Let me see if I understand today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse
1.Elly goes to buy something from the groceries.
2. Whatever she doesn’t spend on groceries is in the form of change.
3. Elly takes that change and keeps it in a bottle.
4. Elly spends that change on little things she needs, instead of asking John for the money for whatever she wants.
5. Elly says that spending money from her change bottle makes her feel as though she has earned it.
What can we take from this?
1. It appears that Elly pays for her groceries in cash. Back in 1980, as I recollect, most grocery stores did not take credit cards; but almost all of them took personal checks, which were a lot more convenient than getting into the grocery checkout line and suddenly realizing you did not have enough cash to cover the grocery bill. This, plus the fact that John is giving Elly the line about how he will give her whatever money she needs, tells us that Elly does not have access to the family check book. And of course, this strip does not work in modern days, because John would just give Elly a debit card to the bank account and transfer in whatever money Elly needed. That would be a lot easier and safer than carrying around the cash necessary to buy groceries.
The situation in the strip seems crazy to me, but it also reminds me of the Peterborough Examiner article from last October
, where Lynn Johnston accused Rod Johnston of cleaning her out.:When it came to finances, for example, she had entrusted everything to her husband and was shocked to discover, in the days following his departure, that her bank accounts were empty. Suddenly, the cartoonist whose strip appears in more than 2000 newspapers around the world, the Gemini Award winner and Pulitzer Prize nominee, and the first female to ever win the prestigious Reuben Award from the U. S.-based National Cartoonists Society, didn't have enough cash to buy groceries.
"I'd been like a little kid, like a five year-old. Tell me how much I can spend this week, Dad," she sings in a little-girl voice, before shifting to a serious tone. "If I was not astute as a businessperson before, I suddenly had this overwhelming education within a month in which I had to learn how to do everything. It's empowering actually because you suddenly realize there's all this stuff you should have been doing all along."
To keep your wife from having access to a check book seems crazy back in 1980, but if the article is to be believed, then Rod Johnston kept Lynn Johnston on an allowance throughout the 30 years of their marriage.
2. Elly does not tell John what she spends her change on. She just says “little things I need.” Antidepressants is the first thing which comes to my mind. However, John’s statement in Panel 3 indicates that he expects her to ask for money for something in order to get the money. There is quite a bit of personal satisfaction in being able to buy something for yourself without having to ask. My kids can tell you that. They like having the money to buy things without having to ask their parents’ permission.
3. Elly feels as though she has earned the money in the bottle. The other difference between having to ask for money to spend is also the knowledge that the money will have a limit. With the money in the bottle, Elly can spend all or none of it, and she can wait until it gets bigger over time. I can see this being the bigger player in getting a weekly allowance. The line from the article "Tell me how much I can spend this week, Dad," is more about the limit of what she can spend than the ability to spend.
Today’s reprint, taken by itself, makes John seem like a money control freak and Elly like a little, pitiful girl, never allowed to spend money on anything she wants without having to ask permission. I would ask why Lynn Johnston would reprint such a thing, but, as usual, the clear answer is that it makes John look really bad. This matches well with the Peterborough Examiner article, but it hardly seems to work with the powerful image of Lynn Johnston who managed to get Rod Johnston to move to Corbeil from his home town and then who wrote to Phyllis Diller
how she got Rod to move to a house on a lake in Corbeil. Of course, in both cases, Lynn had to get Rod to agree to the moves.
I have touched on the issue with Lynn and money before. She had so much of it, it makes me wonder how Rod Johnston ever managed to get Lynn to agree to an allowance system. I am reminded of the relationship between my grandmother and grandfather. The story told me was that my grandmother, early into her married life, realized that my grandfather would spend any money that came into his hands. So, she took over the money and kept him on an allowance for the whole of their marriage, in order to keep them out of debt. I don’t know if this is the situation with Lynn and Rod Johnston; but it makes no sense to me otherwise. If Rod was keeping Lynn on an allowance against her will, it is far too easy for her to get a credit card and completely circumvent that. On a personal note:
My mother-in-law’s kidneys were not recovering over several days now, and her doctor put her on dialysis today. We had hoped her kidneys would return to normal. Dialysis, unfortunately, makes the recovery process take a lot longer, according to the doctor. On the plus side, my wife has returned to Tucson from her trip to see her mother. We really missed her.