An Honest Dollar

Money, right guys? Yes I am right. 

One internet place that makes me feel equally great/terrible at life is TheBillfold.com. It’ll be great/terrible for you too if you’re a person who a) deals with money (you), and b) wonders what other people are going through (maybe you, or maybe you’re an asshole. But it’s ok! We all are!). Are they as careless as me? How can they afford to eat out now while I can’t, even though I did last night(s)? Is my current debt level fucked up or funny or irrelevant or “better than the average”? Discussing actual money is calming and distressing and real and most importantly (in an honest way at least) rare, and if I know anything it’s this: if we all talked about how much we suck, then we would all feel better about being our shitty selves. And I mean that in a good way. 

So here I’ll blatantly rip off The Billfold, after all they’ve done for me. 

Just now, right this second I’ve hit the most amount of debt I’ve been in, ever. I have no foresight for impending disaster so it doesn’t really bother me (and I have a certain amount of security) - although I’ve had at least two mild anxiety dreams featuring many red numbers on my Netbank balance, instead of the “shit I’m late for shitting work shit shit” fare, which may invalidate the whole “not bothered” thing. See how this is beneficial already? Fun!

Here’re my facts, and I hope they add a little bit to your very own internal, skewed rationalisation of money. 

I work in a mid-ish level (I have NO idea who’s responsible for or how the levels of jobs are classified) position at an Australian TV network in Melbourne, taking home just above $50k a year pre-tax. Like most privileged people who’d read/write tumblr posts about juvenile finance, it’s steady yet dead-end, I’m wholly dissatisfied but completely bound to - and lucky to have - it. The rent is $880/month, and I live in my ‘ideal’ area which inflates my ‘ideal’ sense of self, offering no shortage of public transport, bars and general artisanal-y amenities. I share with two others, and the living arrangement is excellent - space, attitudes, and state of the abode. “Yay for me”, I hear you say, and I deserve that. I’m just happy you’re engaged. 

Now the “real” shit. My credit card limit is $6000 (I thought it was $5000 until I checked for this, so that gives you a little insight into my supreme juvenility), and has -$5,651 on it. I have $67 in my cash account ($52 now that my housemate asked if I wanted anything from the bottleshop), and $2200 in US Dollars for an upcoming trip to Chicago in seven weeks, which will last five weeks. No other savings, bar maybe three scattered superannuation accounts. Payday is 10 days from now and while this might be the worst it’s ever been, it’s not far enough from irregular to spook me, because juvenile. 

I have another credit card with a $1500 limit that has between -$800 and -$1200 on it. I haven’t updated the mail address on that since moving, hence not knowing the balance. Cool. It’s almost June, and I moved last December. Cooler. 

I’m a 26 year old male, what the legal system would call an ‘adult’, and this “article” (HA!) is simply observational, a way to track my spendings and hopefully offer something for others. Maybe even highlight some things. I have no health insurance nor ambulance cover because I put things off chronically, and am in no position to get these basics until at least I’m back from overseas. 

The overseas lark is to ‘study’ improv at the iO Theatre - a non-career move with an art form I’m not good at. I’m sure that drives some of the compulsion - the shit we can’t do is generally the stuff we wish we could. All this at a time where I should be sorting out what I want to actually do with my career/life. It’s a move into debt that’s fuelled by the fact that delaying any kind of transition out of this job or extended education can be put off to go fuck around and escape actually making any other decision. To avoid doing “it”, whatever “it” is, as I’m clearly not fond of “it”. That’s probably the point. 

50% of my current worry is what the hell I’m going to do with no skills or career prospects, the other half is my quarter life, entitled, ‘I haven’t lived enough’ anxiety. Improv is certainly the most valuable thing I’ve done for my shitty, inactive, self perpetuating cynicism which probably lead to all my above concerns (and that last paragraph). It also got me a sliver closer to my ‘ideal’ self simply by becoming an active participant in comedy, and any amount of closing the gap between ‘actual’ and ‘ideal’ means a little less loathing we all have for ourselves. So there’s that. 

So money: it’s great, it’s depressing the amount I’ve “not saved”, it’s typical, it’s lazy, it’s concerning my lack of regard and future planning, it’s a better position than most are in. It’s all of these things, all the time. 

If I envied people with houses of debt then I’d probably try and get one, maybe. For now I envy people who have the fun. Follow the envy, as there’s some element of what you really want under it. Fuck that’s a privileged thought, so I’ll leave it in. 

The more we know about how much other people suck, the better we feel about ourselves sucking, is what I’m getting at. In the best possible way. Apologies for not having any “answers”, but again, that’s the point. 

Last night I read the children’s book Corduroy to babygirl for the 15,000th time. A small bear in green overalls wanders a department store at night looking for his lost button, because that button represents everything that is out of his reach: love and acceptance, family, security, home. He is rescued by a girl, Lisa, who believes in his potential so much that she empties out her piggy bank for him. Once she and Corduroy have settled in her bedroom, she sews on a new button for him, not because he needs it but because he’ll be more comfortable with his strap fastened. And then they share a big hug.

Babygirl loves Corduroy. I love it too, partly because it doesn’t elide issues of class and race. When Lisa and her mother first notice Corduroy in the store, they stand out as dark faces against a sea of pink. All of them do, really, as Corduroy is also brown. When Lisa asks her mother to buy the bear, her mother sighs, “Not today, dear. I’ve spent too much already.” #RealTalk! How often does that happen in picture books — or in pop culture in general? The next day, Lisa comes back triumphant to redeem Corduroy with her own savings and brings him up four flights of stairs to her family’s apartment.

Class Consciousness in Kids Books by Ester Bloom (The Awl)

Life as a Cupcake Bouncer

http://thebillfold.com/2014/08/my-life-as-a-magnolia-bakery-cupcake-bouncer/?src=longreads

“Sometimes people act like children,” my boss told me the first day she designated me the cupcake bouncer. “So you have to treat them like children.” That was the motto of Magnolia when I worked there. Nobody cared about their job; I was one of the four people I knew who worked there and moved to New York to write. Two co-workers were dancers, and one was a girl from Greenwich who was too frightened to ever go into Brooklyn to drink with us. We hated the customers equally and felt nothing but white-hot rage every time one of them said, “Aren’t you getting so fat working here? I would eat everything!”

We hated the ones who waited in line, and when it was time to close, complained if they didn’t make it in—too bad for them, there was no sympathy. I don’t know what it’s like to work at Magnolia now, but back when it had a single owner whom we hardly ever saw, long before she sold it to a buyer that has been working with franchisees all over the world to open up Magnolias, if you bought a cupcake from Magnolia, there is a high probability that the person behind the counter hated your guts.

Text
Photo
Quote
Link
Chat
Audio
Video