On money

LeFou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking…
—A dangerous past-time.
I know.

So… I don’t have a lot of money. That’s not news to most people. In fact, I have so little money, I actually have negative money—I owe people. Student loans and credit cards pretty much kill me. I’m paying off credit cards for things I don’t even remember buying anymore. So, I’ve taken steps to not use my cards, and since I’m still in school, I don’t have to worry about student loans until I leave school. I don’t want to think that far ahead right now.

I have a job and I pay the bills online or by check (usually the latter). I was apartment-hunting up until last week, so I had a big payment due upon moving in and another coming up for the month of October, too. I can cover the expenses, but just barely, and that’s only if I don’t do anything else.

I bring the money thing up after two unrelated things happened with the couple with whom I was staying (while looking for a place to live). First, Daniel saw me inputting some of my expenses into my Quicken register. He scoffed and asked, “You do your own finances?”—as if it was something beneath a normal person to keep up with his/her own bills and whatnot. I nodded, saying, “Yes, of course. What do you do?” He said, “Well, I have an accountant do all that stuff for me. Well, he’s my parents’ accountant and he does my stuff, too. And, if I’m worried about not having enough [money], I just put it on my credit card.” I said, “Yes, I have a credit card, too.” He seemed surprised. I continued, “Actually, I have multiple cards. That’s why I even bother keeping track. If I didn’t, I’d be seriously in trouble.” It was interesting that he was surprised that I keep track of my own finances and do my own taxes and have a credit card (or two… or more). I figured the less I had to keep track of, the less I would need to track it, not the other way around.

Second, I had dinner with Beth in mid-September at Applebee’s. I covered the tab, and it was (including a paltry tip) more than $40… each. (edit: And I just learned that the dinner overdrafted my checking account and dipped into my savings! T_T) We had an appetizer, an entree for each of us, and a dessert for each of us.

When I was growing up, my family would go out sometimes, but we’d never get an appetizer or dessert—it was a main course or nothing. The appetizers were never even considered, and it was once in a Blue Moon when the kids (my brother, sister, and I) were able to convince our parents to get a dessert for all five of us to share… and that’s only if we could decide on one dessert at all.

When I first started living with Beth and Daniel, I was surprised by how often they went out to eat. Daniel always paid, though, so I wasn’t complaining. (I offered to pay a couple of times, but he always turned me down until the last time, right after I’d moved out into my own place.) It seems, though, that they’re used to getting an appetizer and a main dish and dessert… Which is fine; to each his/her own, right? Maybe I wouldn’t be so irritated if they actually ate everything set in front of them. No, actually, that’s not the problem.

They don’t mind asking for their leftovers to be wrapped and bagged to be taken home. I applaud that… seriously, that’s awesome. What annoys me is that they never eat the leftovers. In the month that I stayed with them, they ate their leftovers all of one time (the day before I moved into my new place), but then they went and had a “real” dinner anyway. I, personally, threw out a crapton* of old, moldy Chinese food not to mention other stuff that I couldn’t identify because they’d brought it home and never opened it since.

At first I thought I was being annoying about money because people keep telling me (when they talk to me about money at all) that I’m “too young” to really be in trouble or have to worry about that sort of thing, and I hated when my dad made me learn to use Quicken, but now I’m really grateful. I know people under 30 years who’ve already declared bankruptcy, and it’s not pretty. I can’t have that problem. I don’t want to, in any case. And I’m no where near it, I hope. That is, everything’s okay for now. But I’m flabbergasted by the way some people seem to spend money without thinking about it. I just don’t have that luxury, unfortunately.

It is interesting to observe other people’s habits and (try to) refrain from saying anything. A lot of the time, I’d like to say, “Ur doin’ it wrong!

* “crapton” is not a real word.

Viannah E. Duncan

Viannah E. Duncan is a writer and activist hailing originally from Los Angeles. She lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has a cat, Cleo.

One thought on “On money

  • Friday, 26 September 2008 at 18:15:35

    You’re right, throwing out food IS annoying. I don’t think I’ve actually wasted any food since I started living away from home…it’s too expensive, and requires more trips to the grocery store! It irks me that one of my roommates wastes probably double my food budget in rotten food…he’ll throw something into the freezer and let it sit there for six months, until he finally decides (or we force him because there isn’t any space) to clean out his stuff. The result is several hundred dollars of steak and fish(!) and leftovers going into the trash. This from the guy who freaks out if we take longer than eight hours to wash a pan or dish used to cook dinner.

    Money…I’m not even going to try and think about money. It’s too annoying.

    And you’re right, crapton isn’t a real word. You have to precede it with “metric”, resulting in “metric crapton”. *evil grin*

    /flees the wrath of the english major


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