In Discussions, For Beginners, Money

The time I was an TOTAL idiot: Money and its importance in Relationships

This might be too much of a diary-thing for those of you out there, but it’s something that I hope will benefit future women readers who are either single, or in a relationship.

I also think it’s a good idea to basically show you another side of me — the idiotic, rose-coloured glasses side.

The situation I want to focus on is having been with a guy who was pretty much unemployed the entire time we were dating.

Long story short, in hindsight, I was a flipping idiot for not having trusted my gut and seen all the red flags.

..but I’ll bet you want the long story, and perhaps understand why someone who seems to otherwise have her shizz together, ended up paying for a loser for so long.

Travel-Photograph-Paris-France-Statue-Cry

This can also apply to men who are being used by their girlfriends, so keep that in mind as you read this:

WOMEN AREN’T GENERALLY BREADWINNERS

I’ll admit it.

A lot of it had to do with resentment.

Call it what you will — a lack of a strong female role model, or what have you, but even though I wasn’t expecting someone to wait on me hand and foot and shower me with gifts all the time, but I didn’t expect to be paying for the both of us.


Women aren’t expected to bring home the bacon, and coming off the wave of newly found feminism in the last 100 years, there are still some residual ideas left in my brain about not wanting to be the sole hunter in the relationship.

Not only is it risky, it’s not fair.

Say what you want, but that’s how I feel.

SOCIAL CIRCLE GUILT AND SNOB OVERCOMPENSATION

This is another reason why we stayed together for so long — I felt really guilty at feeling like he wasn’t from the same social circle as I was (I’ll let you smart readers figure out where I felt I stood).

I went to a great college, and basically had a pretty good life ahead of me.

He never even graduated high school.

I felt this class distinction pretty strongly when I met with his friends and family, and I eventually got used to learning how to change my speech patterns to be less collegiate if you will, because he told me it made his friends and family uncomfortable that I used a more complex vocabulary.

That probably should have been the warning sign.

Stockholm-Sweden-Statue-Woman-Tourist-Travel

I tried to brush away all of this nagging doubt that maybe this isn’t the right relationship for me, but instead, being the idiot I was, I went into the other extremes and tried to overcompensate by staying with him even longer to prove that I wasn’t a snob.

I quashed all those feelings that nagged at me, and tried to prove to be someone I really wasn’t.

In the end, the gap was just too big to overcome with my overcompensating, taking into account his lack of willingness to meet me halfway and at least get a goddamn job and contribute.

For the record, I don’t think I’m a snob, but there are class distinctions, shared values and taught commonalities in society that are hard to overcome if both sides are not willing to compromise and change to meet halfway.

I’ve met really smart people who’ve never finished high school, and they are interesting, fun people to be with whom I admire. In fact, his parents were some of those people, and I wish I could still call them friends.

I really liked talking to his parents because they were so full of energy, common sense, ambition and a great work ethic. Alas, it did not pass down to the apple of the tree, and you can’t stay with someone because their parents are awesome.

IT IS FRUSTRATING TO FEEL LIKE THE MOTHER IN THE RELATIONSHIP

I had to nag him for days before he would call the bloody credit card company and ask for a lower rate.

Or even for the most mundane, OMFG JUST DO IT things, like changing the address so the bills go to the right place.

ANYTHING that had to get done that was important, he couldn’t do and/or couldn’t do it on time.

I was ALWAYS the one doing all of it, and it drove me crazy because I was basically his new mother.

I was thinking and organizing for 2 lives, while working a 60-hour job, traveling like crazy, and trying to keep it all running smoothly.

Let that sink in for a bit… then read the next part:

Then I’d come home, and see his lazy ass propped up on the couch, playing an effin’ video game because he didn’t have a job, didn’t seem to job search for very long, and spent on the credit card (albeit not extravagantly) behind my back, knowing that I’d flip out over miscellaneous charges on CRAP we didn’t need.

I wasn’t a saint, but at least I wasn’t buying alcohol with someone else’s hard earned money for other people to drink while playing poker at the apartment someone else was also paying for 100%.

I think even his friends and family were amazed I was still with him, and I could see it on their faces sometimes, in small glimpses before they hastily re-arranged their face.

I don’t think anyone was really that surprised when I finally kicked him to the curb.

Once, I talked to his uncle, and the guy bluntly said:

So she’s working 2 jobs, while going to school full-time and it’s all to pay for your lazy unemployed ass?

What the hell are you doing to contribute to your relationship?

She shouldn’t have to do it all.

Be a man and help her for chrissakes!

(The language he used was stronger than that but you get the drift…)

He shrugged it all off, but little did that guy know, that started the mental ball rolling on the end of this rather useless relationship.

The lazy monkeys who were sleeping in my brain, woke up and finally did something.

YOU CAN’T CHANGE WHO SOMEONE IS AT THE CORE

If they aren’t interested in making a career for themselves, they will never do it.

If they haven’t found something to do in the interim while figuring out what they don’t want to do, they will never find what they want to do.

I was ABSOLUTELY the problem in the relationship because I let him do what he wanted, and I didn’t call him on his bullshit.

It was as much MY FAULT as it was his.

You may be wondering how a girl who has only worked less than 50% of her working years, can call someone a lazy sack of crap, because aren’t I just doing the same thing?

stock-photo-money-bills-cash-argue-couples-man-woman-marriage-divorce-negotiate-career-job

Not entirely.


Yes, I hang out and do nothing for months at a time, but I’m not mooching off anyone.

I’m paying my fair share (in money and in labour), and I’m not dependent on anyone for anything.

When I get contracts, I work. I really work, throw myself into the job and I like doing it right.

When I am off contract, I relax. Or at least I try to, without worrying about when my next contract is coming.

The point is that I’ve learned how to work hard, and then I’ve learned how to relax and turn off my working switch.

I am not always in 100% relax mode, no matter how easy-going and laissez-faire I may seem on the outside, when writing this blog.

There is always a side of me that wants to work, and feels otherwise uncomfortable when I can’t.

Likewise, if someone is totally fine for 3 years to sit around and do jack squat financially or help around in the house, and perfectly okay with living off someone else’s dime, they will be totally fine to do that for the next 100 years and won’t really change into someone who is eager to get their hands dirty.

Photograph-Travel-Montreal-Quebec-Canada-Groundhog

IN SHORT, DON’T DO WHAT I DID – I’M GLAD I GOT OUT

Don’t ignore your gut.

It knows more than you think, and even though you may not want to end something because it’s comfortable, easy and you’ve just been together for so long… do it. You can’t be with an anchor dragging you down for your whole life.

You WILL regret it.

This goes for men as well.

Don’t be with a girl who doesn’t want to help with her fair share — whatever you think the fair share should be.

If she doesn’t make as much as you, and you don’t think it’s fair that she pay 50/50, then don’t ask her to pay, but don’t let her mooch off you and use you like an ATM, while doing absolutely jack squat, which includes not helping out in the home, cooking or doing the things that people generally do if they don’t contribute financially.

Be in a FAIR relationship, whatever you define as “fair” to you.

Now, I can’t be with anyone who doesn’t want me to pay 50/50, nor doesn’t want to pay 50/50.

Maybe it sounds cold, clinical and roommate-ish to you, but it’s the only way that I can feel like it’s fair.

There’s no discussion about who paid more for when and what, and there is no resentment slowly festering, ready to burst like a blister, all over the relationship.

Get the money stuff squared away, and then focus on everything else.

Find someone who shares the same work ethic, ambition and values (including money values) as you do, and the rest will come easily if they’re the right person to be with.

 

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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30 Comments

  1. Lucian

    TLDR : After exclusively relying on their husbands as sole bread-earners for countless millennia, women are unwilling to return the favor… 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Yep. Completely 100% unwilling. I want 50/50. I don’t want anyone to take care of me. I want 50/50.

      Reply
  2. Sigsig

    I am shaking. I was about to walk down the aisle with a man just like this. We dated for 3.5 years and were engaged for two years. Reason for the long engagement – he didn’t have a job. He moved in to support me emotionally (my father was seriously ill) and stayed around while I paid the rent, all the bills, paid for the groceries (I’d give him my credit card and he would buy the groceries). He would do some of the housework, but inevitably, I would do the majority. I loved him immensely because he was my emotional rock when my father was ill, he was fun to be around, a very nice guy and he could make me laugh like nobody else.

    Unfortunately, for all the time he was mooching, he was only halfheartedly looking for work. He would send out a few resumes every now and then for jobs that he had no qualifications for (and I mean absolutely no job experience in). He would get his rejection notices and move on. A few headhunters offered him jobs in his field but he turned them down (really, he turned down jobs) because he didn’t want to “go backwards in his career” (his words, not mine). I found out later that he spent his day watching porn using the internet connection that I was paying for.

    I didn’t tell anyone (not even my family)about the situation because I didn’t want to burden them and I truly loved him and didn’t want to run him down to anyone. I convinced myself that I was well-off enough and didn’t need his or anyone else’s money to take care of myself. Unfortunately, I became so overburdened with all the responsibility that I stopped taking care of myself. I kept telling myself that I was being emotional because my Dad’s sickness was becoming terminal and I was having a hard time dealing with it. I was also appreciative that this man had been there to hug me while I had to deal with all the hospital stuff a year prior and all the tears at seeing my father getting worse. I felt guilty for having him comfort me when I was down and so I kept telling myself that I couldn’t leave him when he was unemployed and that things would get better when he got a job. I kept paying all the bills and doing the housework and dealing with my Dad and dealing with his unemployment. I watched friends who got engaged much after us get married and settle down and I kept telling myself it would get better after he got a job. Anyhow, he finally got a low-paying entry-level job in the field he wanted to specialize in after two years of unemployment. I encouraged him to take the job and he did.

    To make a long story longer, we started planning our wedding again and he told me only two weeks before the wedding (after spending his new found money on his mom, friends, etc, while still not contributing any money towards the bills) that he has no money to spend on the wedding. In fact, his parents are also in big debt, as is his brother (who happens to be a marketing executive in a prominent company). He wanted me to pay for the wedding, use my life savings to pay off their debts (because how could I see my future family be thrown out onto the streets) and continue to pay all the bills after we got married until he could build up a savings account(which I knew would not happen for a long time because he hadn’t even bothered to save any of the money from his new salary). When I stupidly offered to go for counselling and asked, “so can you at least pay for a honeymoon”, he told me he didn’t like ultimatums and left.

    Leaving me was the best thing he ever did. I finally looked at his resume (I came across it after we broke up) and he is a man in his mid-thirties with only 4 total years of broken work experience (two years of entry-level work, followed by two years of unemployment, followed by two years of entry-level work followed by two years of unemployment).

    I now have my life back and am able to focus on my family, friends and especially ME. I am happier and healthier than I have been in a long while. I also have learned a rather obvious lesson – “never date a moocher” *lol*

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I am glad you didn’t marry him. The problem would have just gotten worse. Imagine if you had had children!?

      Thank you for sharing. Your story made me shake at the end too..

      Reply
  3. Lisa

    Haha wow, this is the same situation I was in last year, but thankfully the relationship ended after…wait for it…a month and a half. I just knew it wasn’t for me.

    He had a job, but he spent all his free time on video games and eating fast food. Gross. Now, I myself am a bit of a gamer, but he literally just sat on his ass all the time. I mean, if you have a passion, do something with it! Start a blog, start a youtube channel, something! ugh

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Lisa, I couldn’t agree more.

      Reply
  4. Dayle

    Great post!
    I feel like you could have written this about me! I was in an almost identical situation for 2.5 years and finally getting rid of him was the BEST decision I have ever made in my life! Thanks for making me feel like I was not alone!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      You’re welcome. It is not easy to admit your mistakes for sure.

      Reply
  5. Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies

    Great post! I don’t think I could date a guy who didn’t have a job or at least a prospect of a job. I have always worked hard, and there was not one time since I was 20 when I did not have a job. I would expect the person I am dating to work hard too. Maybe even a little bit harder. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe that a man should be a breadwinner. Not 100% by any means, but still!

    Wow, 6 years with a person like that sure IS a long time! I am glad you have finally decided to end it!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Ditto. I’ve worked since I could work, even since I was a kid I had a newspaper route.

      Well 6 years is pretty dumb on my end. I should have seen it after a year, two max.

      Reply
  6. Lila

    I cringed while I was reading this post. I’ve only dated one person in my entire life and I can’t imagine dating someone who didn’t treat me with respect.

    Thanks for sharing some of your life mistakes. I’ve been getting really annoyed with a lot of people saying how they don’t have any regrets.

    It’s like….really, not even one regret? If you live a long life and if you’re honest you’re going to have at least one…

    Six years is better than 10, 16, 26…

    Oh by the way, I don’t think it’s wrong to split bills with your S.O…A lot of couples split over money and if it works for your relationship then who cares what other people think?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I do have regrets, but not regrets to the point where I wasted 40 years of my life and wish I had done things differently (like kick his butt to the curb).

      Re: 50/50 — exactly what I think.

      Reply
  7. cantaloupe

    Was there anything about him that you liked though? There must have been some redeeming quality…

    I don’t think money has to be 50/50. Like you said, there just needs to be a balance between what you’re each giving. My boyfriend takes my pants to the tailor. I wash the dishes we eat on. He drives me to dinner. I pay for dinner. He puts up with my moodiness. I put up with his moodiness. Give and take. And not keeping score. I honestly was trying to figure out who pays for more things between us, but I have no idea and he wouldn’t either. And that’s what works for us.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Oh yes. He was very kind and we got along fairly well, and we had a few interests together… but it simply wasn’t enough for a relationship, money troubles aside.

      Reply
  8. dojo

    I was lucky enough (please read: picky) to get a guy who was mature and worked hard. I wouldn’t have accepted anyone without a good job. Not that I wanted the guy to support me (I’ve been working since high-school and ALWAYS made sure no one is having to support me), but I wouldn’t have accepted to work and have someone play games while I busted my behind to make ends meet.

    Good riddance. He wasn’t a good match, that’s for sure

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Tell me about it. I think I needed someone who was at least willing to take a job.

      Reply
  9. Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle

    I am divorced because of money. He just kept spending. He was the big earner but he always spent more than he brought home. Wants were always ahead of needs and home repairs were just not something he considered important.

    I let him spend because it was easier than arguing with him. He was a sneak spender.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      So you know exactly how I felt then when I opened the bill for over $500 in alcohol in one day.

      Reply
  10. Aleksie

    This rings a bell for me. Not all the issues but the lack of interest in earning money while I was the sole earner. There were plenty of issues beyond that.

    At least his family seemed to get it. My ex’s family seemed to think it was perfectly reasonable for me to support him while he half-assed chased his dreams. He was the epitome of those special snowflake Gen Y people.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Well sometimes people get babied by their families and they can do no wrong in their eyes… His family was less on that scale, and I think it’s partly why I wanted to make it work because they were so good.

      Reply
  11. Michelle

    I wasted time with someone who was doing really well financially BUT was totally non-commital. He had American citizenship but was wanting to return to Prague where his family had immigrated to. He had one foot out the door and he was very clear about being conflicted about staying in the U.S. I would have moved to Prague. But, at the heart of it he was just not that into me. For almost 2 freaking years.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      So if you had moved to Prague, do you think he would have stayed with you, or not?

      Reply
  12. ArianaAuburn

    It looks like being in a bad relationship is becoming a “rite of passage” for us 21st century women. I wasted 4 years of my life with a P.O.S. ex. I dumped his irresponsible ass and married a responsible man.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      A rite of passage I wish we could all avoid.

      Reply
  13. AdinaJ

    I didn’t date a lot in my twenties, and in retrospect it may have been for the best – I probably dodged a few bullets. At that age, I was more focused on other things in potential partners, so I could have easily ended up with someone completely (financially) incompatible. Being married (with kids) I’ve come to realize how important that kind of compatibility really is; it cuts down on marital strife at least, like, 85%. LOL! Live and learn.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      You definitely hit the jackpot then 🙂 I didn’t date much either in my teens or twenties which I can also say is what caused me to be so inexperienced.

      Reply
  14. Morgaine

    I also had a similar relationship in the past but thankfully it was short lived (6 months) but during those 6 months I paid first/last on an apartment that I only lived in for those 6 months and supplemented his lifestyle quite a bit (he worked p/t). Even though I was working twice as much as he was he never did anything around the apartment, never cooked dinner either, just sat on the couch playing video games and drinking beer (guess where all of his rent money went?) I lost my job close to the end and when we couldn’t pay the rent on that apartment I told him well both of us need to look for f/t work and he refused! So I left him to worry about it on his own and moved back in with my parents until I got a new job. Lesson learned!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      He refused!? Talk about being a mooch.

      Actually, who am I to say anything? He did the same thing to me.

      Reply
  15. Romona@Monasez

    Great post. I was in a similar situation three
    years ago with a guy. I never paid for him but he didn’t have a car or license. I ended up having to drive on all our dates. He worked part time and didn’t go to school. Like you I was working two jobs and going to school full time, so I totally understand where your coming from. I think it’s great that you got the strength to leave because most girls just ride it out with hopes that he’ll change. And they never do change. These days I still see my ex walking down the road, working at taco bell. So that’s one bullet I’m glad I dodged.lol Great post.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      6 years. I wasted 6 years.

      Reply

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