Looks like we did it. We raised the $10K for the pooper. Matched, we raised $20K. That leaves about $10K, but allows construction to start this summer. Yippee and yahoo! I’d still rather have the man than the project, but this brings me joy.

I managed to talk about sex on this blog without anyone disowning me, without anyone canceling their subscription, and without mortifying my children…well, maybe they were a little embarrassed. So, I thought I would bring up another topic nobody talks about. Money.

As a child, I was taught not to ask anyone what their income was. It was rude. Now that I am a widow, so many people ask me about money. I do not think it is rude. I appreciate their care.

When Jim and I were first together, he was a grad student at OSU. He had done his undergrad at UVM. I met his mother shortly after I moved to Corvallis. As Jim escaped to the bathroom (some habits start young), she took my hand across the table and said, “So, what besides his gorgeous blue eyes do you see in this debt ridden son of mine?”  I replied, “Well, he brings so much more to this relationship in other ways. And, life is rarely 50/50.” When I first moved to Corvallis, I was still raw from the grief of my sister’s death. Jim saw me through that. It was something money couldn’t buy. I told him to stop taking out loans, and we set up a plan for paying them off.

Jim and I worked hard to pay off our school debts and live within our means. There were times when I made more money than he did, but he had the pay check with the benefits. We never had credit card debt, we bought life insurance, and we took out a 15 year mortgage to have the house paid off before Emerald entered college. My mom helped with things like house down payments and college funds for grandkids. Mom won’t let me buy her lunch, says she would rather spend her money on me while she is alive to enjoy it, and we sit down with the same financial planner to discuss “what will happen after she croaks”. Other than passing on the lesson of living within one’s means to my children, I’ll never be able to re-pay her for that sense of security. Life is rarely 50/50.

When Jim got sick, he was able to tap into the sick leave bank. This allowed Jim to stay on full salary and family health benefits until the day he died. The community raised money to cover what insurance would not. The left over money paid funeral expenses, and allowed me to open a health savings account. COBRA is not within my means, so we have catastrophic coverage now. It is still my largest monthly expense. For now, I am back to work part-time, life insurance lump sums give me a year or so to figure out my life, and Jasper brings in a little SSI as a survivor, until he turns 18. We are living within our means.

I don’t have a lot of money, but it is enough. My financial future is secure…well, as secure an anyone’s is. I can’t fly off to Europe for months, but I can go on river trips, and travel with Jasper to check out colleges. I will not starve, and I can maintain my house and vehicles.

I’m not sure why people don’t talk about money. It is certainly an easier topic than sex. Jim was a public school teacher, in Idaho. I did not marry him for his money. We didn’t stay together for the money. Money just isn’t that important. Talk about it.

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4 Responses to Money

  1. Gerri Sayler says:

    Well put. Living within one’s mean, it almost a dinosaur-era philosophy in this day when — until recently anyway — money was too easy to be had.

  2. Dan Cordon says:

    I’m glad you wrote on this topic. I was taught just the same as you…don’t ask about money. But it is certainly something I (and apparently others) had thought about, wondering if you were doing okay after all the expenses.

    Money is a strange thing. Despite my experience to the contrary, I still seem to believe that life would be better if I only had more money. But I know that isn’t the case. I’ve had some very lean years as a college student, some embarasingly good years, and lots of ‘normal’ years. When I look back, the ‘good’ years were the worst of any of them. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t a great partner. And I wasn’t making time for myself. Sometimes I actually think I might be even happier if I were to drop back to 3/4 time, and make even less money, but have more time to spend doing things I love.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Louise Ashmun says:

    I think you are absolutely right. We need to talk about money (and sex) a lot more openly. Paul and I were public school teachers and we have lived, what I consider, a grand life. Our saying is “we’ll take time (as in time off work) over money any day.” Granted, because of public employee unions we have had good benefits and a relatively stable income (notwithstanding being RIFfed from our jobs in MA back in the early 80’s…) so we can afford the trade-off of “time v money.” I am grateful that you and your family have been able to make ends meet through the last 18 months when time became very precious indeed. I suspect your advanced practice with those kinds of choices served you well as you juggled the finances.

  4. Joan Jones says:

    Amen, sister…I think the strange thing in our household is *having* money about which we need to talk. But we do…it makes us nervous, and we always wonder if we’re doing the right thing (great irony of an inheritance: you inherit it from the very person to whom you’d like to turn for advice). But we’re having more fun than stress, and I’m pretty sure that’s the right thing. It’s like so very many things: not everyone can, but if everyone who could, did, we’d all be better for it.

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