Mike Buzzelli

Column Mike Buzzelli

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and published author. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine, and an active board member of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Carnegie Arts Initiative and the Carnegie Screenwriters. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

When E.F. Hutton speaks, I’m the one guy not listening

April 19, 2013

April is almost over, and I just learned that it is Financial Literacy Month. Don’t worry; I don’t think Hallmark has a card for it. If they do, you probably shouldn’t be spending your money on it. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling wants us to get Money Wise. The S in wise is spelled with a dollar sign (so cute I want to barf).

I am not very financially literate. The guy at the bank asked me if I wanted printed checks with pictures on them. He offered me a choice of flowers, puppies or hot-air balloons, but I said, “Can we get pictures of trampolines on them, since they bounce so frequently?” He was not amused.

Speaking of bouncing a check, don’t you think it’s odd that the bank charges you a penalty fee when you bounce a check? They are saying, “We know you don’t have any money, but we want more of it.” I don’t get that.

I have known people with a lot of money who spend it foolishly, and I have known people with a little money who spend it wisely. I am in the rare third category: a person with a little money who spends it foolishly. I can’t stretch a dollar, but I do know how to break one.

Once, I met with a financial adviser. He spoke for five minutes, and my eyes started to glaze over. I think he was trying to hypnotize me, because he spoke in a dull, monotone voice that would have put Ben Stein to sleep. He got up to retrieve a piece of paper from the printer, and I contemplated running away. A voice in the back of my head said, “Quick! Before he looks this way!” When he wanted to calculate my millage rate, I pretended my phone rang and I got out of there.

I fantasize about winning the lottery. I never think, “The first thing I’m going to do is open a Roth IRA.” I think, “I’m going to buy a house in Paris, a house in Italy and get a decent pair of tennis shoes.” Seriously, have you seen the price of athletic footwear these days? I want Asics, but I’m on a Keds budget. I will have to win the lottery before I get some decent sneaks.

If I win the lottery and I have to talk to another financial adviser, I may just give the money back. It might not be worth the hassle.

I don’t like to joke about the lottery, normally. I’m afraid if I joke about it and win, someone will accuse me of cheating. I guess if I won, it would be cheating since I haven’t spent a dollar on the lottery in two years. Someone may have given me a scratch-off card recently, because there are weird gray nubbins on the passenger seat of my car. They look like tiny flakes of gray acrylic paint. So, either I played an Instant Lottery Hot Hundreds Card lately, or I haven’t vacuumed out my car in months. Place your money on option two. The odds are better than the Pennsylvania Lottery! See, I can give out financial advice, too, especially when it’s advice on when to bet against me.

April is also National Poetry Month, so don’t be surprised if next week’s column rhymes.



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