Let me preface this by saying that I have never truly been in need of money. I've never been in danger of hunger or homelessness or anything of the like. I've wanted more, for sure. I've also never supported myself. I've always worked, but I married young and he's provided well.
I've also never spent more than I could afford and a tidy sum from every paycheck goes straight to the retirement account.
Which brings me to the train wrecks I see around me, people my age and younger, who have no handle on their finances whatsoever.
I work with a woman in her mid-40s. She has two young children and a husband. They also own a restaurant which, despite glowing mentions in the travel section of the New York Times, despite being named her favorite place in Nashville by Gwyneth Paltrow and despite being a favored haunt of the musicians in town, stays in the red.
The husband often goes weeks at a time without a paycheck and I watch my friend stress out more and more—taking out loans, telling her kids they can’t go to camp with their friends and wearing hideous plastic shoes.
The restaurant goes through one crisis after another. Last week it was a dead refrigerator. The husband goes to buy a new one, but, somehow, manages to buy a freezer instead. Or, as my friend put it—“they sold him a freezer instead of a refrigerator.” Another day of disruption while the fridge/freezer crisis is worked out.
All the while, his wife is carrying the financial load—providing the paycheck, the health insurance and the parenting since he works until late at night.
But she’s not blameless either—last week they threw a Halloween party for 50 adults and kids. They provided all the food, all the alcohol and pumpkins and carving kits for all the kids. I know their debt load has to enormous. Once she and I were going to the grocery store at lunch. She called her husband to ask if he’d “put that $35 in the bank.”
When’s the last time you worried over $35?
It infuriates me that she works her fingers to the bone while he indulges himself as this restraunteur/musician/foodie. She claims he can’t get a part-time job during the day because he has to be available for deliveries at the restaurant.
This is a selfish man who uses his wife to keep his ego afloat.