Category Archives: Dating and Relationships

Let the Wedding Planning Commence (AKA Why I Shall Be Excommunicated by the PF Community)

No need for congratulations folks, I’m NOT engaged. Nothing to see here. Move along…

But, I think it’s fair that after seven+ years of dating (and a commitment-longing boyfriend who nearly dumped me in year one because of my admittance that I had no interest in marriage), I’m starting to think about “the big day” to seal the deal.

We’ve both agreed that 2015 is the right year to get married, and I’ve told him I need, ideally, a year and a half after the proposal to plan our wedding (mostly just for 18 months to commit to a hardcore diet and exercise routine because dear lord there is no way I’m walking down the aisle with jiggly tricep wings.) Why an old fashioned proposal? He is adamant that he is the one to propose, and he wants to surprise me, though that’s a bit of a challenge now that we’ve been dating seven years and have practically agreed on our specific 2015 wedding date.

Due to our families being on both coasts, it’s going to be a big production to ensure those most important to us can attend. He has a smaller family, and they’re mostly younger and in better shape compared to some folks on my end, so we’ve agreed that it makes more sense to have the wedding on the east coast (despite my long-term desire to get married at a beautiful northern California venue.) A lot of people have recommended having two separate parties, one on each coast, but that just won’t do. To me, what’s most important about a wedding is bringing the two families together. If we can’t accomplish that, then I’d be just as content with celebrating a quick elopement at city hall and calling it a day.

Or maybe I should be content with that plan anyway. While at 20 I dreamed of designing the perfect wedding and walking down the aisle in a princess dress, at 30, and much more financially savvy, the whole industry just reeks of rip off. Yes, there is definitely ways to have weddings on the lower end of the price spectrum, and lovely ones at that, but it becomes more challenging in a region with unstable weather patterns at any time of year (i.e. a good tent rental or indoor venue is required.) But beyond that, I know myself, and if I’m going to have a wedding, I’m likely going to give into that 20 year old voice in my head – though the dress will likely be more queen than princess in my ripe old age of 30-something.

Step One: How Much Do Venues Cost?

As the first step in the process, I’ve begun making a list of venues that photographically speak to me across the web, and have sent out simple inquiry letters to get a better understanding of pricing and options. When you start talking in the tens of thousands of dollars about anything it’s easy to loose touch of the difference between $30,000 and $50,000, because they’re both a whole lot of money. My father has apparently put away $50,000 for wedding me off, which seems absolutely ridiculous, except not, when I found out how much it costs for any of these professional spaces.

At the high end, a venue I adore in Pennsylvania is $175 per person, with a $5 per person add on for a ceremony. That wouldn’t be so bad with, say, 50 people, but this venue (and most venues in our area) has a minimum people requirement, especially on Saturday nights. Their minimum person count is 175, making it cost $31,500 for just venue and the meal. Perhaps that’s in my budget if I wear a dress from TJ Maxx and ask my friends to put together a band for the entertainment.

So I started with that and worked backwards. I don’t want to spend $50,000 on a wedding, and the rational part of me is saying “idiot take the $50,000 for a partial down payment on a house or invest it for the future or use a chunk of it to travel the world in style and put the rest away for safe keeping, don’t spend it all on one stupid day.” The wedding industry wants you to think that’s normal.

But Can’t I Just Have a $10,000 Wedding?

I recently found myself transfixed by a Four Weddings marathon where four brides compete with one another to win the votes of the other girls for best wedding. What’s most interesting about the show is how they actually display how much each wedding’s budget was — and it seems, more often than not, the weddings with the bigger budgets win (the prize of a lovely honeymoon, which clearly those with the smaller budgets more needed to win.) I read an interesting post somewhere (I can’t find it at the moment) which went back and analyzed the entire series of Four Weddings to determine if the most expensive weddings won more often, and the blog author also analyzed not just total budget but the cost per wedding, finding that weddings that were at least in the mid range or higher fared better overall.

But, other then these bridezillas trying to win a prize for having the best wedding ever, who really cares what other people think? Isn’t a wedding supposed to be about the two people committing their heart and souls to each other for all eternity, yada yada? I really want the wedding to bleed “us” without the blood, and symbolize our love for each other. I don’t want some sort of terrible hall for a standard reception complete with ugly 1980s carpeting and curtains. Beyond this, I’m aesthetically picky. Blame Pinterest, but my addiction to more vintage, DIY-looking, romantic weddings has been pinned and piqued. And there’s no turning back now.

Theoretically, this DIY look can be achieved for less than the typical, traditional wedding. After all, it was clearly inspired by brides seeking to have a classy wedding without the “downpayment” price tag. My mother, judgmental as always, disagrees with just about everything I want for my own wedding (yes this has been discussed as, if my parents pay for it, she feels – rightly so – that they get a say.)

I could opt to pay for the entire thing myself (I’m a working women) and I’m torn on this because it feels just wrong taking any money, especially of that size and sum, at this point in my life. And, if my father is throwing $50k at me to celebrate a wedding — and if it’s a party for them as much it is for me (and given that he has terminal cancer and has dreamed of the day he’d see one of his children wed) I kind of feel ok with it, albeit not quite the total cost. My boyfriend would be happy with a small, intimate wedding in a park any day, so this big hoohah would largely be for my parents. In that case, they can pay. I doubt I’m ultimately going to be able to enjoy the day much anyway, knowing the stress level of such events in my family.

Thus, I’m at the beginning of a long and impractical journey to figure out what my budget should be and how to stay within that budget, make my parents happy while also making sure the day – no matter if we spend $8k or $80k – is about the union of two silly kids who will never grow up and will always remain hopelessly in love for each other, in spite of our parent’s own turmoiled (mine) or nonexistent (his) relationships. Let the journey begin!

 

 

 

Marry for Love, Passion, or Money? All Three?

Every time I attend a wedding I do two things. One: cry. Two: put myself in the bride’s shoes, and wonder how I’d feel walking down the aisle, tying the knot forevermore. I’m writing about this topic a lot lately because it’s been on my mind. I’ve spent my entire life fighting against allowing money to factor into who I date, but at the ripe-old age of almost 30, I’ve realized that there are two key pieces of a happy marriage: One: financial compatibility. Two: frequent blow jobs (seriously.) I’m pretty convinced at this point that as long as those two things exist in a marriage, it will be successful.

This week, I spent time with a good old friend who is now the mother of a one year old. Just a few years into the marriage, she says that if she could do it over again she’d get married for money. When you have a kid, she explained, they become your world, and all you care about is providing for them. Her husband apparently went to school for a certification and failed the exam, refusing to go back to take it again, and he’s stuck in his job making around $55k per year. Meanwhile, she makes a small salary as a hair dresser, and they both struggle to make ends meet. The pair bought a condo and, additionally, are paying off a car payment of $300+ per month. On the other end of the spectrum, sort of, I have another friend who is pregnant with her first child, and she’s married to an engineer for a major tech company, and even they are struggling with finances at the moment with a kid on the way and major house remodels. I kick myself when I share my concern about my boyfriend’s financial situation with her, as she’s struggling to pay off her debts as her husband pays for their expensive bay area starter home.

I’ve been scared to be with a man who has his life together. Because of my depression and other crazies, I just don’t trust myself to maintain a relationship with anyone who is focused on their career. I feel safe with my boyfriend, I know I’ll always be in charge of the finances, he’ll surely stay at home with the potential offspring, and maybe that’s fine. I just don’t know what I want. I can see myself going on like today if I don’t have kids, living with roommates, semi cheaply, splurging on dresses, shoes and makeup on occasion but overall keeping my living expenses low. Thinking about a life with kids changes the picture. And I worry one day I’ll be upset at myself for not seeking out a man who had his life together. Just enough to have a bit of retirement savings at 30. Continue reading

6 Months Till 30: Trying to Figure Life Out

In one week, I’ll be six months away from turning 30. I’m not as freaked out about turning 30 as I thought I would be. I’m finally starting to grow some confidence in myself. I’ve been exercising a bit, losing some weight, and while I’m not happy with how I look, I’m headed in the right direction. I have the cash to pay for fixing what exercise won’t. And despite constantly worrying that I’m not being paid what I deserve, and that I’m not able to live up to my perfectionistic standards while getting everything done that needs to get done, from an outsiders point of view I’m doing very well for myself. I guess I’ve made it. Or I’m on the verge of making it. I should applaud myself a bit for these accomplishments, as my parents will never keep me that reward I crave.

But stepping back further, I sometimes look at my life and what I really want out of it. My mother’s voice complaining that my father didn’t make a lot of money rings in my head. She wishes she married someone with more money, so her life would be easier. The truth is my father made quite a bit of money. Complaining about his obesity or his constant berating of her ego would be something sane to go on about. Instead, she would complain that we didn’t have enough money for all the things she wanted. But then I look at where I’m headed and think, oh my god, I’m about to embark on a life with a man who at 31 hasn’t held a full time job, has nothing in savings, and likely will not break a six figure salary until much later in his life, if ever. And I hate, hate, hate being a gold digger of any sort (or even a silver digger) as I don’t want money to factor into romance. I don’t want to be that type of women. But admittedly I’m unhappy about it. Does it matter that he has $0 in retirement savings and a good $5k left to his name that will be gone once he finds a job? Continue reading

Engagement Ring Shopping: Is All This Necessary?

My boyfriend and I have our seven year anniversary this month. I can’t believe we’ve been together seven years. For the last year, we’ve been on-and-off again shopping for an engagement ring. I told my boyfriend I don’t really want an engagement ring. It just seems silly to spend a few thousand dollars on a piece of jewelry. Rings bother me anyway when I type. But I also, deep down, have my mother’s voice in my head about how sad she never got her “diamond ring” for her wedding and I wonder if I’d regret not getting one later. I’d rather put the $5k or whatever to the downpayment on a house. And in that sense, I’ll just plan an entire wedding on Pinterest and invite my guests to a WebEx to look at it, while stashing the $30k+ from my dad into the house payment as well.

I feel so awkward going into jewelry stores, or any fancy stores for that matter. We went to a couple this weekend. I felt absolutely in love with a sapphire ring with four side diamonds (it was “estate jewelry” ie pre-owned) and it happened to fit perfectly on my now 6.5 size finger. The same person who was, just hours before saying that she didn’t want a ring, was ready to bust out her credit card to spend $6k on this beauty. Still, I don’t want a multi-thousand dollar ring. I’d be perfectly happy with a basic white gold band with some meaningful inscription on the inside. Or, as I joke with my bf, ten thousand $1 plastic rings, so I’ll never have to worry about losing them and he can still spend $10k. Continue reading

The Future is Now and I Have No Idea What to Do About It

Every once in a while I get this itch. I look at my life today and I think, wow, I’ve come so far and yet – is this the be-all end-all of happiness today? I’ve spent the last eight years working my way up in my career, terribly depressed most of the time, fighting the weight of impostor syndrome and a complete overwhelming feeling of incompetence and yet here I am, with a director-level title before 30, and everyone who knew me way back when is probably surprised how far I’ve come.

Looking ahead to what’s next, the big item up for auction is my devotion. That is, the next major choice in my life is marriage (well, unless I decide to buy a house first.) I’m extremely confused about marriage. While I’m glad we live in a day in age when women can be successful and independent, the options are almost too much. Do I even really need to get married? It seems marriage itself is good for two things — one, ensuring the woman is kept for if she is making less than the man in her life – and two, keeping families intact for children. Maybe there is some benefit to being with one person for the entirety of one’s life as you could say that there’s value in growing old with someone and not being alone, but who’s to say that one person will make it on earth as long as you do? In that sense, isn’t it better to have multiple close relationships so the odds of being alone later in life are less? Continue reading

The Case for Marriage Equality: Everyone Has the Right to Be Equally Miserable and Taxed at a Higher Rate

The divorce rate of people post 50 years old has doubled between 1990 and 2010. In 1990, only 1 in 10 divorces were people 50 and older. Now it’s 1 in 4. Meanwhile, the overall divorce rate is trending downward. The stat that 50% of all marriages end in divorce is now incorrect, it’s more like 40%. Still, that’s quite a few break ups for something that requires you to take a vow of “till death to us part in sickness and in health.” My aunt, newly almost-divorced at 49, states that if half of marriages end in divorce, at least half the other half are unhappy. I think that’s probably true.

My parents are what you would call lifers. They are not happy together by any means, my dad is a wreck and both verbally and emotionally abusive, and he will both talk to me openly about how hot some woman is and whether he should ask her out while also how much of an idiot my mother is, meanwhile, my mother has never been able to actually grow up in the relationship, she’s like a 12 year old who can’t handle the stresses of everyday life and is treated like such shit, but the two of them would never get a divorce. I haven’t exactly grown up with the best example of a good marriage to inspire me to walk down the aisle. Yet I still fancy myself in a white dress, signing my life away to one person, I’m just not sure why.

Financially, marriage is sometimes a liability. According to The Tax Policy Center, “Marriage penalties and bonuses result from the combination of progressive tax rates and taxation of a married couple as a single tax unit. With progressive taxes (which impose higher rates on higher incomes), combining spouses’ incomes can result in some income being taxed at higher rates than if spouses’ incomes were taxed separately. That can occur only if joint tax brackets are less than twice as wide as individual brackets. (A couple does not have to file a joint tax return but their alternative-filing separately as a married couple-almost always results in greater tax liability.)” Continue reading

Love: The Priceless Asset

Forgive me for the mushy post, but I’m melting a little and need to share. See, my relationship is not the best for me from a financial perspective, as my readers know, my boyfriend of nearly seven years has no job and no savings to speak of. But there’s something more valuable than money in life, and that’s love.

I’m an oddball. I’ve never fit in with my peers. And I’ve never fit in with others who are a bit offbeat either. I march to the beat of my own drummer.

Seven years ago, I met Derek. From the beginning, I knew I had struck romantic gold. I don’t know if there’s a person in this world who can love so deeply and innocently, who could hold a person with such strong yet caring touch, and look into my eyes without a word and caress my heart. He laughs at my bad jokes, and his subtle dimples make my heart skip a beat. I thought I’d never be able to love someone for longer than a year, and here we are, almost seven years together, more in love than ever before.

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Spending on Life Experiences

Looking back on the past 29 years of spending, I recall only a few products I’ve purchased but most of the experiences I’ve had. I feel it is much more worthwhile to spend your hard-earned cash on experiences versus more stuff. Yes, I buy “stuff” too, but in my ripe old age of almost 30, I’m looking for better ways to spend my money. And if that means an extra month in a beat up car to experience something new, the trade off is worth it.

As I’ve written about previously, my boyfriend is currently unemployed, but I want to experience life with him. He’s working on getting a job and will probably return to graduate school next year, so one day he’ll have the cash to support traveling together. However, today, I can’t let him spend the little of his savings on paying for an entire romantic getaway. I still want that romantic getaway and I’m willing to pay for it. We only have a few more years before are married with kids, and with him out of work and my ability to take a few days off, this is the perfect time to travel together. Continue reading

Helping My Boyfriend Get Ahead with Career Advice

As I mentioned in many previous posts, my boyfriend of 6+ years is unemployed. He’s unemployed for numerous reasons, none of them being talent and intellect. He is just stuck, and needs a little unsticking. I know that everyone says you can’t change a man, but I’m not trying to change him, I’m trying to help lift him out of the quicksand and onto his own two feet.

We had a very good and frank discussion today about money. He said that while he doesn’t like the concept of money, he accepts that to do anything and have power in this country you need money, and he’s willing to work hard to earn it. I’ve compiled a new fresh resume for him based on my learnings from job searching, and quickly found out how much I know about career searching versus the average person. I’m glad I can answer all of his questions about what to write in a cover letter and what job sites provide quality listings. Continue reading

Marry for Love or Money?

When I mention my boyfriend and likely future-husband-to-be is unemployed, my commenters frequently point out that I’m an idiot for dating him. “He’s pulling you down,” wrote Erin on a post I wrote over the weekend. Maybe I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life by falling for him, but I don’t think that’s the case. Here’s why:

I never knew what I wanted in a relationship until I met *Derek (names changed to protect the innocent.) I had dated a few guys before off and on, but everything felt fake, like I had to be something I’m not to be with them. Derek was different. We met performing in a local community theater. He was shy yet extremely handsome. His smile melted my heart from day one. As I got to know Derek, I discovered he was perhaps the sweetest man on earth. He cared so much for others and lacked all selfishness which was so common in my family and in myself. He made me realize that no matter how much money I had or didn’t, I could always be happy just cuddling up to him and watching our favorite TV show. For better or worse, wealth started to matter less when I met him.

Continue reading