Unless you are insanely responsible or living off the riches of your parental units, odds are you know all too well that terrible feeling the day before payday brings. Oh sure, come sunrise of the following business day, you'll be so flush that doing stuff like "laundry" or "putting change in the parking meter" will be totally mundane expenses that you won't think twice about. But today? Today, those are the luxuries afforded only to kings and Russian oligarchs with super-yachts. Those few days before you get paid have special habits that only come up when you're scraping the bottom of your bank account.
For the record, I'm fully aware that having a job and being able to pay for the roof over your head is a privilege that a lot of folks go without, which makes all my griping about not being able to go out and see Keanu Reeves in a new movie is a little bit of a monstrous thing to do – but even a blessed struggle feels like a struggle to the blessed. We don't delude ourselves into thinking that we are anything other than totally fortunate. If anything, we're the first to call ourselves out for over-reacting to the pre-payday pains and the disproportionate drama we create around them.
When I was a student, or during times when I've been unemployed, I couldn't imagine doing stuff like NOT eating peanut butter from a jar for my dinner. But when it's the day before payday and I'm digging for that spoon, verily, it makes my heart weary. And that's not the only tell-tale sign that payday is just around the corner:
1. You Pay For Your Latte With Pennies and Dreams
I have not been above paying for my coffee with pennies. In fact, true story: I also once tried to talk my local barista into accepting, in lieu of the fifty cents I owed her, a metal twist tie and a (very valuable) J tile from the Scrabble board which had, for reasons not yet fully understood, migrated into my purse.
2. You Become Too Well-Acquainted With Ramen
When I was in middle school, every Friday I'd eat a bowl of Ramen and watch Benny Hill when I got home. When I was in grad school, those glorious memories were sullied when I was all "Whelp, I can afford no other food – RAMEN IT IS!" The day before payday is officially ramen day. In fact, you might wind up Googling "can starve to death from eating ramen three times a day?"
3. Every Choice Is Sophie's Choice
You are paralyzed with ferocious indecision: Do you pay to have your pants washed clean of the potent homeless-lady stank they are currently wafting, or do you buy a bottle of gut-rot red wine? In the end, it's the wine, because then you can just sit on the corner in the dirty pants and drink it straight from the bottle without fear of judgment or reproach. Bonus: You can also put a cup down. You might not directly ASK for change, but if some lands in there, you won't kick it out of bed for eating crackers.
4. You Become a Hermit
You turn down invites out, you ignore all incoming texts and calls, you stare vacantly at the wall. You aren't depressed. You're broke, and if you get one more "PLEASE COME TO THIS CRAZY EXPENSIVE IMAX MOVIE WITH US AND THEN TO A RETRO FOAM PARTY" invite you will be forced to walk the streets for money (you won't care if it's wrong or if it's right.)
5. Your Credit Card Gets Way More Use Than It Should
You try not to think about it, but it keeps adding up. This is what credit cards are for, right? Those little emergencies that crop up? You force yourself not to do the math, but then your statement comes at the end of the month and you are hard pressed to explain why, exactly, "wax lips" "shirt that says 'Selfie'" and "cat toys" were so urgent that they needed to be charged.
6. Self-Checkout Is Your Best Friend
You are pretty sure that you have enough money in your account to buy this frozen pizza from CVS and tampons. But, on the off chance that you are incorrect, you'll be damned if you have to look a human in the eye while you tell them to put them tampons back and hobble out of the place, rapidly-thawing pizza in your desperate, menstruating grasp.
7. Splurging Is Redefined
When you're flush, that Betsy Johnson wallet seems like the perfect opportunity to treat yourself. An extra night out with the girls at that wine bar so fancy it has no name and just that one waiter who spends the night making you inferior? BRING IT ON. But right before you get paid, when you're super broke, splurging happens on a painfully micro level. You're willing to renegotiate what exactly qualifies as a splurge. DOLLAR PIZZA, OH YOU ARE THE BEAUTIFUL SLICE OF KINGS. #TreatYoSelf
8. You Start Evaluating Your Roommates And Pets In Imaginary Survivor Scenarios
You're awfully fond of them, but this is survival mode: If you end up being the Tom Hanks, and they are the Wilson, you won't hesitate to let their weak asses float out to sea if that's what it takes to ensure you make it out of this alive.
9. You Start Calling in Favors
When the going gets desperate, so do the desperate. You find yourself remembering ancient debts and attempting to cash on them. While you'll admit that Facebook messaging someone you went to sixth grade with to ask if they remember how they still owe you $2 dollars for those cookies they wanted from cafeteria once isn't the most sane thing you've ever done, you're sure that someone somewhere is doing something crazier. Or at least, God, I hope so.
10. You Can't Stop Refreshing Your Bank Account Home Page
You know it's naive, and you know it's fool-hardy, and you know it's not the way the world works, but logic and reason be damned. You are going to glue yourself to the computer or the banking app on your phone and you going to continue to refresh that account summary screen until you make the electronic deposit you are expecting come through. Every time the screen reloads and those numbers stay in the red, you die a little on the inside.
Images: Fotolia; Giphy (5)