Money Manglement

Wednesday November 30th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

Money is tighter than Dolly Parton’s bra in my world these days, and a major reason for it is a direct result of my complete lack of discipline when it comes to all things financial. When I’ve got money, I’m more likely to help others with it than spend it on myself like a drunken sailor. When I don’t, I always assume I’ll be able to get it again when I need it.

That’s not smart business, and I either have to change the way I handle money or resign myself to the fact I’m going to be squeaking by the rest of my life. It’s not working to my satisfaction, so I guess I need a change. Living like a cockroach is no longer an adventure.

Sometimes I’ve been very good at keeping my expenses low, but other times I’ve blown my entire savings wad on rock solid ‘investments’ like ‘classic’ (translate: rattle trap) cars or ‘collectible’ (translate: unsellable ) trinkets. If I was on “American Pickers“, I couldn’t pick my own ass out of a police lineup with a full length mirror and an instruction book.

I have to face the harsh reality I’m not a natural when it comes to slick sales and turning a quick buck. If a car leaks oil, I don’t feel right not telling the person looking at it there’s a potential problem. I know it’s not smart business, but my conscience forces me do it.

I don’t want to screw people over, because I know how rotten it feels to be the one who gets the screwing. I know that feeling all too well, and it isn’t fun. I never thought anyone had to get screwed over, but life isn’t that kind. The Golden Rule is ignored by too many.

The real key is to have a stash of cash to be used as insulation against having to do what isn’t pleasant. Having money means having freedom of choice, and I’ve become addicted to that freedom. I’ve never been a good employee or ass kisser, but I’m dangerously close to having to start going in that direction and I don’t like it. I need some scratch, but quick.

An especially painful frustration is the mistake I’ve made by loaning money to people I assumed would pay me back. I know it’s not smart to lend money to ‘friends’, but I have a heart and I thought it was the right thing to do. I regret it now, and I wish I had it back.

There’s a Chicago comic who begged me for a spare car I had a few years ago. I bought it at the Waukegan Auto Auction and he told me wanted it for his son. I was a naive idiot, and let him have it on the promise he’d pay me in full ‘in a few months’. I’m still waiting.

It’s to the point now, I’ve made the plea so many times nobody seems to hear it. I tried to be nice about it, but nice never works. I tried being nasty too, and then I’m the bad guy. The bastard has money to buy dope every week, but he won’t pay me back what he owes.

There’s another deadbeat weasel comic that I made the mistake of giving another of my auction specials to on credit that scorched me even worse. He was estranged from his son in Texas, and was going to surprise him with a car for his sixteenth birthday. Again, I had a soft spot in my heart and wanted the kid to have the car and his dad to have the moment.

If my mother would have brought me a car on my sixteenth birthday, I might have had a different and better opinion of her. I know what it’s like to be estranged from a parent and I knew it was a risk but the guy swore he’d pay me “in full, before the end of the year.”

Right. I’ve lost track of the exact time, but I’m sure it’s probably at least five years now and I’m still waiting for my first payment. Then, to add insult to injury I heard the kid had an accident the first week he had the car and totaled it. It was a super clean 1988 Mercury Cougar with only 50,000 miles on it. It was an older car, but kept in immaculate shape.

The first one was a cherry too. It was a mid ‘90s Geo Storm, but it ran great and I got it at a steal price – $1000. I paid $1500 for the Cougar, and all I asked the other guys for was to give me what I paid for each car. I could have tried for a profit, but I wanted to be nice and try to treat them like I’d like to be treated. I tried to act like a friend, and got burned.

I have to believe if the tables were turned and I owed them that much money, they both would call out the National Guard or whatever it took to get their money back. I was a big dumb stooge and tried to be a gentleman about it. Now, it all just makes me want to puke.

If I saw either of them, I’d have all I could do to refrain from picking up a golf club and teeing off on their pumpkin heads. It was my fault to do those deals in the first place, but I really don’t appreciate being disrespected like that. I could use the $2500 right about now.

What recourse do I have with either of these two oil cans? Legally, none. I didn’t have a contract drawn up, or anything like that. We had a handshake deal, like I thought that men who are honorable do. I lived up to my part of the bargain, but got bitten by two snakes.

Another big time craw sticker is money I’m still owed for comedy shows I’ve done way in the past. I can think of several instances where there’s been trouble with a rubber check or ‘miscommunication’ between booker and scummy club maggot, and I end up having to eat the difference. In twenty-five plus years, I’d say the grand total comes to about $3000.

Maybe that’s low considering all my years in the business but again, it sure would come in handy to have that cabbage in my pocket now. I suppose I could have fought for it a lot harder, but what I did fight for made me look like a maniac and I never did retrieve it all.

Had I put that money away, I’d have that cushion. I did have one, but my hospital stint this summer wiped out any savings I had because I needed it all to survive. I took time off to recover. That money is gone, and here I sit as the cold of winter sets in – all tapped out.

I need to be a constant saver, even if it’s only a little each month. We all do. Say all I’m able to do is $100. I’ve been working for right around 30 years now and $100 a month for 30 years adds up to $36.000 – not counting interest. I don’t have $3600 right now, and it’s not a good feeling. There are no excuses, but there are several reasons. None of them hide the fact that most of it is my fault, and I need to do better starting right now. I know I sure won’t be selling any used cars to anyone on credit in the near future, so please don’t ask.


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