When I walked in the door yesterday evening, Tom was pulling a bottle of Tabasco Sauce from the refrigerator. It was Hot Wings night.
I mentioned in another post how I'm fighting those nasty debt demons; I didn't mention how Tom is fighting them, because he deserves a whole post of his own.
What does fighting the debt demons have to do with Hot Wings? Just an example of how, when he discovers something he likes or if there's something we need, he figures out how to do it or how to make it himself cheaper... like the Hooter's Hot Wings sauce he learned to make by trial and error. Only they're so much better than Hooter's Hot Wings - I'm calling them Shallue's Hot Wings from now on.
Tom came from a frugal military family background - with nine boys, you have no choice but to be frugal. He started working when he was 14 (I'm pretty sure... he'll correct me if I'm wrong!); he had a paycheck, therefore he paid rent to his parents, bought his own clothes and whatever else he wanted/needed. He learned to spot a bargain and fix things early on. He got around mostly by bicycle, but also shared joint custody of a car with his mom for awhile, I believe. Oh, yeah, and he went to high school.
I came late to the game... my parents had a tight budget and plenty of bills, even with two incomes, so I didn't get everything I wanted, but pretty dang close. I had two or three very short-lived jobs in high school, but my parents saw school as my job and I didn't have to work.
It wasn't until I dropped out of school, got a real job supporting myself and spending my own money on everything that I really learned the difference between "need" and "want"... Consequently, Tom and I have never really argued about money - or the lack thereof. We're on the same team as far as that goes, most of the time.
We bought a foreclosed home in an auction and he did all of the reconstruction himself (it had been stripped), including acid-washing the swampy swimming pool in the backyard (with help from a friend... thank you, Bob!) Before eBay, before Craig's List, Tom knew how to work those newspaper ads, and before you know it, for just $75, we had a slide for the pool.
Tom rarely buys things just for himself - what he tends to buy are things that he either uses to help us (big tools for working on the house or cars) or that we get to enjoy along with him, like television sets and the 4-wheel drive Suzuki Samurai; it was fun to drive around the dirt roads in, was useful for transporting rocks and firewood, and was the kids' main mode of transportation for a couple of years (it's currently out of commission from an accident, waiting in line with several other vehicles for Tom to fix.)
Usually he just buys for someone else, usually me. He splurges on me... my drums, my camera, my car. He's content driving a 10+ year old red convertible that has a leaky top, but he traded in his truck to get me the first new vehicle I've driven since 1990. Of course, I share it with him.
Have I mentioned he cuts his own hair? He taught himself when he was going to college, I was working and we had two toddler sons. At one time he was cutting all of our hair - we'd take turns standing in the kitchen - and now our oldest cuts his own.
We don't argue about money, but we do pull each other back down to reality if one of us starts talking crazy - usually me, talking about "needing" a fancy smart phone or a laptop. He never complains about splurges on my hair or college classes or my girls' weekends. Much.
I know he dreams of building a barn across the pond where he can toodle on cars, build furniture, whatever he wants with all the space he needs to do it in. There's no telling what he can do with enough space and tools.
I also catch him drooling over motorcycles for sale on Craig's List and he loves to travel virtually with me and Rick Steves on Saturday mornings. (One day I'll be telling you about our trip to Ireland, by golly!)
Over and above, he smiles and laughs and takes life day by day. I know he gets stressed. I know he worries he'll never get to retire, never get that barn, never have time to toodle or take off on a Harley road trip or spend a weekend in an Irish castle with me. But still he laughs and gives thanks for what we have, which is a lot. In fact, when I managed to sell our old television on Craig's List, he gave the man his money back to cover his gas for driving out here.
And that's why I'm focused on making money now - the brunt of it has been on him for way too long, and if it comes in a paycheck to me, he can't give it back to anyone. It's time for me to step up to the battle line and fight with him shoulder-to-shoulder.
P.S. He also cooks! Oh, yeah, I already mentioned that, didn't I? Well, besides his Shallue's Hot Wings and French Toast I've featured on here before, he's a master at brisket...anything grilled, actually... he's experimenting with different fish dishes... and now he's talking about homemade tortillas! Am I right, or what? Mr. Amazing - that's my husband.
Last week, this is what I came home to...
Spicy Tilapia and mushrooms... yum! Thank you, Tom!