Lisa and Bryan are moving in together and, against everyone’s better judgment, are documenting it on the internet. I’m mediating so it isn’t totally them just publishing their personal emails to each other—they’re publishing their personal emails to ME. Lisa’s terrible with money and Bryan is great with money. They are shooting for a February move-in date, but first they have to find a place.
TO: LISA AND BRYAN
SUBJECT: (no subject)
Are you guys still moving in together or have you come to your senses? Also how did you make this decision in the first place?
SUBJECT: Re: (no subject)
Bryan and I first decided to live together one very drunken night in August when our relationship was a very mature four months old. At a wedding after party in San Luis Obispo after countless bottles of wine, a few glasses of scotch and a shameful amount of Jagermeister shots, Bryan asked me to move in. Knowing it was too soon, I told him I was not about to move in with someone unless I knew were … ya know… moving forward in the relationship at some point. He said, “Are you talking about marriage? Oh, don’t worry, I’m going to marry you.” After hours of watching bridesmaids walk down the aisle and father-daughter dancing, that was all it took for me.
Over the next few days we started discussing the details—the wheres and whats and hows. We came up with a dream apartment with a dream price tag:
Laundry in the unit
Some sort of yard and/or patio
A stable for the pony I’m going to get
And we decided all that was fairly worth about $2000/month. Assuming we’d split that evenly, that seemed doable to me. I am currently paying about $800/month to live in a spacious 3-bedroom in West Hollywood, with roommates. What’s a couple hundred more a month? Especially for all those amenities. Done and done.
That was… until we started looking. By the looks of Craigslist and some other website rental agencies, we might have been aiming a bit too high. We live in Los Angeles. Sure, there are neighborhoods where a $2000 2-bedroom exists, but I’m not willing to start carrying a gun to get the mail (or live in the valley). And that’s when the financial shame spiral hit.
I remembered—for the first time in this process—that I am in debt and moving costs money. The last month’s rent, the security deposit, the movers. Where is that money going to come from?? It started seeming really irresponsible to throw away an extra $2,400 a year. That’s $2,400 that could go toward that debt. $2,400 that could go to a few weekend getaways a year. $2,400 for all that pony maintenance.
And thus started my semi-annual financial breakdown. What fantastic timing! You know, that time every few months when I realize I need to be making at least $200,000 a year to live the life I want to live (and am irresponsibly already living). Luckily, this time when my mind started spinning to the point of nausea, I was able to turn to my friend, partner, and future roommate, Bryan, to help me off the ledge.
I’m really lucky that even though Bryan doesn’t have my financial woes, he’s still able to sympathize with money freakouts. He agreed that there is no reason for us to spend more than we’re paying now. We decided to downsize our expectations. We can live in one bedroom, right? We can deal with doing our laundry in some communal space like we do now. We can get more window fans and do dishes by hand if need be. We can let the pony sleep in the bathtub.
We’re now looking for something in the $1600-$1800 range. We’re not looking in my neighborhood, which, unless you get in to a rent controlled place like mine, is pretty pricey. Our dream home is looking less like a fantasy, but we’ll both be there, right? So how can it be bad? LOVE MAKES PEOPLE SETTLE FOR LESSER THINGS!!
Plus, at a one-year-old’s birthday party this weekend Bryan promised to build me a house some day. Other people’s momentous events make him really romantic and generous. I can’t wait to go to our first funeral together.
SUBJECT: Re: Re: (no subject)
“Oh don’t worry, I’m going to marry you” !?!??!?!?!
That’s not real life. That’s movie dialogue. I’m very proud of you for putting off moving in together immediately. Nobody is sane in the first few months of a relationship, and I’m glad you recognized it.
Today I was in traffic for 80 minutes. It usually takes 20 to get to work. I finally got to the intersection where the problem was stemming—it was a huge water main break at the corner of Bryan’s block. So my first instinct was to call Bryan and tell him so he could take another route. And what did he say? “Oh, I saw it when I walked out my apartment so I took the freeway” AND YOU DIDN’T THINK TO TELL ME???????????????
So I realize we need to budget for an larger couch for him to sleep on some nights.
SUBJECT: Re: DEALBREAKER!?!?!?!?!?
You didn’t CC Bryan on this, I noticed.
SUBJECT: Re: Re: DEALBREAKER!?!?!?!?!?
No I can’t wait until it goes up and he sees how mad I am at him.
SUBJECT: Re: Re: Re: DEALBREAKER!?!?!?!?!?
Oh jesus christ this experiment is already going awry. Forward this to your boyfriend before it goes on the internet.
Lisa and I can be easily distracted by marathons of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet, so knowing we needed something to write about forced us to start having the conversations we needed to have—well, that and Lisa’s semi-annual financial breakdown.
I admit I did ask Lisa to move in while under the influence of a few adult beverages, but love was in the air, we were at a wedding for God’s sake. They say drunk words are sober truths and that is definitely the case here. I had been thinking about asking Lisa to move in with me for a little while, but I knew it was quick and was afraid that it would scare her, so it took a little liquid courage to actually ask.
As Lisa mentioned, we had our first big discussion, which was about managing expectations. I have been thinking about moving into a bigger place for a while now but haven’t because I didn’t want to increase my monthly expenses. All of sudden when we started talking about moving in together I was all for spending more a month, the opposite of what I thought would happen if I ever lived with someone.
When we talked, we realized that while a few hundred more a month than we pay now doesn’t seem like a lot, that money could easily pay for vacations (I am currently working on taking Lisa to Paris next year – shhhhhh….), etc. An extra bedroom would be nice but sacrificing travel and fun for a room that will be empty most of the time doesn’t make sense. We’re going to have to compromise on a few things from our wish list, like making the pony sleep in the bathtub, but we will get those things as we move into better places over the years.
We also talked about the upfront costs that come with moving. First and last months’ rent, security, movers, etc. (Aren’t we too old to ask our friends to help us move?) That all adds up quickly. Lisa is concerned about where the money to cover these costs will come from. Fortunately, I’m currently in a financial situation that would allow me to cover most of the moving costs. I was hesitant though, to offer to take care of these costs because Lisa and I are both independent people, and it has taken awhile for her to accept me just paying for dinner when we go out. I made the offer and as expected Lisa declined—she indeed wants to contribute evenly.
This has been the hardest part for me because I respect Lisa and her wanting this to be an even partnership, but I was also raised watching my father provide for my family and me and I just want to do the same. I know money’s tighter for her than me right now, and I’d rather her not put herself in more debt to cover these costs when I have the ability to help. While she feels like me paying for these costs indebts her to me, I disagree—these are cost for starting our life together so these costs are ours. I feel like the money should come from wherever it is available. I foresee a lot more conversations on the topic in the future. We look forward to telling you all about them!
P.S. About the couch…we are not buying a new couch. We have discussed the things we’ll have to buy for the new place and replacing a perfectly good couch is not on that list! Besides, that couch is plenty big and comfortable enough for
Lisa me to sleep on.
Lisa and Bryan live in LA.