Credit makes the world go round, if you have it

I don’t regret the past. That’s a lie. I don’t regret most of my past, but I do regret the part where I didn’t understand money and credit.

I remember my parents telling me not to fall for the credit card companies that would line the mall of the college campus, stalking their prey in the naive college freshman. I listened and ignored the calls of “fast money! Sign up now! pre-approved!”.

I was taught not to get a credit card until I had money to pay the bill every month. When I was twenty, I had said money in the form of insurance money after my mom’s death. I wish my previous ability to ignore credit cards had stuck with me, but it didn’t.

I didn’t work while I had that money. It wasn’t a ton of money, but more than I had ever seen. I joined a gym and hung out at the coffee shop. I took my friends shopping and out to dinner. I finally opened up a credit account at a department store when I was stalling for time with a friend who’s surprise bachelorette party was being prepared.

I injured myself at the gym but couldn’t prove the injury happened there. Turns out the only way to get out of that membership had been to either sell the contract or die. First strike on the credit. Soon enough the insurance money ran out and I couldn’t pay the credit card. Strike two.

Enter the start of my drinking and working low end jobs and what little money I did make went for rent and bills and alcohol. When I was in my early twenties, I wasn’t thinking about my future.

I take total ownership of those mistakes. I’m lucky I didn’t do more damage by taking out a loan for a car or opening up more than the gym membership and the credit card. Unfortunately, let’s start adding in medical bills since my jobs didn’t carry medical insurance and suddenly a couple strikes on my credit turned into thousands of dollars.

After I got sober I began working on making those financial amends. I was cleaning up the wreckage of my past, still feeling lucky after hearing stories of others who had hundreds of thousands in debt. My situation wasn’t that bad.

Unfortunately I got sick when the MS struck in 2006. I had just changed jobs, having left a good company for a better one. Health benefits had not kicked in yet. More medical bills.

I was denied disability twice and Gamma was supporting me. I went back to work, figuring my disability must not be bad enough if the government and family were urging me to work. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake before of not having health insurance so I pushed through forty hour work weeks to carry insurance. The MS was angry and struck again four months later and I was blind.

At that point I had payments set up again, once again working on clearing up old debts. I got a low limit credit card to start building credit. I bought eyeglasses with it and was blind the next day. I had good insurance but not good enough. Soon the medical bills started pouring in from the two and a half day hospital stay I underwent while they tried to restore my vision and figure out why MS had taken both my eyes.

No matter how hard I kept trying, more just kept adding up. I no longer work and no longer bring in a good amount of money. They want thousands of dollars I will just simply never have.

I’m not trying to say woe is me or this isn’t my fault. I still take ownership of the mistakes I made in my youth but I can’t understand why I am penalized so much for this. It’s still not hundreds of thousands of debt. In fact it’s so little debt I was advised not to file for bankruptcy because my debt isn’t big enough.

So why then, does Verizon require a $400 deposit from me to start an account? Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot to some people, but it’s huge for me. I was told their lowest deposit is $125 and then jumps to $400. I can’t help but think that if it hadn’t been for all the medical bills, my deposit would only be $125 because of the mistakes I made when I was younger. I could live with that.

The thing is, my current phone is dying. A year after I went blind, I got a good tax return. I’ll never get one again since I can’t work. I was able to purchase the only phone T-Mobile had that was compatible with Mobile Speak, a screen reader for cell phones. Since I was at the end of my contract, I got a good deal on the phone. I spent $295 on Mobile Speak and my sighted friend had to install it on the phone for me.

It worked well enough. I was able to scroll through my phone book and do text messaging. I didn’t carry a data plan because it was too expensive.

That was two years ago and now my contract is up. Right on cue, the phone is dying. If it’s not on the charger, it turns itself off. Not exactly a reliable phone to take out with me and for safety purposes, I need a working phone.

If I stay with T-Mobile, I’ll need to find another phone compatible with Mobile Speak. Since Mobile Speak has been upgraded, I’ll have to pay additional money for the upgraded license. I’ll have a phone that will fulfill my basic needs but constantly crash since the program just doesn’t seem very stable. I could go that route but it just doesn’t make sense.

The only phone accessible to the blind out of the box is the iPhone, just like all other Apple products. Verizon has it now. In order for me to sign up with Verizon I have to pay that $400 deposit up front. I’ll get it back after twelve months of on time payments, which I’ll make because I am a responsible adult. I’ll have a phone that is reliable and completely accessible to me as a blind person as well as all kinds of apps that can assist me as a blind person. The iPhone just makes sense.

I don’t have all that money up front. I’ve been saving since I heard Verizon got the iPhone. I was expecting maybe a $200 deposit. But $400? Wow. This whole thing has really got me feeling down. I feel like I’m being lumped in with irresponsible people and I’m not one of those. I budget and am good with money. I pay my bills. I don’t live outside my means.

Hopefully I’ll be able to swing things and get a phone that works for me, maybe by mid month next month. We’ll see. I’m cutting everything out aside from the absolute necessities like food and things for Jayden. I get a massage every three weeks but it’s not just a fluff and buff make you relaxed massage. I get it to ease my pain and make it bearable. I’m canceling that until I can pull the money together for this phone. It’s frustrating, but it’s what you gotta do, right?

I’m not blogging this to make anyone feel bad for me. I’m not blogging this to share my woe is me tale. I’m blogging this because I’m angry. I’m angry that only those with money get to keep it and get more. I’m angry that being sick is not differentiated between irresponsible and criminal. I feel like I’m on probation for a crime I didn’t commit. That might sound dramatic, but what are you supposed to do when things happen that are out of your control?

I’m just really down about all this because this phone is not a luxury. I’ve drooled after the iPhone since it came out in my sighted days but it was more than I needed so I wasn’t willing to spend the money on it. Now I lust after it because of how amazingly accessible it is. I look at it now as a blind person and think wow, that phone will work for me without additional software. It can do a lot for me from the accessibility side of things. For me, the iPhone isn’t just cool, it fits what I need perfectly. It will even talk to my computer, something any other phone wouldn’t do.

I’m just angry at this whole situation. I’m angry for the people who decide not to even try with credit cards, going only by cash so they don’t get sucked into the credit hole and even they are penalized because they have no credit. They’ve never defaulted on a thing in their life but they are still penalized. I’m angry because the mistakes I made were minimal in comparison to the holes a lot of people are in and couple with my stupid health problems, I’m screwed for life. I’m just angry. I’m not trying to by some thousand dollar computer that I’ll have before I ever pay a cent. Seriously, who doesn’t pay their cell phone bill? Don’t we all need a stupid phone? If I can’t pay for something, I cancel it. I’m not gonna cancel my phone. I’m not gonna default on that. But because of what I look like on paper, it’s assumed that I will.

Fine, assume that. But then just make me pay for my service before I use it. Have a pre-pay option. Let me buy the phone and pay for a month up front. Then make me pay before I use it the next month. They have an unlimited plan anyway. I plan to use it. Why can’t I just pay for it up front? Then you’re losing nothing.

I could go on about this forever. I’m just feeling really depressed about it all. “The system”, “the man”, whatever you want to call it, screws good people in my opinion. I’ll get the phone at some point. I’ll just have to do without some things for awhile. I’ve accepted it in a way but it still makes me feel like a useless dirder.

Oh yeah, someone on Twitter suggested contacting Verizon’s disability department. They only help you with home phone service. What, they assume that disabled people never leave the house? Hmmm, those people don’t need a mobile phone; they never leave the house. That’s probably not what they think, but that’s how it feels. I am afraid to leave the house right now, thanks to a non working cell phone. Arrrrrrg.

I’ve gone on long enough. I just had to get this out there. Maybe someone else is feeling the same way and they’ll find this and know someone else out there feels it too.

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