Early Marriage | Part 16
Fall 1965 to Fall 1968. I’m allergic to spending money. Unfortunately, I’ve married a man who isn’t at all allergic to spending money. Nor does he seem particularly concerned about whether we’ll be able to pay all our bills. He thinks I should be more relaxed about money. I think he should take a course in how to balance a checkbook.
During my childhood and teenage years I was anxious about money. Will we have enough for food this week? Sometimes we didn’t. Will we have money for new school clothes? Yes, but don’t expect to buy the latest fashions. Do expect to wear altered hand-me-downs.
Even though my parents didn’t make me responsible for our financial wellbeing, it was a weight on my young shoulders. Most likely because the main reason for not doing things was ‘We can’t afford it.’
I didn’t have a regular allowance each week. Even though my father tried to give me a quarter each week, there were many no-quarter weeks.
Savings account? Impossible until I was 16, out of high school, and had my own income. Then I stuffed most of it into the bank.
My strategy was simple: Waste not, want not. I used my savings to help pay for college, and later, to help pay for our wedding.
D was raised by his mother. Money was tight, even with his father’s monthly contribution to his education. At the same time, his mother had a steady income, and came from a family that valued financial investments and long-term strategies.
Here’s a peek into the way differences about money played out between D and me in our early marriage. This is NOT a transcript of a real conversation, though it captures many of our disagreements about money.
Me – Pinch pennies until they bleed.
- That means cut coupons, scour newspapers for special deals and go out of the way if needed in order to take advantage of them. The purpose of time? To provide ample opportunity for the job of saving money today, to meet today’s needs.
D – Invest pennies to accomplish long and short-term goals.
- Don’t waste time chasing a few cents here and a few cents there. Time is money, too.
Me – Focus first and foremost on what we need today.
- Be tight-fisted. You never know what might come up later. If you can do so, stash a bit away in a safe place in the house just in case. Don’t tell anyone else where it is or how much you have!
D – What’s the problem?
- Relax! It’s all going to work out. You’ll see. If something comes up later we’ll deal with it. Where was that stash you had? Do you still have it? There’s something I could get that would save us money, but I don’t have quite enough. What do you mean you’re not going to tell me?
Me – Money is evil.
- A temptation to ungodly behavior and unwise spending habits. I worked in a bankruptcy court, you know! Yes, we need money, but I’m not comfortable trying to make more money with money. That’s like gambling! Do you really need that box of Krispy Kreme Donuts today?
D – You’re not being logical.
- Money isn’t evil. It’s what people do with it that’s sometimes evil. Also, you don’t understand how investment works. Did you know my mother’s father taught her to invest money wisely? What are you afraid of? We’re not about to go bankrupt. Besides, we need to treat ourselves now and then!
Me – I just looked at our bills for last month.
- Do you really need all those extra books you’re buying? Why don’t you get them from the library? There’s a lot I don’t buy for myself because we can’t afford it right now. I also see the checkbook hasn’t been balanced for a while, and we just got a warning notice from the water company. I know you started paying our bills to help me out, but I’m going to start keeping our records again and paying our bills. We can’t afford fines for lateness!
To be continued….
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 May 2015