Friday, 9 March 2012
Money money money
What a frustrating but amusing morning. I was called for a 'Banking Health Check' by the Co-Op. It's not that long since putting my card into the ATM was a risky venture: I still start to sweat in the little pause between asking for money and the notes appearing. Too many times in the past did a semi-polite message inform me that my fervent prayers had been 'declined'.
So I turned up with some considerable trepidation. I may not check my statements very often, but I know very well that I'm rather fiscally promiscuous. I'm also - or so I thought - too young to worry about this stuff. So when a 23 year old started tapping keys and frowning, I started to panic. She asked whether I'd made a will (a silent 'grandad' ended each sentence) and I felt like someone was asking me for more pocket money. When the discussion turned to pensions I wanted to cry: my retirement date is now 2044, when I'll be 68. Being an SF fan, I've always wanted to see what the future looked like, but I was kind of hoping that I wouldn't have to be doing it from the front of a lecture hall. Cool and hip I may be, but I can't imagine that 2044's teenagers will see things quite as I do by then.
We went through my expenditures - utilities, taxes, bills, which was miserable enough: how do I become so encumbered and enmeshed? - but it was OK until we reached my 'discretionary spending'. Heads were shaken when we discovered that my water and electricity costs £50 a month: about the same I spend on books each week. Apparently books and music 'aren't investments' and my lack of insurance ('home? mobile? travel? gadgets?) 'isn't very responsible'. They were also shocked that I don't spend £1000 annually on holidays. They were very nice, but couldn't understand why I didn't want to pay £12.50 a month for a bank account which pays 0% interest.
All in vain - I declined to buy further products, and when I expressed an interest in savings schemes, we discovered that I don't exist: no Experian record, and without a driving licence, I have no standing in society. Never mind that I presented them with my Irish passport, or that I've been a Co-Op customer for 15 years: no car, no cash.
I'm a bad citizen. Another self-criticism session is arranged for next week.