Friday, June 18, 2010

Family meeting

Jack redid our budget this week. A couple times a year, he goes through and makes sure what we're putting into our joint account is enough to cover the bills and the amount we save.

We used to do that together.

We don't anymore.

It's for the best, really.

When we first got married, I thought I needed to be involved in all the decision-making. That I had to take part in every single thing that has to get done. As it turns out, sometimes, it works out pretty well if I don't.

At first, I tried to help him fold towels. Sometimes he would do the towel-laundry, sometimes I would.

Evidently, I wasn't doing it right. Because he was secretly refolding them after I folded them and put them away.

Refolded them. After they were already folded. And put away.

Yes, I'd like the big bowl of crazy with crazy sauce on the side, extra crazy fries and a crazy straw for my crazy-flavored drink, please!

When I first found out about the refolding madness, I was offended.

But... am woman! The laundry and the cooking and the cleaning! Tis where I feel at home! Whatever else will I do with my feeble, feeble mind? Quick! Knock me up so I'm productive at something!

Actually, it was more like, "Whaaa? My folding isn't good enough for him?"

Then I thought about it for a few seconds, and realized that if he wanted to do the laundry, like, actually wanted to do it, why was I fighting him on that?

So he does it now. Because I don't know if you've heard, but laundry and I don't exactly get along. I certainly don't appreciate its self-important attitude, with its "I want to be washed and dried and folded and oh, by the way, hang me up too!"

So if Jack and Laundry want to be best friends and skip through a field of daisies together? Alright. You can invite it to your birthday party then, because I wouldn't invite it to mine.

And guess what! That worked out well! Because I! Am not doing laundry! Unless it's something I wear myself! And that's plenty! Thank you very much!

All this to say: he wanted to be in charge of all the bills. And I thought that was weird at first (Hello, 1950! I cook, and my husband handles the money!), but then it seemed very much like folding towels. Why fight him on a chore when he wants to do it? I mean, obviously, I was involved in the original decision-making when it came to outlining our budget, and I'm still involved in the big purchase decisions. I'm just not doing the work.

And therein lies the magic.

The great thing is, Jack? Is freakishly good with money. I can trust him to make good decisions because they are either as good or better than the decisions I would make.


When I was little, my family would have what my parents called "family meetings" sometimes. (Hello, bunny trail! Let's see where you go! Hop hop hop!) They didn't happen often. But every time my dad said the words "family meeting," my brother and I groaned in agony.

Because the one and only thing family meetings always meant, were more chores.

That's it. That was the only reason they would call the family meeting.

"Okay, kids, we called this family meeting because we've decided that Mandy, you need to start shampooing the carpets twice a day, and Shane, please use your toothbrush to get all the dirt out of the tile grout in the shower every week, and oh, if it's not too much trouble in exchange for the free food and shelter and clothing and did I mention that I had to exit you from my body for you to live? You're both going to also need to begin designing and sewing your own clothes because really, that should be your responsibilities, kids, you're old enough to take care of it."

Just once, I would have liked a family meeting that started with "Okay, kids, we called this family meeting because you're both getting ponies! And candy! And a chimpanzee that has been trained to do all your chores and entertain you with its many, many dances!"

I never did get my slave monkey.

Where was I? Oh yes. Jack does the budget for us. And when he does the budget, he finds out whether the amount that we put into our joint account (where we pay our bills from) from our respective paychecks is enough to cover what we have actually been spending and saving.

Usually, it's very much like a family meeting.

"Mandy, we've been overspending on electricity again. (I told you to turn out the lights when you leave a room. Don't you remember how I always say you should turn out the lights? Woman! What will it take for you to turn out the lights? ARE YOU TRYING TO BREAK MY HEART!?) Anyway sweetheart, we're going to need to increase the amount we put into the joint account by 82%! Hope you don't need any spending money from here on out!"

Now, to be fair, it affects him too. It's not like he does it on purpose.

And really, I'm the one who won't turn the damn lights off. And who has the audacity to turn the air conditioner when it's 800 degrees outside! And the electric blanket when I'm not allowed to turn on the heat in the winter! And the blow dryer! And the vacuum cleaner! And the oven! I AM SO SPOILED!

But still. The budget talks. Family meeting flashbacks!

So today when he called me at work and told me he had a new total, I whimpered a little and curled up into a little ball under my desk before he could tell me the damage.

"Actually," he said "it's good news! We're actually both putting $2 a paycheck too much into the joint account."

Did this really happen? Was there really good news during the budget talk? I'm getting four extra dollars a month? I can hardly contain myself.

I'm going to start saving now.

It sounds like I'm going to get that slave monkey after all.
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