Changing mindset about losing money but gaining quality of life
October 20, 2018 12:27 PM   Subscribe

I’ve accepted a new job with a pay bump and the cross country move. It is not the first place or job I would choose, but for an early career shift and to be closer to my partner, I’m cool with it. However my family’s money philosophy (and my family) is nagging me about money choices. How can I be firm in my decision or should I change my mindset about it?

The new job will be in a state that has no income taxes, which is supposed to be a draw. However, the state/city isn’t a place I would like to live (doesn’t sound like my coworkers want to live there either, as they live in other places and commute in) and my partner lives only 40 minutes across the state line in a cool little city.

We will be living together in cool little city.

But since I’m not living in the state I work in, I pay more taxes. I end up losing $220 per month due to taxes because I live out of state. I also would pay about 25% more on medical costs because I would probably find doctors and therapists out of state. (My work does cover 85% of insurance costs so it comes out much cheaper than my current premiums.)

I am REALLY working on trying to not involve my family in my decisions, but they are really nosey and bossy with love. They worry and love so much that it gets to be encroaching. They do not financially support me, though they would in a heartbeat if I was in trouble, but I refuse because I don’t want their control anymore.

Although I refused to let them in to my salary decisions, they have found out how much I make and how much I pay for my new apartment (the former being due to my father crying that I was being selfish for not telling him simple information to make sure I was ok financially.) Now they constantly calling me, telling me I’m making a dumb financial move by living with my partner and losing that pre-tax money that could be extra money in my pocket, in my 401k. I have convinced myself that I would much rather live in a town with my partner, where I know a couple friends, and that has a sizeable social life. It seems like an OK trade off for $220ish per month. And I’m saving money by splitting rent and groceries with my partner.

My questions are:

-Am I making a stupid mistake by valuing quality of life over money? I guess if I do lose too much money commuting and with tAxes (I don’t think I won’t because I’m budget conscious) I could move into the state I work in. But I would like to try my ideal situation first.
-What are some scripts that are respectful to my parents but also firm on my boundaries? They are old school, from a different culture, and do truly love me, but they can be VERY VERY persistent in getting their way.
-What might be some other ways to recoup that $220 I’m losing? Or maybe not focus too too much on the money I’m losing for the life I’m gaining? I’m hoping to pick up a side gig for fun so maybe I can bring more money in that way.

Thanks in advance xx
posted by buttonedup to Work & Money (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wouldn’t you be spending that $220 easily on an entire additional rent payment? In addition to regular 40-minute trips (one-way!) and duplicate groceries? I know that doesn’t answer the philosophical question, which I can’t answer for you, but on a practical level it sounds like your dad is assuming a false economy if you live separately.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:35 PM on October 20, 2018 [22 favorites]

I mean, I live in New York City, so obviously I favor living in a place that I like over saving money, but I think you're definitely making the right choice.
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:38 PM on October 20, 2018

You tell anyone who gives you advice "thanks, I might think about that." And then shut up. That said, a 40-minute commute twice a day may get old real soon.
posted by sageleaf at 12:40 PM on October 20, 2018 [6 favorites]

Do not trade money for happiness, ever. And stop letting your parents control you with histrionics. Yes, it is a simple piece of information but it is still none of your dad's business. If you want to make your father feel better, ask him what he's afraid of and then reassure him about those things.

Now, however, you tell them that you are XX years old and have made your decision.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:41 PM on October 20, 2018 [14 favorites]

Surely paying for your own apartment would eat up most, if not all, of that savings?

I can't give you scripts, but your parents can only find things out if you tell them. Stop. Telling. Them. About. Your. Finances. If. You. Don't. Want. Their. Opinions. On. Them.
posted by praemunire at 12:41 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

“Thank you for your advice. I’ll think about it. I’m not going to talk about this more with you. “

And then don’t.
posted by rtha at 12:53 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

You live your life.

Look, we all make choices. Rent vs. Buy, pay extra for a house with a guest bedroom that’s empty 80% of the time, rent out space, get a fancier car. This is just one choice. Your family is bizarrely fixated and controlling. Do they check that your shampoo is generic too?
posted by warriorqueen at 12:56 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

Unless cool town is super expensive and where you are going to work is super cheap, there is no scenario in which half of the rent/utilities/insurance for a shared space in cool town won't be at least $220 less than paying for an entire place on your own in your work town.

My guess is this:

Your parents don't want you living with your partner. Your parents want you dependant on them and outside the direct sphere of influence of this other person that is not them.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:59 PM on October 20, 2018 [25 favorites]

Your coworkers know something your parents don’t: it’s a helluva lot more fun to live in that other city. You do you. If you decide you don’t like your first initial set of choices, you can make other choices. And you should totally make the choice to stop letting your dad or parents guilt trip you into giving them information that is none of their business. From here on out you can say, I know you love me, and I know you worry about me, but I will be fine. If I need your advice, I will ask for it. I love you to bits, now let’s talk about something else.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:59 PM on October 20, 2018

Hoooo boy I would definitely make the same decision you’re making, and I’m a very financially responsible person. Would your parents live in separate apartments do save $220/month?

In the most charitable possible light: maybe your parents want your partner to live with you, vs. you with them?
posted by samthemander at 1:03 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also: quality of life is precisely what makes life worth living. IMHO living with someone you love in a place you prefer is worth way the hell more than 200 whatever bucks a month. Like, this is not a rehearsal. This is what you get. So choose for yourself, not other people. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 1:03 PM on October 20, 2018 [7 favorites]

Operant conditioning. “I love you, but I’m not going to have this conversation.” Then you either pivot to another topic or tell them a quick “Love you, bye,” and hang up the phone. If they don’t change topics with you, gently end the conversation. You have work, you’re getting another call, you have to go right now, I love you, I’ll talk to you later. Be consistent about refusing to engage them when they try to pressure you financially if you want the behavior to change.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 1:11 PM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

It's ridiculous that they're making an issue of $220/mo. Your decision is sound and good and healthy. Don't listen to their whinging. Congrats on the job & move!
posted by quince at 1:11 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

A note: my partner could not move to my work state because they’d lose in state tuition at their PhD program. But they are willing to move closer to the border for the commute if that becomes tiring!
posted by buttonedup at 1:20 PM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

>Am I making a stupid mistake by valuing quality of life over money?

You already know the answer to this: of course not. I've taken jobs for the money when I had to live in a place I hated and it gets old quick. Being a situation where you are happy is clearly the way to go.

If the money does because an issue, it's not like you're committed to this situation for life - you can always get a new job worth more money or move. Tell your family you're doing fine but you'll definitely make some changes if money gets tight, so they shouldn't worry because you're being conscientious about this. Hopefully they will back off.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:25 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am REALLY working on trying to not involve my family in my decisions, but they are really nosey and bossy with love.

You can change the dynamic, but it will be hard at first. Of course you know they are raising concerns because they care about you, but that doesn't mean you need to include them in the decision-making process or give any weight to what they're suggesting. I suggest that you set boundaries...and the boundaries should be for you, not for them. Decide what you'd like to do when they bring up the subject and when they put in their two cents. Example: If (family member) asks about the move again, I will say "I'm still weighing the pros and cons." If (family member) makes suggestions I will nod my head and say that it's a good point, and then change the subject.

It helps to rehearse ahead of time(even out loud) and to have a different subject ready when you need to shift. It's going to bring up anxiety, and even more so because they will keep pushing. You can always say that you've been thinking about it a lot and would rather talk about something else.

You are going to have to do this eventually, because they're not going to stop the loving interference on their own.
posted by wryly at 1:30 PM on October 20, 2018

I don’t think I’m equipped to advise you specifically, but a couple of things caught my attention:

1. You’re not financially dependent on your parents, but they would help you automatically... which is a nice safety net in theory, but you’d lose your autonomy. Could you manage without them as a safety net? Do they try to persuade you with things like possible inheritance? Or thethe withdrawal of same if you move?

2. I don’t know your age or theirs or their health status... but it does seem like money could be their way of trying to maintain control due to (sounds like) their inappropriate codependency on you (assuming you’re an adult). I don’t know, but with that level of financial focus to get you to do what they want, you might want to speak to your therapist and or partner about how able you might be to let go of any notion of future assets from *them*. It doesn’t sound like they address their own issues... you never know.

Happened to me - dad cut me out of his will (still not sure why). I didn’t know for years. He got ill, I cared for him he changed his mind, my brother hid the new will. Nightmare. Not saying anything like this would happen to you and I’m only describing it because my dad used $ to control too - just offering that these might be things to think about... if not, great! Note: not sure if you have siblings or how healthy they are with $/boundaries, but things like this can be toxic and so painful. Worse than eating ramen every night.

3. Sounds like your job is secure - you have a 401K, but you’re very focused and concerned about $220. I wonder if you’re concerned about being able to support yourself should things change? Maybe lacking a degree, health matters? Have you thought about ways to make the extra $220? Sell on eBay? Also - look into grocery delivery/a co-op depending on your travel, the delivery fee might be less than what you’d spend in gas/wear and tear if you drive. Could you do Uber diving or taskrabbit type things?

4. Lastly - I’m not sure if you’re going to buy a home or condo with someone you aren’t married to and how you’re planning to do all that, but I truly do urge caution. I lost all liquid assets - in my divorce - had NO idea he would not want to be equitable. He also controlled - literally driving his car to where I was so that had to use it. He had all the money, so...

It sounds like you need to lovingly but assertively move away from your parents: perhaps provide them with a 6 month schedule with specific dates you’ll visit with them AND when you’ll leave. Maybe do not stay in their house. Maybe buy real paper cards to send them - giving them updates (not about $), positive, civil... it’s a one way thing so you’d be shielded from manipulation in a phone call or text.

Sorry this long! I can’t figure out how to do the “more inside”...

I really feel for you. If you have a way to work towards self reliance - even if it sucks if things happens.

I hope something I’ve said helps you think things through. I’m glad you have a therapist/counselor. You’re taking great steps! I could be way off. If so, my apologies. I wish you the best. I hope none of my cautions apply to you!
posted by misondre at 2:01 PM on October 20, 2018

$220/month is about $7/day. That seems like a really minimal cost for something that would improve your quality of life so much.
posted by belladonna at 5:41 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

they can be VERY VERY persistent in getting their way.

Good. That means you have the genes for it too.

Regardless of your current issue you’re going to have to set up firm boundaries with your parents sooner or later. So, broken record: "I appreciate your thoughts but ultimately I have to make my own decision." Don’t engage in arguments about that position. It’s just a fact of life.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:13 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Two quick points:
  • Your parents are encouraging you to use $220/month differently than you want, and this is causing you discomfort. Some people pay $220/month to professionals to deal with issues caused by never getting to do what they really wanted to.
  • Also, I always cite this C. S. Lewis quote whenever parents are stifling their adult offspring.

posted by forthright at 6:21 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

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