Alright, so the title is kind of dramatic. My relationship is okay, but the problems we are having with money are definitely causing arguments and tears. Financial anxiety is a huge thing for me, and as I’ve recently discovered, for my boyfriend as well.
I’ve always been poor. I grew up living in a house that had holes in the walls and ceiling damage that would never get fixed (and is still not fixed), my mother who was living on a monthly pension cheque and child allowance did what she could, but we often went without. I have three siblings who were all out of the house during my teen years, so I was pretty much alone in the trenches with my mother who had a slew of mental health issues on top of substance abuse. I didn’t get to go on trips that my class went on or get new clothes other than before school each year. I didn’t always have hot meals on the table at dinner time and I remember comparing myself to my friends who had nice things, nice houses, and parents who didn’t fall asleep mid sentence. I grew up poor and I have a lot of insecurities about money now as a result.
My boyfriend grew up middle to high class. He had periods in
his life where his family didn’t have as much money because his father owned a
business that had rough years, but for the most part, money wasn’t an issue. His
parents have a beautiful home and his sister is currently in medical school. We
receive money and amazing gifts for holidays from his family, and usually Pjs
or slippers, if anything, from mine. Because of this, he also has a lot of
insecurities about money as an adult.
While my insecurities stem from not having money and feeling anxious when I don’t have it now because I don’t want to go back to that place, his stem from always having money and fearing the unknown of not having money in the future.
Both my boyfriend and I are currently in university. I am doing
an online bachelor’s degree and he is finishing up his social work degree. Unfortunately,
this fall, he is going to have to quit his job to complete two work terms that
are unpaid and he is, understandably, freaking out. I’m working, but barely,
and I’m living on student loans so we are going to be struggling for a while.
He has been stressing out about money and constantly talking about budgeting, saving money, eliminating all forms of entertainment, and the worst of them all, moving in with his parents.
I will be honest, I can’t move in with his parents. I’ve worked extremely hard to become independent from a mother who made it difficult to live apart from her because of co-dependency and emotional/mental abuse. I left my home at 19 and I vowed to never depend on someone again. I wanted so badly to live in a place where I could make my own choices because at home I was given zero choice in anything from clutter from my mothers hoarding issue being in my room, to who was coming in and out of the home. I make dinner every night in my apartment, I have a cat that I love (who I’d have to get rid of) and I am independent, which is something my mother told me I would never be.
We have argued about this day in and day out and while I can see that he is struggling as much as I am, I’m finding myself resenting him. He freaks out about the idea of living on $2000 a month when I’m used to living on $500. My anxiety has been at an all time high because of this and it’s causing a strain in our relationship.
We realized this was an issue and here’s what we came up with.
Plan Going Forward
Let each other know when we are feeling anxious about money
We have always had an issue with internalizing things until they explode. This may seem minor but letting each other in when we are feeling anxious has helped a lot. This gives us an opportunity to reassure the other person that we are surviving, and we are okay.
Make budgets that allow room for entertainment
You can’t live your life just paying bills. There needs to be a little wiggle room for having fun. While we have cut out going out to eat every weekend and spending our evenings getting take out/having drinks, we left a little room to go to a movie once in a while or have a date night out every couple of weeks.
Made a menu for dinners
This is something new I’ve tried. I made a dinner menu for the next two weeks before buying groceries. This has helped us by buying enough groceries for the week, while saving money by not buying unnecessary items. It has definitely helped and will be something I will be doing in the future.
Spend time together doing things that don’t cost a lot of money
Yes, we are stressed about money. Yes, it has caused a lot of anxiety amongst our relationship, but that doesn’t mean we need to hate each other or stop spending time with each other. We have been having nights in watching our new favourite show (TURN on Netflix. 10/10 would recommend) or going for drives in the countryside.
Sometimes I don’t always think about the reasons I fell in love with this man. It’s hard to remember his sense of humour or how he always puts me before himself when he’s pacing in the kitchen telling me we need to move in with his parents. Sometimes I forget about how when we met, he took copious amounts of twelve hour shifts at a dangerous and stressful job just to spend time with me, or how after our first date he kept a starbucks cup in his car for days because it had my lipstick on it. I often forget the butterflies I felt the day I gave him my number because of a work emergency, and then later that night he texted me “would I be an idiot if I asked you out?”
But I love him, and just because we may not have money to buy each other nice things or go out to eat every weekend, we will always make it work. Because even if we don’t have money in the bank we will always have love in our hearts, and at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.
Take care of yourself