Saturday, April 18, 2009

$17.99 and $27.10

Friday afternoon, I stopped at Target to re-up on Advil--excuse me, Target brand gelcap--on Friday. While walking towards the pharmacy, I passed a simple kelly green maxi dress similar to one I fell in love with during a trip to Old Navy last summer. It was sold out and never restocked. I gave up on it until I saw its fraternal twin hanging on a rack...a SALE RACK!!! Only $17.99. I checked for my size, I held it up to me in the mirror and I remembered that there might be a day very soon when $17.99 would be the difference between dinner with water and water for dinner. I placed it back on the rack and walked away. Sadness overwhelmed me. There has never been a time since I was 16 that I wasn't working. Sure, I might not be able to get every shoe, bag, meal or kelly green maxi dress that I wanted but I always knew that I could just wait for the next paycheck and go pick up what my heart desired.

When I left college behind, I also left the days of having under $100 in the bank on any given day. Well, things come full circle, history repeats itself, etc., etc. ad nauseum. I paid this month's bills after I had to abandon my ideal summer dress (not that I am not thanking God for being able to pay the bills this month) and when the smoke cleared, there was $27.10 left in the bank. I looked at the number for a moment, swallowed hard and walked away from the computer. I needed a drink of water to swallow the dose of reality stuck in my throat. I gathered my thoughts and made the call I had been dreading. "Hello, Fidelity. I need to roll over my 401(K). Yes, I am unemployed. Yes, I have been diligently seeking employment. No, I don't have any other options at the moment." I have been putting this off for a while because I kept holding out hope that I would find a job before I started dipping into my retirement account. I'm only 30...and I have been building that account since 23. I didn't always max out because, like most people, other things got in the way...namely, my fancy New York City wedding and my South African honeymoon. So I am sitting at $27.10, glad for experiences that I had before joining Generation L, hoping that I don't have to burn through ALL of my savings and mourning my former shopping ability. Silver lining? At least the bank balance isn't $7.60, which is what it would be if I gave in to my urge to buy the dress (I can subtract...that number accounts for tax). In my dreams though, I am sitting on a beach in Turks and Caicos in my green maxi dress drinking something with an umbrella in while my husband runs our jet ski rental company from a stand a few feet away. At least that's where my 401(k) was supposed to go.

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