The Five Characters Of Money

the five characters

Theme: Money


by Sharon

You know ’em.


Often quite attractive, everything for HmWs is a careful calculation. You may be lucky to break even financially (never emotionally) as a friend of HmWs, but more likely, this is the person you go on a date with and expects you to split the check, even though they ordered the steak and you got the salad. They cleverly even reference it in thanks and say they’ll treat you next time, or make up for it in some way – but it never happens. And if it does, never in the way you want it to.*  Usually decently educated (good, middle tier school) with moderately interesting things to say about the world, occasionally the purveyor of new information, but mostly recycled tidbits. Life for them is one big competition – who’s doing better, who’s living where, is your partner a better catch than theirs? You’re kind enough to play along in gratitude, and somehow they end up looking generous. Which is bizarre, because in general, this character Has Money, Won’t Spend. Unless it’s on themselves.


An interesting sort, Ihey. Happy to take, happy to spend, happy to give, often young, though late bloomers exhibit Ihey characteristics, too. Fun to be around with refreshing takes on the world, common haunts include Mom and Dad’s home (where they’ve had such security they naturally assume everyone else has the same), some cool rooftop bar spending squillions, or squandering rent on a bolthole in Brooklyn or Hoxton.  Wherever they lay their hat, that’s the Bank of Mom and Dad footing the bill. Ihey spends as if there’s no tomorrow, because they don’t yet understand the importance of saving. Once they do, they can become thrifty, and naturally resent the fact that many people are friends with them only because they always used to pick up the tab (and, still expect them to). Of course, it’s Ihey’s parents who are really paying, glamorously siphoned through Ihey’s account, and there’s never a shortage of anyone ready to take advantage during the intern, volunteer and “I’m an artist who doesn’t know what my art is” phase. Life is harder once Ihey gets that first paycheck and realizes after Bushwick rent and bills, precious little remains. Until then, I Haven’t Earned Yet enjoys relatively ignorant bliss.


If you believe in karma, one day, AtNg will get what’s coming to them. Which is – not much. As the modern day, penny-pinching Scrooge, happy to let everyone else spend for them, at their worst AtNg leeches off others’ productivity. Even on their wedding day, they’ll ‘offer’ a paid bar after a subpar meal – all the while benignly touting their expensive department store gift list. AtNg works hard, and we understand it’s more important to keep the $ for your kids than for us. But what about every time we brought you delicious treats and bottles for your housewarmings and christenings, and you brought us – nothing, or literally a bar of chocolate? When you stay with us, we spoil you; when we stay with you, we’re expected to buy our own food and cook it ourselves. Oh, it’s happened. Maybe money’s tight for you, and we understand that. We remain friends with or even date AtNg because at their best, they’re spectacularly funny, a joy to be around, maybe wise and benevolent with advice. At least this most valuable part’s free, because the money side of things we just have to ignore. For, despite ourselves, somehow we still love you, All Take and No Give.


There’s a saying that sometimes the people who are the most kind are in the most need of that kindness, and perhaps the same is true of GFs. What’s certain is they’re the most giving, unselfish, sometimes even lavish people we know. And they’ve always been that way, for there’s no other way they know how to be. Most GFs weren’t Ihey trustafarians – Ihey occasionally grows up to be a GF, if they’re lucky to land a career that pays well and continue the same good fortune their parents had. GFs are hard workers, who’ve always made money and know how to budget, understand value – and are simply kinder than HmWs folk. Far from flawless, GF does get stressed when unforeseen spending (maybe by overindulged Ihey children) depletes the bank account, but they know how to make more $, through graft, perseverance, and expect the same of you. When you meet a true GF, they’re warm, sweet, kind, and demand nothing in return. It sounds like a cliche, but it’s real, the opposite of AtNg, though still with the same wise, funny traits. They let AtNg and HmWs take advantage, but self-proclaimed Generous Fools bear no resentment, as their approach is, “Well, they must need it more than I do.” You gotta love ’em.


Tit for tat.

Butter for fat.

If you kick my dog,

I’ll kick your cat.

The first line used to be “Tip for Tap”, then evolved over the years. If someone’s ‘tip’ struck you, the saying goes, you’re permitted a customary retaliatory blow – your ‘tap’. In the same way, FFs give as much as they take. You’ll get back everything, seemingly carefully accounted for. An almost wondrous thing, when you consider how many transactions we perform daily, which leads us to think, do FFs keep accounting spreadsheets and record every tiny expenditure? We wouldn’t be surprised. The good thing is, FFs sometimes surprise us with unexpected (carefully budgeted) treats that are truly lovely and thoughtful. Unlike HmWs, they’re actually kind, maybe because they seem more content in themselves, less competitive, less concerned with the external. They seem happier with smaller things, but then, the small things can sometimes be the big things. FFs tolerate animals well, and would never kick a dog or cat unless it was attacking them or you.  But where money’s concerned, Fair’s Fair is their standard practice.GMGM! small

*HmWs sometimes buy you presents in thanks (after you’ve already showered them with gifts and free steak on various occasions), but it’s never something you want, and they expect you to be grateful, even though you know it’s what’s discounted this week, because you also got the email. Still, present is better than no present, and maybe you can re-gift.


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