While in college I took mathematics courses like – “MATH 101 – Math for Life” and “STAT 200 – Statistics for Liberal Arts Majors”. My husband on the other hand, graduated from a top 5 business school with BS in Actuarial Science. I never even had heard of that major before we met. Even today when people ask me what my husband does I say, “Don’t ask me. I’m just a girl [tee-hee tee-hee]!”
Of course I’m trying to be a funny guy, but much like that ill-fated barbie doll, math really isn’t my strong suit. I always assumed because I had trouble with Chi-Square tests I was doomed when it came to investing, finances and budgeting.
But Personal Finance really isn’t about math. Because even with a math-nerd husband we still found ourselves not doing the right things when it came to money.
Personal Finance, at least in its beginner stages, is about commitment, sacrifice and self-control.
When we decided we didn’t want to live paycheck to paycheck any longer and wanted to get control (FULL control) of our finances. I researched all kinds of Personal Finance advice, read the blogs, learned all the lingo. Worked out the budget, planned for our irregular expenses. Basically, I prepared for almost a full year for the commitment we were going to make to be debt free.
It had been working out great. We’ve been sticking to “THE PLAN”. We no longer use credit cards. I actually cook almost all our meals. We have a small but growing emergency fund that we continually add to. We gave up the Y membership, soda, name-brand coffee…
I have been waiting on the inevitable though.
And so we come to our first true test in our quest to be debt free:
The family TV broke this week. It’s dead and it’s un-fixable.
I applaud and am in awe of those families with kids who limit TV watching to 30 minutes a day or the like. We are not that family. While I don’t worry for a minute that the kids watch “too much TV” – they don’t. I do use the TV as a crutch when I need to get something important done and having an almost 2, 3 and 4 year old under my feet is too much. After the kids go to bed, my husband and I are *gasp* also TV junkies. I admit it. We don’t spend our evenings reading each other Shakespeare, we often sit slack-jawed, immersed in our favorite mindless entertainment.
In much the same way the TV was is a “crutch” so were the credit cards. In the past we would have run out and bought a new TV AND put it on our credit card. We had a very serious conversation (I’m not joking) discussing what to do with this dilemma. Things like, “Will we survive without TV?” and “After investing 5 frustrating years, will we never find out what’s really going on on LOST?!”, were said.
In the end we decided to do the grown-up responsible thing, not raid the emergency fund, and save up to buy a new TV with CASH.
In the meantime, my husband has agreed to don a smoking jacket and get a pipe. Me and the little children will gather at his feet nightly by the fireplace, our chins resting on his knee, looking up at him with our angelic faces while he reads Dickens (my favorite!) to us…
(Full Disclosure – We do have a dinky old 19″ TV we can drag out if the above fantasy doesn’t work out.)