Money Talks: An NYC Couple Making $ 350,000 A Year
Here’s What It’s Like To Be A Couple Making $ 350,000 A Year In NYC
Everyone wants money, yet discussing it within the parameters of a relationship can be intimidating. When handled incorrectly, finances can crumble a romantic partnership — but when done in tandem, the right money conversations can go a long way. That looks different for different people, though. Welcome to Money Talks, AskMen's new series on the relationship between our money and our relationships. Let's talk about cents, baby.
For this New York City pair, soon to be married, shared financial beliefs form one of the pillars that build the foundation for what they both say with confidence will be a lifelong love. So what do their lives look like from a financial perspective?
AskMen: Do you have various philosophies on spending?
Melanie: We try to enjoy life now and spend money on events, concerts, travel but are also trying to save money for the future by investing.
Shaun: We prefer experience gifts over material gifts. We also like to buy vintage and used household items rather than new, as there are already enough things created.
Does one of you have more debt than the other? Regardless, is it something you discuss?
Shaun: Neither of us has debt. If we were to take on any debt, we would both discuss and agree to do so. Trust and communication are big for us.
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Growing up, were you taught about finances within a relationship or specific gender roles?
Melanie: I was raised in a family where my dad worked, and my mum was a stay-at-home mum. My dad worked (and still works) hard to give his family everything we need, and I was raised to understand that my parents were equal, they just had two different jobs. The only way my dad could work as hard as he could, was because my mum took care of everyone and everything from the non-monetary perspective.
Shaun: My parents divorced when I was at an early age, so I don't recall financial discussions. I do recall having my college paid for from my family, leaving me with no student debt after I graduated. That was huge. I would like to be able to return the favor to our children if we are lucky enough to have them. Whatever we decide to do as a family regarding finances and decisions won't have anything to do with gender.
How did your past romantic experiences affect your current approach to finances in the relationship?
Melanie: I had been pretty much independent with my money up until this point. All my previous relationships were never serious enough to warrant a discussion of money and finances.
Shaun: I have always been upfront and clear about finances. It’s the only way to be.
Is there ever an erotic element to money? Can your dropping dough on a fancy hotel, an extravagant dinner, or expensive lingerie be a turn on?
Melanie: Not exactly but I recently spent quite a lot of money on a "boudoir" shoot for Shaun's birthday. Does that count?
Shaun: We don't see either of us spending money as an individual, meaning if I put my credit card down to pay a restaurant bill, or vice versa, we see it as shared money. Deciding to splurge on a fancy hotel or dinner is a turn on for both of us.
What about dates, do you split the check, or does one usually cover it?
Melanie: When it comes to going on dates and vacations, it doesn't really matter who pays for it. It all comes from the same pool.
So do you have a joint bank account?
Melanie: Right now they are separate, but we've been talking about creating a joint account.
How do you handle individual expenses that are non-necessities, such as hobbies?
Melanie: If it's an individual hobby, like fitness, for example, we just pay for it on our own credit cards, and then pay the bills. We trust each other to make smaller purchase decisions on our own, and only really need to discuss big ticket items. For example, I often go shopping, but if I were to drop a significant amount on a luxury item, I would give Shaun the respect of talking to him about it first. We really do think of our money as shared, so if I spend a lot of money — that could have a negative impact on the safety of our financial future.
This is a scary thing to talk about, but do you have a plan in place should you break up?
Melanie: We are engaged and plan on being together for the rest of our lives. We are not discussing a divorce option, but we did just set up a life insurance plan with our financial adviser in the event that something tragic happens to one of us. We're also going to meet with a lawyer to talk about setting each other up with "power of attorney," again if something unfortunate happens and we need to make decisions on behalf of each other.
Shaun: I don't believe either of us sees getting a divorce as a future option and neither of us is looking for a prenup. We will be married at some point in the future, so everything will be shared soon.
So do you discuss finances surrounding over serious issues, such as your upcoming marriage and future children?
Melanie: Yes, money is part of our regular conversation. We hired a financial planner to help us put some structure around the conversation.
I understand you just underwent a big renovation on your apartment, did you learn and grow from this experience?
Melanie: We were quite lucky in that we didn't have to live in our apartment while we were renovating. We pretty much split the cost of the renovation, and at the time we started the plans we were not engaged. I originally wanted to have some sort of legal agreement, since technically I don't own the apartment (yet), but in the end, I trust Shaun, and we have a solid relationship. He's my partner, best friend and it doesn't hurt that he does finance for a living.
Shaun: Renovations are stressful, and this helped make us stronger.
How did you finance the renovations? Was it something you saved up for?
Melanie: It was a combination of savings, some money from family, and our monthly income that made up the total renovation budget.
How does your financial advisor help? Would you advise other couples to get one?
Melanie: What I didn't realize before going into it is that your financial adviser has to get personal. When we first met with ours, everything needs to be discussed: Do we plan on having kids, if so when? Do we plan on getting married, if so when, and how much would we spend on the wedding and who would pay for it? We would advise everyone to get a financial adviser, but you need to discuss these sorts of things as a couple together before hand otherwise it could make for quite an awkward conversation! Shaun and I are pretty much on the same page about things, and when we're not, we always try to have an open and honest (and respectful) conversation about it. I've heard that finances are the number one reason for divorce so it's just part of a healthy relationship to discuss them. If you don't, it will come up at some point and as a couple, you'll have to face the facts together. AskMen