Sometimes Things Stay The Same, Unfortunately

This morning I wrote a rent check for $700. I only have $684 in my bank account (so close, yet). This is somewhat stressful but not too stressful, as it occurs with such regularity that it’s become banal. These things happen, and then they usually work out. Either money comes in from somewhere or the landlord doesn’t make it to the bank for a few days or, worse case scenario, my check bounces, I incur fees and have to apologize and promise it will never happen again.

I was sitting here trying to think about how this happened, then I remembered: this is how it always happens. When I have money, which I did up until a few days ago, I spend it in a vacuum, totally disregarding how long that money is meant to last me, or what other creditors might come tapping into my account. Why does this feel like this happens every month? That I am always scrambling to cover my rent or my credit card bill or my insurance check? Because it does, practically.

The following is a selection of gchat conversations and emails from 2006 to the present, found by searching for the phrases: “i hate money,” “i am an idiot,” “i am a failure,” “i am so poor,” and “i am so broke.” They have been edited for clarity, and in some cases, content. I say often, “I don’t know what to do.” That is lie. I know exactly what to do. I just don’t want to do it.

December 2006
‪Me‬: I hate money
‪Kate‬: i hate not having it
‪Me‬: yeah maybe thats the root sentiment
Me: im looking at shit online and just found a money clip that has this yiddish proverb on it: “With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well too.”
‪Kate‬: hahaha that’s awesome
‪Me‬: theres another one with this oscar wilde quote, also very appropriate: “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from lack of imagination.”
‪Kate‬: ugh
Kate: i do not spend money i don’t have
Kate: credit card debt — the thought of it — makes me panic horribly
‪Me‬: yes well i have some
Me: $7k
Me: and it is a specter that haunts me
‪Kate‬: that is terrifying
‪Me‬: i don’t know where it came from
Me: i mean i sort of do

September 2007
Me: im a failure at life greg
Me: this is me
Me: failing at life
‪Greg‬: why?
‪Me‬: money
Me: i just can’t get myself together
Greg: Oh well I just got a new job?
Greg: It’s a pretty good one
Me: …
‪Greg‬: what’s wrong?
‪Me‬: i am having such a hard time being an adult
Me: i have $116 in my account
‪Greg‬: how’s the CC bill?
‪Me‬: i got a notice that i missed a health ins payment and they are going to cancel if don’t pay in 10 days
Me: Oh thats back up to $1,000, please
Me: i just don’t understand
Me: i am so stupid
‪Greg‬: are you making money right now?
‪Greg‬: do you have a job?
‪Me‬: kind of
Me: But I’m also taking spanish classes? for $200 a month?
Me: And ballet classes, $200
Me: And a sewing class, $150
‪Greg‬: You’re PAYING for this stuff?!?!?!
‪Me‬: why did i do this to myself
Me: why
Me: why
Me: why
‪Greg‬: what are you DOING?!
‪Me‬: i don’t know

September 2007
‪Me‬: i am a failure
Me: i overdrew my acount
Me: and have been for the past WEEK
‪Greg‬: ….
‪Me‬: i am so stupid
‪Greg‬: efff
Greg: how did this happen?
Greg: are you broke?
Me: yes
Me: ill have a check for work on tuesday
Me: so thatll cover that stuff
Me: but like
Me: then rent is due
Me: and i dont know what happend to me
Me: i mean i used to be smart
‪Greg‬: it happens
Greg: we all get dumber with age
‪Me‬: i peaked in like 8th grade
‪Me: My mom’s actually told me this‬

September 2007
‪Greg‬: I wish we never had to work and could just sit around and ponder life all day
‪Me‬: Isn’t that basically what we do?
‪Greg‬: Well … yea
Greg: But we have this added stress of MONEY, which … can’t let us reach enlightenment
Me: Yes. It’s the money’s fault.

October 2008
To: Jill
From: Logan
Subject: (no subject)

i am so screwed and i don’t know what to do
i overdrew my account big time — it’s like at 100 bucks in the red right now
but that’s after like 6 transactions
each which is going to give me a 35 dollar fee
so tonight it will be like 300 in the red
and then i’m going to keep getting those effing fees all week
i get paid on friday
i guess like 500 bones?
but i have a 180 credit card bill due saturday
i just tried to transfer balances so i can get cash from my credit card but it takes like a week or something
i don’t know how many times i’m going to do this to myself before i effing shape up and pay attention
that is all
had to vent to someone
love, logan

October 2011
Me: i am looking at my dollars for the first time in a long time
Me: it really is unbelievable that i do this to myself
‪Mike‬: Um. That’s what happens when you live your life like a gansta without income

November 2011
‪Lisa‬: i’m ok
Lisa: stressed
Lisa: but ok
Lisa: how are you?
‪Me‬: also stressed and also ok
Me: im sorry your’e stressed 🙁
‪Lisa‬: i’m sorry you’re stressed!
‪Me‬: mine is par for the course, money stuff that’s come up because i ignored it for weeks (months), as usual
‪Lisa‬: 🙁
‪Me‬: i managed to put out all my fires, but only by using those terrible terrible terrible “convenience checks” they send you in the mail

February 2012
Me: I know I always say it’s going to be the last time, but this time I really mean it
Me: It’s time to be a grownup
Me: Only spending money I have: Go.

March 2012:
From: Me
To: Emily Books
Subject: (no subject)
emily and ruth,
due to a meltdown at ikea in which i forgot i’m a Poor Person, i just had to cancel my auto paypall payment for tomorrow so i don’t overdraw my account (oh and did i mention i’m launching A BLOG ABOUT MONEY!?!) anyway, i get new funds in a few days and then i’ll reinstate it and send you your dollars. SO SORRY ABOUT THIS.

April 2012:
Me: I’m never going to change, am I
Me: No, you’re never going to change
Me: But I really want to change
Me: History isn’t really in your favor on this one

Photo Credit: flickr/ Klearchos Kapoutsis

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.