• Class, relationships and money: What happens when opposites attract?

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    What happens when Hillbilly Elegy meets Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother?

    (Oddly enough, JD Vance, author of the former, credits Amy Chua, author of the latter, as a key influence in his life and success – she was one of his professors at Yale).

    There’s lots of talk about interracial relationships, but I’m just as interested – scratch that, I’m WAY more interested – in cross-class relationships. Ones in which partners hail from very different upbringings and class backgrounds. Class barriers are not as immediately visible as racial differences, but that doesn’t mean we should gloss over their power. We just have to work harder to identify and address them.

    We’ve always had contrasting views on and approaches to money and career stuff. I’d always thought these stemmed from our wildly different personality types – and that is an important factor for sure – but I’ve come to believe that the biggest influence that shapes our approaches is our polar opposite upbringings.

    While Jessi Streib’s book The Power of the Past: Understanding Cross-Class Marriages is hardly a definitive work on this topic (it’s based on interviews with a small group of white middle-class American couples, where one partner grew up blue-collar and the other white-collar), I personally found it hugely validating of my own experiences, and it even shed some light on things I hadn’t previously considered.

    The main gist is that white-collar upbringings are associated with a more structured, managerial, proactive approach to not just money, but life in general. These partners tended to spend only after research and budgeting; save for the future; actively manage their careers; and plan and organise their time. Their blue-collar partners generally spent for today; bought without thinking; let weekends unfold at home and went with the flow.

    In short, white-collar = planner, blue-collar = laissez faire. This was true of most, though not all cases in the book.

    She makes the case that the class we’re born into leaves an imprint. Yet even after years together, the couples overlooked the ways class shaped their ideas and choices (rather perceiving these as stemming only from personality differences). Almost every couple interviewed were drawn to each other because of those differences, however many later felt that these became things they lived with but did not love. “The things that you’re drawn to sometimes become the things that drive you crazy,” one observed.

    Money, unsurprisingly, was a key battleground. People like Aaron, who spent their childhoods imagining what they would spend once they had money. bought everything he wanted once he started earning. No longer bound by constraints, he used money to distance himself from his past. Despite leaving their original class behind, they retained the strategies they learned at home.

    The strategies that worked for their parents, who typically had limited means, were spending when money was available and having faith it would work out. Worrying was pointless, since they would always have financial difficulties and no amount of planning or fretting would change that. Low savings weren’t a cause for concern, as they had always gotten by on a shoestring. And that was at complete odds with the views of their white-collar partners.

    Of course, that’s not to say that this is a blanket, universal rule. Obviously, there are blue-collar families that are financially comfortable, and white-collar families that aren’t. And for some people, growing up without much can be a great incentive to build their own security.

    I put a call out for thoughts from people in similar boats – cross-class partnerships – and was pleasantly surprised by how willing you guys were to engage on this subject. One thing is clear to me:  the PF blogging world is its own microcosm – who have mostly experienced quite the opposite of the dynamic Streib writes about!

    Because he grew up with nothing, he’s arguably got more hustle than better-off peers.

    If I dated a fellow silver spooner, I may not see as much drive and ambition in him and instead just complacency and entitlement.

    We’ve also got quite a few hustlers who grew up with not much and paired off with more laissez faire, well-off partners.

     

     

    (That said, there may well be a lot of overlap with typical immigrant values/mentality – because that’s another common thread among many of the people who replied.)

    Savvy Financial Latina and her husband grew up at different ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. Her family immigrated to the USA when she was 7 years old.

    “On top of all the cultural differences (completely different discussion), my parents had money problems. They never spent more money than they ever had. Actually, they were always the ones with savings despite their low income. Family members and friends knew they could reach out to my parents for money. I learned quickly my parents were too nice and they have been burned (again another note). I would love to say even though my parents were poor, life was happy at home. In general, the lack of money combined with other life events, always, always caused a lot of stress in my family.

    “I grew up knowing I didn’t want to be poor because when you are poor you have no options. I wished many times Superman would come rescue me and suddenly transport me to a new life. I had to work really hard to get to where I am today.

    “On the other hand, my husband grew up in a fairly middle income class family. I say they were upper middle income class, but his family assures us they were lower middle income class. To this day, they don’t realize how blessed they are. As part of a “Jones” family, he always got what he wanted in life. Enough toys, vacations, etc.”

    While coming from different backgrounds has definitely influenced their individual perceptions of money, she says they’ve slowly moved towards more of a happy medium after many years together.

    “I’m definitely the more frugal person, always saving for tomorrow. I watch every penny, and although have loosened up to some extent, I still keep up with every penny. My main fear is not having enough money.

    “I earn more money. I view work as a means to an end, but work hard to get the most out of it! My husband views life in a more relaxed way and thinks there should be more leisure. He doesn’t see the need to climb the ladder. I view more work, ultimately, as a blessing. He views more work hours as bad. I’m always thinking 5, 10, 15, 20 years ahead. My husband doesn’t think he’ll live past 45 LOL.

    “I’m starting to loosen up a lot more. Especially when you compare me to 5-6 years ago. Now, I think the next couple of years will be finding a middle ground where we are saving enough for FI and enjoying life.”




    Here’s another story shared anonymously with me, where she and her husband are both savers and both make good incomes but essentially hail from different rungs of the ladder. While both of their families have always had blue collar jobs, her parents own a blue collar business that has enabled them to build wealth and given them many more glimpses of white collar life. His parents don’t talk about money period while hers do – all the time.

    “My mom never grew out of her poverty mindset despite the wealth mine have built, which in turn left me with some poverty mindset for a while. It’s really bizarre to my husband to listen to my mom talk about how broke my parents are all the time when they aren’t really.

    “My husband is only now starting to believe me that financial independence is a real thing…basically as we hit its early milestones. No one in his family has really ever retired, so it seems crazy to him as a possibility. If we wanted to spend MMM levels of money, we could quit working right now, both of us. But we don’t want to spend that little and my husband doesn’t want to retire before his parents. They already think it’s bizarre enough that just his income can support us – they have no concept of our household income and we mostly just avoid talking about money with them.”

    His parents have no retirement savings – something she says she spends a lot of time worrying about, while her husband tries to avoid thinking about it.

    Wedding planning has also highlighted the differences between their families.

    “My husband’s extended family mostly don’t have passports so they likely won’t come, with that additional cost on top of flights. His parents and siblings are coming but they’ve definitely been telling us how expensive it is, while my parents are trying to save the $20/night hotel parking cost by parking at our place (that’s a firm no, parents!) during the event. My parents think we don’t have enough things on the registry, his parents should be paying for more things, etc. Weddings bring out so many class differences. My parents think we picked too expensive of a venue while his think the food sounds delicious. Honestly I have much less patience now for my parents trying to say they’re broke with his parents actually being broke.

    “Vacation and travel planning is another difference. His parents and siblings all work blue collar jobs where they don’t know very far in advance if they can get the time off. So they pick dates before they book flights! This confuses the heck out of me because my parents would always adjust the dates to more reasonable prices so the dates were never final until they booked flights! My parents wanted to buy us a two week Christmas trip to somewhere warm this past year and it freaked the hell out of my husband. Their wedding gift being 10x his parents’ didn’t weird him out since that was a one off thing but he did not understand parents buying a trip for their grown children.

    “I could probably go on about this stuff forever. I didn’t think our class differences were that severe but it turns out they’re more subtle than I realized.”

    One thing is clear: it’s a journey but it does get easier – the beginning is the hardest. 

    As one blogger put it:

    Lots of trying to teach him long-term vision with money.

    Progress is slow, but it’s getting better.

     

  • The least feminist post I’ll ever write

    The least feminist post I'll ever write - On being a female breadwinner and having a family
     

    After a spate of breakups, I don’t believe there are any couples left in my regular IRL circle with a clear female breadwinner. Just me. It’s a lonely place to be.

    One couple previously had a disparity, but have now equalled out, or close to it. Unsurprisingly, they are both happy about this, as it takes the financial pressure off her when it comes to having a family (particularly, god forbid, if pregnancy turned out to be difficult healthwise) which is now officially in the works! They’re working toward him getting a well-paying job so she can stay home with kids like she hopes to.

    Every other couple has fallen apart – and money has been a factor for at least some, and possibly all of them. It’s such a common thread, I don’t think it’s a coincidence. There were elements of them supporting, enabling and being taken advantage of by their partners. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh; let’s say in every case, the dudes failed to step up and pull their own weight.

    There’s also one woman I am acquainted with, who I thought might be a bit of a role model in that regard. There’s a loose parallel in our career paths and we both make more than our partner, but she’s about a decade older with kids. Yay, right? Unfortunately that illusion has been gradually shattered for me, as it’s becoming clearer that he doesn’t seem to contribute his fair share in any aspect of the relationship. And thus, theirs is not one I aspire to emulate.

    But even if you have an awesome partner in every way, who pulls their weight overall, but just HAPPENS to earn a lot less….

    Any kind of imbalance or inequality in a relationship can be tough to navigate. When it comes to money, it’s just easier if you’re roughly equal earners.

    There are the values you think you have, and then the actual feelings you have

    If I’m being honest with myself, I’d love a partner who earned as much or more than me. It’s not the outearning in itself that’s the problem; it’s the flow-on effects.

    Where it really becomes an issue is when kids come into the picture. 

    I don’t need to be looked after – but it’d be nice to have the option, you know?

    There are moments where it just feels like a rough deal all round. Not only do I have to make the bacon but bake the bun too? (Worst mixed metaphor ever. Sorry!)

    But then again, we couldn’t have predicted this; 7 years ago I thought I’d be a journalist forever and he’d work up to being a qualified tradie who’d earn the bulk of our income. How things change! And who knows what else might happen in the next couple of years?

    For now though, I think about the practicalities of eventually starting a family and am discouraged.

    The ideal would be if we both individually earned an income that would support a family, but that is not the case. The loss of my income while on parental leave reduces our income by … well, a hell of a lot more than half. And our household income is not particularly high to begin with.

    “Doesn’t that worry you?” my best friend asked me recently over lunch as we talked numbers.

    Hell yes, it does.

    Financially speaking, here’s what me being the breadwinner means if we want to start a family:

    1) I won’t be able to take a full year off (which is the norm here). Which isn’t too terrible; six months seems like a reasonable chunk to me and that would be manageable if we start planning ahead ASAP, though it’ll definitely be a stretch. I’m fairly certain I’ll be well and ready to get back to interacting with adults and doing what I’m best at by then!

    2) I won’t be able to quit my job and stay home if I change my mind. As above, I suspect I’d be itching to get back to work … but what if I’m not? I just don’t know, is all. It’s pretty unlikely though, so I’m just going to entirely ignore this possibility.

    Plus, I can’t help but worry about the off chance that something throws a spanner in the works healthwise.

    Everything might work out if everything goes to plan. But what if I have health issues in pregnancy, like some of my current and former colleagues? What if I need to give up work earlier than planned or return later than planned?




    Between biology, the work world, parental leave law (less than minimum wage for approx 4 months here), a society centuries in the making … no wonder it’s so hard to break the mould of men working and women staying home. (Not all of us aspire to entrepreneurship, remember.) It’s just not set up for it.  

    There’s the long game to consider as well, which didn’t even occur to me until a friend pointed this out to me: Add in the fact that often 1) women earn less than men do in the same job 2) have to spend more on certain things by way of being female 3) live longer and thus need more saved for retirement. Ouch.

    I don’t mean this to come off in a whiny, woe-is-me way. I feel like a bad feminist just for writing this all out (hence the title); I feel like I should be loudly and proudly proclaiming that I can and will do it all! Especially when I’ve been slammed on Facebook in the past for even daring to suggest otherwise, when I shared a link to a post that talked about how unrealistic it is to expect to have it all.

    We’ll muddle through, I’m sure. One way or another – we’ve got time to figure it out. I’ve been running some numbers here and there. But this is one financial area where I want to leave as little to chance as possible.


  • When financial opposites attract

    financial opposites

    It’s coming up to the anniversary of my buying a house (huzzah!)

    Unfortunately, the circumstances around that were, shall we say, less than ideal.

    I bought it alone. It was not how I’d imagined it happening.

    (Longtime readers know some of the back story here. If you’re a bit of a voyeur, click here to sign up for my new monthly newsletter – the first edition goes out this weekend. It’ll be all exclusive content: opening up more details about my financial journey (beyond what’s here on the blog), the ups and downs, plus my picks of the very best curated reads on money from around the web.)

    So, the past year has been a journey.

    We’ve revisited goals and aspirations and worked towards creating a new system for the day to day.

    We have in the past totally pooled money, and dipped in and out of having some separation of money over time. Right now is possibly the most separate our finances have ever been, and it’s working out better.

    That means from my end: handing over some things, learning to trust. Starting small.

    That means from his end: taking ownership of those things, and pride in doing so.

    The problem with us combining money so young and so early on, and me (being the savvy and more control freak type, taking charge of handling it all) was he didn’t really understand – the way that I did – what it takes to run the finances. The time and energy that goes into managing money. How much life actually costs. As I grew my income and thus our overall household income over the years, it was even easier to disengage and coast, and in the end get a free ride for some of it. Result: I wound up making way too many financial sacrifices.

    This way he has skin in the game – responsibility for certain things (whether it’s saving for a new fence or cash flowing pet related stuff) getting hands-on with them and owning those numbers.

    Even letting go of little things has been terrifying for me. I’m glad it’s proven to have been the right move, though. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results.

  • Husbands, housework and harmony: Why do men who earn less also do less housekeeping?

    This just in from the Atlantic:

    “Things change when the wife earns more than the husband. In that case, he does less than he otherwise would. In female-breadwinner households, the greater the income disparity, the less housework the husband does.

    The Cassinos speculate that being out-earned by their wives threatens mens’ masculinity, so they react by doing less cleaning, a stereotypically feminine task.

    The only exception to this double-injustice? Cooking. In Cassino’s study, between 2002 and 2010, men upped the amount of time they spent cooking each day. And cooking didn’t follow the same gender-threatened trend cooking did: The more their wives earned, the more time the men spent in the kitchen.

    Cooking, they speculate, has become manly—more of a leisure activity than a chore, and one that can involve flaming-hot meats, no less.”

    Sobering reading. Full disclosure: division of housework has never been totally smooth sailing for us. And oddly enough, it was at its roughest while he was unemployed. Funny, too, that cooking was the task most seized upon, or at least, the least avoided, though in our case that’s how it has always been.

    Rather than “the best househusband ever” as a friend suggested (and as you might EXPECT) I found myself not only bringing home the bacon but having to pick up far, far too much slack around the home. A symptom, I suspect, of general all-round unmotivation during that time. I won’t try to speculate on the issue of lost masculinity, though I will say that the fact our normal/prior division of labour – which does inevitably have some degree of gender influence – was not perfect to start with and this wouldn’t have helped.

    Cooking is great, but it doesn’t cancel out cleaning

    Yes, I know we should all settle for nothing less than a complete equal who pulls their weight and more around the house without being asked. (And no, it’s not always the dudes who are slacking, but a) it truly often is and b) I like alliteration.)

    But I’m gonna be honest. That was not my reality.

    In our case, he’s the much better cook. I probably produce one ‘wow’ meal in a decade, where he knocks them out on a regular basis with little effort. I’ve always been glad about this because we both get to eat better – and cooking is a significant part of keeping the house running.

    But when it comes to cleaning? I’m accepting of the fact that I am better at certain cleaning tasks and that my bar for ‘clean’ is actually higher. (When we came back from overseas and were temporarily homeless, we stayed with my parents. Thankfully. I don’t think I could have handled living at the in-laws’ – let’s just say we don’t seem to share the same standards.) It really isn’t just a gender thing in this case, it’s moreso that we come from families with very different habits. However, I’m not okay with doing all the cleaning, for obvious reasons.

    It was quite some time ago that I first read this Modern Love piece in which the author basically uses animal training techniques on her husband. (It worked – and apparently he eventually even began to use them back on her.)

    How patronising, I thought. And how frustrating. The basics are so obvious.

    And yet. I hate to say it, but maybe there’s some truth to it. I’ve found myself trying some of these tactics in the past, and I gotta say, the results were pleasing. Carrot over the stick, any day. (Gadgets also help, in this case. And I now know that steam mops can also be used to clean the shower. #lifeprotip.)

    That said, making the effort to thank each other for the little things on a day to day basis goes both ways. It’s something we both do regularly now and appreciate each other more for it. Particularly now there are two dogs in the picture (must update you guys on that!) who can be a handful, as well as the chickens and a yard to look after.

    For a relationship with less history, I doubt I would have bothered. If I was single today, I would be looking for a fully fledged adult, no exceptions.

    Mothering the manchild

    I can’t believe I’m about to type this and I’m sure I’ll get some grief in the comments. But more than one woman I’ve chatted to recently has voiced the idea that sometimes we almost have to treat them like children, which I’ve found myself nodding along to… Again, ridiculous, and I know this isn’t everyone’s experience, but it isn’t an isolated one. I came at it from the Modern Love animal training perspective, but I suppose the same holds true for training kids.

    FWIW, in these cases the women were either the same age or a little older than the men. Maybe there’s real truth to the differing rates of maturity. How often we wind up in mothering roles just as much as partnership roles. Much as I hate the term ‘manchild’, it exists for a reason; I am honestly noticing too many real-life examples around me of late.

    I really do think everyone should live on their own before living with a partner. Going straight from the family home to cohabiting seems to be a common factor in this issue. We got together young and while I’d lived on my own for a bit, he never had. I have a natural tendency to step in and handle things that need doing when they don’t seem to get done.

    The trouble is, once you’ve set a default and fallen into a pattern, breaking it is difficult. When you’re good at something it’s easy to get stuck doing it all the time. I had a real moment recently when he mused out loud about how stressful it is managing money and how naive he was – how much I actually used to shoulder when I did everything financial for both of us.

    Communicating my needs clearly is something I’ve been working on. I live very much in my own head. Introverts often have a rich inner world and countless thoughts that don’t actually see the light of day. I’ve been trying to be more conscious lately about explicitly communicating the important stuff and making sure it gets through and isn’t just locked away inside my brain, or lost in translation.

     

    Finding a balance

    I would love to have perfect income equality and household division of labour equality. Realistically getting to 50/50 in the former is unlikely, but the latter? I’m firm in the belief that a workable and equitable system is possible and necessary so that neither party (generally, me) gets the short end of the stick.

    The general weekly routine feels reasonably painless these days, more so than it used to. The house will never stay clean for as long as I’d like (things fall apart by the middle of the week, and that’s only with adults and dogs, no kids!). And if, months on, he insists on leaving things of his out lying around that invariably get chewed by the dogs, well, that’s not my problem. But it’s a meeting in the middle.

    Sports season does mean time crunches, and next season I anticipate outsourcing grocery shopping/food delivery from time to time if needed. Also, at some point in the future I think it would pay for us to get a semi-regular cleaner in to outsource a bit of the load – that was always part of my homeowning vision.

    With things having settled onto more of an even keel, I’m keenly aware of the need for balance and fairness. Winding up in a situation where I am doing all/most of the earning AND most of the chores is not an option. That is one statistical category I ain’t falling back into.

    TLDR: I think back to certain periods in the past and how much tension the division of labour caused, and wince. It’s taken time to reach a better balance, but it’s so worth it. Seriously, it shouldn’t be this hard, and yet it’s still an issue in many households.

  • Finding our financial footing (again)

    Finding financial balance with your partner

    If there’s one thing I wish my parents had taught me about relationships, it’s the importance of financial compatibility.

    Instead, the one lesson they imparted was the importance of genetic testing early on – you know, to ensure we didn’t have any horrible nasties lurking in our cells that might pass on to our kids, when combined with the other person’s DNA.

    (I didn’t really take that one on board – not when I was 16, and not when I was older, either.)

    High up among the criteria for a suitable prospective partner, according to How To Be An Adult In Relationships author David Richo, is this:

    Has no disability with respect to money (e.g., cannot earn, spend, share, save, lend, contribute, receive)

    Isn’t this just the most perfect phrase? I’ve never seen it articulated quite so well.

    I still think there’s value in different styles. Here’s a really nice way to look at it.

    When you think about it, a spender in a relationship is really working on improving your quality of life right now. Savers, on the other hand, are improving your quality of life in the future.

    I’ve got a lot of priceless memories; fun experiences I would have missed out on otherwise for sure.

    Savers can complement spenders, but it’s certainly not always easy.

    I honestly believe we would have well and truly found our groove a long time ago, had multiple bouts of unemployment not derailed things so badly.

    Lately we’ve been finding our way again, working toward a workable financial equilibrium.

    As it stands now, what I see happening is a rebuilding of trust. Proving that we are both pulling our weight, adequately protecting our income through insurance, so we can work together towards a shared future.

    I wish it were the kind of thing that could be done with the flick of a switch, in the blink of an eye, but it’s a process.

  • 5 things I’ve learned from surviving a marriage crisis

    The best relationship advice I can give

    After more than 10 years in a generally happy union, I recently realised that – like Jon Snow – I knew nothing.

    Nothing at all.

    I once read that good marriages begin after the first gigantic crisis. When you begin again, in spite of everything, and work to make it through the anger and fear and sadness.

    Separately, the wise and inimitable Alain de Botton has said that pessimism offers a solution to a lot of the pressures around relationships. Romanticism is unhelpful, and makes a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling.

    Depressing as those two paragraphs may sound, I think they ring with truth.

    There are five main things this crisis taught me. Here is what I’ve learned.

    Love is a verb

    Don’t just tell me you love me; show me through your actions.

    So many of our habits and behaviours towards our partners are manipulative

    Whether we realise it or not. Awareness is the first step.

    Do not tolerate sustained unhappiness in a relationship

    Don’t put up with it now, hoping that it will improve eventually, if you have no inkling at all for when that might be. Think about how long you could stick it out if nothing changed – a month? Six months? A year?

    Never set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm

    There is no glory in martyrdom. This isn’t a social movement; this is your life. Your happiness is what’s at stake.

    We are flawed

    All of us. So very deeply. This is something we must accept if we are to move forward.

    There it is – the best relationship advice I have to give. Have you been through a relationship crisis, and has it taught you anything new?

  • Money is no substitute for love, but love is no substitute for money either

    Love and money - you need both

    You can’t buy love. Spend your way to affection. Substitute stuff for time and attention. Paper over the cracks with lavish offerings.

    You can’t live on love. All the love in the world won’t keep you out of debt, secure a stable home, put food on the table.

    You need both. Love AND money.

    I used to think love was the most important thing ever. The real world has taught me otherwise. Love is not all you need. Love does not conquer all. Love alone, unfortunately, is a poor substitute for the basic necessities in life.

    The partners we choose for ourselves play such an integral role in our financial situation. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am today and the choices that got me here.

    Where I am today has been shaped by a lot of things beyond my control. But I made choices that set these things in motion. I may not have thought about it or realised it back then but now I have a much better understanding of why I made them.

    Even if it’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow, these are the facts. My relationship and circumstances now are a strong reflection of the choices that I’ve made to date.  In trying to escape the shortcomings of my childhood, I gravitated towards certain traits, not realising what the trade-off would be or appreciating the value of what I did have.

    I’ve come to terms with my tendencies as an enabler and the impact of this. I’m cognisant of how this has informed my decisions in the past and I know I need to be alert going forward to ensure I don’t make the same mistakes again.

    I now know what I need, what I cannot stand for, and have a clear picture of what the balance between love and money should look like in my life.

    “The goal of a relationship,” writes John Armstrong, in How To Worry Less About Money, “is that both people flourish together. And because money is a crucial ingredient in flourishing, it is a crucial ingredient in marriage.”

  • How To Worry Less About Money: 3 things I took away

    The most refreshing thing about How to Worry Less About Money is the author’s unflinching observation of how money affects relationships. In this book, John Armstrong relates this back to his own marriage.

    “My own experience is that money worries can cause terrible conflicts in relationships. I fear I have damaged Helen’s life by not making more money. And there are stylistic clashes: I like being lavish; she’s much more restrained. For instance, I like the idea of going to fancy restaurants; she prefers the modest family-run place round the corner, or chicken soup at home. (And this is all the harder to deal with because our earnings point in the opposite directions to these personal tastes).”
    Well, I’m the Helen in my life, and I can vouch for the fact that I have felt resentful many a time. I wish that weren’t true, but I am human, and perhaps not always a very good one. This is us, down to a T, especially the incongruence between tastes and earnings.  I would be curious to hear Helen’s viewpoint.

    Money and marriage

    Armstrong points out that in the world of Jane Austen, having enough money is taken very seriously (and rightly so!) as a necessary condition of happy marriage. Money reduces the fragility of a relationship, and makes people more relaxed. Money buys luxury, privacy and  stimulation. Money is for some people an aphrodisiac.

    All of these things resonate so hard (perhaps not exactly the last one, but financial stress is a huge turn off and therefore lack of money is definitely a turn off).

    Alas, there are no true solutions offered up, despite the practical promise offered in the title. This is a philosophical read about how we think about money, relate to it, the space it occupies in our minds and lives.

    It’s a book about money worries, as opposed to money troubles.

    Money troubles vs money worries

    Money troubles, Armstrong contends, are urgent. They call for direct action and can only be resolved in one of two ways: either you gain access to more money or you go without something else.

    Money worries, conversely, are about imagination and motions, not just what is happening now. Money worries often say more about the worrier than the world. They’re about what’s going on in your head not just in your bank account.

    The meaning of money

    When you strip money right back to the fundamentals, it is just a resource – a means of exchange.

    “In other words money is an instrument … Ultimately the task in life is to translate efforts and activities that are inherently worthwhile into possessions and experiences that are themselves of lasting and true value.

    “That is the ideal money cycle. Our relationship with money becomes unhealthy when we remove it from this cycle. That happens when we stop seeing money as potential possessions and experiences – but rather see possessions and experiences as potential money.”

    We’re all bombarded these days with the reminder to DO WHAT YOU LOVE. Armstrong acknowledges that we need to make enough money to meet our needs and we also need to do things that help us make sense of who we are and contribute to collective good.

    You can escape by not caring about meaning. And you can escape by not caring about having much money.  But a lot of people care about both.”

    * * *

    If you know roughly what to expect going in, this is a great read. I related to so much of it, I was constantly nodding along and found myself bookmarking what seemed like every other page.

    If you’ve read it, what did you think?

    Share the Wealth Sunday

  • Compromise where you can – and where you can’t, don’t

    Compromise where you can - and where you can't, don't

    Who would’ve thought that the latest Captain America movie could spawn such wisdom?

    To live in this world is to compromise. And to be in a relationship is to compromise.

    I kept reaching my limit … or so I thought.

    And then I would push through. Just a little longer, I would think. Surely things will change. This can’t continue indefinitely.

    For better and for worse, right?

    But when something or someone is the sole source of your stress and there is no sign of it changing – it’s time to reevaluate. Be kind to yourself, first and foremost.

    You may not know where your true limits lie. I know I didn’t. And that epiphany may wind up coming from elsewhere.

    In my case, I was physically falling apart – in rather obvious ways. That’s when I knew I had to draw a line. That was something I could not compromise on.

    Listen to your body, because it doesn’t lie.

    I may have had to learn the hard way, but now I know where I can and cannot compromise.

  • Link love (the looking back edition)

    I’ve just finished reading How To Be An Adult In Relationships, which a couple of people have recommended.

    It was probably the wrong time to pick it up, as in months too late; and to be frank it didn’t meet my personal expectations overall. It got off to a slow start and I almost gave up but I’m glad I didn’t, as it improved from there. If it reinforced one thing for me, it’s how much our parents and childhood shape our ability to relate to others as adults…! There were definitely quite a few parts that spoke deeply to me, and I thought I’d share them here.

    • Are you happy together more than half the time? Would you stay in a relationship with someone you loved if you were unhappy?
    • Here are the words of an adult: “Even though ……… I have to let you go because you do not meet me at my soul/adult level.”
    • We need conflict in order to evolve from romantic projection to mature self-affirmation.
    • Am I in a relationship with someone who presses down on my lively energy like an incubus, an invisible yet nonetheless weighty presence? Why do I allow anyone to limit my energy?
    • Ask for what you want 100 percent of the time. Say yes to yourself twice as often as you say no, but be willing to compromise.
    • Sometimes it is necessary to let my feelings happen without acting on them. Sometimes holding is more important to my growth than releasing. This means surrendering control over my feelings and riding them where they may go or stay.
    • Being compassionate does not mean becoming a caretaker. (And there’s an excellent chart contrasting the two)
    • “How shall I proceed? Do I wait for her to change, or do I find a way to take care of myself and attend to my concerns using my own resources?”

    This week’s links

    Stop telling me to quit my job!

    “One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women …the constant message that being sexy means being naked.” Preach, Alicia Keys!

    On keeping creativity and money separate

    Calling out a racist

    On balancing saving and life (I can’t handle multiple goals at once either!)

    Letting go of stress

    All the ways we get ripped off just by living in NZ

    Spending no more than $150 on food for five days ‘do-able but pretty miserable’ for family of six (we spend about this much for 2 people for a week and are reasonably frugal -we would struggle to pull this off even if we cut right back!)