Cape Gazette
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Around Town

Some financial methods are still in the dark ages

By Nancy Katz | Jan 10, 2012

Finance has never been my strong suit. In fact, my idea of high finance is remembering my ATM personal identification number. Heck, I not only am still using checks, I’m still writing 1985 on the date line.

And yeah, I have been caught trying to shove my AARP card into the ATM slot on more than one occasion. I can blame this mistake, though, on not being able to drive up close enough to the machine to make a transaction. Usually I’m half in and half out of the car window, stretched taut like one of those Cirque du Soleil acrobats hanging onto the trapeze for dear life.

They must make these drive-ups with just enough distance on them to use the video of customers strung out of their vehicles at their annual Christmas party. It’s a lot better for laughs than putting a lampshade on your head, which happens more than you can imagine at the end of the classic office party.

Still, I think it is a little unreasonable for the ATM machine to be a bit snippy. Oh, yes, it happens. The last time this occurred the machine spit back my receipt with the balance stating, “What, are you high? Just insert the right card!”

OK, so the back of my library card had the same colors as the bank card. It gets all crowded and I break out in a rash; wait a minute, that’s when I ‘m trying on bathing suits.

Anyway, after the holidays and with the thought of income taxes looming around the corner, we are forced to consider the pathetic state of our finances.

Basically, after reviewing all the data including deposits and withdrawals, a massive spreadsheet with graphs and pie charts and all that other boring stuff, I’ve come to the conclusion that at any moment my credit cards will burst into flames from natural combustion brought on by overuse. In fact, it would take the entire world, at least that part of the Earth's surface covered in water, to put the fire out.

Things are so bad, many of us are avoiding our friend Mr. Mailbox. Sure, we liked him when it was all about holiday cards and party invitations, but now he has become like a piranha; we know those dreaded holiday credit card bills are just waiting inside that box with a Santa covering on it.

We are like some mafia don caught in a sting, rushing by the mailbox with heavy black sunglasses and our collars up over our heads, trying to duck the photographers.

Oh, I meant well this year. It started out all right with lists and budgets for each person. I put a lot of thought into being practical this year. But I think my spending got out of control even though I had good intentions.

You know, it probably had its origin in those half-price sales, with an additional 30 percent off. You can’t walk by those signs without feeling like you are going to burst an artery.

And I’m guessing I was too organized and shopped too early. I didn’t know what to do with my hands if they weren’t signing a receipt. They became idle and itchy. The claw-like fingers from my daily ritual of signing my name became relaxed and refused to do anything.

As I got closer to the big day, I grew restless. I missed the crowds, the pushing and shoving, the camaraderie of a tug-of-war over a purse. I’m not that materialistic; it was marked down 40 percent of course.

And now I face the final curtain; the chickens have come home to roost. Like many fellow shoppers, I will opt for some sort of witness protection program.

It just goes to show you, there can be too much holiday spirit, especially if you have the willpower of a 6-month-old. Look at the bright side; your credit approval has to be at least above Congress’s approval.

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