Gaby Dunn cautions against taking a job just for the higher paycheck, defends the signing of prenups, and suggests a way to diplomatically decline a crowdfunding request.
Q. I love my job, which covers the bills but doesn't leave much for anything else. I've been offered a position with a higher salary my current workplace can't match, but I'm less thrilled about the job itself. Maybe the extra money that can afford me savings, vacations, and hobbies will off set the crappiness of the new job?
A. No amount of money is going to make you want to get up in the morning. In my early 20s, I left a writing gig (my passion) for a very highly paid job in IT (a thing I can do) because the pay was "too good to pass up." What happened at that job? I spent every lunch hour crying on a bench outside, where people could definitely see me. My bosses were mean, and the work was boring. It caused my physical and mental health to suffer. It was not worth it! But maybe you're a stronger person than I was. Some people can grit their teeth and work for the weekend. But you really, really have to know yourself before you do this, because otherwise you'll end up losing more time to stress than gaining time for road trips and improv classes.
Q. My boyfriend and I have discussed marriage, and he brought up a prenup. My girlfriends say they'd never sign one, but maybe I'll end up richer and protecting my assets. Thoughts?
A. My favorite quote comes from a 1996 interview with Cher in which she says her mother encouraged her to marry a rich man. Her reply? "Mom, I am a rich man." (Put this on my tombstone.) Not signing a prenup assumes you won't be the one making the money, and that's a very old-fashioned, out-of-touch, and patriarchal way of thinking. When I interviewed Sallie Krawcheck, the founder of Ellevest, for my podcast, she told me that women need to protect themselves in the event of a divorce, not just hope to take the man's money and run: "Ninety percent of women manage their money on their own at some point in their lives, so you need to do it. And the worst, worst, worst time to try to learn about money is when your spouse dies or when your spouse cheats on you," Krawcheck said. I've had so many friends who believed they couldn't leave bad relationships because the man controlled the finances. According to my mom, a divorce attorney, money is the number-one reason for the dissolution of a marriage. You're your own person! If you let yourself become reliant on his money, you're doomed from the start.
Q. How would you decline contributing to friends' Kickstarters without sounding like an unsupportive cheapskate?
A. Whoa! Are your friends directly asking you why you're not contributing your money to their projects? Bold! Hopefully, they know that realistically you cannot contribute to everyone's Kickstarters and GoFundMes. Unless it's a best friend or sibling, it's really weird of them to confront you about this. In the case of creative projects, it's best to simply say you don't currently have the extra funds but you'd be happy to post about the project to your social media, or some such other noninvasive, nonmonetary contribution. (No need to give your opinion on the work. That's not your place as a friend, just as it's not theirs to feel entitled to your donation.)
Gaby Dunn is the creator and host of the podcast Bad with Money. Her YA novel, I Hate Everyone But You (opens in new tab) (Wednesday Books), will be published in September. This article appears in the October issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands September 19.
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