In the night, many think about a lot of things. Things from the day. Interactions with people of all sorts of personalities. People that make them glad and those that make them mad. Work undone and work to be done. The responsibilities of living. Food, shelter, clothing and more. Stretching a dollar from paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. You are about to meet a couple trying to live on less. Let’s see what they can do.
“Marge, we have a lot of bills to pay. There are extra unexpected expenses. What are we going to do? We can’t live without food. We can’t live without a roof over our heads. We must have clothes to wear or can we do without them?” “Stan, we need clothes. We can go to the thrift store and spend less money for brand names. Even the well to do shop there. They’re trying to save a dollar or two, as well. Now, what else can we do?”
“We could live in a tent or a cardboard efficiency,” said Stan laughingly. “Stan we have a family, you know. We need space. That won’t work, but it’s worth consideration. Oh, we could refinance with the mortgage company to get our payment down.” “Marge, we can’t do that, we rent! I wonder if tents are on sale at the discount store. We could look behind shopping centers for boxes. Many of them are high quality corrugated cardboard. We could get extra large boxes and attach a couple of them together to make it a duplex and rent out the other side. What do you think?” said Stan about to roll on the floor laughing. “We really are feeling desperate, but there is a solution. You got one, Stan?” “Yes, it’s called a budget which we have never done. I will devise one, but you must agree to it.” “Only if I’m part of the plan,” said Marge. “So, let’s do it,” said Stan.
“Marge, grab a pencil and a pad of paper. Let’s get down to business and think seriously about what we must have to live. I’ll start. I must have my easy chair and sports channel.” “You mean you must keep your wide screen TV and sports channel and cable! I think that’s asking too much. You could just watch the regular channels with rabbit ears. There’s sports on there, but not the sports channel.” “Who uses rabbit ears anymore and where are we going to find them?” said Stan in an irritated sounding voice. “Mom has them and has used them for many years. I’m sure your Uncle Joe uses them and has an extra set of them just for you,” said Marge in a counter solution which Stan won’t consider at all.
Marge to Stan, “Joey must have his video games. He enjoys playing his two favorites, ‘Cave Enchantment’ and ‘Cage Fighters.’ Lisa must have her smart phone so she can text with her friends. So, those are a given, must haves.” “Another option, Marge dear, we could negotiate with the landlord a rent payment twice per month. That will give us more money for other things that we really need,” said Stan, in a positive tone of voice, as a solution to their shortage of money.
“Well, Stan, what do you absolutely need to meet your basic needs?” said Marge with pencil in hand about to note what Stan says he really needs. “I do need my easy chair and my massage twice per week with the chiropractor to treat my rheumatism.” Marge thinking to herself…Stan doesn’t need the chiropractor. It’s too expensive. We could save one-hundred dollars per week if I do the massage for him. I’ll say it in a pampering voice to have him reconsider.
“Stan, you know, I could do the massages for you. Even better than the chiropractor. I’ll give you a deep massage and you will feel like a new man.” “Can you relieve my pressure points to relieve my stress?” “Yes I can and do more. You will feel ecstasy.” “Tell me more, my sweetheart,” said Stan with excitement in his eyes and a grin of delight. “I can’t tell you, but you will feel the difference,” said Marge in a flirtatious manner with a wink.
Marge to Stan, “I need something for me.” “Really, why would you need anything? You got all of your pots n’ pans and all the latest kitchen gadgets to perform your art of cooking . And you have your used romance novels that you can read again to capture your fantasy of romance in your life. I just can’t imagine you needing anything more,” said Stan while twirling the egg beaters with his hand and his fascination with their utility. “Okay, Marge, what do you really need?” “This is what you want me to say. I want, I need a new vacuum cleaner and a new dust rag to wipe down everything, including you. What else would a woman need?” said Marge with a sarcastic smirk at Stan for minimizing her importance.
“Margie, sounds like we’re doing collective bargaining, rather than simply considering our personal needs and the needs of the family. This is harder to do than I thought. Let’s take a break and come back to it later, actually tomorrow. At least we have started a dialogue.” “Let’s stop for now. We need a break from each other. I’ll escape into one of my used romance novels. My lover awaits me,” said Margie with a trance like expression and a smile. “My easy chair awaits me. There’s always something on the sports channel to capture my interest. I really don’t want rabbit ears. I better enjoy cable while I got it,” said Stan with a sigh. Kiss, kiss. Hug, hug. Marge to Stan, “See you later, alligator.” Stan to Marge, “Afterwhile, crocodile.”
One week later.
“Good morning, Stan. Fresh coffee and pastry?” “Mornin’, Marge. Yes, indeed. I need coffee so I can awaken my senses!” said Stan with a grin. “What sense do you have, Stan?” said Marge with a light chuckle. “Well, I had sense enough to marry you, dear heart. You have taken good care of me. What man, in his right mind, would want to give up the life of leisure?” said Stan in a delightful voice. “What woman, in her right mind, would make such an error in judgement. But I guess I’m stuck with you. I did vow to stay with you for better or worse. Most of the time it’s better, but sometimes I wonder,” said Marge in a playful mood and a roll of her eyes.
“Marge, are you ready to look at what we can live without?” said Stan in a soft and gentle voice. “Stan, I know the Prospero’s do have more than us. You know, they were just like us ten years ago. I don’t know what happened to them. They live a life in recluse, now. They live directly across the street from us, but since their open house ten years ago, which they charged us and the neighbors ten dollars each to attend, we’ve had no contact with them at all since then.”
“Marge, we’ve found out who they really are, nothing like us in any way. We don’t need them and it’s obvious they don’t need us,” said Stan in a matter of fact way. “Well, Stan, I will forget about keeping up with them. They have all the worldly goods, but we have love,” said Marge with a smile and a hug to Stan. “Yes, we have love. Let’s go to the dining room table and talk in a civil manner to each other about what we can do to live on less,” said Stan as he rises from his kitchen chair.
“Stan, I’ve been thinking, I don’t want to give up anything. I do not want a budget to control me,” said Marge honestly to Stan. “It’s not to control you, but we have to live on less. I don’t want to give up anything, either.” “Let’s brainstorm to see what we can do to generate some more income so we can maintain the lifestyle we enjoy. I have a great idea that may be feasible for us and we won’t have to do extra work,” said Marge. “Let’s hear your idea. I never thought about generating income and not having to labor for it.”
“Let’s see, you know Mom lives alone. She needs company. She needs family. She needs us. We could help her out and she could help us out,” said Marge with a little excitement. “What do you mean about Mom? I hope it’s not what I’m thinking. That would be a nightmare.” “Well, I mean, we could take on boarders. Mom could come live with us. Isn’t that a great idea?” “Just what I feared. There is no way I will have her board with us. She will control everything, even us, even me.” “Let me finish, Stan. Mom could pay a little rent for a room with us.” “We don’t need her rent money, but maybe we could use her, I mean her money. As long as I have space from her. She could bunk with you. I could bunk with my TV clicker in my easy chair and enjoy the sports channel in the den.”
“I have one more thing that will put a plus in her column, she gets a monthly pension check which is guaranteed. That would help us a lot. She gets a hefty check and I’m sure she would share it with us.” “We’ll need half of it. That may break her. All I need from her is three-hundred dollars, if you could work it out with her, that would be great. Before she moves in, we’ll need a deposit on her room of three-hundred dollars.” “I can work that out with her, Stan. If you agree, I will phone her today about the benefits of living with us.” “I agree. She’s in. Let me write it down on our budget, I mean supplemental income sheet. Let’s see. Mom–three-hundred dollars. I like it. Great idea.”
“Stan, who might you suggest to board with us?” “I don’t know of anyone in the family who could help us out.” “Stan, there is someone else who would pay to live with us, your Uncle Joe. He is retired from the military and he gets a guaranteed monthly pension. One plus in his column, he knows how to cook. He was a chef while he was in the Navy. He could prepare some great meals for us. After the service, he got trained to be a gourmet chef. He does fondue, can sizzle the best steaks, and grill fresh fish. His specialty are desserts. If I remember, he makes a delicious butter pound cake with rich cream cheese frosting. Since he will be the cook, we must give him a discount on living with us. He could pay us two-hundred dollars a month to board and he will purchase all the groceries out of his pocket. We pay twice per month nearly five-hundred dollars for food. He will save us one-thousand dollars per month on groceries. I could call him this afternoon, if that’s okay with you.” “Yes, please call him. I’m his favorite nephew. Let’s see. Uncle Joe–twelve-hundred dollars. I’m liking your idea even more. That is a total supplemental income of fifteen-hundred dollars per month. That’s five-hundred dollars more than we need to maintain our standard of living. Yee-haw, we’re in the money!”
“If we could make room for one more boarder, we could possibly add five-hundred dollars to our surplus of five-hundred dollars, what do you think, Stan?” “Who Marge would be willing to pay us that sum of money just for a small room?” “Well, I know a very nice couple that I met at the market. They would be the perfect fit. Both are students and are gone most of the time.” “What are their names, Marge? “Jake and Molly. They could rent the small guest room on the other side of the house and have kitchen privileges. There is one more boarder with them. They have a young toddler named Teddy. A really cute kid.” “Well, that may be too many boarders. We need our space, but we need their money. They’re in, as long as they stay on their side of the house and contain Teddy within their living quarters.” “I have their number, I will call them today after Mom and Uncle Joe.”
Joe to Margie, “how, I mean, where will we house all of them here? Let me make that decision. Jake and Molly in the guest room. Uncle Joe in the renovated attic and Mom in the basement. That’ll work. Everybody will have their own space.” “Stan, we can’t put Mom in the basement. It’s too damp and isolated for her. Let’s put Jake and Molly and their Teddy in the basement. It has a small kitchenette and a small storage area which they could use as a place to bunk. Also an outside door, so we would never see them. Uncle Joe in the attic will work out fine.”
“We have done well creating a workable plan to supplement our income. The extra thousand dollars, we could bank it.” “Why bank it, Stan, we could live far more than less. I would like to have a coiffure and a manicure every two weeks.” “I would like to have a haircut and join the football game pool at work. It’s all for leisure, but I do need to ante up fifty dollars for upcoming games each week. That’s only two-hundred dollars per month.” “I could join the women’s bowling league which meets twice a week. That’ll cost only fifty dollars a week.” “We’re still within budget, I mean our money management plan.”
“Stan, you know Joey really needs to join some team with his friends. Let’s sign him up for the boy’s soccer league. That’ll be one hundred dollars. We could enroll Lisa in a dance class. Many of her friends are already in class. Maybe she will become a prima ballerina one day. Dance classes can be expensive, but this will help build her self esteem.”
“Marge, it sounds like we’re focusing on what we like again, rather than what we really need. It will defeat our plan and we could sink back into debt.” “Stan, we can afford to live a little better since we have more money.” Stan to Marge, “we don’t have the money yet, but I’m willing to take a risk to live a little better, we do deserve it.” “We forgot about someone in the family who has some real needs. Milky Way needs a flea dip and grooming at least once a month and he likes his filet mignon.” “No more, Margie. Milky Way doesn’t need a filet mignon anymore. Only gravy nuggets from now on. We can’t spend anymore to stay within our means.” “Let’s stick to our plan,” said Stan. “The plan, yes, but we just need a little more to live. That’s not asking too much. A little far more than less, but not less than more.”