Money makes me antsy.

My intention this morning was to come in and write about creeping forms of “white flight” in institutional and community settings (and perpetuated by “progressives”) – but instead of getting right down to it I got caught up in some financial messiness that needed to be resolved, which lead to many phone calls and some anxiety, and finally the creation of a list to calm me back down.

I know, not exactly radical. But somehow in the last couple of days I’ve had a number of financial irregularities show up in my life that are both imminent and costly and this is the type of stress that puts pretty much everything else on the backburner. I’m still awaiting one more phone call regarding a property tax issue – but for now I think I’ve got my budget for the next several months resolved around payments and catching up accounts in arrears – and I think I can sort it all out without having to sell my house in Gibsons which is sortof the goal. But it’s tight, because my taxes and electricity costs on the place have gone up dramatically in the last year and the amount I collect from the tenants there doesn’t even come close to covering my monthly outlay. And besides that, my city-cost-of-living seems to be continually on the rise as well.

As much as I can be a bit of a spendthrift (oh books, oh clothes, oh stuff) I also have some pretty significant hangups about financial solvency – having been almost bankrupted by my ex-husband’s refusal to pay half our shared debt upon separation. Not only did it take three years to pay everything off amidst nasty creditor-phonecalls, but it took a full six years before I could obtain any real credit (ie: a credit card that didn’t require a deposit). Want invalidation and humiliation on a regular basis? Live with bad credit for awhile. No matter how much you try, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid all situations in which your credit might get checked. (Renting an apartment, getting a new cel phone plan, having your hydro hooked up, getting a new bank account, getting house or auto insurance – I spent a lot of time explaining to people that my credit situation wasn’t entirely my fault and why I should be given a break.)

Fortunately, that’s a few years behind me and I have re-established my credit and even own a home (though I don’t live there – but that’s a rant about the housing market for another post) – which should provide me with some sense of financial ease right?

I wish. On a day to day basis, as long as everything fits into my budget and projected spending, then I feel pretty good about things. Good income, small savings buffer, etc. etc. But the moment that tilts even one iota and there’s an unexpected bill or payment required, I am gripped with the fear that I’m about to lose the financial position I’ve worked for all over again. That somehow the house will end up with a lien on it, or BC Hydro will blackmark my name for late payment, that I will lose my credit cards and be forever in a position of having to explain to my employer why I need a cash advance in order to travel for business.

You get the idea.

Because it doesn’t matter that our society is drowning in debt and there’s almost no way to live without it, and sometimes things happen and you can’t make a payment, or costs go up beyond what your paycheque will cover and no one will give you just that little more time to stretch one thing to another….. It doesn’t matter that the credit companies give cards to students without incomes and even the poorest people are encouraged to purchase everything on high interest and time, not to mention the 40-year mortgages that ensure you will never own as much of your home as the bank does…. It doesn’t matter that the deck is stacked against mostly everyone except those who do the lending…. Because the minute you miss a payment, you are solely responsible for the humiliation that creeps up your neck the next time a clerk looks down her nose and refuses you something. You were the one who didn’t keep it together. You were the one who fucked up. And clearly, you can never be trusted again (at least not for another six years), so just you go and live with that and try to rent an apartment or get a job without having your name sent to the life-auditors at Equifax.

Doesn’t matter if you have a good income. No credit is no credit. And it sucks.

So I think about selling the house in Gibsons, even though it’s an enforced savings and investment plan rolled into one. A little monthly cash outlay now means more equity in the place down the road, not to mention the longer I hold onto it the more it’s worth. Really, I am plagued with a financial self-esteem issue which is not at all reflective of my actual position, which I guess is a left-over. Certainly, making a list of financial expectations and outlays for the next few months helped me to see that my money worries are more in my head and less in the ledger sheet. But still, I can’t help feeling life would be that much simpler if I didn’t have to worry about the possibility of foreclosure on a house as well as everything else.

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