Poor sucks

Being poor sucks. It just does.

I’m not poor now. I have been, but I’m not anymore.

To be clear, I’ve never been poor while trying to raise a family, and while I’ve been food insecure, I’ve never really been in danger of starving. I’ve skipped a few meals unwillingly, but I’ve never gone a full day without eating (unwillingly). I’ve never been responsible for feeding someone other than myself while poor, and while I’ve hustled for my rent, I’ve never been in danger of being evicted.

But I have rummaged in my couch cushions looking for change to buy toothpaste.

I have looked through my neighbor’s garbage cans for bottles to return for enough nickels to buy a stamp to mail my resume for a job (yes, I’m old enough to have performed a job search via the USPS to mail resumes. Suck it).

I’ve poked a new hole in my belt to hold up my loose pants after losing a pants size worth of weight after being consistently food insecure for a brief and temporary 2 month mini-struggle.

Being poor is a waste of time. I suppose digging through trash to recycle metal cans and glass bottles helps the environment, but while I didn’t resent it at the time (I’d been poor before and I was no stranger to this type of low-value activity), from my current vantage point looking back, I can’t help but think of all of the other job searching activities (or, hell, even volunteering) I could’ve been doing that would have been such a much more worthwhile use of my time than cleaning up other people’s recycling. What value did I bring to the world by being late to work that time I ran around looking for a store to take my pennies in exchange for dollars because the NYC MTA didn’t take pennies for tokens (I’m old, I told you).

There’s a stigma attached to being poor. I burn with shame when I remember teasing a classmate about living in a half burnt-out low-rise when I was a child. I don’t know why I did it. I do know that a year into my first professional job whenever one of my clients glanced at my stained-with-use suit jacket cuffs, I quickly clasped my hands behind my back and took a haughty pontificating posture.

Being poor is a skill. I haven’t been poor in a very long time. My family is longer poor – my mom eventually graduated college, got a good job, my dad eventually became secure in his employment after a shaky start. Everyone my generation and younger are educated and professionals. But I don’t think there is even one of us that doesn’t know that you can brush your teeth with baking soda, clean your counters and floors with vinegar or lemons, I don’t think any one of us doesn’t have some kind of hoarding habit or know exactly where and how to get a payday loan. We are adept at using things for jobs they were not designed for, like sticking a pencil in the carburetor in a 1980s Buick Regal to get it started. We know the value of doing a favor for a neighbor, and ensuring the favor is returned in times of need. 

My dad says I have Judy Garland syndrome. I hoard things I don’t need to hoard, like single dollars. I’m not joking – I have a thousand single dollar bills in my safe besides my actual investments. As far as retirement funds, taxable investments, alternative holdings go, I’m normal. But I have a thousand single dollar bills within reach because if there is one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that the money isn’t yours unless it’s in your hands. Literally. I’ve always, ALWAYS kept a current passport – my step-grandmother that had numbers tattooed on the inside of her arm and spoke with an Eastern European accent listed that as a rule that should never be broken – always keep a current passport and always have jewelry. As a child I didn’t know why, but I formed the habit anyway. Now I know why, and I think these are pretty good rules. 

Anyway, yeah, poor sucks. I don’t have a solution for Poor, but I’m goddam grateful not to know it anymore. 

Check Your Bank Accounts Monthly

Log into your bank accounts EVERY month

And when I say “every month”, I mean EV. ER. Y. MONTH. 

Banks are like surly, sneaky teenagers who refuse to get their own jobs for their cash. 

When I was a kid, I would periodically go through every single purse in my aunt’s closet and collect the stray singles and handfuls of dimes. My haul was usually somewhere around $20 (and this was in the 80s – plenty for the food court at the mall with my friends). Banks are like my teenage self: if you don’t pay attention, they cipher your money away a little at a time without you really noticing unless you know how to protect yourself. 

No, fuck that. Banks are outright thieves. 58695

So today we’re going to talk about Wells Fargo. 

All banks are thieves, practicing legalized thievery with their thieving thieve business structures. And I know Wells Fargo is an easy target, given their thievery exposure in the last 3 years, creating accounts without customer knowledge, charging them fees on the sneaked accounts, stealing from their customers and facing zero consequences for their thievery (has any Wells Fargo executive gone to jail?), firing their middle class middling managers for the thievery instead of their .01% gazillionaire brain-trust executives. And I’d love to write a thievery banks-are-assholes post without being cliché and writing about the thieves at Wells Fargo. But, honestly, they do it to themselves.

This morning I get an email from Wells Fargo stating my savings account is in the negative. 

“What’s this?”, I thought. How can an account I never use and have mostly forgotten about be negative? Last I knew, I had 50ish dollars in it, and only because I signed up for the account when I opened the checking account, and the account rep emphasized over and over again that it was free, it was free, it was free, and I should put money in there and have it act like an overdraft pool. I shrugged and did just that.

For the first year, nothing happened. I mostly ignored the savings account. I ignored it the second year too. We’re now in my third year, and here I am in the negative. Wells Fargo decided in the middle of my second year that I should not have a free savings account, they decided I should have a savings account that charges me $5 a month. The account statements even show zero activity for a little more than a year, then suddenly subtracting $5 a month.

I called Wells Fargo and said “Why are you stealing form me, give me my money back, and hey, are you thieves pulling your sneaky thieve games again?”

The agent tried the accusatory tactic: “Your savings account charges $5 a month if you don’t xyz”

I said “I didn’t sign up for an account that requires xyz. Gimme my money back

Long story short, the agent was able to confirm that I did not, in fact, sign up for anything requiring me to do xyz or abc or anything other than giving Wells Fargo the privilege of hanging onto $50 of my money. In the end, I shut down the account and got back $30 (the agent couldn’t get further back than 6 months, and I’ll be going into a physical branch to collect the rest of my stolen money).

There are two lessons here:

1. Monitor your bank accounts. Banks are thieves and if they find they can get away with stealing your money, they will do it until you notice and tell them to stop.

2. Call the bank and get fees reversed. Seriously – even if you think you mistakenly signed up for something that charges a fee without realizing it, ask for it back. If YOU don’t realize you’re going to be charged fees, that’s THEIR fault for not emphasizing it up front. THEY stole from YOU, not the other way around. Get your money back.



PS. I suppose there’s one more lesson: don’t have more accounts than you need. If you don’t have a specific purpose for a checking/savings account, then don’t have it.

PPS. Banks provide a necessary service and they deserve to get paid. I get that. But banks should not be allowed to steal from their customers, legally or otherwise.

Even apartment dwellers can grow their own food: 5 Foods to Grow Inside

The easiest way to save food on your groceries is……to not pay for them!

The easiest way to not pay for your food is….to grow your own!

This is sometimes easier said than done: if you don’t have a backyard or a balcony, chances are, you don’t have enough sunlight for tomato plants.

Apartment dwellers need to get more creative with their space and light. Here are xxxx ways to grow your own food in an apartment:

You don’t need a sprout kit, but it’s less messy you have one
  • Basil. Really, there are many herbs that do not need a lot of sunlight and can thrive in small pots, but I list basil because I love the aromatics of basil, especially on a homemade pizza!
  • Lettuce. You can treat indoor lettuce plants almost the way you do sprouts – let them grow a little, and cut the leaves when they’re young. And bonus points – they grow back. How’s that for the gift that keeps on giving! I plant lettuce seeds in a long, shallow pot and sit it on the windowsill… even on a north-facing windowsill.
  • You can grow root vegetables inside like carrots and potatoes. Potatoes are probably the easiest, since you’re continuously packing more dirt on top to encourage more upward growth, and therefore more potatoes, but the fact is, no apartment I’ve ever lived in have I had superfluous amounts of space to give up to potato grow bags. Frankly, I’ve never been tempted to give up living space to potato grow bags in any house I’ve ever lived in. But it can be done, if that’s your priority. If you want to give it a try, read this article.
  • Mushrooms. You can absolutely grow mushrooms since they need zero light. These are forest floor-dwellers, after all. But I hate mushrooms, blech! Besides, they look way fussy and not nearly as simple as growing sprouts!

Happy gardening!

salad healthy vegetables vegan
Photo by Artem Bulbfish on Pexels.com

The Secret to Eating Fancy on the Cheap When You’re Single

The secret to eating fancy on the cheap when you’re single is…truffle powder.

That’s it. That’s the secret.

1.76 ounces of this shit is 25 clams, but you only need a shake, and it makes poor food taste like you’re the kind of person that craps on gold toilets.

Seriously, shake some of this on a 2 dollar bag of popcorn, pour yourself a glass of $10 wine, put on a fancy dress and treat yourself, mama.

You deserve it.