The Aloha Account

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I have run into lean times lately: until I get my Honorary Ph.D. in Literature from CRUD University and have my best selling novels carry me into economic bliss, I have to deal with limited income and OMG debts.

None of this should be news to anyone (if it is, then pretend you didn’t hear it, OK?)

I am dealing with some Mind-watering economic concepts: Every time I try to look at my bank statement, my mind turns to water. Only the threat of early death due to starvation is forcing me to actually deal with the economic nasty. Wish me luck. On the plus side, I am having a bit of good experience with, but I really don’t like all my financials collected in the cloud. However, the convenience overrides prudence in privacy, and I am seldom prudent. I’m a good american that way — in the USA we have learned that citizens almost always go for convenience instead of prudence. Just say’n.

I just can’t keep track of envelopes, or nearly anything that contains money, but I am finding a way around the “put your money in envelopes and hand it out” philosophy. Just buy things one month ahead of time. For the things I can’t buy in quantity, here is how it works: I set up pre-paid accounts with the merchants that I do business with. I tell them I want to give them a month’s worth of money NOW in exchange for services. The merchants seem to like cash in hand, you know. They figure out the easiest way to keep track, and all I have to do is keep these accounts topped off once a month.

One of the merchants put up a wild-west poster of me saying “PRE-PAID, never carries cash.” where “wanted” would be, with a simple tally sheet for the workers. I feel like a notorious celebrity. Every time I go in, I can check up on the status. I can’t spend it somewhere else, and I can’t lose it out of my pocket. I don’t have to walk around with cash.  Pre-payment lowers my risk, and that is valuable to me.

With this kind of budgeting, I can be assured of good food, ale or a book, maybe an occasional mani-pedi. Pre-payment. I can only do that with merchants I trust. Even so, if a merchant goes belly up, my loss is limited.

It’s still a budget. But it’s a lot easier than me keeping track of my money: Merchants are well set up with the kind of folks who know how to add and subtract, thank goodness.

This seems to work for the merchants here in St. John’s. Value for value.

Now here, I’m going to throw in a contrast. The merchants in Portland rarely have Aloha. It’s more than the “I’ll go all out for my customers!” — it’s like "my customers are mostly family, maybe you, too". And in Portland, a merchant with that philosophy might not last too long. The very few Kings of Pentacles in St. John’s who reign with aloha have to keep it hidden, lest it be trod underfoot.

I noticed some of the businesses in HNL really had seemed to open up to the level you only get from functional extended family. It’s the hanai thing. A common custom in Hawaii is the hanai relative: extended adoption that ignores race lines. Ohana is not by blood or marriage alone. The guy who wrote “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” was a hanai kid. Some of you readers are my ohana, maybe you all are.

You saw that in everyday transactions between folks.  They treat each other as if they were family. It’s more than the “some of my friends are African-american” — It’s “some of my family are Chinese, Japanese, Iranian, Jew, and yes, Hawaiian.” The hanai concept of family seems unknown in the mainland.

That’s aloha, the feeling that you are being treated like family.

To those folks that have shown me great Aloha, I would want to be able to open up an Aloha Account to Post-Pay for all the goodness that you have shown. You know, pay it backward. Not soon or much, not on my income, (or demented level of organization), but instead of saving needlessly, I would want to start sending small amounts on a regular schedule.

Friend, Who has impacted your life in small but consistently beneficial ways whether you were in need or not? One that you don’t see often enough anymore, or who you can’t repay for all those kindnesses?

Who would you want to set up an Aloha Account for? Or have you already?

that's all--