We have friends in real life.
No really, we do!
Why don’t you ever hear about them? They, uh, live in Canada…?
This week’s question comes from one of our IRL pals, whom we’ve called Will. He’s in conflict with his girlfriend over money. Specifically, she seems to be giving a lot of side-eye to his personal generosity—especially when the beneficiaries of that generosity are her family members.
Luckily for Will, one of our main skills is correctly guessing why women are mad!
This week’s question
Will (who definitely isn’t a former prosecutor and current Senator for the state of California) asks…
My girlfriend and I are sort of fighting over money. When we first met, I had NOTHING. Like, sleeping-in-my-car nothing. But in the last three years my career miraculously rocketed into the stratosphere. I’m making SO MUCH MONEY. Meanwhile, her career has kind of plateaued. She’s working hard, but not getting ahead. Meanwhile I’m getting tired of winning.
But the real issue is she’s mad about how I spend my money. I don’t mean I waste it all. Nope, instead I’m making up for all the times friends helped me. Humble brag, but I’m ridiculously generous right now and I love it. I give friends gifts, pay for dinner, and tip big all the time. I’m sure this attitude will wear off eventually, but right now I’m just enjoying spoiling the people I love, INCLUDING MY GIRLFRIEND.
But recently when her sister said she couldn’t afford a $300 class to finish getting her social work degree, I just gave her the money. I was happy to do it: it would improve her life, the money was nothing to me, and I’m sure she’ll pay it forward. But my girlfriend was PISSED and I don’t quite understand what I did wrong. Can you do your feminist-to-dumb-guy translation here and help out ya boi?– Piggy’s IRL pal Will
Oh, we have theories. In fact, I’d say this whole episode is brought to you by “women’s intuition.” Which is a thing that has actual scientific basis! Yeah, man, it’s just like, soooooooo weird that people who are socialized from earliest infancy to pacify and accommodate others under implicit threat of physical violence get pretty good at reading the intentions of others… I wonder what kinds of exciting shit we already know that science will discover next!
Like our ~romantic~ advice? I mean, okay, here’s some more:
- I Was Happy to Marry a Poor Man. Then Things Changed.
- Ask the Bitches: “My Friend Is Going Broke Dating a Mooch. Should I Say Something?”
- The Only Advice You’ll Ever Need for a Cheap-Ass Wedding
- When Money is the Weapon: Understanding Intimate Partner Financial Abuse
- How Dafuq Do Couples Share Their Money?
- Take Pride in Being a Cheap Date
Thanks again to our generous Patreon donors for their support. Without it, this season simply would not be. If you want to join the ranks of Bitches Get Riches supporters (and get your name read aloud on an episode of the podcast) head on over to our Patreon!
Episode transcript (click to reveal)
We would like to thank our Patreon donors. Thanks to Moira, Melissa, Lily, and Kylie. And an extra special thanks today to Lisa and Sarah for helping bring us this episode. Lisa and Sarah, if they were a horse, they would be a matched pair of beautiful devil gray Andalusians.
(Bitches Get Riches theme song)
So there is this ice cream parlor in my neighborhood that has the most amazing ice cream flavor. And keep in mind when I talk about ice cream flavors, I do not like chocolate. I will not eat chocolate. It is the devil as far as I’m concerned. So.
Stop, everyone is unsubscribing when you say that.
Sorry, sorry. Okay, well, so this ice cream parlor has what I would define to be a perfect ice cream flavor. Just brown sugar cinnamon, and it is life changing-ly delicious, and I could eat it by the gallon. But because of certain circumstances, I currently can’t get to the ice cream parlor. So I have been experimenting with making brown sugar cinnamon ice cream at home. By getting like a gallon of, you know, vanilla, whatever from the grocery store and then mixing in brown sugar and cinnamon and freezing it.
I thought you were going to tell me you were making ice cream, which Terry is doing right at this very moment. He’s making us some espresso ice cream.
(sarcastic) You know what? You just take your fucking perfect ass husband and his ice cream making abilities, and you just rub it in my face with my failed experiments to make the ice cream flavor I love.
I love this. This is getting sadder and sadder, you’re just getting a gallon of Breyer’s and just dumping some brown sugar on top.
Breyer’s? Bitch, no. I’m in like store brand, like Safeway brand, Country Vanilla, and like mixing it together. And be like, (in a hopeful, child-like voice) “It’s gonna work this time. It’s gonna work this time.” And like refreezing it, and then no. It just doesn’t work, and it makes me so sad. And meanwhile, you’ve got your perfect wife of a husband in the kitchen there making you ice cream. I don’t want to hear about it.
(faking anger) Let’s do this fucking podcast, okay?
Fine, you know what? I’m just gonna say one thing. I’m just gonna say one thing. I do think it’s fair to judge an ice cream manufacturer or an ice cream parlor by their vanilla. If it’s my first time there, I’m going to order a vanilla.
Listen, I don’t turn my nose at vanilla. I fucking love vanilla. Usually I put something on it, but I fucking love vanilla, nothing wrong with it.
Like a really good vanilla ice cream — that lets me know that every flavor you make is probably going to be banging.
It’s the tits.
Enough about ice cream. I’m Kitty.
We are the bitches in Bitches Get Riches.
We are a coven of Satan worshipping witches dancing under the light of a full moon,
And we are ready to live…(in a deep voice) deliciously.
Our time on this planet is limited.
So let’s get started.
So today’s letter actually comes to us from my friend Will. And I have anonymized that name, so we’ll never know who he is.
I like that Will requires top secret…
He does, he totally does. He’s a United States senator, so.
Will is Kamala Harris.
Will, alias Kamala Harris. Will asks, “My girlfriend and I are sort of fighting over money. When we first met, I had nothing. Like sleeping in my car, nothing.”
And I remember those days, that’s when I met Will.
“But in the last three years, my career has miraculously rocketed into the stratosphere. I’m making so much money. Meanwhile, her career has kind of plateaued. She’s working hard, but not really getting ahead. Meanwhile, I’m getting tired of winning. Ahhh. But the real issue is, she’s mad about how I spend my money.”
“I don’t mean I waste it. Nope. Instead, I’m making up for all the times friends helped me. Humble brag, but I’m ridiculously generous right now, and I love it. I give friends gifts, pay for dinner, and tip big time, all the time. I’m sure this attitude will wear off eventually, but right now I’m just enjoying spoiling the people I love, including my girlfriend, but she’s never been comfortable with it.”
“And recently, when her sister said she couldn’t afford a $300 class to finish getting her social work degree, I just gave her the money. I was happy to do it. It would improve her life, and the money was nothing to me, and I’m sure she’ll pay it forward. My girlfriend was pissed, and I don’t quite understand what I did wrong. Can you do your feminists-to-dumb-guy translation here, and help out your boy?”
I’m so glad you picked this. This is a really, really interesting question.
Yeah, I kind of forced him to put it in the form of a question because he mentioned the situation. I was just like, “This is perfect for my podcast.”
So, I have a lot of different feelings about this. I think the first thing that I want to point out is that when people have been desperately poor, which it sounds like ya boy Will has been there, I think there is sometimes a healthy degree of opening up and becoming really generous when you have had good fortune.
I do think that that could go too far, and I think some people use money in a way that can make other people uncomfortable. Are you overextending yourself? Are you so excited to not be flat broke that you’re not really thinking clear headedly about what is an appropriate amount of money to give people?
And also a little bit, I think, of: “I wish I was in a position to help my sibling out.” And it feels like you’re rubbing it in my face, which I don’t think he is, but it kind of is.
But that’s the impression.
Yeah, I totally get this as a projection issue. When they met, her career was really great. He was really down in the dumps. And they’ve kind of switched places here where she hasn’t moved up in her career for a number of years, and she’s feeling really down about it. He’s making money hand over fist, and she’s kind of looking at it going like, “I wish that’s where I was. I wish I was the one who could just give my sister the money she needs to take this class, rather than relying on my boyfriend to do it.”
I would hesitate to use the word jealousy because I don’t think that’s fair. I think the word jealousy, especially in a relationship and especially concerning money, it’s a gross word and idea to use. So I think she’s projecting. Like she’s just pissed at herself that she isn’t in a position to do that. And I don’t think she’s justified in feeling that way, like she should go easy on ourselves. Like everyone’s career stalls. Like, I’m unemployed as of recording of this podcast.
(in a fake joyous voice) Woo, stop bragging.
(in a fake joyous voice) Unemployment. I played video games for three hours today.
And then had crippling anxiety for all three of those hours.
(in a sing-song voice) And then I laid awake in bed with my husband while I thought about all the things I should have done instead.
Taking off my money cap and putting on my relationship advisor cap.
Mmm, yes, Dear Abby, do you go on.
Will. Will. May I call you Will? Your real and true Christian name. Will, when you heard your girlfriend say, “Oh, my sister doesn’t have $300 to sign up for her class.” Did you then talk to your girlfriend and say, “Well, hey, I got plenty of money. 300 bucks isn’t all that much. I’d be happy to loan her $300 or just give it to her as a gift. Like we could say that it’s an early birthday gift, or an early Christmas gift, but let’s brainstorm. Let’s talk about it.”
Or did you just go out and do it?
I think that’s a really good point. You just kind of got to the nut, or the juicy meat at the center of this nut.
Right out of my juicy meat.
No, but I think it’s a relationship question, not a money question, you know? Because they’re not asking, “How do I manage my money?” Or saying, “How do I navigate the very rocky shores of where money meets relationship.”
And I think that the relationship needs to come first. So, the advice to talk to your girlfriend before just handing out money to her sister is probably a good one. And he probably could have saved himself a lot of heartache just by going to his girlfriend and being like, “Hey girl, your sister said she needed this money. Like, I think I should just give it to her. Do you agree? What do you think?”
And, you know, even if she had agreed with him ultimately to give her sister the money, that small act of including her in the decision and caring about her point of view probably would have made this a non issue.
It’s respectful. It’s respectful to consult with your significant other Unless you are setting up a surprise party for someone who you know loves surprises, maybe don’t make her feel like you’re cutting her out of that discussion.
Absolutely. And I think in, in general, it’s not just a decision to do with family members, but it’s a decision to do with money. My husband and I have mostly separate finances, but he still talks to me before he goes and makes a large purchase. Not to ask for permission. This isn’t some heteronormative 1950s sitcom. It’s more like, “Hey, I’m doing this. Just FYI.”
You are onto something.
Yes, because think about it this way. If you have a dynamic where your sister has always treated you as someone to fall back on with regards to money, or responsible adulting stuff — what if, you as the girlfriend want to start thinking of you and Will as a unit? And that, eventually, you’ll stay together, and you’ll start making bigger and bigger financial decisions together and slowly your finances will start to merge together. You need to present a united front.
Piggy, you and I, fairly early in our relationships, were discussing any purchase of maybe more than 100 bucks with our significant other because…
Are you suggesting we’re extremely frugal and cheap? Because that is the truth.
No, I mean, when you were dating your husband, it was in college when you first started dating, and it was long distance.
And so, money was a huge deal. Will I have enough money for gas or for a bus ticket? I think you probably would have been in a position, where if you were going to drop $300 on something, you were probably going to talk to him about it first or at least mention it.
Oh totally, because it would mean the difference in me being able, or us being able to afford a train or bus ticket to go see each other, which was a priority of ours.
Exactly. And I think it’s a bigger picture of: What are her long term financial goals as the girlfriend? What are Will’s long-term financial goals as the boyfriend? And Will, by not talking about what financial decisions to make mutually, you may make her feel like you’re not thinking about the future where your finances really matter to each other.
Right. Well in that case, it’s worthwhile to talk about how decisions are made more than what decisions are made. Neither one of them has the whole picture of their relationship. They only have the whole picture and all the information they need when they come together and talk about these things. So as usual, it’s a communication issue.
Yeah. So we have assumed that Will didn’t talk to his girlfriend about this. Let’s play a mental game where we assumed that he said, “I want to do this.” And she said, (in a reluctant voice) “Fine.” This person was mad about it. In that case, what might that mean?
Yeah, maybe it’s not just this one issue. Maybe it is a longstanding trend that he’s going through that she is slowly and slowly getting more and more fed up with. I can’t personally imagine why, other than her imagining that he doesn’t have quite as much money as he thinks, or her having this scarcity mindset where she’s worried that in the event of an emergency, he’s going to regret paying for dinner all those times.
There’s a wide spectrum of reasons this girlfriend could be having this response. I think that it could be that she is jealous that you make more money than her and that she feels inadequate that you can help her sibling, but she cannot help her sibling. That is entirely possible. Those feelings are petty, but they’re also very understandable and pretty normal for our primate brains and something that she could work through if it was really brought to her attention.
But I also see this whole other end of the spectrum possibility where I am pretty alarmed by the way that Will describes his own generosity. It sounds like he is throwing money around, and I am very nervous about that. For someone who was poor enough to be living in their vehicle, we’re not hitting absolute limestone yet, but we are very close to rock bottom if we’re living in our car. And Will, have you set up an emergency fund? Have you paid off that car? Do you feel like your job is really, really secure?
You know, I think that sort of liberating, thrilling-ness to not being poor any more that, when you have grown up into poverty, you have to work through that thrilling moment of being, “I can just buy the most expensive cheese every single time I go to the grocery store.” And it’s an amazing feeling; it’s a great feeling.
I have not grown out of that stage of wealth yet, by the way.
(dramatic) Yes, I will reach for the stuff that was made on a farm, instead of a factory.
Like, it’s thrilling. But I do worry that the way he’s describing it sounds a little bit like he …
… you can be a nice person and not give your friends gifts all the time. You can be a generous friend without paying for dinner. Like, are people asking you to pay for dinner? Or are you kind of throwing that money around? I don’t like the sound of that at all.
That’s a great point.
But I think, you know, you were saying, “Does he have an emergency fund? Does he have a retirement fund?” All of these things. Is his job secure? His girlfriend might not know those things, and she should know those things. They live together. If you are in a long-term serious relationship, you don’t need to know the numbers necessarily, but you should know those things about each other. And I think you’re onto something when you say, “She’s angry because she’s worried that he’s frittering away his money without having that sort of necessary safety net put in place already.”
You have to find balance between what is generous and what is responsible. And the thing that may be helpful to think about is: if you are compulsively generous, first of all, I think it’s less noble because I think the whole point of generosity is to show that I fought and conquered my own sense of needing to hoard resources for myself. If you are not thinking through the value of those resources, and you’re just sort of throwing them away, it seems more like you’re just uncomfortable with having money. And you’d like for other people to have your money for you.
So I think it’s a less meaningful. But also I think that when you are not responsible because you spend a lot of your time and money being generous instead of taking care of yourself, like, alright. So what happens if you get really sick, or you get in a car accident, or you lose your job tomorrow? Are you going to be okay?
When you are responsible and you make sure that you have erased the highs and lows of how fate may play with your finances, you make yourself someone that people don’t have to worry about. And your girlfriend may be worrying about you if you’re just throwing that money away instead of thinking deeply and thoughtfully about — hey, part of being a good friend is also making sure people don’t have to worry about me.
Absolutely. Boom, roasted. Or boom, answered.
Will, you’re on blast.
You’re on blast.
How dare you be generous with your money?
Don’t you know we’re capitalists? Don’t you know you need to rise through the ranks of capitalism until you die with all the toys?
As neoliberal scum, I’m so angry with you right now, Will.
What an affront to our way of life.
The dividends! The dividends, Will!
Piggy & Kitty 17:58
(continued shouting of the word “dividends”)
Are you good with that?
Yeah, I’m good with that.
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It was the only thing that was clean in the drawer. I need to do laundry.
Are you saying it was your last choice?
After I worked so hard to design them?
No, of course not!
How dare you! We’re fighting.
(very high pitched and anxious) Are you breaking up with me?
No, I’m just driving up drama to make our sex better later.
Oh, okay, good plan, good plan.
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Hey, uh, is there anything else I should know?
Toy Story 3 sucks because the whole thing is anti socialist capitalist propaganda, where all of the people who profit by that systemic inequality and directly and indirectly uphold it are never held accountable. I hate it.
Uh, good to know.
Piggy & Kitty 19:45
Oh my God, that might be the first time we did it in sync.