From Counting Pennies to Letting Things Slide

Philadelphia Story
When I was first starting out and making very little money, I thought carefully about every single dollar and made sure I always got my exact change. I was also careful about never getting charged ATM fees, because when every dollar matters, paying to take out your own money hurts. It doesn’t hurt as much anymore, and perhaps that is a sign of success.

“I have decided that I am a person of means, a wealthy person,” I told Ester yesterday. “Because although my bank gave me my money back, I still have $10 in ATM fees from the fraudulent withdrawals, and don’t feel like calling them to have that $10 credited back to me.”

She laughed.

“Well, would you call?” I asked.

“‘Who is rich?'” she quoted. “‘He who is satisfied with his portion.'”

We mulled that over.

“I also wouldn’t call for $10.”

“Then, perhaps,” I suggested, “you are also wealthy.”

“So, maybe I’m rich too,” she agreed. “The aggravation? The loss of patience and precious minutes of life that it would cost to call? Those things are worth something too.”

Later at dinner with a friend, I offered to pay the bill and left a 25 percent tip. I could afford it; When I was first starting out, dinner with a friend would have always ended up with the two of us going Dutch, and then leaving a gratuity of exactly 15 percent.

I considered how much my bank would have charged me in fees for me to have called. Would I have called to get a $20 fee eliminated? I would have been more likely to call.

And then I noticed that there was a duplicate charge for a wedding gift I bought from a registry:

double charged

If I were a person of means, a person who felt wealthy and satisfied with my own portion, I still hadn’t yet reached the kind of wealth where this wouldn’t be a problem, where money was no option.

I picked up my phone and started dialing.

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