Tag Archives: budgeting

How Money Can Shape Relationships

It used to be (back in the dark ages of the 1950’s) that kids learned about relationships from their parents and maybe from the parents of their best friends.  In my house, we learned that Dad was the boss and everything, and I mean everything, revolved around his schedule, his likes and dislikes, his sense of right and wrong and his money.

That’s right.  My parents were NOT equal and the money was all Dad’s.

Our family was the definition of old-fashioned.  Dad went to work every day; Mom stayed home with the five kids, the laundry, the housework, the cooking, mending and shopping.  The biggest argument my parents had was held at the end of each month when it was time for Dad to look at the “books.”

Arguing wasn’t really what happened during those sessions as the only voice we ever heard was Dad’s.  Inquisition is a more apt description.  It was not a pretty sight and even if you couldn’t see it, you could not miss the frequent and loud outbursts that emanated from Dad’s mouth.

My Mom was in a losing position before one word was spoken.  The reason was simple math.

At the height of his career, Dad earned $24,000 a year before taxes.  Out of that money, my mom had to feed, clothe and keep in “necessities” five children, a foster teenager, her mother-in-law, herself and Dad, keep the house and car running and tithe to the church.  That was no mean feat and often there was little or nothing left at the end of the month.

Dad’s question was always the same — where did my money go?  The real answer – spent on the family – was never good enough.  And the war raged on around us.  Little did we know how very much we were learning about how money shaped relationships.

My brother Mike controlled the cash in his house, just like Dad.  His wife and children answered to him for every nickel and dime that went missing. Bob refused to talk about money or manage it.   He put his paychecks in a drawer and only deposited them when his wife was telling him, at the top of her lungs, that their checking account was running on fumes.

I made money, lots of it.  And I spent it, paid for my college education, raised a daughter on it and managed it for more than 20 years.  I felt total control when it came to money…until I married Pat.   Only then did I begin to understand how my parent’s monthly battle over money would affect my relationship to my husband.  And what I discovered was that ugly behavior can be learned.

More on the battle over money in the next post.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Budgeting, Home Ec on Acid, Life & Death, Love and Marriage

Balance Your Books, or Else. Part III

Scrooge is alive and well and should be living in your house…if you are spending more than you earn.  By now, because you’ve done the hard work of laying out income and outflow…you know if Scrooge is a guest at your table.

You’re almost ready for the big finale but first, a word of warning. What you’re going to do now is a whole lot easier than laying out expenses but the first time you see the numbers in black and white (and maybe a little red), you might experience some pain so be prepared.

In the first scenario, one significant other loses her income but the other keeps his.  These numbers look pretty good and more than cover the costs so this couple can go ahead and spend everything they are used to spending right?  Well, no, not unless they want to hit a financial brick wall really hard.

Hers His Total Post Tax
$20,000 $57,000 $77,000

 

What do you mean?  Their income is exceeding their expenses, why can’t they keep on living a little high?  I will answer that question with another.  What happens when both partners are on social security?

Income will drop to about $40,000 per year, assuming both make it to their “retirement” years.  And expenses will still be $51,000.  This one’s easy.  This couple will instantly be $11,750 short and the road to financial ruin is pretty much downhill from there.

So, what do you do when you find your income is very close to your expenses or maybe even less than your expenses?  Some hacking!  And you do it as early as possible so you can build a little pad behind your income that can carry you through short years.

Cut entertainment and get $5500 or half the required amount back.  Draconian?  Yes but necessary to balance the budget.

Start getting serious about your food shopping.  If you work it right, you could shave $50 a week off your food bill without trying too hard (more on that later).  That’s another $2600 cut off your expenses.

You could probably save another $2600 just by planning trips to the store and ride sharing  to cut down the gasoline bill.

Look at your phone, internet and television bill and see what you can shave off of them.  Taking $20 a month off the phone and $30 off the cable bill quickly adds up to another $600 saved.  Just with these three tips, you will save $11,300, immediately – just $400 dollars away from the nut you need to stay solvent.

Get rid of any credit card debt and pay down those items that make up the “fixed costs” like car loans and your mortgage as quickly as you can.  That may mean taking a second job but now is the time to make sacrifices and balance your own budget.  Waiting until you “get retired” will move you from balancing on the edge to spinning down the mountain, out of control – not where you want to be when your golden years are thrust upon you by being laid off, severed or “retired early.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Budgeting, Home Ec on Acid, Saving Money