Sunday, August 14, 2011

Money worries

When I was in college, I wanted to save the world and I chose my major accordingly. Unfortunately, it turns out saving the world doesn’t pay all that well.

Everyone warned me that I would be broke but I didn’t listen. “It’s ok, man,” I’d tell them. “I’m from the suburbs, I went to college and I listen to all this political music, man. The feeling of helping other people and contributing to a cause is worth more than money to me, man. My ideals and self-righteousness will pay my bills. My hybrid car doesn’t use much gas, either. I don’t eat meat, which saves a lot of money.”

I knew the field I had chosen paid very little, but I didn’t realize just how little. When you’re an undergrad student trying to plan for a career and an academic advisor tells you that you’ll probably be making around X dollars per year, it doesn’t really mean a whole lot to you. Such numbers are very abstract to a college student who has been working part-time and paying for everything with student loans and credit cards. My advisor might’ve told me how many honeydew melons and hockey pucks my salary would buy and it would’ve meant about the same to me.

Now I’m out in the cold cruel Real World. I don't have much money, and the everyone is after the money I do have. It's like my wallet has a bullseye on it or something. For instance, the air conditioning in my car broke right as summer was really heating up. I got it looked at and it would cost $1,000 to fix, which means I now drive with the windows down. Apparently car air conditioner parts are made out of gold, diamonds and caviar.

And the organization who wants my money the worst is my health insurance company. Those people don’t want to cover anything, and then I wind up on the “customer care” hotline arguing charges with them.

“I see here that during labor your wife drank an apple juice,” they say. “And your current plan only covers orange juice.”

“Ok, fine,” I sigh. “But I see here on my bill that I was also charged for an orange juice.”

“That’s because after labor your wife also had an orange juice with pulp,” they reply. “Pulp, sir. We do not cover pulp of any kind. You should know that, it's explicitly stated on an obscure benefits information page on our website that you'll never be able to find.”

“Ok, fine,” I concede. “How much are the two juices going to cost me?”



“Per juice. Now about these other charges...”

So forth an so on until I got so tired of fighting them that I agreed to have all of my paychecks direct deposited to my insurance company until Junior turns 18.

I’m not sure I'm going to do, but I think I need to switch careers and get into the health insurance business.

Anyone else finding that their ideals are not paying the the bills? Suggestions on how to actually make some good money? Leave a comment if you please.


  1. Reality is way harsh, isn't it? I am dealing with the hours-long health insurance phone calls and I just want to scream, "Why am I paying you gobs of money every month and you don't cover anything?!?"

    But I suppose at the end of the day, money still can't by happiness (except for Chipotle). I think ideals will always win out in the grand scheme.

  2. I was without air-conditioning in my car for the last year and a half. I live in the South. Bru. Tal.

    So about two months ago I finally got it fixed. Almost $400 later and voila! I had cool air! I felt like a new woman! I could change the world! I could do anything I wanted to! And all while sitting within the frosty confines of my old school Monte Carlo!!

    That is, until one month ago, when the air stopped working all at once. Again. After only being functional for about a month. If that. And guess how big the discount to get it re-fixed is??? Yeah. Not. I share your pain, bruthah.

    The money thing is also an issue. I'm an actor. Strike One right there. I still live with my parents while I'm in between college/grad school and where I actually want to be in my life, so the relatively free roof is nice, but I make so little at my part-time-wage-for-full-time-hours day job that I have no hope of ever saving enough to be able to move out any time soon. I wish I had advice, but I'm currently still trying to figure this one out myself. I still have no desire to ever do work that isn't meaningful, even if the paycheck is bigger. Although my bank account's lack of funds is a tempting mistress when it comes to that kind of work...

    Solidarity, brother! We creative Save The World type minds gotta stick together! Power to the people! ;-D

  3. Aw yes I remember those days of “Can I pay my Visa with my Master Card” all too well. I can remember the mountain of debt for school loans and all and feeling like the debt was only thing growing not my income, and for a short while we did go backwards. It seemed that the light at the end of the tunnel truly was an oncoming train. Yes, it seems hopeless and that it will never end. We scraped by to get a buck ahead it seemed only to have the car die etc.

    Some advice from a survivor.

    1st get you head right per Henry Ford “if you think you can or you can’t your right” more or less. Make lemonade attitude attitude is the difference. A rosy outlook may seem corny but the alternative will just make you bitter and hateful. You know the rabbit and the tortoise deal well unfortunately slow and steady is the reality. Finally it’s not increase the income that gets you out of the hole but it’s a decrease in the outgoes. The new C/D’s, blue bunny, and the take out stuff etc. The little stuff adds up and bleeds you dry. If you don’t believe it keep a diary of every penny you spend. You have to watch where it goes. No amount of income will offset the hemorrhaging that is due to non essential outgoes. No matter what you make you can spend it and more. Lots of movie stars and big shots go bankrupt too. So more money isn’t the answer. You just have to really really weed out the wants’. That doesn’t mean you can never splurge and get a new this or that or go out for dinner, but it has to be the rare occasional deal not the routine. Hamburger helper “R” us etc has to be the new reality.

  4. You are not alone. We are also looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.

    The husband and I bought a house in 2009 only to find out that they "miscalculated" our taxes by almost $2k. Yeah, like it was chump change or something. On top of that everything under the sun decided to stop working or needed maintenance. Truck battery, the truck exhaust, tires for said truck, bearings in the yard tractor, boat battery (which the boat later sunk), we had to get a new furnace, our yard has suddenly decided it likes to leak into our basement with snow run off/rain/etc, some jackass hit our mailbox, oh and the cost to commute went from $2.30/gal to $3.99/gal. "F*** me hard" is what I think came out of my mouth when I realized that is what will also impact our ability to buy heating fuel this year.

    At any rate, the hubby did get a new job closer to home (much like you) so we are hoping that by using up what's in the house first before running to the grocery store, dining in, packing our own lunches, and his lessened commute that we can slowly start to pinch a few pennies.

    Keep your chin up, this too shall pass. At least you have a new deduction for your taxes this coming season.

  5. I know how hard it is drive on a hot sunny day without an AC! You can try other car repair shops and find one that will cater to your budget. It is always a good choice to invest on car maintenance, but if your budget is not cooperating, there are always cheaper alternatives that don’t hold back on quality.


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