#1: I know you have enough of it to meet your needs, at least most of the time. Maybe you’re not rich, but you don’t spend a significant portion of every day trying to figure out how you can scrimp enough pennies—literally, pennies dug from the couch cushions and the seat of your car sometimes—together to pay your bills this month.
#2: I know that you haven’t spent your adult life dealing with dental pain and problems you can’t afford to fix because braces were too expensive when you were a teenager.
#3: I know when you were a kid, your parents never told you to discourage your friends from buying you expensive birthday gifts because they couldn’t reciprocate.
#4: I know you don’t dread logging into Facebook every day and seeing pictures of your friends’ vacations, and remembering, every day, that you’ve never been able to afford a vacation in your entire adult life, and probably never will.
#5: Speaking of travel, whatever the hell that is, I know you’ve never had to no-show the wedding of one of the few relatives you actually like because you couldn’t afford the trip.
#6: I know you have never been to the brink of financial ruin because of a car repair.
#7: I know you have never figured out the true meaning, of “I can’t afford it,” which is, “I don’t deserve it.” It doesn’t matter that people always use the first phrase and never the last. The thing is, society tells us from the time we’re in preschool that if we just work really hard, we’ll be successful. So somewhere in that innocuous explanation of the numbers to the left of the period in your bank account being insufficient is the implication that you don’t deserve it—a car that runs, socks that don’t have holes in them, brand name anything. Deep down, we all know that “can’t afford it” translates to “don’t deserve it.”
#8 I know you have never worked two jobs and/or taken out loans to pay for a college degree that was supposed to be a ticket out of poverty, but was really nothing more than a one-way ticket to an even smaller number in your bank account.
#9 I know the thought of spending money—any amount of money, $5, $10, $100—doesn’t terrify you.
#10 I know looking at a price tag for something you want or need isn’t like being stabbed in the heart for you.
#11 I know you don’t feel like an imposter every time you go anywhere meant for people with more money than you, which is pretty much everywhere.
#12 I know you have never shaved your legs with the same disposable razor for a year or more to avoid spending $2.99 on a new package of twelve disposable razors.
#13 I know you have never had to live with someone/multiple someones who make you feel badly about yourself/treat you like shit because you can’t afford to move out.
#14 I know you have never gone to the bank and wondered if they now know you on sight as that stupid blonde woman who’s always overdrawn because she can’t get her damn shit together.
#15 I know you have never heard someone say, “I don’t care about money” and wanted to throat punch them, because how the hell can you NOT CARE about something that has the power to wreck your whole life? Unless, of course, it doesn’t have that power over you, because you have enough money to deal with most of life’s everyday problems.
#16 I know you have never had to turn down an internship that might have helped your future career prospects immensely because you simply couldn’t afford to quit both your jobs, move to another city, and pay for things like rent, gas, and groceries while working for free. (But don’t worry, some trust fund brat probably snapped up that opportunity.)
#17 I know when you were a kid, your parents didn’t tell you that you couldn’t have friends over because they didn’t want anyone to see how badly the house was falling apart, with the peeling paint and holes where doorknobs were supposed to be.
#18 I know you have never felt incredibly guilty for spending $15 on new shoes even though the old ones were literally falling apart at the seams.
#19 I know you have never wanted to throw something at the TV when that “go to college” ad comes on, and you see the guy who gets to buy the laptop and the guy working in the store, and the ad wants you to believe the difference between them is that the guy working in the store didn’t go to college, but you worked two shitty jobs so you could get that degree and are still working in a shitty store for shitty pay.
#20 I know you have no idea that some people simply do not have the option to not care about money, you do not appreciate the incredible privilege “not caring about money” represents, and you probably think I’m a whiner who needs to just shut up and work harder.
W. T. Fallon is the author of Fail to the Chief, a political satire in which the presidential election is carried out via reality show, which is almost as bizarre and far-fetched as our current reality.