I’m an independent woman and I make my own money. My customer service jobs certainly don’t make me rich, but they’ve been enough to get by. A few years ago I started seeing a guy and it turned into the most serious relationship I’ve ever had. That means we had to talk about grown-up things like money, and while it was awkward, I’m really glad I did it.
Money sure puts a lot of strain on relationships.
I hated even thinking about money, let alone talking to my new boyfriend about it. Still, I knew it made sense to discuss it before we got more serious, especially as I had big plans for my future. I wanted to travel. It was going take a long time to save up, but I had a plan. Was he a splurger or a saver?
Saving is hard when you’re working in a job barely above minimum wage
. I wanted to go to Australia and I was determined as hell. I still lived with my parents and paid a very small amount in rent, which was a good way to be able to save money. It was a completely inconvenient time to meet a guy, but these things always happen when we least expect it. Cupid strikes at inappropriate times, that arrow-wielding little bastard.
I talked to my boyfriend about traveling and he said he wanted to travel too.
But he had no idea of where and when. Literally everyone I went to college with said they wanted to travel after they graduated but we just kinda forgot how broke we would be. Nobody actually ended up doing it. I was determined that I was going going to make it happen. My boyfriend also worked in customer service but he didn’t live with his parents. He lived with five other housemates.
I guessed he probably didn’t have a lot of money, but I couldn’t just ask him.
That would’ve been totally weird and awkward. I didn’t want him to come to Australia with me as it was something I needed to do alone, but I wanted him to know that my plan was to continue saving up after and travel again. I’ve never been interested in saving to buy an apartment, have kids or get married. I just wanted to travel the world.
But what if my new boyfriend wanted the big house and lavish wedding?
I needed to know if he had savings or if he could save and what he would spend it on. As I couldn’t ask him straight out how much money he earned and saved, I decided to devise a game. We had sex first, naturally. Post-sex is always the best time to have difficult conversations in my view. The added level of relaxation really helps.
I started by asking him if he’d ever played the lottery.
Occasionally, he said, which led me to my game. I asked him to list the top three things he’d spend the money on if he won the lottery. To make the game more interesting, we then had to guess each other’s answers. Not only would I get to find out his financial ideas, I’d get to see what he thought mine were.
I realized while we sat opposite each other cross-legged on my bed, that my own game was totally anxiety-inducing.
He was trying to guess my three answers and I suddenly realized that this was way bigger than just finances – it was about our compatibility. Anything we said now could be complete deal-breakers in our relationship. What if he wanted a mansion, a sports car, and a private jet? How would he react when he found out that I wanted to blow all my money on traveling?
He guessed that I’d picked going to Australia.
I suppose that was an easy guess since I’d mentioned it before. He said he thought I would give some money to my parents, which made me feel guilty because it wasn’t one of my choices. His third guess was a house in the country with lots of land. Not a bad idea… if I was 70-years-old. My actual three choices were traveling, traveling, and traveling. I cheated but it was my game and I wanted to make a point. He just laughed when I told him.
It was my turn to guess his three choices.
They were wishful thinking guesses; traveling, helping his family (him suggesting this as one of mine was a giveaway), and a house with a big pool (he was a swimmer so I knew that would be important). He looked pretty pleased with my guesses. I’d been close – his third choice had been to invest in apartments in the city, one of which would be a cool penthouse apartment with a pool on the roof and a Jacuzzi. It didn’t sound like a bad idea at all. He told me we could live there when we weren’t traveling. I was so happy he’d used the words “we” and “traveling” in the same sentence.
I was just so relieved that he didn’t pick materialistic things.
Well, okay, the apartment is a bit materialistic, but it could’ve been worse. We went on to have a boring but necessary conversation about how much we both earned and how much we saved. I told him how much I was saving each month and how much I thought I needed to go to Australia.
He didn’t have savings, but it wasn’t because he didn’t want to save.
He just wasn’t living at home so he had more outgoings than me. He said if it meant he got to travel with me in the future he would find a way to save more. He completely understood that I needed to go to Australia by myself and while I was away, he could save for the next trip.
I went to Australia for six months and by the time I got back, he’d been given a promotion.
After a few months, we moved in together. It was only a tiny studio but we talked about ways that we could manage our money and we set up a savings plan for the next trip. It would take a while to save up, but we had a plan. Our next trip would be to South East Asia, and it would be together.
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