How to be an underachiever without really trying: Money, baby…

Grown-ups sure think about money a lot. They make investments and have accounts and point at squiggly lines on charts that they write about in money diaries. They wear suits and say things I don’t understand like “WENUS” or “Sky Loft.”

Money has never really been something I knew what to do with. Money happens to me. I work a retail job and operate under the assumption that this is the reason I am able to keep a cell phone or a bus pass. Sometimes I get money in the mail from the government, and other times they send me sad letters that say things like “re-assessed” or “arrears.”

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I have always handed my T4s to my mom, and I’m still a member of a credit union because my first-ever boyfriend was. The only times I’ve successfully accumulated wealth I spent it on things like tattoos or a painting of my soul by some groovy lady in the exchange district.

This isn’t the first time it has occurred to me to take control of my finances. I once excitedly bought an accordion folder, and am proud to say that after 6 years it remains in pristine condition.

There is a part of me that kept waiting until I was important enough to save receipts in accordion folders. The thing is, I’ve met a lot of “professionals” who didn’t have a hot clue what they were doing, so maybe getting ahead is about treating yourself like you are important until you blend in with all the other fake-it-til-you-make-it-ers.

I recently went to an accountant with all the necessary tax papers in a manila envelope. If he noticed how flummoxed I was by the whole process, he did not show it. The session was empowering. I understood what was going on, and why, and what to do for next year to get a better return.

But the excitement doesn’t stop there- I joined a new bank. One that was actually close to my house, can accept e-transfers, and won’t hold my cheques hostage. One that is next to a Starbucks, so that I can say things like “I need to do some banking tomorrow. Want to meet for mistos?”

Then things got really wild. I withdrew a reasonable amount of cash for  the week, and decided to stop using debit all together; at least until it sinks in that buying mall sushi on the regular is probably keeping me from reaching larger more satisfying goals.

The thing I’ve learned is that you will never feel “ready” to join the grown up world. Big people with big jobs are just as scared and confused as anyone else; they probably still doodle in the margins, and there’s no inappropriate time to start faking it. Most likely, everyone else will be too busy worrying about the wenus to notice.

Melanie Dahling is a stand-up comedian, actor and freelance writer. 

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