Thursday, April 1, 2010
Thoughts on The Secret Currency of Love by Hilary Black
In this anthology of original essays, some of the country's most respected women writers reveal their deepest feelings about money and how it affects their most intimate relationships - with parents, children, spouses, siblings, and ultimately with themselves. They examine the childhood experiences that set up lifelong, and sometimes self-destructive, financial habits. And they divulge how all the intangibles - romance, status, power, security - become tangled up in their financial lives. The essays in these pages are written from many different perspectives: a single woman trying to reconcile feminism with a secret desire to be supported by a man; a wife with radically different spending habits from her husband's; a divorcee who has become the family's chief breadwinner; a single mother struggling to make ends meet. They also explore complicated social issues. Sheri Holman (The Dress Lodger) reveals how she fell in love with a homeless drug addict. Leslie Bennetts (The Feminine Mistake) weighs the social and emotional costs of giving her children a private-school education among the super-rich. Bliss Broyard (One Drop) ruminates on the intricacies of maintaining friendships with wealthier friends. And Amy Cohen (The Late Bloomer's Revolution) considers the price - financial and otherwise - of having a child on her own.
I choose to read this after reading an article on MSN.com. Each chapter is a story about how each woman deals with money. Most of the women are writers and have had periods of little to no income. Some of the women were raised in affluent households and some were raised in poorer households. In 80% of the stories , it didn't matter. Most of the women had trouble with money-credit card debt, poor paying jobs, poor money management. And money always played a role in their relationship. They married for money, found men who drained them of every last cent, family members who stole. It was eye opening to me to see how money rules our lives.
I'll be the first to admit that I can't manage money to save my life. I've worked in nonprofit (social service) land where the pay is low. I have a credit card that has a balance higher than I like. My retirement account could be fatter. I'll also admit when I was younger, I hoped I would fall in love with a rich man who would keep me living in the way I could get accustomed to. But I married Tai who is not rich. Tai like me wants to be comfortable, have enough to eat, take a trip every once and a while, and see some shows and concerts. Now we could get lucky. A start up could become the next Google but we'll most like just being trying to make it for the rest of our lives. Which is fine with me. I grew up that way. My parents owned their own business and struggled to pay both business bills and household bills. Some months we were living fat, some months things were more lean. I disliked being without the necessities-Guess jeans, JCrew shirts, purses from Nordstroms. My friends had plenty of these things and more. I assumed they lived how people should. But as I've grown up I discovered that many more people are living pay check to pay check or close to it than living large.
I do without expensive shoes because those are not as important as enjoying a great meal with friends or enjoying a concert. But I buy what I need and occasionally what I want. And I leave the money management to my husband. He's a far better budgeter than I am. He's spent more time learning and figuring out what we need to save, spend, etc. He tells me what I need to pay and I do. I give myself an allowance and use that to do my own thing. I prefer not having to think about what I need to do (although we do talk about it and the decisions we make we make together). I know it's a cop out, but it's working for me so far.
As you can see this book made me think about my own money skills or lack of. I recommend this book. Other reviews can be found at Articles That Make You Think, The Story's Story, and My Open Wallet.