Dollars and Cents: Is There A Hole In My Pocket?

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Jackpot by Kate Ward Thacker at Art.comWell, Dreamers, it’s been an interesting week in my dream of personal finance mastery. Dollars and cents: now you see them, now you don’t.

Virgo Man went on a brief fishing vacation with his brother. He wasn’t gone half an hour when he called and asked me why his ATM card didn’t work. He should have had plenty of money, but when I called the credit union to check, they informed me that they credit direct deposits differently now, and didn’t I get the notice? No money in that account until MONDAY. But Virgo Man needs gas TODAY. So, off I scrambled to put some water in the well.

I cleaned out my account and put the money in his account, but it wasn’t a problem because every month I get a regular check and I knew it would come in today’s mail. It’s never not come on this exact day for over two years. Thus I could count on having that check to replenish my account. Which was kind of important, due to the need to feed kids and put gas in my car, which was running with the no-gas light insistently lit.

But…not so fast.

The regular check that I always without exception get did not show up. For the first time, ever. Why? Because I had already spent it, that’s why! It is the law of the universe that if you spend money on the come, it won’t show up. Lord, how many times will I be learning that lesson?

Okay! So I had the change jar for gas.  Surely I could rustle up some meals from the freezer and the pantry. They might be a little strange – cereal and tuna, anyone? We might not like it much, but we’d eat.

I called my sister, who teaches and therefore never has any extra money (you teachers can relate, I’m sure). She is a safe person to share my money woes with, because she couldn’t possibly ever afford to lend me any money. Therefore, no guilt about crying on her shoulder.

But! She had just gotten a totally unexpected check from some extra teaching that she wasn’t expecting to be paid for. So, out of the blue, she lent me some money. Thank you, PayPal, for that excellent fee-free instant personal use cash transfer.

Then…I lost my debit card.

I lost it right after I put the loan proceeds in the bank, which was 5 minutes before the bank closed for the weekend.It disappeared shortly after I got $60 in cash, and sometime before I went through grocery store check-out.

My grocery bill was $59.95. That left me with no gas money, except for the change jar. Nonetheless, if I could get home, then we could eat.

BUT! I found the debit card under the floor mat of the car. Filled up the tank, got home, and made a big pot of bolognese sauce, which will last into the next millennium. All was well.

And THEN, I realized I hadn’t paid the cell phone bill yet. We don’t use a land line, so keeping the cell phone operational is important. Good thing my sister lent me that money!

I paid in the way I always do, using the automated system check-by-phone. Eight years I’ve been with T-Mobile (they should give me an award). Eight years I’ve never had a problem. You can guess that I had a problem this time. A new bill had come out that very day, and so, when I chose the option to “pay my full bill,” I paid TWICE what I meant to.

T-Mobile was unhelpful. Something about how I owed the money, so they couldn’t actually refund it to me.

It went on like that all week. I had money, and two seconds later, I had no money.

I filed my state tax return and it was actually a higher refund than I expected. Money! Then the dryer burned up. NO money. (Have you guys been to the laundromat lately? $40 to do the laundry. There went the change jar.)

Virgo Man’s office called and said that by mistake they had been taxing his paycheck for a non-taxable item for over a year, and he’d be getting an extra check next week. Money! Then the kitchen sink backed up. NO money.

I tell you, it was the most dramatic financial seesaw I think I’ve ever been on.

I don’t have a point to this post. I just wanted to tell someone about it.

How about you, Dreamers? Any seesaw dollars and cents stories in your life? Leave a comment below. And thanks for listening.


  • Dan Whipps

    Absolutely love your blog. I laughed so hard that my coffee went in my nose. This week I got a big check from a client and was looking forward to planning a weekend away when my water heater went out. I can relate.

  • Heather

    Was there something in the air? I totally had this happen this past couple weeks with my husbands transmission gong out JUST in time for an unexpected payment to come through.

    Thanks for the reminder… you can only hold onto it for so long!

    – H

  • Gunjan Gupta

    Hah, this post is great. I think I will stuff $100 in my sock drawer now.

  • OMG I laughed so hard!

    I think of you saying this ALL THE TIME: “The regular check that I always without exception get did not show up. For the first time, ever. Why? Because I had already spent it, that’s why! It is the law of the universe that if you spend money on the come, it won’t show up.”

    And you are 100 percent right. My ex husband lived this way as a commissioned salesperson always counting the money (and spending it) before the commission check came and it always went sideways. We’d argue for hours for him to stop doing that because I know spending money before a check arrives makes the check you are expecting late.

    God, did you just not take a great big nap today?



  • I will go for “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” every time.