Recently I read a blog post by a woman who refuses to date men who make less than six figures. “I am all about living life, and not about working to pay for it,” she wrote. At first, I was outraged because shouldn’t we all be striving for our own personal financial independence? It’s the main goal of this blog! But now that it’s been a couple of weeks since I first read that post, I have to admit that I kind of get where she’s coming from.
I’ve never specifically laid out financial requirements for a potential partner, but I’ve always gravitated towards men who were ambitious and financially capable of supporting a certain lifestyle. I’m not talking about flying first class or living in penthouse apartments – I just mean being able to enjoy similar interests, vacation styles, comfortable apartments, and early retirement goals.
And in my previous relationships where there was a financial disparity? It sometimes caused friction. So seeking a partner who made a good income just seemed like an easy solution, and I felt like it would be less complicated. Because the number one thing couples fight about is money, right?
Yet, if I had made that a hard rule – if I refused to ever consider anyone who didn’t make at least an equivalent salary to mine – I would have missed out on so many amazing adventures and happy memories in my life. And as for some of the relationships I’ve had with men who made good incomes? They ended up being incredibly messy. Because while it’s true that our finances and lifestyle compatibility were less complicated, I wasn’t completely focused on the bigger picture. Did I love them – or did I just love the idea of them?
As my last relationship was winding down, I learned a lot about myself and what I was looking for. I learned to look outside the box of what I would normally want in a partner – because the path of unsuccessful relationships I was on was not very fun. I needed to stop checking boxes, and I needed to trust my instincts instead. As for financial compatibility, I decided that all I needed was someone who was good with the money that they earned. It didn’t matter what they did for a living. And whether their salary was $40,000 or $400,000 – as long as they were happy and living within their means, what more could I ask for?
Related: Why I can’t afford to start dating
I consider myself extremely lucky to have met my boyfriend. While he cares (a lot) less than me about his finances, he has a stable job, zero debt, savings in the bank, and is really good at pretending to be interested in the latest evolution of my budgeting spreadsheet. :) He is ambitious, yet realistic in the fact that he took a significant pay cut to take a job that would make him happier in the long run – and I think that says a lot about someone to know exactly what they want.
Even though I understand where that woman in the original article may have been coming for, I don’t support her reliance on someone else to create the life she wants for herself. Because you certainly don’t need a 6-figure salary to live a good life. I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to earn my financial independence. I’m not super smart or well educated or even a very good writer. But I’ve worked hard for the life that I have.
When I was 28, I bought my first home. I saved for the down payment for years, and in the 5 years I owned that home, I paid my mortgage payments on time, traveled to over 20 different countries, and stayed on track with my retirement savings. Maybe this is a super cliche way of thinking, but my financial accomplishments felt like even bigger accomplishments because I was doing everything as a single female.
I don’t really understand why anyone would look for a relationship that includes being financially supported. Sure I understand if you fall for someone who just happens to be wealthy (and also provides you with all of the other things you need in a healthy relationship), but to specifically seek it out seems wrong. I guess I just don’t get why you wouldn’t to experience that amazing feeling of making it on your own. :)
Would you date someone who made significantly less than you?
Would you ever refuse to date someone because they didn’t make enough money?
Before RD and I moved in together, we had a talk about how we wanted to take care of our household expenses. It was an interesting conversation as we chatted about what did and didn’t work in past relationships when it came to money.
In relationships, there are generally three ways that couples split costs:
- Split evenly – expenses are split down the middle, or you take turns paying.
- Split according to income – expenses are split proportionately, based on income.
- One person pays for the majority – well, self-explanatory.
While I’ve lived with boyfriends before, there was always a pretty significant difference in income. In college, I lived with someone who was already established in a career. He paid for most things because he knew I couldn’t really afford to. But once I started working, our incomes aligned a lot better, and we started splitting things evenly (to the point where we had a very detailed spreadsheet of expenses).
Then there was an ex-boyfriend who I financially supported during the last year of our relationship when he quit his job to go back to school. And Nic, who was a student – I paid for most of our dates, and while we lived in Germany, he paid for a bigger portion of our rent. We probably ended up pretty even in terms of splitting expenses over the course of the relationship – it just fluctuated based on each other’s income level at the time.
My relationship with RD is unique to me because I’ve never lived with someone where we’ve been in the same place financially (he makes more at his full-time job, but I make up the difference with my freelance income). Not only that, but we have the same sorts of spending habits. So it seemed logical that we split our expenses evenly, right?
What I didn’t want was to have a spreadsheet going and track expenses down to the penny. I’ve done it before and it really seemed to take the romance out of “treating” your partner to something. But I still wanted our expenses to be fair since we have no plans to combine our finances anytime soon (I like the idea of combining certain aspects of your finances together, but always want to keep some things separate – even after marriage).
Here’s what we’ve come up with:
- We split rent 50/50 ($1,650/month)
- I pay for the internet bill ($65/month)
- RD pays for the hydro bill ($50/month)
- We take turns paying for groceries, and reconcile our receipts once a month
- We take turns treating each other to meals out
We don’t track every dollar we spend and I like it that way. Our day-to-day spending is quite relaxed. If we need something for the house, I’ll pick it up on my lunch break – or he’ll grab it on his flex day. We don’t keep track of the little things. It also means I don’t feel bad if I put a $10 bottle of kombucha in the shopping cart, he doesn’t mind picking up our bar tab when we’re out with his co-workers, and I can feel good treating him to a dinner out with my friends.
Being able to contribute equally makes me feel empowered. In 2006, I had to borrow bus fare from my then-boyfriend because I didn’t have enough in cash or credit to pay for it on my own. That was nearly 10 years ago, and seeing how far I’ve come makes me feel really good. I like that I don’t need someone to support me financially, and I like knowing that I’m financially equal to the person I want to be with.
That being said, I know that what works for us might not work for another couple – and it might not work for us forever. But for now, I’m happy with how things have been working out so far. :)
How do you split shared expenses with your significant other?
I mentioned in a previous post that my housing situation has changed dramatically. In the summer I hinted at the idea of selling my house and moving into Vancouver to be closer to work, my friends, and where I spend most of my life. So back in August, I put my townhouse on the market just to see what would happen. There was a lot of interest, and finally I accepted an offer earlier this month. :)
That means I’m moving! But I’m not just moving into an apartment… I’m going to live out my small space living fantasy by renting out a laneway house in Vancouver. For those that are not from the Vancouver area and might be unfamiliar with laneway houses, these homes are typically built on a pre-existing lot (usually someone’s backyard). They are usually detached from the main house and open onto the back lane. My laneway house is a two-storey, two-bedroom house that measures about 685 sq.ft. It’s extremely cute, and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to live just a 10 min. drive to work, and within a few blocks of my favourite neighbourhood in Vancouver.
I had a short introduction into small space living in 2012, when I lived in a 215 sq.ft. apartment with a boyfriend for a year in Germany I don’t think I would want to live in a space that small long-term with another person (at least not that specific space – it did not function very well and there was no storage), but it definitely showed me that I can do with a lot less than what I have and still be completely happy. So now that there’s 685 sq.ft. for two people, it seems really doable.
With my new job, I will also be getting a modest bump in salary, which will increase my monthly saving amount. But I want to get right to the fun stuff – and that’s creating a new budget for a new living situation. :)
This is what my initial thoughts are for my new budget:
A few things to note:
- This is not a fair representation of home ownership vs. renting as I’m also going from living alone to living with somebody else. Creating this mock budget for the first time really made me realize how much more I was spending over the last 5 years living solo. Back in the summer, I did create another mock budget to see how much I’d save if I went from owning to renting as a single person ($400/month). So while this isn’t a truly fair representation, it doesn’t result in a *massive* difference in my budget living with someone vs. living solo.
- My townhouse had rental restrictions. A lot of people suggested that I rent out my townhouse and move into the city. However, my building did not allow for rentals, so this just wasn’t an option for me.
- Monthly rent on this house is $1,650. For a two bedroom in an extremely desirable area in Vancouver, this is quite reasonable, but definitely not the cheapest option out there.
- We will be splitting the cost of utilities and internet. Electricity will go up a bit as we are heating a whole house, but that increase is offset by the fact that it’s now a shared expense. Renter’s insurance has been quoted at $30 per month.
- I anticipate my monthly grocery budget will go down a little bit as I’ll have more time to prepare more meals from scratch.
- Car insurance is not accurate – it will likely cost a bit more now that I live in Vancouver.
- The cost of gas is cut in half now that my daily commute to work is 10 minutes instead of 45-60 minutes. :)
Related: Single? It’s costing you more than you think.)
As you can see, I *think* I’ll be able to slash over $700 from my budget each month without changing my lifestyle through variable expenses. Unless I’ve made some glaring error. This is a significant amount, and I am really excited about it. If you add to that my modest pay raise, and if I am vigilant in saving my savings, I could potentially put away an additional $1,000+ each month.