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Money Misadventures: Tales of woe and Hurricane Sandy

Gaby Dunn
by Gaby Dunn, Dimespring 30 (@gabydunn)

This is what we’ll call a “Scraped By” month, meaning I just managed to avoid having zero dollars in my bank account, ruining my good favor with my roommate, and surviving a hurricane with nothing but gummy bears and tap water.

For a while, we were in double digits territory in the ol’ bank account while I waited for a freelance check. This was right before Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, where I live, and I was worried that if the world ended, I wouldn’t have any money to buy my way outta town.

I considered the possibility that in a post-apocalyptic world, bacon would become currency and the amount of my money in my bank account wouldn’t matter as much as, let’s say, my ability to hunt, kill and smoke a wild pig. (I have seen “The Hunger Games.” I think I have it down.) Barring that, I was going to be SOL for Sandy.

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Progress? Still taking too many taxi cabs. But to be fair, the hurricane knocked out the subway lines (this is still going on) so these were more necessities to get to work/fun than they were treats for me. On more occasions though, I took the free buses, which is not taking a taxi so good job, Gaby! I definitely saved some money there, and for future reference I now understand the bus lines and can use them again more efficiently.

While stocking up for the hurricane, I bought a lot of food. Not that I won’t use that food but that definitely took a chunk out of my finances. By the end of hurricane prep, I wasn’t sure I was going to have any money left.

On top of all that, the first of the month was closing in and my roommate was requesting I pay my share of the rent. For the first time, I had to tell her I just didn’t have it. On Monday, I shamefully asked if she could wait a few days until I sorted out what I would need to do to be able to pay it. She gave me until Wednesday.

I never thought I’d be this person. The irresponsible roommate. The one who needs time to pay the rent. The one who is just “scraping by.” I felt terrible asking her to cover me until I could pay her back. I knew I was bad with money but I didn’t think it would ever affect my ability to pay what I owe people, especially my roommate. I was depressed about the idea that I couldn’t make rent and I thought about paying it with my credit card, which made me very nervous. (As per my last post, that would be double what I’ve ever used my credit card to pay. I hate using it if I don’t absolutely have to since I already have student loans.)

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Then, as is my usual lucky way when it comes to finances, a check arrived from a freelance assignment for just the right amount at literally the last minute. I was able to pay my rent and have a little left over for food during the storm.

But what if that check hadn’t come when it did? What would I have been able to do? That check was my lifeline, but I need to stop relying on luck to get me through every month. The Excel spreadsheets I was making of my spending habits died after a few days, so I downloaded an app that lets me do the same. Maybe having it on my phone, and with me all the time, will encourage me to mark down more of what I’m spending.

That, or I get lucky again and bacon really does become the new barter system. I can only hope.


Gaby Dunn is a writer, journalist and comedian in New York City. Gaby is a member of the Dimespring 30, a group of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.