Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Big Cheese Argument

Arguments are a part of any marriage, and some of the biggest and most frequently had arguments revolve around money matters.  Unfortunately, the Hubby and I are not immune to this.  While grocery shopping today, I was reminded of what I like to refer to as the Big Cheese Argument.

The Hubby and I were at different points in our lives age-wise, school-wise, career-wise, and money-wise when we got married, and this is still reflected in some of our arguments.  I will penny-pinch and forgo absolutely every frivolity if necessary, and sometimes even not just for the security.  The Hubby is not as like-minded.  To him it is a quality of life issue; you can be a little bit more broke and have a bit more fun, or you can simply work and save.  And as he likes to remind me, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

It is a slightly annoying habit to the Hubby how much I coupon clip.  Every few weeks I will buy a Sunday paper, or simply filch one left in a public place, for the coupons.  I also scan online sites, email companies, and am registered on a site which tells me the best prices on products in my surrounding areas.  I purchase almost exclusively generic, unless I have a coupon which makes name-brand cheaper.  I'll even grab the dinged up cans and boxes from the clearance section to save a few extra bucks.

And while the Hubby just naturally hates grocery shopping in general, it is compounded by coupon clipping and hunting.  But add to this the fact that I am willing to put in some extra work to save money and he's not, and it is just a fun day at the store.  This is where cheese enters the argument.  You see, I buy block cheese, not sliced.  It is cheaper by the ounce, plus there is less packaging and thus less waste involved in this purchase- a win-win in my book.  Not so in the Hubby's.  To compound matters, I also bought salad, mushrooms, and carrots that were not pre-cut for me (men, I know this may be a shocker, but you can buy whole vegetables at the grocery store that are not in cans).  This started a row all the way home that lasted for a good deal.

You see, to the Hubby, it was simply not worth the extra effort and money saved to make one's own salad and or slice one's own cheese.  This meant that dishes would get dirty and effort would be involved.  To me, not only did I save money and the waste of extra packaging simply by buying block over pre-sliced, but now I also had the option of shredded cheese all in one block.

In the end, I came out on top in the argument because I do the cooking and, let's face it, if you do the cooking then you can get whatever you bloody well please at the grocery store.  However, it did bring up for us a larger sore spot in our marriage that we are constantly working on.  As someone five years younger and both at the time of marriage and still, if you separate our incomes, much more financially worse off than the Hubby, I am reluctant to spend even a dime more than I have to on anything.  I don't buy new clothes and he does; I shop the clearance section for my guilty pleasure (books), whereas he's into technology and even the clearance section is expensive; I'll spend an hour and a half in the grocery store to get the best deal whereas he'll just buy what is easiest.

Perhaps being more young and broke than my other half at both the beginning and in the middle of our marriage (I don't like using any money he's earned for my personal shopping/expenses) makes me more reluctant to spend money.  It is not that I am money obsessed, but that I am very money conscious.  It hits me harder when we run into a difficult month, and I work 50-60 hours a week to his 40 to make much less money than him.  However, there are points to be made on both ends of the Big Cheese Argument.  And whereas the Hubby could learn to tighten his belt without so much groaning and complaining (how men can whine!), I should remember sometimes that you only have a day once, and then it is gone.  And I don't need to spend all day, every day working and scrimping and saving, or else I'll lose out on what makes my quality of life better- him.

Monday, August 13, 2012

How I Came to be Young, Married, and Broke

I was twenty when I graduated college with two degrees with top honors and an engagement ring on my finger.  I, like most fresh college graduates, was somehow under the impression that I both knew it all and would be able to achieve absolutely anything and everything that I desired.  After all, what was all that hard work for if I was not, with my two bachelor's degrees, now the foremost authority on at least the subjects in which I majored?  Ah, the arrogance of youth!

After making the decision to postpone my career/further schooling/whatever dream I desired to chase for myself until after my marriage the following November (eleven months from when I graduated), I spent a year and a half in jobs that I knew I would not want to pursue for the rest of my life.  I both waitressed and worked in a low-end professional job, for quite some time simultaneously.  You see, to me life is supposed to be hard work and saving the fruits of that labor.  Call it a Calvinist mindset or the product of my Granny's Old Southern Lady contempt for idleness or simply that I'm a high energy person; if I was not going to be pursuing a definitive end-goal at that exact moment, then I wanted to at least bring in some major money for the future life with my Hubby-to-Be.

However, as the wedding loomed nearer, I began to realize exactly how little time I was spending with my affianced.  So I quit the waitressing and stuck to the professional job, ye olde regular Monday thru Friday, 9 to 6, in order to insure that I had scheduled weekend time with the Love. It meant a pay cut, because I can honestly earn more as a waitress, but I can't earn time.  However, it was just a few months into that professional job and overtime became almost mandatory in order to keep up with the double workload that corporate decided to dump on their satellite offices, and whether or not I had a waitressing gig didn't seem to matter anymore.  I was still working upwards of 60 hours per week, more if you included travel time through the molasses-like moving blob that is rush hour traffic, and sometimes even taking home extra work on the weekends.  

A wedding and a year later, I quit that job to go back to, yup, you guessed it, waitressing.  I blame the fact that when I finally did go back to school in order to get my Master's degree, my professional job was not accommodating enough for morning classes.  And to some extent, this is true.  However, I love the physical demands of being a waitress (if you think it isn't physical, you try power walking/almost jogging for 8-14 hours per day and lifting 10-30 pounds every time you leave the kitchen!), the interaction with people, and the romance of it.

You see, that's where the Hubby and I met, when I was 19 and waitressing my way through undergrad.  And there's something about me that thinks it waxes poetic to be back in the service industry while I continue with my Master's degree and he comes and sits in my section as if we are courting again.  The first year of us knowing one another was exclusively in the confines of the same restaurant in which I once again work, and it is nice to have that familiar atmosphere around us, that reminder of the first time our hands touched and the passing of phone numbers for our first date.  Plus, it is awfully funny to see new waitresses sidle up to him, ready to attempt to flirt a tip out of him, when he calmly explains that he's here to see the waitress that tried to do that once upon a time and somehow ended up his wife.

And thus are the beginnings of my story.  I am young, married, and broke.  However, I am loving life and living it to the fullest, pursuing my dreams with the man that means everything to me supporting me the whole way.  I'll make better money eventually, right now I'm worried about making memories.