38. Brett Conrad*

    This story is so neat! I read the before version and i thoroughly enjoyed reading about your growth and your story!
    IF there are any more updates id love to hear how things have been going! im so happy for you :)

  39. Scott*

    I’m happy this person has a positive outcome but how can his company ever fully trust him again with a company card? I couldn’t.

    1. Goya*

      So very late to the game, but agree!!!!

      I’m very happy that he owned up to his mistakes instead of pushing the buck. I’m very happy that the company worked this out with him, when it could have been much worse. But I’m confused as to how “I had this MASSIVE lapse in judgement” leads to a promotion!

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