Dear Dr. Darcy
I am the bread winner between my partner and me and I just lost my job. She is very supportive of me and is trying to stay positive, but we have no money in savings, there are no jobs out there. Sometimes I think she has her head in the clouds. It’s only been 2 weeks and already the pressure is effecting our relationship. We live in Manhattan. What should I do?
Take a deep breath. Now blow it out. I can feel your tension through the internet. Or maybe that’s my own. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. This ‘economic downturn’ has dragged on for what feels like a decade. It’s gotten to the point where people can’t fake it anymore, and because no one’s faking it anymore, most people are feeling it.
Now for some concrete financial advice: Open your wallet. Remove everything made of plastic except your driver’s license. Now close your wallet. Begin with a 30 day experiment of spending cash only. We can do anything for 30 days, and spending exclusively cash helps us to see where our money is going so we can make necessary changes.
Next, look for creative options for entertainment. No more sushi – again, we’re talking 30 days here – not eternity. In lieu of sushi, invite a group of friends to join you for a weekly cooking party. Each week you meet up at someone’s home and one person takes a turn teaching the others a recipe. Everyone brings some wine and at the end of the night you’ve bonded in an environment that is conducive to hearing one-another, you’ve eaten healthy food, and you’ve spent close to nothing.
Last (and my least favorite), buy yourself an unlimited Metrocard and forget cabs for now. Toughen up girlfriend. You can do it. I trek 6 blocks to the nearest subway every day. Usually I wear boots/flip flops and carry my heels, but yesterday, for example, I walked it in 6 inch heels. I don’t even know if you’re a femme who needs to be mindful of heels, but if not, then you really have no excuse. If you have a physical ailment, rock the bus. There’s no room for ego here. These are tough times. Just about every cab in NYC costs $15.00 with tip. Do the math: It’s the most obvious place to save.
Now lets talk about weathering the storm of your relationship. Money, like everything else, comes and goes, or at least ebbs and flows. If the stability of your relationship is contingent on there being financial abundance, you’re in trouble. Change your expectations. Stop listening to the fear-mongers, aka, the news, get yourself a part-time job to supplement unemployment and consider yourself lucky to have a girlfriend who’s head is in the clouds. The alternative would be that you’d both have your heads in a southern direction.