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I'm a monkey. According to Chinese astrology, this year of the ox is supposed to be a very good one for me financially. Given the lousy state of the economy in America and worldwide, I find it hard to believe that everyone  born in 1968, approximately 72,898,000 of us, will have a prosperous year. Add to that the other monkeys, all of the people born in the 12 year intervals before and after I was. How can every last one of us be blessed with fine fortune?  

I prefer to think of 2009 as the "year of Obama" - ox and Obama both start with "O" after all - a year of preparing  for the eventual arrival of wealth and success. Taking steps to improve my financial stability, I'm inviting friends over for dinner or snacks instead of meeting in restaurants. I'm watching DVDs rather than going out to the movies. I cut out my yearly weekend ski trip and cancelled my landline. I even disabled texting on my cell phone. And I discussed with my boyfriend switching my insurance plan to one not offering maternity benefits.  

It's Scott's fault, really. He decided that our team resolution for 2009 was to get our finances in order. I jumped on board, passionate and embarrassed, determined that every last cent I saved would go towards reducing my astronomical credit card debt. I don't want to be a financial liability.  

To that end, I've been examining my health insurance. As a freelance writer, I pay for my own, just over $3000/year. I don't even use it. I usually negotiate lower out-of-pocket prices, since my deductible is $2400, an amount I'm unlikely to reach in a twelve-month period. My premium has risen 106% in just two years, with another increase slated for this summer. Researching other options, I learned that choosing a plan without maternity benefits could save me $1000/year.  

Scott and I have been dating for seven months, normally too early for such a serious topic, but I'm 40 and would like to have a child. He's 42. When I made clear to him, early on, that I would follow through with an accidental pregnancy, he agreed to accept full responsibility. Noble intentions, but my insurance would require me to pay 30% of maternity costs, which is money I don't have. His insurance is much better, but apparently our unborn baby isn't officially his until it is born. Unless we are married.  

As Valentine's Day approaches, Scott and I are discussing the care of our unborn, potential child and how it might affect our upcoming, potential  nuptials. Not exactly the way I envisioned my future.  

" If  we got engaged, I would want to start trying to have a baby right away."  

"That night?" He likes the idea of celebrating. "We won't have sex a whole month before and you'll get pregnant instantly!" I think his plan might ruin the surprise of his proposal, or, worse, get me so irritated that he reconsiders proposing at all.  

" If  we had a wedding planned for eight months out and I got pregnant in two – what would we do?"

"Get the wedding dress altered." I hadn't even considered that. Forty years of being too thin and on my wedding day I might be too fat.  

"The day you find out, we go to City Hall and get married." Scott looks at me with his glinty blue eyes, all seriousness. "If you are having my baby, you will both have the best care possible."

I lean in against him, safe, and breathe. Not traditionally romantic, but romantic nonetheless. If we get married, everything will be fine. I can switch my insurance plan and save money for our future. This year of Obama's ox might be prosperous after all. It's all about potential.


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