It happens every year. I see the pristine Christmas scene and the doting husband who takes his unsuspecting wife outside with her hands over her eyes and surprises her with a new car. You know the one with the big red bow on top. And I daydream about replacing my wife’s 2007 Corolla and she thinks that I am the most wonderful husband ever. Until this year…
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for the credit card companies. There is much jingle belling and hearts will be telling of credit galore. It’s the happiest season for more.” Ok, so I reworded the old classic Carole. But someone needs to say it, “don’t spend more than you can afford on Christmas- this year.” Reign it back in if you didn’t save well.
I wasn’t sure if he was
going to have a nervous breakdown right there at my desk or not. He kept saying over and over, “But they said
that I could afford it.” His wife looked
at me with pleading eyes to comfort him as she went in the other room to tend
to their children. Finally, I mustered
the courage to tell him what the numbers said.
As gently as I could, I told him, “Buddy, I don’t care what they told
you. Your housing expenses are a 42% of
your income and the reason you are in my office today is YOU HAVE TOO MUCH
HOUSE.” He left shortly thereafter
and I never saw him again. He had gained
the missing piece of the puzzle.
My (Tim) wife and I have
been married for over 30 years. And
despite all her great strengths (which are many by the way) she struggles in
the area of staying on budget in our household budget- or so it would
seem. A few years ago, she returned from
the grocery store and I could tell as she walked in the house that she was
overbudget yet again. For 20 years we
have had the same issue- she buys groceries, she overspends, I get frustrated,
she feels bad, I look at that pretty girl who serves our family so faithfully
and I overlook the overspending and we move on.
Until that fateful Saturday.
We all grow up dreaming of a Wonderful Life. Family and friends who love us. Good job. Nice house. Plenty of food. Enough money to take care of our needs and even some of our wants. When I got married one of my friends was asked to give us some marriage advice. His advice was classic. “Tim, give Terri everything she wants.” He added, “and Terri, only want what you need.” I can still remember his wife catcalling from the background about his bad advice. But, behind his playful banter was a principle. And the principle is this; for a family to be successful the family has to be on the same page and have a plan. Particularly in the area of money. Nothing will challenge a marriage more than how to manage the family resources.