On In Which I Answer a Question About Marriage and Finances That 'Call Your Girlfriend' Asked Us in October

I've never understood the splitting fancy dates pressure, because every long-term relationship I've been in we take turns planning trips or dinners in an unscheduled way, and the person asking pays. So for example, I make a lot more than my fiance whom I live with (he is a grad student on a fixed living stipend). I might take him out for sushi or to a nicer restaurant one night. Later that week, he might take us out for $5 burritos at the killer Mexican restaurant down the street. We enjoy both of these! Just because I can afford more expensive meals doesn't mean I have stopped liking casual places. We do nice things based on what we can reasonably afford, and it feels equal. Same with clothing or gifts - anything that goes beyond our basic living expenses. Since we do live together, we have a baseline budget for rent, food, and utilities that we contribute to equally. Anything beyond that (including fancy groceries, booze, home updates, etc.), we treat each other to because we love one another and when you buy or have nice things you want to share them with the person that you love. I could take fancier vacations if I went by myself, but they wouldn't be any fun without him. I guess this is a lot like splitting it proportionally, except that the fact that all non-necessary expenses are considered "extra" means there isn't any sort of "obligation" to remain the higher income earner. I don't think it's something people would necessarily articulate in that way, but I've seen plenty of friends who felt stuck in miserable jobs because they earned more and didn't feel able to switch to something less lucrative since their partner was dependent on them making more to afford their house/car/general lifestyle. Even if the lower income partner is supportive, it can very easily start to feel like a responsibility.

Posted on March 20, 2015 at 3:09 pm 0

On Sharing Time: How Much Did You Spend on Presents This Year?

1. $800.00 (including the planned amount for a few aunts which I haven't actually bought items for yet). 2. $550.00. My boyfriend and I bought each other custom engagement rings and officially proposed to one another, thus the high - for me, a childless grad school student in her twenties - cost. 3. $14.00; it was a colorful wire basket for a family friend. 4. I always budget per gift, so I do it sort of backwards but with the overall total in mind. Then I pick things out for each person that I think they will like, not going over the individual budget. My budget for the engagement ring was actually $1000.00, but it turns out it's pretty damn hard to spend that much on a men's ring (which is great!). 5. Yes 6. Yes. I've already paid it off. I like credit cards - my Discover It card gives 5% back on department store and online purchases right now which applies to pretty much all the gifts. 7. Yes. I'm excited to give people their gifts and don't feel like I strained the budget too badly.

Posted on December 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm 0

On On My Own: Figuring Out How to Pay for College After My Parents Cut Me Off

@Emily Anderer@facebook Commenting to second the "call financial aid to bargain/cry" advice. I also did this, and it always lead to a significant increase in annual scholarships at a state school. The first time I did it I received a 5k 4/year scholarship they hadn't given me in the first round. A couple of years later when I did it, they doubled another scholarship.

Posted on October 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm 0

On When Money Doesn't Matter: Up Close & Personal With The Son of a Chinese Billionaire

I swear, every time I read a piece and think "what an interesting character study" I get to the author and it's by Charlotte Shane. Also, Kai sounds a lot like a student I taught at an international school (also the son of a Chinese billionaire). We often tried to pinpoint whether he had a mental illness, because the narcissism, lying, laziness, and sort of laughing contempt for others *seemed* like it could be pathological.

Posted on August 20, 2014 at 3:26 pm 0

On On Job Hunting While Married

My college major was globally focused, and when I first started interviewing for international jobs that required a lot of travel, whether or not I had children was asked in a sort of hinting way in a lot of the phone interviews (e.g. "The schools are pretty good around here, I don't know if that would interest you.." and a minute or two later "We haven't had many women in this role, because the travel can be hard if you have a family...") Most of it was phrased as statements rather than direct questions, and I answered without volunteering any info - "I don't have any concern about the travel; it's part of what interests me in this role". I couldn't prove that they were trying to ask if I had kids, but it definitely seemed like it.

Posted on August 13, 2014 at 4:12 pm 0

On America Arrests Working Mom. Good Job, America!

I started babysitting when I was in 4th grade! Mostly for neighborhood families with toddlers, and often while one of the parents was at home and working. But I'd frequently take the kiddos down to the local park or to the local ice cream place down the street by myself. This was a little over 15 years ago...Stories like this make me concerned about having children today, bc I think the "adult supervision AT ALL TIMES" is bullshit and actually kind of harmful.

Posted on July 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm 0

On The Things You Own, Own You: Fitbit Edition

I just bought a vivofit and I love it. I'm super competitive, and their app offers virtual competitions against users with similar profiles week-by-week. I'm really good at the "not today because..." excuses for not working out, between work and grad school. This gets me to do something, and encourages me to look for small changes.

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 1:12 pm 0

On The Anxiety of Returning Things

@crenb I worked at a restaurant, and we really didn't care most of the time when people sent food back; especially if it's something we honestly messed up on. The only time it was annoying was if someone did it when we were getting slammed for something that wasn't our fault (e.g. you didn't read the description of the stroganoff, and are now surprised it contains mushrooms and want a new one). We would still order you a new dish, but we would do so while hating you inwardly. I worked there for 4 years, and I never saw anyone spit in a customer's food. I'm sure it does happen, but I think you'd have to be a real asshole.

Posted on June 17, 2014 at 9:25 am 0

On Monday Check-In

Friday evening: $40 dollars on a mother's day gift. Saturday: $10 dollars for parking at a 5k outside the city, which made me angry because they didn't mention they were going to charge for parking on top of the race cost (this was in the middle of nowhere, not in the city). Later spent $67 on groceries at Trader Joes. Sunday: I went to my parent's house for mothers day, and their neighbor who is a mechanic came over while my dad was taking a look at my car which has been making weird noises. He offered to fix my car for $100 plus parts. I needed a new rotor and brake pads, plus 2 new tires which came to $190, so $290 to have my car fixed (would have likely been 1000 in a shop, because auto shops like to try to charge me an exorbitant amount).

Posted on May 12, 2014 at 12:13 pm 0

On The Cable Cabal

@AM Comcast is our only option too, and here is what we do to get affordable internet costs: cancel your service once a year and open a new account under someone else in the household (you have to have roommates or a spouse for this to work). You get different deals as a new subscriber. Right now, our internet is $30 a month for the first 6 months, will go up to $45/month after that for 25bps download speed. This was cheaper than all of the bundle deals they try to offer us, but we only had this option after we went through with canceling.

Posted on May 8, 2014 at 11:30 pm 0