Credit.

I’m scared of owing money. I really truly am, because I forget things outside of my normal routine – like what I owe and to whom – so easily it’s embarrassing. I’m sick of the excitement of payday changing all too quickly into the disappointing reality of “pay-out day” and assessing what’s left after expenses. My only merit on the subject of credit and finances is that once I’ve paid for this, and direct debits have reminded me of that, I can usually maneouver my monies in such a way that I am still, pretty firmly, in the black. Usually.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t end up at the arse-end of the month, tempted to dip a toe into the forbidden waters of the Dreaded Overdraft though, because I really really am. It’s like a Siren, singing from your bank manager’s bonus packet: songs of post-work beer, secret fast-food indulgences, cigarettes, buffet lunches and whatever else might tickle your fancy at the time when you really can’t afford it. It is a complete bastard because I’m tempted by everything, and mainly when I’m skint. I know this about myself so I try my best to ignore these temptations and steer clear of the pointy, smashy, twattish rocks of Bank Charges that lie below the deceptively calm surface of the Dreaded Overdraft – I do not borrow.

This has largely been the pattern of my working life and I’m actually ok with it. I have no debt and can afford nice things for myself from time to time. Alex’s Mum has highlighted the perfect philosophy for managing money: “If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it. If you save for what you want, you’ll love it even more when you get it.” It’s true and it’s right and if more people lived like this, we’d all have a little bit less to moan about. So this is the ideal that I took when Alex and I started saving to move in together, into an apartment in Leeds. We did without some things for a while, missed a few social outings and pooled our finances. We looked at a few apartments and found one we both liked (which seemed like a fucking impossibility at one point) and we put an offer in to rent it.

“There’s an admin fee of £100 to process your application”

“Oh, yes, well I suppose we saw that coming. Right you are, £100.”

“Plus VAT.”

“… Oh!… Er, right, standard procedure I suppose.”

“Per tenant.”

“I hope you die alone.”

So we went, we payed and we left, still quite excited really to be moving into this apartment, because it’s nice and it’s got lovely views of the canal and there might be ducks and all that shit. There’s just the bond to pay and the first month’s rent and we’ve got that all nicely saved up, we’ll be buying furniture and arguing about where it goes before you know it. Happy days.

About a week later:

“Mr. Butler, you need a guarantor.”

“What?”

“We don’t trust you, you’ve never had a credit card so we need a guarantor.”

“Why?”

“Well. Over this past year you’ve had three jobs. THREE jobs! It’s unnatural and we don’t like it. You must hypothetically ask someone you know to sort of lend you money in the future, maybe.”

“But I don’t understand, I’ve never missed a payment on anything really. I’ve never been sacked – I’ve had three jobs in a year because I wanted to find the right one – I’ve never even been unemployed.”

“Get us a guarantor or we’ll assume you’re a crack-whore who kicks children for fun and you won’t be allowed inside a nice apartment that’s near ducks ever again, you shit.”

“… ok.”

“that’ll be £40 please.”

That is what the estate agent said to me. That’s what he said and he laughed while he said it.

Probably.

So that’s what the deal is now? That’s just how stuff works? What do people do who don’t have anything saved? Everything has hidden costs these days – even a carrier bag at the shitting supermarket has a price tag now! I’m sure there’s a perfectly good eco-reason for that but still, it’s just getting a bit silly. Pretty soon there’ll be an admin fee on everything, everywhere and you’ll just have to go to wonga.com or some shit and pay 2768% APR typical (not actually bullshitting – that’s true) to pay off the fees we’ve incurred for getting our own money out of a cashpoint, but you’re not allowed to borrow money from your own bank because you’ve never had to borrow money before. Oh, until now that is, because we just took a bit of it as an Admin Fee, don’t you know.

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