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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Money Troubles

Friday, May 11, 2012

During the first few years of our life as farmers, neither my husband nor I had an off-the-farm job with a monthly paycheck coming in. The grain we sold took care of the farm rent and our big expenses, but we counted on the pigs and chickens for the day-to-day stuff. If our checking account ran low it stayed that way and we lived with it until my farmer said there were hogs ready for market.

There were times when we didn't have the money for something we wanted so it became something to work toward getting. I don't remember ever absolutely needing something and not having the money to pay for it. That is a blessing I wish all young families could enjoy.

I did have some humiliating experiences with regard to money. One came as a result of breaking sewing machine needles. Our dime store didn't carry them. My husband needed some tractor repairs that he had to get in a town some distance away. Knowing they would have a store that carried sewing machine needles, I rode along. My spouse left me off at a fabric store with instructions to meet him at the coffee shop next door in half an hour. If he didn't come in a reasonable length of time, I was to start walking toward the parts store because that meant he had to wait and would not have time for coffee.

I found the needles immediately and then took my time browsing among the bolts of fabric. I had not planned to make myself a new dress until a lovely fabric caught my eye. I took the bolt of material, picked out a pattern, thread and zipper and went to the cutting table to wait for a clerk to measure and cut the fabric. I pulled out my wallet with its checkbook only to see I had no check blanks and my only cash was some change. We had never even heard of credit cards at that time. I snuck around putting everything back except the needles. I hoped the clerk wouldn't notice.

I left the fabric store and went to the coffee shop. My husband was not there so I ordered coffee and, with the sudden realization that I may have to pay for it myself, had to ask how much they charged for a cup of coffee. That was embarrassing. I had enough to pay for the coffee but not enough to enjoy a doughnut, too. No one around me knew I had only 6 pennies left in my billfold but I was very aware of my empty purse. I wondered what I would have done if the coffee had cost ten cents more? Would I have been humble enough to admit I didn't have that much money? I decided that day that I certainly did not like being poor, or even temporarily poor.

The second embarrassing incident happened on an out of town shopping trip. I often ended our shopping trips there by going to a grocery store that was on our route home. The manager of the store was usually hovering over his cashiers and, I soon learned, paid little attention to the customers.

The clerk checked and bagged our three shopping carts heaped with groceries and supplies before I saw that I had already used the last check blank in my book. The manager was there in a flash. He looked at me with suspicion in his eyes and gave every indication my two kids and I were expected to return all the goods to the shelves. I was dumbfounded and pleaded my case citing all the times I had shopped there previously. He seemed to relish watching me squirm. When I had groveled and made several apologies and promises, he did allow me to take the groceries home. Everyone in the checkout lines could hear him stress that the check had better be in the mail the next day. I have no doubt the sheriff would have been calling on me if that check had been a day late. The incident was humiliating, but it also made me angry- with him. He acted like I was pulling a fast one, trying to steal from the store. He treated me like a complete stranger and that day I chose to become just that as far as his store was concerned. I have not shopped there since.

Remembering the difficult times keeps me from becoming complacent about the blessing of having money when we need it. I have eliminated the chance of repeating the embarrassments I have just acknowledged. I now have a credit card in a case attached to the ring with my car keys. There is no longer a problem if my checkbook, wallet and purse are left at home. I have that handy credit card to handle money issues.

By Mary S. Roder
Musing With Mary