financial foolhardiness

19 September 2007, 8:51 am

In increasing order of magnitude:

  1. Yesterday I gave a busker a couple bucks for the first time since moving to MA. Why? He ‘d just played Lou Reed’s “Romeo Had Juliette,” from New York — certainly not my favorite Reed solo tune, but maybe my favorite Reed solo album — and got enough of the words right that I couldn’t tell if he got any wrong. I thought the memorization alone was impressive, but he did a very good Lou quasi-monotone, his guitar was more-or-less in tune, and he played competently. I know lots of renowned artists supposedly cut their career teeth busking around Beantown, but this was far and away the single most musically-rewarding busker experience I’ve had in the past 5 years or so.
  2. Several months ago I bought one of of mimoco’s Star Wars mimobots, a little flash drive shaped like R2D2. More recently I convinced myself I had another 2GB of mobile storage needs and succumbed to the temptation to buy a Darth Vader, too. They have totally the coolest packaging I’ve seen since the last time Editrix bought an Apple product.

    Star Wars mimobots in their display packaging

    They are complete geek fetish objects.

    Star Wars mimobots

  3. The mimobots were a foolhardy extravagance, but I didn’t put myself deeper in debt to acquire them. (I also didn’t compulsively buy all 4, as I once probably would have done.)

    I’ve considered writing about my struggles with credit several times over the past few years. I have a familiar sob story: I knew I wasn’t being smart, but nothing seemed out of control until I got laid off. Then what had been a manageable annoyance became overnight a crushing and completely unmanageable burden. I had vague hopes that the actual numbers (which were pretty horrifying) might shock somebody into being more careful, and sparing even one person — and denying the credit bloodsuckers a few grand — seems like a worthwhile goal. But the actual numbers were a little more personal financial detail than I ever wanted to share with the Internets.

    Suffice it to say, by the time I left DC, the monthly interest charges on my balance were more than my rent.

    Anyway, last month I paid off and closed one account, this month I paid off and closed two accounts, another will fall next month, and the last before the end of the year. And the fact that indulgences like the mimobots — or the sudden unplanned need to replace my primary means of transportation — aren’t negatively impacting my paydown schedule is a huge personal triumph.

    (I wanted to write that the reps — if you’ve been in my boat, you need to talk to multiple individuals before they will release the revenue stream you’ve paddled up — at Citibank were very reasonable and courteous, and that Chase gave me a classically obnoxious we-won’t-let-you-go-without-a-fight experience. But it’s a couple weeks ago now, and it’s possible I’ve reversed them, which pretty much negates the utility of the observation. But I will say that despite the advertising rhetoric about responsible “spending management” tools, Capital One was perfectly happy to empower me to charge myself to the brink of bankruptcy.)

    (I also need to say that I could not have dug myself out so quickly, or maybe not ever, without the support, both emotional and more tangible, of my wonderful girlfriend. I can never thank you enough, love.)

    And if anyone reading this is having an anxious *gulp* sort of moment, I highly recommend Get Rich Slowly. I didn’t learn about it myself until I was mostly healthy, but it has some good advice I wish I’d gotten sooner.

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