Today’s excerpt is from the fictional tale: Financing Your Life—The Story of Four Families Taking Their Financial Lives Out of the Red and Into the Black. In this excerpt, we see the tough choices that single-mom McKenna must face.
Single, but Not Alone
On her way home, McKenna had to stop at the grocery store. Frequently, when she went to the store, she’d have to do something she called floating a check. This happened when her bank account didn’t exactly have enough in it to cover what she planned to buy, but it would within a few days, so she wrote a check for more than she had, hoping that the small delay in cashing it would give her enough time to deposit some tips and it wouldn’t bounce.
While she’d tirelessly tracked the time it took for various stores to get their checks through her bank, it was not a perfect system. The Super Seven generally took three days for their checks to clear, even longer if it was a Friday. But there had been a couple of weird instances in which the checks had been cashed after just one day, and those had resulted in bounced check fees from both the grocery store and the bank. One of them even caused a bunch of other checks to bounce. That had been a nightmare. She’d had to get some cash advances from her credit cards in order to cover those costs and she still hadn’t finished paying them off. Worse, the cash advances had a higher-than-usual interest rate, making it a really expensive mistake.
Still, she felt pretty confident that she could get some more tips tomorrow and deposit them so that the Super Seven check would clear with no problem, so she went shopping.
After filling her cart with a week’s worth of groceries, she unloaded everything onto the conveyer belt and then walked to the tiny podium to fill out her check.
After she filled in the total, which was twenty dollars more than she expected, she handed the check over to the cashier. It was during these moments—from the time she started writing the check that she secretly knew was bad (even though she didn’t intend for it to still be when they cashed it) until she was handed a receipt signifying that the transaction was complete, that McKenna’s body seemed to enter full breakdown mode. It started with a little tremble in her hands, almost like her fingers weren’t up to the task of committing a blatant crime. Then, as soon as she thought of the act as a crime, her brain frantically worked to justify why it was not a crime. It’s not like I intend to steal stuff from the store. The check will be good when they cash it—isn’t that all that really matters? It’s like an IOU, sort of.
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