I can across an interesting article that coincides with what I’ve been thinking hard about these past few days. It’s about black people and wealth disparities. You can read it here . As the product of two generations of a middle class family (grandparents and parents), I don’t have anything to show for all their hard work. No property, no trust fund, no assets. Just a crippling amount of student loan debt. And I know that I’m not the only one in this predicament. Growing up, my father worked and my mother stayed home to care for us. She decided that she wanted to raise her children and homeschool us so she did. As a result, we lived in a single income household. A phenomenon that I’m experiencing now with my household of one. There are so many things that I want to do now but I won’t be able to because of my financial obligations. Transitioning to teaching or a post-doctoral position would require a pay cut of about 20k to 40k per year and I can’t afford that. This year one of my goals is to become more financially literate and I’m working on it. However, I wish that I didn’t have to start from the bottom and if I ever make enough money to afford kids I want them to have a different experience. It’s like I’m starting off at a disadvantage and don’t have the opportunity to at least start at baseline. Definitely tough.
Religion is one of those things that qualify as a touchy subject. It’s off limits if you’re talking to a group of strangers at a dinner party and not the best first-date conversation material. I remember hearing quotes about religion being the opiate of the people and how it’s a psychological crutch, etc. All the arguments, pros and cons aside, there’s always some inherent danger in allowing someone else to think for you. There are people out there that live and die by the words of their faith leader. There’s a dangerous dynamic that happens when an entire group of people trust one person to guide their lives. It almost sounds like the makings of a cult. While blind faith may be admirable to some, to others it’s an opportunity to take advantage of people in a vulnerable situation. Hope isn’t a hard thing to sell when it’s exactly what people need. Everyone wants to hear that they’ll rise to the next level and become healthier and happier. There’s value in genuinely believing that your life will turn around and that the next breakthrough is around the corner. But there’s also something to be said when these promises of a better life, financial stability, a spouse, and a nice car are tied to how much money you donate to the cause. When you’re inundated with promises of prosperity if you’ll give your last dime and demonstrate your loyalty, it’s time to consider the role religion is playing in your decisions.
I’ll be the first to admit that my spending habits are not always as disciplined the way that they should be. This story happened about two years ago so it’s not super recent but it was a very valuable learning experience. Anyway, one of the things that I’ve come to enjoy are comedy shows because I like humor. Anyway, I was at a comedy show and I got an SOS message from a somewhat close acquaintance asking me to call them as soon as possible. Now, because it wasn’t from a member of my immediate family or close circle I decided to wait until after the show to call the person back. So I did. Thinking that it was some big emergency I called as soon the show was over somewhat concerned. The emergency was the fact that this person wanted to borrow some money from me. Now, when that happens the answer is usually a straight “no.” I hate mixing money with friends and acquaintances and usually will just give it away and not worry about it instead of wrecking a relationship. I don’t think that it’s worth the hassle of lending it out. Now, it wasn’t an obscene amount of money—about a hundred and a half (ish). It was for a good cause and they promised to pay me back the next week. However intuition, common sense, and intelligence were screaming “don’t do it!!!” But, to be honest I was at a point in my life where I was still searching for reasons to have faith in humanity. I guess it was a personal thing. I wanted to trust that this person had good intentions despite the fact that I had known them for a few short months. So, I said yes. Against my better judgment and trying to have faith in humanity and taking a risk. Second mistake in this fiasco was that I let this person use my debit card for the transaction that they so desperately needed. Well, not my actual card but I gave them all the appropriate numbers deciding to trust that they were trustworthy. So the next day I awoke to a text message that informed me that this person had “accidentally” charged $100 more than I had authorized on my card. Being that it was a debit card, the money was already gone from my account. It was then that I found out that the money was actually for this person’s friend who (ironically) I actually knew personally. It was then that my feelings toward the situation gravitated towards significant irritation and annoyance. Mostly at the fact that there was a more noticeable lack of funds in my bank account due to my own stupidity and not making a smart decision. Needless to say, I was only reimbursed the original amount which left me $100 poorer and it was a bad situation all around. Lesson learned. I guess the icing on the cake was a few unauthorized charges that appeared a few months later on my account totaling about $200 that required the freezing of my account and the issuing of a difference card with the accompanying stress. Faith in humanity substantially shaken. They say an ounce of experience is more than a pint of advice and I certainly learned a lesson.
The topic of this article is somewhat near and dear to my heart. To the extent that I was seriously considering doing my dissertation on something related to it, but decided not to because I already have some strong opinions that would most likely prove me to be biased. The article raises some valid points as it relates to rates of marriage. Among the people I know, many are working to become financially secure before they get married. In contrast, many people from my parent’s generation got married young and struggled. One positive thing about that path is that if you’ve already made it through hell when your marriage is young, you’ll probably be less likely to leave the partner who stood by you during that dark period. However, while there’s nothing wrong about being in love and being poor, it’s not the easiest of lives to lead. Add children to the already financially stressed couple and you have a recipe for a super stressed relationship that could easily lead to divorce if the couple has not developed some good communication skills and a genuine friendship with each other. One of the premises of this article is that marriage can lead to wealth but the rates of marriages are declining. People are waiting longer to get married. I know of a couple who became wealthy simply because they only lived off the salary of one of the partners and then invested the salary of the other partner. Decisions like that are impossible when you’re living on a single income. People want to know that they have some sort of a buffer in marriage and aren’t coming into it with nothing. For some people, marriage is the best financial decision that they’ve ever made. I wonder what the lasting effects of people getting married at later ages will be on wealth accumulation as a whole?
One thing that I’ve admired is women who voluntarily become totally 100% financially dependent on their husbands in the early stages of marriage. Something about that makes me shiver inside. While it could be an expression of true love to go into a marriage without any resources of your own, it’s a scary thing. They say that the area of conflict in most marriages is money. It would seem to me that there would be added stress in that department when one person is making all the money ALL the time. I’ve met women who want with all their hearts to leave their husbands but they can’t because they don’t have any way to support themselves. While there may be housing options available, many do not want that experience. They don’t have the resources needed to sustain a decent quality of life, and many times it’s vastly different than the one that they had with their husband. While some may argue that keeping finances separate and having your own money goes against the “togetherness” concept of marriage, I think it needed in quite a few circumstances. You aren’t planning for failure but you are leaving room for the humanity of both people. Relationships and marriages fail all the time. And while we all want to believe ours is the exception, wouldn’t it be smart to have a backup plan just in case it isn’t? Dropping several socioeconomic classes because you had to leave despite not having adequate resources is a hard experience to have. But it can be avoidable. Not in all situations, but in some.
I absolutely abhor the first sentence in the picture. The second is more tolerable. The truth is that we live in a materialistic society and there’s little chance of that changing anytime soon. Maybe one of the reasons I hate that sentence is that it implies that you won’t care as much about the money if you have some of your own or you aren’t lazy. Money impresses more than just lazy people. And we all know people who work extremely hard but have absolutely nothing to show for it. People who want to accomplish things with their lives don’t want to be with someone who holds them back. Working hard isn’t all that’s necessary. There are other things that must be present. Love does not pay bills and having a man with money can not only be a bonus but also an upgrade. I’m against that as one’s only plan out of poverty but one of THE smartest financial decisions a woman can make is to get married. If you bring something substantial to the table, I feel like you shouldn’t feel bad that his net worth is also calculated with his marriage ability rating. If I’m merging my life with yours I want to come out with a better deal than I went in with. It doesn’t always have to be money but that will play a pretty sizable part. I agree that money doesn’t bring happiness but I personally would rather cry in my BMW than on my bike.
One of my goals this year is to travel more and I haven’t been the greatest at that as yet. This weekend I took my first trip this year. I was a kid that grew up traveling all over the Southeast and Midwest area of the United States. Sadly, these trips usually included of 12 hours or more of riding in a van. As I got older and learned to drive, the trips were more enjoyable because I could actually do something instead of sleeping or reading in the car. My siblings and I had some great experiences exploring the downtown areas of different cities and going to various museums and zoos. Even today, while I like going to my tried and true favorite spots, I also love to go places I’ve never gone before and have a totally new experience. The problem with traveling for me is that it takes probably about six weeks of planning in order to make it happen. While I am spontaneous and I like spur of the moment stuff, living in the middle of nowhere really puts a damper on that. I have to coordinate all my job schedules, find a place for my dog, ensure that I have no prior obligations, and plan for flights and transportation. In addition, this also includes doing school work in advance and then doubling up when I get home in order to ensure that I don’t fall behind in assignments. All of this can easily become a logistical nightmare. However, there are few happy feelings that beat walking onto the elongated trailer thingy that connects to the plane. The start of a new adventure and a chance for new experiences and people. I’m determined to have more of that this year. Despite all the logistics and financial challenges, life is too short to feel trapped in the middle of nowhere. I’m traveling more this year.