Streams

Money Changes Everything

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Whether it’s a sudden windfall of cash, massive debts, or a disputed loan...money changes lives and relationships. Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappel are editors and contributors of an essay collection called Money Changes Everything..

Weigh in: Tell us about a relationship that was improved or ruined by a change in your financial circumstances.

Guests:

Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappel

Comments [13]

jw from nyc

What is the definition in our society of "success" or "worth"? Everything is tied to the acquisition of wealth. It has become what we measure ourselves against. In our culture it is so ingrained I am not sure how we can extricate ourselves from it - with consumerism regarded as a patriotic act, and status conferred not by actions but by possessions.

Jan. 15 2008 02:33 PM
Mark from Manhattan

Many of my friends who come from secure families have a genuine joy of life and we appreciate the fine things, and actually spend a lot of our energy on personal growth, etc. What I wonder about is, how can we be successful in this culture when you have to be aggressive, and completely desperate for money like the Wall St and corp types who sell their souls for money? and do nothing for personal growth.
That seems to be the only way to make enough money to be secure these days, is to have and demonstrate those values.

Jan. 15 2008 02:05 PM
JT from Long Island

I was really surprised to find out people's true feelings about money and gender when I became a stay-at-home dad. It's purely a financial decision. My wife has almost always earned more than me, had better benefits and a clear career path, so it was obvious to both of us that I should stay home. It was also obvious that her career would take a hit for taking a few years to raise a child.

A lot of our friends, especially the women, were surprised that my ego wasn't hurt because my wife makes the money. It was surprising that our friends, mostly young, urban couples, would struggle with this decision. We also found out that a few men we knew "had to" change jobs because their wives got promotions and were suddenly earning more. It's surprising how far we have to go before women are truly equal.

Jan. 15 2008 02:04 PM
Daisy from Manhattan

I found that my marriage improved greatly after going through bankruptcy and financial hard times when we got a large windfall. It always helps to have money. It may not bring happiness to some but it helped me. Whoever said money can't buy happiness is shopping in the wrong store. There is nothing like being able to live with the knowledge all bills are taken care of and each paycheck is not spoken for.

Jan. 15 2008 02:03 PM
D from Brooklyn

After growing up poor, I feel guilty about the comfort I get from knowing my boyfriend (soon to be fiancé) has $125,000 in a mutual fund from his mother's life insurance policy.

Jan. 15 2008 01:57 PM
Mike from manhattan

Been divorced for 15 years, my career took off, her's didn't. our youngest child just graduated high school, i feel like i am being punished because I'm successful and she's not. She financially stocks me, and yet she had just as many investments as I do.

Jan. 15 2008 01:57 PM
Aga

Give me break... Boor little rich girls/boys.
I'd like to have these kinds of problems. Try living in NYC at 20, 000 a year.

Jan. 15 2008 01:56 PM
Gary from Manhattan

I've found in my dating life that there is an inverse relationship between the woman's wealth and her generosity--the rich ones didn't want to pay for anything and the poor ones were overly generous. Just my experience.

Jan. 15 2008 01:56 PM
Emily from Brooklyn, NY

In response to the gender inequality/stay-at-home parent discussion:

I am a working woman and I make twice what my husband does. We got married in the summer and I want nothing more than to have kids and have a parent at home, preferably, me. I am frustrated when I am told "You should have married someone rich!" as if that's the only option.

Jan. 15 2008 01:55 PM
Jessie Walker from nyc

My husband bought a 4,000 sq. ft loft in Chelsea in the 70's when no one wanted to live there. It was a raw space, and being a carpenter he built everything himself. We now have a floor in our building up for sale for over $3M. He bought it back then for less than $10,000.People thought he was crazy - it was all the money he had saved. Back then it was only artists and photographers who lived here but now we have a psychiatrist, a network anchor, and other very well-to-do folks. Of course we don't plan to move anytime soon ( where would we go?) and the artists and photographers around here are mostly gone. It is very strange to be living among the superrich and still be pretty middle-class. It is a strange illusion but a great neighborhood for kids - whose parents all think we're rich until my husband shows them the "before" and "after" photos. I think he is a genius, and I am very lucky.

Jan. 15 2008 01:48 PM
ms from east village, nyc

I don't know about "ruined" but a relationship I was in was definitely more difficult because of the fact that I was making more money, at the time, than my boyfriend was. I don't think the problem was the money as much as the fact that we both found it difficult to talk about - for example, I would suggest we go out to dinner (thinking that I would pay for most of it and he would leave a tip, and that that was fine with me) and he would make up a reason other than money why he didn't want to go. It's very difficult to discuss things like that without feeling business-like.

Jan. 15 2008 01:05 PM
Maria from NYC

15 years ago my father-in-law paid off my student loans and credit card debt, about 20 grand total. I will never forget this gesture nor the lesson. I have never allowed myself to get into debt since. I have two young children now and I want to teach them fiscal responsibility.

Jan. 15 2008 01:02 PM
bk from nyc

at 47 I inherited almost 2 million dollars from an ex-husband of my mother's, married for 4 years when I was a little girl. this inheritance was a shock to me and my whole family. 3 years later the only change it has had on my life is to make me more secure about my financial future. I live the same way except for some more expensive nights out, some travel (not extravagant), a little of this & that... & a lot of giving. I guess I never needed much except security. it may have effected my work (I'm an established artist) allowing my to hide out more than struggle for the art world rewards. that doesn't seem so bad.
also, there has never been any sign of resentment from my family.

Jan. 15 2008 12:16 PM

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