the financial walk of shame.

23 02 2011

every year, various outlets compile lists of companies that they think won’t last out the next year.  in a way it’s sort of interesting, but it’s also exceptionally depressing. whether a mark of the lousy economy, or just the evolution of popular technology (i mourn your impending death eastman kodak!), it’s kind of like watching the dinosaurs die out right in front of your eyes, and not be able to stop it.

last week, the borders company sent out this letter to their customers, letting them know that shit was going down (chapter 11), but that everything was still essentially “ok”. except that it’s not ok. with tons of stores closing all over america (our maine locations are safe for now!), it’s hard to have faith that a little reorganization (whatever that means) can fix what’s broken. the chapter 11 email of shame is almost always a last spasm before death.

but more than the sadness over the loss of yet another US business, i feel empathy for the man who had to write that letter. the first time i got laid off when i was 22, i had to call my mom and beg for money for food and rent. she actually turned me down (a story for another day), but that phone call was excruciating. admitting to your loved ones that you’ve gotten yourself into financial trouble is one of the most embarrassing and complicated situations that a person can be in. can you imagine having to make that call to an entire country?  having your financial missteps broadcast and analyzed by the wall street journal?

so with that, 2 questions:

1. what dinosaur store/brand/company will you be saddest to see die out?

2. have you ever had to do the financial walk of shame?





actually, i’m pretty sure it is your fault.

28 10 2010

so i’ve been hearing these commercials on my morning radio show where some dude starts yelling off a list of horrible financial woes:

debt collectors knocking down your door?
up to your eyeballs in credit card debt?
thinking that bankruptcy is your only option?

but then he brings it down just a notch to let you know:

IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.

sure, people hit hard times. medical bills, lost jobs, some other things that i can’t think of right now… but the majority of people that i know who are financial wrecks (myself absolutely included) are that way because they made poor choices. it fills me with rage to hear the debt consolidation/credit counseling agencies preying on people’s need to be in denial about the reality of their financial situations. nobody wants to take responsibility for fucking up, but if you ask anyone in a 12 step program, admitting that you’re a fucking mess is the only way to make it better. so fuck you debt consolidation agency. IT IS MY FAULT- and here’s why:

1. i don’t pay attention to what i spend. i put my credit cards in the freezer over a year ago, which is a distinct improvement, but my debit card is with me all the time. i go out to eat constantly, buy crap on a whim (can you say series of 4 horse paintings?), overspend at the grocery store (i was in the whole foods for 5 minutes yesterday and still managed to spend $14). even thought i’m not creating any new debt, i’m not giving the money that i have the reverence it deserves- i just keep unceremoniously shoving it out the door.

2. which brings us to admission #2-  i don’t save enough. probably because i’m spending all my fucking money on nothing. for the most part, the really bad debt disasters happen when people are spending up to the hilt of their income and don’t have a cushion saved up for emergencies. then, the first time that shit goes really wrong, they bust out the credit cards. like i did. repeatedly. from the ages of 18-30.

3. even though my 2 cards are in deep freeze at the moment, they got in there in the first place because spent the first 10 years of my adult life spending beyond my means. i wanted to have grown up clothes, i wanted to buy people decent xmas presents for a change, i wanted to find out what it felt like for money to be no object. except that it is an object, a very big object with an 19% APR. too bad i don’t pay more than the minimum on my cards every month. it’s good that i’m not racking up new debt, but if i can’t control my cash flow enough to afford to make bigger payments on my credit card, then i’m never going to get out from under it.

maybe it’s because i just watched confessions of a shopaholic AND maid to order back to back, but i’m sudden feeling possessed to try to make some greater changes in my life. i’ve made progress from where i was, but i’m stalled out. i still have $13,000 worth of credit card debt, and i’d really like it to be gone by the time i’m 35 (that’s T-minus 2 years and counting). maybe i hate dave ramsey because i know that he’s right about making severe lifestyle cuts in order to cut my debt… actually, it’s probably the religious thing, but i am definitely in denial about the fact that real debt reduction does require some sacrifice. now, i’m not going to go all crazy and start making drastic lifestyle changes (eat out less? stop shopping? start buying produce at walmart?) or anything… but i am going to admit that what i’m doing now is definitely not working.

step one down… 11 more to go.

what is the one habit/addiction that you SHOULD cut out of your life for financial reasons, but just can’t seem to let go?





and now for something completely different.

1 04 2010

i tire of moral dilemma week. i had a whole post half written about something vaguely instructional and semi serious, but then i realized that i don’t give a shit about being instructional and semi serious. at least today i don’t. instead, i speak of a subject far more engaging and less of a bummer, the mall. over the last 10 years, maine has been overrun with big boxes. wal*marts, targets, old navys, and best buys are springing up all over the landscape, along with the requisite gamestops, panera breads, and famous footwears that for whatever reason ALWAYS orbit around the larger stores. i think it’s weird and gross how all the towns in maine worthy of the big box blessing now look all the same. although on the other hand, i do love target.

what’s really weird, is that now that all these smaller towns in maine have their own shopping districts, nobody needs the mall. in the last 5 years or so, the maine mall has been CLEANED OUT. filenes got booted by macy’s, but the space is still empty. countless other stores have bounced in and out, changed locations, disappeared forever. the urban behavior has gone out of business and been resurrected no less than 5 times (i think that bankruptcy is their business model). the sears wing is deadsville (despite their urging, i never have quite found the softer side), especially since unattractive but very sensible shoe emporium lamey wellehan cleared out. even mcdonald’s is hitting the bricks for some mysterious reason.  i did hear a rumor that we were getting a sephora, but the flowering of the maine mall into the mall of america (that i’ve been fantasizing about ever since the H&M moved in) just isn’t happening. it’s the downturn y’all. the way people shop is changing, and it’s kind of amazing.

case and point, the new goodwill. usually, when you cut off the head of one big box, another one just sprouts right back in its place. when circuit city’s broke ass shut down last year, i don’t think anyone thought that a thrift store would or could move into that massive space complete with sky high mall area rents. but goodwill made it happen (even if their bath and st. john street locations had to be tragically sacrificed), and the results are glorious.

are you looking at that line up of gleaming hooker boots over there in the upper left? i know one person who can’t wait to see those bitches sprouting up around town. in short, the new goodwill is fucking gigantic, and presently filled with both stuff and people. the book section looks like a bookstore. a decent bookstore (although you will still find the required copies of divine secrets of the ya ya sisterhood). the racks are endless. it was hard to really take it all in because it was opening weekend, and the place was crazy mobbed like black friday, but i did manage to get a few representative snaps on the ole iphone (check em out on my flickr). when i was a kid, it was shameful to buy second hand. now, it’s almost shameful not to. i like that.

and because i like that so much, i’m going to start holding a monthly goodwill oriented giveaway. i’ll give the details in a more official way in a few days, but for now, ransack your closets shelves and cupboards, and try to find the best thing you ever bought at goodwill. you’re gonna need that.