Welcome to Money Talks, a series in which we interview people about their relationship with money, their relationship with each other, and how those relationships inform one another.

Jessica and Sebastian (not their real names) work in communications and marketing, respectively; their annual salaries are $125,000 and $135,000. However, Jessica, 37, grew up with a very different socioeconomic background than Sebastian, 36. When they met 14 years ago, Jessica had both student loan debt and credit card debt; Sebastian, whose college was paid for out of a trust fund, had yet to open his first credit card. Many of their early financial experiences were still influencing their spending and saving decisions — and not always for the best.

Now Jessica and Sebastian are married and living in San Diego with their 3-year-old daughter. Here’s how life and love have changed their financial perspectives.

Sebastian: We actually met at a Yankees game when we both lived in New York City. My group of friends bought season tickets, and her group of friends also bought season tickets, and they ended up sitting in the row in front of us. After the second week of seeing her there, we started a conversation. That was 14 years ago.

Jessica: Living in New York City, and being an early adult in your first job out of college, you learn a lot about people’s financial status by their living situations. I lived in Queens, I split rent with a roommate, and Sebastian grew up and lived in the West Village. He still lived with his mom, after college, for a few years.

I don’t think I was like, “Oh, Sebastian and his family have a lot of money,” but you start putting the pieces together. When you grow up in the West Village, in a nice building, you probably have more money than I did growing up.

Sebastian: When we were dating, it wasn’t a concern or a factor, but I was casually aware that Jessica had grown up in a different financial situation. It was never something that really occupied much space in my head.

Jessica: We didn’t start talking about our financial upbringing until we moved in together, a year after we met. Sebastian was way more frugal than I was. I knew he was wealthier than me, but that was because a lot of families were wealthier than mine, growing up. But he was also super-frugal. He didn’t have a lot of nice clothes, he wasn’t very flashy. He was really good at saving, and he was always the one who didn’t want to eat out all the time.

Even today, he’s the one who’s better at budgeting and saving money. When we moved in together, it became apparent that he was the one who was really good with money and future forecasting. My whole life, I was never as forward-thinking with my money as he was.

Sebastian: I didn’t get a credit card until after Jessica and I started dating. I liked debit cards because I was only spending money that I had. My first job out of college, in New York City, I was making $35,000 a year — so even though my family had money, I didn’t really have money. For me, having a debit card was a good way of budgeting and practicing financial discipline.

Jessica: I didn’t grow up with the idea of financial discipline. Even today, it’s hard for me sometimes to avoid buying something online just because I can. My mom, when she got paid, her way of showing love to us was by saying, “Let’s go to the mall and buy new clothes.” That’s what I grew up with, and I’m still trying to battle some of those habits now.

My family never spoke openly about money, but I know that was the root cause of a lot of the fights between my parents. I remember our mom giving us instructions to just hang up the phone whenever it was a bill collector — and then when we finally got Caller ID, we would never pick up if it was a 1-800 number. I also remember times where the electricity or water would be shut off because my mom “forgot” to pay a bill. However, my mom would find money to spend on clothes or bags or shoes — I was always dressed well and in premium brand-name clothes growing up. So we’d go shopping at the mall but then come home and the lights might not be […]

source Money Talks: The couple that grew up with very different relationships to spending

Leave a Reply