Because the weather is so nasty, I've let Blue-the-cat stay inside all morning, although it worries me that he may go dig a place on the bed and potty on it when I'm not watching. I put him out a while ago. This being the first snow he's ever experienced, he let me know he was not a fan and wanted right back in. I shut the door for a few minutes. When I opened it up to look out, he was on the porch glaring at me, but I saw his footprints in the snow at the bottom of the steps, so I'm hoping he did his business while he was out.
Cliff and I were talking this morning about how amazing it is that we had enough cash on hand for him to buy that tractor. We remember a time when we went to the bank for a 90-day note if we needed $800 to buy a Jersey cow. We never had anything in savings. Now here we are paying cash for a tractor that cost as much as some brand new cars. All that cash came from his hobby.
I haven't always had a job away from home, so during the roughest years, Cliff was the only one bringing in money. I worked at Harman industries for about three years, then Whitaker Cable perhaps four years altogether. I worked at the local apple orchard off and on for minimum wage (but it was my favorite job ever), and then the Kohl's Distribution Center for four years. We've been married fifty-four years, and that's the extent of my working away from home. When you consider the fact I never drove and we live in the country, it's a wonder I worked that much.
I say all that to tell you that I've always done what I could to see that Cliff got something for himself out of his labors, once the kids were on their own. I wasn't contributing much money to the household, and I felt he deserved something for his efforts, and for the years when he had to watch his money fly out the window to pay bills. Sometime in the 1990's, he went to night school and took GED classes, then got his GED. That got him a job with a next-door neighbor that required a high-school education or GED. That was the best job, as far as pay scale and benefits, that he ever had in his life.
I was all about paying bills off once he got to the top of their pay scale, but it occurred to me that it was about time he had some of his own hard-earned money for himself. We often talked about how, when he retired, we'd have a nice big shop built for him, but eventually I said, "You know, if we don't have money for a shop while your working, how would we manage to have it when you retire?"
And I talked him into refinancing the place and building that shop. It's one of the best decisions we ever made.
I plotted and planned ways to get him some spending money. One time I talked someone at Tractor Supply into letting us put an air compressor on layaway, a big purchase for us at the time. Then I told him to go to HR at work and sign up for the credit union; we'd have them take five bucks out of his check every week. After awhile I realized we didn't miss five dollars a week at all, so I had him increase the amount. When he retired, I think we had them taking out $50 a week: This was his money to do with as he pleased, whenever he wanted.
I went to work at Kohl's in the year 2000, and was there for over four years before my knees wouldn't let me do all that walking any more. Then I got my Social Security. A lot of the money I made at Kohl's went to pay off bills so we wouldn't go into Cliff's retirement owing a lot of money; by the time I retired, the only payment we had except for utilities was the payment on our place, and it wasn't much. Cliff piddled with his tractor hobby a lot during those years. He'd buy one, then sell one, but he didn't usually end up making money on them; he did well to break even. Tractor restoration is very expensive hobby. At least he was always able to buy another tractor after he sold one and he was doing something he loved.
After he retired he continued with the tractors. The icing on the cake of our retirement was that the oldest grandson bought our property and remodeled the old house. We bought a used mobile home and put it behind the barn, and that's where we live. It isn't much, but it's fine for someone like me, who doesn't even decorate. Now we have no bills except the ones you can't get away from like insurance, electricity, propane, and so forth. I told Cliff, "If you sell a tractor, you keep the money to do with as you please." Thus, his "tractor fund".
There were times I'd mention something I wanted and he'd say, "I'll get that for you with my money," but I never took him up on that, ever. I still remember the years when he only got five bucks out of a $100 paycheck and had to use that for gasoline to get him to work.
That's why I am so thrilled that he was able to get the magnificent tractor he needed, wanted, and deserved. He did a lot of reading yesterday and today; in fact, he just now finished these two books.
Isn't life grand?