Nate’s Fiscal Crisis

Nate gets Social Security disability money. When he turned 18 he qualified and, I admit, I felt very uncomfortable applying for his monthly allowance. Much of that came from the thought that we could, and always had, taken care of his needs, but I realized that mindset was mine, not his.  Fact is, he’s incapable of working and that’s the type that this money is meant for. My hope is that someday, after college is over and I figure it out, Nate can get a job  and say goodbye to SSI. I assume that’s how it works.

For now, he uses his money mainly for computer needs: copy paper, ink, and his other necessities: tape, Axe Body Wash of every type, candy, magazines. You’d think he’d have cash left over, but Nate prints as many documents as a mid-sized office. And he eats an equal amount of candy.

The government money is not meant to be a savings plan; it’s supposed to be spent for recurring needs, and Nate does a good job of it. Usually he’ll end the month with $100 bucks to spare, but not last month. He got down to a worrisome $15 before the first of August rolled around.

Explaining to Nate about saving, about careful spending, about how to use his money wisely is similar to, and just as futile as, the debates in Washington these last weeks regarding the debt ceiling. The main difference is Nate has a good heart and isn’t a bald-faced liar and hypocrite. He’d make a lousy Congressman. I try to talk to him about managing money, but he doesn’t quite get it.

In fact, he doesn’t get the concept at all. As the month goes on and he runs low on cash, he’ll ask, or demand, that more money gets put into his debit card, as if money emerges out of nowhere and gets stuffed into his little plastic friend. This lack of understanding also comes out when he insists that we renovate our bathrooms, or gut our kitchen and start anew. When we tell him we don’t have that money at hand, he suggest that we “go to the magic money mine” and get some more. If only.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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2 Responses to Nate’s Fiscal Crisis

  1. Nate sounds a lot like me at 18 🙂

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