Mary Beth Writes

I said last week that I would list The Dumbest Money Things Len and I have done in our lives.

1. Oops. I forgot to get a graduate degree at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. What would my writing career have been like with top-notch editors, agents, accolades and cash?

I have no idea. I write fiction but I don’t live it

2. I went to Wheaton College, IL, which back when I was there nicknamed itself the “Harvard of Christianity”. At least in the 1970’s (friends from then agree) Wheaton educated and supported smart young Christian men to become leaders – and smart young Christian women to marry them. I got a college education, for which I am grateful. I have no gratitude for pervasive enculturation that told/tells women to sit down and be nice.

Breathe Fire

3. Our son’s wedding is soon. I ordered a dress from an Etsy shop in China. It fits for poop and there are no returns, so I’m out. Karen P. TOLD me to not order fit-sensitive (isn’t that a good phrase? I just made it up) clothing online. Isn’t it interesting how old you can be and still make genuine mistakes?

4. Len and Mark (they’d worked together at the same ad agency) started their own ad agency in 1987. They specialized in parts catalogues, direct mail ads, and “bangtails” (ads on the inside of payment envelopes). About five minutes later computers landed on earth from Mars and Len and Mark’s prodigious skills would freefall for ten years until, as Len says, the agency went to dog heaven.

AKA: Len’s “Advanced Degree” from the Graduate School of Hard Knocks.

5. A young man with bad teeth and a good coat showed up at our Chicago church on Christmas Eve one year. He was friendly and said he worked for Proctor and Gamble. He said his car had been towed and he didn’t have enough money to get it back out. We invited him to our house the next evening for Christmas dinner which was shared with Chicago friends, an undocumented family from El Salvador, my shy mother from Michigan, and this guy. He flirted with my mom as they put together a puzzle. I mean, he was in his 20’s and she was in her 60’s, but he asked her questions, listened to her answers, and complimented her skills. (Mom loved puzzles and was good at them).

We lent him money.

We never saw him again.

Nicest con guy I ever met. (I worked in a jail and knew some…)

6. We didn’t make the switch to a cash-back/rewards credit card until a year ago. Sheesh, if you don’t have one, get one! We’ve set up paying some of our bills through it (such as our health insurance premiums) which means we get 2% back. This adds up!

7. Fancy ingredients. Occasionally we buy gourmet cheese or condiments for special recipes. Why are THESE always the ingredients that go bad? We rarely lose bean soup or tuna casserole; it’s the extra goat cheese and quarter-bouquet of fresh dill that turns to penicillin in the fridge.

9. The third child. We were deciding whether or not to have a 3rd kid. I considered all our baby clothes, the crib, and the cloth diapers. How much could it cost to have a third kid?

Hah! I forgot about college!

I’m joking. There were hard experiences on the path to getting our kids safely born. They are our Everything.

Also, I’m a third kid.

10. We leased a minivan once and it was a lemon. Paid the fines, turned it in early, never leased again.

11. The only trip we ever took to Disney was the week after Easter and it was so crowed we only got to ride two rides, waiting hours for each. I suppose it was just stupid timing, we shouldn’t have gone that day – but I have resented Disney and those five wasted Disney entrance tickets since. They know their capacity; why didn’t they warn patrons the waits were going to be that long?

12. We’ve had friends over for a meal more than once per month the 37 years we’ve been together: this is (Holy Cow!) around 900 shared meals. We tend to make pricey and elegant meals such as spaghetti, pot stickers, rib-bone soups and ethnic stews accompanied by grocery store wine and pretty good beer. Also; pancakes, macaroni, and brownies for our kids and their friends. Boy, without friends we could have had a lot more money for those tours one can take to meet people and make friends.

 ...

I leave you with this pearl of wisdom regarding screwing up.

“Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.” Al Franken

 

 

 

 

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Loved it. Laughed a lot. I’m famous - made the newsletter!!!

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1. Last week Len and I went to our Social Security office to sign me up for Spousal Benefits.  It took me several run-throughs to understand what “spousal benefits” are. Since then I have talked to several other people who were also unclear on the concept.

My confusion was this. I was already getting Social Security based on my earnings when I worked (as opposed to what I did when I stayed home and raised kids. But let’s not go there now. Grrrr.)

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