Husband vs. Wife: The Season of Found Money


Lori and Marek Fuchs have never fought in their 16 years of marriage — except over money. In this column, Mr. and Mrs. Fuchs, a real-life married couple with three kids (ages 12, 8 and 5), articulate their very different approaches to personal finance.

This round, he gets all choked up over low spring energy bills, while she says to quit crying and remember that high energy bills are soon to follow.

Mr. Fuchs: My favorite time of the year coming up and would you look at me? I’m getting all sentimental.

Mrs. Fuchs: Spring? I never knew you loved flowers or fauna.

Mr. Fuchs: Hardly. I’m talking my love for spring, but only because it’s the season of found money. We have high home heating costs in the winter; then, in the summer, we pay a small fortune to air-condition our home. But from about mid-March to July 1, we have a lull in energy bills. That means a three-month holiday from virtually any big energy bill. Same with the fall. I’m telling you, those two seasons make tears of joy come to my eyes. I might write a poem.

Mrs. Fuchs: Do you really think you should be getting excited about three months of lower energy bills? Financial counselors are nearly unanimous in saying that holding ongoing expenses at a consistent level is important and you shouldn't indulge yourself in the mindset of eureka, I have found money. Especially when you know it’ll last about as long as a June bug. I’ve been considering signing up for the level bill program Con Edison (Stock Quote: ED) has. Knowing what our monthly bill will be each month would really help with the budgeting.

Mr. Fuchs: And lose the excitement of a newfound bounty? Sad as it sounds, it’s the highlight of my year.

Mrs. Fuchs: That’s the highlight? Wow. What do you propose doing with the “newfound bounty” because I’m thinking that the smartest thing would probably be to put it toward our cash cushion.

Mr. Fuchs: Cash cushion? That doesn’t sound like the latest word in vacation hotspot, which was my choice. You’re dragging me down, Mrs. Fuchs.

Mrs. Fuchs: Back to reality is where I need to drag you. Any turn in financial fortunes that is impermanent is an accident waiting to happen. That’s what this is. We’re not discussing this much further: a level bill option is the only way. With three children, we have enough variables to contend with.

Mr. Fuchs: But, but...

Mrs. Fuchs: Sorry, no rebuttal time on this one.

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