Author Topic: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials  (Read 2492 times)

Full-Life

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Hallo everyone,
I met my girlfriend in Brazil and we now are spending our future together. She took the huge step and said goodbye to family and friends and moved to my apartment to Germany. While she is now going to language school (Language Visa) and learning German, she is not allowed to work and earn any money. Her mum supports her ever month with some money which cant cover everything.

My girlfriend is aware that we don't have unlimited resources and she is not demanding any money, quite the contrary she wants but is not allowed to work and doesn't feel good without any (financial) contributions. From my side I'm happy to support her (actually for me it is an us we are a family, even that we are not married).

To handle her financials I opened a bank account and I'm transferring every month 500,-€ (including the money from mum). Eating out, food, drinks, mortgage and special big expenses (Language course, holiday) I cover separately. So this 500,-€ should actually work.

Now we are facing the first issues:
1. There are still 7 days before the end of the month and she is running out of money. She asks me if I can borrow here 10€ for Starbucks. She spent this month 80,-€ on Starbucks. (Her bank account automatically adds up similar expenses and shows a summarization in categories.) She slowly realized that she is spending a huge amount of money for coffee. -I don't have a problem to give her these 10€ but than I'm afraid that I'm preventing her to handle her financials in an independent, responsible way. On the other side I don't want be the rude boyfriends who "controls" the money and see her suffering without coffee. For me we are 1 family and this situation feels strange (more like father and kid not 2 partners)

2. Winter is coming. She will need a good winter jacket. How am I handling this situation?

Overall, my objective is that she gets the ability to make her own and good financials decision without the feeling that she is dependent on me.

Any suggestions are appreciated



radram

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 722
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2018, 08:02:14 AM »
Buy her a coffee pot. If you make the coffee hot enough, it solves both problems.


narrative

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 54
  • Location: Longmont, CO
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2018, 08:12:18 AM »
Overall, my objective is that she gets the ability to make her own and good financials decision without the feeling that she is dependent on me.

Except that she *is* dependent on you.

80+ is too much money for anyone to spend on coffee per month. It is RIDICULOUS for someone that has no income and is dependant on others to be spending that.

Tell her to stop with the Starbucks right NOW and start putting that 80 aside and in a few months you should be able to afford a coat from a thrift store. If she can't afford a winter coat she has no business buying luxury coffee.

 
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 08:14:01 AM by narrative »

reeshau

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 125
  • Location: Dublin, Ireland
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2018, 08:44:58 AM »
The answers you have so far are predictable here, where *anyone* spending that much on Starbucks is too much.  (and, I agree)  But, you have a bigger issue, that you hint at.  As always, first some more questions:

1)  What is your income?  Is €500 a lot to you?  Is €10?

2)  What was your agreement when she came to Germany?  Did you agree on a specific amount of help?  Have you come to the current  arrangement only afterward?  How specific is it?

For a start, she should have a budget she needs to live within.  Whether or not it is the current budget depends on both of the above questions.  In essence, what was she expecting, and did she have good reason to expect it?  And, will it seem "fair" to her?  That is, if she can't have Starbucks, but you do, will she be upset?  Or. would she see the observations you have about her lifestyle reflected in your own lifestyle?

If you have not yet talked about money in detail, this may be a difficult time.  It sounds like she is used to at least some luxury:  whether it was by her own career in Brazil, or parental support.  It is important to see if she *wants* to act more maturely--she did, after all, move to a different continent.  But if it was simply for thrill / adventure, it might be a bad sign.  If it was to become established with you in Germany, then you should be able to get through this discussion.

On the other side, when might she be able to work?  Is there a process to get a work permit, and has she started it?  Or, is she allowed to do crafts / blogging / tutoring or some other personal kind of business?

merula

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1047
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2018, 10:01:46 AM »
Earning money through work isn't the only way that a person can contribute to a household's finances.

Can she take the time to do price comparison shopping (groceries, etc.) that you don't do because it takes too much time?

Can she do cleaning, repair or maintenance that you currently hire out? Or, if you rent, could she do something for your landlord like cleaning or gardening to get a lower rent?

Can she engage in barter with other people? She'll give them Portuguese lessons in exchange for German lessons? Passing lessons for defense lessons? (Entschuldigung, das war ein Tiefschlag. Immer an 2014 denken. :) )

Can she collect or repair things for resale through eBay or Craigslist? (This can be on your account, if you're worried about reportable income.)

Full-Life

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2018, 06:16:12 AM »
First guys thank you very much for your contribution, I did'nt except so many useful answers.

The overall message of your posts is: 80,-€/ month for Starbucks is too much money (Btw. For me it's funny that we have this classic expense example from all the financial freedom books. Especially that we met in a Starbucks and I have never tasted coffee in my life).

And yes you are right. You know this, I know it, and my girlfriend knows it, too. The problem is emotions are stronger than logic.  Dopamin kicks for coffee and shopping are strong and not easy to forget. Especially for someone who has not experienced an education that teaches properly how to handle money. Her family has never had much money, but the money that was there were spent (not an unusual situation even in western society). She wants to earn money and she is open in putting energy in work without direct payment (Your examples were a good reminder perula), but when everything will be spent once again, we are starting from beginning.

So there is the willingness for change and improvement.  How can I emphasize her willingness to set the right framework and guide her, with her financial education without force and/or treating her like a kid. 

Quick reminder: 5 days left, no money in the pocket and I would like to go out this weekend (not to Starbucks :-) ).

havregryn

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 354
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Luxembourg
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2018, 06:49:07 AM »
How much of the 500e is from you and how much from her mom (not clear)? Personally I think this is way too much personal spending money for an unemployed adult. When I moved to my husband in Sweden I had no income of my own  and I don't think I spent 500e on myself in a year, let alone a month. And I came with about 20000e personal savings so I was not even truly a dependent.  But husband (boyfriend then) covered all the household expenses and I spent my money on personal toiletries, public transit and nothing else really. There is just really no way to justify that kind of spending if you have no income. I think you need to approach her more clearly on that. Did you discuss your long term financial goals with her? What are her long term job prospects once she gets a proper visa? Are you going to earn similar money or will you significantly out earn her?

merula

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1047
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2018, 07:29:22 AM »
Check out this post from Laura33: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/car-shopping-my-life-of-living-with-a-non-frugler-(yes-that's-a-word-now)/msg1935786/#msg1935786

It's not entirely applicable because the woman in that situation was earning her own money, but the core piece of acknowledging feelings and working together is solid.

It might look something like: "This time is a tough one, for both of us. You've given up so much for me, including being able to work, and that's hard. It's hard to feel dependent on others when you've been independent. And while I love having you here and being able to spend as much time together as we want, we've both had to do some adjusting to living with the other." [Throw in a funny example, like she wants to store the dish soap under the sink while you want to store it next to the sink.]

"The problem we have is that, with our current financial situation, we need to make sure that we're focusing our money on things that are really important to us." (The "we" pronouns are very important here.) "I realized this is my fault because I haven't been having these shared discussions with you. That was my mistake and part of learning how to live together, and I'm sorry. I want to start doing this, because they're *OUR* finances."

Then ask a lot of questions. What does she want your shared life to look like now? In 1, 5, 10, 25 years? If the goal is some large expense (house? travel?) in the 5-10 year area, and yet your current savings can't support that, bring that up. "Yeah, I'd love to see Mogadishu too, that sounds amazing. The issue I'm seeing is that a trip like that would cost €€€€, meaning we'd need to save €€€ a year or €€ a month to afford it. How can we do that? How does a trip like that fit with your current budget priorities like X and Y?"

Do a lot of listening and asking questions, this is not the time to tell her she's wrong. Write stuff she says down. Try to figure out what's behind her need for various things, including Starbucks. Is it caffeine addiction? Is it a reminder of home? Is it that it's easier as a non-native speaker to order in chain restaurants than in smaller independent cafes? (I've found that to be true.) Is it just a way to get out of the house? Each of these would require a different lower-cost replacement. You can't just buy her a coffee maker if she's looking for a way to get out of the house and be reminded of home, you know?

theotherelise

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 212
  • Age: 29
  • Location: Missouri
    • The Other Elise - Debt Free Journey
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2018, 08:05:16 AM »
^all of this. yes.

My husband and I share finances 100% and have since marriage. He was unemployed for 3 months early on, but other than that we both work, so it's a different situation. But if you are thinking this is your forever relationship and want to live that way, I think you should start moving towards a true partnership.

Here are some tips:

1. have all the conversations @merula mentioned above

2. start having budget meetings where you both talk about what expenses are coming up in the month ahead (ie my husband is a runner and needed new running shoes, so this month we put extra money towards his clothing budget so he could fill that need)

3. establish amounts you will spend on luxuries like eating out and shopping - some of these could be sinking funds so she gets 50/month for clothes but could let that build up for larger purchases.

4. follow-through on your budget by tracking all your expenses. she should participate in the tracking and have access to the current balances in each category

5. pick an amount for spending money (for us, this includes, hobbies, non-date eating out like lunches at work, any coffee trips, etc) and get that money out in cash at the beginning of each month.

6. when you run out of cash, you run out. so sorry. you have food and coffee at home and you'll get more money at the beginning of the next month

7. you don't judge your partner for how they spend their fun cash.

Good luck!

Shelley

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 82
  • Location: Brisbane, Australia
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2018, 04:02:16 PM »
I agree , no top ups on money previously allocated. Unless she needs to go to the doctor or buy medication, there really should be nothing she has to spend the money on. Coffee and dopamine response is not a reason, it’s an excuse. I have a terrible time struggling not to spend money shopping, so I just don’t go to the shops without my husband or eldest daughter in tow. If she walked out the door every day with a travel cup in hand filled with coffee, surely she could make it through the day, or take a thermos full along with her if she can’t make it through the day.

With regard to the winter coat, she needs to buy this from her 500€. There are plenty of winter coats on eBay from 22€, a few thrift shops -  Gebrauchtwarenläden - in Germany, maybe you can even find one at Sperrmüll!

I agree with others that there needs to be a sit down monthly to discuss priorities. Some months surely she would need less than the 500€, others such as Christmas she would need more so rather than her taking the 500€ every month, it should be allocated according to need? Otherwise she gets to December and needs more...

Again, it would be helpful to know your take home pay, and how much of that 500€ comes from you. And can she do some sort of online work, even on a website from her home country even?

okonomiyaki

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 36
  • Location: Last Continent
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2018, 04:59:10 PM »
Quote
So there is the willingness for change and improvement.  How can I emphasize her willingness to set the right framework and guide her, with her financial education without force and/or treating her like a kid.

So, first off, this is sounding quite hard wirh your current setup, but you’ve gotten some ideas above on how to handle the conversation.

Second, I’m surprised this hasn’t been suggested before, but point her to the MMM website, and pehaps frugalwoods, and be like “this is my dream financial relationship “...

Third, and you haven’t mentioned this, is what are the cultural expectations in Brazil re: when you move overseas with a foreign husband: is he expected to support you? What about after you have kids?

Finally, is starbucks her only place to “go out alone/socialise”? I know that when I moved halfway arond the world, albeit alone but with a measly income, my weekly treat was $4 ferry to the city and $4 at a cafe to have yummy coffee and read. These $8 were a larger chunk of my budget than I felt I should have been spending (I’ve always been frugal, at times not by choice), but I needed them for  my sanity. Is she going to Starbucks because she has nowhere else to go out of the house to? (Don’t think of this like you, a german native of the city, think of this like her: where else can she go as a treat to herself, preferably without spending money? Does she know about these places? (Workshop at library? Museum seminar or talk? Hike somewhere easily accessible by public transportation? Flea market with her cameraphone, where you later look at the cool pictures she’s taken, and laugh together how cool they look?) all of those are things my mum and her friends used to do, when my dad once again got posted overseas, and she couldn’t work...

ThaiSmile

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2018, 08:40:33 AM »
So there is the willingness for change and improvement.  How can I emphasize her willingness to set the right framework and guide her, with her financial education without force and/or treating her like a kid. 

Quick reminder: 5 days left, no money in the pocket and I would like to go out this weekend (not to Starbucks :-) ).
Thought you were trolling, then just realized you appear to fit the pattern of guys from first-world countries that bring third-world girlfriends to their country. How old are you and how old is your girlfriend? I doubt I would be far from the mark if I imagine when you were visiting Brazil on your trips, it was all fun and games where I would guess you were footing the bill for everything - hotel, dinners, etc. So much true love was created, she agreed to come along for the Joy of Germany, where she logically expected that you continue the Carnival given her limited means and prospects (or did you have a serious conversation about practical budget before she came over?). Did you realize you were going from a low cost country to a high cost country? Now you realize you can't afford to buy her coffee or a coat. This is not a Frugalwoods issue, it is your accountability that you have brought this girl to your country without the practical means and expectations to support her in a sustainable manner. Consider a moment of honesty. Ask her if she would prefer to live within sustainable means or return to Brazil. This is where the majority of these situations end up. In tears.

« Last Edit: July 31, 2018, 11:13:36 AM by ThaiSmile »

Full-Life

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Girlfriend is not allowed to work - How to handle Financials
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2018, 03:45:24 AM »
Thank you guys for answers, they were very helpful for us, especially the comments of theotherelise & merula. I will keep you up to date