A Tale of Finding Financial Freedom. Click here to start reading from Part 1. Look for posts on a variety of topics in the intervening weeks. I knew roughly what my minimum payments on all of the cards totaled each month, but I had never thought to add up the principal.
Maybe the fact you get the credit card back, but not the money, makes some difference. I was glad that the fifth credit card had something left to draw on its credit line, but suddenly I felt afraid about the future. The last application I sent in had been turned down. Even if I could get another card, I was suddenly wondering where it would all end. In fact, music is kind of mathematical and you need a feeling for music in order to be able to dance.
Just guessing, I thought maybe it would take two or three years to pay it all back. I bet you never imagined that. Now how can you explain why people are willing to pay so much interest? I leaned forward to rinse out my mouth, then answered with the first word that came to mind and certainly seemed to apply in my case.
After all, where in our educational system are the most basic aspects of personal finance taught? Nowhere, so rather than saying people are foolish, maybe we should say we have a foolish educational system. Most people probably would. That would be the right answer if interest were paid once a year.
I would have liked to tell him. It had to do with being offered a lot of credit cards in my junior and senior years in college and accepting all of them.
And I honestly believed that the credit card companies had big computers that know whether or not you can handle three, seven, or twelve credit cards. They probably had a pretty good idea how much I would be earning after college—a lot better idea than I had, since I had no idea at all—and if those big companies thought it would be enough to pay them back, on top of my college loans, then what could be wrong with accepting the cards?
But if you pay the monthly minimum, you are paying a whole lot of interest. In fact, I hardly use credit cards. Thank God, I thought, because even though my jaw felt numb, I could feel the drill whirring deep down toward the bottom of my molar.
I never carry a balance on any credit card. If I had a choice, in fact, I would use debit cards—those are cards that you can only use if you have money in the bank—but some of the carrental companies insist on credit cards. I like to talk, too. Instead, he said that he would reveal the eighth wonder—compound interest. After studying the X rays on the light box on his wall, Dr. Testa told me the bad news about the gold inlay and the necessity of one more visit to his office.
I thought of the pain and the discomfort that would follow, living on soup and baby food for a week, and it just seemed like my miseries were multiplying much too fast. Anyway, who had asked him about my wisdom teeth? But the fear of future pain vanished when Dr. Testa began squirting a little liquid out of the long needle of the hypodermic that he intended to inject near the hinge in my jaw.
I wanted to jump out of the chair and run, but I had a picture in my head of Dr. Testa pouncing quick as a cat to make sure I stayed put. His first few tries with the needle must have missed the right spot because he keep thrusting like a fencer until I was ready to beg him to stop.
Now he began his monologue. My childhood dentist, the one that my mom and dad used, had always liked to talk about politics. Testa seemed to be that way, only worse, because he was talking about me. I have to say he looked stern when he first came into the waiting room and introduced himself. I followed him into the small room with all the dental equipment and settled myself in the chair, my head on the headrest and the light in my eyes.
That way I should be able to do something today to relieve your pain. At this point I was also feeling some additional pain because I felt devalued in his eyes. I took his remark about setting a record as a criticism. I wanted to explain about the cost of the broken arm, but I had also spent money on clothes, albums, dance outfits, and even some meals.
Testa started working, he managed to make me feel worse and worse. I think my downfall must have begun before the accident. There was a moment of fear and an odd exhilaration when I knew that I had lost control and would crash, yet I was still flying on winged wheels down that slope. When it was over, I was sprawled out on the pavement and lucky to have nothing worse than a broken arm.
That was my first experience of being uninsured. I sat down and started to cry. I had accepted a bunch of credit cards in college so I could use their credit lines for just such an emergency. Unfortunately, I had used them for a lot of other things before the emergency happened, but I had enough left on the credit lines to pay the medical bills. I found a job as a receptionist at a small advertising agency. They had a health plan but no dental coverage, so of course the next misery in my life was an unbearable pain in one of my molars that eventually required an inlay.
He was old, maybe over forty, and actually taught on the faculty of a dental school as well as having his own practice. When you look at me, you see a young woman of twenty-three with a silver ring through the left nostril of my nose, my dark hair cropped short with highlights of blonde, and my lipstick a dark maroon. I might come from Bali or Peru, Nepal or Turkey, or almost anywhere in the world where people have darker skins.
My adoptive parents, James and Mary Cassidy, had been over fifty when an agency found me for them—I was only a few months old. For whatever reason, they resisted my inquiries about my origins. I only know that I came to the United States from another country where my birth parents, for reasons no one ever explained to me, gave me up for adoption.
Jim and Mary had been childless, and they certainly had love to share with me, but they died in their late sixties and left me alone in the world. While growing up, I had been accustomed to their middleclass lifestyle and earned a college degree, but they never taught me anything about money.
Nor did managing money seem to be the subject of any of my high-school or college courses. Of course, I majored in dance and art, not finance or economics. I suddenly realized that they had lived from paycheck to paycheck, both working, and even the value of our home had been reduced to nearly zero by a home-equity line of credit and a drop in real-estate prices.
After I graduated from college, I moved to the city and started auditioning for dance companies. So I worked as a waitress. I even imagined that the rushing from table to table was choreography of a sort, and that the exercise would help me in my dance classes. I shared a small apartment with two other dancers my age, a strange experience of not enough closet space and lining up for the bathroom in the mornings.
Welcome to the first part of the series to serialize my book The Money Mentor: Every other week will have another segment of the story of how a year-old dancer struggles with and ultimately overcomes the burdens of her crushing financial debt.
My mentor was neither wealthy nor a man. She seldom told me what to do, although she did encourage me to write about the twists and turns in my own journey to financial freedom.
Rather, she helped me understand my life and my finances by her encouragement, examples, and questions. In the course of dealing with my money cares, I learned to see my life as a spiritual adventure.
I discovered and developed aspects of myself that I would not have imagined existed. And I found a lifelong friend in my mentor. I believe my story offers a message of hope. In some ways, my story appears to me to be the story of America at a certain moment in its history, when wealth and debt raced in a rivalry that mastered my life and the lives of so many people around me.
My story is about my decision to end my participation in that race; in fact, to imagine my life in a new way that made the idea of a race beside the point. This series represents an accurate portrayal of a crucial six months of my life, but even my efforts to fit my life into a story are open to questions, since I felt my life was more like a flood, moving me in ways and places that I would never have expected.
This story is an account of some difficult and exciting times in the course of that joyous overflowing. The following excerpt is from The Money Mentor: Iris Cassidy, a dancer in her 20s, uses a maxed out credit card on a visit to her dentist who then tells her:.
Tad Crawford Author and Publisher. The Blog The Money Mentor: On not just one credit card, but four? A Tale of Finding Financ December 9, 0 Comments Welcome to the first part of the series to serialize my book The Money Mentor: A Tale of Fin A Tale of Finding Financial Freedom —— Iris Cassidy, a dancer in her 20s, uses a maxed out credit card on a visit to her dentist who then tells her: March 27, 0 Comments Share.More...