Saturday, January 10, 2009

Forms, Finances, and Finally, an Explanation

I haven't mentioned the current financial crisis because I don't understand it. I've never had enough credit to get into any real trouble, and so I have always lived within my limited means. I don't say this with any kind of hubris. I don't have crushing debt not because I'm so much smarter than everyone else about money, but rather because I have such a limited understanding of it.
When I was a young adult, I got my first checking account and my first credit card. It was a department store card, I can't remember which store now. I remember being told that a store credit card was an excellent way to begin building my credit. I vaguely understood that credit was a good, grown-up thing to have.
I used the card to buy some clothes, and I may have even made a payment or two before I lost interest in the whole idea. Long story short, I defaulted on the debt and never got another credit card again until bank cards started sporting the little Visa logo. I've had checking accounts, off and on through the years, mostly with similar results. I'm very good at bouncing checks, but not so good at balancing a checkbook.
Yes, I know it's irresponsible. I have no excuse. I just....don't get it. It's not that I want to be a deadbeat, and I usually do pay my debts, eventually (although that was not always true). Money itself does not confuse me. If something costs $40 and I have $3, I don't get to buy it. That's how that works.
Numbers in general though, have not been a friend to me. I flunked freshman algebra three times, eventually dropping out of college because of it. I'm still convinced that the quadratic equation is an elaborate hoax perpetrated by all the rest of you on me alone.
Even more than numbers, I dread forms. Application forms, tax forms, insurance forms, all forms baffle and often enrage me, and I try to give them a wide berth. Did you know some forms are numbered?! Each little "field" has it's own number! I shudder at the very thought of it. Maybe it's my ADD, but something in the way my brain is wired just hopelessly jumbles up anything form or mathematically related. But I digress.
So, anyway, the whole financial collapse is alarming to me, but I can't say I have a very firm grasp of the situation.
I realize most of ya'll probably understand it better than I do, but just in case it isn't all that clear to you, either, The Wall Street Journal has an excellent little series of three short videos that does a pretty good of explaining the whole thing with a minimum use of numbers. I highly recommend it.


  1. i could teach you a fun little song about the quadratic equation...


  2. Does it include the words "ha ha Kris" in it?

  3. not at all. but if you think it might help with the learning, i'm sure i could work it in.