banking is just a 7 letter word

I am scared of my postman. Not necessarily the postman, rather the act of the post coming. I’m scared of anything with a bank decal on. I dislike doing online banking, apart from pay day. I am not a fan of visiting the branch either, because I am a financial hermit, in a world with no escape.

I have multiple methods I can choose to bank via but I will store my bank statements up for months, and open and file them in batches. Moving flat is good for prompting this as are dull Tuesday evenings. With online access I can check my balance at the start of the month and wing every purchase for the next 31 days. There is a quiet kick from the win of ‘pin OK’ and ‘card approved’ after approximately the 20th of the month. I used to argue to myself that I couldn’t afford to get my hair coloured. When I changed jobs and got a little pay rise somehow I still couldn’t afford to get my hair coloured. I tell myself I can’t afford to eat out at lunch regularly yet I can afford to eat out in the evenings and consume, consume, consume my way through the weekend. It’s all relative.

Banking is right in the centre of your every day, avoid it at your (credit score’s) peril. Unfortunately the fairy tales of childhood have not set us us up well for the real world. Presumably Cinderella bills her Dom Perignon to her understanding Prince C. Snow White no doubt has the dwarfs under contract to do ‘a little light cleaning’ twice a week. Many hands make light work etc. Oh to have the luxury.

Living within your means is actually a continual challenge. It may become more and more exciting as your means increase but with every extra penny earned, it’s difficult to sustain frugality and the cycle of fear purchases continues. In January certainly, with the promise of a 6 week month we’re all a little more likely to be living on the edge, fear fuelling our every guilty purchase, be it a special on tinned soup (all you can eat on your new January diet anyway) or a new top in the sales. Banks could hit their carbon footprint targets easily if they thought to text bank statements in January instead of posting them, directly targeting their guilty audience who won’t be opening the January statement anyway.

Clearly I am not one of those people to whom saving comes easily. Eternal optimism leads me to believe everything will be fine!…and often it is but sometimes there is just too much month left at the end of the money.

It’s actually quite easy to save, I’ve been told: ISAs, stocks and bonds, send it to Mum for safe keeping, keep it in your sock drawer, for the traditionalists…many methods, but in the festive period especially it’s understandable that most people get Bankers Fear. For actual Bankers it is the sinking feeling that they’ve lost someone’s pension fund in a risky trade; for the rest of us it’s the fear that your card may not get accepted at Tesco. Prepping your face to register ‘God, I’m so embarrassed!’ or readying your hand to quietly waggle another card just in the tellers eyeline, avoiding those of your fellow shoppers.

The recession has allegedly challenged us all to be more frugal. For me, and perhaps you too, I instead get some small pleasure in seeing what I can get away with buying. How far can I push my spending before adrenaline pales into fear that I won’t make it til that playday of fat cats: payday. When payday sushi is the order of the day and you point your still-in-need-of-reheeling shoes into M&S, not Sainsbury’s.

Ultimately whether you know your branch clerk by name, even just to curse it, or if you just know you have a purple card but need to read the card to know the bank, banking is just a 7 letter word and there is nothing scary about that.

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