The financial services euphemism "wealth management" never fails to crack a wry smile on my tense, economically insecure face, when what most of us really need, of course, is a crash course in basic hand-to-mouth management. I swear my checking account never used to require such eternal vigilance. There were always a fair number of dollars remaining in the credit column between pay periods, enough that I could even transfer those dollars into a savings account. Lately, alas, as prices rise and income falls, I often find myself running that transaction in reverse. Balancing a household budget these days has become like a high-wire act, a slim tightrope strung through a labyrinth of tax withholdings, insurance premiums, food bills, utility payments, and an affordable mortgage if you're lucky. There are highwaymen lurking around every corner and the safety net appears full of holes.
Of course, our meager savings are rightly considered "wealth" by third world standards, but it sure doesn't seem like it compared to the cash stuffed in the pockets of those fat cats in the city who require a fleet of container ships to ferry their vast amount of gold from one tax haven to another. It wouldn't be so bad if we weren't dragged out to the dock every day and forced to watch. Jealous? Yes, I am. And also perplexed. You see, I had the brains to make it as a fat cat in my youth, but for some reason decided to pursue the career of a mouse wearing a beret instead. It seems a strange decision now; as if my life and prospects decided to run away and join the circus when I wasn't paying attention. So I shouldn't be surprised to be walking the financial high-wire tightrope every day, waiting for a clown car to pick me up each evening and drop me back at the beginning again.