Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Modern-day equivalent of finding coins in the couch cushions

Y'all, I've got this drawer full of credit cards. I surprisingly have pretty decent credit. I've never paid a bill 30 days or more late, so even though I don't have any cash flow, my credit is up there. So, banks that I have any sort of account with will send me credit cards, and credit cards that I don't carry a balance on will send me cards with bigger and bigger limits and shinier cards with holograms and cool names.

I usually toss these into the drawer, because I'm not about to start running up debt when I have no way to pay it off. Sometimes though, I need to go through the cards and figure out which one has the lowest interest rate, like when I need to call a repair person, or when I recently needed to hire a lawyer. While I've never been wealthy, back before The Stuff That Made This Blog Need To Be A Thing happened, I typically had an extra $500-$1000 or so in my checking account in case of emergency -- at least enough to be able to give someone a substantial down payment that showed them I was an employed adult who wasn't messing with them. 

So, yeah, following what we'll call The Stuff™, I have no money, but sometimes I run into these situations where I need to find a credit card with room on it. We have enough steady income to pay for housing, we find ways to get food and clothing and any other normal everyday things we need, but the barter system just doesn't work for most one-time services when you don't know someone in the business. So for the foreseeable future, until some things hopefully shift and we're able to work more, emergency expenses get paid for by the drawer o' cards.

So today, as I was looking through my file of cards to check some credit limits and interest rates, I decided it was also time to throw out the expired and the duplicates where they send you a fancier card for the same account to convince you to use it. Boy was I surprised to find several $5 and $10 gift cards to stores, and five $25 Visa gift cards! I checked these on the websites, thinking maybe I had tossed them in there with a couple dollars left on them, but found that they actually were unused. Who was this person who was so rich that they were just tossing perfectly good money into a drawer?

I do actually get how it happened though. A relative sends the Visa gift cards for adult birthdays and sends presents to the kids. In my not-completely-broke thinking over a few birthdays a few years ago, I decided it was greedy or self-absorbed or something to use them for expenses, and figured I needed to save them for something really nice that we wouldn't normally spend money on. Yeah, now I'm in a pretty different mindset. Those are going toward bills. And the store cards? Those were all ones that were handed out at events or sent to us as promotions. Again, in my pre-completely-totally-destitute thinking, I figured I would toss a $5 Home Depot card into a drawer until next time we wanted to make a home improvement purchase there. Now, I'm in a place where I'm like, holy crap, I can get $5 worth of cleaning supplies, or the paint brushes one of the kids needs for art class, instead of sitting here not buying those things because I'm trying to figure out how to pay bills. And all the Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts ones? That I was saving thinking I'd apparently buy myself fancy drinks? Those places have bagels and juice and stuff. These are going in my wallet for a free way to stop and grab dinner next time we're stuck out somewhere.

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