I spent 30 minutes fighting with Beau tonight about garden edging. I tell him suggesting we do or buy things is like going before the court to plead my case. It doesn’t matter what it is. If it costs a monetary value, Beau will have something to say about it. If I needed a kidney and there was one for sale, he would bitch about the price. And then ask if they give a cash discount.
It drives me insane. I was raised by spenders. The proverbial grasshoppers from Aesop’s fable that never planned for the winter and only sung during the summer. If my mother wanted something she bought it. Or bought it for me. My father, seemingly consumed with the guilt of being a dad I only saw in a few months a year, did the same thing. Private summer camp started at the age of 6. In 4th grade I was handed $500 cash for clothes the weekend before school started. The budget only grew every year. My birthday parties were legendary. The entire grade was invited. Our house was beautiful, every vacation was 5 star, but of course when it came time for college I was SOL. “I just thought your dad was paying for school, dear”, my mom exclaimed as we were writing the invites to my graduation party. My father, of course, had other plans that didn’t involve dropping 40k on a second tier state school and informed me the only way college was happening for me was through student loans. They had literally not scraped one dime together.
You would think that a childhood of feast followed by famine would imprint in me that as an adult my spending and saving could not follow in the family footsteps. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, if anything it made it worse. My childhood of being the Iron Range Veruca Salt only carried moreover into adulthood. “But I want it NOWWWW!” I demanded as I bought myself a brand new SUV with a 9% interest rate at age 24. Clothes, shoes, furniture, it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter of course until I had racked up 5k in credit card debt and had just quit my horrible but well paying job in the summer of 2008. Not exactly the best year in history to try to find a job. Thankfully a friend took pity on me and got me an interview at Target Headquarters. I was now the ripe old age of 26 and had 4 years of managing newsrooms under my belt. I told the reporters what stories they were assigned to. I hobnobbed with the anchors. The Police Chief and I were besties. I was somebody! So of course, I expected to be interviewing for something really exciting. Head of PR maybe? I could just see myself jet-setting around to be interviewed about those crazy Black Friday shoppers. Or maybe head of events? Sitting front row at Fashion Week next to Anna herself. Totally.
Suffice it to say I was less then enthused when I was informed the only position I was going to get an interview for was as a “Team Assistant”. Basically the admin grunt for a team of employees. And the division I was going to work in? Paper. As in the paper the Weekly Ad was printed on. There was a team of 5 people whose job it was to negotiate and buy the paper for it and I was going to do all of their administrative drudgery. I was now Pam from The Office at Target.
It was at this same time that I met Beau. Actually I met him a couple months before this when I was basically jobless except for working very part time for my uncle’s wine distributor. Meeting a man that actually had his financial house in order was terrifying. In addition to actually owning a house, he also had a car with a 0% interest rate, a credit rating in the 800’s and when I “accidentally” saw an ATM receipt with his checking account balance, I had to call my best friend immediately.
“Sarah!” I hissed into the cell phone, crouched in his bathroom with the water and the fan running to cover my voice, “ I just saw how much money Beau has… like money he actually has just chilling in his bank account,” my voice quaked like someone that had just saw Jesus roll away the stone. “it’s like 10 times the amount we have ever had in our checking accounts COMBINED.”
“Daaaam,” she replied “You are so screwed when he realizes how broke you are.”
Seeing how financially together Beau had it made me jump at the job for Target. It didn’t matter if the only thing I was going to sit front row at was a meeting on paper weights. (Literally the weight of paper is a thing. Sadly, something I became an expert at during my time there.) It was a full-time job with benefits during the worst recession in history. The 10% discount didn’t hurt either.
Thankfully Beau saw beyond my poor credit score and the dust bunnies that filled my savings account. He kept dating me and my job at Target ended up being the financial blessing I desperately needed. Beau has taught me the importance of saving and making sure every payment is made on time. Like every month and not just when I feel like it. But still the urge to consume is great in this one and I struggle with it every day. Having a child of my own has actually helped because I realize that I want to provide for her in a way that I wasn’t. So yes it still drives me nuts when Beau questions every purchase I bring home and gripes about the elaborate vegetable garden I am planning for the summer. But I realize it’s all for my own good. In our personal fable, the grasshopper married the ant and they had a baby that needs a college fund for all seasons.
And I promise you, even when Sloane gets accepted to Harvard, her dad’s first response will be, “What’s the cash discount?”