Tuesday, August 01, 2006

MrBellersNeighborhood - Monthly Nut by James Braly:

I am sitting at my desk in my coop one day on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, paying my monthly expenses: coop mortgage; coop maintenance; coop insurance; four other kinds of insurance--health, for four people (I’ve got a stay-at-home wife and two kids); life, in case I die on them; disability, in case I collapse; and car, in case I abandon them; along with the home phone; office phone; cell phone; wife’s phone; credit card; wife’s card; and on and on: three inches of sedimentary expenses, that have accumulated layer by inexorable layer, into a crushing stack of bills. And when I do the math: one month of income minus one month of expenses, I get a figure of minus-one-month of income. I just spent twice as much as I earned. Turning the black numbers on my computer screen’s financial software red. Leading me to transfer enough savings over to my checking account to balance it and turn the red numbers back to black. Which leaves me, at my current fixed rate of spending, with about three more months of savings to go before both accounts are red. Financial ruin. A conclusion that leads me, as it did the last time I reached this conclusion—last month--to hyperventilate. To not be able to breathe. To start dying. Because, I can’t go on living like this. I can’t afford to be me.

9:41 AM