Flypping My Story – by Jamar Ramos

Imagine you’re a mother of two, and your husband has lost his job just a couple of months after you were laid off from yours. Imagine, after losing his job, he took his severance and went to the horse track trying to “hit big.” Imagine he came back empty-handed, and you were forced to accept a low-paying job just to put food on the table.

Imagine, because your new job pays so little, you have to post-date checks at your local store. Imagine your eldest son is with you, watching you write these post-dated checks. How do you explain the situation to him? How do you tell him that you aren’t even living paycheck to paycheck, that you’re not even scraping by? How do you explain about the lights randomly shutting off? About the fact you have to decide which bills you need to pay vs the ones you can ignore for a bit longer?

Do you even bother explaining at all? Or do you grit your teeth and use your energy to keep moving forward, hoping tomorrow is a little better than today?

Seeing my mom go through this was rough, but I didn’t understand how rough until I was old enough to reflect on it. Sure, I noticed that things became rougher. That there wasn’t as much food in the refrigerator. That I went from having lunch money to having to take paper bag lunches to school. I remember having to borrow money from friends if I wanted to get a soda from the corner store. Birthdays became smaller events, and so did Christmas. Arguments between my parents about money became an everyday occurrence.

I wish there had been something like Flyp around back then. Maybe things would have been a little better. Maybe, instead of having to post-date checks for groceries, my mom would’ve had the peace of mind that she wouldn’t be penalized for being overdrawn. That she could have gotten her paycheck a little earlier to help ease some of her stress.

Then, she wouldn’t have had to constantly think about surviving.

And that’s what’s so debilitating about being poor. It’s not just the lack of money, it’s the need to be in “survive mode” 24/7/365. All you think about is “how can I get through today?” The only long-term plan you can make is getting through to the next paycheck.

It’s a horrible way to live, a horrible way to exist. All my mom needed was a little financial help. Back then, the only options were payday loans or check-cashing places. All of them predatory, all of them bad options.

My mom post-dated checks because, if she was overdrawn on her account, the bank would pile on extra fees, and that was money we couldn’t afford to give away on a mistake. We also had to rely on the shop owner not to cash them before the date. Luckily, I was close friends with his son, had spent many nights over his house for sleepovers. He understood the situation and empathized. He had our backs when it counted.

Check-cashing places take huge chunks of your money, and payday loans have exorbitant interest rates. They aren’t looking out for you, only their bottom line.

Where was she supposed to go? What was she supposed to do? And, worst of all, how would she be able to impart any financial literacy lessons when she was struggling to keep everything afloat?

That’s why I’m glad we have an option like Flyp. Banking needs to not only be reimagined, but it also needs to be recentered. Your bank should be a trusted friend who will make sure we’re okay when we hit bad times. We need financial institutions that will help us when we make a mistake, not castigate us for it. That help us impart good financial lessons to our children. That are partners, not silent shareholders in our paychecks.

That’s what Flyp is to me. Doesn’t that sound awesome?

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