Adding Idiot to Injury

You suddenly find that there’s more money in your bank account than there should be. What do you do?

What if it’s an extra $5 million? Dollars, not pennies (though I’d certainly be happy with 5 million pennies, too!).

You’re a basically moral person. You call the bank and tell them about the error. They tell you there is no error; the money is yours.

Do you say, “Okay!” and hang up as quickly as possible? Decide you’ve done your moral duty and reported it? Realize that the bank must be right, it is yours by golly!? Do you go spend the windfall?

Of course not. You’re not an idiot. You realize that the only idiot in this scenario is the one you’ve been talking to at the bank who thinks you would forget that you’ve got $5 million coming to you.

You would go down to the bank and talk to as many people as possible until you find one who is not an idiot and can get it straightened out. You might even ask to keep the interest (about $400 a day at 3%), or at least score a toaster. Can’t hurt to ask, right?

You would not, under any circumstances, withdraw $2 million. You would not spend it on gifts and bad investments.

That’s good. Because then you would not get arrested and charged with grand larceny, like this idiot.


Saving and Spending and Everyone Wins

My husband is a production director/art director/graphic designer. He has a full-time position and does occasional freelance jobs on the side. We live fairly frugally well on his salary, but those freelance jobs allow us to have some extras, take frugal vacations and let us do some saving. Living on his income alone just doesn’t leave room for too many extravagances, or for saving. I love that we have that source of potential income – there certainly weren’t any freelance opportunities for me when I was an insurance agent.

The freelancing made our purchase of his new computer possible, and sensible. The original plan was to have him earn the money ($4000!) freelancing before the purchase. He’d earned nearly half when I decided to take money out of savings and get it for him for Christmas. He still needed to find the freelance jobs to pay back savings, but at least he’d have the machine in the meantime. Besides, he works hard for us. He deserved it.

I suspected that once he had the computer that his previously dogged search for new clients would falter, and I was right. The only dent he’s made since Christmas in the outstanding balance that he “owes” savings is the $200 credit we got from Apple after he called to complain about the better (and less expensive) system they released just a few weeks after I bought his. I’ve not been upset about his lack of motivation, but I’ve noticed it.

I started bringing in a few jobs myself. A few weeks ago I reconnected with an old friend, and he’s asked us to do his website. Another ex-client of mine called this week looking for a logo for a new company she’s forming. It doesn’t matter who brings in the business, as long as it gets brung. Neither are huge jobs, but they will chip away at that total all the same.

Then, yesterday, it looks like he landed a very lucrative video contract. This would pay off more than twice the balance, plus it has the potential to become a semi-regular gig. This is great news for us, if it pans out. Still, I’m not counting my chickens before they’re hatched.

Tonight we were discussing the possible new job, and we had a little disagreement about what to do with the extra money. He wants to spend it. He works hard for us, and he really doesn’t ask for a lot (but he always gets it, even if he has to wait a bit). Also, he never asks me for an accounting of what I spend money on (though he does get the highlights, and we always discuss any purchase over $100).

I want to save it. Even though we have no debt besides our mortgage, we had a few big expenses late last year that chipped away some of our savings. Additionally, we’re looking to move, and I’d like to be able to pay cash for our next car the way we did with our last two.

We decided that we’re both right. So, he’ll take some of the money to do whatever he wants with (please, no Slurpee machine!), and the rest would go into savings.

Even though I’d rather put it all in savings, I understand that it’s important for him to see some fruit for his labors. Even though he’d like to go on a man-toy shopping spree, he understands that it’s important for me to feel secure in our financial future. We found a way for us both to win.

Hot dog!

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