After I got out of my holiday depressive slump I managed to get off my ass and accomplish a few things. I resolved to be more conciliatory and politic, and even made it a few days before ranting about white-centric feminism or something. I cancelled my Rogers internet so I can switch to the cheaper ISP TekSavvy. I cleared my inbox. I made a doctor’s appointment. And—biggest of all—I applied for a credit card!
The thing about being broke, you see, is that you make terrible financial decisions. I could barely afford to buy things with my debit card, so why would I take on debt I certainly couldn’t pay off?
But a credit card opens the door to so many other things. I can buy stuff cheaper online. I could get a drawing tablet, for instance, that would let me do illustrations on commission and earn money on the side. I can buy cheap glasses. I can replace my ailing netbook. I can get a smartphone!—The smartphone was really what convinced me. Because right now I’m on a prepaid plan, and you can only get a good deal on a smartphone if you are on pay-after, which requires a credit check. And you can’t have credit, good or bad, if you don’t have a credit card.
I won’t be able to pay off the entire balance at once, but I can definitely do minimum monthly payments. And that’s an acceptable cost to take on, because I need to maintain a level of healthy debt in order to live like a Real Adult.
And yes, this is a metaphor for the budget and why we shouldn’t be afraid to borrow money, because this city could be so much more awesome if we were willing to invest in big things, rather than tightening our belts and scrimping and saving and settling for the cheap bread at No Frills. Have you ever had that bread? It’s dry and flavourless and unsatisfying and only $1.97. You can only go so many years on that bread before you put your foot down and say I want more. I deserve more. I’m going to get out of this miserable pit, somehow.—wait, where was I? Oh yeah. So I was talking about the budget, but also about my current situation. Increasingly I feel disconnected from the #TOpoli crowd. It’s hard to express how viscerally worried I am. I wish I could talk intellectually about debt ceilings and GTA property tax rates, but I’m afraid…
No, of course it’s not the end of the world. That’s the problem. These things aren’t often drastic or dramatic. We’ll just accept a little more anxiety, a few more aggravations. “The people want change“—for those at the bottom, the currents pass us by, there’s no change at all. When things are precarious you can’t afford to take chances. There’s less margin for error. Every resource you have—a spot on the waitlist, med samples from the doctor, someone who can stay home to watch your kid, an all-night bus route—you’re counting on, and if one doesn’t come through, it throws everything into disarray. And it occupies your thoughts constantly and you just want to explain to people what it’s like and we can’t wait another moment for housing/daycare/transit…
But, in reality, you need to be able to do both at once. You still have to talk politics the way the men, the journalists, talk politics. Be smart the way they want you to be smart, and witty, but not at their expense, and they’ll listen to you, and take your advice on those things you know about. It’s cynical, but you can’t afford to insist on having the conversation on your own terms. You can’t pour your heart out so you let it drip a little all the time into everything you do. That’s the idea, anyway.
2 thoughts on “Growing up, budgeting, and other stuff”
Hey Neville…Don’t want to tell you what to do but just wanted to say that you don’t need debt to get a credit score. You have to pay at least the minimum monthly to keep your score strong for sure but if you prepay your credit card so you don’t ever accumulate debt you still get a good credit rating. One last bit of unsolicited advice: compare interest rates and the fine print on credit cards carefully. They vary wildly. If you know you can’t pay off the card every month, you’ll want to stay away from the high-interest cards that often try to seduce you with bonuses like points or cash-back.
Thanks! As you can probably guess, I know dick-all about stuff like this. And environmentalists have talked me out of Air Miles 😛