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When the women share their problems at their weekly crafting group, they decide to band together to take control of their finances. As they struggle to bring balance back to their checkbooks and their lives, they learn that some things in life, like good friends, are truly priceless.
Later, Rachel wrote triumphantly in her blog. I have concluded that there are always frugal alternatives to favorite activities. You just have to look for them.That, she decided, would make a good subject for a chapter in her book.
So would chronicling the various triumphs of the Small Change club. And Tiffany would deserve special praise.
She was literally dancing when she met Rachel and Jess at her front door. “I paid off my first credit card!”
With squeals and laughter, the three women managed a group hug that turned Tiff’s entryway into a mosh pit.
“Come on out to the kitchen,” said Tiff. “Brian’s got champagne for us.”
They followed Tiffany to her kitchen to find Brian standing at the counter, uncorking a bottle of modestly priced champagne. Nearby sat a small plate of truffles from the Chocolate Bar. “So how great is my girl?” he greeted Rachel and Jess.
“She rocks the house,” said Jess.
The champagne cork came out with a pop, making Tiffany jump and then giggle. “Brian got us the chocolates, too.”
“I figured you deserve to celebrate,” he said, pouring champagne into the first glass. He produced an intimate smile for Tiffany. “I’m really proud of you, Tiffy baby,” he said, and handed her the glass. She took it with pink cheeks, and he handed glasses to Rachel and Jess. “She used every cent she’s earned to pay off that card,” he bragged. As if her two best friends didn’t know. “So, a toast,” he said. “To my wife, who’s paid off a fortune and is priceless.”
“To Tiffany,” echoed Rachel and Jess.
“And to my great friends, who helped me stay on track,” added Tiff with a smile. “By this time next year the other one will be gone and we’ll be debt free.” Looking at Brian, she added, “I’m never letting myself get in a mess like that again. It is so not worth it.”
“I guess it’s not bad to have a card to fall back on for emergencies,” said Jess.
“But Brian and I have decided it’s better to have money in savings,” said Tiffany with the zealous enthusiasm of a new convert. “That way we can earn interest instead of pay it.”
Rachel helped herself to a truffle. “What I have in savings right now wouldn’t even earn me enough interest to buy one of these. But slow and steady wins the race. Hmmm. I think I’ll put that in my book.”
“So, are you really gonna write one?” asked Tiff.
“Why not? You never know. Maybe I’ll become the next Suze Orman.”
“Between Jess and her band and you and your book, one of you guys is bound to get famous,” Tiffany predicted.
“From your lips to God’s ears,” said Rachel. “Never mind the fame, though. I’ll take the money,” she added with a grin.
Ten minutes later Brian took off for the gym, leaving the women to enjoy working on their latest craft. “Okay, I’ve got six teacups for our teacup candles,” said Rachel. “Did you bring the votive candles?” she asked Jess.
Jess held up a little bag from Vern’s. “Got ‘em. And I brought my glue gun.”
“Then let’s get to work while I’m still awake,” said Jess. “I tell you, I can’t stay up till two in the morning any more and then get up at the crack of dawn.”
“This is the crack of dawn?” teased Rachel.
“It was when I got up,” Jess retorted.
“That’s the price you pay for being a hot band chick,” Rachel informed her.
“Speaking of my band, who’s going to come hear us play on New Year’s Eve? I need to reserve space at the band table.”
“We are,” said Tiffany.
“Count me in, too,” said Rachel.
“Hopefully.” Who knew? He’d already warned her he’d be over at his parents for Christmas.
She’d been disappointed when she learned Chad wouldn’t be around. Secretly, she’d been hoping for a ring, which, of course, was utterly stupid since they’d only been seeing each other a few months. She was in no hurry, Rachel reminded herself. There was no need to rush into anything.
Still, the night he came by the house before leaving town with a small gift box for her, she couldn’t help thinking ring. Naturally, she had something for him, too – a bottle of her blackberry liqueur and a picture she’d taken of him in the fall when they’d gone mushrooming, which she’d framed.
He seemed genuinely pleased, pulling her to him and giving her a thank you kiss. “I like it.”
“Do you really? I know it’s not a very expensive present.”
“It’s better than an expensive present because it’s from you.”
“And I have some friendship tea for you to give your parents from me.”
“They’ll love it,” he said and gave her a little squeeze. “Open your present.”
She pulled off the wrapping paper and opened the box to find a pair of pink pearl earrings. “They’re beautiful,” she said. It’s not a ring. “I hope you didn’t spend too much.” I wish you’d bought a ring.
“Do you like them?”
Well, of course, they were gorgeous. “I love them.” They’re not a ring.
And so what if they weren’t? Did she need a ring to be happy? Did she need a man to be happy, for that matter? Really, she had to stop operating her life under the influence of romance novels. “Thank you,” she murmured.
“And don’t make any plans for New Year’s Eve,” he added.
Because then she’d get a ring? Oh, stop, she told herself firmly. “I already did. I told Jess I’d come hear her band play. Want to join me?”
“Okay, but how about dinner first?”
“I think I could swing it.”
He nodded, pleased with the deal. “We’ll make it a night to remember.”
What did that mean, dinner and a ring?
It means a new year, Rachel told herself firmly. And she was going to make it good no matter what happened on New Year’s Eve.
Obviously, this is not the end, but it’s as close as Sheila is going to come. For the rest of the plot twists and turns, the money tips and recipes, she suggests you invest in the book. And now, three final questions:
1. Do you agree with Rachel that there are always frugal alternatives to favorite activities?
2. Tiffany finally conquered her credit cards. Have you ever conquered a mountain of debt? If so, what was your secret to success?
3. Do you think Rachel will get her ring? (Now, that should be a no-brainer since Sheila is big believer in happy endings. Hey, if you want to get depressed, you’ll have to go somewhere else.)
Answer either of the questions below in the comment box to become eligible to win a free copy of Small Change! The winner will be posted here on Monday. Good luck to everyone!