I’ll never forget the day the ATM on my college campus ate my card. I was way overdrawn — had been for some time — but was hoping that divine intervention would put money into my account. Not only did the machine not dispense cash, it told me I was no longer welcome to bank there and didn’t return the card. Making it worse was that this happened in front of my friends. They started laughing and never stopped. I was not only horribly embarrassed, but heading into the weekend flat broke.
My parents would have welcomed me home for the weekend but I’d have to take the Greyhound from New Orleans to Mobile because my car had been immobilized by a wheel-boot due to unpaid campus parking tickets. Calling home for more money was out of the question — my parents had been very clear about that when I tried it before. So, resigned to change my fate, I found a job waiting tables at a restaurant about a mile and a half from campus and waited tables for the next three years until graduation. I quit the rowing team, dialed back my social life, and went to work and class. I walked to and from the restaurant sweating through my black pants, white shirt and royal blue bow tie in the thick New Orleans heat until I could gather enough cash to get my car released.
I was awful with money. I had no ability to control my spending or budget for upcoming expenses. It continued for several years after college and today, well over 20 years later, those emotional memories live just beneath the surface. Truthfully, money scares me. Rather, mismanaging my money scares me and I’ve mismanaged more than my fair share.
Beware the Reformed