Saturday 23 March 2024

Bleeding Money

            We have always been very conservative with our money.  Getting a mortgage for our house was extremely scary for us since we were both so scared of debt.  Getting our first credit card also filled us full of fear, and we still only use it if we have the money to pay off the purchase.  We generally paid for our vehicles with money that we had saved, but of course, sometimes life catches us off guard.

         In 1989, just as I was completing finishing the balcony on the end of the addition I had built on our house, I started drawing up plans for another addition for the opposite end of the house.  That addition was for a laundry room, a darkroom/office for my wife, and a carport. 

            I called Allen Baer, a local contractor to prepare the site, put in forms for the foundation, and pour the cement for the foundation. 

            A couple of days after he completed the foundation, my wife drove up to Prince George in our eight year old Subaru, to do some shopping and get a haircut.  I was working at my desk in the Forestry Office when at 10:00 my phone rang.  It was my wife.   On her way up to PG, the Subaru’s transmission failed.  She had to get it towed to the Subaru Dealer, and there she found out that it was going to cost between $700 and $1,700 to get it fixed.

        This created a real dilemma for us because that was quite a lot of money for us at the time, and we began to wonder if it might be wiser just buy a new car, because our 1981 Subaru was beginning to show its age and was really starting to rust out.   

        After receiving the call, I immediately booked off of work and caught the Greyhound Bus up to Prince George so we could better figure out what to do.  We were able to spend the night with our neighbor’s  parents who live in PG.  

        The next day was a memorable one.  We wavered back and forth about what to do:  Buy a new car, or sink more money into repairing our rusting 1981 Subaru.  In the end we bought a brand new 1989 red Subaru Station wagon, and spent several hours in the dealer’s office committing ourselves to pay $300/month for the next five years, after handing over a $4,000 down payment.

        After nervously assuming the debt, we drove our shiny new car to the Bonanza Steakhouse to eat, wind down, and get our mind off of the big step we had just taken.  After our meal and reducing our stress level, we drove our new car back to McBride.

        Driving our brand new car was both fun and enjoyable.  However, upon reaching home, our fun quickly evaporated. 

        I discovered that while we were gone, my herd of Angora goats had escaped from the paddock, eaten up some willow trees, and then finishing off their moveable feast by eating the vegetables from our garden .

    Once I had rounded up the goats and herded them back into the barn, more bad news appeared  when I discovered that Allen Baer had left a $1,600 invoice for the foundation and carport work he had done.  I had assumed that that invoice wouldn’t arrive for couple of weeks, but there it was.

    When I called Allen to tell him I wouldn’t be able to pay him until I got my next bi-monthly paycheck, he said that was okay.  I was greatly relieved, but then he mentioned that I also owed Harley Bratton, the backhoe man, for the work he did digging the trench for the foundation. That was an unexpected surprise because I had mistakenly assumed Harley’s work would be included in Allen’s estimate.

    Suddenly, money got to be really tight for us.

    Luckily when I did get my next paycheck, it included not just my basic salary, but also pay for all of my fire fighting overtime hours.  Our checking account had climbed to $1,800.  Unfortunately, by the time I paid for the foundation and groceries, our checking account had shrunk back down to a meager amount that would have to keep us for the next two weeks.

            The 1989 photo shows our red Subaru parked in front of the foundation for our addition.  That pickup truck is parked in the area of where the carport would eventually be.  This photo was taken later, after I had purchased the old pickup from my neighbor.

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1 comment:

  1. BUT, wasn't life grand! You would do it all over again, I am sure. Glad you have lots of memories from that time. I like hearing about it.