Last week I asked the guy I’m dating where he had his money saved. He isn’t from the U.S., has lived in several different countries, and assuming his funds are heavily foreign-invested, I wondered if he had fared any better than me.
“I don’t have a savings,” he replied. A loud brake-like screeching sound signaled me to halt, but I quickly reassessed the way I phrased the question.
“No I don’t mean savings account, I mean your saved money. Is it invested here or how does that work when you live so many places?” I inquired. Without turning to look at me he repeated his original response, and I had a mini heart attack.
Upon relaying the story to my brother’s girlfriend, she spoke of her friend who moved to Australia with her boyfriend. They both had above-average jobs with above-average incomes, and all was peaches and cream until tax time came around and she discovered that he spent every dollar he earned. She, for the record, had a retirement, money market and some sort of special education savings for her unborn children’s college or herself if she decided to go to graduate school. Well, this girl had already up and moved down under, and she was in love. She ended up explaining that he needed to start saving…today. But what if you aren’t in love with someone, and find out they are a non-saver. Is the relationship worth saving?
My gut reaction said no and here’s why. I earn a meager income as a freelance writer. It’s not enough to move even though I’m jonesing for a new apartment, and sometimes I have to eat ramen noodles. (If you add garlic, red pepper flakes and a touch of paprika, they’re actually quite good.) However, I regularly add to my 401K and money market account in hopes that someday my kind father will match it and I can put a down payment on an apt for me and my pooch. Or maybe I’ll save it for a country home or a vacation or a proper education for my children. Regardless, I will have some money saved for something I value and planned for.
Lack of savings signifies lack of planning for your future. Perhaps, said beau has yet to create an image of his future and consequently cannot visualize what he would be saving for. Maybe he didn’t have years of parental heeding or tutorials on the various ways to save. But he is a smart man, and I am 99% sure that his lack of savings has more to do with his lack of intrinsic motivation and ability to delay satisfaction.
A few skipped dinners and a Saturday night in here and there really add up, and are worth considering for people who have personal goals that require money. Part of these goals might be the creation of a life or lifestyle for your future spouse and family. It doesn’t mean you are going to be married tomorrow or father a child tonight, but if eventually you would like a kid, then saving for them and your life with them is important to do now. This fellow wants a rustic beach house, five kids and to live on a ranch in Montana someday. Unless he’s holding onto some Aladdinesque fantasy, he might want to get saving.
Failure to save some scrilla in and of itself is not a dealbreaker, but lack of any direction or planned-for goals, to me, is. In the end, I realized that he doesn’t have attachment to a single material possession – not even a framed picture of his family – because it allows him to get up and move at any point. Although he has lived in New York a couple years, he hasn’t fostered a close friendship, and he has a strong aversion to the word “boyfriend.” Apparently he doesn’t save anything – people, things, money – and that likely signifies something even greater. Attachment theorists?
For me, I’m realizing that my dealbreaker list is due for a revision. The small trivialities that I originally assessed as dealbreakers are actual signs of something deeper. It’s the somethings deeper that are actually the dealbreakers. But that’s another story. Stay tuned….
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