Sunday, February 3, 2013

you & me & our finances

I get super excited whenever anyone tells me they read my blog and like it.  It makes me very happy that what I write can be interesting or funny to other people.  I’ve realized, too, that I’m a writer – I enjoy the process of putting pen to paper, and writing is the most effective way (besides conversations with wonderfully smart friends) to organize and realize my thoughts.  The oddest thing, though, is that occasionally I will get the impression that people think I’m judging them if they don’t have a 401K or have a lot of savings.  I am much more interested in learning about money, investing, psychology, and taxes than in critiquing people whose finances I don’t know the details of.  If anyone ever does want to talk, I’m all ears.  Let’s nerd out & figure out money together.

When it comes to relationships, finances can certainly make things tricky – it’s not a surprise that a large portion of couples fight about money to some extent.  I have realized long ago that your own relationship will probably (and should) seem better to you than most of the relationships around you.  Why of course, that’s because yours is custom-fit and built to make you happy, while all those other relationships don’t involve you, don’t concern you to a large extent, and frankly might not be fully revealed to you.  So many things work for different people that I’m not naïve enough to think that there is one way for a relationship to be equal and happy.  When I talk about financial equality, I don’t assume that two people need to make the same amount (or even both be working) for that to be the case.  To me, being financially equal in a relationship means having clarity on your individual and joint financial goals, where you stand on them, what you’re doing to achieve them, and both having information about accounts/investments.  So basically, being on the same page, making big decisions together, and having access to all joint accounts.

Being in an LDR sucks in every respect, though I suppose the independence can be nice.  (Let it be known that being long-distance is the worst not because you don’t get to see your partner, but because since they’re not around to give you a foot massage and a hug after a bad day at work or to make out with on the regular, you basically have to start feeling numb/ok with that lest otherwise you spend all of your time being sad at not having those things.)  Ahem, so finances.  When I started my job ~1.5 years ago, my boyfriend lived with me for a few months while waiting for clearance for his job, and that was the closest we got to shared finances & cohabitation.  It was actually weird to be in such disparate positions (me with lots of money and no time, him with no money coming in and too much time).  The time/money tensions came to a head on one fateful Friday when I came home and … dun dun dun … saw my library books on the desk.

You see, I had asked my boyfriend to drop them off that day because they were overdue, which I figured shouldn’t be a huge deal given the library is about a three minute walk away, and he agreed.  I can see patterns of resentment growing from similar situations where only one person works – you have certain expectations upon coming home (and let it be said that I never ate better than those few months of boyfriend-supplied meals), while the person at home may feel unappreciated and frustrated with completing manual tasks routinely that may not leave much to show for them (cleaning, cooking).  What’s crazy is that I never expected to have those problems when living together – of course, it was only a minor road bump once we were able to realize that (as with everything) we were approaching the situation from different positions & view points, and were both trying to achieve the same thing – spending the short time we had together happily.

How would you define financial equality in a relationship?  Have you ever had a hard time finding & maintaining it?

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