Hey everyone! Thanks for taking the time to check out the very first episode of our (hopefully) hit podcast “My Boyfriend Sucks with Money”. This podcast is a joint effort between myself (Melanie!) and my awesome boyfriend (Brian), who unfortunately is terrible with money. During our podcast journey, I’m going to try to teach Brian financial literacy and get him on his own path to financial independence!
We set up a Patreon account to help pay for Podcast hosting. There’s no obligation, the podcast itself is free for everyone! But if you love it and want to support our efforts, check out our Patreon page!
This first episode of My Boyfriend Sucks with Money is an introduction to us. We talk a little bit about ourselves and discuss Brian’s relationship with money. Hint: It’s not good! We also talk about our goals for this podcast and for our lives in general.
So, are you ready to listen to our first episode? Check it out!
We are learning as we go on this podcast journey, and we want to be honest with our strengths and weaknesses. And maybe in the process we can help other wannabe podcasters! The first major lesson that we learned is to make sure the sound is correct. Brian is just naturally louder than I am, so it took some work to make sure it didn’t sound like he was yelling at me. The first draft sounded awful, but he edited it down so he didn’t sound so loud. We switched some settings on the microphone for the next recording to fix that!
I also realized that I talk way too fast for audio. I need to slow it down! I’m going to work on that for future episodes. Brian realized that he talks over me on occasion. He gets super excited and wants to add something, which is normal in casual conversation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come across well over audio. It’s something that we need to work on for future episodes.
What do you think we need to work on for future episodes? We’d love to hear your input and make this podcast better for everyone!
Sometimes people see a personal finance blogger striving for financial independence and think that we must have grown up with well-off or financially savvy parents. Well, that isn’t always the case. I’d classify my parents as lower middle class and let’s just say I didn’t learn any positive financial skills from them!
I know that a lot of people had things way worse than me. It’s also true that I got extremely lucky with a few of my choices; and a lot of people who make similar choices may not have the same luck. However, I think it’s fair to point out that you don’t have to come from rich parents who are good with money to get on a quest for financial independence (though I’m sure it helps!)
Growing Up Lower Middle Class
I honestly don’t know what my household income was when I was younger. My parents owned a home in the South suburbs of Chicago, we always had food to eat, we got nice Christmases, and we went on vacation (camping) a few times per year. Seems solidly middle class, right? However, we did live across the street from some pretty terrifying apartments that had cops patrolling more often than not. I’m also pretty sure our neighbor across the alley got busted for dealing LSD. It wasn’t the best neighborhood, but it was far from the worst. We could play outside without fear as long as we stayed away from the apartments, which is a luxury a lot of kids didn’t have.
When I was very little, my father worked as an insurance agent. He sold insurance in Chicago’s terrifying ghettos (shameless plug, but he wrote a fictionalized account of his experiences, Check it out on Amazon!). This job didn’t make him well off, but he made enough money to support the family.
Dad Loses his Job
Unfortunately, when I was still in grade school, my father lost his job with the insurance company. My parents turned to delivering papers to make a living. My siblings and I had to do paper routes three days a week after school to help them make ends meet. For the first few years, this was unpaid labor. At the time, I didn’t understand why I was being forced to work for free, but I get it now. They needed the free labor to keep up with the bills. We were working to support the family.
To my parent’s credit, they were able to take what they learned delivering papers for someone else and make a business out of it. They started hiring more neighborhood kids to deliver papers for them, and they started paying us for the work that we did.
Unfortunately, even with running their own business, there wasn’t a lot left to save at the end of each month. Or maybe my parents prioritized vacations and nice Christmases over emergency funds and retirement accounts. Either way, they had no savings. They spent most of the money they made each month and allowed us kids to do the same. If we wanted something super expensive, they would tell us that we needed to save up on our own for it (my brother was obsessed with getting Scottie Pippen shoes, so he was the best about that!) but that was really the extent of our lessons in savings.
My parents got divorced when I was in high school. My dad kept the business and was able to rent a home from his sister while my mom basically had nothing. After our family home was foreclosed on she had to go live up north near her parents. To be honest though, their divorce kind of worked out in my favor. It’s way easier to get loans for college if you are a child of divorced parents with low incomes. I got enough financial aid money to pay for my entire college education (via loans and grants, mostly). I didn’t use all of it, because I decided to join the Reserve Officers Training Core (ROTC) when I got to college, which helped pay for a lot of my schooling (My first great financial decision!)
15 years later
Even now, neither of my parents is good with money. I don’t think either of them has a retirement plan or a solid emergency fund. They both work, and I think both of them plan to just continue working until they can’t anymore.
My siblings and I learned very different things from this upbringing. My brother learned that he can get by with working until he dies. He doesn’t worry about saving money and values spending everything he earns on making sure his kids are happy (Just like my parents did). My sister was the same for a very long time. She valued appearances and expensive things, because she didn’t want to feel poor. However, in the last few years, through my obsession with financial independence, I have helped her learn the value of saving money for the future. She wants to pursue FIRE too!
I went the opposite way. I saw that my parents were just barely keeping their heads above water and decided that wasn’t what I wanted for my future. Therefore, I took it upon myself to learn financial literacy. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way; but I think I’m getting there.
The point of this story is that learning financial literacy is not easy, but it can be done. It isn’t really taught in school (at least it wasn’t in my school!), and if you don’t grow up in an environment where it is practiced every day, it’s hard to grasp. However, that doesn’t make it unattainable. It would have been great if my parents could have given me a head start on this, but they couldn’t. What I learned instead was the value of hard work, and that I didn’t want to be destitute in the future. These were valid lessons too, and I’m glad I got them.
What did your parents teach you about money? Let us know in the comments!
The stock market is freaking nuts! The Dow is up, now it’s down, now it’s the highest it’s ever been, now its dropped the largest percent in history…what the hell is going on? You’ve lost big, then you’ve won big, and now you’ve lost again. But have you really lost? Did you realize your losses? Knowing the difference between realized and unrealized gains and losses is incredibly important.
The Big Secret
The truth is that neither gains nor losses are real until you make them real! (Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. The one exception to this rule is if an individual stock you hold goes bankrupt…that loss is usually real!). But in most other cases, you don’t score big until you realize your gains, and you don’t lose big until you realize your losses.
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t always understand this. Maybe they do on a logical level, but when emotions get involved, that logic can fly out the window. When stocks plummet, people tend to freak out and sell. So, what ends up happening? They realize their losses at the worst possible time, and lose a whole bunch of money. If they would have stayed invested, the markets would eventually improve and they would never have realized the loss. In effect, they wouldn’t actually have lost money!
There are caveats to this. Owning individual stocks is way riskier than owning index funds. Your initial investment may be decimated, and it may never regain its value. When I was a novice investor, way back in 2007, I bought a whole bunch of individual stocks. One of them was this random European shipping company. During the crash of 2008, the company lost more than half of it’s value. It’s been 10 years and it still hasn’t improved. I’m still holding onto it (because at this point it doesn’t really matter) but I doubt it will ever improve. However, the losses haven’t been realized yet, so there’s always the possibility (albeit slim) that the company will somehow turn itself around and I’ll recoup that initial investment. There’s also the possibility that the company will go bankrupt and I’ll lose everything I have in it. You win some you lose some.
Housing is a huge sector in which people don’t consider whether gains have been realized or not. People love to claim how much their house has risen in value and talk about how rich they are because their house is worth a pretty penny. But you can’t buy food with that money (unless you take out a home equity loan, which is a terrible idea!!!). You can’t actually make money on your house until you sell it.
That’s the reason why I wanted to move out of California. My house’s value skyrocketed! It was amazing! But I was still paying the same in mortgage, and the increased value wasn’t helping me financially in any way. I was sitting on a pile of unrealized gains. However, when I sold, I realized (and pocketed!) the gain. I wasn’t going to be left holding the bag when the housing market drops again! And It will, eventually. All markets have peaks and valleys.
I hope you aren’t taking away from this post that you should never sell. I’m not! Sometimes it’s prudent to take a loss. If an individual stock is plummeting and its fundamentals are poor, you may want to sell it before the company goes bankrupt, before you lose even more money, or if you aren’t happy with the amount of risk in your investment. Or maybe it’s time to diversify. There are plenty of good reasons to sell even in a down market.
My point in writing this is to explain that losses (and gains too!) aren’t actually real until you pull out. No money is gained or lost until you sell your investment (again, unless the company goes bye-bye or something drastic happens – exceptions to every rule and all that!). So don’t freak out about things that are happening on paper only. Keep investing, stay the course, and win big in the future!
It’s hard to be transparent, even with strangers on the internet. So it’s hard to discuss the worst financial mistake of my life. Its not something you would typically hear…I didn’t buy a house in the bubble or charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to my credit cards or lose big in a casino. I lost big in love, and it cost me.
What was the worst financial MISTAKE of my life?
The worst financial mistake of my life was getting involved with an alcoholic. And then staying with that alcoholic for over five years. I kind of consider it one big never-ending mistake, since it was the mistake that kept on giving. I was stupid, I didn’t know how serious of a thing alcoholism was, and I thought that I could help a friend.
I didn’t move Jonathan in with me with the intent of having a relationship with him. He was an old friend who was going through a tough time, and I thought I could help him get back on his feet by giving him a place to stay far away from his hometown. I didn’t know the extent of his alcoholism (I also didn’t know about his bipolar disorder).
Eventually, our living together turned into a relationship. I really did care about him, so much. Maybe that is why I turned a blind eye to the alcoholism at first. Maybe that’s why I let him treat me so poorly for the first few years. I had built up this amazing image of him in my head, and when that didn’t coincide with reality, I made excuses.
My first mistake
So here’s where the financial disaster comes in. Jonathan didn’t work for the first few years we were together. I paid for all of the bills, all of our living expenses, and I even supported his beer habit. But he always had an excuse. It was a bad economy. The area we lived in wasn’t conducive to him getting a job. He wanted to start his own business. He couldn’t compete in the job market. And I, being stupid and naïve, believed him. I let him get away with it, again and again.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the extent of my stupidity. I gave him money for the business he was trying to grow out of the garage. He collected video games, he’d buy them at garage sales and off of craigslist for low prices and resell them (but not on Ebay, that was too much work, so he sold them to another dude who sold them on ebay). I would help him make a deal occasionally (more often than I’d care to admit) and he’d always promise to pay me back with the profit (sometimes he did, more often he didn’t). Usually he had enough money to keep his small business going and to keep himself in alcohol and cigarettes. He never paid a dime towards living expenses.
J eventually found a decent paying job with our neighbor’s company doing office work. He actually had to get up and go to work every day! He worked from 6 am to 2 pm, and he was usually drunk by the time I got home. Sometimes, he wasn’t home when I got home, and I’d find him at the local bar, blowing his paycheck on shots (usually he stayed home to drink). Even with this job I didn’t see any money, but I was just glad to not be paying for his habit anymore.
I finally had enough in January of 2016, when he decided that he’d rather drink than go to work. It wasn’t good before this point by any means, but I was holding things together.
Him deciding not to work was the first last straw for me. We broke up. He promised to try and do better. He would stay sober for a week, then a few days, then another week. But every time he would go back to drinking. It seemed like he would do just enough to get me to stay with him.
By June of 2016, I had enough again. I ended it again and told him the only way I’d stay with him is if he went to rehab. He found himself a rehab facility that would take him (I paid for him to get on a health plan through the affordable care act – another huge waste of money) and off he went.
He stayed in rehab for about 60 days. I was so proud of him! He quickly became a team leader and helped other people stay in rehab too. He was ready to rejoin the real world and give up alcohol! Woot!
Unfortunately, his new-found sobriety only lasted for four days after he got out of rehab. He made up some story about why drinking was ok because he was holding himself accountable (they always have an excuse).
For the next six months, we were very on and off. I’d break up, he’d claim to try, I’d give him another chance, and then we’d be right back at square one. Then he confided that he knew he could quit drinking, he just had to face and overcome his biggest fear – a DUI he had gotten back when he was 20. He was terrified that he would have to go to jail over it.
I helped him (yet again). I lent him two thousand dollars so that he could get a top DUI lawyer. He promised he would pay me back a month later when he received his tax refund check. By this point, he had already siphoned about 10 grand away from me, so I didn’t want to give him the money. I didn’t trust him to pay it back. But, he really needed the lawyer to overcome this one last thing, and if he waited he might not be able to get him. So I lent him the money on the strict condition that he’d pay it back as soon as he got his check.
Well, he got the check and he gave the money to a friend of his who was “in a bad situation” instead of paying me back. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. This was the point where I lost any trust that I ever had in him. Looking back, this was the point where our relationship truly ended. This is what I still can’t forgive him for or recover from.
He did actually get the lawyer though, and he was able to avoid jail with community service (which he completed!). But that didn’t stop the drinking.
Still trying to make it work
I still stupidly tried to make the relationship work. I thought he could get better, even after all that, and even after I knew I could never trust him again. When I got the transfer to Savannah, I told him that this could be our chance to start over. We would be in a new city, where he had opportunities! He could make some friends and move forward with his life!
Unfortunately that didn’t happen. The first few months in Savannah were a nightmare. But of course, I was to blame for it, because he didn’t have any friends. He couldn’t get a good job close enough to the house. He had nothing and no one in Savannah, so his only option was to drink.
I ended things with him again in October. I set up a Tinder profile and started dating other guys. J realized he was on the verge of losing me and started actually trying. He got a bus pass so he could get around town and signed up for a temp agency and found a decent job. I didn’t give in right away though. I continued going on dates with other guys; and I told him that I wouldn’t even consider getting back with him unless he was sober for over 30 days. I also told him that if he drank ever again, it would be over. However, I was driving him to and from work at this time; because it was far away from the bus routes and he really needed the job.
One last try
He actually made it the 30 days. He kept his job, started paying for some house stuff, and offered to do some hard tasks around the house as a way to start paying me back. Was he turning over a new leaf? Was almost losing me for good the catalyst he needed to turn his life around??
I hoped so. I stopped dating other guys and decided to give him one more chance. But I wasn’t done making terrible decisions! I knew that there was one major thing limiting him, and that was his ability to get around. He was relying on either me or a less than reliable bus system. If he was really going to make it, this was unsustainable.
And One More Mistake
So, I told him that for Christmas, I would help him get a car. I meant that I would put 500-1000 towards a down payment or a beater. However, his credit was terrible. There was no way he could get something financed in his name alone. He fell in love with this used Kia, and although I felt uncomfortable co-signing; I let him pressure me into it. He absolutely promised that he would pay and he would work and that he would change and he wouldn’t screw me over. I didn’t exactly believe him, but I realized he didn’t stand a chance without reliable transportation, so I tried to believe him.
From December until our final breakup in January things were shaky. He didn’t keep his word about not drinking, but I was terrified that he’d just leave with the car and screw me over so I didn’t break up with him. Actually, I did breakup with him and he threatened to do just that. He used the financial disaster of the car as a way to keep me with him.
It’s really over
But a person can only take so much. I finally decided that I’d rather ruin my credit than let him hold me hostage over the car. I broke up with him and promised myself that I wouldn’t let him manipulate, threaten, or guilt me back into a relationship. In addition, I started seeing a therapist who helped me identify his manipulative behavior. And, amazingly enough, I ended up meeting an amazing man who makes me feel like I’m the only woman on the planet.
Although looking back, I’m deeply ashamed that I let myself be used for so long; I’ve been so happy since he moved out. I feel free. I feel like I can be myself again and that I can relax in my own home! This past month of freedom has been indescribably amazing!
And for anyone in a similar situation – Get out. Get out now. They won’t change. They will say whatever they think you want to hear so that they can continue doing what they want. Take care of yourself first. You deserve better.
Love this post? Share it!
Want a Partner in FIRE?
Subscribe to get exclusive content and immediate access to blog posts! Let us help you on your journey to financial freedom!