Financial Future in a Box

by John Wenz

My financial future is a shoebox I’ve repeatedly taped shut.

A few facts about my life right now: 1.) I am working two jobs, 2.) I receive tips from these jobs, 3.) Tips mean cash in my hand. This also means the wages that go into my bank account don’t reflect the entirety of my income. This also means that I can use the money in my bank account to pay for rent and bills, and use the cash in hand to pay for the finer things in life — beer and popsicles, mainly.

But I’ve always been a “scheme to save” person, usually with the schemes coming undone like the ACME company trying to make a knock-off Rube Goldberg contraption. A few years ago I did succeed for a few months in the closest thing I’ve come to approaching a sound financial arrangement — automatically splitting my checks to go to savings. At the end of this experiment, I had $360 in savings. But then I lost my job and the savings evaporated.

Being re-employed meant playing the financial catch-up game, but it also occured to me that I needed to save up for a certain kind of future — namely the one where I live without anybody else. But with my disposable income was largely in cash, how to save? I felt that a piggy bank was beneath someone like me, swiftly approaching his thirties. So I snagged a shoebox, taped it shut and started shoving money into it.

I have no idea how much is in it. There are a lot of coins for sure, but a lot of bills, too. I would say that, upon a cursory pick-up, it weighs at least seven or eight pounds.

Recent expenses necessitated fishing out a little of my Future Apartment Deposit Shoebox Trust Fund, but with each attempt at re-entry, I simply tape the box further shut. This is quite unlike the credit union where I bank, where I simply have to show my ID and know my account number to get money out of my account. Just this afternoon, I put a $5 bill in my box. My credit union savings account hasn’t seen that kind of action in years.

Despite my savings account being a shoebox taped shut, I somehow feel a pull toward putting money in it not shared by any other savings scheme. Granted, things like doctors visits come up and the shoebox comes open. But it always gets taped back up. On the whole, I have given it a mythic status that leaves me hesitant to reach into the bounty inside, or at least as hesitant as I get.

I’ve found that saving money isn’t as hard as I thought it was. Just tape a shoebox shut and hope for the best.

John Wenz is not the next Suze Orman, but he’s had a lot of jobs.

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