March 5, 2024
Finance

My boyfriend wants me to get a second job… I already make six figures.


Pay Dirt is Slate’s money advice column. Have a question? Send it to Athena here(It’s anonymous!)

Dear Pay Dirt,

My partner and I are set to make a cross-country move from the East Coast to the West Coast this year, looking at a big cost-of-living jump (although our job offers compensate for this). We both make six figures, but he makes four times my salary. He is also considerably older than I am and, as a result, most of our savings are comprised of investments and money decisions he made before our relationship. I have always considered myself good with money, saving, and contributing to my 401(k) and an IRA, etc., but I feel uneasy laying any claim to his and have been unsure how to navigate the way it contributes to a power imbalance in our relationship.

This move has brought up something I don’t know how to address: my job offer is full-time, Monday through Thursday, with Fridays off. My partner feels that I should take on a part-time job on those Fridays in a related field well-known among those in the industry to be the highest-paying. It is also a notoriously bad work environment (and has received news coverage recently for being so): high burnout rates, endless pressure from corporate, inadequate staffing, long hours, etc. I worked for a company in this field many years ago and it was so bad I had to quit. I have no desire to return to this field but would be open to taking other work on Fridays, even if it was lower paying.

We are lucky to be able to afford our lifestyle with just our full-time jobs, but my partner sees my open Fridays as an opportunity to do more. We are by no means hurting for money, but I’m hesitant to say anything because I bring in so much less than him. Do I have any grounds to decline to take on part-time work in a field I hate? Am I being lazy by not wanting to do so? The last thing I want is for him to think I’m taking advantage of his money. I have never been in a relationship where the income disparity has been this high, and I’ve always been the higher earner, so this is new territory for me.

—More Money, More Problems

Dear More Money, More Problems, 

You mentioned that despite him making four times the amount you do, you both make six figures. Let me remind you, those are both great salaries. Of course you have grounds to decline working part-time in a field you hate. And you’re definitely not lazy for not wanting to work a second job! You’re working full-time over four days instead of five—not refusing to work altogether.

You didn’t give much information about your expenses, making the circumstances a little difficult to parse. Do you both split your expenses evenly or by a percentage of your respective incomes? Despite making a ton of money, does your partner have to cover you when it comes to bills or any “fun” spending? I’m unsure why he’s advocating for you to get a part-time job if you’re making six figures and all your bases are covered. Also, does your partner know you hate the field he’s asking you to find work in?

Before you move, I suggest you sit down and have a conversation with him about all of this: why he thinks you should get a second job and your feelings about that. If he doesn’t know your history with that type of employment, it might be a good idea to let him know. If he does know, it’s a good time to question him as to why he thinks it’s a good idea for you to revisit that hostile environment. Why is it important for you to do more? Your partner could have a valid reason (again, I don’t know how you both split expenses). But if you suspect that he doesn’t, you need to have that conversation before you make that cross-country move. You both need to be very clear on your financial expectations for each other beforehand—perhaps couples counseling can help.

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Dear Pay Dirt,

I’m in a situation I’ve never been in before, and I just feel stuck trying to tackle it. We were told last year that our parent company is thinking about selling our branch. If this happens, my job will almost certainly go away. I really don’t want to leave my job—it’s the perfect job for me in every way, and I thought I could stay here until I retire in 15 years. This is killing me. Complicating matters is the fact that we can’t discuss this with anyone because it’s all “possibly” and “maybe” and considered need to know—so I don’t even know how to go about job hunting. About half the people I know in my branch think there’s no chance the parent company will get rid of us, but I think they seem pretty serious about it. Our manager gives us a report during every single staff meeting, which is insanely difficult to deal with. It’s just a weekly reminder that our jobs might, or might not, be going away at some undetermined point in the future (but probably this year). How on earth do I deal with this? What do I do to prepare? How soon should I seriously start looking for other jobs? I’m also about to get divorced, and the vision of ending up alone, unemployed, unhoused, and living in abject poverty is keeping me up at night.

—No Money, So Many Problems

Dear No Money, So Many Problems, 

Honestly, I wouldn’t be sleeping at night, either. Your company is putting you in an extremely difficult situation. But you shouldn’t keep waiting around for the other shoe to drop. I would start looking for a job now. If your manager thinks it’s important enough to update your team weekly about this, you should be job hunting—or at least looking to see if you can transfer to a branch within the same company that won’t be sold in the coming year. You also don’t need to tell anyone on your team you’re leaving until you’ve got a signed job offer in your hand—you don’t want to lose your current income preemptively. So spend the next few weekends brushing on your resume, sending off applications, and tapping into your network. You might check out internal job boards to see if any branches of your company that you might want to transition to are hiring.

Next, you need to figure out a plan for housing. I’m not sure of the details of your divorce when it comes to housing—but if you need to move sometime soon, then you need to get together a game plan. Look at your current income and figure out how much you can comfortably afford for your housing expenses, then research your options. Will you need to find a roommate? Can you afford a one-bedroom apartment by yourself? Do you need to get on any waiting lists? Start saving as much as possible, as you’ll need it for moving expenses. Good luck.

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Dear Pay Dirt,

I know the term adulting gets thrown around by my millennial cohort, but my husband and I, early 30s, are thinking about kids soon and realized we need to make some major changes. We have about $10,000 in combined credit card debt, and our lease is in one of the most expensive parts of one of the most expensive cities in the country. When our rent went up last year, we figured it would hit the top of our budget, but the difference made us blow through almost all of our savings. We know we need to move to a less expensive part of the city, pay less in rent, AND take care of our debt, AND save for a baby in the next year. But how do we start without living like nuns? We’ve been offered a place to stay with my in-laws for a few months to save up, but we would likely kill each other or them.

—And, and, and….

Dear And, 

You want to accomplish a lot in the next year, which is exciting but might not be doable depending on a few factors like your income, where you live, etc. My first tip: Focus on one thing at a time. The biggest areas people spend on are their living arrangements, transportation, and food. Since you already mentioned that the hike in rent is what’s blown through your savings, that’s a good place to begin cutting back especially before you start a family.

Assess how you can realistically reduce how much you’re spending on housing. Can you move to a cheaper area? Can you downsize? Is your lease ending soon, which will make this all possible? Is there a way that you could make it work with your in-laws to save faster? I’m not suggesting taking advantage of their kindness for a prolonged period, but if you can figure out how to get along for a few months, it could be worth your while so that you guys can make big strides toward saving.

Along with cutting costs on your housing, look into consolidating your credit card debt down to one. You can do this one of two ways. Open a new credit card offering a balance transfer with a low introductory rate. You can then transfer all of your current credit card debt into one, usually at a much lower APR rate. If you can’t find a lower APR rate with a balance transfer, look for a debt consolidation loan through a lender like SoFi. With a debt consolidation loan, you’ll only owe one lender instead of multiple.

As for saving, I’d check with your local credit union to see what current interest rates they are offering on savings accounts if you don’t already have one. But either way, start a weekly automated transfer of $20, and then every week, up it by $5. It seems like a small amount, but it will add up over time. You can always add more as you go along.

Dear Pay Dirt,

I feel like I have a pretty low-stakes/petty problem, but I just can’t get over it. I moved in with my mom after she had a very bad string of renters. She has to rent out at least one room to make ends meet. While it wasn’t technically a necessity for me, the housing market in our area skyrocketed during the pandemic and I knew I wouldn’t be able to buy a house anytime in the next 10 years if I was still renting an entire apartment, so I told her I would move in with her to help save up for a house. I made her promise I could stay until I felt comfortable buying a house, which she agreed to. I get along with my mom really well and the first year was great.

Then, my mom came into a tiny amount of money and decided she didn’t need to rent out the second room anymore. While I doubt this is true in the long run, she keeps doing things that I think are meant to try to push me out of the house, like asking me constantly when I’m going to move out. The thing that finally pushed me over the edge, though, is that she has started making annoyed comments anytime I make any amount of noise. A few days ago, right after one such comment of annoyance at the noise I made while cooking, she asked me again when I was moving out. I snapped and told her that I would be moving out when it was financially sound to do so, like our agreement, and that I would not be entertaining any questions about it anymore and I would not be reacting kindly to her passive-aggressive comments meant to push me out of the house. She, of course, denied that was happening and said she would do what she wanted in her own home. I told her the only reason she was able to stay in her home was because I moved in. She got to keep the house because of me and she should be way more grateful that she didn’t have to find yet another roommate that could have screwed her over. I reiterated that I would be staying until I found a house, walked off, and went to my room.

We haven’t talked since. I’m feeling a little bad. I think maybe I was a bit harsh. It technically is her house, but only because so many people have given her money or time to make sure she keeps it. She is normally a pretty grateful person, but it’s like she expected me to save her when she needed it and then was fine with throwing me away when I wasn’t useful anymore. If interest rates go down and nothing weird happens to the housing market again, I want to be out of the house by the end of this year, although I think the middle of 2025 is realistic. If I have to move out now, it’s going to be several years before I can afford anything and I’m tired of throwing away my money to landlords. Do you have any advice.?

—Mothers Money Moaning

Dear Mother’s Money,

I don’t think fighting with your mom about your cohabitation agreement is a petty or low-stakes problem. It was great that you jumped in to save your mom so she wouldn’t lose her house. However, given your mom’s change of heart now that she has money, it just sounds like it wasn’t a long-term solution that was going to work out very well in the end. Is it right for her to be passive-aggressive? Absolutely not. But did you have to move in and be her savior? No, you didn’t have to do that either.

Sit with your mom and ask her why it’s so important for you to get out. Tell her how much money you’re saving and your timeline for when you think you can afford to move out. She may not be aware that you are actively looking for something to purchase and may have other ideas about where your money goes. Ask her for her thoughts so you both can come up with a reasonable timeline for your move. You might not be able to live with your mom as long as you thought you were going to, but maybe there is a way the both of you can coexist for a little while longer.

—Athena

Classic Prudie

I am in a three-year relationship with a wonderful, caring, and considerate man. He is truly the love of my life, and we are a great team. The issue arises in that when he gives me advice or provides feedback on a situation, he is usually (almost without fail) correct about how the situation will play out. He can predict the behavior of other people with uncanny accuracy, outline what he believes the outcome of a situation will be, and it unfolds like he is psychic.





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