Suze Orman can write a book about me, and it wouldn’t be a flattering one

Because so many apartments here in the land of corruption, greed and brown-paper-bag handshake agreements have what’s known as revolving security deposits (i.e., if you have good credit, you pay X amount. But with a questionable credit history, you might be asked to pay up to two months’ rent — money that you might never see again, as you know how these rental companies will nickel-and-dime you to death on supposed “damages”), I decided to get my credit report today.

And then, I decided I didn’t need to pay for someone to tell me I have shitty credit. See? Am wise at money management after all!

I wish I could go back to my 18-year-old self and just say no to all those creditors who liberally handed me cards with no limits. What, did they think my $3.80-per-hour minimum-wage jobs while I was a college student were going to go solely to credit-card debt? Did I?

I remember when I started fudging on payments. I was living with someone who was, for lack of a better word, a pig. The pretty boy who spent more time in front of the makeup mirror than I did, the one who made friends with half the homeless population of the city and let them sleep on the floor while I was away at my two (minimum wage) jobs each day. Then he bought a dog and let the dog poop everywhere. He wasn’t good about cleaning it up. He was a good kid and I miss him from time to time, but he was just that — a kid playing house but with no idea of how to upkeep one.

We’d only lived together three months at the time, and that was enough. Despite the financial/emotional cost, I had to move elsewhere. And the downward financial spiral began — hell, I had to drop out of school because I couldn’t afford the tuition that the student loan wouldn’t cover. And I learned the bad lesson that nothing really happened if you missed your bills. Sure, the interest rate on my car is astronomical, but enh. Details.

At that point back then, I was just angry — angry that I had to bust my ass on my feet 12-14 hours a day, selling people shit they didn’t need and working around the clock because my employers told me I had to and not because the stores were actually busy at 11 p.m. I put my safety in jeopardy every single night that I had to walk four blocks to catch a bus at midnight — well, I had to run, most nights, because the last bus left at 12:30 a.m. I couldn’t afford a car. Shit, I had to work 15 hours just to afford the monthly bus pass.

I blame no one — those were just my dues and hard knocks. A life filled with furniture and clothing bills to reward myself for all the struggling to get through school and all its myriad assignments, plus being on the school newspaper/magazine staffs and then working every other available hour in the week and busting my ass (in heels!) for not even four bucks.

Today I have a “real” job (i.e., an office job, but the hours haven’t changed much since leaving retail hell) but it’s still challenging to get by sometimes. D.C. real estate is a joke if you’re trying to save money. It’s impossible. And when so much of your income goes to housing, why not just spend the extra couple hundred bucks and get a gorgeous place instead of a blah one?

I guess that’s why, when I was looking at apartments yesterday and found the “dream” one, I reverted back to my 4-year-old self and wanted to stomp and scream, “WANT!!!”

The people who work in the management offices of the better places are so much nicer to you — they require so little as a security deposit because they expect that if you can afford to live there, then you must be a good, responsible person. You are willing to pay for luxury and safety and stature, so you’re OK in their book. Come and play with the other people who can’t afford to put food in that gorgeous stainless-steel fridge!

Surprisingly, I have the gross income they are looking for, which felt odd that people like me can live like that. But then I got Suze Orman’s voice in my head, telling me, “You CANNOT afford it!” and she would be SO right.

I was talking to a friend recently in another state, and their monthly net income is what I spend on a 1BR apartment in the city in a month. It’s weird how one area can have such a higher value than another, at least in realtors’ eyes.

I don’t know — I just wish I could find that ever-elusive combination of price, convenience and even, how shall we say, interestingness. The thing I hate about moving back to suburbia from the city proper is the loss of character in the apartment world. Every building and unit looks the same, from the bland wall color (“apartment eggshell”) to neutral carpet to the boring plastered walls. Bah. After looking at the same thing all day in an office, it would be nice to go home to something a little more special and maybe even luxurious, if at all possible.

Oh well, time to go scrub my butt and go look at more cookie-cutter places. Mmm, cookies. … :9

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