This week CON TEXT looks at Moneymoon

This week CON TEXTlooks at Moneymoon

Has this got to do with things costing the earth?

The moneymoon is that golden period you experience right after making a big purchase and before buyer's remorse sets in. You're over the moon, you're in heaven . . . you're in hock up to your eyes. But nothing is going to spoil that warm, fuzzy feeling you get in those halcyon days immediately after you've sealed the deal.

Somehow I suspect this idyllic time may be shortlived.


It doesn't take long to come back down to earth, once the realisation sinks in that your bank balance has gone into a black hole and you can no longer meet the astronomical repayments on your purchase. The moneymoon is over, and you're facing into a future of hard graft, tight budgeting and a seriously restricted lifestyle.

Sounds like my marriage. What's the problem?

Moneymooners are finding that they have to take drastic steps to stay out of the poorhouse. If they've bought a car, it's probably already depreciated by half, and if they've bought a house, it's probably already in negative equity. When they were handed the keys, they were floating on air; now those keys have become millstones around their necks, dragging them deeper into debt. They will have to find another way to extricate themselves from their financial commitments.

How do they do that?

Simple - they use jingle mail. Jingle mail is when someone puts their house keys into an envelope and posts them to the bank, effectively handing the house back to it. By sending jingle mail, they're cutting their losses and pre-empting the inevitable repossession.

That sounds like a risky measure - I mean, what if the keys got lost in the post?

Oh, I think the bank would already have an inkling. The fact that the housebuyer hasn't made a payment in six months might provide a clue.

When did all this jingling business start?

Jingle mail became popular in the US in the mid- to late-1980s, following a series of scandals in the savings and loan sector. The recent collapse of the subprime market has seen a run on padded envelopes, and banks across the US have been hearing that familiar jingle once again.

Could jingle mail catch on here?

While the Irish property market is taking a hammering, many feel that it may not reach the stage where people have to drop their house keys into the post. But banks are tightening up their lending criteria, and the days of the 100 per cent mortgage are numbered. The moneymoon is over, and we're no longer in clover, but you can hold off on buying that padded envelope.

Try at work:

"Jones is depressed - he just got back from his moneymoon to discover the bank only wants him for his money."

Try at home:

"Darling, I can't find the house keys anywhere. Darling? Hello?"

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist