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?
While I love him dearly, I’m attracted to men who are independent and at least a little driven. Not the ones who are so driven they forget that they have other commitments and a life outside of making money. But it’s hard being a professional woman surrounded by men who are, albeit imperfect in their own ways, at least able to maintain a real job. Now, my boyfriend has worked before, even at one point 30 or more hours per week, and he’s well regarded for his contributions. He just never took that and used it to move up in the world. His top-tier degree has gotten him nowhere without motivation. Meanwhile, a good friend of mine who spent much of his 20s in part-time positions on the road for a major alcohol label tour, who earned a degree from a basic online university, has gone on to work his way up, accidentally, to a vice president position at a major corporation. I don’t need my boyfriend to be a vice president but at this age (late 20s, early 30s) he’s just lost so much time in progress, and I worry that the rest of life will just be one big frustration like this.
The good news is if I want kids, he’ll stay home with the kids. I can work full time, have a job that takes me all over the world, and he’d happily be a full-time dad. He is not driven by anything but family. I guess that’s nice. I know if I were to leave this relationship and seek out another, it would be hard to find a man who is that dedicated to having a wonderful family. And those who are may not be interested in me for the long term. He loves me. He is the sweetest person and so often I feel I don’t deserve him. He is kind and generous. He’s done so much for me, from driving me to the airport when I need a ride to picking me up after I was unfortunately stuck in jail for the night after my terrible DUI experience. He is so giving to me yet he doesn’t have the ability to see all I really want is him to have a life of his own, passion for doing something that ideally produces a consistent income. He says he wants children but he has done nothing in the last seven years to prove that he is financially mature enough for this. He will say that people have children on all sorts of incomes, and that you don’t need a lot to have kids. Ok, you don’t need it, but I want to be able to have a comfortable life. Maybe take my kids on nice vacations every so often. Etc.
What drives me into further confusion is my own wealth story. On one hand, I’ve saved $225k at this point, give or take, and am on track to hit my $250k goal this year. I’m aiming for $500k by 35, and my first kid at 35. I also have a sizable amount of stock options which have the potential to bump me up a class or two, should luck shine on my company. One of my colleagues who I accidentally told about the number of options I have while I had one too many margaritas continues to joke to me that I’m a millionaire, which I continue to remind him is not true at all as valuation means nothing until a company is sold or goes public, not to mention taxes which cut down on any of this by quite a bit. I’ve been burned in the past on company stock options (being unable to transfer them to the new company stock because I was not an accredited investor, so ending up with $3/share vs $8+, at a time when I had very few options.) Still, my life story maybe changes with this, because if in a few years my company sells for something like $5 a share, I won’t be able to quit working forever (to live the lifestyle I dream of), but I’ll certainly have a lot more flexibility even if my man can’t get his professional life in order. And I know I’d rather be the one in the relationship with the money – above everything, it’s important for me to have the financial power or at least be a true equal to my partner here.
But – the stock option wealth is just a dream. It isn’t real. And the $1M minus taxes I’d have should we sell for $5 per share and I manage to fully vest isn’t going to happen. I mean, it could, but I don’t want to bet on it, I don’t want to get my hopes up and to watch that dream disappear. I need to be realistic. Practical. I need to prepare for those options to be worth nothing at all. And I’m doing that, mostly. If I thought I was an actual millionaire I would have bought a new car by now. Probably the Infiniti G37S because I’m turned on every time I walk by one, especially the newer models. I’d still buy it used, but probably a 2011 fully loaded model vs one from 2006. And I’d pay cash, because I could sell some stock and have the cash right now to do this. But instead I’m waiting until 2014 or at least fall to save up $15k to purchase a basic Toyota. And, alas, there are many millionaires who smartly don’t spend on fancy cars regardless (the personal finance community would taunt me for purchasing any car that costs more than $12k.) But if I were a millionaire, I might splurge on my housing – live in a 1 bedroom for $2k a month or buy a nice $800k condo versus sharing an apartment for $650 per month, and being sad about my roommates talking loudly at midnight when I’m having trouble falling asleep. Furthermore, I might spend more on life experiences, and pay for my boyfriend to come with me to exciting, exotic locations, since he cannot afford this himself. But I don’t know how much I’d really change. I’ve always felt that I wouldn’t consider myself rich until I have $5M in the bank, and that’s unlikely to happen ever in my life. Well, if my company sells for $25+ a share, in my wildest dreams, I could see something close to that in my bank account. Wouldn’t that just be absolutely crazy? Extremely unlikely. Lottery winning unlikely. I’ll be lucky if I get the cash back that I paid to exercise the shares early. At this moment, I look at my stock options as a loss, and pretend they don’t exist. But every so often I dream about what it would be like to be set for life by 35, knowing that it wasn’t via a trust fund or marrying into wealth, but due to my own negotiation skills and work abilities, and how it would effect my decisions overall. It’s not going to happen, so I don’t have to waste too much time fantasizing about it, but it’s fun to hold such a lottery ticket and hope.
Meanwhile, wouldn’t it be wonderful to meet a man who had that same goal, and then at 35 we together would have $1M in savings? Does this man exist and if he does, is he a terrible money-hungry asshole with no passion for love? I know many men around my age who are earning six figure salaries, but they are also spending a lot on expensive apartments in the city and lives that aren’t cheap. How much are they really saving? And when you go on a first date with someone, or even a second, third, and eighth, bringing up money is a big no no. Unless you’re meeting someone at a personal finance conference! Plenty of men are in debt as well. It could be worse. Then you also need to find someone who cares about having money as much as you do without them being too frugal or too wasteful. I felt miserable when dating a lawyer who would never pay for our meals. My current bf, unemployed as he is, still is always willing to take me out to a basic meal. Of course we’ve stopped going out to dinner because he doesn’t talk and it makes me depressed when I can’t converse over meals, so we’ve decided we won’t go to dinner together anymore. We go on other dates like to the movies and concerts, hikes and such, where talking is less important. And there’s nothing I love more than cuddling up in his arms. I’ve never felt so loved and safe. I can see growing old with him and always loving each other. In the long term money doesn’t matter. It’s in the short term that it does.
How long do I wait before he gets his act together? We had an agreed on ultimatum that by February he would have a job. Then his grandfather, who is 90+, fell down and hurt himself, having to move into a special home, and my bf was devastated. It took him a month to recover and be somewhat productive again. He’s such a sensitive person. I feel like such an evil bitch because I’ve learned how to stop feeling so deeply long ago. I had to in order to survive my life and to get where I am today. Still, there is such a softness to him that makes even the hardest parts of me start to bend. And we laugh together without a care in the world. In those moments where our cheekbones sprint towards the sky and we chuckle so loudly that anyone nearby thinks we might actually be psychiatric-hospital level crazy, I know what happiness is. And I’m not sure I should trade in happiness for any form of practicality. I just don’t know if I’d ever be able to find it again, especially in someone who cares about money more than they do about just existing and enjoying all of the priceless wonders of the world that are, in fact, available to experience free of charge.