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Having grown up less fortunate than the Joneses that I always compared myself with, it’s been very difficult for me to imagine a more financially stable future for myself, my future partner, and even my future kids. Sure, I may not be homeless, but after being brought up in a home where money was always short and then struggling through life as a perpetually broke adult, my worst fear is not being able to provide for my future family.
My parents provided for us in the best ways they could, but I’m sure they felt extremely heartbroken to have such an ungrateful, bratty child who didn’t understand the concept of money or that it didn’t grow from trees. As an adult, I feel awful for having said and done the things that I did to my parents for not having the means to get the toys I wanted as a child, or the car that I wanted as a teenager. Upon realizing the importance of money and its significant role in family dynamics, I’ve also learned that its quite impacting on romantic relationships as well.
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As a woman of several failed relationships, I have to admit that my boyfriend Jun has been the best partner for me than any other boyfriend has ever been to me simply because of his relationship with money. He is the first person that I can truly call my “life partner” because I feel we are working towards the same things – buying a house, making sure the cars are running, and getting all the bills paid. Perhaps this is my first truly “grown-up” relationship because I’ve had a pretty bad track record for dating broke guys, but I finally feel like I’m dating a full-grown man and not a broke kid whose current goal is finding their first job (true story – I dated some guys well over 23 who still didn’t have a job yet).
Money isn’t everything, but let’s face it – sometimes, love sometimes just isn’t enough. Whether it was the lack of a job or poor budgeting skills, insufficient funds put a strain on many previous relationships of mine, which is why it’s a huge relief to me that Jun is the most hard-working guy I’ve ever dated. In the past, I was always working two jobs or involved in a side hustle just to pay for my own necessities while contributing to the “dating fund,” because the guys I dated didn’t make enough money to pay for things like dinner and a movie.
Before I experienced my sequences of job layoffs, I made decent money and Jun and I contributed equally to the relationship. While I enjoy being courted, I also love making my own money and being financially independent of a man. This was the first relationship where I was proud to spend on my partner, and not because I had to, but because I wanted to.
Jun has also told me that I’ve been the first of many girlfriends to be the opposite of needy – after an extensive history of dating “princess” personalities, apparently, dating me was like a breath of fresh air. No longer did he have to steer his woman away from the mall in fear that she would pester him to buy all the handbags and makeup she desired. Obligatory roses and footing-the-bill gestures became a thing of the past. We both entered into a true give-and-take relationship where the score was even, and we gave each other things not out of necessity, but out of desire.
Then I was laid off. And so began the cycle of business closures and career changes that became my personal hell. Jun stayed right beside me despite the fact that I suddenly became this broke and aimless young adult, incapable of fending for herself.
I was fearful that I would eventually become exactly what I didn’t want to be: a complacent woman with no desire to earn her own income, dependant on her man’s salary like a soul-sucking leech. Admitting that I needed financial help was extremely hard on my ego, and I never asked for his assistance, even when I knew I needed it. Sometimes I’d wake up to a magical sum of money in my Venmo account and I’d burst into tears, immediately sending it back to him. There were times where the money would ping-pong back and forth because I refused to accept it, and he refused to take it back.
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Some people might want to slap me at this point and say, “woman! Accept the help! You finally have a man who is willing to help you during your time of need, and recognizes that you aren’t trying to be advantageous.” Although Jun serves as a reminder to me that not all men are selfish jerks, I can’t bring myself to accept so much of his kindness because I know that it comes with a price.
There is a well-known belief that people unintentionally find partners who resemble their parents, and I find this very true. Jun has an uncanny resemblance to my dad: a strong work ethic, the desire to provide for others, and a self-sacrificing and protective personality for those he loves.
For those of you who haven’t gotten the chance to read my story about how I grew up, you may not know that my father had a heart attack a few years ago and almost died, with nobody at his bedside. My father was an extremely hardworking man and the breadwinner of a family of 4 daughters and a wife – not exactly the most affordable gender to care for. Being the family provider was drilled into his brain, especially from being brought up in impoverished conditions in the Phillippines. For over 30 years my dad was a nurse that worked overtime and graveyard shifts nonstop. This was his daily work schedule.
My dad’s heart attack has since then been a heavily avoided topic, and my family hasn’t had the heart to acknowledge it. I truly feel guilty for my dad’s near-death experience because I feel like he shouldered a lot of stress as the sole provider of our household, and in some ways I feel I contributed to it.
Our family encountered a lot of hard times, but I think it got worse after my mother wasn’t able to recover from losing her job. Her job loss put even more pressure on my dad to provide for us all, despite the fact that his income could no longer afford our home. We lost the house and were forced to find a new one, and even then, I remember my parents oftentimes had terrible arguments about not having enough money to pay the rent, some being so bad I’d leave the house in the middle of the night and not come back.
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I feel like this immense amount of financial stress became a huge burden to my dad’s heart, and his body was starting to give out from it. Discovering that my dad drove himself to the hospital after having two days of symptoms threw me into a panic because my dad was always so stoic and reserved, never speaking about anything troublesome, as if nothing had bothered him. In fact, I’ve probably only ever seen him cry less I can count with one hand. He’d rather die than show vulnerability, and that’s almost what happened.
So it’s extremely hard for me to accept money from a man who I see is just like my dad, working overtime, graveyard shifts and working himself down to the bone to support me. Although Jun says he doesn’t mind the sacrifice, every single dollar that’s given to me from him is like a knife slowly cutting into my heart. Everything comes with a price, and this price goes much deeper than just monetary value.
Jun was born with weak lungs and an awfully bad case of asthma from growing up around second-hand smoke, and it prevents him from doing a lot of things that I take for granted. Despite this setback, he works at a construction site that exposes him to a terribly awful dust-laden environment on a daily basis. Every single day after work, he snorts out black soot, and it’s painful for me to watch because I know how much damage this job is putting on his body.
Not only is it debilitating to his lungs, but any work-related accidents aren’t as little as slipping and falling. He works with cranes, concrete, large piping… things that could easily fall over and crush him, should someone slack off and do their job incorrectly or miscalculate their measurements. Just last month, he came home with a bad case of “welder’s eye,” otherwise known as corneal flash burn. He was literally blind and in pain for 3 days. Seeing him scrambling around the house with his eyes closed was a harsh reality check to me that I just didn’t want him working there any longer.
Worker’s compensation? Yeah, he can get that. But how would you feel if your significant other was constantly going to the doctor or filing claims and living a life of discomfort and pain just to make sure there’s food on your plate? It’s not worth it to me. It hurts me so much to see these things become an everyday occurrence.
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I’ve debated several times to give up my dreams on blogging and find a stable job that can get everything paid for, just to be one less burden to him. There are days where I just can’t bare looking at him when he comes home, covered from head to toe in a thick film of dust, shaking dirt and rocks out of his hair. I can hear him coughing up a storm from upstairs in our bedroom as he approaches the front door, and hearing this every day fills my heart with so much sadness.
His doctor has told him several times to find a new job because being exposed to these conditions daily is extremely hazardous to his health and may not allow him to live a long and healthy life. Just knowing that this was said by a medical professional is like a thousand daggers into the deepest parts of my soul. I’ve argued with him several times in hopes to persuade him to find a new job, but truly, it’s hard to find a job that pays enough to support us both and also provides health benefits.
It’s so hard to tell this man no, when he sits there and smiles at you and says that things will be okay. How could you smile about something like this? Every day I see you come home, and if you’re not sneezing out soot, you’re limping from an injury. If you’re not forced to switch from graveyard shift to day shift within 8 hours, you’re working 12+ hours a day, 6 days a week. If your nail isn’t ripped right out of the bed, there’s one more new scar, somewhere on your body.
There’s always something to worry about each day, something that makes me so sad that I just shove it deep down inside my heart and keep it locked away, along with the many other things I feel guilty about.
There are some nights where we lay in bed talking about the Baller on a Budget’s future and the places this blog will take me, but deep down, past the excitement of potential success, there is also an underlying incessant desire to continue working obsessively because I want to be able to secure a future for me and my partner. Seeing this man’s efforts to make sacrifices on my behalf and obliterating his own health to make sure that I never go hungry… I can’t even put into words how guilty this makes me feel.
Everybody blogs for different reasons. Some blog for fame, others blog for free products, or even just plain old vanity. Some may use their blogs as a way to vent their frustrations or give themselves a platform to speak about things that matter to them. I blog because to me, Baller is practically like his ticket to freedom and a long and healthy life, not just my own.
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I was never able to imagine a future with any of my ex’s, but now I’m able to picture a life with Jun. It scares me so much because sometimes I feel like if he keeps working at this job, he eventually won’t make it into my future. I bust my ass every day on this blog in the hopes that one day, I’ll be able to tell him he won’t have to go to work that day. Or ever.
I may be crazy for being unrealistic, but if this gives me and Jun a fighting chance for a better life and a brighter future free from the shackles of financial instability, then by all means, I’m willing to suck it up. Coffee will be my best friend until that day comes where Jun can finally quit his job.
I think you definitely become a different person when you meet a person worth fighting for, and because of this I feel like I’ve tapped into a huge reservoir of drive and motivation that’s waiting to be used. Until I’m able to help take Jun away from a job that threatens his very life, I’m willing to make some sacrifices of my own, no matter how steep the cost.
Jun is the biggest reason why I feel that the Baller on a Budget has no option to fail. It has to succeed. I don’t see any other future for it other than success.
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