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 Post subject: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 2:20 am 
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I just had a mini meltdown this morning about money and I know a lot of it is me and how much money makes me uncomfortable (my family was quite poor, on government assistance, then my parents went through bankruptcy, divorce, etc.), but I'm wondering how the rest of you cope with money in your relationships.

Here's our situation right now: I moved to The Netherlands to be with my partner and we understood that he would be footing the bill for everything since I couldn't legally work until I got a residency permit here. I've been doing freelance writing and editing with clients back in America, but that work isn't really steady so we can't depend on the little bit of income that trickles in from that. It's been killing me to be dependent on someone. In America I was self-sufficient for the most part (aside from a few times I'd ask my mom to borrow some cash for car repairs and the like), so to now be completely dependent on someone in a "housewife" sort of situation is stressful to say the least.

This morning's meltdown came when my partner asked me if I needed money for my prescriptions (I'm not on the insurance here yet and I have to pay a heftier price for them here). Of course I need money! I guess the fact that he asked was what got me all upset, but to be honest he needed to ask since I wasn't asking for the money. We are incredibly close, but I feel like I'm going to have a panic attack when I ask about money. He of course assures me that I should be able to talk to him about anything, including money, and that he's here to support me until I get on my feet. Maybe most of this is my issue, but I'm wondering how you guys deal with money in your relationships.

Tonight we've decided to sit down and write everything out on paper. He's never done that, but given a few hard months money-wise we've decided that budgeting is key. We have to do it. In the back of my head I feel stupid because it's not MY money, but he wants me to be a part of this and write down the expenses I have. I'm sure this will help us stay more organized, but I also need to deal with my reactions to money. Anyone else have this? Where money freaks you the fork out?


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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 2:48 am 
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It's great that you have decided to sit down with him tonight. Making a plan on paper and having a special folder where I keep all my bills and other expenses helps me manage anxiety, though it is still pretty bad. I, too, have anxiety about money issues, because my parents were always very strict when it came to finances and it terrifies me that it is now my responsibility to deal with rent, insurance, phone bills, taxes, etc, like a real grown-up. I understand that's not exactly what you're experiencing, but all I can say is that I can relate somehow. I've seen how much your partner cares about you and I think it's great that he's helping you until you find a job. Whenever I needed money and was hesitant to take my ex's when he offered, he used to tell me that if I wasn't the one studying but had a job, I would do the same for him. Which is true, so that gave me a little peace of mind.

If you're looking for the best health insurance, you can still check this website until the end of the month, to find which insurance company suits you best. (It's all in Dutch, but I'm sure your partner can help you!)

Good luck tonight!


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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:06 am 
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Our boats are similar. I was independent with a good career and steady high income in the states. I moved to London for my partner's job and now I do not work (though I can, I just cannot find a job) and I am a housewife. I see myself as my Mother who never had a job, still does not and is completely dependent on my Father. It scares the shiitake out of me. Not only do I feel like I depend on him financially, I also do the housework and cooking, neither of which I wanted for a 'career'. It has been a struggle and still is to realize the situation I have chosen to be in.
I am friend with other women in my same situation and they all feel the same and some with added pressure from their partners to get a job, that on top of the pressure they put on themselves. Perhaps you can find other expat spouses in the same situation you are in. I met them through expat meetup groups and listening for American on the tube and in pubs, then I strike up conversations. It is like dating all over again, but this time, for friends.
We do talk very openly about money, we have a shared bank account (though now he is the only contributor) and we talk about budget and spending. I am the one who does the budget and makes sure everything is paid and saved.
I think you should try to have a very open communication about money, budget for what you need (and want) and what he needs and wants. Let him know how you are feeling.
It is not easy especially when you are used to being independent, but in time you will be used to it. Soon you will be able to work and even though your writing is not making you a bread winner, you still try to contribute and that should make you feel a bit better, you are not just mooching, obviously.

I am glad you sat down and talk, it is a really good first step!


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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:48 am 
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I don't know if I've ever talked about our financial situation here, but we are in very similar situations, Pickledtreats. I have been supporting Wally in full for almost a year. When we were still in Europe he lost his student job and couldn't find another one in the middle of the crisis, so as I was working already I "lended" him a few thousand euros. Since we've pretty much merged finances now it's not much of a loan. Now he moved here with me on a tourist visa while he was finishing his thesis, so obviously I've been the sole provider. It has been a challenge. Especially since we went to the opposite of the cultural norm (I am the younger partner and the woman) and we had no role models around us in our situation. Our friends and family suck with money (or have so much of it that it doesn't matter, Wally made interesting friends studying aerospace) and having to figure out everything by ourselves was stressful.

He doesn't like to analyze his feelings as much as I do, but he finds being dependent on me is "annoying". I, on the other hand, couldn't stop mulling over my hangups about giving away half of "my" money to someone else. Especially during the first couple of months, when our budget was tight. I could accept splurging on myself every once in a while, but when Wally had the same idea it felt very different, and suddenly unreasonable. Silly, I know, because supporting him was a decision I had made consciously. And I felt horribly selfish for it!

It really gets better with time, and when your budget gets more comfortable. We kept talking about it, and little things helped. For example now Wally knows my credit cards PINs and helps himself in my wallet... it's just less stressfull for me if I don't physically hand over the money! You''ll figure out with time what tricks help you two.

It's a conversation we keep on having, though. Because ultimately it boils down to whether we keep thinking in terms of separate finances (and keep considering that his debt towards me is growing, whether or not he pays it back one day), or whether we decide to manage our budget like a marriage and consider that it's all our money, not mine and his. So it's very much a conversation about the long term direction of the relationship, and that can be stressful!
I'm interested in reading about other people's setups as well, and saving/investing methods. My parents were such terrible role models on the matter, I often feel completely lost.


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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:01 am 
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I'm also in a similar position. I moved here with my partner and haven't worked in over 2 years. It's been really difficult for me to adjust and I have mini-meltdowns (though less frequently as time goes by) about my 'housewife' role. It's hard but i think you'll find that it's worth it!

eta: our financial stress mostly comes from me feeling weird about not contributing. my partner is super reassuring about it not being a big deal and has helped me get over it but it takes constant adjustment and talking about it. Writing everything down is a good start!


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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:01 am 
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inceptisol wrote:
I'm also in a similar position. I moved here with my partner and haven't worked in over 2 years. It's been really difficult for me to adjust and I have mini-meltdowns (though less frequently as time goes by) about my 'housewife' role. It's hard but i think you'll find that it's worth it!

eta: our financial stress mostly comes from me feeling weird about not contributing. my partner is super reassuring about it not being a big deal and has helped me get over it but it takes constant adjustment and talking about it. Writing everything down is a good start!


Yeah, I know I said it up there, but I'll reiterate that my partner is amazing and never tries to make me feel like a burden. I think I more often read into things and get upset or let my own weird issues with money color our situation.

Thank you guys for sharing! Aelle your situation is really interesting and I like seeing it from your side. I'm curious to see what others have gone through and the solutions they've found.


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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 8:29 am 
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i have been on both sides of this situation. for the first year & a half that we were living together, my now-husband was pretty much the sole earner. like you, i had part-time work that wasn't terribly reliable & finding better work wasn't really an option. we weren't married or engaged or anything at the time (although we knew we planned to get married, there wasn't anything official about it) -- and i remember having all the awkward feelings then that you have now.

now, i'm the only one who is making any money. while he & i have always been able to talk about anything, money has always been a trickier issue for whatever reason. like you, i think a large part of it is just our general discomfort with money. something that helped us was to sit down & discuss what we would & would not spend money on. certainly there are some expenses that are unquestionable, but there are some things that can be avoided until we have a better financial situation -- and then there's the category of things that maybe we can spend money on, but both of us have to discuss & agree to it first.

aelle said something similar, i think what helped the most was really treating it as joint money (in either direction!). when the situation is one person having the money & physically handing it over to the other one, it creates a weird dynamic that i find very uncomfortable. both of us having our own cards for the same account really reinforces that it is our money, not the job-haver's money. if that's not a possibility, then even just keeping cash in a spot in your house that is accessible for both of you to take it from.

these things helped us, but money -- & talking about money -- always made me very uncomfortable. i've reached a point now where it is not an issue for me & my husband to talk about money, but -- especially at the beginning of our relationship -- it used to definitely freak me out. like you, both of our sets of families were on government assistance when we were young, so that could be part of the cause. that, & it sucks to feel reliant on someone else when you are used to being self-reliant! good luck dealing with this & figuring everything out! hopefully some good conversations with your partner about your finances will make both of you feel more comfortable with everything.


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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:02 pm 
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Just the title of this thread made me dry heave. You have my sympathies.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:18 pm 
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When we first moved to Portland, my partner did not have a job for 8 months. It was the first time in his adult life he hasn't been working so we kind of went with it(like a vacation!) and he found a job eventually. I was laid off recently and now have a 16 hrs per week job that pays significantly less....so I guess it's my turn! What I'm saying is, there may be a time in which you have to support him in the future and I'm sure he knows you would.

Making a budget is a smart thing to do because then you won't be stressing about overspending. If you budget enough money for what you need there is no reason to feel guilty about not contributing. Besides, it sounds like there's some red tape that makes it out of your control anyway.

That said, I now do all the housework, cooking, shopping, etc....it pretty much sucks, but as the person with more free time I acknowledge that it makes the most sense. However I still peas and moan a lot about doing the dishes ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:35 pm 
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yeah...

When I first moved to the east coast to be with my husband (about a year before we got married), I had a mortgage on a townhome in Colorado and we needed to get an apartment here. We worked it out that he'd pay the rent, we'd split some bills and I'd buy groceries. It made me a bit uncomfortable in that he was paying for the rent but I initially didn't have a tenant and I had more moving expenses than him.

Now we have been married for 4 years. I'm looking at a career change that would result in paying $$$ for tuition and also most likely not working for at least a portion of the time I'm in school. It makes me so nervous and for some reason I keep thinking it'll break us apart. My husband seems fine with the idea and supports me but I'd be totally dependent on his income and savings we build up as well as spending money on school. The idea keeps freaking me out.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:37 pm 
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I work as does my partner but he makes a lot more than I do. I pay my portion of the bills always but am usually left with no money for myself sk if we want to go out for dinner or to a movie he pays most of the time. I am also paying off credit card debt so he has no sympathy when it comes to me not having money. Any time that I do get extra money it's only fair that I give it to him given that he pays for the majority of stuff. While I understand this is fair it would still be nice to look forward to extra money but that isn't in the cards for a while. I am not terrible with money but I have a problem saving money if I don't have an end goal in mind whereas he rarely spends money on things like I do (clothes, makeup etc) plus he is really smart about savings and investments and I am totally clueless as well I don't have tons of money to save. If I were to save I would basically have no extra money ever. Things should get interesting too since Thursday is his last day of work and he doesn't have another job lined up. I am for that decision because where we work is not the kind of place you want to be, too much negativity. I have no doubts that he will find something soon and I am going back to school in January so I will be working even less than now..: ugggh I hate money woes, the past two nights have involved money talk ending up with me being angry/sad/frustrated.

I know I have to take responsibility but part of me blames my upbringing. My mom always (and still does) said that the man will take care of you. She's very old fashioned that way and I am now working on getting that out of my head which is hard after years of it being drilled into you. I don't feeling like it's expected of my partner to provide for me because j hated that my mother felt entitled her whole life. Now I am rambling so I'm going to shut up.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:27 pm 
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I'm another one that's been on the other side. Last year I was offered a good job in another state, and my partner decided to move over with me. He was one year behind me in his studies at uni, and decided to finish up in our new town since the university is much better and he would be looking for a similar job to mine the year after (government work is pretty much all there is in Canberra). He worked a low-paying retail job in a videogame store for a couple of days a week in the meantime.

So for all of this year, I've been paying for pretty much everything. He gave me what he could, but it was still hard because this is a government town, where most people earn a lot of money- so everything (rent in particular) is super expensive. And I'm a graduate, so I'm at the bottom of the ladder in terms of salary. Yeah, it hasn't been the easiest thing in the world. It was kind of hard seeing all my work friends going out every weekend and enjoying the money that comes with working full-time, while I couldn't afford even one beer with them. But I never resented him for it, or regretted it- when I weighed it up, my options were money and no partner with me, or partner with me and tight finances. It was never a hard decision to make.

I think he had a lot of the same concerns as you- that I thought he was a burden, that I secretly resented having to part with all my money to support him. But that's never been the case. Your partner clearly wants you with him, and it well aware of what costs that entails. He's made his decision and I'm sure he wouldn't have it any other way. I know I wouldn't have. I think the budget planning is a good idea, too. I had organised our budget myself, and it meant that my partner often didn't understand how much we really spent on things like groceries or electricity, and I often felt like dealing with that myself was a pretty heavy weight on my shoulders. You need to share that weight, because even if you can't contribute financially, you both need to completely understand your expenses so that you can work together to cut costs where you need to.

Anyway, my partner started working full-time last month (at the same government department as me), so things are getting easier- or at least, they will after Christmas. I don't regret anything about this year, and I think it's taught us a lot about the value of money, which is a lesson that a lot of people in this town never seem to have learned.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:02 pm 
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My husband and i have gone through all kinds of variations of this- ive been the sole earner, ive made more, hes made more, and now, he is the sole earner and i am staying at home. since this is a more long termish thing (i will prob go back to school in the fall ,but only part time) i treat staying at home as my job- it seems so fifties! but really, if we are gong to live on one income, i have to keep the budget (which we share, but i manage), and do what i can to keep our expenses low. I meal plan, make food from scratch, make our laundry detergent, air dry clothes, shop for baby clothes at the thrift store, all so we can stay within our means.

When we went through premarital counseling (i actually look back and am so happy we did- we got married 8 months after our first date, and never lived together, in fact we got married when his lease ran up), the pastor who did our wedding said after talking to us taht learning to talk about money was going to be crucial to our having a good marriage. And he was right- we are naturally different in how we see money and how we talked about it. Learning to keep an open, ongoing dialogue has helped, and for us, having a completely joint view of our money has kept us from saying it is yours or mine and i am going to do what i want.

We set up some basic rules- if we have a problem, we ask the other person to discuss it at least 1 day later- cooler heads and all, unscheduled purchases over 50 dollars need to be discussed, and we use a basic envelope system for keeping our monthly dollars available, with equal amounts of personal money for each of us.

It has taken time, and right now, money is tight and i won't lie and say it isn't stressful at times, but i think both of us are able to deal with it, because we have been practicing for so long.


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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:29 pm 
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My husband and I have split household expenses 50/50 since we moved in together in 2006. However, we didn't split so we each paid half of the bills; we split it so we each contributed half of our incomes to a joint account from which bills were paid. This was the most fair as, since we've been together, I've mostly had student jobs, and equal contribution would have left me with no money of my own. For a while I was working FT (and PT) and he was unemployed. Now we both work full time. Eventually I'll be dependent on him because I want to stay home and raise our children and already the thought freaks me out. I've always contributed and I've been financially independent since we met, so my brain still isn't dealing with the thought of just buying things that my money wasn't a part of.

I think you have to keep in mind that he understood what he was getting into, and surely wants to make sure you have everything you need and want (within reason, of course), just the same as my husband knows that when we have kids, he will be supporting us all. Maybe if, in your budgeting talk, you figured out how much you needed each month for things like medication, etc... and got, erg, I don't want to say allowance, but basically, a set figure every month so you don't need to ask for money.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:43 pm 
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(I don't actually have a viewpoint on the "With a partner" part)

There are a lot of young people in my career, and I've seen a lot of stupid things regarding money. My favorite story is this guy I went to school with decided he needed to buy a car. Understandable I guess, but the first thing he wants to do is buy his dream car, not a used car, or anything sensible. 18k, using a bank loan, for a manual car, he doesn't know how to drive. Had it shipped to the school in the idea he would drive it home after graduation. It got shipped late, and to boot, when it got there the clutch was broken. Single male under 24 on a car worth more than his salary, his insurance I can only imagine is insane.

I guess my point is, money talks might suck, but it's a lot better to have someone to talk through it with than make decisions on your own, even if you aren't an impulsive spender, or just dread finances altogether. Also, know that s/he may not be overly excited about the conversation either. But that they are willing to talk about it means they are at least committed to that extent, to make it work. Not so much can be said for every relationship.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking about money with your partner
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:13 pm 
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I shall +++ what MBM said. Talking about money gives me the heebies but I think it will be great for you to sit down and talk it out with your partner. Good luck!


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