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The Journal
Weekly Newspaper covering Marion, Schley, Chattahoochee, Webster, and Stewart Counties.
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Family Debt Debate, Uncle Sam Style
Meet Christian Singles
Son: Mom, why do we have to eat together? My buddies are all on Skype playing X-Box. Can I eat in my room?
Mom: No, darling, not tonight. Your Dad has called an Emergency Family Meeting, so we will all be
eating dinner together and discussing something.
Daughter: Oh, great. Is this ‘emergency meeting’ going to be like the last one when he told us why Vegas was a better place for a family vacation than Disney?
Dad: I heard that! Don’t sass your parents, young lady. Now sit down.
Mom: Okay, should we say grace first?
Dad: No, we don’t have time for that. Pass the pizza around and let’s get this meeting started. Kids, I don’t expect you to understand everything about this discussion, but it’s important that you begin to be exposed to the real world and start to learn how grownups deal with problems, so I want you to participate. One day when you’re grown and have a crises of your own, you’ll be glad we taught you how to solve problems.
Mom: So, honey, what sort of problem are we talking about? I noticed the Jones Family got a new car. That’s it, isn’t it? Well, don’t worry; we’re not going to let them get ahead of us. I’ve had my eye on a Tesla S. It costs $70,000, but imagine how good it would be for the environment if we had an electric car.
Dad: Well, I do think we need to do our part to take care of the environment. Plus, that would put those Jones’ in their place.
It’s settled. We’ll go buy one tomorrow.
Daughter: Oh great. No way we’re going to Disney this year if y’all buy another expensive car.
Dad: Honey, you have to learn to prioritize. Do you really want to grow up to be someone who puts their selfish desires above the health of our planet?
Mom: That’s right dear. Listen to your father. I’m so glad we had this family meeting. Now, son, you can go play X-Box.
Dad: Not so fast. Everybody sit still. That’s not what I called this meeting about. I’m afraid it’s much worse than that. We’ve hit our debt ceiling. The credit cards are maxed out.
Mom: Oh dear, so we won’t be able to get the Tesla?
Dad: Of course we’ll get the Tesla. I still play golf with the president of the bank every Thursday at the Country Club. I’m sure he’ll give us a loan for such a necessity. However, we may have to cut back on some of our nonessential spending.
Mom: How bad is it?
Dad: It is very manageable. As you know, I make $52,000 a year, so we’re bringing in plenty of money. The slight problem is that we’re on pace to spend about $64,000 this year, not including the Tesla.
Mom: That doesn’t sound so bad. That’s only a deficit of $12,000.
Dad: Well, there is something else to consider. It’s true that we only spend about $12,000 more than I make every year, but it’s starting to add up. When you add up our mortgage, various loans from the bank, and our credit card debt, we’re $312,000 in the hole.
Son: Holy crap!
Dad: Watch your language young man! Do you want to be sent to your room?
Son: Can I play X-Box?
Mom: No! Be quiet and listen to your father.
Dad: So, what we have to do is figure out what expenses we can cut. At least for a little while. Any suggestions?
Son: You could cancel your membership at the Country Club. That has to be expensive.
Dad: Are you crazy? If don’t play golf with the big shots how am I going to keep all my connections? You do want us to get that electric car, don’t you?
Son: Electric cars are small, right? Won’t the back seat be cramped?
Dad: Don’t be so selfish. This meeting isn’t about you. It’s about doing what’s best for the family.
Mom: Well, I guess I could get a job. Maybe something part-time that won’t interfere with my volunteer work.
Daughter: But who will take us to school and pick us up if Mom is working?
Son: Duh! They have these things called “school buses.” Maybe you’ve seen them. They’re the big, yellow things we’re always stuck behind when Mom is driving us to school.
Dad: No child of mine is going to ride a loser cruiser! Plus it’s a man’s job to provide for his family. It would be an insult to my manhood if your mother were forced to get a job. That is not an option. Any other bright suggestions?
Daughter: How much do all these pizzas we eat cost? I like it when Mom cooks, especially when she lets me help. It’s fun and I bet it’s less expensive.
Mother: Honey, I already cook twice every week and I only know how to cook a few things.
Dad: I’ve got it! Isn’t one of the ladies in your book club the dean of the culinary college? Ask her who we can hire to come here and teach you to cook.
Son: But you said we have to cut expenses. Isn’t hiring someone to come to our home and teach mom to cook going to be expensive? Why can’t she just Google some recipes or look for free tips on YouTube?
Dad: You youngsters and your quick fixes! You think technology is the answer to everything. You have to look at the big picture, son. This will be an investment that will pay off in the long run.
Mom: And just think how impressed the book club ladies will be when I serve them one of the fancy dishes I learned how to cook. And when I nonchalantly mention that my personal chef taught me how to cook it they will be floored. Oh, thank you honey! You’re the smartest man I know.
Daughter: Well, if you don’t like using technology, why don’t you and Mom trade in your iPhones for regular phones? I’m sure that would save some money.
Mom: No way! I’ll need to be able to use my phone to take pictures of the meals I cook and upload them to Facebook.
Dad: That’s right. What good will all those lessons be if your Mom isn’t able to brag about them? Remember kids, you have to look at the big picture.
Son: We could drop our membership to the Gun Range. I love shooting with you, Dad, but Jimmy and his dad have a homemade range in the woods and they say we can use it whenever we want to. It’s closer to our house, so we’d save money on gas, too.
Dad: Pay attention, son! We’re going to buy an electric car tomorrow, so we don’t have to worry about gas money.
Son: Well, can we just go hunting on their land instead of flying out West? They farm, so they own a lot of land.
Dad: Do they have elk and moose on their land? Come on son, think before you speak. We still need a moose head to hang over the mantle at our vacation home in the mountains.
Daughter: Can we sell the house in the mountains? We only go there a few times a year and I bet you could get a lot of money for it. Maybe even enough to go to Disney!
Dad: No way. Your mother loves that house. You kids need to stop being so selfish. I’m ashamed of these ridiculous suggestions.
Mom: Now honey, don’t be so hard on the kids. How will they ever learn if we don’t include them in these discussions?
Dad: I’m sorry, you’re right. Everybody just be quiet and let me think. ... I’ve got it! I’ll be right back. (Dad leaves the room for a short while then returns.) The problem has been solved!
Mom: That was quick. What did you do?
Dad: You know how I mentioned that our credit cards are maxed out? Well, what I didn’t mention was that we only have Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. I just got off the phone with a representative for Discover Card and they are shipping us a card overnight. By this time tomorrow we’ll be able to resume our normal level of spending and avoid a household shutdown.
Mom: Honey, that’s brilliant! I love you so much.
Son: But doesn’t that only delay the problem instead of solving it? What happens when the Discover Card is maxed out?
Dad: We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it. If I’ve done the math correctly, the Discover Card will keep us going for three whole months.
Son: So what happens after three months?
Dad: Haven’t you learned anything? We’ll have another Emergency Family Meeting! Really, son, I’m going to call your principal and demand the school start teaching basic economics. How is your generation going to keep our country strong if you don’t learn how to manage money?
Son: I’m going to my room to play X-Box. I’ve probably only got 3 months before the power company shuts off our electricity.
Daughter: So long Mickey. I’ll see you in my dreams.
More Columns by Richard Harris