Lori and Marek Fuchs have never fought in their 16 years of marriage—except over money. In this column, Mr. and Mrs. Fuchs, a real-life married couple with three kids (ages 12, 7 and 5), articulate their very different approaches to personal finance.
This round, she says summer time is the right time for setting aside money for Christmas gifts. He says let's experience the joy of giving… ourselves a break from holiday planning.
It’s the penny pinch versus the Grinch, who will win control of up-for-grabs disposable income?
Mrs. Fuchs: I’m going to tell you something you are not going to like.
Mr. Fuchs: Go clean our room?
Mrs. Fuchs: No. It’s time to start saving for the December holidays.
Mr. Fuchs: Come again? It’s August. I’m still slipping off the lawn furniture it’s so hot and humid.
Mrs. Fuchs: Exactly. Remember last year when we were short on cash around the holidays – the financial meltdown and all? Well, we acquired a little bit of credit card debt and I’d like to avoid a repeat of that particular scenario.
Mr. Fuchs: Meaning?
Mrs. Fuchs: Meaning that starting in just a couple of weeks, Sept. 1, we will be saving for our shopping. By the time the holidays roll around, we’ll be like Girl Scouts: prepared.
Mr. Fuchs: We’re going to be peddling Tagalongs door to door?
Mrs. Fuchs: Been there, done that. Nah, we’ll just be putting aside a specific amount of money each week, specifically for holiday gifts. It won’t be hard. Between buying for kids, parents and friends, we spent about $1,500 last year altogether. With three months to save, we’ll just need about $125 a week.
Mr. Fuchs: Why not do it year-round, then?
Mrs. Fuchs: Doing it too far in advance isn’t realistic. Even a few months ahead of time is a stretch, because you don’t do too well with distant, abstract thoughts.
Mr. Fuchs: Hey, I resemble that accusation.
Mrs. Fuchs: In all seriousness, I do too. Who is truly going to save for the holidays during April showers? It would take a financial saint. We always do better in financial planning when we are realistic.
Mr. Fuchs: Indeed, but, hey, if you suggest next that we open up one of those cornball Christmas Club accounts at the local bank—the sort of things that were popular when we were kids, I’m going to buy you another car mat set when December rolls around.
Mrs. Fuchs: Don’t knock those accounts. Some banks still push them. At First State Bank of Kentucky, they even come with passbook savings booklets.
Mr. Fuchs: Whoa, talk about old school.
Mrs. Fuchs: Yes. You open the account, but they only last 50 weeks of the year. You can put five or 10 or 20 dollars a week, and if you have a perfect record, the bank will add an extra payment. They cut you a check in early November, then close out the count. Then you start all over in the New Year.
Mr. Fuchs: It never ends, does it? The joy of giving. It’s a non-stop grind.
Mrs. Fuchs: That’s just so sweet!
Mr. Fuchs: Sorry. Look, though, we have bluegrass in the lawn, we are a long ways from getting a book stamped in Kentucky. Besides, it not our style.
Mrs. Fuchs: I agree with you there.
Mr. Fuchs: Did I hear you right?
Mrs. Fuchs: You did. A good financial plan has to be a good stylistic fit. Look, all we have to do is take, say, $100 a week out of the bank. We’ll put in that high-security vault we have, your sock drawer.
Mr. Fuchs: No thief would ever dare—
Mrs. Fuchs: Safest place this side of Fort Knox. Anyhow, we’ll accumulate enough money and pay for our gifts in cash, to make certain we don’t go over budget.
Mr. Fuchs: I guess that sounds OK.
Mrs. Fuchs: It does indeed. Oh, and one more thing?
Mr. Fuchs: What?
Mrs. Fuchs: You buy me another car mat set this year and you are dead meat. Now go clean our room.
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