The Cost of My Relationships

It is Relationships Month here at The Billfold, and — with just one week left — I decided I would share a bit about the costs of my own relationships.

Dating: The act of dating, or, more specifically, the act of finding and communicating with various prospective dates across a variety of online dating services, continues to take up a significant amount of my time — maybe an hour a day, because I am both hopeful and persistent, and because I know that new men open accounts on these online dating sites every evening.

The actual dates — and I do go on a decent number of actual dates — rarely cost me anything but time. I feel awkward about not paying. I’d prefer to split the check. There are things I want men to do for me, but they’re mostly along the lines of “communicating honestly” and “not pulling that line about how you just got so into whatever you were doing that you forgot I existed.” I don’t want men to pay for me, but they nearly always do.

Right now I only use the free dating services, but I also pay to attend events or take classes where I might simultaneously educate myself while being exposed to eligible men, as if eligible men were a rash you could catch by going out in public. In April, I paid $91.87 for these events/classes.

Friendships: I continue to invest in my friendships, mostly through the cost of travel and of buying food/drink. I did buy a friend a one-way gift this month, although it feels less like me saying “look, here is a unidirectional token of our friendship” and more like, well, just being friends.

In a couple of weeks I’m going on a friendcation to Portland, and at some point I need to figure out how much that’s going to cost and book tickets and the rest of it. With friendships, as I’ve mentioned before, I tend to “figure out how much that’s going to cost” and then pay whatever that number turns out to be, rather than say “hey, I should only spend $50 on dinner and drinks tonight.”

I did, because of the tax situation this month, turn down some invitations in an effort to save money. The effort worked, in that I didn’t spend that money, and we’re all still friends.

Family: There’s a family vacation/reunion coming up in June, and at some point I’m going to need to figure out how much that’s going to cost too. We’re not the kind of family who does big gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, though; I see those commercials that are all “buy Mom a new iPhone for Mother’s Day!” and I wonder who does that, and whether I am depriving my parents of the iPhones that should be their due.

Career: Of course I’m going to write about my relationship with my career, because it’s the relationship that keeps eating up all of my money!

I’m still prepared to kick that savings plan I created into gear, so starting on May 1 I’ll be using sub-savings accounts to put 20 percent of my income towards taxes, 20 percent towards debt, 10 percent towards savings, and the rest towards rent and other expenses. (I was going to start on April 1, but then it turned out that every spare penny I had in April went towards taxes.)

I decided at the beginning of the year that I needed to take an actual business class soon, since I bet I’m making a lot of inefficient financial decisions re: my career (for example, not having a business credit card, although the last thing I need is another credit card) and it would be great to have some formal instruction on, say, how much of my income should go towards professional development. I am still apparently on a mission to collect conventions as if they were Pokémon, and although nearly every convention I attend opens up some new career opportunity for me (see “professional development,” above), they are also extremely expensive. But they’re also tax deductions, probably, so maybe that’s a good thing.

Anyway, this is clearly why I need to take a business class, as I have gotten just about as far as I can go, business-sense-wise, on my own. Since I’m a freelancer, I have to accept that my career will automatically consume about 30 percent of my income off the top. But maybe there’s a way I can go about my career-related spending a bit more strategically.

Also, there might be eligible men there.

This story is part of our relationships month series.