A Little Chat with Money
You can sweat about it. You can fret about it. But you can't escape tomorrow's tax deadline. And whether you're looking at a refund or writing a check, navigating the tax code can be pretty daunting. Writer Ellen Blum Barish has been intimidated by money matters for some time. So she decided to sit down with Money and have a little heart-to-heart.
BARRISH:Since I became a grown up, my feelings about you have changed. Can we talk?
MONEY: I¹m ready.
E: Remember how pleased I was at 10 when I raised $100 in a backyard fundraiser for muscular dystrophy? And how I proud I was to save babysitting money and deposit my college work study paycheck into the bank?
M: Yes? Your point?
E: Back then, it was simple. Money was an added benefit to work I was happy to do. But now I worry about covering my expenses almost constantly.
M: Now we are getting somewhere. What is it that you really want from your money?
E: I want to be able to pay my bills each month without fretting so much.
M: That¹s it?
E: And I don¹t want to feel guilty about my daily soy latte habit.
M: I hear you. Do you pay your bills every month?
M: That¹s good.
E: But, I do it with a lot of anxiety.
M: That may be more of a wiring issue than a monetary one.
E: Very funny. Seriously though - why do you have to be so intimidating?
M: Hey, I¹m just paper and metal. And you¹ve got high speed calculators and Suze Orman.
E: It¹s just time I don¹t have.
M: Time or inclination?
E: Well, I-
M: Remember your math nightmare in seventh grade? The one where you showed up for your exam without your pencil and your shoes? And how flummoxed you got working the register as a salesgirl? I¹ve seen your 1099s. You¹re a writer, right?
E: Yes, well.
M: 'Nuf said.
M: Well, I¹m offended that you don¹t seem interested in making time to handle what money you do have.
E: I have thought that if I conquered my fear of balancing my checkbook, I might never have to pay a late fee again. I might even catch a bank error.
M: Now that¹s what I¹m talking about. I¹m not fearsome, I¹ve just been dismissed. I think you¹ve spent more time worrying over money you don¹t have and than the money you do have.
E: It¹s not enough that you hold a mortgage, home equity, auto and college loans over me, you¹ve got to psychoanalyze without a license, too?
M: You know what they say about an unexamined life? Think you can go through those piles? Separate your domestic bills from your business ones?
Pay bills online?
E: I can try ..
M: I know you can do it. We¹re good for now?
E: Well, I-
M: Now that I¹ve finally got your attention, catch your breath. Go for a walk. You¹ll feel better.
E. Shouldn¹t I get started right away?
M: After. It will all still be there when you get back.
E: Guess so. Will you?
M: Sure, if you leave that greenback on the dresser and walk right past that corner café.
Ellen Blum-Barish is a Chicago writer. And Money: well, Money was portrayed by our very own General Manager and President, Torey Malatia.
Music Button: Common Ground, "Pakula Blues" from the CD High Voltage (Delmark records)