Joe’s Crow Country

YOU want it for ages and you eventually get it. You then don’t know what to do when you’re getting it so you try and enjoy it. You are then disappointed by it, and it’s all over. Money is a right pain.

I’m terrible with money. Not because I splash out on unneeded boys-toys or Marks and Spencer own brand smoked salmon, I’m relatively controlled.

The way I am terrible with money is far more dangerous. I don’t understand what any of it means. The terms used on bank websites and the numerous leaflets stocked up in branches fill me with fear – AER, APR, ISAs, variable rates, interest, overdraft, pension, mortgage. Even credit card. I couldn’t give a definition of how any of these things work, which is worrying considering they are all gradually creeping into my life.

For finance ignoramuses like me, banks should make life as simple as possible. I went for a meeting at a bank recently, enquiring about opening up a savings account. I sat in an office with man who piled me with leaflets with information about the various benefits of different accounts, as he barked monetary jargon at me.

I nodded along and pretended I knew what on earth he was talking about. In my defence, he should assume no prior knowledge, and simplify things as much as possible for me. Why does he think I know how ISAs work? I’ve never had to deal with them before. Go back to the beginning, and when I don’t know a word, I’ll stop you and you can explain it. When he had stopped wittering, I realised it was my time to talk. The way his voice’s tone sloped at the end of the sentence I knew I had to come up with something, though I hadn’t a clue what he had said. I had to answer though, the silence was deafening.

“Let’s rewind a bit,” I said. “How does a credit card work?” His face began to crack into a smile as if he thought I was joking, but my expression stayed confused. Upon realising I was being serious he attempted to explain again, via a series of diagrams.

Again I pretended to know what he meant, before making him believe I had made a rational decision to turn down his offer of a savings account, saying “I reckon I’m going to shop around a bit first.”

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I got out of his office as quickly as possible, just relieved I hadn’t given all my money away. If he would have spoken for about 10 minutes longer, I reckon I would have left with a credit card or a savings account that I wouldn’t have understood, or known what it did.

Eventually I did set up a savings account, but with that came online banking, telephone banking, two new pin numbers (not sure what they’re for), a cheque book I’m not going to use and some leaflets with the shiny faces of friendly bank employees on them.

All I really needed out of that was the notification I had a new bank account, and that it would sit there and shut up and take my money.

Alternatively, I suppose I could just learn what all the terminology means. But if I’m getting it, I’m not that bothered.