The Bluth-McDucks: Merging Our Finances and Debt

I got drunk with Jake and ordered a Google Home last weekend.

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I’d been considering the purchase, having decided against the Amazon Echo, after Jake made me listen to some comparison reviews. He considered both products frivolous and excessive, but really didn’t want me to spend $50 more on the one with worse reviews. So, after a few drinks, I finally came to the conclusion that I had to have a Google Home. Fortunately for me, the purchase only went through once, because I do vaguely recall confirming the order three or four times. So, all in all, it was a well-researched decision, but still… I got drunk and ordered a Google Home last weekend.

As a 29-year-old Millennial, I’m constantly reading articles about people my age wailing over an inability to find a job utilizing their degree in feminist dance theory, refusing to show up on time or display any real work ethic when they do, and despairing over the injustice of having to pay back the money they knowingly borrowed to do so. I saw this immaturity firsthand when I was wading through the sea of Lost Boys that was online dating: grown men living with their parents and “still trying to figure it all out.” I even witnessed it in my year as a manager, when I had to explain the importance of not wearing pajamas to work to 25-year-olds.

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My OKCupid search results from 2011 to 2015

So, yeah, I’m familiar with the generalization that anyone born after 1985 is fundamentally irresponsible… and it still kind of pisses me off. Gail’s a mail carrier who graduated high school and entered the workforce, never borrowing a dime to find her place and discover a career she loves. I, myself, took the more stereotypical Millennial route: entered college at 18, borrowed six figures, and got a masters degree in a field everyone assumed would have no career path. Then, I got a great job making about 50k a year in one of the states with the cheapest cost of living in the country. I pay my private and federal student loans on time, am eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness in 2024, and carry a small balance on a credit card, which has helped to raise my credit score above 700. For every gum smacking 20-something ironically ignoring you for their phone behind the customer service desk at Wal-Mart, there’s another Millennial working their ass off to make their own way… and I’ve always been the latter.

I had two jobs all through grad school, worked up to 65 hours a week and still found time to write papers and complete my portfolio. When I wanted to splurge a little and buy something I didn’t really need, I never felt bad about doing so, even if I didn’t have the money right then. It would all come together somehow and I would be the one solely responsible for making that happen. No one else was effected by my financial decisions… until I got engaged to Jake; and while I may not consider myself to be bad with money, I’ll admit I’m pretty much Lucille Bluth next to Jake’s Scrooge McDuck.

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At 32 years old, Jake has zero debt and quite the nest egg. Though he’ll spend his money on the things and experiences that are important to him, he’ll neither touch his savings nor take out any credit to do so. He’s determined that we continue to live this way as a married couple and it’s not like I can really argue with that. Over the next year, we plan to live as frugally as possible, so we can buy a house sooner rather than later, but… I think we might have different ideas of what “as frugally as possible” looks like.

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As I mentioned in my last post, I’m finding some truth to the idea that when a couple marries in their late twenties/early thirties, the learning curve for existing with another human being can be a bit longer. We’ve already faced this with home décor tastes and communication styles.

Me: “I love you, but I do want to take premarital counseling, because if you don’t get better at communicating, I’m going to fucking cut you.

In a few short months, though, Jake and I will have to blend our finances, which means adjusting to the idea of consulting one another on how we spend our hard earned money after making those decisions all by ourselves for our entire adult lives. When my Gramma asked me last fall, what Jake thought of my having taken out an Amazon payment plan to buy a Kindle Fire, I told her it didn’t matter, because it wasn’t his money. While Jake asked why I needed my Kindle Voyage and a Kindle Fire, making no effort to hide that he thought it was a superfluous purchase, he never told me not to buy it. Similarly, when I spent $80 on my Fitbit Alta, he thought it was silly and that I wouldn’t use it, but he also acknowledged that it wasn’t his business… nor was the final cost of redecorating the bedroom… and ultimately buying a Google Home after too much whiskey.

Likewise, when Jake insists on $3000 worth of catering and bar service for what I consider an overly lavish wedding, I keep my mouth shut. That’s his money, which he earned without me and he can spend it as he wishes. At present, we operate on a more or less unspoken agreement that as long neither of us is accruing more debt, the other doesn’t get a say… and on that note, on May 06, 2017, not only do my future financial decisions effect Jake, so do my past ones. While I’ve been careful not to charge up my credit card or get behind on my car and student loan payments, since we’ve met, I still have a lot of debt from my college days… and now so will Jake.

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While I might be able to control any future urge to buy matching Kirk and Spock costumes for the cat and dog… I mean, why would I need to again?… I can’t change the fact that at 18 years old, I began accepting thousands of dollars a year to pay for college and life in general, when my ex-husband wouldn’t work. Honestly, I don’t even think I would. That money fed and clothed me. It put gas in my car and rebuilt my life after my divorce. It got me my dream job of librarian. I am where I am because I took out student loans and I’m not sorry. I’m not bitter that I have to pay them back, either. I’m bitter that Jake has to pay them back, retroactively taking care of miserable and lost 21-year-old Belle, because my debt will become his debt. Any and all interest accrued will no longer be mine, but ours, which is why Jake wants to spend a huge chunk of his nest egg paying off all but my federal loans from day one. Why rack up interest over time, when he can pay it all off now? Well, because it’s mine.

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It’s so tempting to stamp my foot and insist that Jake can’t clear my financial name, because if he pays off my debt, not only does that mean I can’t take care of myself now, but that I never could. When I consolidated my private loans, agreed to a terrible interest rate on my car, signed up for my credit card, I did so with a bit of begrudging pride, knowing that one day I would pay it all back, because I take care of me. Despite all my jokes about how I’d let Christian Grey hang me from the ceiling and gut me like a deer if it meant paying off my student loans, I never thought I’d actually meet someone who saw value in ridding me of that debt. I would happily pay a thousand dollars a month for a couple of years, from my own paycheck, but Jake would rather we spend that money building something than trying to dig me out of a hole, which makes a lot of sense. It’s just… it’s my hole.

So, as a compromise, I’ve insisted on adding this bit to the prenup we’ve already agreed to sign for the sake of the family ranch. If Jake wants to take care of my past self, I insist on taking care of his future self, by legally agreeing that I’ll pay him back if our marriage lasts less than 10 years. I’m too pragmatic and quite frankly, I love him too much, to let romance get in the way, here. If he can protect me from further financial ruin, I can protect him. Still, it wounds my pride far more than being told I don’t need another cat costume… and I always need another cat costume.

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My heart belongs to a guy whose job is kind of up in the air.

Me: “I got your anniversary present.”
Jake: “Oh yeah?”
Me: “Yeah. It’s a t-shirt that says ‘My heart belongs to a librarian.’ I got a matching one that says ‘My heart belongs to a guy whose job is kind of up in the air.’

I once refused to date anyone who worked in oil. I also refused to date anyone under 6′ tall, losing his hair, and who didn’t like cats, but the oil thing was actually pretty reasonable. You see, growing up, my dad worked for the electric company; which meant that during storm season, he was gone.

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I remember how stressed out my mom always was during those months. She worked full time as a nurse and the same weather that called my dad out, called her out. She was never the disciplinarian or very organized, so it was overwhelming for her to be left on five acres with two kids. It sucked for my brother and I, too. If we had a spring recital, my dad probably wasn’t going to make it. When he was home, he was either sleeping because he was so exhausted or screaming at us because he was so exhausted and we were too little to contain our excitement that dad was home. I don’t want that and when I was dating, I wasn’t willing to purse a relationship that would lead to that.

For those of you who didn’t spend your free time hanging out at oil rigs in high school, I’ll sum the industry up for you. The highs are high and the lows are low. So, as an adult, I’ve gotten to see family and friends spend wildly for years, only to turn around and try to sell their fifty thousand dollar cars, when things take a turn. The only people who succeed in oil, are those who acknowledge both extremes and prepare. Those guys do exist… but they’re usually over 40 and saw the results of the last downturn.

When Jake came along, his online profile said that he was a Fluid Engineer and this wasn’t what he planned to do for the rest of his life. He had a degree and a job and apparently aspirations for more. He didn’t judge me for only being a half time librarian, at the time, so I figured it was only fair to give him a shot. Obviously, I’m glad I did.

Me: “I love you.”
Jake: “I love you, too.”
Me: “You’re everything I need and want… only shorter.”

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While I’m thrilled with all that is Jake, there’s much to be desired in all that is Jake’s career. His schedule has been wonky for months, meaning that sometimes I think we’ll get to see each other daily this week, only for him to leave the next morning and return five days later. When we do see each other,  it’s not uncommon to watch one twenty-minute Netflix show and go to bed. A couple of weeks ago, I finally broached the subject.

Me: “What’s the goal here? This sucks, but if it’s leading you to a career you want, fine. I support you, but what do you want?
Jake: “I guess… I guess I just wanted to work hard for a few years, while I’m young, save a lot of money and then be able to do what I want with my life, without having to worry about whether or not it will support me and my family.”

He went on to tell me that he enjoys teaching people who want to learn, but he knows there’s no money in that. He’d like to save the money he’d need to live debt free, purchasing his first home outright. Though he’s been demoted from Fluid Engineer to truck driver and now to solids control, which is just manual labor, he wants to see if oil picks back up by the end of the year, as the higher ups have said it will. If not, he’s willing to get out and pursue something different… which is good because he’s working 12 hours days and ends them far too exhausted to enjoy life. One night, as we cuddled in bed at 9:30, because he had to leave my place at 4:00 in the morning, he kissed my shoulder and told me…

Jake: “I promise this won’t last past the end of the year. I know it sucks, but I won’t be making terrible money.”
Me: “I don’t care how much money you make. I don’t want to be alone all the time, when we’re married.”
Jake: “You won’t be.”
Me: “What if oil goes back up, you get the office job you’ve always wanted, and you’re home every night, then it falls again? We’ll have small children and I’m not telling them daddy won’t be at their birthday parties.”
Jake: “Those guys are different, babe. I’ve planned financially and I won’t get myself in the same place they are, having to keep up with all of their debt. If that happens, I’ll be able to to get out.”
Me: “Good. If I had to choose between you being home every night at $40,000 a year, or being two weeks on and two weeks off at $200,000, I’d choose the former. I don’t need $80 manicures and designer handbags. I need you. I’d rather you go to the kids’ recitals with me than drive them alone in a Lexus.”

The next morning, Jake woke at 3:30 and drove an hour to Kingston, to do 12 hours of manual labor on a rig. I remember being married to a man who fabricated jobs and reading the Facebook posts of women complaining that their husbands work too hard. Oh, how I’d have given anything for that problem. Today, knowing that when I get home, Jake will be there, likely with just enough energy for conversation, I can do one of the things I love most. I can say that I was right. It’s a great problem to have a man who carefully plans for the future. It’s a great problem to have a man who works too hard to ensure his financial security. It’s a great problem to have a man who’s not above doing manual labor, despite his degree.  So, I’ll keep my end of the bargain and be supportive. One day, I’ll forgo the new car for the one with 40,000 miles on it. I’ll save the expensive massages for late term pregnancy. I’ll continue to paint my own nails. In turn, I’m confident Jake will keep his end of the bargain and be there when we’re married with children, because he’s never let me down.

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He thought I was joking.

 

Things I Will Not Do as an Adult, Wife, and Mother

Gail’s engaged, y’all.

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I know, I know. After she’d lived with Terry for three and a half years, we’d all pretty much lost hope, but there it is: my best friend is getting married. Some people do buy the cow.

While some of the most pertinent to me, Gail’s pending nuptials are hardly the only big life news being announced. It seems anyone who isn’t planning a first wedding is subtly reclaiming their maiden name. What can I say? We’ve got a lot of twenty-something divorcees, here in the South. The rest are planning babies… possibly numbers two and three. We’re growing up. My Facebook feed is no longer flooded with beer pong photos and 4/20 shout-outs, not even college graduation pictures and new job announcements. Even the engagement announcements are usually for the aforementioned divorcees or some of mine and Jake’s younger friends. Today, it’s all babies and mortgages… and that’s awesome. Truly.

Everyone I know is complaining about getting older, but I would so much rather be 28 and where I am than 22 and where I was. Life is good and I aim to keep it that way, which is why I’m baffled at why so many of my peers are doing such awful things they don’t want to do. I’m sure many who read this will chuckle with a patronizing “Oh, you’ll see, when it’s your turn,” just as my parent acquaintances who hear me say my kids won’t have cell phones chuckle with the same comment, while wondering why their own children are such lazy assholes. I don’t care, because there are pins and posts all over Pinterest and Facebook that make both adulthood and parenthood sound awful and exhausting. Adults today are screwing themselves and if Future Belle reads this list and shakes her head, I hope she’ll at least consider the reminder of the things she once swore were neither healthy nor beneficial to anyone involved. Such as…

Having an Elaborate Wedding
Y’all, when Gail told me about her upcoming wedding, I immediately started hyperventilating about my own. It wasn’t because I expect Jake to propose soon, but because if ever and whenever he does, at this point, I know I’ll say yes. My stars, does it sound wonderful to actually be married to such a genuinely good man… but the part where we get married? I’ll pass. Is passing an option?

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Jake loves weddings, so it’s really not. Yes, I found the one man who thinks weddings are so hunky dory that he’s been in like ten of them. That’s not even an exaggerative Belle-isim. I frequently joke that his online dating headline was “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” For Jake, a boy, a wedding is an awesome party where he and his best friends dress to the nines and enjoy free food and booze. Not until he got himself a researcher for a girlfriend did Jake know that the average cost of a wedding is $26,444.* When I look at pictures of other people’s weddings, the obvious expense stresses me out. It’s a party, y’all. It just happens to be one where I’m expected to spend $200 on engagement photos, $900 on invitations, $1,500 on flowers and decorations, and $700 on wedding favors.*

You know what my wedding favors are going to be? Free food and booze. That’s it. I’m not paying hundreds of dollars to have flash drives or plastic stadium cups or even cutesy Hershey bars made that no one will remember. That also means no programs, or rustic wooden backdrops, or burlap… ugggggh, the fucking burlap…, or twinkle lights, or mason jar chandeliers, or lace tablecloths. I’m not spending the first hour of my reception taking photos that look like I’m cutting a cake, even though I’m not really cutting a cake, and another 30 minutes personally thanking each person for coming. My perfect wedding plans involve butcher paper, crayons, and Sam’s Club cupcakes and if Jake will let me get away with it, that’s what I’ll do. I want to have fun and I want to do it on the cheap. I’m not missing my own wedding, because Pinterest told me I’d forever regret not taking a photo where Jake and I spell out L-O-V-E with our hands while laughing in a field of blue bonnets. I’m also not going into debt for a party. I. Will. Not.

Altering or Defending My Choices About Adulthood/Mommyhood
Jake and I talk about money more than I would imagine most married people do. I think it’s great that he’s so opposed to any and all debt, but this means that we would likely not buy a house until my student loans are cleared, in which case we’d buy outright. Now, as heartbreaking as a future without Jake sounds, I have always maintained a Belle Goes Solo version, as well. In this, I still wait until my loans have been cleared, because only at that point can I afford both a mortgage and a new roof. In short, with or without Jake, I will not be a homeowner until I am at least 36 years old.

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For some reason, in the South, owning a home is the pinnacle of adulthood, regardless of whether or not you can afford it. I’ve been told numerous times that renting is “wasting money,” but until you’re paying on the principle, “owning” is exactly the same, except for the part where you replace your own roof. While Solo Belle likely wouldn’t have any other choice than to take a mortgage, Jake and I wouldn’t be “wasting” any money renting that we wouldn’t be paying in interest and upkeep. For us, buying outright is the most desirable option. That wasn’t the case for Gail and Catherine, who are both thrilled to have recently bought homes the traditional way and more power to them. I’m not going to defend my choice not to buy before I’m ready, though, to anyone with whom I wouldn’t discuss any other financial matters. Nor will I defend my choice not to roll the existing loan on my used car into the price of a new one, which I might add is terrible advice, Dad. While we’re at it, I’m also not defending the aforementioned student loans, because it’s my money that I dedicated to build my career.

It amazes me that people will ask a near stranger about their finances, but this pales in comparison to the audacity it takes to ask a woman about her Mommyhood choices. My birth plan is to be high as a kite. I’m going to vaccinate. I will never breastfeed. In regards to my birth plan, anything and everything involving my vagina is and will remain private. I’ve had friends criticize me for my breastfeeding decision, though, and I don’t have children. I had a reduction at fifteen and can’t breastfeed, but it’s bizarre to me that I’m supposed to explain this to a nosy woman in the grocery store who tells me “breast is best.” I swear on the sorcerer’s stone that if anyone ever says that to me, I will at the very least respond with “so is minding your own business.” I’ve heard women complain that a stranger scolded them for not having shoes on their baby in a carrier, in July. I’ve listened to friends complain that a lady at the gas station mocked them for extended rear-facing.

I didn’t say a word when Jake and I had hibachi for dinner the other day with a four-year-old who spent the entire time loudly laughing at a tablet, even though I thought it was unimaginably rude to ignore the chef’s show and disturb the other diners. It’s not my business or my problem that you’re raising a disrespectful little shit, just as it’s none of yours that my child will have horrible detachment issues, night terrors, a desire to harm small animals, or whatever it is that people think results from formula feeding. Why are we, as capable adults, answering to these rude and nosy people?!?!

Spending More Time and Money on My Children’s Happiness than Mine
Oh em jingles have parents today made the whole gig harder. I admit, I’m not a parent, but that means I can be entirely objective when I ask: why are you people exhausting yourselves over your Pinterest orders?!?! Y’all can’t just wrap presents as a couple, while eating cookies, on Christmas Eve. You have to spend the month of December coming up with increasingly complex and elaborate Elf on the Shelf scenes. You can’t just take everyone’s favorite fruit snacks to pre-k. You have to stay up all night making strawberries that look like lady bugs, because heaven forbid your children eat anything non-organic. You can’t buy the one time use Halloween costume at Wal-Mart. You have to spend $120 on Etsy, so your daughter can look more like Elsa than the 47 other Elsas at the church carnival. I don’t know about you guys, but my skating rink birthday parties, where someone else made the cake and did the cleaning, made for great memories. Your children don’t need tiered cakes to make them happy, or at least they didn’t until you started convincing them that tiered cakes were for anything other than weddings.

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I understand that some people genuinely love making cutesy snacks or complicated costumes or designing unique family t-shirts for the Disney trip. I, myself, will be the parent who plans elaborate birthday parties, because I love birthdays. I struggle with the idea that anyone genuinely enjoys being expected to do all of these things. Maybe it really does fill you with joy to buy your seven-year-old that pair of $120 basketball shoes or give your 12-year-old the Uggs she so desperately wants. I’m not saying that I’m never going to do nice things for my children or enjoy making them happy. I’m saying that I’m not going to spend all of my time and all of my financial resources satisfying their every whim. I’m not neglecting my marriage or my retirement fund for my children, with the exception of some life-threatening illness. I’m not going to scratch my head over why my sex life is nonexistent as I, once again, lie in a bed with all three of my children between my husband and I. I’m not buying the newest game system, planning a trip to Disney World, and paying for brand new fencing equipment for my beginner fencer.

By today’s standards, maybe it makes me selfish to say it, but building a happy marriage and strong financial future will come before my children. If we took a family vacation one year and only have the means for one big trip the next year, the kids can have a fun-filled week with grandma and grandpa, while mom and dad remember why they got married. Given the choice between a good night’s sleep and my child having the most convincing costume for Dress as Your Hero day, I choose sleep. I also choose $80 worth of groceries over $80 worth of costume supplies.

It’s wonderful that our society cares so much about children, but we’re all so fucking miserable, because we’ve been told we’re supposed to stop caring about ourselves. I’ll tell you from experience though, that having mentally and financially stable parents who loved each other would’ve trumped the MacBook every day of the week.

Citations

http://www.costofwedding.com/

How Nobody is Ruining My Christmas

‘Tis the season for mild stomach ulcers, yes? Christmas is, sadly, one of the most stressful times of the year for many people. This time for love, annoying music, and glitter has become the disaster of which the Mayans foretold. Pretty much every advertisement on television is designed to make me hate all children as I watch these greedy little parasites state that their parents have finally appeased them on Christmas morning. Then the parents sigh in relief, making me hate all parents. Everyone stresses themselves out trying to cook the perfect dish, putting up the perfect number of lights, and elbowing each other in the ribs to get the last IT toy of the season, because we’re all materialistic and insane. So, I’m taking a stand on the following issues to keep such madness from ruining my favorite time of year.

The Work Party
If I want to go (define: don’t have anything better to do), I’ll go. If I don’t, I won’t. Period.

The Decorations
I’m not going to lie. I pretty much had to rape that fucking Christmas tree to get it to do what I wanted. I knocked it over and broke the stand that was glued on. I hit myself in the knee with my pretty pink hammer getting the old stand off and gave up on the new one once there was glass all over the floor and the tree leaned so far to the left that it was practically horizontal. Then I tearfully texted C and told him I was the worst handyman ever and that I’d even put on a bra and pants if he’d come over and fix it. He had it up in under 10 minutes and I called him a bastard for it. But I love my tree. It was worth all of that trouble. However, aside from this, I have some glitter snowflakes on the wall, a couple of stockings, a wreath on each door, and some patio lights up. That’s it. I am not Tim The Toolman Taylor. I don’t need to prove that I have the most awesome decorations ever. I know my hot pink tree is the heroine of all Christmas trees and I don’t need a trophy for it. People fall off their houses rigging up their lights to connect to music on some random radio station and then bitch about how much trouble it was, because they didn’t even want it and only did it to make other people say “Huh, that’s neat.” Why would I stress out for a competition that doesn’t even actually exist when these minimal decorations make me happy?

beforetreeBefore and after a big strong man had to help me. Pathetic.

The Expense
I really don’t believe in credit. Maybe it’s Gail constantly talking about her dampened “I ❤ Dave Ramsey” panties (how much is too much to spend on a gag gift?), but I think it’s irresponsible to pay on time for anything that is not an actual necessity or a house. Taking out a line of credit to buy other people crap they probably don’t even want? No. I’m not doing that either. Regardless of whether or not they get a Wal-Mart credit card to do their shopping, though, the expense of Christmas is one of the biggest complaints I hear from pretty much everyone. I don’t get that. The people for whom I’m getting gifts are either people I know well enough to choose something they’ll like for $10 or… they’re not. The latter, I just feel obligated to buy something anyway, in which case, why the hell would I spend more than $10? I don’t have children, thank God, but I do have children in my life who I don’t think should be raised to be materialistic, greedy, and entitled little bastards. So… their gifts are also going to be $10. Maybe I’m not mommy, so I don’t get a say in whether or not Santa brought my niece a 32″ flat screen for her freaking third Christmas, but I can do my part by making it clear that while Aunt Belle cares, that won’t be reflected in material items and she doesn’t owe anybody anything. In general, if Christmas is getting too financially stressful, just forget it and give everyone hugs. Christmas is about family and love and stop action movies. I’d rather know that my Gramma had a fun holiday and get nothing but a kiss on the cheek than hear her tell me a week into December that she’s ready for Christmas to be over. But I can’t control what she does. I can only control what I do and that’s to spend $10 on your gift… unless you’re Gail or my Gramma, the only two people who would actually accept a hug as a gift with no hard feelings. Ironic, huh?

The Shopping
I finished most of my Christmas shopping in November… via Amazon. I spent Thanksgiving night watching a movie with my little sister, not telling the cashiers at Wal-Mart to screw themselves (read below) and have a Merry Christmas. We live in a digital age, people. Why the hell are you standing in line to buy that Furby? I even make a point to do my grocery shopping on a Monday morning, because I’m not dealing with that crap.

The Customers
Thank God I don’t work in retail anymore, because people are asshats to customer service representatives during the Christmas season. Lady, I’m sure Jesus Christ, himself, would fist bump you for trying to get that man fired for saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Yeah. That’s a thing. Welcome to the Midwest, y’all. I’m even happier I don’t work in a movie theater anymore. Sir, if the movie reel messing up “ruined” your holiday, you have shit priorities. You’re supposed to be loving on your family and treating people well, not screaming at a teenager about how you couldn’t see the bottom two inches of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, because seriously, that guy is in everything lately. Library customers are much more mild-mannered, thank goodness, but the number of times I’ve been yelled at over Christmas candy has stuck with me. Now, I make sure to give every cashier a smile and even the occasional apology for the jackass in front of me.

I Want
One of my family members has this super tacky habit of sending out text messages instructing people on exactly what to get for her and the children. I’m not exaggerating. “We want Garden Ridge gift cards this year. The kids want Lego’s.” I didn’t even ask. My Gramma really stresses out about these detailed instructions, because she wants to pick things out and buy what she wants with her money. So, I’m ignoring any such mandates and buying what I want with my money. I don’t care if you want a Garden Ridge card. I already did my shopping and you’re all getting homemade hats. Fucking deal with it or I’ll just donate them to someone more grateful.

The Family Drama
I love my family and I’m looking forward to the 93 and a half Christmas parties that will require me to supply Oreo balls, which are a huge pain in the ass to make. We’re a fun, loud, and offensive bunch. I’m genuinely excited. However, everyone has that one family member they don’t love, but someone loves, so they’re required to be polite… even when they cause drama. Being polite, however, does not mean humoring you if you’re going to be cruel to me. I am 25 years old. I pay my own bills and take care of my own life. If I don’t want to do something, I’m not going to do it. No one is going to bully me or manipulate me otherwise. Nasty text messaging, catty voicemail, creative rumors, none of these things are going to get a response, because I don’t have to respond. I won’t yell. I won’t trade barbs. I won’t hide an insult in a smile. I will sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and skip that get-together, because I don’t have to sit through that awkward dinner with people I don’t like while they make snide remarks. You can thow that tantrum as loudly as you want while all of your friends agree that I’m a bitch. In the meantime, I’ll be at home, eating raw cookie dough in an oversized t-shirt and my granny panties, reading trashy fiction and blogging in front of my bitchin’ hot pink Christmas tree.

me jude and treeMy view of your fit.

Money Management for the Little Miss

When I was four years old, I remember my mother driving us somewhere, even though my dad was going. Wait. What?!?! Women can drive even when a man’s available?!?! When I was five, I realized that there are actually women who drive pick-up trucks and they don’t belong to their husbands!!!!! Incidentally, this was around the time I decided to give peeing standing up a go and my brother kept getting yelled at for his aim. No joke. I felt a little bad, but I also giggled.

It’s no real secret that the Midwest is a sexist place, but it was only in the 90’s that I thought penises operated F150’s, the man always makes more money, and was shocked to find my third grade teacher was a boy. I don’t live in the middle of nowhere, people. I can see my suburban town’s water tower from where I sit and I am only about 25 minutes away from several major cities. The Midwest just happens to be the land that equality forgot.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being a girl. I like traditional men and their pick-up trucks. Not having to ever open a door, due to a combination of my genitalia and geographical location is the shit. My undergraduate degree is in home ec. For the most part, when my dear, dear, feminazi best friend goes on a Vagina Rant, I just pat her on the head, tell her she’s cute, and ask her why she isn’t in the kitchen. My Gramma fought for my right to make my choices so I wouldn’t have to do so. I’m pretty content. However, even I am still appalled by the photo Gail sent me of this local technology center’s curriculum advertisement.

math for women
Could y’all, like, use some pictures instead of words… and maybe a little pink glitter?

pinkmoney

OH! It’s like money, but for girls!

It’s hard to type over the distracting sound of my own retching.

“A Woman’s Perspective”
I don’t like math and that is apparently the fault of my clitoris. However, from what I understand, those people (I mean men) who do like it, find it appealing that there is only one answer. It’s all the same… whether or not it’s done on a Hello Kitty calculator. What precisely will I get from “Money Management: A Woman’s Perspective” that I won’t get from “Money Management”? Based on this advertisement, I can only assume it’s shorter columns of smaller numbers.

“Designed Especially for Women”
Okay. Let’s get one thing straight. If I sign up for this class and I don’t get a choice of pink or purple feathered pens on the first day, I am going to be pissed. If you Google the above phrase, you know what you get? Medicine and shoes, both of which must be designed for women, because their bodies are different from men’s. Math is 114% about the mind. Get it? I said 114%, because I have boobs and I’m stupid. Is this class physically designed for women? Are there special ergonomic chairs built for the female form? Or is it just that the problems themselves are more feminine?

Q: If the average menstrual cycle is 28 days long and Maria’s period began on day 1 and ended on day 7, on what day will Maria need more tampons?

Now ladies, I know you want to answer “chocolate”, but really think outside the box on this one.

“Understand the Basics”
Is the class for women, because it’s rudimentary? Does the men’s class start with division and multiplication while the women start by counting the horn on a bedazzled purple unicorn? Were we just too busy giggling about boy bands over our copies of Teen magazine to learn about that math stuff?

“Learn Where You Stand Financially”
Well, you’re apparently $29 in the hole for this ridiculous Numbers for Your Vag course.

I can only assume this is referring to the money coming in versus the money going out. That’s budgeting, y’all. Even an incredibly specific budget is going to be categorically gender neutral and the amounts vary from person to person regardless of genitalia.

Oddly Specific Budget Categories for Women
Body glitter
Make-up
Gynecological Appointments
Shoes

“Where to Put Your Money”
“Why, that’s just silly! I put my money right here, in my purse!”
“No, no, sweet thing. We’re talking about investments.”

Why would a woman’s best investment choices differ from a man’s? As Gail put it, in what tampon company should I invest? Money is money. It doesn’t matter if you make it off of Women’s Apparel or Viagra. It doesn’t matter if you’re using it to buy lipstick or tools.

“What to Do Right Now!”
Apparently, these little ladies might start thinking about funneling some of that babysitting money into their daddies’ dowry funds. One goat just won’t do these days.

Again, what choices should a woman make about her money right now that a man shouldn’t? She should plan a budget. Oh, wait, so should he. She should have three month’s income in savings. Oh, wait. So should he. She should start thinking about retirement. Oh, wait…

That Condescending Exclamation Point
Let’s get these ladies excited about numbers!!!!!! If there’s one thing the women understand, it’s lots of exclamation points!!!!! Can we maybe heart the i’s as well?

“You know what? How’s about we cut this short and she can just let him take care of the money?”
“OH EM GEE! That’s totally what my final paper was about!”

I know that men and women are different. Not only do they differ physically, but they tend to think differently and act differently. I don’t have a problem with that. How much of that is biological and how much is environmental, though? Does any woman benefit from being taught a gender neutral subject in a gender specific way? Is telling a woman that she needs to enroll in “Math for the Gals” any less harmful than telling a little girl that it would be more realistic to play nurse than doctor? I understand that you have to split the contact sports up based on stature to even the playing field, but should my old high school still be calling our girls’ teams the Lady Broncos before we send them off to take Calculations for Chicks?

I’ll help you broads out, here.

It’s unknown, but this isn’t helping
No.
No.
Absolutely not.