Chapter 5: The Devil is In The Details (Part 1)
Posted by Gail | Filed under Money Rules
When the invitation came to Lexi’s and Mathieu’s baby shower I knew I was in for a fun afternoon. Nobody did a party better than Daphne. And having Mathieu involved meant that Lexi was, once again, walking to her own drummer.
I called to RSVP and Lexi answered. “I see you’re breaking the mold again making it a co-ed baby shower,” I said laughing.
“He’s going to have to change as many diapers as I do,” Lexi said in mock indignation. “He should get some of the party stuff too.”
“I totally agree,” I said, “and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Where are you registered?”
“I have a list at Momma’s Lil’ Helper. Do you know where that is?”
“I’ll find it,” I said. “And I’ll see you in two weeks.”
“I’ll have a surprise for you,” Lexi said mysteriously.
“I hate it when you do that!” I said. She giggled and hung up with a quick, “Bye.”
When I rang the doorbell at Daphne’s two weeks later, a blond beauty opened the door.
“Amanda!” I said, completely taken by surprise. “I didn’t know you were friends with Lexi.”
“Since high school,” said Amanda smiling as she took my gifts and led the way. “We lost touch for a couple of years but when we found each other again it was like no time at all had passed.”
The living room had been transformed into a party paradise with orange and yellow balloons, huge vases full of sunflowers and a beautiful rocking chair festooned with bows and ribbons in which was seated a glowing mommy-to-be. Mathieu came over to give me a hug. Joshua was close behind.
“Did you boys know each other before today?” I asked as I pecked Josh’s cheek.
“We’ve had dinner together a couple of times,” said Mathieu, “and Joshua has become my personal IT guy.”
“Yah,” I laughed, “we all need a geek in our lives.”
As I approached her, Lexi reached out for Mathieu’s hand and he pulled her up, groaning as he leveraged her out of the rocking chair. She slapped him playfully. I wrapped my arms around her and hugged. Then I moved my right hand down to her enormous belly. “Anyone would think you were having twins,” I said.
“Oh don’t say that,” she laughed. “One is plenty big enough.”
“Do you know what you’re having?”
“I do, but Mathieu wants to be surprised, so I’m not letting on.” Then she leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “It’s a girl.” I clapped my hands together.
“Oh that’s lovely,” I looked over at Mathieu, “a puppy! We’re having a puppy!”
He shook his fist at me, beaming. Lexi lowered herself back into the rocking chair while I move over to the sofa. Josh sat beside. “So how have things been with you and Amanda?”
“Pretty good. You didn’t bring any more of that book you’ve been working on with you by any chance?”
“Sure did,” I laughed. “I don’t leave home without it. I never know where my next bit of inspiration will come from. After I left you I wrote a ton.”
“Glad to have helped? Maybe? Amanda does have a question, but she’s a little shy about asking you when we’re all out socializing.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “Get her over here.”
Josh motioned to Amanda and she came over bearing a tray of cheese tarts. “Can I bribe you with food?” She asked. “I have a question.”
“Bribe away,” I said, taking a napkin covered in baby ducks from her and topping it with a tart.
“Can I get you something to drink?” asked Josh.
“I’d love a cranberry gingerale mix,” I said and Amanda settled beside me, resting the tray on her lap.
“Shoot,” I said as I took my first bite from the tart. Ummm. Sundried tomatoes. And was that kalamata olives too? Delish.
“Well,” said Amanda, “I’m a little unsure of how to handle my budget when my income changes from one week to the next and so much of it comes from tips. Some weeks I work more hours, some less.”
“First off,” I said, “tip money is real money.” Reaching for my bag I handed her Rule #67 to read. “And a lot of people don’t know how to handle a variable income,” I said. “I just finished revising this rule, so the page is marked up, but here, have a read, but this one I want back because I still have to make the edits” I said as I handed her Rule #64: Just because you have a Variable Income doesn’t mean you can’t budget.
As she read, Josh returned with my drink. “So how have things been going at work?” I asked.
“Pretty good,” he said. “I just got a promotion.”
“Well done! Congrats.”
“It came with a pretty big raise, so now I have to figure out what I want to do with the extra income.”
“Have you ever sat down and figured out what you want money for?”
“What?” he asked, his head titled to the side like a puppy’s.
“Why do you make money? What do you want money for?”
“To pay the bills,” he said.
“Really?” I asked. “That’s it?” I reached into my stack of draft pages and pulled out Rule #157: Figure out what You Want Money for.
“Can I read these later?”
“Of course, I don’t want to turn Lexi’s shower into a money workshop. Have fun!” I said as I headed to the kitchen to catch up with Daphne.
At the end of the afternoon when the presents had been opened and the silly bow hats placed on both Lexi’s and Mathieu’s heads, when everyone had eaten their fill of Daphne’s fabulous cooking, and most had taken their leave, I sat down beside Amanda again.
“So, did you have any questions about the variable income thing?”
She handed me back the sheaf of papers, “I did have one question,” she said, “but it’s about the emergency fund thing.”
I nodded for her to go ahead as I tucked the pages back into my bag.
“Do you really need six month’s worth of expenses? It’s a lot of money. It could take years to save that much.”
“It is a lot of money for some people,” I said. “But remember, it’s essential expenses you’re covering, not your whole budget.”
People often can’t wrap their heads around the idea of getting a pile of money together as an emergency. The concept of having six months’ worth of expenses covered is just too overwhelming. Well, here’s an idea that’ll make it easy peasy to figure out what your essential expenses are so you’re saving just as much as you’ll need.
List each category of expense you would have to keep covered if you hit an emergency. That may include rent or mortgage payments, food, medical costs, insurance, child-care, car payments, gas and the minimum payment on your debt. This is the stuff you must pay to keep the wolves from the door.
Go back over your list and cut out anything you’ve kept that’s not essential to keeping body and soul together. If you’ve just gone from two incomes to one, you can give up your cable, telephone, entertainment and everything else you wouldn’t die without, at least in the short term. Your Emergency Fund is designed to cover the essentials of life.
“But won’t employment insurance help.”
“It will,” I said, “if you get it.” I reached into my stack of pages again and pulled out Rule #68: EI doesn’t negate the need for an EF. “Take this home and read it. It does take time to save up the emergency fund. But as long as you’re working towards the goal, you’re moving in the right direction. And when you need the money and have it ready, you’ll have choices you wouldn’t have if you’re scrambling to find money to cope.”
Amanda nodded, Josh walked over to take my empty plate and Mathieu joined us. “Where’s Lexi?” I asked.
“Oh, she exhausted and has gone upstairs to lie down.”
“Well, you give her a big kiss from me, I’ve got to be off.”
“More writing?” asked Mathieu.
“No, I’ve got another visit to make before I head home.”
With well wishes all round, I headed to my car. My next stop was a visit to Paula Davidson and I was not looking forward to it. But needs must so I braced myself and headed to Paula’s place.