On In Which I Answer a Question About Marriage and Finances That 'Call Your Girlfriend' Asked Us in October
My wife and I have been married for almost ten years, but we combined our finances at the beginning of the calendar year of our wedding. All the money we earn goes into a set of joint accounts, and all our household bills, vacations, meals/entertainment out together, etc., are paid for out of those accounts. I had literally just finished paying off my student loan when my wife and I combined finances; we're still paying off hers (out of the joint accounts). I understand the desire to maintain economic independence but I have a hard time getting my head around how maintaining separate savings accounts works longterm. It seems inevitable that one person is going to be making more than the other, maybe significantly more. In my own marriage the huge bulk of our money is spent on things we do or own together. It just seems like trying to have people contribute equally would mean either one person would be stretching themselves economically or the other would be saving up money to be used ... for what? We haven't always been economically equal in the time we've been married but I feel like it's all evened out. Earlier on I usually earned more than my wife; in the past few years, she's earned more. We also inherited some money from her family over the course of the year. Also, I'm a freelancer, so even in years that I've earned more than her, having access to health insurace at rates much lower than what I'd pay as an individual and just the smoother income of a steady paycheck has been very valuable to me economically. She also already owned a house when I met her, but once we combined our finances we paid the mortgage out of our joint accounts; she had also borrowed money from her grandmother for the down payment, and we paid that debt off together. We do have individual checking accounts for certain things that we do as individuals that it doesn't make a ton of sense to take out of the joint account -- clothes and meals out without our spouse, mostly. The money in these accounts comes from our joint accout -- a set amount twice a month, we call it our "allowance". The amount of the allowance doesn't track our individual incomes or anything -- originally they were equal but I ended up upping my wife's because she spends more on clothes than me, and the point was to get those purchases out of the accounting I had to keep track of, not to impose some arbitrarily "fair" amount.
It's worth pointing out that the idea of a minimum guaranteed income actually has support from conservatives, though it's almost entirely from conservative economic theorists. Their belief is that it's much more efficient to just give poor people money than to divvy up economic aid into various targeted anti-poverty programs like SNAP, Medicaid, TANF, Section 8/subsidized housing, etc., etc. Generally their recomendation is to have a "negative income tax", where the lowest brackets in a progressive income tax system give money to the taxpayer rather than taking it. The Earned Income Credit, expanded significantly under Bush, is a watered-down version of this idea. The problem with this is that actual conservative voters and elected officials tend to hate the idea, since it does in fact involve giving money directly to poor people.
@HelloTheFuture I always found MARC to BWI very reliable, keeping in mind that the shuttle bus adds about 15 minutes to the trip. (If you're flying Southwest, that's the first stop on the shuttle, too!) Admittedly I was always coming from Baltimore and I know you have to add another 20 minutes on the train from the other end. Depending on where you're coming from on the Red Line in DC I can see it becoming kind of a slog (I was lucky enough to live a 10-minute Hopkins Shuttle ride from Penn Station in Baltimore.)
NICOLE SORRY TO DO THIS B/C I KNOW IT IS TOO LATE NOW BUT FOR FUTURE REFERENCE: BWI is a Southwest hub so that it has lots of direct flights everywhere and is also a DC airport! And unlike Dulles, there is a real live train connection there, from Union Station. (OK, you get off the train and have to get on a shuttle bus but it's really not that bad, trust me.) There's a direct BWI-FLL flight from 835 to 1120 am on 1/31 that costs $130 :( Also, you can take a NJ transit train direct from Penn Station to EWR airport (well, direct to a station where you get on a monorail, but still). As convenient from many places in NY as trains to JFK, though pricier.
I was flying back from Buffalo to LA and scheduled to get in at 930 and so my NYE plan was to get home and hang out with my wife who similarly had plans to stay home and wait for me. The original idea was that I would take the FlyAway shuttle bus from LAX to Union Station (cost: $8) and either have my wife pick me up there or take a Lyft/Uber home (10 minute drive, should be cheap). But my flight was delayed and there was a jam in the luggage system that delayed our bags further and so I didn't step out onto the curb until almost 1040, and so by that time I was tired and cranky and did NOT want to get into the downtown area just in time for the midnight celebrations, and anyway some jerk had parked in front of our driveway and blocked my wife in so she couldn't come get me from the train station anyway, so I decided to just take a cab from the airport. I knew it would be expensive but figured I would splurge. I didn't know HOW expensive it would be, though. WELL. Did you know that a cab ride from LAX to Echo Park, a distance of approximately 20 miles, costs upwards of $70? It is true! This was a particular sticker shock given that the Lyft I had taken in the opposite direction cost about $35. Anyway, this just reaffirmed my determination to use the $8 FlyAway bus when not flying out at weird times (i.e. not at 6 am, like when I flew east, or 1030 on New Years Eve), and/or to fly in and out of Burbank, whenever possible.
Our Lack table, which my wife already owned when I moved in with her in 2003, is sitting in our living room, surrounded by "real" furniture. We even paid to move it from Baltimore to Los Angeles this year. I dunno, it's just ... functional? Decent? It's never really occurred to us to replace it.
@Derbel McDillet you walk out of Pittsburgh BETWEEN statues of Franco Harris and George Washington! Truly makes you proud to be an American.
If you're flying into/out of LA, you might look into Burbank Airport instead of LAX. It's in Valley, though not, like, crazy deep into it or anything, and is closer both as the crow flies and in terms of driving time to lots of parts of the area. Plus it has no jetways, so you get to walk down wheelie stairs onto the tarmac like the glory flying days of yore! The downside is that Burbank has a lot fewer flights, so the times are sometimes less convenient, and they can be more expensive. (I'm not flying at Thanksgiving, but am at Christmas, and sadly will be doing LAX instead of Burbank.) If you are doing LAX, consider using the FlyAway bus instead of driving: http://www.lawa.org/FlyAway/Default.aspx $8 each way, and there are routes to four different spots within the area, including Union Station. Takes special bus lanes on the highway so gets there a bit faster than driving, though you have to wait for it to go around the whole terminal loop. You could also consider waiting until 2021 or whenever the train finally gets there.
My wife and I just moved from Baltimore to LA. We moved from a 1400 square foot 3-bedroom house to a 850 square foot 2-bedroom house, and we hired a moving van so we were paying by the pound, so we purged purged purged so many things before we left -- lot's of clothes, books, furniture, etc. Made almost $1,500 selling things, believe it or not, which we needed, because the move wasn't cheap. We paid for a full-service moving van, which is to say, movers at both ends, and a tractor-trailer that drove across country with our stuff without us, and packers for the breakables in Baltimore (they won't insure things they don't pack themselves). The movers cost $6,857.73, including cash tips at both ends. The drive across country, which took eight days, cost about $1,250, which includes the gas, two nights in hotels, and meals out pretty much every day, including treating the friends and family who let us stay with them on non-hotel nights to dinners and lunches. It wasn't cheap but it was still insanely stressful, and I wish you luck in doing it, and packing things yourself at one end, and having a baby in tow!
@jfruh PS this is a pretty great resource to see what's streaming on what services: http://www.canistream.it/