Some money lessons have come closer to home. The kitchen for the first and the living room for the second.
When I was in high school, my mother, in the kitchen, initiated a negotiation with my father during one of those rare evenings when he was home.
She didn’t typically start difficult conversations with my father in front of us, but in hindsight, I think the presence of their children was part of her strategy.
Mom told Dad that $35/week for groceries wasn’t enough anymore. This was in the seventies when inflation was roaring. I remember dad sitting at his desk, doing the bills, bemoaning their adjustable-rate mortgage climbing to 14%.
Dad balked at Mom’s request and said she could have $40/week. She told him with $40 he couldn’t have meat. He countered with $45. She told him $45 would get him hamburger. They agreed to $50/week.
As I watched this, I said to myself, “I am never going to put myself in a position where I have to beg a man for the money I need to eat.”
The negotiation in the living room happened when I was married to the man in the purple suspenders, also known as my first husband.
Our marriage wasn’t going well, and he said we needed to take a vacation, go to Jamaica, spend time on us. I said we didn’t need to go to Jamaica to talk about us, we could do it right here.
He said there were too many distractions, that in Jamaica we could focus on us.
Backstory: We kept our finances entirely separate and split all our expenses 50/50, even though his salary was 60% higher than mine.
I said I didn’t have the money to go to Jamaica.
Him: You can put it on your credit card.
Me: I don’t put unnecessary expenses on my credit card.
Him: It is necessary. If you cared about our marriage, you’d do it.
Me: If you cared about our marriage, you wouldn’t ask.
The lesson I took from this had nothing to do with money and everything to do with incompatible values.
There is nothing like money—or the chronological currency of time—to highlight incompatible values.
Chewing the Cud of Good
Thankful for being able to look forward to a trip! To another country!! (Not a faraway country, but still a long-deferred trip.)