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Bankruptcy Averted

It seems only too apt that for my birthday month, I was faced with a very adult situation: finance. I’m not good with money. In fact, I’m terrible with it. It’s during these monthly fiscal predicaments that I understand that perhaps one of the underlying reasons why I’m with the person I am today is because handling money is his forte (he makes it grow like one of those bean plants in gradeschool)–apart from his obvious good looks and irresistible charisma, that is.

My brother got me my first ever credit card last week. I’ve never had one before for the following reasons: I’m the stingiest person in the world and I’ve never felt the need for it. I don’t like the feeling of buying something I can’t pay for right away. It was only lately that I’ve begun to realize the efficiency of having one, first for emergencies, and second, because of my job. When I do food-tasting sessions for reviews or Top 10s, I pay for it with my own cash which seriously puts a dent in my monthly budget. Sure we get reimbursed, but it’s not a quick process, and I often find myself penniless during the waiting period in between. And third, most importantly (haha!), because I’ve been discovering the wonders of online shopping and how much money can be saved through discount websites.

When I got the card, I bought something online immediately the next day. Then the next. Then the next. Roughly, I’ve spent an amount over half my monthly salary. You can only guess where my this week’s paycheck is going. But add electricity bills to that. Add my cellphone postpaid bill. Add my driver’s license renewal bill.

Here’s a rundown of my expenses:
1. Gift for my godson
2. Boxing gear
3. Boxing vouchers

Here’s the thing, before I write anything else. I knew I was in a bind and I wasn’t planning on buying my godson’s gift yet since his baptism is in July. I looked at one of my shopping sites and saw the perfect gift for him, but it was out of stock. I registered for the waiting list, knowing that by the time they restocked, I’d be financially comfortable. I texted my friend who works for said website and asked how long it would take for them to restock the Chicco Air Trike, and she texted me with: Now! Buy now! Mabenta yun e. Sure enough, as soon as I refreshed the page, it read SALE. I bought it even before I received the email telling me it was back in stock.

It was a nightmare just imagining what I had to pay for and how I was going yo survive until my next paycheck on the 30th. But God, miraculously, always has a way of giving a helping hand to those who are desperate and stupid. It’s funny how I hate the concept of deus ex machina in literature, but I crave it in real life. Unfortunately, Jason isn’t here to help me allocate my earnings to pay for the piling bills, and truthfully, I want to do it by myself while he gets some much needed RnR and male bonding with his friend. I’ve been spending the past week just crunching numbers and burning the buttons of a calculator, rewriting and re-computing over and over again.

First the credit card bills: I had to sell something I owned just to make things a little lighter (and it was only lucky that someone bought it in time!). Thankfully, some of my reimbursements arrived promptly, alleviating the cost as well as my stress levels. In the end, I only have to deduct the P2,000 from my salary to fully cover everything.

Electricity bill: This is something I do monthly, my only small contribution to helping our I our household, so it’s staple deduction to my regular income.

How I dealt with my monthly phone bill I have to attribute to my aversion to change–as in the jiggle kind. My postpaid plan amounts to P1,800 a month, but I always pay P2,000. My bill has been negative the last two months, but I exceeded last month. Ultimately, I only have to pay P826.

Phew! I’ve also separated my bills + future expenses in different compartments in my wallet, just so I won’t accidentally spend anything. With everything accounted for, I have enough for my commuting fare to work and incidentals (I need a huge amount for this because I never know when I need to spend something for work), plus my license renewal fee, which I keep overlooking.

It’s a combination of naiveness and what we call in Bicolano, “pagkanali,” and an excess of upcoming celebrations and parties…plus my lack of control whenever there’s a good deal (hey boxing vouchers!). My first official encounter with financial woes is so far turning out to be a success–but mostly due to luck. Wish me more luck next month!

P.S.

I actually borrowed money from my brother (there’s a small credit cap on the card he gave me, he probably predicted my tendency to go nuts) to pay for my mom’s gift hahaha. I tried to use my card, but I was FORTUNATELY rejected! Her birthday is next month and I saw something online that I couldn’t pass up, especially since delivery would take about a month or so. Earlier today, I also saw another amazing deal for my little nephew who’s also celebrating his birthday in July. I’ve been looking for that toy for a few weeks and it was the last in stock! I paid in cash with my “incidentals.” 🙂

GOOD LUCK, Sasha in July!

Stranger danger and congrats!

Yesterday I felt like a stranger in a place I called home for four years.

The problem with reunions is that people always make it to be happy and celebratory. It’s not, not fully, anyway. There’s always that stage of bitter awkwardness, longing, maybe even, regret.

Walking the short distance to Ateneo yesterday felt exactly like that–like meeting a long-lost cousin you’ve never seen before. You’re supposed to be overjoyed. Hugging and jumping up and down is proper, but it doesn’t feel right. What should have come so naturally seems so uncomfortably unfamiliar.

For one, that favorite blue overpass that made my life much easier, the one that I sleepily stomped on almost everyday for years, now had this strange rusty gate installed, separating the first few steps from the rest of the sidewalk. Past the entrance, and I had to show an ID to the cautious guard, I found myself walking on a newly paved walkway, built probably to prevent the jaywalking that I  conveniently kept committing last year.

But after that initial shock of change, everything seemed to be in perfect order, and by that I mean, nothing has changed. I was even wearing my standard school uniform–a T-shirt, short shorts and flats. The first few people I saw, complete strangers by the way, all wore jeans. Was there some bizarre new dress code I hadn’t heard about? I saw a guard and instinctively panicked. I did not carry that familiar weight of the sacred ID card on my bare neck. I practically had to duck away from him. It took me a few moments to remember that I wasn’t a student anymore and I came armed with three IDs, including the very crucial Alumni Membership card, in case anyone decided to doubt my presence there.

My interview was set in MVP Basement, Bo’s, not Figaro, the coffee shop where Je and I created most of our thesis in. It had been replaced early on in the school year, that much I’ve heard.

I walked along, checking things off in my head like an inspector–same, same, same, same, same. Not same! Faura Hall, that whitish, grey building older than my mother, was now in strange orange. This brick-ish color is something Ateneo has learned to identify with. It’s like the rubber band that ties all our school buildings together–from law school to LS to ASMPH. While it blends under the same monotonous color scheme, Faura stuck out like a sore thumb. Such sacrilege to have painted this magnificent, classic, earthquake-proof structure some offensive color that it managed to survive without for decades.

After my interview, I automatically proceeded to the Pub Room. More than the customary hi-hello-byes, I wanted to talk to some of my friends. Luckily, when I opened the Pub Room, I wasn’t greeted with the normal enthusiastic freshmen and sophomores asking me what I wanted and telling me that all the editors had class. They were all there. And they entertained me until I was able to decide if I needed to take a cab or brave the train to Makati. Once again, life had to step in.

Ateneo has moved on; I haven’t.

***
In other news, Jason finally received his CFA I exam results last night. It cost us around 400 pesos just looking for Internet around Greenbelt and waiting for the mail to arrive. Awesome stuff, he got really good marks too which wasn’t as surprising as I let on because this is one field he’s amazing at.

I nicked this off Jason's e-mail.

I know I’m so INYOFACE with my congratulations but I’m just really ecstatic. I’m so proud of him. Being the one of those who sat with him as he pored through all those books (with no pictures), I know how hard he worked and how much he wanted it.

***

In other news, today I woke up feeling like crap (I will not mention why online, let’s just say, Seattle’s Best GB did not have very clean restrooms). And in spite of that, I had to run around Pasong Tamo. I stopped at Shell, discovered I had no money, ran to the ATM, ran back to Shell, drove to the office, parked, ran up to my desk, discovered my atm is missing, ran back to the car, ran to Shell, ran to the atm machine, ran to the bank, got a new atm. I got to the office at 1:40 and I managed to do all of this before 2:30. Despite my pains, I’m feeling bionic.