29 Sep 2008
Occasionally the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly has one of those months where it is hard to squeeze the month into the money at hand. We often have more month left over then money. Why doesn’t somebody come up with a budget that can stretch with the month? Is that such a hard thing to ask for?
It was a late night but not one of those romantic nights with a candlelit dinner and soft music. Rather, the coffee pot was in full steam, not to mention our tempers.
The agenda for this late night fiesta was the end of the month bill-paying marathon. Paying bills in our house is a balancing act. On one hand, we have all the bills due and on the other hand a checkbook. As is often the case, the hand with the bills is heavier than the hand with the checkbook.
I must confess that our bookkeeping expertise is limited to, “Where did we put the checkbook?” Our basic financial philosophy is, when we run out of checks we must have run out of money. As long as we have one check left, our assumption is there must be money in the bank.
I really do not have time to balance our checkbook. Isn’t that what the bank is supposed to do? After all, this is their business and why I pay all those bank fees?
In our house, paying bills is a tough choice. For example, do we pay the electric bill or the property taxes that are due this month? Actually, if we do not pay the taxes we will not have to pay the electric bill.
Speaking about the electric bill. We have lived in our home for 13 years and during that time we have paid our electric bill every month. Do we ever get a thank you note from the electric company? Not once.
We do not even get a Christmas card from them at the end of the year. How rude. It is not as if I have not included personal notes when paying our bill. In fact, several times I have written a 10-page letter bringing the electric company up to date with what was happening in our life. Since they supply the electric to our home, I only assume they are interested in what was going on in the home and how we were using the electric.
Did we ever get a response to that personal letter? Not once.
The only response we get from the electric company is a notice that they are going to raise our rates. One of these days I am tempted to send a little note with my payment informing them that I have just lowered their rates, and see how they like that.
I am deeply concerned about my relationship with the electric company. It seems to me to be one-way. Not only have they never responded to any personal letters I have written but not once have they come calling just to see how things were going and if the electricity they were selling me was satisfactory.
If I had a good mind (which, unfortunately I don’t), I would give them a piece of it.
Well, in the middle of our night of paying bills we had come to the end of our money and still had a bill to be paid. What do we do?
I said to my wife, “Do we have any assets to liquidate?”
She looked at me, shook her head absentmindedly and said, “We sold that young donkey last month.”
Thinking for a moment and wanting to interject some levity into the gloominess of our evening I said, “I could sell my body.”
Without even thinking the wife that I love, responded in a monotone, “Whale blubber has very little market value these days.”
I am not exactly sure whether that was a Freudian slip or what in the world it was. The evening was a little too tense for me to inquire about that comment. I just chalked it up as a result of the tensions of paying bills.
“Why don’t we see if the government will bail us out,” I said. “After all, they are in the habit of bailing out people with financial trouble.”
She thought for a moment and then said, “The only people the government bails out are highfalutin expert’s who don’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.”
Thinking about that for a moment it made sense. And we came to one solemn conclusion. As long as we have common sense (which means at least two little grey cells still operating) and know when to come in when it is raining, we do not qualify for government bailout.
The book of Proverbs, in the Bible, has a lot of wisdom for everyday living. One prayer I particularly like says, "Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain." (Proverbs 30:7-9 KJV).
It is a proven fact that when greed grips the heart all reason departs the mind.
Rev. James L. Snyder