Tag Archives: relationships

Thank Goodness Times Have Changed: NY Times Article on Women, Intellect, and Finding a Man

This weekend’s NY Times article titled “The M.R.S. and the Ph.D.,” detailing the sociological change in men’s respect for intelligence over the last century, can be summed up in the following quote:

“One physician explained the problem in Popular Science Monthly in 1905: An educated woman developed a “self-assertive, independent character” that made it “impossible to love, honor and obey” as a real wife should. He warned that as more middle-class women attended college, middle-class men would look to the lower classes to find uneducated wives.”

The article, which focuses on PhD-earners, goes on to highlight how our last century has, for a large part, been filled with a society that tells women to be or act stupid in order to catch a man. Women were taught to marry up, and men were ok with marrying down, so long as their female counterpart would showcase talent in two fields: cooking and cleaning.

My, how the world has changed…

“ONE of the dire predictions about educated women is true: today, more of them are “marrying down.” Almost 30 percent of wives today have more education than their husbands, while less than 20 percent of husbands have more education than their wives, almost the exact reverse of the percentages in 1970.”

However, the article goes on to highlight research done for an upcoming book on female breadwinners, where women said they wanted to be able to look up to their guy, and he would need to have an equal level of education in order for the equation, and the relationship to work.

Looking at my personal relationships, I find I’m like these women who want a man I can look up to an admire, though that’s more in terms of intellect than wealth. I don’t have a PhD or a MA, so perhaps with just a BA I’m still concerned to be less intelligent than the women this article focuses on. Regardless, I’ve found that I like to date “up” in terms of intelligence, and one of the reasons I love my SO that still gives me butterflies is when he talks to me about his excitement over physics or the inequalities of the world.

But there are still gender dynamics at play in our relationship. Even though I make more than him salary-wise (my $90k to his $20k), I’m still not “allowed” to propose to him. I have to wait for him to propose, even though we’ve been together 6.5 years. He is much less aggressive than I am in terms of asking for raises, and will remain this way throughout his life. While he is not motivated to pursue a professional life, in a way, I enjoy that he is intelligent but not obsessed with his career. This allows me to focus on my career, which is stressful and demanding, and then to come home to someone who isn’t stressed out in the same way. I’ve told him if he can cook and clean for me, I’d be ok in the long run for him to be the “stay at home mom.” I certainly understand why it’s nice to have one person in the relationship play this role, albeit not best from a financial perspective.

What do you think? Does intellect play a role in your deciding who to date and settle down with?

Relationship & Life Next Steps: Moving in Together

I’m 28 and this March my boyfriend of 6+ years will turn 30. Even though I’m quite content with my current arrangement — living with two roommates and paying $650 a month in rent, while my bf lives at home in the back of his grandparents/mothers house.

But I’m also wondering, what’s next?

I’m ready to take the next step and move in with my boyfriend, and he’s ready to move in with me, minus the logistics. My rent situation right now is financially smart, and he’s not even paying rent (which works since he’s working PT and quitting soon.)

Looking at our options:

Stay in our current situation until we get married: Rent will stay $650 / month for a while, my landlord rarely increases rent and I just had a $15 / mo increase. Probably the smartest move. We’ll move in together in 2013/2014 after we get married.

Rent a 1br Apartment: This will likely cost $1600 – $2000 / month. Even split between the two of us, that’s $800 / mo at the very cheapest, more likely $1000 / mo for each of us.

Buy a 1br Condo: $600k? It’s hard to figure out the exact costs of owning a 1br condo, but it seems like this will end up being quite a bit more than renting given HOA, taxes, and other fees.

Buy a house w/ an in-law: My bf’s parents currently do not own property. His mom lives in her parents house, and his father rents an in-law. His mother could feasibly help us out with a downpayment, and his parents could live in an in-law on our property and pay us rent.

Still, the best plan seems to be to stay in my current living situation. Paying $650 a month in rent means I can possibly save $50k per year. The second my living situation changes, my hope of saving $250k by 30 disappears. The house I want to buy when I have a family will likely be $1.5M, and my bf currently has $0 in savings, so it’s up to me to be able to afford that. If I can get to $500k in savings by 35, maybe I can buy a $1.5M house. I’m not sure if that’s enough, and I’m also not sure I can get to $250M in savings by 35 — I think if I spend the next seven years living with roommates, not with my boyfriend, I could do this. But that’s a long time, and I really want to start living my adult life with my boyfriend in our own place, so we can invite friends over for dinner and such, and so I can stay with him and not have to worry about not having my things and having to run home before going to work in the morning.

Meanwhile, if I save $500k by 35, I’ll be able to buy my (nice) childhood home outright in New Jersey! It’s crazy how cheap the housing is there.

It’s not about what you know. It’s about WHO you know.

The older I get, the more I realize the old adage “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” holds true. It’s a requirement to come to terms with how the world isn’t fair and on the spectrum of that unfairness is being born at a time and in a place where the people you know can not help you get ahead, vs being born the royal prince, and everything in between.

Most of us lie somewhere on that “everything in between.” If you have access to Internet and running water, I bet you do. Then there’s always some sort of opportunity in life, but the further you are over to the left, you have to work exponentially harder to get to the same spot those on the right take one step into. You have to make the first chunk of your life about developing those relationships that may are born with. That’s not impossible, but it sure takes a lot of time and effort out of otherwise being productive.

When I moved to Silicon Valley, I didn’t know anyone. At the time, it seemed like a good idea, and I don’t regret it to this day. But it’s certainly been much harder to make those connections. I could easily watch someone waltz into a role like the one I have, and if they had deep connections across the business world through their family, they could easily make a few phone calls and accomplish the work I do in a few months in one day. And for anyone who wants to start a business, having a wealthy family to support you with angel funding is priceless. Having a wealthy family to catch you in case things don’t work out also helps a lot. Continue reading It’s not about what you know. It’s about WHO you know.

The Value of Family and Strange Potential In-Laws

Seven years ago, I was dating a lawyer from the east coast who, was not only perfect from a textbook perspective, his family was perfect too. His parents were friendly and sociable, and, although we didn’t see them that often living first in the midwest and then the west coast, when I did see them they would be able to have conversations, and that made me feel welcome and at home. They truly loved their son, it was hard to ignore that love. His mother would sing “I’m proud of you,” a song she made up when he was young for his accomplishments, at his law school graduation. It was a little cheesy, but it provided a clear picture into how much love his family had to share and show.

I Broke Up with the Lawyer… and his Family
Never in a million years did I think I’d end up in a situation where this were not the case. That relationship didn’t work out for a number of reasons (quite frankly textbook perfection edited out some of the details.) Still, I’m not the most social person myself, and I’m very awkward in social situations, but when it comes to social awkwardness, my boyfriend’s family takes the cake and eats it too. They’re nice, don’t get me wrong, but when you’ve moved across the country away from your own family, and as you age, you start thinking how lovely it would be to have a new family to feel part of, especially if you grew up with a large family.

That isn’t and shouldn’t be why you end up deciding to spend the rest of your life with a guy — plenty of people have worse situations (ie deceased parents, no family at all), but I grew up with a really big distant family with big exciting holidays, and I’ve lately realized how sad it’s going to be to — one day — bring up kids into a world without those kinds of family gatherings to look forward to. Meanwhile, there will be no “mother in law” who I can turn to for parental advice, and no extended family to invite us to those family gatherings.

Thoughts on Family While at a Wedding
This all came to mind this weekend when we were at his cousin’s wedding in central California. His father’s family are filled with really nice people who I like a lot, and my boyfriend likes too. But, because his mother and father were never married, and his mother is very, very strange (ie doesn’t shower and wears thrift store clothes that don’t fit and still lives with her 90 year old parents and doesn’t talk to people at all strange — I try not to judge) my bf rarely gets invited to these events on his dad’s side. They used to invite him for Thanksgiving (I was even invited one year) but they just ran out of room with all the new kids being born, and we are the easiest to cut. Continue reading The Value of Family and Strange Potential In-Laws

What to do for my 5 Year Anniversary?

This May will be my 5 year anniversary with D. I can’t believe we’ve been together 5 years! And while I feel like we haven’t changed, in reality our faces are five years older, our hugs are five years tighter, our kisses are five years sweeter, and I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have this guy in my life.

So… how do we celebrate our five year anniversary? We have taken a few trips together — mostly back east to visit my family, and most recently a trip to the midwest for fun and to see my old college friends — but I feel like I need to do something big to celebrate five years together. Since we’re not getting married any time soon, it’s a good enough reason as any to do something special.

But what? I’ve bought my boyfriend some pretty nice gifts through the years — a Wii, a guitar, and even a bike, and then the Chicago trip (he paid for many of our meals so that may have ended up split 50/50 all said and done.) On one hand I LOVE to buy him gifts because when he is happy about his gifts it makes me happy. I guess I have spent a lot on his gifts… and besides the “things” we tend to go out to nice dinners that are expensive to celebrate, and we don’t want to go out to dinner anymore because we are trying to be fat.

Anyway, what can I do to surprise him for our five year anniversary? Perhaps a trip somewhere? I don’t really want to spend any extra money this year — after spending $4.5k on laser hair removal, it’s tough to spend anything else. Sometimes I wish I was dating a guy who would have a job with some excess income so he could surprise me with a five year anniversary trip somewhere… but I made the choice to date a guy who doesn’t care about money. There are plenty single nerdy men in Silicon Valley who might have the bank account to purchase romance, but when it comes down to it, I’d rather have the way D looks at me, and the feeling of his arms wrapped around me. Though sometimes I wish I could have both. Can you blame me?

Clashing Long Term Fiscal Values in a Young Relationship

My boyfriend and I have been together four years. I quickly fell in love with his kindness and calm nature, which contrasted with my oft-anxious and somewhat self-centered relationship with the world. Mostly, though, I found that after dating a law student for two years I felt much more comfortable in a relationship with someone who had less motivation than I did than more. With the lawyer, who had an Ivy undergrad education and a JD from a top-10 school, I could never equal his level of success (or so I thought at the time) with my average schooling and internship salary.

Thus, dating a guy who wasn’t striving to become the next Joe Jamail was a refreshing relief. With the attorney, I always felt like he looked down on my choices and with that my depression over uncertainty, my 21-year-old lack of clarity. Enter my current boyfriend with his lack of concern over professional title or climbing up the corporate ladder, and I felt safe. With him, I felt comfortable moving up my own corporate ladder. It’s not that he is stupid or anything, he too has a degree from a top school with a high honors mark on his diploma to boot. So intelligence is not the factor here, more so, it’s the fundamentals of what motivates a person.

Four years later, my boyfriend and I still have little arguments about money. He doesn’t like discussing finances – which, fair enough, is not something two people dating oft discuss prior to marriage or at the very least engagement. After being unemployed for a year and not applying to jobs, he eventually landed a low-paid, part-time internship (one that I had completed earlier) and after that found an hourly editorial job at a non-profit that paid less than I made at my first non-profit job. It was obvious he hadn’t cared to negotiate for a better starting wage, but mostly I was proud of him for finally getting out of his funk and getting a job.

The years go by… and neither of us are by any means perfect. I manage to get fired from… a few jobs… because I lack motivation when I believe my contributions would be better contributed by a robot. As I learned to force myself to do my job no matter what, I got laid off because that job was no longer needed. To my credit, every time I lost my job I managed to practically double my salary in my next position. I moved across industries and tried out a lot of different things to figure out where I would be fulfilled. I realized that I am, to some extent, motivated by money – not by having nice, flashy things, but by watching my networth increase… my maxing out my 401k… by feeling that I may one day have enough to afford a house, even in the Bay Area.

My boyfriend, on the otherhand, spent those three years working at the non-profit. He did his job very well, followed orders, increased productivity in the company by making many of the processes more efficient. He never asked for a raise. His boss gave him a very small “raise” when he decided to work less hours and go 1099 contract instead of W2 hourly. He’s still making $20/hr, while I’m billing upwards of $80/hr on some of my projects.

This isn’t to say that I would judge anyone for working a job that makes $20/hr – there are plenty of jobs I respect out there that earn this. If you’re talking about $20/hr in Kansas, that’s also a very different income than $20/hr where the average small house costs over $1M. But this is where we always get into our little tiffs about money… I argue that before I have kids, I’d like to have an average yearly dual income of at least $150k. Long-term, I see no reason why that dual income can’t be $300k. And I would feel more comfortable in life, before deciding to have children, to know that we’d make that kind of income in our lifetimes.

My boyfriend thinks I’m crazy. Maybe I am. $150k for a family income is not unreasonable, but the majority of people in America live on much less than that – and many of them have healthy, happy families. I just look at my current spending – which could be more frugal, but is by no means extravagant – and wonder how I’d ever be able to save for retirement and pay for a house and potentially pay back graduate school loans, all while also affording children (I want two or three of them within the next 10 years.)

My boyfriend, who also wants to return for graduate school (either to become a teacher or psychology researcher) will never care about income above and beyond middle class. It’s not that he’d mind if his field paid more, he just will never be the type to push for raises or chose a job because it pays better. And as much as I admire that about him – as much as I feel safer in my own career journey knowing that my partner will accept me and love me if I make $30k a year or $200k a year, I still feel like sometime down the road this difference in fiscal values will start to hurt us a lot more than it does now.

There are times when I think of what it would be like to continue my search for my life partner, and I just can’t imagine being with anyone else. I love this guy to death, and again, I couldn’t be with someone who cared that much about money. If anything, I know that I’m most comfortable bringing home the bacon because then I feel I have more right to be in charge of the household finances. My mom is clueless when it comes to money and my entire life my parents have argued about how it should be spent. As my father was the one bringing home a single income (albeit over $200k by the time he retired) he never felt she had any right to be involved in financial decisions. If I was with a guy who understood finances more than I did… and made more money… then I might end up in that situation too. So I’d rather be the one in charge, making more money, and with a guy who maybe doesn’t care that much about his salary.

It just makes me nervous about limiting my choices later in life. What if I want to take a year off to spend time with my newborn child? What if I want to work part-time to be able to go to my child’s plays during the school day or drive them to soccer practice? On the whole other hand of this, I’m terrified of knowing I’m worth “$200/hr” or whatever my going rate would be at the time, and then deciding not work that hour because I want to spend it with my family. It would almost be easier to have less money, have a stable job, and never feel like my time is stamped with a dollar value. Or, at the least, have a partner who earns as much as I do, or around the same amount, so we could contribute to a goal income for the year… and enjoy the time we have off without the calculator in my head exploding over lost income opportunities.

When is the Right Age to Get Married? Have Kids?

For whatever reason, my biological clock started ticking loudly. I’m now 26 and I’m not getting any younger. While part of me wonders if I’ll ever be mature enough to have children, I’d like 3 of them, and a house and stability and all of those adult things. I feel terribly young — way too young to have a husband or kids — and yet I know so many people who are my age or younger who are already packing in a full house. (This article argues that you should get married in your early 20s.)

I started Google searching things like “when is the right age to have a baby?” and “how old should i be when I get married.” More often then not, I find people recommending marriage in the 20s, and popping out kids by 35 (and later and there’s a higher chance for defects).

My boyfriend and I have been together over 3 years. We both know we’re going to get married — one day — but he’s convinced that he needs to finish grad school (well he needs to start it first) and obtain a career in order to get married. If he starts grad school next fall, I’ll be 29 before he’s finished with his MA. Then there’s the PhD he may want to obtain… I’m not getting married until I’m 35 at the rate things are going.

I’m not marriage obsessed, I just wonder now that I’m 26 why I’m not getting married. I guess the way I see it is either my boyfriend and I will get married OR we won’t and I’m wasting my time with him now when I could be out dating while I still look somewhat attractive. What if I get to 30 and he decides he isn’t ready, or worse, wants to break up?

Given my health, having children is going to be extremely difficult and expensive anyway, and I don’t want to put it off too long. At the moment I’m somewhat stable in my career — somewhat as in I’ll probably need to switch jobs this year — but I’ve learned how to save and I’m starting to feel financially mature. I honestly could give two shits about being married, it’s having children that is what’s on my mind right now. I don’t want kids now, but I do want them fairly soon, in the next 5 years. Maybe I should break up with my boyfriend and date a guy in his late 30s to make sure this will happen.

Did Feminism Destroy a Woman’s Evolutionary Means of Happiness?

The other day I randomly happened upon a blog written by a man who might be the most sexist psychologist in the modern world, which I’d write off as total BS if his blog wasn’t on Psychology Today and for the fact that the guy teaches at the London School of Economics. His whole explanation for how we act is based on his belief that men want to compete for dominance and make themselves most desirable for women because the woman picks her sexual partners and the men must just make themselves wanted. He thinks that feminism has destroyed the modern woman’s chances of happiness because it has taught us that being a mother (esp a stay-at-home mother) is something to look down upon, and in terms of evolution, that’s what a woman would be most happy doing.

Do I believe all or any of this? Not really. Obviously everyone is different, and some woman would be thrilled to chase after a corner office and live a life without children. According to this guy women are necessary in the relationship equation to force men to not have sex all the time, as gay men never stop having sex. Ignoring this guy’s obvious lack of ability to grasp reality, he makes a few good points along the way, and has lead me to some other interesting reading specifically about the woman’s role in modern society. His point on how success today is pretty much only known by the “masculine” version of success is true, even though I’m not sure competing for the corner office or making a high salary is actually masculine.

I often wonder who I’d be in society 50 years ago. I feel so lost in terms of what I want out of life these days, and deep down part of me questions if this is due to my human nature as an animal and even as a woman. But I feel dirty admitting to wanting to be feminine in the traditional sense — I couldn’t imagine accepting that my path to happiness is to be a mother, stay home, take care of the kids, cook for my husband (well, that would be a bad idea anyway since I’m a terrible cook). Then again, I feel happiest when I’m helping people, when I can be in a motherly role. My boyfriend doesn’t like it when I try to mother him (not that I try, but can’t a guy learn to iron his clothes?) so maybe having children would make me happy…

My grandmother, who is now 80, married a guy who was 20 years older than her when she was younger. She told me about the marriage a bit this weekend when I went to visit her. He was a traveling rabbi, driving around Montana, Idaho, and the Dakotas as a chaplain for the military. She liked him because men close to her age weren’t able to hold intelligent conversations (so she says, though really I think she just couldn’t find anyone willing to put up with her… she’s a bit on the nutty side of the PB&J.) After getting married, of course she didn’t work. She raised three children. That was her life.

When I talked to a career counselor for a consultation on the phone a few months ago, her voice told me she was older, perhaps in her 50s, and she went on about how I’m doing fine, that I shouldn’t worry, that only a decade or two ago I would not have any choices as a woman, and today I am doing perfectly well given how many choices I have. That gave me little comfort in my sanity.

Now that I’ve been dating a guy for more than 3 years (almost 4!) and we talk about marriage here and there, the idea of becoming a mother is going from something I thought would never happen to a possibility. Even though I know it will cost me a billion dollars to have a child or children (thanks PCOS) I have a partner now who I can see spending the rest of my life with. I know he’d be a good father. I’m not sure if I’d be a good mother… my aunt laughs whenever I talk about having kids, she thinks I’d be an awful mother (but I think despite her ability to make a great salary and force her children to eat healthy, she’s not a perfect mother either)… I just wonder if I’ll ever have kids, if being a mom is really what my genes are longing for these days… given that women are really supposed to procreate the second they hit puberty and only modern society has messed that up by creating “adolescence” (one thing I do agree with creepy sexist psychologist man about.) And now, at 26 without kids or a husband, I feel empty. Every possible path… grad school, a great career, etc, seem to be lacking something. I know I need to figure out the career thing before having children (as once I have kids I need a stable job, I’m not going to be marrying a rich guy and I’m fine with that.) But what if I wait too long and I can’t have kids? My boyfriend casually mentions that he sees us getting married in 2015. I’ll be 31. That’s not too old to get married, but it scares me that my gynecologist, when I was 15, told me if I want to have kids I should try to have them by the time I turn 30. Back then she said “don’t worry, you have time” but at 26 I don’t feel like I have any time at all. I know I can’t rely on kids to make me happy — they might do just the opposite — but at the very least they’ll help me be less selfish. So much of what makes me miserable these days is how life seems to all be about me, and there’s nothing in the world that can satisfy me, just things to do or buy to temporarily fill the void. I don’t know what would make me happy… what’s a well paying job without children in your life?

Say Yes to the Dress — Why I’m Going to Try to Say No…

My reality TV obsession as of late is TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress.” Now that I’m 26, I’m like (almost) every other girl in the world who (isn’t married yet) is thinking about being a bride and all that goes with it. Hey, I’ve been with my bf 3.5 years, so it’s not like marriage is so far off I shouldn’t be thinking about such things. (Right… right?)

Watching the show has me fiscally horrified, especially the episodes featuring women who have no budget and can buy a dress that costs $6k or more. As a kid, I would have been certain that my wedding dress would be on par with the dresses shown on SYTTD, and that I’d have money flowing from every possible bank account to fund my dream wedding. Nowadays, I’m a lot smarter than that. And thinking about the cost of my one-day wedding makes me almost violently ill.

When I was 12, my family threw a huge Bat Mitzvah party for me. It was ridiculous. I don’t know how much it cost but I think it was around $13k. For a Bat Mitzvah. It was the fault of my parents as much as it was mine. My party was probably on the higher end of what my peers spent in my temple, but certainly not the highest. I wanted to have the reception at one venue that my parents deemed too expensive. Where’d all the money go? The venue and food, the DJ / band (yes I had a DJ AND Band at my Bat Mitzvah), the professional photographer, professional videographer, the outfit (though my dress wasn’t really that expensive compared to anything else), the party favors (I needed three colors on the custom t-shirts so that cost extra), the party planner, and who knows what else. With such a big family on both sides, a lot of people were invited, and many came. I didn’t know half the people at my party, but it was a party, and I enjoyed it (as much as an atheist girl can when she is celebrating the end of years of religious study.) 

Looking forward to my wedding day (even though I’m not even engaged yet), I know that I want to be frugal when it comes to the big day. But I’m also the type of girl that believes in going all out or not going at all. And I’m tempted not to go. At least when I was a kid at my Bat Mitzvah I was so ignorant. While that was awful for my parent’s finances, at least I could ENJOY the celebration, for what that’s worth. Knowing how much my wedding costs will make it tough for me to enjoy any of it. I’d elope except my mom would shoot me, so it looks like I’ll be forced to have a wedding.

According to I Will Teach You to Be Rich and the Wall Street Journal, the average wedding cost is $28,000. That’s the AVERAGE, people. I’m not surprised knowing how much parties cost, but I can’t imagine how so many people spend this much, especially when the majority of them are in debt.

When I watch Say Yes to the Dress, I’m amazed by how the lower-end buyers are looking for dresses that cost around $3,000. First of all, if I ever spend $3,000 on a dress it will NOT be white because God knows a white dress won’t be able to be worn twice (and a bridal gown can’t be worn twice anyway, unless you manage to have the Project Runway contestants makeover your dress into a modern frock.)

How can anyone spend $3,000 or more on a dress to be worn one day? I dream of finding a used designer gown that’s still in perfect condition so at least I’ll get a decent price on a nice gown, but really, I know designer gowns still cost more than what I’d like to spend on a dress. The most I’ve ever spent on a garment is $460, which was my $600 leather jacket on sale. And I wear that basically every day.

I’ve been eying the designer Maggie Sottero who has some lovely dresses that I could see wearing on my wedding day. I’m short and pear-apple shaped, so finding a dress that is flattering will be beyond difficult (I can’t pull off strapless unless I go on a serious diet)… I wish I could pull off a dress like this but with my waist that would just not look good. From what I can tell, this designer’s gowns run more like $1k – $2k, which is still more than I’d like to spend. Honestly, do I even need a wedding gown? Can’t I just get a nice prom dress and call it a day?

How much did you spend (or expect to spend) on your wedding dress (or wife’s wedding dress)? Was it in your budget, or did you spend more (or less) than you wanted to? Did you get your dress on sale, or full price? Were you happy with your purchase?

Childhood Neglect or Frugality?

Last night, my boyfriend and I went to his cousin’s birthday party. He loves watching healthy families in action. While I knew his childhood wasn’t filled with much expense, I never truely understood just how his mother’s frugality led to him being neglected a child. But then he flat out said that he’d prefer his childhood to mine anyday, and I questioned how neglected he was, and where a parent crosses the line of being frugal too far.

This comes after my spending yesterday reading blogs about early retirement, like Early Retirement Extreme, and all about extreme frugality. After managing to get through Bloomingdales and make a return without shopping, I felt good about resisting consumerism (specificially, shiny things for sale.) I kept thinking about how awful stores are, especially trends and making you want to buy things that look new and stylish. So when I talked to my boyfriend last night, it just felt like such a contrast, and I understood why he’s not lured by shopping malls the same way I am.

Was my boyfriend neglected as a child? I know a lot of people grow up without money and their parents make due, but that’s not quite what his situation was. His mother has always worked, but she refuses to spend money beyond her thrift store splurges. She never left her parents house, and that is where my boyfriend grew up. The house itself is in a very nice area and the family owns a lot of land for this part of California. However, the place is a wreck. His Grandparents are hoarders of the Depression era, and often when I visit the house it seems like they live in a movie. They keep stale bread in the otherwise unusable oven, gather empty soup cans, collect broken bikes, etc.

His mother, who never married his father, lived with her parents, so my boyfriend lived with her parents (and still does, though now he at least has a separate one-room structure out back). He never had his own bedroom, in fact he slept on the floor on a mat with his mother until he was 12 or 13, as he recalls, and then eventually moved into the living room, where he slept on the couch.

As far as food and clothes go, he ate very poorly — bread and toast, most often, and occasionally fast food. His clothes were all from thrift stores, which that alone is fine, but they were not nice, which made him more of an outcast at school. Also, as an only child, he grew up like this with no one else to talk to. His dad lived nearby in an apartment when he was young, but then moved away. His parents still get along (hey, that’s better than my still-married parents who hate each other). His dad is a whole other frugal story which I’ll get to one day, but now I’m just wondering if my boyfriend was neglected as a child, or if his family is just — extreme frugal.

His mom has saved up a lot of money over the years. I don’t know how much, but it’s enough to put my boyfriend through college and grad school, and likely buy a home outright when her parents pass and the current house needs to be sold and split up among their children.

On one hand, I think it’s pretty awesome that she could save so much through the years. She takes vacations on occasion to National Parks and goes camping, she doesn’t do anything consumer except shop for groceries at discount grocers. She has saved plenty of money for retirement and then some. She hasn’t worked the best paying job, but she had a decent job that she’s held on to for years. She’s miserable, depressed, hates living with her crazy parents, hates her job, but that’s just what she does. She can’t deal with change, so that’s the way it is.

Apparently one day a long time ago the neighbors called the cops on the family for child neglect. They saw the Grandmother picking food out of a trash can at the park or something and thought she was going to feed it to the child of the house. So the cops came and looked around. I’m surprised they didn’t find evidence of neglect. My bf spoke to them and eventually they went away.

So now my boyfriend has grown up with a very, very different idea of money than me. It’s good… in that I like dating someone who doesn’t value money as the be all end all of happiness. On the other hand, that was MY life growing up. It’s hard to just switch to extreme frugality. Luckily for me, my boyfriend understands that its important to spend on some things — healthy food, decent clothes, occasional vacations, etc. I couldn’t be with someone any more frugal than that.

It just makes me sad to think of how neglected he was as a child. He was definitely an “accident” and it seems like he was treated as such growing up. Now he’s got a slew of mental issues — very unique ones — involving socialization and relationships. No shit. I love him to death. Sometimes it drives me nuts how abnormal he is but I couldn’t be with anyone normal, so I think we’re a great match for each other.

I just wish for him that he’ll get his act together and apply to grad school and get out of that house. He’s 27 now, and he still lives at home. That’s fairly normal for this area, but when you’re in an environment like that, I think it’s just unhealthy. He still has to go in the main cluttered house for the kitchen, the bathroom, etc. But maybe I’m just spoiled and have no idea what it’s like to live when it’s bad. He has electricity (though he’s not allowed to use it much) and running water and he eats when he wants. At least he has that.