“Debt will always be part of life!” Jack said as he dropped his fork on his plate. Some of the people at adjacent tables in the restaurant gave Jack a look because he had raised his voice.
Tab looked down at her plate. She knew this date night dinner did not get off to a good start.
Jack lowered his voice and continued, “I have seen debt my whole life, and I’m used to it. My father has always carried an operating loan on his farm so that he could keep the farm running in order to feed us.
“So you’re telling me that you want to change what we’ve done all these years just because of what one woman said at the conference last weekend?”
“Jack, listen to me. I’ve tried to tell you for several months about our lack of funds. What I saw last weekend were several other families in the same situation as us, and the hope that it doesn’t have to continue being like this.”
“I don’t see any reason to change what we’re doing. We have a place to live, there’s plenty of food to eat, and our kids seem to be happy. I’m happy. So there.”
“Jack, what if I told you that I’m not happy with the situation? Maybe I need to sit down with you and show you the whole picture. I need to show you where we are headed.”
“Tabitha, do I have money in my wallet?”
“Yes, last time I checked, you do.”
“Is there gas in the car? Do we have enough to pay the sitter for tonight and for this meal?”
“Then I think we’re doing OK.”
“Jack, what if you get laid off? What if the store I work for closes suddenly, or one of us gets injured and can’t go to work? What if we…”
“Enough with the ‘what if’s,’ OK? We will deal with any of that when the time comes.”
They stopped talking to eat some more. Tab found that she was no longer hungry.
From Debt to the Future
“Can I ask a different question, Jack?”
“Let’s think about the kids for a few minutes. I wish I could stay home with them now. In just a few years they will be in school. A few short years after that, each of them will have a drivers license, and before you know it, off to college.”
“What about it? That’s a long way off. Maybe they won’t want to attend college. I didn’t, and I turned out just fine.”
“And maybe they will,” she replied. “Don’t you think we should put some money aside to help them for those things? Not that we have to buy them brand new cars or fund an Ivy League education, but just so that they have some money to use as a gift from us.”
“Well, how are we supposed to do that if we are struggling to pay our own bills at the moment?” Jack asked.
“That’s what I’m trying to show you, Jack, a picture of a different future for our kids.”
“That’s not even feasible right now, so let’s not even consider it, alright?” he said.
Suddenly, her phone rang. Tab checked to see who it was. “It’s the sitter. I better answer it.” She usually did not pick up the phone during meals.
“Tabitha, this is Bri. Listen, we need to get your son to the emergency room. Kyle had an accident.”
Tab could hear her boy wailing in the background. “Jack, we need to get home fast.”
“Kyle fell down on the curb outside. He cut open his forehead and says that his arm hurts really bad. I know basic first-aid, but you had better get here quick,” said Bri.
“Pay the bill, Jack, we need to get home. Kyle is hurt.”
This post is a brief excerpt from Ryan’s book A Couple with Common Cents. Get the book here.