Monday, December 5, 2011

Bonus track: Sometime in 2005

I often write columns I don't end up publishing in the newspaper, usually because I decide I don't like them and I never show them to anyone. Sometimes I do that, and then I come back seven years later and think, 'What the hell -- that one was wasn't so bad.'

And with that resounding recommendation, I give you this column I wrote but never published. (Until now. Except I'm not sure this counts as publishing. Because it's a blog. Read by, like, three people. Hi Mom!)

We are the Bermuda Triangle of money

    After 10 years in a very groovy but low-paying job, my husband has found new work. It is admittedly less groovy work, but it is also less low-paying. He has regular hours, life insurance and a new wardrobe of wrinkle-resistant button-down shirts.

    He is pretty pleased with himself. I, however, am flat-out giddy. My dream has come true: We are going to be middle class. Name brand cheese here we come!

    Not that we’re going to go overboard, of course. We’re not going to start spending money on a lot of extra, unnecessary stuff. Not us. Not after all our years of scrimping on everything and living dirt cheap to stay out of debt. If there’s one thing those years taught me it’s that we don’t need a lot of stuff.

    Well, except a high-speed Internet connection. You really have to have that. Dial-up is just impossible. It is slow, it is frustrating, and I am certain I am the last woman in North America with dial-up.

    OK, so high-speed Internet. But nothing else.

    Um, I guess we need a car, too. A cheap one, though, something circa 1997. But we really have to buy a car because Jim’s commute is a lot longer now and the old truck is an absolute deathtrap. But that’s it.

    Well, the car turns out to need a little work, some repairs. That happens. But that’s it. No more spending.

    Except for shoes for our son Jack, good ones, because his little 6-year-old feet are as flat as Mr. Bill and he needs good arch support and I’ve been putting off buying the poor kid decent shoes for ages. Who can argue with buying shoes for a flat-footed kid? But that’s all. Nothing else.

    And, OK, I’m going to have that antique wing chair upholstered. I love that chair, and I’ve been waiting like two years to upholster that chair. That’s it, though. That’s all. Saving the rest. Straight into the vault with all that extra money.

    Right after we pay to rebuild the basement steps. I risk my neck every time I go down those rickety old steps, and the garage is down there, with the car we just bought in it, so really we have to have someone come rebuild those steps. But then we’re saving. Saving every bit.

    Of course, Jack’s second tuition installment came due in December, but after that we are done spending money. The end. No more.

    And baby Ben’s hospital stay a year ago still isn’t paid off, and I’d really like to get out from under that payment, so maybe I’ll just pay that off.

    Not to mention the cost of all the gasoline we have to put in the car we just bought so Jim can drive it to the new job he just got that is going to lift us into the promised land of middle-classdom.

    Also. OK, I know this is not in the plan. But there is this house for sale.

    This house is on this street in this neighborhood where we have always wanted to live. Great big yard for the boys. Four bedrooms, plus an office off the master where I can write the great American novel I’ve been working on since I was 14. (It counts if you’re working on it in your head because that’s the rule).

    OK, yes, yes, it is a little out of our price range, I know, BUT what a good investment, right? And it’s kind of ugly inside so it’s pretty cheap, I mean, for the neighborhood, and we can always fix it up — we know all about fixing up old houses because all we’ve done for the last nine years is fix up our old house.

    I’m just saying, it’s free to look. So maybe we’ll just go look at this house that’s for sale. We’ll just trot down the newly rebuilt basement steps and hop into the used car we just bought and go look.

    Just look. That’s it.

    Because now that Jim has such a good job, we are going to start saving money. Every bit.


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