One Cent

JULY 27, 2017 BY ALEX EAKER

“And that turns out to be the hardest thing to live with, not the regret or the fear, but the realization that the edge is so close to where we live.” – Jess Walter, The Financial Lives of the Poets

It starts with a need to circumvent your fears.

Yesterday, I woke up to check my bank account:  $.01 is what I read (yes, one penny). I couldn’t help but laugh at first, realizing if I had spent just one more cent I would be charged by my bank for overdraft (I’d have less than no money!). This isn’t out of the ordinary, being a student and a writer of course. Starving artists and all that jazz. I knew I’d be getting a pay check soon, I knew I wouldn’t be in the trenches for long, but how could anxiety not creep down my spine like a single cold penny rolling along the spindly bone?

I had three days of no spending. I missed my store bought cups of coffee that got me through morning in the office. I missed popping open a beer at the end of the day—small expenses, but priceless habits that made my days my days. And that’s really what it comes down to: making your days your days. Having those moments that break up minutia, small things or big things, you fear losing them because these are your rituals.

There is comfort in financial security just as there’s fear of not-having and not-knowing-what-to-do moments that come about when times are hard. Times get hard for everyone.  At NPI we understand how close the edge between fear and relief can be. We tell our stories because it’s part of our mission to understand and to express; to be transparent and to be honest. No person is the same, no story is the same.

While coming close to that edge myself, I was able to rise up. On the third day of no morning coffees, no late afternoon beer, I checked my account. I had money again—was paid for some of the odd jobs I managed to pick up over the summer. The fear was subsided (temporarily). The part that made me the happiest, though, was I still had the penny in my account in addition to my paycheck. It sat there as the final digit of my funds as a reminder that leant me both a sense of fear and optimism. But of course I couldn’t spend that penny. After all, what could I buy with one cent?