By: Revanche

A horrifying question

July 19, 2010

“Can you pay the mortgage for a while?”

If you hear that high-pitched squealing, it’s either my tires peeling out of the garage, or the whistle of my brain on overdrive.

PiC wasn’t totally serious when he asked, it was really just out of frustration.  He’s been going through a rough patch at the job and it’s at a point where I think it’s toxic. Having been there, I know from toxic and I know it’s insidious. You develop defense mechanisms that are hard to break and stop trusting people.  He needs a major change or at the very least, the comfort of knowing that if he wanted or needed to jump ship, he’s financially able to.  You know, the e-fund!

As much as I practice financial responsibility here, I don’t preach it everywhere and especially not to someone who is meant to be a partner. We have our differences and discuss them rationally to find a compromise. That said, of course there’s a corner of my brain that goes “poof” like a small atomic bomb.  “Why?!?!” it screeches.

Not “why would you lean on me?” and not “why would you even think about quitting?”  I know the answers to those questions and I’m fine with it.  It’s a very simple “why did you wait until nooowwww to think about this??”

Ok.  That’s my vent.  Onward we go.

I did a quick verbal calculation for him: worst case scenario, I could support the both of us, and my family, for about 9 months using the cash I have on hand.  That would completely drain my cash holdings without accounting for the incoming paychecks. (That is not, as we all know from the unemployment rolls, a very long time.)

At some point in the near future, very near, we’ll have to discuss a more realistic plan than burning bridges or stewing in a bad work environment for the sake of a paycheck, chained down by a mortgage.  It wasn’t a commitment I chose to take on but our relationship is and this is part of the game. 

If there’s a bright side to this situation, we’ll be talking much more frankly and proactively about money than ever before.  And that’s a good thing in my book.

Click here to see the follow-up post, comments and further explanation.


My thanks …..

to Tim of for hosting this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance.

Be sure to submit to next week’s Carnival!

16 Responses to “A horrifying question”

  1. Jersey Mom says:

    I like giving this book to people I’m close to: Smart Couples Finish Rich written by David Bach. I’m sure they have a copy at the local library.

  2. Single Ma says:

    “It wasn’t a commitment I chose to take on but our relationship is and this is part of the game.”

    That made me smile. 🙂 I hope everything works out with your SO’s situation.

  3. Jenna says:

    Not the best way to start this type of conversation, but better than no conversation.

  4. Sense says:

    Oy! talk about making the alarm go off, eh? that would freak a part of me out, too, no matter how in it to win it I was.

    but it’s only fair to share the burden, i guess, right? definitely hope it doesn’t come to that, though!!

  5. Sense says:

    also, does he have an e-fund of his own to fall back on? that might make the situation easier to handle, knowing that you’re combining your Forces. You know, ‘Power of The E-Funds Unite!’ and you could get shiny rings and place them together whenever you needed to draw on your new improved dual powers. 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    i’d ONLY be okay with this if, down the road someday, i would be able to benefit from the equity of the property

  7. Serendipity says:

    How sudden and scary. But more money talks are always good in a relationship. And I liked how you thought of not taking on the mortgage but taking on your relationship. That made me smile. I wish him and you the best of luck. 🙂

  8. I think the best thing you could possibly do for both of you is be his work cheerleader and number one fan while working together to figure out a backup plan that doesn’t involve bankrupting you. With your good sense as a guide, it sounds like between the two of you, you’ll find a way.

  9. Nicole says:

    Like Jersey mom, I’ve got a book recommendation– Your Money or Your Life. I had my DH read it and it started us really talking seriously about money and the future.

    Smart Couples Finish Rich is also good and has some fun quizzes in it, but YMoYL really explains what money is and is especially helpful for people whose work situations are less than ideal. It’s all about the escape plan. Smart Couples is more about how-to after the significant other has been convinced rather than the why.

    It’s great you’re talking about money now. Some people wait until years after they’ve been married!

  10. Matt says:

    Probably not the easiest conversation either of you have had recently. But I have been in some very toxic work environments and sometimes the option to quit becomes a very viable one (though not always a financially smart one)

    Hopefully this will start more conversations about finances which lets be honest can be tricky to discuss with some people.

    Good Luck!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Unless you’re paying half the mortgage, property taxes, utilities and homeowner’s insurance, then your boyfriend is directly subsidizing your savings, full parental support and, apparently, the partial support of your brother.

    All of this is fine. Lots and lots of couples help one member’s family. But it’s really important that your boyfriend understood and agreed to this up front. The fact that he could ask you to take on the mortgage, given everything else you’re shouldering, says to me that the all important money talk has not happened. It really needs to.


  12. This reminds me of my husband quitting a very toxic job when I first got out of college and started my current job at a whopping $26,500 a year. We had $3000 to our names, no debt, and a single, sad income while he took an alternative certification course for teaching, worked at Game Stop for $100 a week, and finally found a “real” job 5 months later making $7.25 an hour full time ($280 a week).

    Fast forward 4 1/2 years, he’s been making $43,000 as a teacher for 4 years and is becoming an 11 month school librarian starting in August for $52,000 a year. I’m still making a whopping $35,000 a year at the same job I started with.

    Life’s works out most of the time, but I hope PiC doesn’t quit until he finds something better. Toxic sucks, but so will the fights that start when you start feeling used…or at least, that’s what happened to us.

  13. Whose machine is “Emily” and does he know it’s posting “personal, privileged, and confidential information” to the comments section of a public website? {hee heee!}

    The stupidest things can brighten your day.

    Well, if he leaves his job, presumably he’ll come away with some vacation pay; if he gets canned, maybe he’ll get some severance pay. So it might not fall on you to start paying all the bills immediately.

    Also, if you weren’t living in his palace, you’d have to pay rent somewhere else. So you could figure that the amount of the mortgage less the amount you’d pay in rent would be the real amount extra you’d be taking on. That sounds a little less drastic, anyway.

    If he’s that unhappy with the job, I hope he’s looking elsewhere. It’s a lot easier to get a job when you’ve got a job.

    If he’s not at risk of being fired, it might be good for him to consider what my tax lawyer once said when I wanted nothing more than to get away from the Great Desert University: “A sh*tty job is better than no job.” She was right. And it’s all the more true when we’re in a recession-that-is-not-a-depression. Almost 20% of the US population is unemployed or underemployed, so he’ll have some competition out there.

  14. Carolyn says:

    Talking money with PiC’s is tough, but in the end, it’s sooo good to do, esp if yall are sharing a mortgage!

    P.S. You’re awesome.

  15. Revanche says:

    I’m mostly answering these comments in a post tomorrow but thanks for your thoughts.

    @Jersey Mom, Nicole: I have the Smart Women Finish Rich but I guess it’s time to share the love, huh?

    @Jenna, Anon, Serendipity, Matt: Not the best way indeed, but it’s an ongoing conversation we’ve had on and off over the past few months. We’re agreed on budgeting together and it’s just a matter of finding a comfort zone for both of us.

    @FaM: Chock full of good sense as usual!

    @Carolyn: D’aw! 🙂 you’re awesome too!

  16. Nicole says:

    I still recommend checking out Your Money or Your Life. It really resonated with my DH in a way that no other book has. Me too,actually. The big thing about it is that it shows what’s possible and how to get there from here. That’s pretty freeing when you’re not sure you like your job (or are sure you don’t!).

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