Tag Archives: relationships

Everyone is Getting Married!

Is it just me, or is everyone getting married? I guess now is the age for white poofy dresses and walking down the aisle and saying I do. In a few weeks I’m flying out to my friend’s wedding back east. On Facebook I see messages of old classmates saying that they’re off to their honeymoons.

Me? Well, I’ve been dating the same guy for 3.5 years. But we’re not engaged. We’ve joked about getting married, I like to send him pictures of engagement rings I like, often with $1M+ diamonds in them, just for kicks. But we’re not seriously considering it any time soon.

I don’t feel ready to be a wife. But I wonder at what point in life I will feel ready, if ever. I also would love to be able to afford a nice wedding, and I have to figure out a way to be rich before that.

When did you get married or do you plan to get married? How did you know it was the right time for you? How old were you?

Boyfriend’s Birthday Gift… Late, and $100 Cheaper

This year I wanted to get my boyfriend something special for his birthday this year. He has been mentioning how much he wants a guitar every other second, so I figured that would be a good, useful gift to get him. But I know nothing about guitars. My only requirements were that it had to be electric and blue, and cost anywhere from $300 to $600.

With a little research I learned that decent guitars start out at $1200 (Fender American Strat) but as much as I love my boyfriend, I wasn’t going to spend that much on his birthday gift. Instead, I did a little more research. I didn’t want to buy him a crappo guitar, so I figured I’d spend $700 at most if I could find something decent.

That led me to the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus. Knowing nothing of the difference between Gibsons and Fenders, other than the name, the price and reviews seemed right. I looked for it online and found it for $650 w/ free shipping and a one year warranty. I was sold. So I ordered it.

Something went wrong with my order and I’m glad it did. When I went back to reorder it, I found they put it on sale and it was $100 cheaper. Their loss, my gain. Spending $550 was much better than the original $650 pricetag.

The guitar is scheduled to arrive anyday now, but I’m worried I made a stupid move in buying such a pricey gift that may or may not be a good guitar for him. Granted, he’s never played guitar before, but a guitar is such a personal thing and he really should go shopping for one. But he didn’t want another gift certificate (how boring) and wanted to be surprised with an actual gift. I also didn’t get him a Christmas gift so I could save up for a bigger gift for his birthday. And I’m sure he’ll love it as far as concept and overall open impact goes, but the guitar may not be right for him.

I think I should have went with the Fender, even though it’s like, double the price. He’s more of a classic rock kind of guy and upon watching some videos on YouTube about the Fender versus Gibson/ Epiphone, the Fender sounds right for him. Ugh. Well, I guess we can return it (shipping it back will be a bitch though) and he can trade up to the Fender if he wants.

Do any of you know about guitars? Is the Ephiphone Les Paul Standard Plus a decent purchase for a newbie player who likes 60s rock?


Type rest of the post here

Last Minute (Frugal) Gift Ideas

It’s that time of the year again. Men are dressed up as Santa and sitting in malls. Kids are spinning dreidels and being schooled in gambling (for chocolate coins). And bank accounts everywhere are being drained on gifts for friends and family.

This year, with the economy in the South Pole, it’s more important than ever to be cost-efficient with your holiday gift purchases. Thanks to the Internet and the awesome PF Blog community, gift ideas that won’t break your bank account are aplenty.

My Dollar Plan offers 16 last-minute frugal gift ideas under $20. From lottery tickets to gas, if you want to splurge a bit you can pick up both en route to a holiday party, all while rejoicing that it doesn’t cost an arm, leg and foot to fill up your tank anymore. For 50 more frugal gift ideas, head over to Bible Money Finance. BeingFrugal breaks affordable gift-giving down into what to give particular types of people (your girlfriend and grandma really shouldn’t get the same gift, even if you are being frugal.)

When you’re going cheap, the best thing you can do is be creative and unique. That’s why I love this post on Squawkfox filled with 10 frugal handmade gift ideas (and pictures of what they should look like, so you know you’re doing it right). The Frugal Family Fun Blog also has a few homemade gift ideas, though some require an education curve that you might not have time for (ie: knitting). They also led me to a post on Good Housekeeping offering cheap and easy food gifts (that look really nice. Check out their curried lental soup, yum!)

Whatever you make, don’t waste money on wrapping paper! Head on over to Frugal Zeitgeist for a lesson in gift wrapping on the cheap. Sqauwkfox also has some frugal gift wrapping insight.

Q & you A:

What frugal/affordable/not-ridiculously expensive gifts are you giving this holiday season?

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received that hasn’t cost the giver a small fortune?

Regarding My Relationship

A few of you responded to my last post that I sound like I’m unhappy with my current relationship. After all, I’m jealous of my friend who has an engineer for a fiancee, who is paying for her house.

Yes, I am jealous. But I also have come to a point in my life where I know money isn’t everything. It isn’t even necessary for happiness.

I dated an attorney for 2 years. He was in law school when we first started going out. He claimed he wasn’t in it for the money, but he had a certain standard of living that it was clear he didn’t want to give up. He wanted to build on that. He now owns a nice 1.5 bedroom condo in a decent area of San Francisco. I broke up with him because he was too ambitious. He cared much more about his career than his relationship. There was a coldness about him too. Robotic, almost. He was in it, even more so, for the challenge of his job, the intellectual splendor of it.

A lot of people are like this. And I respect them. And some days I want to be dating them. But really, I know that’s not the life I can lead.

My current guy… despite lacking ambition… or being afraid of having ambition… is the sweetest man I have ever known. He’s truly a “good” guy. I love that we could spend an entire evening cuddling and watching old episodes of some series we’re trying to catch up on. Of course, the relationship isn’t perfect. I’d love if he would so much as ask for a raise at work, but he won’t. He lives at home, his mom has saved up enough to send him to grad school if he ever wants to go, so he doesn’t need to earn much. I’m his biggest cost… he buys me food every once in a while. Without me, he practically wouldn’t even have to work. He didn’t… for a year after he graduated college, he didn’t work. It took me nagging and him being annoyed at me nagging and me stopping nagging for him to get an internship and then finally a job.

So yea, that bugs me a bit. But it’s not like I’m Ms. Ambitious either. I’ve gotten “let go” more times than I can count because depression or anxiety got in the way. I happen to be doing… well, pretty good right now, but that can change at any moment. My lawyer boyfriend really looked down on me when I was going through a dark time in my life, when I wasn’t sure what I was doing with my life. My current bf, I know he doesn’t care whether I’m out there bringing in the bucks or just making ends meet. He loves me regardless. And I really do love him whether or not he makes $100k a year… or $25k.

I also am rational and know that one day, if I want to own a house or have a family, money matters. It feels like romance and a relationship should be different than the business partnership that is marriage. Yea, you’re super lucky if you get both, but I don’t like to mix my love life with business. It always ends badly.

Millionaire Matchmaker – Bravo’s Latest “Reality” Show

If you haven’t had a change to catch Bravo’s latest reality show: Millionaire Matchmaker, you’re not missing much. Take a bitchy Yenta from New Jersey, Patti Stranger, whose entire life is dedicated to helping super-wealthy men find the girl of his dreams. Surely it makes for a good business. She charges anywhere from $10,000 to $150,000 a year to hook up the hotties and the notties (oh god, did I just quote a Paris Hilton movie title?).

The men who appeared on the television show were actually fairly attractive, but one has to assume for every attractive-yet-single millionaire willing to appear on TV, there’s another ten whose reflection would likely crack mirrors.

Overall, the show greatly offended me. The men, surprisingly enough, did not offend me at all. Sure they wanted women who were perfect everything and had unreasonable expectations, but what really got me is this woman, Patti, has no freaking clue what men actually want. She thinks she does, of course. Being that the matchmaking service is LA-based, looks matter a lot (even more than they would elsewhere.) At the beginning of the show they film her going through a series of headshots and she says “definitely not” to a women who is wearing glasses. You can’t see the photo up close, but the women certainly doesn’t look fugly. She just doesn’t have a glamor shot like some of the other girls. Given the right makeup, hair stylist and photographer, her pic would probably look just as “hot” as these other girls.

Meanwhile, this women definitely has a very narrow concept of attractiveness (ironically, she’s very unattractive). Redheads? They’re out. She even asked a redhead if she’d dye her hair brown.

The only thing I’ll give them credit for is that they did want to get women with an education. In the end, though, this proved difficult. And too much education wasn’t good either. They’d take women of top-notch pedigree (a graduate of the Ivies, etc) but not someone who used Dr. in front of their name while introducing herself.

Episode one featured two men… #1 “Sex Toy Dave” – a millionaire who made bank by selling – you guessed it – sex toys. On the Internet. His snazzy house featured such things as a view and a stripper pole in the middle of the living room (awesome). Of course, Patti wanted the stripper pole gone. Her interior designer suggested moving all sex related things to a “sex toy room.”

Ultimately the gal Dave picked, who I must say was actually a relatively good choice for him, was not offended by the stripper pole (though she was a little good two shoes and was slightly off put by it. She wouldn’t try it out herself.)

Meanwhile, the other guy was an older (46 year old) options trader. A Yale grad. He was a bit disillusioned with the type of gal he should be with. Patti wants to get these guys “younger” girls, but not with a 20 year age difference.

But her method of natural selection seems to go against this. She put the two men in a room with a dozen or so women and let them all have at it. The most impressive women got asked out on solo dates with the two guys.

Mr. Options Trader picked out a very hot, young brunette with blue eyes. Sex Toy Dave chose a women who seemed really cool. She had the Ivy pedigree, a great smile, she was laid back, and pretty but not in a porn star sort of way.

Still, in the end the pair didn’t work out. He was too much of a party boy for her.

I don’t really understand why these men spend thousands upon thousands of dollars asking this woman to find the perfect women for them. Maybe they’ll get laid (though that’s against the rules until they’re in a committed relationship) but find the perfect woman, i’m not so sure.

First off, any women who wants to be in the “Millionaire’s Club” is in it for the wrong reasons. Unless you literally find women on normal dating sites and think they’re perfect for someone rich, and ask them to join the “club” without the intention of marrying rich, you will get gold diggers and more gold diggers. Do these men really want that? Eh, maybe they do. They have all this money and sometimes it’s nice to spend it on designer clothes for your special lady. I guess.

I think if it weren’t for Patti, this show wouldn’t be quite so offensive to me. But she’s just a nightmare. She wants the men to change for women who she think would make good wives and mothers. What ever happened to pay someone to find someone who might like you for the way you are? Or… you know… just find them.

Patti’s club website: The Millionaire’s Club, is subtitled: Where successful men come to meet their beautiful and intelligent wives as girlfriends. Honestly, the site looks skanktastic. It’s one step above escort service.

Define Gold Digger.

Long before I was born, the term “gold digger” had not been coined. Instead, it was acceptable to pursue a significant other of reputable financial status. At that time, women of worth did not have to work, so gold digging was probably the hardest job they’d have their whole life, especially if the woman came from a lower class family. Always marry up.

(This post is largely about heterosexual relationships, though it can be applied to homosexual relationships as well… except since gays & bi’s in same-sex relationships can’t get married, the money issues become even more complex.)

In today’s world, gold digging has such a negative connotation. There are definitely different levels of gold digging…

1. Date only for the money. Go on some reality show about dating a millionaire. Expect your boyfriend to buy you everything. Luxurious trips. Spa treatments. Jewelery. Clothes. A car. A mansion. You name it, he’s paying.

2. Date because you like the guy, and because he happens to be successful. Well, you say you are attracted to him because he is successful, not because he has money, but… you know that’s not entirely the truth. Life is expensive, and although you may work and bring in significant dough yourself, you know that in the long run you will have a dual income household and that second income will either help you buy a house… or a teeny tiny condo… or keep renting your whole life, depending on how big that income is. You want stability, and a future. You’ll date a guy who makes a good salary over one who doesn’t any day.

3. You date whoever. You don’t care what they make. Still, you like it when they pay for your date every once in a while. You enjoy nice gifts. You’re happy with whatever gifts you get, yet still like to be spoiled a bit every once in a while. Like on your birthday. But you don’t care about the cost of living in the future and you figure if all else fails, you’ll take care of that on your own.

Well…

I’d say I’m more or less #3. Or a cross between 2 and 3.

Let me back up a bit. A few years ago, I started to date a law student. I dated him because he had a good personality and I liked the guy. We became good friends fast and eventually we decided to give it a go. During the relationship, he was a student and then a law clerk, so he wasn’t what you would call “rich.” But I found out that he covered his law school tuition thanks to mom and dad before even enrolling. So he had some spare cash to spend. After he started his life in the professional world of law, I was a poor intern making about minimum wage. But he wouldn’t so much as buy me a movie ticket. Eventually, I got tired of his stinginess (because I am a gold digger?) and decided to move on. There were other reasons I made that decision, but I felt like if he had the money, he should want to help his girlfriend out.

Now I’m dating a guy who will probably always be in the middle class, like me. There’s nothing wrong with being in the middle class. I love this guy more than anything, and I can see spending my life with him. He’s just getting started out on his career… and while he dreams of making gobs of money and considered going to law school for that reason, he is probably going to end up in a less profitable career. If he ever decides to go to grad school, his mother is footing the bill. If he doesn’t, that money exists for such things as… oh… a down payment on a house.

So… in the back of my mind, I still feel comfortable dating this guy because I know there’s money there. I’m not dating him because of his money, but it’s kind of a safety net… in case my own career doesn’t work out the way I plan.

Meanwhile, my earlier boyfriend, the lawyer (who is still my good friend) now takes in over $200k a year at 29. He owns a condo. He still lives frugally (he loves buying things on sale at the supermarket) and he’ll surely save up lots of money to buy a huge house one day.

Sometimes I think of what my life would be if I ended up with him. I know in my heart that would be the wrong choice, yet to give up a life of financial security (although I’d definitely have to earn enough to cover what I wanted in life, but at least things like house and food would likely be covered) is tough to give up for the sake of love.

We’re all taught that love is what we should be looking for. But when it comes down to it, life is about the survival of the fittest, and the survival of the richest. Healthcare… yea, get married to someone who has good healthcare if you want to freelance on your own. That will make your life affordable.

Money has to play a role in relationships. Otherwise it becomes a giant problem later. So many relationships dissolve because of money issues. It doesn’t even matter how much you have, what matters is how you decide to spend it.

What do you think about gold digging? Is it bad? Do you do it? How does money define your relationships?

Labor Day Wrap Up

Investments: I’ve been avoiding checking my Vanguard accounts for a few days. My losses, however temporary, were too painful to look at on a daily basis. After checking a few minutes ago, I’m happy to report Wall Street’s latest recovery has brought my losses to an amount I can deal with.

Career: Has its ups and downs. My job is, quite frankly, amazing. I’m still not sure I’m right for it. Then again, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be “right” for anything that could be described as a “career” or a “job,” even. Figured out my biggest problem with my current job is not my inability to fact check properly (although that’s a huge problem that I’m going to fix, hopefully with the help of ADD meds that I might be getting this week), it’s my massive issue with social anxiety. It’s not ideal to be a journalist with social anxiety. Can I overcome my fear of talking to strangers? Can I find confidence in my intellect so I can stop spending my life apologizing for my errors and worrying about future ones, and focus on just doing a good job? Tune in next time…

Love: I’m lucky in love. I think. I’m just stressed out about life, overall, and that’s affecting my relationship. It isn’t fair to my boyfriend. He’s a great guy. I used to think that happiness meant being successful, ie, figuring out some way to lead a life that would make my parents go “wow.” Now that I realize this is impossible and/or unimportant, I’ve almost given up at that dream. Instead, I now understand that happiness in life is about the people who we meet along the way, especially the person (or people) who we love. I need to figure out how to live love. I’ve spent so much of my life finding security in the dramatic, and I’m tired of it. My parents’ relationship is a joke, despite that they’ve been married for more than 25 years. I’ve grown up to believe marriage is a joke as well. I’m not sure I still believe that. It’s odd that I can see myself one day having a husband and a family. It sounds really, really weird to hear myself think that. I’m not sure if my current boyfriend will be the guy I end up with forever, but I wouldn’t want to be able to foresee that clearly now anyway. On my Labor Day vacation, a bunch of strangers kept asking if we were married, or calling us husband and wife. It was weird. I still feel like I’m 16 years old, even though I’m really pushing 24. Geez, 24. You know, I hadn’t even thought about the significance of turning 24 until just now. That’s old. I mean, not old, old. But old enough that I’m no longer a young adult. I’m, well, an adult. Plain and simple. And I need to start living like one.

Sleep: Lacking. I need more sleep. Insomnia is destroying my already limited ability to focus and function properly.

Budget: Spent $125 on six pairs of shoes while on vacation. Yes, six. That includes California tax. Did I need six pairs of shoes? Probably not. But outlet stores plus a need for new shoes and finding shoes that actually fit me (a rarity) equals buying a lot of shoes. I find shoes are a worthwhile investment, especially if they’re good quality footwear sold at a relatively cheap price. At the Nine West outlet store, I actually bought a pair of shoes I already own. They are pretty gross right now and my gut instinct has told me throw them out for months. Finally, I found their replacement. The same exact pair, for $15 on a sale rack on extra sale. There is something orgasmic about walking into a shoe store that has a sale rack where prices are already marked down about 50 percent, and then there’s a giant sign that says “take 50 percent off already reduced prices.” Sometimes I think I could live on the thrill of buying $70-$100 shoes for $20.

Travel: Labor Day weekend in Tahoe was great. I felt bad that I ended up spending so little on the trip. My boyfriend’s father footed the bill for our motel and my bf covered most of the gas, so I ended up spending about $200 on the trip for food and a show. (And then I spent $125 on shoes (see above)). I’ve got a few upcoming trips that will pinch my wallet a bit… a roadtrip to LA coming up in a few weeks, and then I’m off to Miami for my childhood friend’s wedding. Overall I expect travel to cost me another $400-$500 over the next two months. My mother still wants me to take a trip to Vegas to visit my grandmother, but I’m not sure it makes sense to spend even more money on that. And then there’s the possibility of taking a trip home to the east coast for the holidays, though I might just not go home this year. There’s not much left for me there. Being around my parents, in my childhood home, just depresses me. It reminds me of all the things I’ve been trying so hard to get away from (and failing, but trying nonetheless).

Dating: Who Pays?

A few years back, I had just graduated from college and was a full-time intern (aka slave) with a decent amount of savings (savings=for grad school one day) and a boyfriend who had started his six-figure attorney job the same year (note: he graduated from law school with no student loans thanks to his mom and dad and some savings). At that point, we were together for over a year. I had spent hundreds of dollars on plane tickets flying around the country to see him, as we had met in one city, then spent a good chunk of our relationship long distance.

Given, I’m not the type of girl who expects men to pay for her, one of the reasons our relationship ended was that I could not stand his stinginess. I know I wasn’t broke, but it would have been nice for him to offer to pay for a movie ticket every once in a while. I felt like I was holding him back from the life he could have, since it wouldn’t kill his piggy bank to go wine tasting once a month, or enjoy a decadent meal every once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with avoiding pricier options, but at the time, well, every cent counted. Really.

Now I’m in the reverse situation. It’s kind of funny, actually. I’m dating a guy who is unemployed. He does have a savings (from my understanding of it, he has just about the amount I have in savings) and he lives at home (so no rent, whereas I pay $1050 a month in rent.) Supposedly his parents are footing the bill for grad school if he decides to go. (My parents are not, as far as I know, though my dad has mentioned that in 3 years when he can access his 401k, there will be some money available to help out if I can wait that long.)

(Anyway… the details are rather unimportant as a generic entry about who pays for things in a relationship, but as this is my personal finance blog, I’m writing details. Hope y’all don’t mind.)

So guy #2 loves to pay for me 75 percent of the time. We go out to dinner and he often offers. He let’s me pay occasionally. I don’t push him enough because in the back of my mind I’m always thinking, if he pays, that’s another $15 I can pocket for grad school… or a new shirt. It feels rather icky to be the stingy person in the relationship. Sometimes I feel like I should pay more frequently since I’m working and he’s not. Then again, it’s his personal choice to be unemployed (he has a degree from a top school, I doubt he’d have much trouble getting a job) and if he wants to pay for me than who am I to object? Plus he’s got his parent’s money for grad school and if I actually ever figure out what I want to do with my life for the long-term, I’ll need to foot most of my bill for all graduate school fees.

Obviously I’m not talking about the first couple of dates here. That’s the subject for a whole other entry because at that point there’s somewhat of a societal expectation for the man to offer, even if the woman ultimately is sane enough to grab the check and split the bill fairly. But for people in LTR’s, money is a whole other issue.

Sometimes, I admit, I dream of dating someone (*cough*gold digger*cough*) who takes me out to nice places and… takes me shopping. It’s ridiculous, as I’m NOT a gold digger. Really. I wouldn’t date someone just because they were rich. It’s just a nice thought, since life out here in Silicon Valley is so damn pricey and everyone else around here seems to be loaded.

To tell you the truth, I’d rather be the one making the big bucks. I doubt that will ever happen as a journalist, even though I’ve managed to do quite well for myself in the generally poor-paying profession. But I’m not going to kid myself into thinking I’d ever be looking at a six-figure salary. It might be possible if some day I make a name for myself and start my own website, but I’m not going to start dreaming about that now. Reality is I’m making an OK salary, but I’m living in one of the richest counties in the country…

[[The median income for a household in the county was $70,819, and the median income for a family was $80,737. Males had a median income of $51,342 versus $40,383 for females.]]

Ok, so in a few week’s I’ll be making more than the median income for females. That still means nothing (considering that my life involves interacting with venture capitalists and other well-to-do types)… and while I know money does not equal happiness, there’s always the underlying fear of taking out loans for grad school and having to deal with debt (the “good kind”) and then never being able to afford a house or any other form of stability in my life.

It’s all kind of hypocritical of me, since I’m terrible at saving, and I always end up spending too much each month. Why does it matter if I spend too much on a shirt versus a nice date with my boyfriend? It’s probably better to spend that $70 on a date.