Becoming Jill: Adventures in Adulthood


Moment of Truth
March 8, 2010, 8:24 pm
Filed under: money | Tags: , ,

Have you ever had a moment where you see your life in an entirely new light, realize that it sucks, and that it’s your own damn fault? I have. Welcome to Becoming Jill.

***

Reality has always been a scary place for me, and I’ve tried to avoid it at all costs. I even spent 4-5 years in grad school, mostly because I was afraid to leave and face the “Real World.”  My denial has lent itself to all areas of my life, but perhaps most disastrously to my finances.  After all, who wants to look at a bank statement when there are books to be read? Typically, I had a fairly vague notion of my income and expenses, and just hoped it would all come out right in the end. Whenever disaster would strike, my parents would give me money and a lecture (thanks guys! sorry I didn’t pay attention) and I would guiltily decide that something had to be done. I felt terrible about taking handouts from my parents, who couldn’t easily spare them, but every time I would think about figuring out just exactly where my money was going, panic and dread would set in, and I would read a book instead. As the guilt and panic spiraled out of control, I redoubled my powers of denial (which are powerful, indeed) and tried to pretend everything was ok.

But everything wasn’t ok. I was waking up in the night with my heart in my throat from dreams of being evicted. I purposely kept conversations with my mother short so that she wouldn’t ask about my bank balance. I worried about how to repay my best friend for the bridesmaid dress she bought me so I could be in her wedding. I stopped answering the phone when I didn’t recognize the number, fearing it would be the credit card company (sorry, guys). I didn’t check my voicemail for days in fear of the same, and didn’t open any mail that appeared to contain a bill. I didn’t want to know, didn’t want to deal. I was afraid I had gotten in such a deep hole that I could never climb out.

***

It all came to a head last week. The rent was due, and I had reason to believe that there wasn’t enough money in my account to cover it. I screwed up my courage to check the balance, and luckily there was enough to pay the rent, plus a little extra. As long as the automatic payment for my car insurance didn’t go through until after my next paycheck was deposited, I would be in the clear! Of course, I had no idea when the bill was scheduled to be deducted… I closed my eyes, hoped for the best, and wrote the check.

Several days later, my phone rang and I checked to see if it was the credit card company calling (again). It was my landlord. In a blind panic, I hit the “Ignore” button, as a sea of acid washed around in my stomach. Had the rent check bounced? If it had, where in the world, was I going to find the money to pay the negative balance and fee AND the rent? For about an hour, I ignored the blinking voicemail light, and restlessly surfed the internet, looking at anything that might distract me from the issue at hand.

At last, holding my breath, I checked the balance. Victory! $71. I had avoided disaster this time, but as I logged out of my account, I had an epiphany— I hated the way I was living my life in constant fear and dread. Finally, after nearly 30 years of repeatedly screwing myself over by refusing to face up to reality, I had had enough— it was time to GROW THE HELL UP.

***

This blog will document my journey. It’s going to be a long, hard road to adulthood and financial solvency, and I’m going to need some support. My wonderful best friend Karen, without whom I would be adrift in a lonely sea of financial confusion, has agreed to be my advisor. The daughter of an accountant, she’s been financially responsible pretty much from the womb. She’s taking me in hand, helping me create a budget, stick to it, and repay my debt, all while providing the occasional night of pizza, wine, and girly fun! I think you’ll agree that she’s pretty much amazing.

I’ll share my adventures with you, and hope you’ll all chime in with advice and stories of your own. Growing up is hard work—but I’m glad I have decided to finally do it.

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Way to take life by the balls! Pure brass.

Several years ago, I talked with a woman about envelope budgeting. She said she had gotten into pretty severe credit card debt and this system really helped her take control of her debt and finances.

The idea is that you budget each paycheck. Each item on your budget gets its own envelope–rent, food, car payment, student loan payment, etc. When you cash your paycheck, the budgeted amount goes into each envelope. When the money is gone, the money is gone. This method helps set finite limits and encourages you realistically estimate your needs for the month. http://www.daveramsey.com/article/dave-ramseys-envelope-system/lifeandmoney_budgeting/

Good luck! I’m rooting for you!

Comment by Stephanie

Thanks Steph!

Yes, I have heard of the envelope system, and mean to research it further. I might not do it for every single bill, since most of them are automatically deducted, but there will be a certain amount allotted for each bill each month. I am thinking of using the envelope system for my “fun” money, what little there is!

Comment by becomingjill

Excellent, yet another medium for me stalk Jill! 🙂

Argh, the real world is tough right now- we both finished school at a bad time. I know I’m not in your exact same boat, but believe me I know that facing the real world instead of continuing to stay in school is a tough jump to make (3 degrees and lots of student loan debt- I’d say we’re both experts on this matter!).

You might find this interesting- I switched to it from Quicken (of which it basically does the same managing of your banking but it’s absolutely free):
http://homebank.free.fr
It’s a good way to budget your money and see where your money “disappears to” as I call it 🙂

Comment by Jeremy

Hey, Jeremy! Your comment went to my spam folder, for unknown reasons, so I just found it.

Thanks for the tip– I’ll check it out tonight! 🙂

Comment by becomingjill




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