Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Financial Terrors: What’s your worst fear?

Down and out in Tokyo

It happened three times yesterday: signs of senility. Not one, not two, but three really serious things that stir up my absolute worst, most terrifying fears—financial and otherwise.

First, I learned I failed to pay the Cox bill last month. So convinced was I that I must have paid it that I shot off an inquiry to the credit union asking if there was some way a Billpay transaction could have gone astray. I’d entered the transaction in my Excel spreadsheet and neatly stored the statement in the “Utilities” folder. But apparently that was as far as it went: evidently I never went into Billpay and paid the bill.

Then I lost my progressive glasses. In the classroom. Right in front of me. Right in front of 20 students. I knew they had to be there. But I couldn’t find them.

My vision is getting worse, so that I can’t read a computer screen through the progressives. When I have those on, to read a computer monitor I have to take the glasses off and stick my face up close to the screen. I’d taken them off a couple of times to read students’ work, and I’d taken them off at the instructor’s terminal. When I went to put them back on, they were gone.

Searched all over the desk, the floor, the chair…nothing. Searched the desks where I’d been helping students. Nothing. Pretty quick twenty students were searching the classroom. Finally I found them: inside the large, bulky binder that serves as my mobile office, sandwiched between pages. I’d already looked through the thing twice and missed seeing them.

The problem is, without a pair of glasses on, I can’t see a desk or counter clearly enough to spot a pair of lost glasses. So if I don’t put them down in the same place every single time they go off my face, I have a dickens of a time finding them.

Last night I lost the goddamned glasses again!

They’re somewhere in the house, the car, or the yard. But I can not find them. And this time I do have another pair of glasses on so that I most certainly can see the surfaces around me.

I searched for hours last night. I searched until 12:30 a.m. This morning by light of day, I searched again. They’re fucking GONE.

M’hijito likes to say, patronizingly, that things like this are not “lost”; they’re “misplaced.” Well, as far as I’m concerned, an item so “misplaced” that I can’t find it and so can’t use it when I need it is lost!

He’s going to come over sometime this week and help to toss the house, searching for the damn things. Meanwhile I’ll have to tip over the recycling bin and the kitchen garbage, dump all that stuff on the pavement, and paw through it. Fortunately, I have an old pair of distance vision glasses. But those progressives, besides being wildly expensive, are the best pair of glasses I’ve ever had—the only pair that make it possible for me to sort of see up close and also see in the distance, without tripping over curbs and thresholds when I try to walk around. I certainly can’t afford to replace them…the cost was staggering. So, unless they surface, I’m flat outta luck.

This is what scares me: getting too sick to work and not dying. And alzheimering out comes under the heading of “too sick to work”

What in the name of God am I going to do when I’m so addled I can no longer earn even the pittance I make at adjunct teaching? What am I going to do when I need someone to take care of me? There is no one to watch over me when this sort of thing becomes a daily occurrence.

And what will happen if I have a stroke? A heart attack? Some accident that keeps me from doing the piddly amount of work I’m doing now to keep myself going?

More than bag lady syndrome, it scares me. More than that ungodly upside-down mortgage that’s going to start sucking up my retirement savings when I can’t earn enough to cover my part of the payments, it scares me. Even more than the unholy right-wing extremists who’re trying to take over the country, it scares me!

LOL! And that‘s scared!

We all have our financial terrors, I expect. What specifically they are probably depends on our time of life.

When you’re a young thing, you fear you’ll never earn more than the median wage (if that) in some low-income right-to-work state. When you get established in a career, you worry that something will happen to put you out of a job. Or you run up a ton of debt and imagine a line of bill collectors forming outside the front door. Then you have kids and you wonder how you’re ever going to support them, or what will happen if you die before they reach adulthood. They grow up, they’re out the door, and you realize you’ve only got a few years to go until retirement, the house isn’t paid for, and you don’t have enough in savings to support you through your dotage. Then you reach your dotage, and heaven help you, you start losing your glasses…to say nothing of your marbles.

Is there a PF bogeyman hiding in your closet, waiting to pop out and haunt you at 4 in the morning? What does it look like?


Homeless man, Tokyo. MichaelMaggs. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Here Comes the Bogey-Man (Que viene el Coco). Francisco de Goya. This image was uploaded to Wikipedia as a donation by the Brooklyn Museum, and is considered to have no known copyright restrictions by the institutions of the Brooklyn Museum.




Author: funny

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  1. In the last four years, slowly but surely, things have gone from bad to worse. I kept telling myself it’s gonna get better soon, but it looks like it was just a wishful thinking. I’m in my fifties now and very much doubt I’ll ever get to make what I used to make. Right now I’m not making enough money to meet all my obligations and have been cashing in the mutual funds and CDs to keep going. I also sold about 100K of mutual funds to pay down the mortgage and make the payments less uncomfortable.

    So yeah, I worry a lot. Should I sell the house and move? If I sell the house, then move where? Will I ever make enough to support myself again? Will I ever be able to retire? Am I gonna end up on bread and water diet in my old age?

  2. I was just diagnosed with macular degeneration, so a blind old age is my current horror.

    I listened to a TED talk yesterday by an Irish woman who is legally blind (I didn’t actually know this until I was five minutes into the talk), and all I could think about was how lucky she is to be in a country that has health insurance for everyone.

  3. Forgetting where you left your glasses is one thing.
    Forgetting what they are for is another.

  4. I can read the panic in your voice. Relax, calm down. It will get better. Whenever I go in a panic about something (usually something I lost too), I just have to go away from it for a while and come back later. Listen to soothing music. Anyway, you are not all alone, you have your son.

  5. forgot to add that I pray to St. Anthony. Saint of lost things.

  6. The end of the semester makes everyone crazy–and teachers absorb student craziness too.

    Get one of those chains for your glasses. That’s what I have.

    Can you have bills auto-paid through your bank or via credit card?

    Generally, when something is lost, it is in an obvious place–as in “The Purloined Letter.” (That tip from Mr. FS)

  7. They weren’t the type of glasses you could easily put a chain on — the stems were very fine. They’re lost — my son tossed the entire house. About all I can do is wait until summer is over and, if I have 700 bucks left over from my summer pay, use it to buy a new pair. Damnation!

    The phone bill is the only bill I do not have automatically paid. Because of the nasty experience I had with Qwest, I do not trust telecommunication companies.

    Actually, during that episode, the credit union manager told me the CU strongly advises customers NOT to allow autopays that are initiated on the vendor’s side. He said it can be very difficult to cancel them, even when an account is closed; insurance companies, he added, are particularly bad offenders in this regard. Since the phone bill varies by a few dollars each month, the only way the bill could be paid is to allow Cox to engross whatever it wants from my account.

  8. George Fedelski’s comment is correct, & that helps me calm my panic as I get more forgetful. And at least you still remember you had glasses to lose! I’ve been training myself to have specific places for key items like my glasses, my purse & keys, etc. both at home and at work.

    An alternative to eyeglass chains is to wear a necklace or a pin with an openwork design, & hook the glasses on that instead of putting them down. There are nice ones designed just for that purpose, but any necklace other than a really long dangly one works. Or hook them in the front of your shirt/dress neckline.

  9. My worst financial scenario would be to run totally out of money. Tied in with that is losing my vision and my mind. You are not alone in your fears. I am willing to bet that all of us who are approaching senior citizen status (and it arrives much, much quicker than we’d ever have imagined) share these same fears. What can we do about them? Plan while we still can.

    There’s not much one can do about waning vision other than to protect what vision we have while we still have it. To that end, I have stopped deliberately straining my eyes by spending too much time on the computer, reading in poor light, watching TV when I’m tired, checking blood pressure and cutting back on sugars, etc. Not much one can do about natural memory loss either other than by preventing exacerbation through diet, weight maintenance, exercising regularly, staying socially involved in daily life. (Studies have proven that obese people suffer with debilitating brain conditions increasingly over those who are within normal weight limits. Diabetes is a real problem too.)

    As for running out of money, I know that I have to make the most of what I have. To that end, a mortgage in retirement is completely out of the question. If there was time to plan for it, I’d sell the large house and buy something smaller. House values are still falling and interest rates are still low. A two bedroom house with a small yard would be sufficient for me personally. With townhomes/condos, there are HOA fees to consider and I would want to avoid that if those fees were too high. Still have to factor in property taxes and insurance. Renting is often a smart way to go if money is going to be tight.

    Personally, too, if I were approaching retirement in an underwater house with a big mortgage payment I would ditch that house. Even though it could get complicated, involving possible bankruptcy to avoid collection calls into my old age, I would drop off the keys if I couldn’t sell it under a lender approved short sale. In the end, a person has to look out for themselves if/when a mortgage is setting one on the track to financial ruin. I am mad at myself for not planning better than I have financially. Therefore even more reason to protect what I do have.

    One more thing ~ make LISTS. LOL. I live by my daily planner. I write everything down now. Not doing so sets me up for self recrimination when I forget something. That awful feeling of having somehow ‘failed’ to remember something turns into stress which in turn becomes intense frustration at the failure which then overrides everything so that I forget even more stuff!! I learned long ago to organize myself and save myself the self defeat.

    I also decluttered my home ~ that helps tremendously in finding stuff. I hardly ever lose items now cos I know where they are. It all helps in keeping the mind clear to focus on other things 🙂 Getting old bites.

  10. I can imagine the intense irritation of losing a vital $700 item.

    But it is REALLY frustrating to lose something in your house and never find it. It’s not like an episode of hoarders. Where the heck could they have gone?

    I once lost a set of keys in a one bedroom apartment AND NEVER FOUND THEM. Whaaaaaaaaat?

    So sorry. If I lived in your neck of the woods I would take you out for a beer.

  11. First off, that sucks. You get to rage, rage for a little bit.

    Next, you don’t need to extrapolate Alzheimer’s from three examples. It sounds to me like the act of taking your glasses off and setting them down somewhere has become so automatic that you don’t even think about it anymore–a problem, yes, and with obnoxious consequences in this case. For sure you need to make a point of paying attention when you take your glasses off (and if you can manage to lasso them around your neck, so much the better). I do the same thing with the gas cap on my car–I cannot for the life of me remember whether I’ve put it back after filling up, even thirty seconds after the fact, and on two occasions I’ve driven merrily away wondering vaguely what that rolling sound on top of the car is. Similarly, I have about five pairs of sunglasses because I never, ever remember where I set one pair down. My point is, things become such a habit that the conscious brain doesn’t pay attention to them anymore. It’s a symptom of being human, not a neurodegenerative disease.

    You know what else causes these little forgetful lapses? Lack of sleep and overstress/distraction because you’re busy worrying about other things. And focusing too much on this will make it worse. So gnash your teeth for a while, then forgive yourself.

    Oh, and the silver lining to not being able to afford to replace them right away is that it gives them some time to turn up after all. Fingers crossed!

  12. I, too, lost a set of keys somewhere between the front door and my apartment. Abby, Tim and I did a grid search. We looked freakin’ EVERYWHERE. I was checking the pockets of my coats I hadn’t worn for months, even. They never resurfaced — and I had to help pay for rekeying the locks for the entire apartment building, since I was then the manager and my master key was on that ring. (Luckily they didn’t make me pay for ALL of it.)
    Boy, did I feel like a horse’s patoot.
    More recently I lost the cable that connects my digital camera to my computer. Maddening. I looked everywhere and couldn’t find it. Finally concluded it had gotten swept into the bags of stuff I was donating to a rummage sale. Fortunately I procrastinated on buying a replacement cable ($25!!!), because the cable turned up at the bottom of the outside pocket of my backpack. Why on earth I put it there is anyone’s guess.
    I agree that stress and being overly distracted leads us to do these things. I’m awfully sorry your glasses are lost. They may or may not turn up. But please try to be irritated and then just move on.
    P.S. My own PF fears have to do with (1) being very ill and needing full-time care and thus being a burden on the daughter and son-in-law who have their own health issues and are already doing without, and (2) losing my vision because books on tape just aren’t the same, dammit.

  13. I got my progressives through They fit well, and I’m constantly getting compliments on them.

  14. I got my progressives cheap from
    These could work in a pinch but the key is get the measurements to match closely to a pair you already have that fit.

  15. correction:

  16. @ all: Wow! Those are some hair-raising Lost-It stories! I always lived in terror of losing my office key, because we were told that if we lost one office key, the university would rekey every door on the floor, and GUESS WHO WOULD GET TO PAY FOR IT! Fortunately, that was one calamity (possibly tne only one) that I managed to evade for working for the Great Desert University.

    The listing and the decluttering are good strategies. Life is so much easier when there’s less junk to have to navigate. Problem with lists to help you remember: you have to remember to read the list…

    LOL! That has to be George’s all-time great comment on this blog!

    And as for the online glasses: Probably I’m too picky, but I suspect that for my purposes these would be best as back-up pairs. The reason I went to a place that sells $700 spectacles is that I have had WAYYY too many bad experiences with low-end glasses. Costco has been the best of those vendors, and their product was way less than optimal. I decided to go back to an independent optometrist because back in the days when the corporate lawyer could afford to buy my glasses from such folks, the lenses I was getting were far superior, and so were the frames. And I was right: the lost progressives were the best glasses I’ve ever owned: not only could I actually SEE through them (something that has not been the case in years), they even looked nice.

    I’m not giving up my chance to run the air conditioning this summer. However, that probably won’t take more than a couple hundred extra dollars a month. Since I expect to net around $3,000 after those expenses, it’s reasonable to buy a new pair after the summer bills are paid. If I’m right and there’s enough cash left, it’s straight to the fancy eyeglass boutique!

    And, as Deflating Dreams points out, a three-month wait will give plenty of time for the lost glasses to surface, if they’re hiding somewhere inside the house rather than residing in the city dump.

  17. It happened to me three years ago. I started looking for my glasses. After about 10 minutes, my wife reminded me I never wore glasses.

  18. Welp. I spent the last month searching for a set of keys. Since you posted this, I’d been cursing myself under my breath, thinking about my senility. After I gave up and ordered a new set, I found the old set today, in a coat pocket.

    *shaking my head* Honestly. This, among lurks among all my fears of losing my mind.

  19. ….well I sometimes look for my glasses…realize I can see rather well while searching….and yep….I’m wearing them. Blech! Getting old sucks!

  20. @ sandra: heeee! Reminds me of my late mother-in-sin, who one day said to her son, as she searched frantically around the house, “Where’s my purse?”

    She’d taken to using one of those fanny packs, which she called her “purse.” She was wearing it. 😀