Monday, December 20, 2004

Budget Blues

We were singing the "Budget Blues" around here tonight. No not the household budget, despite the impending holiday. I've got that one figured out. They're not getting anything. Well, perhaps they'll get a "Mom & Wife free" week when I embezzle the gift fund for a Caribbean cruise, but I digress.

I have been fussing recently about the public school system, but tonight I want to tell you a positive story. #1 Son's math teacher is a genius. Mr. M is my new favorite person. If this guy doesn't get the "Teacher of the Year" award, the competition is rigged. I love this man. No, seriously. Mr. M assigned his students a "Budget Project." I thought about griping to you because the project was assigned over Thanksgiving weekend and yet here was the Prince of Wails finishing it (translated that means "doing most of it") tonight. I did get a bit testy about that part, until I saw what the project actually entailed.

The assignment was fairly straightforward. The kid had to pick a profession and put together a budget. They had to determine their monthly net pay, find an apartment and a vehicle, figure out their student loan payment, figure in monthly expenses, etc. They then had to figure out a way to make it all work, no roommates and no rich Uncles. This sounds fairly easy (HA!) to those of us who have to juggle a budget every month, but for a 13-year-old kid it was quite an eye-opener.

My first clue that things were not going well was when he came to me and asked if he could get a $671 a month allowance. That's how far in the red he was and he had not even gotten halfway down his expense list. I figured he needed my help. The first glaring red flag was the $530 car payment. I asked him why in the world he had such a huge car payment. He informed me that he had to have a "tricked out ride." Translated into English that means a 2005 Jeep with all the bells and whistles. I deflated his head and brought him back down to Earth. After lots of number crunching he settled on a 1989 Jeep Wrangler, tricks extra. That brought his insurance down, too.

Speaking of insurance, when I first saw the rate he got online as a 24-year-old male with full coverage on a brand new Jeep, I was pretty amazed. I put "Call XYZ insurance company" to inquire about switching our car insurance on my "to do" list. It wasn't until he started typing the figures into his project that I noticed he had mistyped the year of the car on the online quote page. Scratch one thing off my "to do" list. When he said something like "I don't really need car insurance," I regained my focus.

Out too was the luxury bachelor pad. He had to settle for a 1-bedroom apartment in a section of town I wouldn't exactly let him live in, had this been real life. DSL was not doable, nor was the digital cable with all the movie channels. Eventually the project was finished and C. helped #1 get it all typed up. His imaginary life was far from the "coolness" that he had originally envisioned - reality check complete. The best part was when the kid scratched his head and said to me, "Mom, I don't know how you guys do it."

Ah Grasshopper, that is a question I ask myself every month.

PS – In other news, the washer died a rather ugly death today. The new one gets delivered on Thursday. Guess what I'm getting for Christmas? Fala lala la, la la la la.


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Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

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