Relationships

The Cost of Getting a Green Card

A green card, which may or may not actually be green, is a Permanent Resident Card. To have one is to be able to remain in the United States indefinitely and, most importantly, to be able to work here. Permanent Resident status is also the first step toward full citizenship, which is more advantageous than mere residency because it allows you to vote and run for office (but not President!), and protects you against deportation in the event that you are convicted of a felony. (It is a big, crucial first step. After you get to be a resident, citizenship is comparatively easy.)

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Getting Married and Living on $11 Per Hour

When my wife and I first got married, I was working at a real estate office in Miami while she finished her degree in nursing at Florida International University. I hadn’t finished school yet and wasn’t very close to doing so. She was in her last—and toughest—semester. (Try your best to continue reading this before you make your judgments about whether we should have gotten hitched or not. If we get divorced, I’ll let you tell me that you told me so.)

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The IKEA Furniture We Live With That Inevitably Ends Up on Craigslist

Two years ago, in a fit of mania and a deep desire to live in less hideous surroundings, I went to Ikea and bought a bunch of shit. My boyfriend and I lived in a one-bedroom on the first floor of a dumpy street, where we had a view of a blindingly bright auto repair shop that used more fluorescent paint than a rave. The apartment was stuffed with ugly hand-me-downs given to my boyfriend by his mother, and I’d occasionally wake up and gaze at my surroundings and think, “Am I 32? Is this what 32 looks like?” This crippling rumination often resulted with me on the couch on a sunny day, unable to do anything more than watch back-to-back episodes of Haven while eating gummy bears.

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The Cost of Breaking Up and Moving Out

Last month, my relationship of five-plus years ended. Emotionally, it was about 75 percent mutual and 25 percent devastating. Financially, it was 100 percent a huge setback to my savings.

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“If the guys are hot, too, then sure, they can get a hot girl.”

There is so much to love about The Atlantic’s article “The Myth of Wealthy Men and Beautiful Women.” It reports on a new study by University of Notre Dame sociologist Elizabeth McClintock which states that romantic pairings are more likely to be people who are closely matched in terms of compatibility and values than people who are exchanging one type of scarce resource for another (e.g. “wealth” for “beauty”).

Read the whole piece, because the way Atlantic writer James Hamblin gets to the conclusion is delightful — he invokes the Simpsons episode “Lisa’s Rival” and suggests that some of the scarce resources couples could swap might be “graduate degrees” and “marketable skills” — and make sure you read every single quote from his interview with Dr. McClintock:

“Women spend a lot more time trying to look good than men do. That creates a lot of mess in this data. If you don’t take that into account then you actually see there’s a lot of these guys who are partnered with women who are better looking than them, which is just because, on average, women are better looking.”

“If the guys are hot, too, then sure, they can get a hot girl.”

“It’s not just this trade of his money for her beauty, and he’s going to dump her as soon as she starts to get some wrinkles around her eyes.”

(And now, the question for y’all: is your romantic pairing based solely on compatibility and values, or did you take into account resource-swapping — even a little bit — when you built your partnership?)

 

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A Father-Daughter Duo Answers Your Questions: Balancing a Relationship With Financial Differences

Here’s the problem: my boyfriend has HUGE student loan debt. Like, staggeringly large. His salary is pretty low… which doesn’t bother me except that he’s barely making any inroads on paying off his debt, and doesn’t really have a plan to do so. I don’t mind being the bigger contributor to our rent, bills, etc., but I don’t want to sink my life savings into paying off his debt, not least because of the, let’s face it, entirely real possibility of future break-up or divorce. A girl’s gotta be practical.

Photo: Vinoth Chandar

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Account Joined

When we got home, though, I started to freak out. Not freak out because now our money was intertwined and swiftly dwindling and SOMEONE didn’t pay the electric bill for a few months and so one of the first charges was like $200, which was historically something I wouldn’t have been aware of. No, I decided to channel my anxiety of our ever-increasing co-dependence into the fact that this account was HIS account and not mine. I was simply on it.

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Do You Owe a Present to a Bride Who Owes You Money?

In today’s Carolyn Hax advice column at the Washington Post, someone wants to know whether they need to get a wedding gift for a deadbeat bride who happens to also be a relative. As in all good advice-column questions, you can feel the heat of the writer’s anger rising in waves off the screen:

Dear Carolyn:

Do I buy the bride-to-be a wedding gift, even though she owes me money she borrowed and never paid back? I’m not the only person to whom she owes money, by the way. It’s like we’re paying for her wedding because she’s kept the money and it rankles to have to fork out more cash to buy a gift. It complicates matters that she’s a family member. Is there a polite way to say your wedding gift is that you don’t have to pay me back?

J.

I love this question because the letter writer “J.” clearly believes the answer should be “No, Of Course You Shouldn’t Have To Get This Dumbquat A Present; How Dare She Get Married When She Owes You Money? She Should Be Glad You’re Even Going To Her Farce of a Ceremony.” J. is writing because J.–who I will assign the gender ze/zir for clarity’s sake–wants zir righteous indignation confirmed. I love righteous indignation. I love how enraged entitled people get when faced with other people’s entitlement. 

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The Average Affair Will Cost You $2600 Apparently?

According to a press release sent to Mike by a concerned tipster and loyal reader — haha, JK, by Edith — “The Average Affair Begins 2 Years into Marriage, Lasts Six Months and Costs Over $2,600.” Are you ready for this?

In addition to potentially costing a person their happy home and marriage, a leading coupon brand has revealed that the average affair costs the cheating party over $2,600, including dollars spent on expensive dinners, hotel check and gifts while sneaking around behind their spouse’s back. The survey, conducted by www.vouchercloud.net, was part of the company’s wider research into the leisure spending of American citizens, after an increase in searches for dating discounts. 2,645 US citizens took part in the study, all of whom were aged 25 and over and had been married to their current partner for a minimum of 5 years.

Aged 25+, married 5+ years … holy god, they’re talking about me! So what do I have to look forward to?

The following list reveals the average spend per item per month:

Hotel Bills – $123 Dinner & Drink Tabs – $162 Gifts – $54 Date activities e.g. cinema tickets – $69 Other – $36

This equates to average expenditure of $444 per month. Considering the average affair lasts for six months, the total cost of an illicit extramarital relationship was revealed to be $2,664. The adulterous respondents were then asked: “Did/Does your spouse ever question your finances or notice any unexplained expenditure, in relation to your affair?” to which only a third (32%) said that ‘yes’, their partner had noticed their extramarital financial commitments.

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How Evangelical Christians Do Money: On Tithing

He doesn’t need my money. The church will continue to exist without my measly portion of income. But my heart needs to give it.

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The Cost of Things: A Vasectomy!

Anna Sale’s fabulous new podcast Death Sex and Money recently featured the story of an Australia father of four who made the decision — eventually, after some angst — to get a vasectomy at the hands of a physician called, I swear to god, Dr. Snip.

Here in the U.S., the pill is the most commonly used form of birth control. Second is female sterilization, procedures like women getting their tubes tied, which is a more common form of contraception than condoms. But urologists say that vasectomies are simpler, safer, faster, and less expensive.

This led me to wonder, just how much more expensive is sterilization for ladies as opposed to gentlemen? According to BabyCenter’s fact page:

The cost of sterilization procedures ranges from $1,500 to $6,000. Most insurance companies will cover at least part of the cost of the procedure. In fact, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must now cover contraception and sterilization with no cost to you. Plans that existed on March 23, 2010 – and some religiously affiliated employers — are exempt, but many are complying with the changes anyway.

As you might expect, a vasectomy is cheaper as well as easier:

Vasectomies cost about $350 to $1000 — far less than surgery to sterilize a woman — and many insurance companies will cover the procedure.

Basically the same difference in cost between being a bridesmaid and being a groomsman. Typical. After the jump, watch the intense but mostly SFW video of the vasectomy performed by Dr. Snip, filmed (discreetly) in real time. 

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The Cost of Things: Supporting Podcasts, Radio, & Friends

Mike: “I don’t want your money! Keep your money!” Ester. I can’t get that song out of my head—it’s stuck. It’s from 21 Chump Street, from the This American Life musical that just went up earlier this week.

Ester: That’s hilarious, MD. I haven’t listened to it yet but I’m highly susceptible to earworms so I’m sure that once I do I too will suffer from your malady.

Mike: So, it’s from their live show, and they have a video you can download if you want, and yes, I wanted it. The cost of it was $5, but they said that since the show was so expensive to make it’d be great if you could pay more. So I paid $20.

Ester: That’s great of you! Did you consider waiting to see how much you enjoyed the content before deciding how much to give them in exchange for it? I just signed up for Slate Plus, where you pay the site $50 a year or $5 a month to get upgraded content — podcasts without ads, for example — but that was after years and years of reading and listening to Slate content gratis. Their value had already been demonstrated.

Mike: I decided that $20 was a fair price to pay for something I listen to on a weekly basis and want to continue to support, so I paid it without waiting to see if I liked the video itself.

Ester: Right, that makes sense. You’re not paying for the video, after all; you’re rewarding them for their track record. I have done that too for TAL specifically. (I’m a radio dork.) But do you have other podcasts that you listen to and like and haven’t contributed to, even though they’ve asked? What’s your criteria for deciding which listening experiences to support?

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