Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Holding Nothing Back

Pamela Fagan Hutchins - Holding Nothing Back

Dollah Dollah Bill Y’all.

In the midst of love and laughter, you still gotta pay the bills. Yuck.

This post will make some of you angry at me.  I can live with that (have I mentioned before that it’s my blog? :-) )

People flatter me that I am “smart” sometimes.  You know, it’s not so much that I’m smart as that I’m the last person standing in any argument.  I wear people into submission, therefore I am right.  It’s not that I’m *not* smart: I know I’m a smart-alec, smart-ass, smarty-pants, and that I can say things that sound really smart.

Nothing makes me feel less smart than trying to understand what has happened to our U.S. (mostly) and global financial markets.  Especially in light of my upbringing.

My parents raised me conservatively, most notably with regard to fiscal matters.  My father is so tight that my brother Bruce says you can’t retrieve a penny clinched in his…fist (actually, he says “cheeks,” and not the ones on your face).  Growing up, Mom made Bruce and I promise not to ever tell our father how much blue jeans really cost.  My Uncle Jack wrote Dad a thank you note after my (first) wedding, stressing just how many premium liquor drinks he had ordered from the bar and mentioning the total price tag a time or three for good measure.  Dad is not just tight; Dad is tight, opinionated, and has a will of iron.  It’s a lethal combination.

So, growing up, I learned to save money.  Even more, I learned not to spend it in the first place.  I learned the difference between “want” and “need.”  I learned that I was expected to hold a job.  I had to lie about my age when I was 15 to get a job at McDonald’s, at my parents’ insistence.  They explained that it was a stupid law and kids my age should be working any time they could.  (I wore a hair net.  I’m still scarred.)

At Texas A&M, I drove my roommate Jenny crazy by refusing to run my car air conditioner in the humidity and heat of a College Station, Texas summer.  I waited tables at a nice Italian restaurant, and the owner allowed us to eat all the salad and bread we wanted.  And, people, I am here to tell you, I gorged on the free food.  If I stuffed myself at the beginning and end of each shift; that eliminated two meals I would have otherwise had to pay for.  As for the money I made, my family allowed me to keep some of it to spend on myself, but I contributed the lion’s share to defer the cost of my schooling above my scholarships.  I had friends living on student loans plus their meager earnings, so I counted myself very lucky to have parents who were willing and able to cover the bulk of my expenses, in undergraduate and law school.

I don’t mean to say I didn’t live (and still live) a privileged life.  I did.  I do.  I am so thankful.  But I can do more with one dollar than most people can do with $100.  My husband Eric long since begged out of my financial disciplines; he will follow my detailed budget and listen to me explain the monthly cash flow, positive and negative deltas, and discovered opportunities for spending reductions, but he doesn’t want to be part of the data analysis.  He swears I wait for PMS-time each month to update my spreadsheets.  And he’s right — the exercise feels about like my notoriously horrible PMS, so why not combine the two?

I buy generic.  I use coupons.  I wait for sales. I work — hard.  I work very, very, very hard.  As hard as I used to play!  And almost as hard as my husband.  When one of our kids needs something (not wants — NEEDS), Eric and I will make it happen.

It’s not that difficult.  It just requires willpower and deferring or eliminating self-gratification.  {There may be a reason some of my friends call me “the General.”}

But it’s NOT * THAT * DIFFICULT.  Decide what you have available to spend, prioritize your needs, and spend only what you have.  Maybe your house will have to be smaller than you want, or you will live in an apartment, or a trailer.  It may not be what you dreamed of, but no one guaranteed us a birth right to our every desire.  In fact, as my warm, soft, and fuzzy padre often told me, “no one said life would be easy or even fun.”  No one promised you a fairy tale ending.  {Damn!}

So we all face some tough stuff.  For some of us it is medical, for others, like me, it’s struggles with mood, alcohol and a failed first marriage.  And some, like my husband, have battled financial woes and bankruptcy.

Ultra-fiscally responsible Pamela married the man of her dreams and knowingly stepped into his impending bankruptcy for a failed business.  I worked incredible hours so we could make household ends meet and keep his daughter in college while he used nearly his entire salary to pay his married, nonworking ex-wife alimony and repay personal loans from his parents he wished he would have never taken in the first place (to prop up the failing business, mostly).  And I wouldn’t have had it any other way, because we are partners and this is love.  But some people close to me questioned my sanity.  ;-)

I learned how it felt to walk on the other side of the line.  To live in a household where we had no prayer of earning enough, even at the high wage levels each of us had, of breaking even any month.    And slowly we worked more hours, eliminated more expenses and dug our way out of the incredible hole I had jumped into with him.  This financial part of our relationship has not been fun.  Truth: There are days I resent the living hell out of giving away everything I work to earn to pay for the sins of a past life I didn’t live.  *Sigh, deep breath *

Most days, though, I just feel blessed to be with the love of my life.  And grateful that he eagerly confessed to and left behind the spending habits of his past life and joined with me to get our house in order.  He expresses his gratitude and never shows any frustration when he hears the sermonette in this post, over and over.

So this is where I get confused about what the hell is going on with our economy.  Because it’s not that difficult for the vast, vast majority of us; if you fall into the minority, I exclude you from this statement, obviously.  The concept:  You work hard.  You buy only what you need, and only within your means.  Whether you are a citizen or a country, you follow this simple rule.  This entitlement mentality, this “gotta have more than my neighbor” syndrome, this GREED extending from the highest echelons of our society down to the poorest — this, it seems to me, is what has fargled us all up.  I’m not excluding myself from this condemnation.  I long for more.  I covet my neighbor’s possessions.  I want to say yes to my kids.  I have spent far more than I should on things we don’t need.  I cringe remembering some of my own flamboyant excesses.

My step-son lent us “The Big Short”, an excellent book by Michael Lewis that describes his view of the cause of the collapse of our financial markets.  I could follow it, mostly.  I understood it, kinda.  Derivative this and credit swap that, holy crap, all it amounted to were people wanting more than they could afford, or to get something for nothing.

IT’S.NOT.THAT.DIFFICULT.PEOPLE.

Maybe my father needs to teach the financial experts a class on basic economics.

Work hard.  Manage your expectations.  Live within your means.

“But, Pamela, you don’t understand, it’s so expensive, we have health issues (or this or that or the other thing).”

I do understand.  We’ve gotten ourselves into quite a pickle, haven’t we?  So, how did our great-great-grandparents manage?  They lived in houses the size of many of our garages.  They didn’t spend thousands of dollars a year on electronic (disposable) gadgets.  They didn’t have a budget for Netflix and Blockbuster.  They didn’t have gym memberships and pay $150 a pop to enter triathlons.  They didn’t have closets full of clothes they rarely wore.  They didn’t eat at restaurants all the time.  They didn’t file lawsuits over every imaginable slight or perceived injury, driving up the costs of insurance…and health care.  I daresay they were no less happy than us, maybe more happy.  Happiness is not a factor of means.  Eric travels to some of the poorest regions of the world, and he speaks of the joy he sees in the most dire conditions, like the mother washing her baby in dirty water in India, both of them laughing and splashing.

I get it.  I really do.  The question is, how much are you (or I) willing to sacrifice, how much luxury (and don’t kid yourself, you may buy it at Wal-Mart, but you live in luxury compared to most of the world, if you have the time and means to read this post) and comfort will we concede to achieve balance and responsibility?  And if the answer is “not very much,” I get that, too.  I do.

Our economy seems to be “recovering” a bit, at the time I write this.  I think that’s great.  I have a lot of property I’d like to sell, and it won’t unless our country regains its financial health (and it is all about me!).  But I don’t believe we are achieving a long term solution.  I am convinced we will cycle down again, maybe harder.  Because we haven’t solved the foundational issue.

Maybe we’re all just a little too comfortable to really fix what’s fargled up.  Me included.

So those are my thoughts; that’s the path we’ve trod.  I know some of my readers have one or more person in their household who is out of work.  How are you making ends meet during such a difficult personal time?  What have you had to give up that you don’t miss?  What have you discovered about yourself along the way?

Pamelot

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  • Heidi Dorey says:

    I know a few people who live beyond their means
    because they are afraid to appear “less than” to others.
    Like somehow you’re a loser for not doing better.
    And all your decisions were poor, so now you have
    little to nothing, and no one feels sorry for you.
    Just like how some people believe that all fat people are
    slothy dirty creatures who bath once a week and only eat brownies.
    We are pretty judgmental in this country when it comes to money.

    February 15, 2011 at 10:12 am
    • Pamela says:

      We’re very judgmental. And it’s an expensive trait.

      February 15, 2011 at 10:18 am
  • Ally says:

    I… I… I have no words. Because you said it all. I think I just fell in love with you! (Not in a stalker-ish sort of way, don’t worry!) Those were the sweetest words I’ve read in a long time. Because I DON’T GET IT EITHER. The concept really isn’t that hard. If you don’t have the money to pay for ____ (insert latest have-to-have item here), don’t buy it. Period. End of story. Rule #1 – never put something on your credit card that you don’t have the money to pay off at the end of the month. I could fill the comment section, but like I said – you said it all. And I’m standing on my feet applauding.
    Ally recently posted..Time To Unload

    February 15, 2011 at 11:10 am
    • Pamela says:

      Beautifully put (don’t charge more than you can pay off at the end of the month). And thank you!

      February 15, 2011 at 11:25 am
  • Heidi Dorey says:

    My husband worked with a guy who just
    had to have the latest and greatest, i.e., the most expensive.
    It was never something he saved for and so it was never in his budget.
    But since he worked hourly, he fudged here and there
    on his time sheet, so he could afford it!
    And you can bet, this is not unusual behavior.
    >:(

    February 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm
  • Theresa Sonoda says:

    Oh sweet Pamela. Most of the time I’m laughing out loud when I come over here to visit your blog. But now I’m crying, and I’m not just saying that either. The tears started rolling about half-way through the reading and all this sadness is flowing out of me. I lost my job 17 months ago and it was one of prestige and at a good salary. I have busted my ass to find work ever since, and most days I feel like I’m just banging my 57 year old noggin against a brick wall. I just want to work. I don’t want handouts or pity.
    So, in answer to your questions:
    How are we making ends meet? Well, thank goodness, Joan still has her job, so we consider that to be a huge blessing. We have blown through our savings, but make ends meet through budgeting our groceries, utilities, entertainment and dining out. It’s amazing to me how much we used to spend on all of that. Oh yea, and we don’t shop much…for clothes and stuff.
    What have I given up that I don’t miss? Overeating. I’ve lost weight and continue to lose weight. (well I kinda miss it sometimes) I gave up netflix and all the extra cable channels as well, and don’t miss them at all.
    What have I discovered about myself along the way? I discovered that, in order to keep on keeping on, I’m going to have to “reinvent myself”. The kinds of jobs I qualify for are just not out there yet. I discovered writing and have been earning a little here and there on articles. I do a little legal paperwork on the side for my son, who is an attorney, and that brings in extra. I’m finding a way and I’m working it out. I also found that I’m a hell of lot stronger than I thought I was.
    So there’s my dissertation.
    I’ll bet you’re sorry you asked huh?
    Terri

    February 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm
    • Pamela says:

      I was so hoping you’d respond! I am at work so I’ll comment more later, but thank you fror sharing! And I think you’re awesome!

      February 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm
    • Pamela says:

      OK, now I can reply! You ARE strong. You have made good choices. You have GROWN. And you are a rock star. I am praying for you to find that next source of income, and to remember to feel good about yourself while you seek it out. I’m cracking up about the overeating part, but I am so impressed with the rest.
      SOMEONE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WORK THIS WOMAN!
      I wish I had the ability to hire you to do something for me. :(
      And if that time comes, you will be hearing from me.

      February 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm
  • NotJustAnotherJennifer says:

    Amen! I was thrilled to see that some places have brought back layaway (Sears and Kmart, I think?). I understand the inability to save money on your own at home/in the bank – too easy to spend it. If you are paying it every month toward the item you’re buying before you get it, though, it makes sense.

    But lots of people still won’t do that because we struggle with an inability to delay gratification. At our house, we really do need a new refrigerator (the door broke, soon it will be falling off), but what we will probably do instead of saving for it for a few months is buy a new one with 12-mo, no interest financing. I wouldn’t be opposed to that except that if it weren’t for the several other things we’ve bought like that, we wouldn’t be stuck living paycheck to paycheck. Granted, me totaling the car last fall requiring us to buy a new one then instead of next year like we’d planned didn’t help. But if we had been saving a car payment every month when we weren’t paying on an actual car, it wouldn’t have been a problem. The problem with living at your means (not even beyond) is that as soon as one debt is paid off, it’s replaced with another and it’s and endless circle. And we thought our situation was going to be temporary. It’s just because neither of us have gotten a raise in 5 years and we had two babies and bought a house. It will be tight for a few years, but then we’ll be ok. That’s all well and good, but what if one of us loses our job? What if we do get raises, but then spend that money instead of saving it because we can’t wait to have the newest thingamajig? We need to break the cycle at our house, that’s for sure.

    And the government? I always think of the movie “Dave” when Kevin Kline asks his friend, Charles Grodin, who’s an accountant to look at the budget. When ordinary citizens can find ways to cut spending (I know – it’s just a movie!), it shouldn’t be that hard for those we elect to do so.
    NotJustAnotherJennifer recently posted..Identity Shift

    February 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm
    • Pamela says:

      But you are RIGHT — if you can defer gratification (and you have, even tho you talk about opportunities to do an even more thrifty job) or Julie in the comment next to this one who defers buying living room furniture, can’t a government? I think they can.

      Good for you, Jennifer. Best of luck to and your family!

      February 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm
  • julie gardner says:

    I. Love. This. I am sitting at my computer next to my EMPTY living room. Yes, my living room is empty. Has been for years. We can’t afford to furnish it right now. Sure, we could put sofas and coffee tables on credit cards, but we don’t. I have a couch in my family room and a roof over my head. And a computer on which to type.

    Do I really need a whole other room full of furniture?

    Plus. My kids dance in there. It’s awesome.
    julie gardner recently posted..Today call me pantsed

    February 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm
    • Pamela says:

      You are AWESOME. And you have lucky kids — a whole room just to dance in!!!!!! There’s more joy for them in that a sofa :)

      February 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm
  • Megan (Best of Fates) says:

    I’ve written and erased 4 different comments, so I clearly can’t figure out what I want to say. But this post really made me think. So thanks.
    Megan (Best of Fates) recently posted..7 Reasons Valentine’s Day Is Saving America

    February 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm
    • Pamela says:

      Thinking is good. And, you’ve visited me once when I had NOTHING to say, and once when I got serious — I’m supposedly FUNNY, but I haven’t proven it to you yet ;-)
      Catch me later and I’ll make you laugh.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:27 pm
  • LBDDiaries says:

    This is truly an insightful and well written post (and needs to be PUBLIC and passed on so everyone on earth can read it). It truly is so simple but as long as there are CC companies driven by the need for more profit, there will always be those temptations available for those who can’t handle temptation (i.e., “oooo look honey, I know you’re not working but we got us this here credit card in the mail! Let’s go shopping!”). The most important thing Alpha Hubby and I do is set back what we can toward always having 3-6 months living expenses in savings (and paying off everything that isn’t an asset [vehicles, credit card etc]). Being debt free is the most important things to us.
    LBDDiaries recently posted..Luv- Love is Patient

    February 16, 2011 at 1:40 am
    • Pamela says:

      You are so right about the CC temptations, and I love what Jennifer said earlier about stores coming back with layaway — defer the gratification until you can pay for it. We are consumer-debt free, although we do have debt on “real property”. And I hate that, too. We are trying to sell it and pay it off. I despise debt (our own). I think about every penny, frequently. Good for you and AH!

      February 16, 2011 at 7:01 am
  • erin margolin says:

    Wonderful & thoughtful post, Pamela.
    Le sigh. My dad’s mom struggled to raise 4 boys (that then became 3, one got hit by a car) after a divorce. SHe worked as a secretary and put them all through school & college pretty much alone. My dad vowed that he never wanted to live that way again, and so he did not/has not.
    Because I have never had to struggle, I fear the day when I do. Sure, I shop at Wal Mart, I use coupons (though not regularly), but I spend too much. Mostly on other people. Especially my kids. I think, like my dad, I use money to buy things because I think those things will make people happy. But the truth is money doesn’t buy happiness. I know this firsthand and I said it to my husband after we had a particularly rough weekend.

    Anyway, I could write a novel here, but I won’t. Thanks for such a thought-provoking post.

    xoxo

    February 16, 2011 at 7:26 am
    • Pamela says:

      I’ve heard similar stories about a lot of people that lived through the Depression — how they wanted to give their families SO MUCH after what they went thru. And also a great fear of debt or being beholden (is the right word?) to anyone. Your grandmother is very inspiring, showing what we are capable of when we have to do it. Do we want to? Hell, no!! But she did it. What a woman.

      February 16, 2011 at 7:57 am
  • ridgely johnson says:

    Pamela you brought up something I believe is key in today’s culture- people seem to discount the maturity and life lessons young people achieve while working part time jobs– in the summers and on weekends. As did you, I was expected to get a part time job even though I lived on 120 acres on the Gulf of Mexico. I drove a old beat up Ford Galaxie that used to cut off at the most inopportune moments- All this made an impact on my life.
    ps- I recently taught LT how to read bar codes on grocery shelves to determine the per item price ;-) he was amazed… My mother’s repeating mantra “You can nickel and dime yourself to death.” Consequently, I consider it a big treat to stop a get a diet coke at McDonald’s ;-)
    This could be a life-changing post for many people. Thank you for writing it.
    ridgely johnson recently posted..Charleston means Friendly

    February 16, 2011 at 7:56 am
    • Pamela says:

      You are awesome! I whined and complained about what my parents did not provide me, since they had the means to give me what I “wanted,” but I am so thankful that they required me to work and to drive a tin-can Fiat STrada as my first car. I was spoiled enough as it was. You are so right — the gain in maturity and life lessons of working for minimum wage is hard to replace with anything else. Sounds like your parents rocked! And it is a big treat to get a diet Coke at McDonald’s. ;-) My kids think I’m insane that I yap about them about not pouring more into a glass than they will drink, and that I buy bottled drinks with replaceable caps instead of cans of diet Coke, for instance. But the waste — the WASTE! — of something you paid for being poured out/thrown away, the time and effort you spent earning the money represented in the casual discard. I can’t stand it. You might as well stand there with a paper shredder and shred the dollar bills. ;-) I know this sounds crazy, but I feel devalued as a human being when people waste the things I worked to pay for, it’s as if they are saying my efforts — and ME — have no more value to them than something to be thrown in the garbage or poured down the drain.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:04 am
  • Pamela says:

    The Big Kahuna checks in aka DAD —

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Pamelot
    To: Pamelot’s Dad
    Sent: Wed, Feb 16, 2011 8:09 am
    Subject: Re: Road to Joy: Dollah Dollah Bill Y’all.

    I agree with you. I want to provide for others, and I am glad I live in a country that TRIES to do it right, even if I don’t always agree with how it is done or think it is working. I am proud that my company gives to charities as our holiday gifts to clients and I enjoyed working on corporate social responsibility projects when I worked for someone else’s company. But I so agree that the foundation of all of this is first looking in the mirror and saying “I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR ME” (for the vast vast majority of us — not those for whom this is impossible, the very young, the physically/mentally impaired, the very old, a few other other categories probably fit here too). When you start there, instead of starting with “what am I owed? what am I entitled to?”, then you evolve to the corporate and state responsibility.

    :)

    Love you

    me

    Pamela Hutchins
    http://pamelahutchins.com/
    pamela@pamelahutchins.com

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Pamelot’s Dad
    To: Pamelot
    Sent: Wed, Feb 16, 2011 7:42 am
    Subject: Re: Road to Joy: Dollah Dollah Bill Y’all.

    So far no one has ripped you for being “insensitive” to the needy. And I truly believe we should help those who cannot help themselves. But it starts with personal responsibility which leads to corporate responsibility which leads to state responsibility. Amen

    In a message to Pamelot’s Dad dated 2/16/2011 6:57:40 A.M. Central Standard Time, Pamelot writes:

    Nope — used to be tho and truthfully the jokes about it were funny because they were larger than you in real life a la uncle butch, dick rehm Larry Simpson ;-)
    I do things that drive Eric crazy and realize I’m you sometimes
    Neat comments to this one from yesterday out in the Internet

    Pamela Hutchins

    On Feb 16, 2011, at 6:45 AM, Pamelot’s Dad wrote:

    > I’m glad for the lessons you learned, but I’m not really that tight. Am I?
    > D
    >
    > In a message dated 2/15/2011 11:41:27 P.M. Central Standard Time, Pamelot writes:
    >
    > Road to Joy: Dollah Dollah Bill Y’all.
    Pamela recently posted..Dollah Dollah Bill Y’all

    February 16, 2011 at 8:13 am
  • Pamela says:

    RE “WHERE’S ERIC??”: It’s a bummer that Eric is traveling, which entails long hours and no internet time. He really wanted to comment on this one in a timely manner (and be heard). I will say that while the subject matter of this one was potentially problematic for him, he previewed it, asked for no changes, and gave it a thumbs up. I’ll probably recirculate the link after he is able to comment.
    Pamela recently posted..Dollah Dollah Bill Y’all

    February 16, 2011 at 8:19 am
  • JennyBean says:

    Preach on, sister!!!

    February 16, 2011 at 9:18 am
    • Pamela says:

      :) Hey, I have marked my calendar for Papa’s post on Friday. Tell him my expectations are VERY HIGH.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:19 am
  • joann mannix says:

    Amen. Amen. Again I say, Amen.

    I’m going to have to send Erin a thank you note!

    So, here’s the thing: My hubs and I have a pretty sweet life. But it always wasn’t that way. When we barely had a pot to piss in, we lived within that pot. We drove one car, bought a teeny tiny house, scrimped and saved. We have lived by the policy of pay the credit cards off every month, save more than you spend and live under your means.

    Life has been good to us and yet with that, there is this constant struggle with this mindset that not only sent our economy into a downward spiral, but it tries to permeate our lives and the way we raise our children. The perfect example is the teenage friend of my daughter’s who came to our house and said to her, “You live here, but you have to work and you don’t have your own car? What’s wrong with your parents?” The great majority of our friends and our children’s friends’ parents, give their kids everything, even if they don’t have it to give. My kids are surrounded by other kids who drive fancy cars, have debit cards filled by their parents and have just about everything they desire. We remind our children constantly that being financially responsible starts at a young age. It’s tough sometimes.

    and yes, I don’t think we’ve learned our lessons. The mall was packed, like Christmas time packed, this weekend when we went to drop off my computer for repair. My husband said, “americans doing what they do best, overspending.” Sad but true.

    Great post.
    joann mannix recently posted..A Valentines Story Mostly About People I Hate

    February 16, 2011 at 9:57 am
    • Pamela says:

      I wish your kids went to my kids’ high school and hung out with mine, because your kids’ friends sound like mine! The peer pressure (brought about by the parents’ spending) is poison. We make sure that the areas in which we spend, related to our kids, have to do with their growth and development rather than their desire to keep up with their peers on conspicuous consumption. I don’t begrudge expensive club swim teams, I happily buy sewing machines (can’t believe one of the kids wanted one!), and cat cases for debate team files, but they work for their spending money and at minimum wage :) And the hand-me-down starter car making its way through their ranks right now is a 2000 Suburban. {Insert eye roll of teenage girl here}

      February 16, 2011 at 10:05 am
  • SuzRocks says:

    Oohh.. I totally agree with you. Not saying that I have been a poster child for living within my means, I totally went crazy when I got out of college and was making money (b/c my mom was so thrifty it drove me nuts), got some credit card debt, and then had to figure out how to pay it off and live with what I make.

    There’s such a huge difference of what we expect now, even compared to my parents. I go on vacations, I want a nice couch, I like nice restaurants, etc….

    I am still driving my 1997 toyota corolla though- that has seen better days. I think I’ve decided I’m going to drive it till it dies. Just to piss people off, because everyone always says, ‘you’re STILL driving that!?’ yep!
    SuzRocks recently posted..Craigslist ain&8217t got nothing on a murder map

    February 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm
    • Pamela says:

      I’ll threaten our teenagers with your 1997 Toyota Corolla if they bitch any more about their 2000 Suburban!

      February 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm
  • Eric Hutchins says:

    I have so many things I want to say I am afraid my comments will be longer than Pamela’s blog so I will be sneaky and break them up.

    As expected and as it should, this blog has gotten a ton of attention. Its a tough one for me of course because it holds a mirror up to mistakes I have made. But I am alright with that. I am still learning and hopefully will continue to for the rest of my days.

    FIRST THINGS FIRST
    My parents were wonderful, incredible role models for my brothers and me (or I, I can never remember the grammar). They defined, hard working, frugal, responsible and they brought us up in an environment defined by work ethic and an understanding of the value of money. I have worked on my fathers construction sites, yes really worked, for almost as long as I have memories. We were paid, far less than the other employees. We had savings accounts that we alone funded, bought our own cars, paid for our gas etc, AND had a truly wonderful childhood/teenage life.

    Unfortunately, the actions of parents do not always dictate that of the offspring. My bad decisions were truly my own. However, one thing that they did instill in me was a keen sense of responsibility. Owning my choices and being responsible for cleaning up the messes I make. I will spend the rest of my life working (to a very large extent) to pay for my bad choices.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm
    • Pamela says:

      I love you. Thank you for making it safe for me to write about something core to me, even though it was hard for you. You are the best, Eric, truly.

      February 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm
  • Eric Hutchins says:

    So if you are “raised right” what happens? How do you go off track?

    In my case it was PRIMARILY due to the failure of a large personal business. It would be easy to make excuses. All anyone has to do is look at government statistics on the failure rate of small business to know the chances of survival are slim. BUT, the failure of a business does not by definition have to bring you down. If you are truly on top of the situation it should be possible to insulate yourself from the business, and you should be able to anticipate and take action before the results are catastrophic. I DID NOT. And you know what they say about excuses………

    But frankly it wasn’t all about the business. It was also about falling to instant gratification justified by anticipated ever increasing earnings. HOW? WHY? DIDN’T I learn from my parents? I think in part it was an overwhelming desire to be Superdad. I love my kids very very much, and I not only wanted to be very active in their lives I did not want them to go without. I failed to recognize that having the latest and greatest did not directly correlate to additional happiness. I regret these choices now, not only for the financial impact that it will ALWAYS have on me, and the burden it has placed on Pamela, and also the collateral financial damage to the rest of my close family. But maybe even more importantly, I regret it because I have failed my children. I brought them up in a style/standard of living that was unnecessary, and in the end more than I could afford. AND I failed to provide them with many of the lessons that my parents provided for me. I hope they have learned some by my more recent past but I doubt they truly have, there is too much other static interfering with the signal, and they are too removed to truly understand.

    I am grateful for the opportunity to start again, grateful for the patience that people have had with me as I try to right things. I am most of all grateful for Pamela’s unyielding strength of will in keeping us on the right track and the work/earning that she does that allows our collective leaky boat to stay afloat.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm
    • Pamela says:

      Beautifully said, honey. And did I mention, I love you? Mud huts on the beach would be enough. :)

      February 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm
  • Irene says:

    It’s common sense! But some people don’t have that. I couldn’t sleep at night knowing my charge card is maxed out. Maybe I’m just cheap, but I hate owing people.

    Some people just feel they have to have it. I had neighbors that didn’t have a pot to piss in but went on Mexican and Caribbean vacations. Granted they were specials where you had to have a certain amount of people with you to get the discount, but airfare and hotel? I couldn’t figure it out. They ended up selling their house to pay off their debts. After all was said and done, they only had $8000 left after selling their house for $300K!

    I blame the banks and the government greedy bastards.
    Irene recently posted..Dear Slutface

    February 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm
    • Pamela says:

      SOLD THEIR HOUSE to pay for their disposable consumption? Wow.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm
  • Pamela says:

    This trail of song titles in the comments on FB made me laugh, especially when I stopped to consider the implications of the title I chose and theme of it’s source-song. Oh my.

    Pamela Fagan Hutchins
    Dollah Dollah Bill Y’all.
    A post in which I set out to piss off everyone I know. Hey, at least I didn’t talk about religion or politics. . . . → Read More: Dollah Dollah Bill Y’all.
    source: Road to Joy
    link: Full Article…
    Yesterday at 9:41am via NetworkedBlogs · Friends and Networks · LikeUnlike · · View Feedback (5)Hide Feedback (5) · Share

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    Heidi Dorey likes this.
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    Greg Willard Reminds me of one of my all-time favorite songs “It’s all about the dollar bill” by Johnny Guitar Watson

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CZcZAc5h5s
    Yesterday at 10:21am · UnlikeLike · 1 personYou like this.
    o
    Pamela Fagan Hutchins I also thought of “If you’ve got the money, honey, I’ve got the time” when I wrote this. There are some great money songs out there. Thanks for sharing. That one did fit!!
    Yesterday at 10:22am · LikeUnlike
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    Greg Willard I was confused about this for a moment — I thought you meant the AC/DC song “What do you do for money, honey” LOL
    Yesterday at 10:34am · UnlikeLike · 1 personLoading…
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    Pamela Fagan Hutchins Ha!!! You know, that kind of fits with Dollah Dollah Bill, which in retrospect is not thematically the rt song for the post ha ha. I just liked the name. I think Hank Williams did if you’ve got the money honey?
    Yesterday at 10:35am · LikeUnlike
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    Pamela recently posted..Dollah Dollah Bill Y’all

    February 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm
  • dusty earth mother says:

    Wow!! Wow wow wow. I loved this. I would marry you myself if you weren’t already married and I liked girls.

    Oh, and thanks for visiting my blog :-)

    February 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm
    • Pamela says:

      Thanks for visiting mine back. And leaving the best comment of the day ;-)

      February 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm
  • Rebecca Nolen says:

    Good that you posted this. I agree.

    My husband and I have spent thirty years saving and doing without, paying the ONE credit card at the end of the month, going on a total of five, yes, FIVE! vacations in thirty years.

    And we haven’t slowed down. Now that he’s retired, and working part-time as a temporary dentist, we are starting into the business of renovating OLD houses. And it’s FUN. Must be the German in me. I am happy busy.

    February 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm
    • Pamela says:

      I can see that in you. I like to be busy, too. I can’t wait to see the house — I loved your blog about it’s hauntedness.

      February 18, 2011 at 8:39 am
  • Rhonda says:

    You are awesome and Eric is awesome. Is it weird to read something about finances and get teary-eyed? I don’t have time to say much because I spent time I shouldn’t have just reading this, but let me just say, as usual, well-done, well-said, and you are an inspiration! Both of you! I see being stalked in your future. LOL

    February 19, 2011 at 10:27 am
    • Pamela says:

      You make me laugh, as always. Thank, Rhonda.

      February 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm
  • Paul says:

    I can see that you have earned what you have and therefore are grateful for it. Great. I agree with you on this 100% You didn’t have everything handed to you on a silver spoon. Waiting table is no shame. There may be many people who can not work and are benefiting from the system. However, there are also many, many more people who are using the “system” (aka free government handout) who are perfectly capable of working. For example: My friend started his own bulk herb food business out of his house. He had people drive 30 minutes to get there. They show up with a Subaru outback and a kayak attached to the top and then ask if his business takes food stamps! You had to be there to see it. He is perfectly capable of being employed, but chooses not to do so. Make me mad too!
    Paul recently posted..Farsighted Vision: Hyperopia

    October 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm

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