I bumped into Bill, one of my former coworkers, today. I sort of wish I hadn’t, considering the mood he was in. Like me, he hasn’t found a job yet. He started telling me things I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear, but I guess he needed to vent. He explained that his wife has no understanding of finances. He told that no matter how much money he's made over the years, she somehow always caused him to spend about $5 more a day than he took in. She doesn’t mean to, apparently. She doesn’t ask for diamonds or new cars, and she isn’t out to keep up with the Jones’ to hear him tell it. She just doesn’t understand anything about managing money. In her mind, they either have money or they don’t. “When you have it, you spend it, when you don’t, you go into depression,” appears to be her credo.
He went on to explain how he had to give up self-employment, because of her lack of understanding. He said that he also ended up selling his old homeplace due to bills they’d racked up AFTER he got a good factory job. He said that if they had lived frugally, and he’d gone back to self-emplyment part-time, he could have easily made it through retirement with those funds. Apparently that money is all gone, he’s unemployed, and she now wants to sell the place they have, buy a little place in town and “live off what’s left.” He said that she doesn’t realize that there probably wouldn’t be anything left over after buying another place, and if there was, she’d go through it in no time. He said that divorce was the only way to keep her from bankrupting him, and he’d given up on that idea some thirty-odd years ago. She’s a good person at heart, he insists; she’s just clueless.
I had no answers for him, but the story hit too close to home for he to condemn him. I left HIM feeling better, I think, for getting things off his chest, but I can’t say that the encounter lightened MY spirits any! I suspect that, with a few variations here and there, the guy’s story describes far too many couples across America. I don’t have my figures with me as I type this up, but I did a little figuring on a calculator. Since most debt goes first on a credit card, I took $5 times 30 days to get $150, then I added another $150, plus the month’s interest on the first month. I did this for one year’s time (12 months) and got $1800 plus interest. Say that you get a consolidation loan to save on the interest, and still keep living the same way. In a couple more years, you’ll have to get a new and larger consolidation loan. Then you keep living the same lifestyle. If you have a decent income and plenty of equity, banks will let you get in far deeper than you can ever get out of, without sacrificing something major. It surprised me how fast the number topped $60, 000, where I stopped figuring.
The figures, and Bill’s story, reminded me of two stories having to do with horseshoes. The first starts out, “For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost…” The other is about a blacksmith charging a penny for the first nail in a horse’s shoe, two cents for the second, four cents for the third, eight for the fourth and so on. A horse, naturally, has four shoes at an average of eight nails a shoe. Figure it out someday when you have some time to spare. Bill’s been married a few years more than I have, I think, and I’ve been married for 30 years now. Can you imagine the fortune they’ve squandered over the years? © 2013-