How a Debtless Aloysa Became Buried in Debt

This post was inspired by Minting Nickels and her post My Money at 20.

This post was featured in Carnival of Personal Finance #285.

Many years ago, on another continent, in another country there was girl who graduated from the state university with a Master’s degree in Library Science. Since there were no library jobs that paid well, the girl got a job at a private wholesale company. In five years the girl was earning a decent salary (let’s not compare it to a dollar equivalent not to get confused). Years later the girl collected all the courage she had, said goodbye to her friends, quit her stable and promising job and moved over the Atlantic ocean to start a new life.

And the new life began, indeed…

My first year in the States was not easy financially. I came to the United States with $200 in my pocket and no debt. I was an international student and my stepfather financed my first year in school. As an international student I could not even get a part time job. The fashion and style in the US was quite different from the fashion in Eastern Europe, and my $200 went pretty fast spent on new clothes.

During my second and third year in the US, my English became much better, I got a part-time job, and most importantly I discovered the pleasures of shopping. Honestly, I became addicted to it. This relationship was based on my past experience. The Soviet Union stores were not glamorous or inviting. I remember dim lights, brown and grey interior colors and the gloomy faces of the sales people. The customer service was non-existent. Clothes and shoes all looked the same: dark colors, shapeless form. Now, imagine a girl who came to the United States and saw all the goods offered to consumers with shiny smiles on the sales people’s faces. Imagine a little kid in Disneyland with free admission and endless possibilities.

It was a very expensive addiction and it needed to be financed. By then I was working a part-time job, so I could apply and get a credit card. In spite of my miserable earning potential, I managed to get a credit card and my life was changed forever. I was able to feed my shopping addiction. I could never have enough clothes, shoes, handbags and so on.

Eventually I ended up having multiple credit cards. The problem with that was that I could not pay for them. I got a second part-time job and the circle was finally complete – I financed my education and my lifestyle with small paychecks and credit cards.

In my fourth and fifth year I got a full-time job and moved out of my parents house. I was able to rent a small ghetto apartment and enjoyed my independence for about six months. My future husband moved in with me later and helped me out with the rent and other expenses.

Meanwhile, I noticed that more money I was making, the more I was spending. Isn’t it a paradox? I never had enough and was living from paycheck to paycheck.

During my sixth and seventh year I was pulling myself through grad school using student loans. My husband and I financed our European honeymoon with credit cards and buried ourselves deeper in debt. Fortunately, I got a full time job and a year later I got a huge promotion. That’s when it hit me. I was making good money and could not afford a lot of things. So, I took a closer look at out finances.

It was (and still is) embarrassing to admit that an accountant who makes a good salary and enjoys working with numbers could not budget and take control of her own finances. That’s when, for the first time in my life, I created a budget. It was a turning point in our financial disaster. Another turning point was when my husband and I made the greatest decision ever – if we cannot afford to pay cash for something, we don’t buy it. We save for it.

All the subsequent years still are devoted to paying off debt. It is not easy. There are a lot of things we are not able to do. We bought a small one bedroom condo instead of a house. We don’t have big international vacations unless we save up for it. Most importantly, I never pull out my credit card when I go shopping. Cash is my best friend now.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and let’s be grateful for simple things such as being with a family during the holidays, having a job and a paycheck, being healthy and loved, being with someone you love. Lets be grateful for being bloggers, supporting each other and belonging to a blogging community. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

A side note: I changed the name of my blog. Nothing major but now it is called Aloysa’s Kitchen Sink. Also, I opened a Facebook page. You can find me under Aloysa’s Kitchen Sink. Please stop by, say hi and become a friend!

EDIT: This article was featured as an Editor’s Pick in Carnival of Money Stories # 82!

Aloysa’s Reading Picks

First and foremost: thank you everyone who supported, promoted, stopped by and commented on The Kitchen Sink while I was away. You helped me tremendously, and my Alexa ranking dropped to 372,206!!

By the way, if you want to find out more about me, read my interview @Modern Tightwad!

My article Beware of Men Counting Pennies was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance #284hosted by Sweating the Big Stuff ,and it was one of the editor’s picks!

It took me a while to catch up with my work. Sometimes I think it is better not to go on vacation. But I am all caught up now – more or less, and I am back to blogging, writing and reading.

The following are my favorite articles of the week:

Run out of the gift ideas? No money or budget for expensive gifts? Check out 77+ HomemadeGifts – DI Chirstmas/Holiday Gifts @Wealth Informatics

Don’t like Wal-Mart? Not so sure? Figure it out with Things that Walmart Does Well @First Gen American

Going abroad? Read Are you a Member of the Global ATM Alliance @Green Panda Tree House

Not sure if you love what you do? Sort it all out with Doing What You Love, Or Loving What You Do?@Everyday Tips And Thoughts

Figure out how blog grading works by reading How Mozrank is Filling in the Gaping Hole Left By the Departure of Pagerank @Invest It Wisely

This post inspired me too write my financial summary article (coming soon) My Money at 20 @Minting Nickels

Wondering how to prepare a cheap but delicious Thanksgiving Dinner? Get a clue with Thanksgiving Dinner on The Cheap @Yes, I am Cheap.

Selfish Menace or Why We Don’t Have Kids

We live in Utah that is famous (or infamous) for its Mormon culture. If you are not Mormon, it might not be easy to make friends, people might not understand your religious views or your political opinion. They might interrogate you why you and your husband do not have children.

From time to time I have this re-occurring conversation:

“Do you have children?” A kind, encouraging smile.

“No.”

“Not, yet, huh? When are you planning to have kids?” A determined look into my face. Still smiling, though.

“We are not planning on having children.”

“Not planning to have children?”

“No, we are not planning to have children.”

A blank stare into my face.

“Why? Difficulties conceiving? I have a good doctor to recommend.”

“Thank you but no. We don’t want children.”

Usually after these words I get a dirty look that implies that admitting we don’t want children is some kind of a taboo. Something you don’t talk about, or think about. Apparently in Utah voluntary childlessness is a subject that is frowned upon.

When I honestly answer questions about why we don’t have children, I merely express my opinion. There is no intention to shock, to offend or to deceive.

No one ever asks parents why they have children. I cannot imagine a conversation that would go like this:

“Do you have children?”

“Yes. We have five!”

“Five? Why do you have five children? Trouble using birth control? I have a good doctor to recommend.”

“Thank you but no. We are trying to conceive our sixth one.”

Once a man tried to persuade me to reconsider my position and have as many children as possible. He is a parent of three and had a fourth one on its way. He told me that I should seriously think about having children and used tax credits as a basis for his argument. Really?

Somehow, it feels like my husband and I are constantly being asked to justify our childless life. So, here is my very public justification of our decision not to have children.

Reason 1: Lifestyle.

We work a lot, we love our careers and we like our life the way it is.

Reason 2: Potential.

Potential is a powerful word carrying enormous possibilities for us to travel, sleep in, go out, stay in, watch TV, read, write, blog, shop, move and so on. You get the idea.

Reason 3: Future.

Future doesn’t scare me. It excites me. We don’t have to worry about saving up for college, a new car or a wedding. We don’t have to worry about what school to choose. We don’t have to spend sleepless nights waiting for a daughter to come back from her first date. We also don’t worry about who will take care of us when we will be old and sick. Somehow, I am sure we will figure it out.

Reason 4: Absence of Fascination.

We don’t share endless fascination with tiny bundles of joy, their coughs, sneezes, smiles, farts, tiny hands and plump fingers. There is nothing wrong with it. Not everyone was born to be a parent.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Our vacation is over, and we are back from the sunny and warm Pacific coast to a grey and cold reality. It was even snowing yesterday morning. What a nice welcome back, Utah! I already can feel the vacation blues.

We went to a small resort town in Mexico, Mazatlan. It is on the Pacific coast, and it is much smaller that Cancun. Have you ever been there? It is a very poor town but it is still lovely. Just watch where you go and where you eat. We loved walking Mazatlan’s narrow cobblestone streets in the old town area. It felt safe. The Golden Zone (the center of Mazatlan) is a very commercial area with a lot of great restaurants. However, it was a little bit too commercial for us.

One night we walked to a restaurant that was supposed to be “walking distance” from our resort. The walk outside of our resort, close to the road and far from the beach, took us about thirty minutes and it was very… let’s say… unpleasant. The street was dimly lit and very lonely. The distress of the walk escalated when we passed by a freshly dug grave. Yes, I am not kidding. It was long and wide enough for a coffin, it was unmarked and it was in an odd place. When we finally reached the restaurant (which was great, by the way), I was ready to kiss the ground in front of it. I was THAT happy to be at the brightly lit place packed full with witnesses.

The good

Ocean! Beaches! Sunsets! It was our first beach vacation. We usually spend our vacations exploring, sightseeing, and end up exhausted from running around, visiting the attractions and, generally, working hard instead of relaxing. This time we rested, we slept in and we did not worry about anything but putting on enough sunscreen.

Our Beach

Sunset

Our friend Iguana

Food! I think I gained at least ten pounds because I was constantly overeating. It was impossible to stop indulging because the food was delicious no matter where we ate. We did not have a bad meal. Not once.

The Bad.

Ocean! We left Mazatlan having a lot of respect for the ocean. The waves were huge, and the strength of them was amazing. The ocean made us feel little, weak and unimportant. It could knock us down easily, pull us into the deep, show us its power and pretty much do to us whatever it wished. It was scary. We wanted to do some snorkeling and boogie boarding, but after being knocked down a couple of times and falling into some holes, we decided to stick to developing our ocean survival skills close to the shore.

Timeshare salespeople! They spot you on the streets, in the restaurants, in the cabs and they hunt you down. The approaches they used to lure us into timeshare presentations were different every time: some of them were straight forward; some of them would start with showing beautiful pictures of the resorts; some of them would try to make small talk before bringing down on you their heavy sales pitches.

The Ugly.

Poverty! We all know that Mexico is a poor country, right? But how much about that poverty do we actually know? We thought we knew it all, but we were wrong. 

When we stepped off the plane thinking about sun, beaches and margaritas, we did not expect to step into the city filled with skinny children and people trying, struggling to survive. We saw houses with no roofs, huge holes in the walls, no glass in the windows and some even with no doors. Those were not abandoned houses! We saw children playing in dirt. We saw mothers nursing their babies in the streets. Everyone – the street vendors, the taxi drivers, the beggars, the waiters – are desperate for money. This money is us, the tourists.

We were not just shocked, we were deeply disturbed. It did not seem right to be in the five star resort, sipping margaritas, bathing in the sun, when outside the walls of the resort lies a city filled with people who live in such poverty. We bought a couple of cheap bracelets from a skinny boy on the street without bargaining because who would bargain with those hungry eyes?

If you ever go to a Mexican resort and lay on the beach, sipping margaritas, I promise, you will be contemplating a thought, the hope that the money you are putting into Mexican economy while vacationing there will help its people.

Are Your Characters Rooted For?

BrownEyed is a freelance writer from her home in the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia. Originally hailing from a software background, BrownEyed took the plunge and traded her full-time job in software for a freelancer’s life in writing seven months back. Since then, she has worked on many assignments like articles, e-books, websites, and newsletters. Recently, she signed a 3-book deal as a ghostwriter. Before going to bed, BrownEyed enjoys two hours of reading non-fiction, memoirs and literary-type or YA fiction. You can find her musing and reflections here<http://www.browneyedmystic.wordpress.com/>

Lately, I’ve been reading Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. The book is Miller’s self-inspection with quirky anecdotes and outlandish characters. While the book revolves around different aspects of Miller’s life, and tries to make his otherwise boring existence into a meaningful, interesting narrative (and in my opinion, succeeds in it too), this is not the only reason I quote it. Miller has hidden writing tips about characterisation in his book which I totally adore. At times they are in-your-face, but at other times you are on a scavenger-hunt of sorts. He contends how a character sometimes protests with the writer’s plot and how, at times, due to the character’s incessant protests the story suffers. What’s interesting is an analogy Miller draws between God and humans. What if God is the all-knowing writer and we, the characters of his story? And what if he threw hurdles in our paths and we kept protesting that the story be changed? What if, just as our characters give us a headache when they don’t comply with the plot, we are doing the same to God, our life-story creator? Why not experience life the harder way then, face challenges, take up the path less travelled, and evolve like we want our characters to? That’s a fascinating thought.

Characters in our stories will never be rooted for if they just sit on the couch and, well . . . sit on the couch. Characters won’t be cheered if they continue taking the easy way. It is true and if you don’t believe me think of your favourite book. Does not the protagonist want something? Moreover, does not the protagonist wantsomething and overcome a conflict so that they get what they want? They do, right?

Whether your reader will love your character and keep turning pages of your book or put your book down to browse through the TV channels depends on you, the writer. Chances are they will lose interest in the story because the character is too shy to participate, too scared to move ahead, too ignorant to have any goals. An excess of anything that’s preventing your characters to dive in the wild waters is to be cut off. It could be an excess of riches, or an excess of adversity. In both the cases, the character may be unmotivated to take any action. They would want to continue in their abode of sameness, where unforeseen events are best avoided. You need to shake them up, and make them embrace change. Give them a shock of their lives so that they have to get off their butts, take action and overcome a sort of conflict within or without and evolve in the process.

Even the tiny cells in our body change every six months. Every old cell in the skin and bone dies and a new one takes its place. Change, not stagnancy, is the key. Characters too must go through such a change. For this, the characters must have some goals and inner drives.

Say for example Jon has a goal to avoid social contact. He has issues with self-respect and he doesn’t want to make a fool of himself in front of a crowd. Worst, he stammers when he talks. Jon will avoid a party or a crowd at any cost. Now, put Jon in a strategic position when he has to face a crowd. How about his boss choosing him to give a presentation in another city? The boss has a last minute commitment and he can’t go. He asks Jon to cover up for him. This is known as an “inciting incident”. It causes a stir within the character. What will Jon do? How will he face the bunch of executives? Will he succeed? It is important to note that though Jon may fail at the presentation, he hasn’t failed at his life. In fact, he has been brave enough to experience a conflict. The readers will identify with Jon. They will love him and want to be there for him, depending on how he faces his failure. The readers want to see him trying at least. They want to vouch for him. Give the readers a chance to support your character. Let them sympathise!

In the end, your character must emerge as someone who’s different from what they were when they had begun. Facing the conflict changes them in some substantial way. It may be emotional, physical or both. If your story is great, it will bring about some good change. That’s the golden rule.

How I Deal With Criticism

The following is a guest post by Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. Her blog covers saving, spending, and the fun stuff along the way.

Aloysa recently wrote a post, Food For Thought, about criticism as it pertains to writing and her natural reaction to it. It caught my interest because some of her experiences were so close to some of my own.

Expectations

She first mentioned that moment when you finish a great piece only to find out that not everyone thinks it’s as amazing as you believed.

I don’t know how many times I type up a post with a huge smile on my face since, to me, the post has heart, is interesting, and will wow their socks off. Then I’ll type up a quick commentary piece -something I like but don’t actually expect to see really build any momentum.

The self-proclaimed uber-post will inevitably be my least popular post of the week. The fluff piece will have the most comments, links, and praise. This was a downer for me in the beginning until I saw the humor in the situation…

People appreciate controversy and opinions just as much or more than 100% original personal posts. It’s the way of the world and it makes me smile. I post everyday at BFS, 3-4 times a week at my other two blogs, staff write every Wednesday, and write guest posts every week or two as well. Commentary is way easier and faster for me to write than the heartfelt personal stories. This means that I can please my audience with a ton of faster posts while throwing my artsy posts in as well. That lets you enjoy yourself and allows me an artistic outlet at the same time. We just can’t beat that, right? :-)

Response to Criticism

Aloysa also mentions that she reacts defensively when her writing is criticized and she doesn’t agree. I think that is human nature. I am 27 years old and can control my emotions way better than in my teens, but I am light years from not being defensive when something I thought was awesome is “attacked”.

I’ve learned to hide that reaction a bit, but it is still there. My first response is almost always to think the other person is smoking mushrooms or something. They must be wrong because I’m obviously right. Then I remember that I am only the center of the world in my own head and try to keep myself from calling them names. It works 99% of the time. ;-)

Learning to Listen

I think this part of Aloysa’s post was dead on, “Try to dissociate yourself from a person who is giving you his/her opinion and look at criticism as information. Take from it what you consider useful without giving up on your dream.”

I’d only add that some of my most interesting conversations happened when I took the time to really listen to criticism and replied logically. A few times, I’ve been completely correct. Sometimes they are. Most of the time, we are both right about our own opinions and just didn’t think about it like that before. That whole “agreeing to disagree” thing is a cliché for a reason. :-)

What do you think? Have you found a way to deal with criticism in a constructive manner?

9 Simple Tips to Cut Your Electric Bill

How can I save money on my electric bill?

During these tough economic times, many of us are looking for the best ways to save money and reducing your energy usage is a great way and is good for the environment too! Reducing the amount you spend on electricity is easier than most people think. The following are a series of tips that can help save you money:

• Use compact fluorescent light bulbs or CFLs. The bulbs initially cost more than regular bulbs but they use less than a third the amount of power and they can last more than 10 times the period.

• Invest in a hot water heater jacket in order to insulate your water heater tank. They only cost between $10 and $20 and will pay for itself quickly.

• Try to wash your clothes in cold water.

• Do your dishes and laundry efficiently with full loads. Do not run half loads in either the washing machine or the dishwasher unless absolutely necessary. Also, learn to dry your clothes on a clothesline. Not only does this save large amounts of electricity but it also leaves the clothes crisper and less wrinkled than would otherwise occur in the dryer.

• Do not overuse your air conditioner. Keep in mind that 50% of all household energy consists of cooling, heating, and cooking. Maybe use a thermostat which you can program in order to cool the air of your home for a couple of hours before you get home and program it also to go off when you go to bed at night.

• Use attic and ceiling fans. They are excellent for circulating air and can make your house feel cooler by several degrees.

• Replace older appliances with those that are more energy efficient. This is especially important in appliances such as stoves, microwaves, and refrigerators which consume a lot of electricity. The refrigerator alone accounts for about 20% of electricity consumed in the household. It may seem like an expensive venture to replace these appliances but it will certainly be worth it and make up for the price within several years. Ensure that the doors of the refrigerator and freezer are sealed properly and set them to the warmest settings that are reasonable.

• Unplug all electronics and appliances when you are gone. They actually drain power even if they are not being used. However, this will most likely only save you a dollar, maybe two on your next bill as this does not save as much electricity as many presume.

• Use low-flow toilets, faucets, and shower heads. These facets of your home will reduce the amount of hot water that is required and are not all that expensive to purchase. Low flow shower heads cost approximately $20.

Do you have any other tips for cutting your electric bill? Share them in the comments below!

Article by Bob – founder of ChristianPF.com – a personal finance blog from a Christian perspective.

3 Reasons to Consider Real Estate Investing

Not sure if you have ever considered real estate investing before, but today I want you to give it a chance. No, I am not asking you to get up, apply for a loan, pull all your savings out the bank and  invest in this bridge opportunity in Alaska with me. Just asking you to put down your guard for a moment as we talk about the three reasons I believe you should consider real estate investing.

First of all, you don’t need to have a bunch of money to get involved in real estate investing for beginners like you might suspect or as others might tell you. There are many different investment options for you to consider, but those are for another day. Today, I just want you to remain open to the possibility and not be so negative towards the adventure.

Here are your three reasons to consider:

1) The Challenge

If you are anything like me, and I suspect you are a bit, you love a good challenge. Well there is nothing like the adventures that you tend to go through as a real estate investor. At every turn there is something there that will make you adjust your style, approach, and time frame for getting something done. You have to manage people, personalities, expectations and then comes the money. If you don’t have a tight grip on the finances, things can get out of control in a hurry. You have to work with people that no more than you in particular areas to ensure that you are not being taken for a ride on this can’t miss deal that you have found. There are a lot of moving parts, but the challenge is amazing and the rewards can be as well.

2) Helping People

Many people probably don’t look at real estate investing as a humanitarian effort, but it can be. Not everyone in this field is out to make all the money they can at the demise of those around them. There are those that love the idea of purchasing a run down home on a block, fix it up, and sell it at a modest profit helping the neighborhood look, feel better and the purchaser as you kick in an extra 5% toward their closing cost to ensure they are off to a great start in their first home. Or you could be the landlord that rents to underprevilaged families to give them a solid place to build their future. And in the months they are there, work with them to help them build their credit score, get a grip on their debt, and learn how to save in the process.

Might sound hard to believe, but there are good people out there in the real estate market that are ready and willing to help others. It is just that the media don’t always focus on these people because it doesn’t make a great story. It just help people.

3) Profit

I would be lying to you if I didn’t talk about the money that can be earned from real estate investing. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is all for humanitarian movement. There is flat out cash to be made in real estate if you are willing to put in the hours of study, research and networking necessary to be successful. If you have the drive and ambition, then you can get it done, no problem.

There are just three reasons you should consider being a real estate investor. Let’s here some of your reasons you might want to get into the field or did I hit them all?

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Freddie E. Taylor, MBA is the publisher of Invest With Passion, the #1 real estate investment magazine online, providing practical and useful information for real estate investing, small businesses, and personal finances. Visit us online at http://investwithpassion.com.

Vacation, Alexa Ranking and Aloysa’s Reading Picks

I am going on vacation! I waited for it long enough and, finally, it is here. You won’t hear from me till the middle of November. It makes me a little bit paranoid because I have never been away from the Kitchen Sink for that long. Well, my blog will be three months old in November and you know how paranoid parents get about their newborn. The Good news is that you will hear from a few great bloggers as their guest posts will appear on this blog. Please make sure to come back and see what they have to say.

I joined the Yakezie challenge on September 27, 2010 with Alexa ranking of 2.6 MM. A month later I made it to 700K, running The Kitchen Sink as a free wordpress blog. In October I switched to a self-hosted website and never looked back. It was the best move I ever made in the blogosphere. However, the switch affected my Alexa ranking. It was sky-high at 15 MM. Today, November 2, 2010, it is 613,380Thank you everyone for reading my posts, commenting, promoting and linking back. Thank you everyone for becoming a subscriber and a loyal reader!In fact, I cannot thank all of you enough.

While I am away, make sure to check out these great articles:

Do you want to know what people spend on weddings? Do you have something to say about it? Read Would You Pay for An Extravagant Wedding @Everyday Tips and Thoughts.

If you want to learn how to maximize your strength, check out Strength Finder 2.o @retireby40.

Want to learn more about how to make money blogging? Read 3 Ways to Supplement Your Income With Online Earnings @ Financially Poor.

What to do when financial disaster strikes? Find out from One Disaster Away @Yes, I am Cheap.

Do you get paid bi-weekly or monthly? It’s All About Timing @Musings of an Abstract Aucklander.

Wondering if you should invest in 401K? Think you cannot afford it? Find out reading 401K Advice – Stop Passing Up Free Money! @Faithful With A Few.

What is your experience with Craigslist? I am not talking about the Craigslist killer…  but Craigslist Secrets That Nobody Told You @Minting Nickels.

Have you heard about Consumerism Commentary blog? Of course you have. Do you want to find out more? ReadPersonal Finance Luminaries @BarbaraFriedberg Personal Finance.

What is the difference between Health Savings Account and Flexible Spending Account? Find out reading Health Savings Accounts vs Flexible Spending Accounts @Wealth Informatics.

Get involved and state your opinion after reading Does It Matter Who Is The Main Provider Between Husband and Wife @Squirrelers.

Find out what millionaires drive reading Toyota Millionaires Vs Mercedes Millionaires @Watson Inc.

Halloween is over but see what you could have done Free Deals and Activities For Halloween @The College Investor.

Have a great week everyone!

Beware of Men Counting Pennies

This is my third and last installment (so far) of the horror dating stories that either my friends or I have encountered. Let’s talk about men I call Penny Pinchers.

Situation 1

Years ago I was asked out by a guy in my class. He asked if I would like to go out and have dinner with him. I thought it sounded nice, so I agreed. He told me that we will “go dutch.” Dutch for me back then meant someone from Holland. I was clueless what he meant. Was he talking about the name of the restaurant? I looked at him not knowing what to say. He explained to me that in America “going dutch” means splitting the bill. I did not like it because I was not accustomed to it. In my culture if a man asks you out, there is no question who pays for a date. Nevertheless, I agreed. It turned out to be a huge mistake that cost me at least a couple of my paychecks.

I was a full-time foreign student paying my way through the school with scholarships and credit cards. I was working only part-time because foreign students were not allowed to work full-time for the first few years in the US. The guy who asked me out was living with his parents, working full time and taking one class at a time.

We went to a fancy restaurant and our bill was pretty hefty. Of course at the end of the dinner he expected me to pay my half. When I saw the amount of my half of the bill, I wished I would have known that in advance. I would have chosen a different place. He at least should have asked me if the restaurant he chose for us was affordable for me. I paid my half of the bill, and after that night I was “too busy” to go out with this guy again.

Dating takes effort. It also takes money. I am not saying that men have to spend a fortune, or “going dutch” is not an option. But they have to put some effort (emotional and finaicial) into dating. It should not be all about convenience.Don’t you think that there is a huge difference between being cheap and wanting to share financial responsibility?

Situation 2

My friend was dating her rich neighbor for a while. He had a luxurious Porsche, a nice big house and took long and expensive vacations. Alone. He never asked her to “go dutch” but he never took her to any fine place either. He liked to cook dinners at home, rent DVDs, and shop in TJMaxx.

One day my friend got the flu and asked him to get Theraflu for her from the store. He gladly ran to a store, got the Theraflu, and gave my friend a receipt asking her to pay him back at her earliest convenience. My friend was shocked. She told me that he constantly asked her to pick up his clothes from the dry cleaner. She paid his dry cleaning bills and never asked him to repay her back. After the Theraflu incident, I told her that maybe she needed to tell him to start picking up his clothes from the dry cleaners himself.

It is much harder to have a good time with a cheap man. I am not talking about frugal and responsible man who knows and understands the value of money. I am talking about a man who doesn’t pick up tabs, who chooses the cheapest eats in town and refuses to go out to movies because The Red Box costs only $1.

Is a man who won’t part with his pennies one you should avoid? Or is he the one to learn money management skills from? Decide for yourself.

Edit: This article was included in Carnival of Personal Finance #284.  Make sure to visit it and read some great articles!