How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Stacey

Stacey spends nights alone in the home office, looking at numbers.

She keeps thinking that if the numbers can somehow come out differently, her marriage won’t be over — but she’s always been too good at math to hide behind wrong answers.

She’s also always been the frugal one, the person who has had to track every number and make sure it falls within a pre-determined range. You can’t unlearn that. Stacey knows who she is, and she knows what people assume when they look at her: fashionable spendthrift Manhattan princess, the woman who gets her roots touched up every two weeks and inspires rumors about plastic surgeons. David’s salary all goes towards supporting her, they think.

But Stacey also knows that at least part of her husband’s salary goes to what she believes is his third affair, the sort of long-term thing which drips thousands of dollars away while he hopes she’ll ignore the leaky faucet. It’s his health insurance that has always gone towards supporting her.

That was the arrangement they made in the beginning: one of them needed to work so that they would have good insurance to manage Stacey’s Type 1 diabetes, and between the two of them David had the stronger prospects, so every career decision they made was tilted towards benefiting him. Stacey contributed in other ways, of course — she decorated and kept the home, did the bulk of the child-rearing and homework help, managed the parties that helped her husband build those important business relationships — but David always had the career and Stacey always had the home and assorted jobs, and Stacey always thought it was a partnership forged out of both necessity and love.

Now, of course, things are different. The last time Stacey saw Claudia, the two of them meeting for their regular lunch in a falafel shop more suited to Claudia’s finances than Stacey’s (she’s always been thoughtful that way, has never wanted to make her best friend feel uncomfortable about the differences in their household incomes), she said “well, he hasn’t left me yet.”

“Hashtag thanks Obama,” Claudia quipped. Stacey wasn’t quite sure what she meant. Stacey had asked her son to explain hashtags to her, but David Jr. had balked and then rapidly said something she didn’t understand but that she knew was being delivered with as much condescension as could be politely given to his mother.

“I keep waiting for him to figure out that he doesn’t need to keep me on his insurance plan anymore,” Stacey said. “I wonder if I should tell him.”

“What are you going to do if he wants a divorce?” Claudia asked.

“It really all depends on custody and the apartment,” Stacey said. “The smartest thing would be if he moved out and the kids and I stayed where we were, but I don’t expect him to really want to do that.”

Their Manhattan apartment was possibly the most valuable thing in their marriage, after Stacey’s health. With alimony and a considerable reduction in cost of living, Stacey might be able to stay in the family home long enough to get both David Jr. and Ana into college. That was the math she spent all night doing — the mortgage, the private schools, the increased cost of open-market health care, the kind of job she could get at her age, with her experience.

“Well, I’ll always have a place for you at the studio,” Claudia said. “A little cramped, but mi futon si tu futon.”

Claudia’s Spanish was as haphazard as the rest of her life, but Stacey smiled. If there was one thing she had learned during her time in the BSC, it was that boys would come and go but friends were forever.

Previously: Mallory

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