The State of Things (Logan Has $138.95, Mike Has Some Stress)

Mike Dang: Logan, how are you doing since our chat from a week ago?

Logan Sachon: I’m doing great! I spent a week in a friend’s house in the country, which was totally awesome. I ate a lot of ice cream, which was also awesome. I got to see some good friends (awesome). But: You mean with moneyyyy. Last week I said I would call those non-profit debt counselor folks to talk to someone about options for consolidating my debt. I did not do that. I was on kind-of vacation! It felt like a boring thing to do on vacation. I also said I would figure out how much money I had to spend. I did do that … about twenty minutes ago.

M: And is it good news or bad news?

L: Taking into account all bills that will be paid, I have $138.95 until whenever I get another check. Which will be some days after the 15th! So I’m going to have to “budget.” Which I don’t really do. In fact, I detest the word!

M: Well, it’s okay, I don’t budget either. But I am aware of how much I’m spending each day. So start with that. You didn’t look at your account and figure out how much money you had to spend until a few hours ago. Check it once a day so you can get a sense of how much you’re spending. That way, you’ll know you’re running out of money before you actually run out of money.

L: Ha, Mike. MIKE. That has never ever ever worked for me! Before I went to the country, I took out $100 and said to myself: “This will be the money I will spend in the country!” And then somehow three days later it was gone. So I took out another $100 and said: “This will be the money I will spend in the country!” It disappeared, too. And then there was just some finger-crossing going on. So I feel rather lucky that it’s all worked out.

M: Well, it seems like you were actually trying to budget there! And it looks like budgeting doesn’t work for you. What I’m saying is that if you look at your account every day, at least you know how much money you have on a daily basis, and what you’ll have for the next day. So you know that today you have $138.95. Check again tomorrow and see what you have. If it’s zero dollars, at least you know you’ve run out of money instead of being surprised. I think by taking out money and spending it, you’re not actually aware of how much you’re spending, and how much you have left. It just disappears like magic.

L: See the reason that doesn’t really work for me is that my account actually has $1,091.95 in it. I had to do some spreadsheeting to figure out that I don’t actually have $1K, you know? Plus logging into the bank is so cumbersome. I think it will be more helpful for me to think of it as: I have $9 a day to spend until I get some more money. So I can only spend $20 on drinks (or groceries, groan), if I don’t spend any dollars the next day. That’s how math works.

M: And these spreadsheets show how much your monthly bills are, right? So you have to subtract what you owe from the money you have in your account. So the best thing to do is to probably have two separate accounts. One for bills, and one for life. That way you don’t have to sit down and do the math every time.

L: Yeah I’m working on that, but it’s a LONG AND ARDUOUS PROCESS.

M: I will help you open another account after this chat! It will take a few minutes, I promise. The goal is to get you to be aware of how much money you have. At any given time, it doesn’t seem like you know.

L: No, I don’t need your help! I DID IT ON MY OWN! It just is taking me some time to get it set up because everything is hard and nothing is easy. (Haha I sounded like a toddler there. “I CAN DO IT MYSELF!”)

M: It’s totally okay to have help. That’s the whole point of our site, right? You are not alone on this! And the reason why an organization like the NFCC exists. You are doing yourself a favor by asking for help. And also, I don’t mind helping. I like helping! But if you don’t want me to help, I get that too. So: Up to you!

L: Haha, you are helping! I gave you my credit cards and you are keeping me from using them. DELIGHTFUL. A DREAM. So here’s a question I’ve been debating. I had overdraft protection for a long time that went to my credit card. And then I cancelled it. But now I’m wondering if I should reinstate it. NOT TO USE AS A CRUTCH. But just in case?

M: Well, how many times has overdraft protection gone into action for you?

L: Well, I used to use it on purpose. I knew i could spend all my money because the bills would be covered by the card. Dum de dum.

M: Okay, so it was a crutch before. It’s probably not a good idea to have it then. It might be good for you to get declined at the register.

L: Oh you still get declined at the register if you have overdraft protection. Haha Mike dont you know anything about not having money? It only works for Billpay and checks you’ve written, not for purchases.

M: So why did you cancel it?

L: Hah. WELL it actually cancelled itself after I lost my card (dlsajfkd), but the dude sent me the form to sign and send back and I’ve had that in my possession for several months? Maybe a year. I mostly didn’t send it back though because I know how I use it, and it’s a bad way.

M: I think you have your answer then.

L: Well, and also, the signing and mailing of things is not a favorite hobby.

M: You haven’t had it for an extended period of time, and you haven’t needed it, so that’s good.

L: I DIDN’T THINK OF IT LIKE THAT. You’re right. I’m a financial genius. Moving on. Can we talk about something hilarious you said to me this weekend?

M: About zombies?

L: You said: “I am so stressed out.” And I said: “About what?” And you said: “About my credit card!” And then I laughed, which was mean. And also stupid. Since comparing debt is dumb dumb dumb. But you did ask me how I wasn’t stressed out all the time, and I’ve been thinking about that.

M: So for context, I had to buy a new laptop because I was actually using one that belonged to my old company, and they finally asked for it back. And as we know, laptops are expensive! And I put that on my credit card, and that stressed me out. I mean, I’m going to pay it off, but still. For me, the idea that I owe money that isn’t mine, and that can potentially compound a bunch of interest is stressful to me. I’ve made peace with my student loan debt, but consumer debt is another beast. A beast that stresses me out. So you’ve been thinking about why that beast doesn’t stress you out. Why is that?

L: I guess the same way your student loan debt doesn’t stress you out: I’ve made peace with it. Plus the fact that it’s not a secret anymore really helps. It used to be this huge secret, and there were only a few people I talked about it with, and when we did talk about it, it was mostly about just how fucked we were. But now everyone knows. My parents know. I’m taking some steps to deal with it, other than that, there’s nothing I can do. Right now I’m not even making any headway on paying it off, because I’m just not making enough money. But even that doesn’t really stress me out, because I know I’ll start making more money slowly. It’s going to have to be this slow chipping away and not the one-huge-payment-and-it’s-gone solution I was hoping for/counting on/deluding myself about.

M: But since this is a check-in, we should point out that you’ve been able to secure a couple of freelance things you didn’t have the last time you checked in. So: progress!

L: Yes, well, Things Are Starting to Happen. And hopefully they will Continue to Happen. Logan OUT.

M: Until next time!

Previously: Week End Check In (Logan’s Trying Kind of, And Mike’s Still the Nicest)