January and money

Screenshot anime Chuunibyou

Yes, there was a time in my life when I felt like shouting “Now the world is mine!” when I had bought a new computer or some other desired item. This tended to not be good for my Januaries though.

Today is payday. Actually, when the 12th falls on a weekend, payday is the Friday before, but I didn’t notice. This arrangement is sure to be a good thing for those who have spent all their money before payday. Once upon a time, I was one of them. Even though I have more money now, I would probably still have been in that situation if I had not changed in my mind as well. There needs to be a lot of money before money stops being a limit. Scientists say that in the USA, the magic line is around $75000 a year. Most Norwegians – not to say Norwegian households – earn more than that, but I don’t. I think. I stopped keeping track some years ago, but I probably don’t.

Back in the days when I had a ridiculously cheap rent and still managed to burn through my money, January was the worst of months. I did not buy a lot of Christmas presents on credit card, so it must have been even worse for those who did. But I noticed that creditors – bank, utility, phone company etc – somehow all managed to have a bill in January, even those that did not bill monthly. (I have later arranged to get all such bills monthly, but I don’t even think that was possible at the time, and certainly not on my mind the months where there were no bills.)

I realized that the various businesses all hit you with bills in January because it was the month you were most likely to be broke. If you ran out of money before you ran out of bills (or, you know, need to buy food too), the natural reaction is to put the least urgent bills aside for next month. This costs the creditor from a few cents to a couple dollars in lost interest, but it allows them to slap a late fee on you that recoups that money ten to a hundred times over. So that is a nice way for them to add to their bottom line. And at the same time, they get a psychological upper hand on you. All good for them, all bad for you. So, don’t buy Christmas gifts next year. Yes, that will be easy! ^_^

Well, this is not a problem for me anymore, since I have more money and less expensive habits. So they have to do something more drastic. Netcom Norway, the Swedish-owned second-largest mobile phone company in Norway, did that. (The number two mobile company in Sweden is Norwegian, by the way. Brother kingdoms and all that.) Now, I am not saying they did this because they are Swedish or anything, but one month they did not send me an invoice. I know this because I have electronic invoice contract with them, so it can’t get lost in the mail or on the kitchen counter. If I had paid it, the receipt would show. If I had received it and not paid it, it would show up as due. (I know this with certainty since I have an invoice for 0.00 from the utility company for a year and a half now.) So, no invoice. The next month they sent me a “reminder” and slapped on a late fee. Free money for them. Almost needless to say, I bought my most recent mobile from a competitor of theirs.

But I don’t sweat the small things. Not having to break out in cold sweat all the time is one of the benefits of living in a rich country and having some small degree of discipline of the mind, although there could certainly be more of that. The time will come when even Norway won’t be able to stand against the coming storm. At that time, it will likely be a good thing to have an uncomplicated relationship with money.

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