Lifestyle

Taking the Plunge into your Personal Finances

The other day I was minding my own business and being productive aka watching episodes of ‘The Walking Dead’ and eating at the same time (not an easy feat) and the internet went out. Like every other millennial out there, I jumped from my bed, careful not to get ketchup on my shirt and ran downstairs to see if anything was amiss. All the lights were blinking on my modem. I blew some dust off it and disconnected it and plugged the cable in after the tested eighteen seconds rule.

I ran upstairs and nothing. Then my screen went blank. Then the power button was not working. After I panicked because I couldn’t watch this zombie show on my iPhone, I paused and went for a jog.

Long story short, my laptop of three years was mostly dead. I always wanted a Mac, considered it a lot and seeing as I still had some tax refund money left, it seemed like a great decision. Most people who own Macs apparently have owned them since infancy in contrast to my five deceased PC’s.

My credit score must not be impressive since the first time I applied for a credit card, the bank clerk did not have to wait even a full 24 hours to let me know that I was not eligible for a Visa Platinum card. I admit, I aimed too high but all of this Catch-22 business of credit sounds like gibberish to me.

Anyway, in my innocence, I thought it would be a good idea to apply for a small loan just to take the load off the big purchase of buying this new, light, shiny, hopefully-it-never-breaks-ever because you’ll see me at the public library for the rest of my life.

My loan application was declined because I was informed I did not have sufficient credit. I informed the bank employee that I would be willing to drop my loan request to $100. She laughed and said it didn’t matter how much money I wanted to take out, the fact was I could not because I did not have sufficient credit.

The perils of being an adult and understanding finances has never been a strong suit of mine. If a sign says 50% off item, I can do the math but when it comes to checking my bank account constantly and making sure I’m saving, it doesn’t happen that often. (If you are thinking of hacking my account, don’t, it won’t be worth the trouble) Whenever I go to the ATM, I decline the receipt option because I’d rather not know. I have a vague idea and that serves me well enough.

This financial denial does not help me in the big scheme of life. Our finances, be they dim and lowly, are still pretty important in the long run. We might not be buying a three bedroom house next month but someday we hope we can do so without being laughed at. One day we might have minions of our own and want to pay for them to go get some fancy degree at some fancy school without them suffering like we have with debt and bills.

Money is really important. We all know that. The beginning of sorting through all this credit jib-jab is to first educate yourself about your current standings with various bureaus. Make sure you owe nothing to the IRS, they’re the tax people who take your money but also return a big bulk to it sometime in the future. Stop tossing bills under a blanket and start opening your eyes to due dates. Always call phone numbers listed on bills if you feel like the amount isn’t correct or something looks funny. If you have debt, a lot of collectors are willing to set up a payment plan and as long as you follow the schedule, they will not pesk as much.

Once all the major heart attacks have happened, go ahead and look at your credit report. Think of it as a transcript from the time you first started working or started contributing to society. In my case, I was smugly boasting that there was nothing on my credit report. I had one outstanding medical bill that never made it to my new address. Stuff like that happens all the time.

In order to take control of your finances, you need to take baby steps and fix any loose nails and poking floor boards before you can build the mansion of your dreams.

 

 

Photo: parade.condenast.com