Let's Talk About Money
Updated: Oct 2, 2022
Let’s talk about money. And sex. People love money and sex. We like to have it and do it. But we don’t like to talk about it.
We are inspired by and aligned with Glennon Doyle in talking about hard things. Fuck yes it’s hard — and damn it we are doing it anyway.
Of the two, it always seemed strange that talking about money is harder than talking about sex. Maybe because it’s harder than having sex. It’s easy to romp. It’s harder to talk about rent. As a couple develops their relationship, easier intimacies galvanize initial bonds. Then the subject of who is paying for what comes up, and walls go up that had dropped along with their underoos.
I know couples who didn’t talk about money until after they were hitched. I get it — and wow. The emotions of the honeymoon stage can keep your rational brain from being able to properly function and make decisions. Assumptions supplant discussions. And that can be a recipe for conflict so significant it can destroy the relationship.
But time keeps marching on, and one day it’s bound to surface. One day you’re all kissy face, and then it starts with the weirdness around “Who’s paying for this meal?” progresses to “separate accounts or one kitty for the household?” (And what about that little secret side account mom told me to have for emergencies??) What if one person makes more than the other person? Are they contributing more to the relationship and household because society norms say their job is more monetarily significant in a free market economy?
And it’s super easy to bring unexamined thinking into our relationships. In some couples, one person makes more than the other, so they keep separate accounts. The one who makes the most can then control and spend the money they made as they see fit. That seems fair to them. Or is it? Could it be fair for the higher earner — usually male — and the other person goes along with it because what choice do they have?? If I say I want access to the money you make and I didn’t “earn it” won’t I seem selfish or greedy or lazy? Am I selfish, greedy, or lazy for even having this thought??
This is the capitalist money mindfuck.
But wait! Both people in the relationship are out there busting their butts in different ways — both being of contribution to the world and within the family — but since one’s vocation is systematically more highly valued, they get the goodies??
I call bullshit on that noise.
In my house, my husband makes more than I do. He always has and always will.
In a society that values the person designing houses or working in a brewery more than the person educating its children or keeping people well, it’s easy and even expected for people — especially women who are systematically undervalued — to take on that number as a measure of their worth. Caregivers are disgustingly overworked and underpaid. And if they say they need more pay to keep the fridge full and rent paid (ahhhh, forget about a mortgage) then they are seen as ungrateful, selfish or lazy.
And we often see ourselves the same way inside our relationships. If we advocate for ourselves financially within the relationship, are we using our partner??
More capitalistic mindfuckery.
Talking about money can be one of the most difficult things to discuss — especially with a beloved partner. Money brings up stories about our value and how much we are worth. It brings up old family stories and often trauma associated with scarcity.
Before Ashley and Kevin got hitched I sent them 40 Questions and 10 Agreements. It was an activity I asked them to engage in as a couple in any way they wanted or didn’t want. It used to be that premarital couples would spend time with elders receiving counsel and asking questions. If they were lucky, they got a person or a couple who would share the struggles they’d had in their primary relationships so the newbies knew they weren’t alone in this adventure called living with others. If they were lucky, they got peeps not trying to just indoctrinate them into society’s norms. But mostly, I suspect, they were heavily steered. Today, couples rarely think to to create conscious agreements about important areas of the relationship including money and sex. Because who is rationally thinking about how to solve problems at the horny beginning stage? That’s emotional brain overriding rational brain 101.
“Men are rational creatures. Men are rational creatures that will work in their own best interests.” That is a premise, a belief we hold as a truth, and we built our entire capitalist economy on it.
What if that’s not actually true? (It isn’t.) How would that change things?
What if we are actually emotional creatures who are driven to work for everyone’s best interests? (Dang, that sounds like a yoga teacher — just sayin.)
Study after study proves we are actually emotional creatures primarily, not rational ones. It’s in my best interest to look out for the welfare of the whole group, not just my own individual survival. That’s actually how to literally survive — to have the belonging and protection of the group. Locke had that one all wrong — but still we built our entire goddamn free market economy off of it.
Today, in late-stage capitalism, we live in a society where our existence varies between extreme poverty and extreme wealth with the majority of folks landing somewhere on the poverty side of middle.
The golden carrot of capitalism tricks many minds into believing they can haul themselves up the rungs of the ladder by placing their boot on the heads of the people below them and pushing off. The promise of a top tier view perpetuates the story that those still down below didn’t struggle hard enough. Rationally, this explanation helps negate any emotions that might have us empathize with those less well-off. In fact, it allows us to reason that we are just somehow better, harder working and more deserving of God’s favor. And that feels good. To be chosen.
It’s a toxic national myth that allows folks to get rich and richer because they are somehow subconsciously smarter, morally superior, or “blessed.” In turn, those who struggle paycheck to paycheck, those with no steady income, and those in need of assistance are cast off as freeloaders or (to use my family’s favorite phrase) deadbeats.
I grew up in a lower middle class blue collar home. We were country folk. I had parents who loved us and each other. We had a clean, comfortable, one bathroom home, and each of us kids had our own bedroom. We never lacked for anything — so I had all that privilege — but I knew money was tight. I didn’t go skiing because that sport was too expensive. We ate almost every meal at home. Travel was defined as occasional camping trips when we were younger. As we got older, we could afford horse shows and 4 wheelers. I considered myself super lucky compared to some of the other kids on the school bus who still smelled like the cow barn. When the richest boy in town was interested in me sophomore year, and we made out at Burgess Park, I thought I’d made it.
That stamp of approval gave me the confidence I needed to believe I was more than just some small town girl. It helped me develop the belief that I was worth more if I was around money. Or if a person with money liked me, I was somehow better. It’s a normal thing I think. Ever drive a really lux car or attend a high end event? Ya just feel different. That’s some deep subconscious stuff there.
Fun Historical Fact: The French Revolution occurred in large part because the gap between the filthy rich and the destitute widened to a breaking point. Women led bread riots and took to the streets in their outrage.
Today, the wealth gap is even bigger, but most of ‘we the people’ are getting by just enough that we don’t hear our empty bellies and crying children. Instead we are placated with Netflix and Amazon. We chalk up cheap purchases as evidence of our imagined importance in the eyes of those with their boots on our head. We don’t want to look up and see what is really happening because we’ll get kicked in the damn teeth. And with no dental insurance, who can afford that?
So we keep our head down, work hard, nose to the grindstone. That’s the magic formula for success, right? We don't talk about paychecks because that’s impolite, shameful and taboo. We scrape by instead. And bow. They don’t see the tears of hurt, frustration and fear when we bow. They’re tears we don’t even believe we have a right to.
There’s that money mindfuck again.
If ya can’t tell, we’ve got lots of thoughts about the shame and pride we feel around money and affording/not affording to simply exist.
Our system (borrowed from Bend Yoga Festival) takes differing life situations into account, because access to yoga, and the physical, emotional, and mental benefits it can provide, should not be limited to those who can afford to pay top dollar.
This is the essence of a socialist system, and we embrace that here at Brash and within our relationships and households. “From each according to his ability (and circumstances), to each according to his needs.” Dig it or not, that’s how we roll.
We really hope this blog opens up some hard conversations between you and others. We’d love to hear your thoughts too, so please share below in the comments. That way we can keep these things out in the open air where shame can’t live.
$𝟳 𝗗𝗿𝗼𝗽-𝗜𝗻 | $𝟮𝟱 • 𝟱 𝗖𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝗣𝗮𝘀𝘀 | $𝟱𝟬 • 𝟭𝟬 𝗖𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝗣𝗮𝘀𝘀
💵 "I frequently stress about meeting my daily needs, and my housing is unstable. I am unemployed or underemployed. I rarely buy new items due to no extra income, and I live paycheck to paycheck."
💵 𝗦𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗮𝗿𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝘃𝗮𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗽𝗮𝘀𝘀, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗹𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗲𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗼𝗻𝗲. 𝗖𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗸 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗮𝗿𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽 𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗸 𝘁𝗼 𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗹𝘆. You don’t have to plead your case or tell us anything besides basic info like name and email — this just enables us to set up your account so you can sign up and come to class.
$𝟭𝟮 𝗗𝗿𝗼𝗽-𝗜𝗻 | $𝟱𝟬 • 𝟱 𝗖𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝗽𝗮𝘀𝘀 | $𝟭𝟬𝟬 • 𝟭𝟬 𝗖𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝗣𝗮𝘀𝘀
💵 "I may stress about daily needs, but they are always met. I have stable housing, employment, and access to healthcare. I occasionally purchase new items, but I am budget conscious. I can take a yearly vacation with little to no stress."
💵 Choosing the Gather pass supports your attendance in the class.
$𝟭𝟳 𝗗𝗿𝗼𝗽-𝗜𝗻 | $𝟳𝟱 • 𝟱 𝗖𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝗣𝗮𝘀𝘀 | $𝟭𝟱𝟬 • 𝟭𝟬 𝗖𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝗣𝗮𝘀𝘀
💵 "All my daily needs are met. I own a home, have employment, or don't need to be employed. I can purchase new items or vacation without stress."
💵 Choosing this option supports you and your fellow community members' class passes.
Thank you for choosing the option that fits your current life description when you sign up for classes, workshops, and trainings.