Saturday, April 30, 2016

The CASH experiment

Doesn't she look GOOOOOD?

"Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping." - Bo Derek

So recently, when I was purchasing my riggs for the upcoming weekend on a beautiful Friday afternoon at Whole Foods (which included wine, beer and popsicles) I was informed by my favorite check out gurl that my card was stolen.

I swiped again.  STOLEN.  I started looking in my wallet for cash and take the two five dollar a pop popsicle boxes out of the bag (they each contain FIVE, which makes for a dollar per) and I realize that I only have enough for Brad's beer and not my wine and I decide to abort mission.

I do not possess any other credit cards that are not store specific.  I consider paying with my Nordy's card and am lifting it out of it's slot, only to look up and spy the check out gal slowly shaking her head and pursing her lips.  UGH!

Luckily, next door is my bank.  Whole Foods is kind enough to "suspend my transaction" so that I may figure my financial shit out and I longingly look at the melting popsicles amongst my favorite bottle of wine and warming craft six packs and slink away.

"I'm coming back," I announce.

"Of coouuurrrsse,"  they say a little to loudly because a little posssee has now gathered at the register and they need to figure out how to suspend a transaction and where to put my bag.


I fly into my bank.  My card was suspended on March 7th due to "suspicious activity" in Siesta Key, Florida.  I was on a girls' trip at the time. I flash back to my weekend there and imagine that the screen they are looking at is video of me on said weekend and I look down at my feet for the second time in 5 minutes.

It is a slow day and the teller next to mine examines MY teller's screen and nods her head, like "we are SOOO gonna talk about this later, but keep your banker's game face on until we can hit the smoking area. "

"We sent out a new card," she continues, "and you should have received it by now."

"But," I stuttered, "I did not receive ANY notifications, let alone the card or I wouldn't BE in this situation right now."

I am now talking to a female version of David Spade and she's all, "Yeeeeaaaahhhhh, that's not our POLICY, because of hackers and identity theft and the like.  SO we like to just SURPRISE and HUMILIATE you by closing your account and sending a message to all of the retailers in the world that your card has been STOLEN, so that YOU look like you stole your own card.  Ya' dig?  After the bailout, banks need to get their kicks somewhere."

"Um, Okay, Now WHAT??  I am at their mercy because I do not want my video to go viral and because I need enough money to cover my melting suspended transaction so I have something to swallow all of this down with.

"Weeelllll, we are going to issue you a TEMPORARY debit card, but you won't be able to PURCHASE anything with it, you can just get cash out HERE, if you want."

She has to explain this and demonstrate this using interpretive dance and emojis with her friend, three times before I am able to comprehend.


I take out $200.  It is gone within 24 hours.

Wow.  That was fast.

In my defense I bought groceries sans liquor for the first time since I turned 21.  I have never sweated out a transaction so much in my life, with the exception of my wedding night.  Giant Eagle APPARENTLY takes their deductions at the end, and I was counting my twenties like a 7-11 cashier at the end of her shift.  Just PRAYING it would be RIGHT.

After several days of getting used to my new plight, I began to think of it as a game or an "experiment" as you will.  A CHALLENGE.

I became obsessed with what we spent money on, and looked down on people with credit, because they are a cog in the machine and they never know their WORTH like me.  Poor bastards.  If only they possessed the bank-imposed ENLIGHTENMENT I had, they would be such better PEOPLE!

Let's talk about the PSYCHOLOGY of what happens when you are LITERALLY "strapped for cash".  It is a slow process, at first, and then it catches fire like any other movement one is forced into.

At first, you experience DENIAL, and then before long, you reach SELF- ACTUALIZATION, until your new Debit card comes in the mail, that is. Whenever that happens.

Here is how my transition shook out.  In the beginning, it was all business as usual, because you are USED to a certain way of life, and then when you are slapped in the face with the realization that you have to check your wallet before each and every purchase you make everyday, you begin to RETHINK each of those purchases IN ADVANCE, and then a beautiful or ugly thing begins to happen (depending on your attitude) and you eventually, dare I say it, you BUDGET.

Is the hair standing up on the back of your neck, yet?  Well, it should be, because the struggle is REAL, y'all.

Here are the OTHER eye-opening everyday purchases, you never think about, that will simply DRAIN your pocketbook, yo.  Gas, yes, gas. You cannot use a card at the pump.  You must estimate how much gas you need and you start to notice the signs posted outside gas pumps to evaluate which is the most cost effective for your week, like your father-in-law does.

My father-in-law, (we'll just call him Kennie, because that is his name) can tell you the gas prices at any given intersection in the city, and those of any nearby cities he visits.

I can't imagine WHY I had problems with this computer.

I was watching videos on our old computer and was getting all nostalgic and it literally internally combusted before my very eyes.  In it's defense, it seemed to be bulging at the time, as if a gremlin was inside, which I ignored as I was welling up, and a big "pop" and the smell of burning computer innards, snapped me back into the present.  Thinking through the scenario that I need to contact the Apple store and take it in, I came to the conclusion that I need a credit card to make an appointment with the Genius Bar, and therefore, I cannot retrieve all of my lost pictures and videos of moments big and small from the past.

I am reminded of each Saturday morning when my Mom would sit at the kitchen table smoking and staring down at her yellow, ruled ledger pad, as she asked for my Dad's pay check, and filled out a deposit slip minus the cash they would need for the week.  There was no DIRECT DEPOSIT, and their wallets were always filled with cash until the following Friday, when the well would need to be filled, again.

If my Dad asked for cash from my Mother BEFORE the next Saturday, he had to state EXACTLY where his money had gone in the last four days, which he almost NEVER could do.  That is why I would always ask my DAD for cash and not my MOM, because she kept a running tally in her head as to how she spent and WOULD SPEND her money for the week.  You did NOT fuck with her system or she would CUT, and you had BETTA ask her WAY in advance for cash for say A BOOK FAIR or some such nonsense and even THEN she would exhale a big blue cloud of "We don't have the money," before you could even get the word "FAIR" out.

"Pat! " She would yell to my Dad sprawled out on our itchy plaid loveseat, "Take Johnna to the library!  Apparently, she wants to READ this week!"

My Dad and I would end up buying Gatorade gum and a tallboy (hers and his) and driving around, because we both KNEW Jody had called my bluff.  Good times.

ANNNYWAY, I went from sweating out purchases at Target, to not even going to Target anymore, and instead saving up for things that I wanted or needed in the upcoming days, determined to stretch out my kitty.  I made dinner EVARY night with the groceries I had, and was forced to make lunches, as well because I am unable to fill any of my kids' accounts at school, even though I have a steady stream of "alerts" in my Inbox directing me to replenish their accounts.

Dinner. All Klassy and shit. That's a mango under there, yo.  I don't PLAY.  They were on special.

And, speaking of Inbox requests, the links that I used to click on with abandon that advertise "Friends and Family" sales and "25% Off THIS WEEKEND only" no longer hold my interest and are quickly deleted, because what's the point, right?

We are down to ONE charger again, and I refuse to buy more and encourage my kids to "look under their beds" and "in the couch crevases for lost energy.

My experiment is simultaneously liberating and limiting, all at the same time.
Ol' Gurl walk on water at her concerts.  

On the one hand, I cannot download Queen Bey's new album, but then again, I have discovered that the Christmas Ale located in the back of the garage fridge, keeps WELL past it's expiration date!

I have delighted in telling my children at every turn that "we do not have the money" because they are CONSTANTLY asking for shit, and then in turn, I find that they basically leave me alone, because if I cannot provide for them, then they lose interest in me altogether.  It is a beautiful THANG, y'all.

I took a hit the night of Justin Beiber, though, cause I had to give Hallie a BUNCH of cash to get a t-shirt for her and her friend, who invited her to the concert.  When she got home and declared that the girl's mother REFUSED her offer, I greedily SNATCHED up her crossbody wallet, and extracted the cash from it.

Mills was with the credit card fairy that is her father for the night, so I did not have to pony up on her end, and Eva needed something off of the intraweb that I ALSO could not produce.  Well played, Underwood.  Well played.

I treated two of my daughters to dinner at The Ol' Bag on Friday night, where I insisted that they both order off of the Kid's menu (Hallie is 14 and taller than I) which include a free drank and apple sticks, while I ordered the soup and their best glass of Cabernet.  (I don't have an eating disorder, I had just filled up on queso at home).  I also asked to use their outlet to charge Hallie's phone with our ONE charger.  Again, no SHAME in the face of adversity.

And just today, I was wiping off the kitchen counter for the one billionth time in the last twenty-four hours and considered wringing out the paper towel I was using, like they do on the commercials to save, save, save.

I have begun USING people with credit, namely my husband.  I promised to pack him a cooler so he could go and watch tennis, if he would buy me some wine, just to save my cash.  I labeled his and hers cups for he and Andrew and fist pumped as he drove out of the driveway.

I am on a mission, y'all.  I am going to the Oaks next weekend where CASH is KING.  I am bumming a ride and I just need enough cash to get my dry cleaning out, (I inadvertently took my Oaks dress there before The Enlightenment) bet the ponies, DRANK and eat. - in that order.
How do I look? Dee's is the BEST.
Now, don't get me wrong, I have discussed ad nauseam, with anyone who will listen, my debit card plight, and they become infuriated and disgusted (all women), as I was that first day, as I stood across the long bank counter that I realized no longer has bullet proof glass with a semi-circle cut out at the bottom, and that awkward speaker thang you used to have to speak through. Or maybe that is a check cashing place.  IIII don't know.

A week after my debit card was revoked I was back at the bank, staring a beautiful Asian girl in the face, who regurgitated the same sentence she had uttered when we first met.

"Seven to ten business days...." she trailed off, as I began to stare at her beauty spot while I backed away.  My plight was not new to her and she clearly had rehearsed this many many times on other people.  Or maybe she was expecting me, and spied me coming in HOT, again, on another beautiful Friday.

"That was FAST," Hallie observed, with her bare feet up on the dash, as she listened to tunes streaming from the speakers attached to her phone, with the car on. Gurlfriend goes EVERYWHERE with me, even though she no longer gets anything out of it...unless material for her future therapist counts.

"Turn that OFF!" I snapped, as I slammed the car into reverse, and jolted the dog back against the back seat.  "You are not only using GAS, but you are using WIFI, and WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY!"

"I guess this is a bad time to show you this jumper I found at Urban," she smiled, as she turned her phone around to reveal a picture of an emaciated teen in a printed frock. "I'll just send it in a wishlist I've been compiling for you. Check your inbox when we get home."

Guidance: Go on a CASH diet for a week.  See what happens.  Oh, and can I borrow some money? I'll pay you back as soon as my debit card comes.  SWEAR.