Tag Archives: Women

My one-year (super boring) challenge: fiscal responsibility

At the start of 2013, I read several stories about one-year (and somewhat gimmicky) challenges.

There’s the mom who only plans to eat Starbucks. (Gross.) And the mom who plans to spend $0 on her child. (Love her, and I totally approve.)

I love the concept of a one-year personal challenge. It’s long enough to make a difference in your life, but it’s not a life sentence. Plus, it gives you an out. You’re not saying: I’m changing my life forever. You’re saying: I’m changing my life for now. What ultimately ends up happening is that you do change your life. How can you not?

A year ago, I told myself I’d spend one year blogging about money, and talking about money. The idea was that if I was completely open about my financial life, then that life would improve. I believe that hiding stuff only makes it worse, and that talking about something opens it up for growth and (so sorry, about to drop an Oprahism, here) healing (bleech! sorry!).

So…I opened up about my personal finances. I TMIed about my debts, and I pontificated (OK, bragged) about my savings. Disposable income and debt repayment suddenly became part of my vernacular. And…

It worked!

I can’t even believe it. I went on vacations last year. Yes, that’s plural. I went on more than one vacation. In more than one year. WITHOUT putting them on credit. I can’t even tell you how amazing this is. It’s nothing short of a damn miracle.

It’s all so unreal to me, that I’m secretly terrified it’s not real. I am suspicious of this financial wellness. Sometimes, it doesn’t sit right. I will have money left over at the end of the month, or enough money to buy, say, groceries, and it will astound me.

But I’m going to take it while I can. Anything could change, and I want to enjoy it while it lasts. I have the tools now to move forward, but I know that I’m not always in control of the outcome. Stuff happens. I was saving money for new flooring to replace the stained and worn carpet in my condo. Then, my 16-year-old water heater started leaking. The sexy, sleek vinyl flooring I’d fantasized about (yes, I aim love in life) will have to wait.

That’s OK. My one year of fiscal responsibility has taught me patience. It’s taught me that good things can come to those who wait. And save.

~HS

Photo: stock.xchng/RAWKU5

Photo: stock.xchng/RAWKU5

PS I told myself when I started writing this blog a year ago that I’d revisit whether or not I wanted to continue in February, 2013. I’ve published 55 posts so far (my goal was 52), and I didn’t abandon it after a few posts like so many other blogs I’ve started. I achieved my blogging goal, as well as my financial goals. Yay! Even though my initial idea was that I’d give it up after a year, I think I’m going to continue. I won’t write as often as I did last year, but I will still be here. Thanks to those who read, and commented. You made it more like a conversation for me. And that’s all I ever wanted. XO

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Who pays the bill on a date?

I’ve already written about who pays the bill. But when it came to romantic dinners, I chickened out. While I was reading up on who should pick up the tab on a first (presumably heterosexual) date, I stumbled across a whole bunch of misogynist comments and posts. It freaked me out. I can’t believe that some men hate women so much.

Now, I’m writing this lil column for CBC, and I feel emboldened by having the Canadian taxpayers to answer to for my work. So I decided to write specifically about female/male relationships and ask the question about who should foot the bill between them.

Here’s a shorter version of my upcoming CBC column. It’s not afraid to answer the tough questions like: who pays the bill on a date?

Photo: Luba V Nel/Dreamstime Images

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Much is being made about the economic power women hold these days. Not all women, of course. Across the board, men still out-earn women. Stats Canada data states that the gender wage gap continues to see women earning 70 per cent of what men earn on average annually.

But books like The End of Men by Atlantic writer Hanna Rosin and The Richer Sex by Liza Mundy take both great lengths and great pains to prove the point that women’s economic power is growing. It’s educated, upper-middle class women who are hopefully leading the way for others.

So the question must be asked: what’s a gal to do when the bill comes?

Logically, whoever makes the most money should pay, right? Men once held all the economic cards and all the power, but they also picked up the tab. Fair or not, it was a trade-off.

But now what? If you out-earn your new romantic partner, should you wrestle the cheque away from him – or her – based entirely on that assumption?

I don’t know the answer, so I consulted someone who would. Cara Anderson runs a speed dating service called Six Minute Dates and has been a dating expert for five years.

She says we’re currently existing in a “dating vortex” where no one knows their role. “It’s murky water,” she says.

However, Anderson’s definitive rule is this: “the person that asks pays.” It should be relied on in 99 of 100 situations, she says. Women who ask men out should expect to pay, and she says splitting the bill just isn’t sexy.

Anderson is so clear in her position that I start to feel confident. We are in a new age where men and women are economic equals, even at the dinner table. That is until Anderson adds this: “My experience,” she says, “has been that when women ask men out, it doesn’t lead to anything long term.” In order to feel masculine, most men, Anderson says, need to ask women out, and pay for the date.

This doesn’t sit well with Anderson, or me for that matter. She says it makes her stomach turn, especially when a photo in her office of feminist Gloria Steinem catches her eye. “I hope for something better in the future,” Anderson says.

I’m just glad I’m not currently on the dating scene, although these perils aren’t unfamiliar. My partner is a chef, and I am a mid-level manager who writes on the side. All told, I earn more. I also carry more economic responsibility in our household, partially because the mortgage is mine and I have a child from a previous relationship. But it’s also because I make more money than him.

When we go out for dinner – and we do a lot, because he’s a chef – I ask him to order for me (again, he’s a chef), but I feel awkward when he pays. I like it, and I kind of feel like it balances out our financial world a bit, if not our emotional one. Yet somehow, it still makes me queasy, like I’m taking more than my share.

We’re not yet at the point where his money and my money add up to our money. It will be the last thing we merge, and I doubt it will ever be to the degree that my parents, and even some of my peers, pool their finances. But like Anderson, I hope for something better in the future.

Until then, I’ll just have to stomach all the uncertainty I feel every time the cheque comes.

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What do you think? Does it matter who pays the bill? And does it matter who makes more money?

~HS

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