HB did a bad, bad thing

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OR: Good times with my bank account

The position that I have now isn’t really my first real job. I had a real job, one where I was expected to show up daily and work my ass off, in the fall of 2004. I was L-I-V-I-N the high life, wherein, I was paid to work though still in school which meant that despite a real life salary, my parents still paid for every necessity including the rent on my studio and I spent every cent I had ordering things from Gap and Nordstrom. It was a beautiful thing. This job ended under very unfortunate circumstances, which can only be blamed on 51% of Americans. Re-read that last sentence there, for that was mistake number one: banking on a job that is only 50% certain.

Though I was mildly glad that my days of working like a million hours a week- including Saturdays and Sundays- in addition to completing 13 credit hours (who cares if three of those credits were garnered by an exceptional golf swing) it was still emotionally upsetting. Nevertheless, I trudged on. Right on into Nordstrom to purchase shoes, and Gap to purchase more clothes and the occasional foray into a Ralph Lauren store. There was no stopping me people; I became a lady of leisure. I spent my days shopping and golfing then lunches at Panera and my evenings, sometimes studying, but not really.

At the same time I was preparing to leave for Spain for my final semester, not because I needed the credits but because when it comes to a choice between spending four months in Spain on my parent’s dime or being a responsible person with a 401K, I’m going to spend four months drunk in Europe. The end. Oh, there was mistake number two: spending four months in Spain on my parent’s dime. I had actually run out of money. Don’t ask me how, but in my lunching/leisure days of shopping and being wholly irresponsible, I managed to spend every last dollar that I had save for $500, which I earmarked for my first month in Spain.

Let us all laugh now. Laugh hard and long. Because there is this pesky little thing called a Euro and those things will suck you dry. On my first night in Spain – NIGHT, not an entire day, but one single night – I managed to spend 60 euros (roughly $120) on alcohol. Of course my reaction the following morning, after falling out of the shower due to severe hangover, was ‘Oh my holy hell.’ But I remained calm and had enough to last me a bit longer. Here is where my memory gets fuzzy, not because I was on a full on bender through Europe, but because a lot happened. Anyway at some point very early on, I started running out of money. Not just, ‘oops I don’t have an extra 20 euros’, but serious, ‘I have nothing in my checking account type craziness’; where I would call my parents on an ongoing basis to have them replenish. Oh, mistake number three: There were negative dollars in my bank account.

Have I mentioned the part where I still had credit card bills to pay? Or the part where I had maxed out (MAXED OUT) my Nordstrom, Gap, and Bank of America cards? No. Oh…well, there was that too. Mistake number four: “If the shoe fits, buy it� is no longer my mantra.

By my return home, I was beyond poor. Anything received as a graduation present was then sent directly to the credit card with the highest interest rate (Thank you Suze Orman), because these people were calling me. at. my. home for their money. I was actually sick to my stomach when I realized that not only did I have zero dollars, but I was also unemployed and Hey! No health insurance either! This means that if I had actually gotten alcohol poisoning due to my nightly pity parties, I would have had to pay for that out of pocket. So yeah, things were awesome. Really awesome. There were a lot of tears and the depression was very deep and real. Mistake number five: Alcohol costs money. Life’s too short to drink cheap wine. (And yes, I know that alcohol is also a depressant)

Though I can write about this now and laugh, I have never been more ashamed of anything in my life. Hell, my parents still don’t know about any of this. Anyway, I was reminded of it all over the weekend while perusing ‘O Magazine’ and thinking about the glorious new fall boots that I would procure. Then I started thinking of my other favorite things including: Coach, Anthropologie, Stuart Weitzman, Whole Foods and Wine. Now because of my really crapass financial situation I purchase everything with a debit card and/or cash; which causes more tears than you could even imagine. It means that if I don’t have the cash for something right now, then I can’t buy it; which means that the fabulous cashmere hoodie I want from Gap, will be gone by the time I can afford it. This also means a budget (sometimes very strict) and separate checking accounts, one for ‘needs’ the other for ‘chai lattes and other crap that I want badly.’ And babysitting more than anyone should ever want to baby-sit in life to even get remotely ahead. It also means that a fear of God has been instilled in me and I am now enrolled in my company’s 401K, because I honestly couldn’t live with myself (or with my parents, which is what would happen if I were to lose all of my money again) if I were to foolishly spend all of my money again.

Actually that last bit there did happen again recently, but totally not my fault and I totally do not have a kick ass pair of jeans because of it. But like I said earlier, thankfully I can laugh now, but that doesn’t keep me from wishing I could have shaken myself and realized how positively stupid and irresponsible I was being. While I’m not all that responsible, I am most certainly not a stupid person. I suppose I should be thankful that this happened early on as opposed to later in life when I would not only be responsible for myself but for actual small children. I’m glad I learned even if it was the hard way and do realize that it could have been considerably far worse and I could be royally screwed right now. Yet it doesn’t keep me from wondering, what the hell was I thinking?

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