During these restricted times that all of us are being subjected to I make it my practice to call one long-term friend each day. Remembering that she had become a widow a year ago this month, I called a friend from university days. Yes, that is a long time ago.
Our husbands had been friends in their rural high school. After working for a few years to earn money they both chose to enroll in the same faculty at UBC. They became roommates. During that first year my friend met her husband-to-be and I met her at their class parties.
She was pleased to hear from me – we had not spoken since her husband’s memorial – and we talked easily about our lives. University education is always expensive and their situation was no different than most. My friend had had a good job and they married while he was still in school.
Five years later we married and our income as a married couple was similar to theirs. Our conversation fell into reminiscing how we made the dollars stretch. She spoke of making curtains from dyed sheets, I remembered making ours from patterned fabric found in the discontinued, discounted fabric piles.
We laughed together about our furniture, all parental gifts or hand-me downs. We had received our frig from my parents, his folks had given us our bedroom set. Both were wedding presents. Anything else was purchased second hand. A classic structure in the home of any new couple of the time was the board and brick bookcases. We agreed we had them for many years in any home we rented.
Board and Brick Bookshelves
Part of my story for her was telling of the sofa and large stuffed chair cleared from the fellow’s class common room that my husband had hauled home. It was a good opportunity for me to incorporate furniture refinishing into my senior home management class. We had that same reupholstered set in our home for at least ten years.
My friend’s similar story was of having a sofa with broken springs that would not welcome a body sitting in the center, only one person on each end was allowed.
Our conversation continued with laughter over how we made the dollars stretch. The guys had learned to make sake, a rice wine, while they were in university. During the first year of our marriage we made a very acceptable dandelion wine. Our rented house had a large yard where we grew tomatoes and other vegetables.
She and I agreed that before entering into this arrangement called marriage each couple had made a plan. In our case, most important was our policies around money, which certainly seems a long way from that of most couples today. As far as possible, once we paid minimal school loans, we avoided owing money, and when credit card use became unavoidable our practice, and it still is, to pay off the balance monthly.
As both of our parents had taught, we were determined to go without until we could afford something we wanted. Our agreement was that while I worked for at least the first five years, we would live on his salary only, and mine would become our “nest egg.” That meant we could make a solid down payment on our first property.
There is one more feature to the ritual practice of saving for potential opportunities. It is luck, and I have a good deal of it to be thankful for.