Dating Between Income Brackets

Dating Between Income Brackets

My partner and I have vastly different income levels. On average, he makes in 2 days what I make in a week.

He’s also extremely generous, both with presents and with paying for outings. The presents are more clear-cut. They tend to be…how do I say this…gifts we will enjoy simultaneously. If we broke up, I think they would walk with him to be enjoyed with others.

The more complicated part for me is the paying for experiences.

We both love to go out and do fun things—food and travel are both big ones for us. And he usually pays.

He might call me and say “Hey. Ya hungry? Wanna go out?” and I’ll go “Yeaaaah!” Then I’ll have this internal deer-in-the-headlights moment where
                                 a) I catch myself hoping he’s inviting me out to a restaurant, and then
                                 b) I feel a crushing wave of guilt, then
                                 c) That moves into a certainty that he can see my hope that he’s offering to treat me
                                     and is judging me as a gold digging princess.

The Resentment Volcano

Now do this awkward dance of “well yes if you’re offering, but if you’re not, I need to go home and have a can of soup.” I’m always scared he’s going to clutch his pearls and be like “were you just assuming I was offering to treat you?! Emily Nixon, you are a monster!” I get worried he feels pressured and then I imagine a future in which his frustration has been building up like a grade school volcano, which then explodes baking soda resentment everywhere.

Recently, I have been solving this problem by saying “Are you inviting me? Because if yes, I would love to, but if no, I need to eat groceries.” It’s working pretty well. Although I’m not sure if in English we actually use the word ‘invite’ in this way, or if I am just stealing it from the French.

Like most people in relationships, I want ours to feel equal, but I know that I’m not going to be able to reciprocate in the same dollar amounts. Instead, I have been trying to even out the number of times we each suggest and plan dates. I invite him to movies that I pay for with credit card points, or I suggest free/cheap activities. (Is going to a protest a fun date…? What if there’s a craft component beforehand?).

But of course we don’t always treat each other. Often we will go Dutch (do people still say that? I definitely learned that phrase from an Archie comic when I was eight.) Sometimes, like tonight, I just have to opt out of activities because they are just outside my budget.

Here’s what I worry about as the one that earns less…

I think sometimes what feels like quality couple time in his mind feels like a financial stress in mine. I worry that me opting out of the expensive event feels to him like I’m saying no to spending time together, and that “we could play board games instead” just feels like a cop-out.

I worry about saying that I can’t afford to attend an event because that money is earmarked in my budget for something else. I’m afraid he will hear “you are less important to me than x, y, or z.”

A year in, we’re still very much figuring all this stuff out. The only thing I think we can both agree on is that talking about it is important. I will continue to very loudly and clearly ask “Are you offering to pay for this or are you suggesting this as something we split?” and suggesting crossword puzzles in the park as a date idea.

Emily nixon

Emily nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

Debt Diaries #4: ‘Slash’ing Credit Card Debt

Debt Diaries #4: ‘Slash’ing Credit Card Debt

Current Debts:
Credit Card: $100.00
Bank Loan: $4,577.61

Current Debt Total: $4,677.61

Meedileeemeedileemeedileebowwww. That is the sound of my guitar solo of awesomeness since I crushed $1,000 of credit card debt since I last wrote. How? I sold my brand new iPad that I got as a present. Having just $100 on my credit card feels saweeet!

Feeding the Dragon

Once I decided to sell it, I had a tough time deciding what was the most responsible thing to do with that money. I’ve been reading this great book called Happy Go Money by Melissa Leong in which she talks about compound interest as a dragon—it starts as a baby dragon and grows over time. The book has been motivating me to get a compound interest dragon on my team instead of on the other team (the debt that eats me team). I looked at the interest rates on my credit card (a whopping 19.99%) versus my RRSP (somewhere around 5%) and figured out that in the end I will have more money avoiding the credit card debt than by putting that money into my RRSPs. I felt like such a grown up making that decision.

My House is Now a Store

After that, I want to sell everything in my apartment. I’m driving my partner (an excellent online seller of goods) up the wall with questions like “how much could I charge for this? How about this? What if I bundled them together?”

Incidentally, after I finished the sale on that iPad, I got to the chapter in Happy Go Money about drumming up extra cash. One of her tips is to sell stuff you own online. (Straightens suit jacket) Already ahead of you, Melissa, already ahead of you.

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

Emily’s Favourite Money Stories – July Edition

Emily’s Favourite Money Stories – July Edition

“The Latte Factor, Poor Shaming, and Economic Compassion” by Piggy at Bitches Get Riches

Hell. Yes. Is all I have to say about this blog post. When I was reading it, I was basically a human version of the clapping hands emoji. Yes, this. All of this. The latte factor is a sneaky thing because it can work like a charm. But only if you have enough money to meet your basic needs.

 Poverty may be something that you know well. I have been lucky enough to only be there in short periods, but I remember these vividly. A time when I survived on dumpster diving and baby food (I found a bunch of discounted jars of it and lived off that) or another time when I only ate white rice for a week. I put oil or sugar on it to add more calories.

 But during those times, if someone had brandished the “latte factor” at me as a means of extricating myself from that poverty, I would not have known enough to tell them to fuck off. I would have internalized it and added it to the dogpile of reasons that “I [was] just not good enough.” Now, I know better.

 And since poverty affects minorities disproportionately, whether the marginalization is rooted in race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability,  the blaming of people for their own financial hardships, when they result from economic discrimination is oppressive and abusive.

 Bitches Get Riches presents an eloquent “f*%$ you” to those who would use this technique as a way to shame those struggling against economic oppression.

“The Only Metric of Success That Really Matters is the One We Ignore” by Jenny Anderson at Quartz

This article feels like such a good reminder to me right now, and always. One of my friends (alright, it’s Chris Enns) refers to the casual connections that populate your life as “loose ties.” Although they may not feel deep, they add colour and richness to your daily life. For me, its one of the main reasons why I have a garden in my front yard. 

I live in the Annex, a densely populated neighbourhood in Toronto. Strangers rarely talk to each other here, but when I am in my front yard gardening, people will frequently stop to talk. They like to tell me how much they appreciate my garden, or that they saw a monarch there the previous day, or they stop to take photos of my very camera-happy cats.

When I think about what time wealth feels like, I think of the small parcels of time that I spend in my garden. Somehow half an hour out there is infinitely more rich than the same amount of time spent on social media. The time spent in nature and forming these “loose ties” feels like time very well spent.

Anderson’s piece is a wonderful reminder that effective self care isn’t necessarily spa days, yoga classes, or any of the other money-costing things that capitalism likes to sneakily package as “essential for your mental health.” But that forming loose connections in short, building community is truly one of the essential pieces that build a framework for a happy life.

The “Bad With Money” Podcast hosted by Gaby Dunn

I leuurrvv this podcast. The host, Gaby Dunn, is fun, relatable, and very open about her life. She uses her own examples (sometimes phone calls with companies she is in debt to) to demonstrate all the ways in which her financial life is challenging. Her confidence in claiming her nonexistent money skills makes it feel safe for the listener to be softer with their own struggles. It’s framed as her journey through a world peopled with those who are good with money and her trying to learn from them what she herself (and likely us as listeners) are lacking in financial knowledge.

She is open about many aspects of her life, we see that she is a queer woman who becomes increasingly frustrated with capitalist structural issues as the series progresses. And it’s neat to watch her journey.

I especially love episodes in which she tries to understand larger political financial issues, such as “Who Can Afford to Have Sex? (AKA Babies),” in which she examines the interwoven issues of class and reproductive rights. I also loved “A Myth We Somehow Believe (AKA Money and Politics),” in which she learns how Trump’s politics are in fact aligned with the Christian movement known as the Prosperity Gospel.

“When Buy One, Get One Free Isn’t a Great Deal”

OoooOOOO those sneaky stores/restaurants/kids at the lemonade stand. I love little videos that break down how something that felt too good to be true in fact is. It makes me feel better equipped to manage the world out there. It makes me feel smart. Watch it if you want to feel smart too.

“Unlearning My Buffet Mentality” by Rachel Khong at The Cut

In this article, the author tells her story about her experience of wealth as a child of immigrants growing up poor in California. She puzzles through her metrics of what it is to be wealthy, and comes to a lovely conclusion.

What’s your favourite? Any that we need to check out this month? Please send recommendations if you’ve got any!

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

Talking to Your Parents About Money

Talking to Your Parents About Money

A few months ago, I listened to the Because Money podcast episode called “The One Where We Talk About our Aging Parents” (Season 4, Episode 10). It was a mini wake-up call for me…maybe not an alarm clock that beeps really loud in your face, but more like one that wakes you up with cool Jazz jams. I thought to myself “Damn, yeah. I guess my parents are going to die at some point.”

Obviously, that wasn’t a new thought to me, but I had never considered it from a financial perspective. It would be really stressful to have to scramble around the legal and financial components in that moment. It would be way easier to deal with their passing if we had already talked through an action plan. It’s likely to be enough of a shock in itself;I won’t need any extra stress. I realized by talking about it with them now, I can be even just a little bit more ready for the stress of that moment. Knowing what my mom’s wishes are if she ever needs to move out of her house, for example, would be very helpful to know in advance if that moment ever comes.

Both my parents are still working, so it’s helpful for me to know about potential retirement plans for them too. I definitely want to start saving now if my Stepdad is expecting me to support his living expenses, for example. The bigger head start I can get on that, the better.

Even though my parents are still so young, I want to broach all the things: retirement, illness, and death, since of course illness and death could happen at any time. I can check in with them in a few years to see if things change (my personal wish 10 years ago, was to have my body torn into small pieces and left in trees for animals to eat…sadly, I learned that’s not legal so I’ve had to replan). Maybe in 10 years, my parents’ wishes around death will change too.

After nerding out on the internet for a few hours and reading….*sigh* all right, scanning a ton of articles about this, here’s my plan of attack.

Think about who they are and how they want to be approached

My parents are not good at difficult conversations. The more personal a topic is, the less my Mom wants to talk about it (and the more I do!) You know that old saying (that I just made up): “the apple doesn’t fall far from the pineapple tree…” (get it? Because it does? Whatever. I think it’s hilarious.) Anyway, if you want to have a big conversation with them, you need to signal it as clearly as one of those neon-clad people on airplane runways holding orange sticks (“BIG. CONVERSATION. COMING. SEEEEEEEEEE??? HEEERE IT COMESSSSS!”)

My tactic is to write an email from me and my brother broaching the topic and asking if they want to have the big discussion through email or over Skype. We are all scattered across the country, so it can’t be in person.

My family copes with humour
For the most part, they like their serious conversations peppered with silliness, so I am making sure to include that in my initial approach. I also know that they like the morbid, so I’ll throw some of that in there as well.

So, my brother and I have decided to start with an email…a probe… Here’s my draft of it. I’ll write an update on how this whole thing goes. PS If they do suddenly mysteriously die, that post script assures my spot in the slammer forever, but hey, I’ll roll the dice…

Hey Mom and Jim,

I recently listened to a podcast episode in which they discussed how important it is to start talking with your parents about vital (but tough) things like retirement, aging, and the big D (no not dick, although if that’s something you want as a part of that process, I’m sure we can arrange something).

Ben and I have been talking about how we would like to open up that discussion with the two of you. I know you are both far away from retirement, and hopefully still really far away from the ageing and death part, but the sooner Ben and I can start to understand your wants, needs, and “hell no!s” around it all, the better.
We were thinking there are a couple of ways we can go about this discussion: we can do it over Skype, so we are all face-to-face, or we can do it as a series of emails. You guys decide. Here are some of the areas we would love to get a clearer understanding of:

Retirement:
I would specifically love to get an idea of what financial support (if any) you will need from us for your retirements, so that Ben and I can start saving for that (Ah, the magic of compound interest!).

Ageing/Illness:
I really want to get an understanding of what you would like your lives to look like if a) one of you is taking care of the other, who might be sick b) both of you are sick or c) only one of you is alive and that person is sick. Sorry, I know this stuff is rough to discuss! Ben and I just want to make sure we support you and love you in all these possible hard situations in the ways that you want.

The Big D
I would love a better understanding of how you want us to act when you guys bite the big one (I mean dick, obviously) in different potential circumstances:mental/physical deterioration, sudden attack by mutated giant ant puts you into a coma (because venom…obviously…whatever! It makes sense in my head!), etc. I could make an enormously fun list here of sudden ways to die, but I think you get my point. I also want to know things like what you would like assisted living to look like if we ever need to cross that bridge (would you prefer to live with one of us, in a nursing home–if so, what kind?). And then there is the technical shit like who is the executor of your will, if you get hit by an ice cream truck tomorrow, where do we find your insurance policies and financial information, etc.

I do have a list of questions I have drafted up that I could just email to you for your responses, but my thought is that a Skype call might be best.

Let us know what you think,

Love love love,
Em

PS We are not asking these questions because we are trying to murder you and take over your veterinary empires. I repeat NOT. Nope, nuh-uh, definitely not…

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

Debt Diaries #3: Riding the Waves of Variable Income

Debt Diaries #3: Riding the Waves of Variable Income

 

Current Debts:

Credit Card: -994.25
Bank Loan4,892.45

Current Debt Total: -5,886.70

So…I kind of feel like I’m crushing it right now. Not really because of anything I’ve been doing, but mainly because it feels like I’ve been really damn lucky. Since the last entry, I have killed 2,042.93 in debt. It’s been just over a month.

It’s been a wild ride. I know what you’re thinking: a variable income earner having ups and downs? No way!

But seriously. I settled an Employment Standards Act case with a previous employer and used half that money to pay down my credit card bill. I saved the other half to build myself a bit of a cushion. Then, I got fired from a serving job, booked a voice gig, got a sweet tax return, and contracted Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. The last one has nothing to do with money, it just gives you an idea of the ups and downs I’ve been riding.

Some of these things are plannable, most are kooky dooky flukes. But I thought it might be useful to examine them to see which ones are repeatable or plannable.

  • Settling an Employment Standards Act violation out of court
    • This one isn’t really plannable, but I will say, when your (or other workers’) rights are being violated, speak the eff up. Even though it will certainly not guarantee financial gain, it will feel right.
    • Sidebar: if you feel you or your colleagues are having their rights violated, check out the ESA guide or speak to the Workers’ Action Centre or the Parkdale Community Legal Society. There are some badass folks at these organizations.
  • Getting fired.
    • I would say avoid this one…generally not great for income. But it does happen. And we, as variable income earners tend to have mega strong hustle. This one is easier if you have an Oh Shit! fund. I didn’t this time, so I called on my powers of hustle and networking to find extra gigs.
  • Booking a commercial voice gig
    • Oh man, if I could find a way to make this one a reliable source of income…well, that’s what I (and so many of you) are working on. Let’s just keep plugging away, folks.
  • Getting a sweet tax return/unlocking my tax savings
    • Finally, something that is actually plannable! I usually get a pretty sweet tax return because I’m meticulous about keeping my receipts. Also, as a financial literacy teacher/actor/writer/producer/server/French teacher/exercise teacher/childcare worker/administrator, you’d be hard pressed to find an expense in my life I can’t claim as a deduction. If you have questions about claiming deductions, check out this link. Save your itemized receipts, folks.
    • As for the tax savings, both Chris and I like to do what we call “fear saving” for taxes. Throughout the year, we set aside more than we need to on our self-employed income and put it in a taxes-only account. Once we have filed our taxes, there is usually money left over in this account that we now know we can use. Cha-Ching! To get an idea of what you might want to put away for taxes, check out this Simple Tax calculator:

Being self-employed is a bonkers journey, and we so many ups and downs. I’m still working towards regaining the sense of financial stability I had previously built for myself. But the waves will come, and when they do, our job is just to surf them, and plan as best as we can while we’re riding those gnarly A-Frames. This way, we’ll make the bombs feel like ankle busters. (PS I learned all my surfer slang here.

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

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