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Quit Playin’: Virus In, Vanity Out!

By Vincent L. Hall

Baylor Scott and White CEO Jim Hinton pulled no punches when asked why he was laying off 1200 rather than furloughing them. “We would not put somebody into furlough if we didn’t think we could eventually get them back to work. We just can’t afford to carry them because it erodes other parts of the organization. We’ve got to get back to a positive operating margin. The big question mark for us is, ‘what will the financial support look like for that care we provide?’” 

Hinton wasn’t cute. Vanity doesn’t come with this virus. It’s time to get back to our pre-affirmative action survival skills. Quick; go grab big mama’s memoirs! “Don’t break a dollar to spend a dime” was Big Mama’s caveat of caution; think before you part with your hard-earned money. Always look for a bargain and remember that a bargain ain’t a bargain unless it’s something you can use.” Unfortunately, we spend money on conveniences that we can’t afford. Bottled water costs a buck; more if you’re too bourgeoisie for Ozarka. You pay for the fresh drinking water running in your pipes and most public places. There’s $50-75 dollars per month and some fluoride for your children’s dental health.

Back in the day, we were excited when UHF stations were added to our choices of channels 4, 5, 8, and 11. Today we have up to 400 options via cable, satellite, and video over the internet. We traded a free commodity for one that costs $200 per month. Most of us could slash half of that expense. Do you use even 10% of the channels you pay for? Is My 600 lb. Life a want or a need? Smart shoppers realize that it’s not a hobby, it’s a skill. Don’t buy anything that’s not on sale and not at least 50% less than the original price. Those enticing signs that read “BOGO” or “buy one get one half off” only save 25%. “Buy two get one free” is 33% off and only qualifies as a bargain if you can use three.

Banks and credit unions make upwards of 30% of their profit these days on fees. They took down those signs warning “hot” check writers they could be prosecuted. Bankers these days are much more demure and much more dastardly. The lower interest rates go, the more tricks banks are forced to create. Financial institutions provide overdraft protection on your checking and credit card accounts at an average of $25 per occurrence. A day in jail may have been cheaper, and it may have taught you some patience.


Automatic bill pay shouldn’t preclude you from checking your monthly statements. Debit cards are convenient, but like credit cards, they tend to make us spend more than we would part with if we shelled out cold hard cash. Passing them a card for that $60 feast at Pappadeaux ain’t nothing like peeling off three $20 bills. A Smartphone ain’t smart when you’re dumb and broke. That’s where $100 per month goes, $200 if you got teenage kids. 

What about your bad habits? Cigarettes are $7 a pack or $200 per month. Coffee or “energy drinks” could cost $100 per month. Booze at home is cheaper than at the bar. Just be careful not to get “drunk while sheltering” from COVID-19, you don’t end up in a shelter because of your addiction! We spend money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. We buy hair by the bag, donuts by the dozen, and burn gas like we have stock in oil companies. We Supersize combo meals and eat ourselves into oblivion, obesity, and outpatient clinics. 

After you tithe–lol–there’s laundry, groceries, tuition, medical bills, utilities, prescriptions, entertainment, toll roads, and the list goes on and on. Let’s not forget your manicured nails and feet and the maintenance on that nappy mane God blessed you with. Times are about to get hard. This shit is about to get real. There is more to come when they lay off hospital workers in a nation with as many sick folks as we have. The virus is here, and the vanity got to go!

Written By

Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist, and award-winning columnist.


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