Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Last Twilight post

Okay – this will be my last Twilight detour, I promise!

(might have spoilers below)

So today I borrowed Twilight and Breaking Dawn from a girlfriend. I thought that Breaking Dawn seemed so convoluted that I didn’t really bother to read all of it, just enough to get the happily-ever-after, vampire-style. As a fast reader and a ruthless skimmer, I pretty quickly went through Twilight‘s 400+ pages.

Stephanie Meyers really hit on a captivating storyline – I was very intrigued by the whole premise of the Edward-Bella (vampire-human) love story. But all the way I keep thinking, I really wish there was more character development (at the risk of sounding like an English teacher), especially in Bella.

I can’t really understand the love story between Bella and Edward – why does she love him so much? How can we tell it’s different from teenage infatuation? She is intoxicated by his physical beauty, and is grateful that he protects her… but what else? The love story seems a little more believable from Edward’s standpoint, only because he’s had 90 years as a vampire to understand himself (and really, who knows about vampires? Meyers’ characterization can be just as right as anybody else’s) – but Bella? I get the chemistry, I get the attraction, I just see Bella’s feelings for Edward as more passionate infatuation than deep, abiding love.

To be fair, although Meyers didn’t go into much of what happens after Bella becomes a vampire, it’s conceivable how her passion for Edward could develop into long-lasting love – whether bound by their experiences as vampires, or that they now have a baby, or that they will grow old stay young and unnaturally beautiful together.

But then again, Romeo and Juliet didn’t have time to develop a great, lasting, deep and abiding love either. Obviously, in fiction, lasting love is not necessary for the makings of a Great Love.

The best love story I’ve seen in a long time, portrayed by Hollywood, actually comes from Up. The first part of the movie is the best – bring tissues. Because you will tear up. (I spent the first 15 minutes of the movie trying to hold back tears because I will not cry in an animated movie!)


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Last night, on a lark, I decided I want to go out of town for a getaway this weekend. I thought it’d be a good way to get some R&R and go on a little adventure.

I bought up the idea to CB, who did not share my enthusiasm. Part of the reason is that I currently have more discretionary income than he does, and part of the reason is that I tend to do things more spur-of-the-moment than he does (but I still google for coupons, no matter how spur-of-the-moment! 😉 ).

To be honest, I was disappointed. There goes the romantic weekend escape. I try to think about how I’d feel if the situation were reversed. Might I feel uncomfortable that my significant other offered to pay for the bulk of the vacation? Might I feel that the trip, on such a short notice, wasn’t well-thought out?

I might, and CB probably does.

The rule of personal finance is that you can’t have everything you want, every time you want it. The rule of relationships is that you can’t have everything you want, every time you want it. (Hey! They sound suspiciously alike…).

So, I’m trying to deal with this situation, well, in a constructive manner: acknowledge my disappointment, empathize with his situation, work out a suitable compromise that will be fun and budget-friendly, and then move on.

After talking about it, we decided to go for a day trip instead. The good thing is that this weekend just got MUCH cheaper. Still traipsing around the beach. Still kayaking. Still having fun in the sun. Just minus the two nights of hotel and the additional food expenses.

This little exchange just clarified what a messy topic money can be in relationships. And this is only one weekend that we’re navigating.

How do people do it with much bigger decisions – Should one parent stay home? What sort of protection will the primary caregiver receive in exchange for giving up his/her earning ability? What house to buy? Which set of in-laws will get more help? How should inheritance be treated? Should there be a prenup? What’s a fair way to set up a prenup? So many questions. So many minefields!

Share your experiences on money and relationships in the comments!

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Here’s something that will move all the pf bloggy hearts out there:

My friend said that he and his girlfriend have a joint savings account to save for their wedding.

Happy to commit and financially responsible? He’s a catch! 🙂

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In defense of Valentine’s Day


It seems as if a lot of bloggers are up-in-arms about this holiday, especially when the money aspect comes in. I’m feeling a little sorry for poor ol’ Valentine, so here’s my take. 😉

True, Valentine’s Day is just one day. And true, no one should feel pressured to spend exorbitant amounts of money on dinner. And true, there’s no rule that says you have to comply with an arbitrarily chosen date manufactured by the chocolate-candy-flowers industry to celebrate your love.

But I see it as kind of like, well, all other holidays:

  • We SHOULD remember that family is important, every day. But Thanksgiving and Christmas brings out the warm-fuzzies (often neglected because of the rat race).
  • We SHOULD love and appreciate our moms every day, but Mother’s Day shines the spotlight on moms everywhere.
  • We SHOULD remember that freedom isn’t free, but Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day reemphasize the sacrifices made by our soldiers, living and dead.

That’s why I say: even if your significant other insists that Valentine’s is a overly-commercialized day devoid of any actual meaning, do something nice. A picnic by the beach, a handwritten card, his favorite movie, a cake from her favorite bakery – the good feelings you get in return are worth multiples of what it’ll cost you to put together something simple and heartfelt.

People aren’t very good at being the best person they can be, all the time – we aren’t very good at being great children, or lovers, or citizens. We take things – people – for granted. Sometimes, we just need a reminder.

Which is what Valentine’s is. A reminder that love should be cherished and celebrated.

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Valentine’s Day + 6 years with boyfriend + personal finance blog = 10 things I’ve learned about love, money, and myself!

10. I can have fun without lots (or harder, but still possible, any) money: So many of my happiest moments with CB are cuddling in bed and watching a movie on hulu.com. Hugs? Are free.

9. But I have to be more creative: When I have $50 or $100 or more to spend – having a fun-filled day is easy: theme park, museum, or dinner. Perhaps a trip to go kayaking or a weekend get-away. Having a $10-$20 budget means that I have to be creative about places to go.

8. It’s easy to say money doesn’t matter, but it’s not true: Money is like air – you notice how desperately you need it when it’s not there. And being together and broke in your 20s might be romantically bohemian, but being together and broke in your 30s or 40s often results in… not together.

7. It’s more romantic when the guy pays for dinner: I hope I didn’t just set feminism back 100 years, but it IS more romantic. Just like it’s more romantic when the guy opens doors, pulls out chairs, and walks on the curb side of the street (CB does this, and I absolutely love it).

6. Money reflects values, and it takes adjustment to see the other side: I love going out to eat. Good food = something worth spending on. CB loves electronics. So I try to be mindful of that fact. Dinner at Chez Swanky might be good enough for me to spend $40 on, but not for CB. So, I deal with it.

5. Fighting about money sucks: Boyfriend and I have had maybe one fight about money, which sucked.

4. Fighting about money isn’t really about money: It really reflects our priorities and expectations, both of which can be out of sync between two people. Money is just the conduit through which we express those feelings. It doesn’t help that feelings of self-worth, accomplishment, and all that stuff is wrapped in money.

3. I want a (fair, reasonable, executed-by-two-happy-in-love-people) prenuptial agreement: I just do. I did my high school presentation on prenuptial agreements – you can imagine the excitement in class. It makes me feel more secure. Does this mean that I won’t be as committed to my marriage? I hope not.

2. When I’m married, I want to have a dual-income household: We don’t have to make equal amounts, but each of us has to make SOMETHING (of course, barring layoffs and illness and such). It’s far too frightening for me to go without my own income, and it’s far too stressful to be responsible for the well-being of an entire family. My mom did that for a while, and I think that was one of the most stressful periods I’ve ever seen my parents in. Ever.

1. Underneath it all, I still believe in love, marriage, and (maybe) the baby carriage (and a lots of long-term investable assets and positive cash flow!): Despite a penchant for seeking out dissections and critiques of the modern institution known as marriage, along with dismal statistics about equality, divorce, and happiness, I still want to build my life with someone whom I love and respect. I still think we will be happy. Optimism? Still got it.

What are your 10 things?

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On a sunny weekend morning, as the whole day stretched out in front of us like a long embrace, CB turned to me and asked, “would you be poor with me?”

If I was feeling romantic and dreamy, I might’ve answered, “yes, because I love you,” and then added a caveat about “but you won’t be poor.” But all this personal finance must’ve seeped into my subconcious, or maybe half-asleep I am more honest and less tactful than I might’ve been awake, because I managed to look straight into his beautiful big eyes and said, “I don’t want to be poor with anyone.”

I thought about that less-than-romantic (but very-honest exchange) after I read posts by Madame X and Meg on the topic of the “accidental woman breadwinner.”

Reading this article made me realize that I don’t want to be an “accidental” breadwinner in my relationship, just as I don’t want to become an “accidental” stay-at-home wife or mom. “Accidental” implies a lack of choice, a lack of introspection, a lack of conscious decision. “Accidental” spells “resentment down the road” to me.

In marriage vows people promise to stay together “for better or worse, for richer or poorer.” I believe in those vows very strongly, but I also don’t subscribe to the theory that “all you need is love.” I’ve seen the tension that bad finances bring to even the strongest of marriages. I’ve seen it with my parents. I’ve seen it with several of my mom’s friends. And what I saw scared me.

Maybe that’s why I’ve always envisioned that both my future husband and I will work, even after we have kids (one, maybe two). One of us may take a part-time schedule for a year while the kids are young, but I don’t see either of us taking a longer hiatus from our careers. A satisfying career is important to me, and I’d imagine, to my future husband as well. Maintaining financial autonomy is important to me. Being able to care for my family if anyone should happen to my spouse is important to me.

The topic of whether to have a stay-at-home parent is a sensitive one – I don’t think there’s one solution for all families. It’s a personal decision. My thoughts to this subject is influenced by my mother, who has always worked. In fact, she left me in the care of grandparents for FOUR years when I was young to work overseas. I did not see her (or my dad) from the age of 5 to 9. And I turned out okay. Given my experience, I think I can probably manage any guilt I will have as a working mother.

So, no, I don’t want to be poor. Not by myself and not with anyone else. No one knows what tomorrow brings, but I hope that by making smart financial decisions and by marrying a partner who shares my priorities (and whom I love and respect, of course – divorce is a huge money drain!), I will improve the odds of having a “richer” life instead of a poorer one.

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Ever since I first sniffed at a bottle of Marc Jacobs perfume at a department store makeup counter, I’ve coveted the lush fragrance. The scent reminds me of a huge bouquet of gardenias floating on water. I kept thinking maybe I should just get it for myself, but the $80 price tag always held me back a little. Every time I go into Sephora I’d dab some on my wrists.


Well, last week when CB and I were at Marshalls, he saw a Marc Jacobs gift set marked down to $35. It’s the exact same as what’s retailing at Macy’s right now (3.4 fl oz Eau de Parfum Spray, 5.1 fl oz Body Lotion, Deluxe Mini Perfume – minus the tote).

So of course I was excited that CB showed me the set. He said he was going to get it for me for our anniversary – which means I have to wait until February to get it?! (But it’s okay. That will give him a chance to wrap the gift). He was a bit disappointed because he wouldn’t be able to surprise me, but it would’ve been quite difficult for him to smuggle the box out of the store without me noticing!

I am happy because:
1. He remembers our anniversary.
2. He remembers from our past conversations (or my hint-dropping) that I like Marc Jacobs perfume.
3. I’ll be wearing “lush gardenias and creamy musks” for our anniversary dinner!
4. It’s a fantastic deal.

In one fell swoop, CB won over both the romantic AND the bean-counter in me. Love – ain’t it grand?

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On the men in my life

This weekend was a weekend of rebuilding and strengthening relationships with the men in my life (and churning out files for work calls on Saturday and Sunday, but that make a much less interesting post).


In 3 months I’ll have reached the 6th year of my relationship with CB, whom I met in high school. We’re both college graduates now, and still going. We’ve had big ups and downs, because of immaturity, insecurity, physical distance, and just plain ol’ growing-up on both sides. Sometimes, looking back, and looking at the seventeen-year-olds I know, I think it’s a minor miracle that we’ve made it this far when we started so young.

I’ve learned a lot about myself through the process. I’ve learned that perfection does not belong to man, nor woman, though that has been harder for me to accept. 😉  I’m learning how to fight fair, and how to let go of the little hurts, annoyances and misunderstandings so they don’t poison the important stuff. I have learned am still learning that love is as much a verb as it is a noun.


This weekend I also reached out to Dad, with whom I’ve had a strained relationship in high school and a distant one in college. We never really fought after I left for college, but that’s because we stopped talking about anything beyond the most basic of niceties.

Now that I’ve finally had some (8 years worth!) of distance between us, I can move beyond the hurt that I felt as a teenager, realize that all relationships have faults, and see that at the end of the day, he’s still the only father I’ve got. Daddy’s little girl? Maybe not quite, but it’s never too late to try to build something new and better.


God is referred to as “He” in the Bible, but I think just as He is beyond human, he is also beyond human gender categorization (and I’ve taken a class called “Divine Feminine” in college). I am still working on building a spiritual life, and cultivating a relationship with something greater than myself and my own little world. It’s a work in progress.

I write a personal journal, and I tell God that I am pro-choice and I believe in evolution, and I ask Him why can’t we stop killing in His name, and why are there wars and accidents and crimes and horrible genetic diseases. I don’t have the answers, but I pray to Him nonetheless. A little bit of faith? That must be it.

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Upside of life

So thank you, thank you, thank you and thank YOU for your words of wisdom. I have awesome readers.

I grew up in a culture (and a family) where the love-yourself -I’m-fabulous -rah-rah-go-me concept is neither practiced nor encouraged. In many ways that’s good. For one, I grew up to be reasonably disciplined and hard-working.

I’ve also grown up learning to limit my “downside”. Examples:

1. I’m 23, but I have 15% of my retirement portfolio in bonds even when financial websites hawk the 100% stock allocation for a young investor such as myself. Why? I’m limiting my downside.

2. I love writing, but I probably won’t make the leap to be a professional writer, why? Because I’m limiting my downside. I also love health insurance and 401(k)s.

3. I worked 110+ hours (I counted) the week before, during, and after my interviews for a new job. I had $3,000 in the cash, $15,000 more in retirement accounts, and family nearby. But I didn’t quit my job ’til I got a new one. Why? Because I wanted to limit my downside.

4. I love this man. I’ve loved him for a long time, and I have a feeling that I’ll love him for a long time to come. Later down the road, I’d be honored if he’d ask me to be his wife. But I get spooked really easily. I pick fights over little things. I get insecure. Why? Because I’m trying to limit my downside.

…It’s hard NOT to. It’s hard to get over that mentality. But I’m going to try.

So on to my living-the-upside campaign:

1. I’m going to take a couple of belly dance classes to see how I like them (inspired by Little Miss Moneybags!) My first class is on Wednesday. Hello, happy exercise endorphins!

2. I will join my alum association’s Board of Directors in several months, if all goes well. This will be the first time I’m working on a nonprofit board (but hopefully not the last) so I am very excited and eager to learn. I had a good time at my alma mater… and now it’s time to give back. Oh, I’m not going to lie – having a nonprofit board directorship on my resume? Pretty darn cool.

3. I’m planning to mentor a preteen girl once the school starts in the fall. Time to get my head out of my bubble and do something meaningful for another person.

4. And lastly, but definitely not least, I’m going to trust in the fact that I have a man who loves me. Nothing in life is guaranteed, so I’m going to take it one step at a time. I’m going to stop unconsciously sabotaging my relationship, and sometimes, it wouldn’t hurt for me to just chill out.

Go me. 😉

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Money is easy

But relationships are hard. Or, mine is hard but it shouldn’t be.

If I am as good at being a girlfriend as I am at managing money and setting financial goals and all that jazz, my relationship would be the best thing since sliced bread.

Much like my “Make My Money Work for Me” list:
1. Don’t take on consumer debt
2. Max out Roth IRA
3. Invest in diversified portfolio

I’ve also made a “Be a Better Girlfriend” list:
1. Bring his favorite snack
2. Don’t pick fights
3. Don’t get hurt

Five years and I still can’t get it right. Slow learning curve there, right? Am I the only girl who feels this way? I’m good at a lot of things. I’m good at researching information. I’m good at keeping in touch with friends. I’m good at finding good restaurants. I’m good at Excel (and getting better every day!). And judging by my performance from January to March, I’m even good at staying under budget (gasp!). Why is it that how good he thinks I am is still what sets my emotional barometer?

Why is it that I can’t just trust in the fact that he loves me, and know that it’s not the end of the world if he says something remotely not-positive about our relationship? Why is money so easy, and love so not?

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