JR Ball: A lesson in budget cutting … Louisiana style
Bill John Edmunds, a 30-something hipster, and his fabulous wife Daniella have a budget problem. The cool couple—with two equally hipster kids, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a Subaru Forester and an ultra-renovated Craftsman-style home in Mid City, are facing something of a fiscal cliff.
It seems Bill John’s take-home pay of $10,000 a month as a computer something or other is $5,000 short of this way-chic family’s monthly expenses. Wistfully rubbing his soul patch, the patriarch declares he’ll cut the budget before seeking new revenue.
The cuts, he shares with Daniella, are drastic:
- Skipping the January mortgage payment will save $2,000.
- Rather than shopping at Whole Foods, where the weekly tab averages $180, the next month will be spent shopping at the Neighborhood Walmart, where the semi-equivalent tab is $120, a monthly difference of $240.
- A 30-day freeze on the $25 per week allowance for the children, Breah and Atticus, is imposed, collectively saving another $200.
- Despite having no time on the weekends because of the kids’ travel soccer schedules, the planned hiring of a lawn service and its monthly cost of $200 is shelved.
- Figuring PBS is the only necessity, cord-cutting subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu and Sling are whacked, saving $60 per month.
- An act of true sacrifice: It’s announced the daily trip—minimum—to Starbucks for a “Grande Chai Tea Latte, three pump, skim milk, lite water, no foam, extra hot” is no more, keeping an extra $200 in the hemp wallet each month.
Unable to find any other fiscal waste or spending inefficiency and still needing $2,000 a month in new revenue, Bill John did what any good millennial would do: ask his parents for an infusion of cash.
What happens when one hipster couple applies the same budget-cutting logic embraced by our governor.
His pitch to those who control the purse strings was this: “Yes, I need $2,000 each month to balance our budget, but the good news is I’ve already made $3,000 a month in cuts!”
Intrigued, mom and dad ask for a breakdown. Upon hearing Bill John’s tale of frugality, the Southern Tide-wearing folks give a perplexed stare before asking, “Say what?”
Arrogantly, Bill John proclaims to his skeptical parents, “I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.”
It’s at this moment these normally enabling baby boomer parents do something they’ve never done before … tell their participation-trophy-owning son, “No.”
Incredulous, fighting back tears and stunned by this unprecedented turn of events, Bill John fires up the vape and demands an explanation.
Placing a loving arm around his shaken son, his father, Franklin, asks, “Did you pay the mortgage in February?”
“Of course,” whimpers Bill John, “we only skipped January and made a double payment this month to catch-up.”
“And didn’t your mother and I see Daniella and you in Whole Foods on Saturday buying artisan bread, heirloom tomatoes and Bulgarian goat feta?”
“Sure,” Bill John says quizzically, “Do you expect us to slum on Great Value brand food forever?”
“What about Atticus and Breah?” Franklin inquires in a measured tone. “Are they back to getting their allowance?”
“Yeah. Daniella and I talked about extending the freeze for another month, but the kids threatened to say hurtful things about us on Snapchat,” groans Bill John, each word smothered with lament.
“You see son,” began Franklin, pulling out his iPad and using his index finger to scrawl out numbers on a whiteboard app, “the only expenses you actually eliminated were the online streaming services and the daily Starbucks run, totaling just $260.”
Bill John gave a look of befuddlement as his father kept pouring through the numbers. “Not hiring the lawn service isn’t a spending cut because you never hired anyone in the first place. We call that an expense you didn’t incur, which is something different.
“As for the mortgage, Whole Foods and the kids’ allowance, you did cut that for one month, but now that you are paying those expenses again it’s no longer considered a spending cut.”
Exasperated, Bill John flops on the couch before asking for advice—or a monthly check for $4,740.
“Perhaps you could get a second job,” says his father lovingly.
“Well,” he responds wryly, “perhaps you could run for governor.”