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Financial Future in a Box

My financial future is a shoebox I’ve repeatedly taped shut.

A few facts about my life right now: 1.) I am working two jobs, 2.) I receive tips from these jobs, 3.) Tips mean cash in my hand. This also means the wages that go into my bank account don’t reflect the entirety of my income. This also means that I can use the money in my bank account to pay for rent and bills, and use the cash in hand to pay for the finer things in life—beer and popsicles, mainly. 

But I’ve always been a “scheme to save” person, usually with the schemes coming undone like the ACME company trying to make a knock-off Rube Goldberg contraption. A few years ago I did succeed for a few months in the closest thing I’ve come to approaching a sound financial arrangement—automatically splitting my checks to go to savings. At the end of this experiment, I had $360 in savings. But then I lost my job and the savings evaporated.

Being re-employed meant playing the financial catch-up game, but it also occured to me that I needed to save up for a certain kind of future—namely the one where I live without anybody else. But with my disposable income was largely in cash, how to save? I felt that a piggy bank was beneath someone like me, swiftly approaching his thirties. So I snagged a shoebox, taped it shut and started shoving money into it.

I have no idea how much is in it. There are a lot of coins for sure, but a lot of bills, too.  I would say that, upon a cursory pick-up, it weighs at least seven or eight pounds.

Recent expenses necessitated fishing out a little of my Future Apartment Deposit Shoebox Trust Fund, but with each attempt at re-entry, I simply tape the box further shut. This is quite unlike the credit union where I bank, where I simply have to show my ID and know my account number to get money out of my account. Just this afternoon, I put a $5 bill in my box. My credit union savings account hasn’t seen that kind of action in years.

Despite my savings account being a shoebox taped shut, I somehow feel a pull toward putting money in it not shared by any other savings scheme. Granted, things like doctors visits come up and the shoebox comes open. But it always gets taped back up. On the whole, I have given it a mythic status that leaves me hesitant to reach into the bounty inside, or at least as hesitant as I get.

I’ve found that saving money isn’t as hard as I thought it was. Just tape a shoebox shut and hope for the best.


John Wenz is not the next Suze Orman, but he’s had a lot of jobs.


6 Comments / Post A Comment

Blondsak (#2,299)

As someone who also lived for years on cash tips, I have to ask: why not just go to your credit union every month or two and deposit the cash into your account(s)? I always kept enough cash on hand to have for going out, impulse buys, etc., but the idea of having all my savings stashed in my apartment was a little too worrisome for me.

ghechr (#596)

@Blondsak My impression is that he doesn’t want to make any deposits in a bank because then the IRS can see that he is not reporting his complete income on his tax filings.

sintaxis (#2,363)

@ghechr Taxes were my first thought too. If he doesn’t want to pay taxes that badly, he should invest in an IRA or something. Plus, you know, the reason people save money not in a shoebox: interest.

@Blondsak (That is what I actually plan on doing. Shhh.)

highjump (#39)

This reminds me of the can system in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and was a lovely read.

I suspect the author also knows this is not a perfect system. My suggestion would be opening up the box taking out approximately half the money, (just judge by volume or something so you don’t get tempted by the riches) because it sounds like there is quite a bit, take it to your credit union and put it in a six or twelve month CD. Still not impossible to get to if you really needed it, but very secure medium/long term savings.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@highjump I was thinking about my renter’s insurance last night and remembered that Katie Nolan and her sisters always had insurance. An excellent book and some good ideas on how to save money and food also!

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