Alternately titled: Some financial tips from The Modern Gal
Have you ever found yourself sitting in the chair of a hairstylist you've never met before and halfway through a full color/cut/style event when you both remembered that you no longer have a credit card and the checkbook you thought you had isn't in your purse and you know you don't have enough cash to pay the poor girl who's only styling your hair because she was the unfortunate soul who was the only one free when you walked into this random salon on a Friday afternoon begging for them to work you in because a hair color and cut is one of the things that could make you feel human again?
Wait, you haven't found yourself in that situation?
MG financial tip No. 1: Don't find yourself in that situation. You will feel like an idiot, especially when you have to run down the street with your newly coiffed hair to get money quickly out of the nearest ATM. Trust me.
I mentioned that I spent two weeks this month traveling, the first for pleasure and the second for work-related purposes. During that work week of travel, I ended up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, one of my three former hometowns. The first day that I was there -- Thursday before Christmas -- I managed to lose my one and only credit card at either the gas station or the coffee shop across the street from the gas station. It took me about two hours to realized the card was gone, so like any smart modern gal, I phoned the credit card company before going to search for it only to find some benevolent good samaritan had already canceled the card for me, so there was no use looking for it. And in canceling the card, my credit card company automatically put in an order to send me a new card with a new account number. Don't let any of the rest of the story make you think that good samaritan was NOT a good person for doing that.
MG financial tip No. 2: Always have your credit card numbers memorized in case you ever lose any of them.
For some reason, I've never bothered to sign up for a debit card with my checking account. I don't know why. I'm not sure my bank offered them when I first opened my checking account. Or maybe they did, and I said not to bother because who needed a check card when I had a credit card? I've had a credit card since I was in high school because my parents are financially smart people who knew they could teach me more about using credit while I was living in their household than while I was on my own. I started out with a low limit and learned to pay off my card EVERY SINGLE MONTH. (MG finacial tip No. 3: Pay off your credit card every month.) After I graduated college I signed up for a new big-girl credit card (you know, one with rewards and stuff). A few years later I go SO PISSED OFF at the company which maintained my original credit card that I cancelled it to teach them a lesson (I won't name names, but if anyone claims to be hassle-free, they're probably lying). I meant to sign up for a Target Visa card as a backup card (and I mean who can complain about Target rewards!), but somehow I accidentally signed up for just a plain old Target card that is only good at any store with a giant red bullseye as its logo.
MG financial tip No. 4: When signing up for credit cards, make sure you're getting what you think you're getting.
Did you know it takes like two weeks to get your new credit card in the mail? I learned after having an exchange with a customer service rep on Twitter that I -- had I been the one to cancel my own credit card -- could have asked the credit card company to FedEx my new card for me for free! Too late now for that. Did you know that it's nearly impossible to finish your online Christmas shopping when you're operating on a cash or check basis? Did you know there's not an option to tie your Netflix account to your checking account? It's frustrating to find out how dependent you are on credit, but I found out just that considering I had to fund five stops at the gas station by prepaying with cash. I still cannot quite estimate how much money I should shell out on the front end to ensure my tank will be full.
MG financial tip No. 5: Have a backup form of payment. Trust me, cash is NOT it.
The good news is, my new credit card arrived in the mail yesterday. I have since finished my Christmas shopping, which was a huge relief. I am in now in the process of discovering just which bills I had set up to be automatically paid by the old one. Netflix already sent me a kind e-mail asking me to update my account. The storage unit facility where I've been keeping some boxes ever since learning of our basement's history of flooding called today. I have a feeling I'll be getting a note from Comcast and my gym soon too.