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I gave her a brass plaque and she still married me

Disclaimer: My dear wife gave her blessing allowing me to write about her in this remembrance.

In this time of terrible job loss, food lines and empty bank accounts, I hope the following can be relevant and maybe even amusing. If it gives anyone a chance to pause, it will have served a purpose.

Daily we read that many people cannot scrape up $400 should they be hit with a financial emergency. Some 38 years ago, my wife to be could have been one of those folks.

We were not to be married for a while, but I divined that she needed some help with her financial planning — to say the least. First clue: she owed $3,000 in credit card debt while holding a well paying job. She also had to find a place to rent or buy (having lived with her mother as she finished her degree).

Her old VW beetle needed repairs and (bugging me) a new interior roof-liner.

Do not despair, this is not a Dickens tale. In truth, she had a fine job — making more than I did — and she had prospects for advancement. We talked. After a bit, I decided that at the risk of ending our new relationship I had to speak up.

At that time, I had concentrated my counseling practice on finance and money. I had seen that the most grinding problems of both couples and individuals was ... money. So, after some initial questions I felt that this bright lady would perhaps respond to something a bit more than just logical plans.

So, I took a chance. With a straight face I offered to have a brass plaque made for her. It would have all her pertinent info on it, it would be permanent. With a suspicious frown, she wanted to know what it would be for.

Why for your shopping cart, I replied. You will need it and the cart for your future. We both knew that would probably never happen. But then again, a strained financial life and an uncomfortable retirement (or non) was very possible. So after contemplating homicide, mine, she agreed to discuss this proposal (peaceably) with me for quite a long time.

The plan I suggested had several steps. One, she needed to begin a regular, automatic savings plan. Second, pay off loans as soon as humanly possible. Then investigate and invest in her generous company savings plan. When she forgave me (sorta), we put the plan into effect.

I knew I had a willing and able convert — from spendthrift to solvency. In one year she was out of debt, and among several other plans I had her think about buying a home. This was to be a good investment and would greatly reduce her very high taxes. Finally, we had to money-plan together, something so many people have to do after marriage.

That was 38 years ago, and the plan still works.

Harvey Rupp lives in Ashland.


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