Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Should Pay All My Bills”

Much money 07

I have been in a long-distance relationship for over a year. Recently, I quit my job and moved out-of-state to join my boyfriend. We chose his city because logistically it made sense. I was very unhappy at my job and he has been at his job for many years and is happy there. Moreover, I was in an undesirable city and he was in a better one. We spoke a bit about finances before the move, agreeing that he would pay for the move and would pay rent and utilities until I got a job. Things like my car note, health insurance, and car insurance would be paid from my savings. Also, I would make the minimum payment of credit card and student loan debt until I got a new job.

It’s now been two months since I made the move and I am very stressed about the financial situation I’ve placed myself in. I am watching my savings go down and my debt go up (I pay for all my personal and some household items with my credit card). Moreover, I am an attorney, a career that requires licensure in each state. Because I moved out of state, I have to take another licensure exam which is both time-consuming and expensive; the exam costs about $1,300 and will require 2-3 months of studying. Studying for the exam is a “full-time job” and I will have little time or energy to work even part-time during this process. After the exam I will have to wait months for the results. It will likely take at least seven months to get an attorney position, perhaps longer given the state of the legal market.

I am beginning to think it is unfair for me to pay all my bills from my savings indefinitely. After all, the sacrifices I am making — essentially putting my career in the slow lane by taking another licensure exam and leaving my old job, are “for the relationship.” Further, my partner makes around $90,000 a year and could afford to pay for my expenses and his.

Am I wrong to feel this way? He is already paying for so much, but I also feel it is unfair to be in a position where I am going into the red every month, especially when I am contributing to the relationship in other ways by cooking and cleaning. This is a relationship I am confident is heading towards marriage, so it seems to me that we should be thinking of our finances as “ours” and not “his and hers.”

I’m unsure how how to approach the subject given he is already paying for so much. I already feel uncomfortable being in a situation where I am financially reliant on another person, but I am more uncomfortable losing money every month. Further, while I am confident in our commitment to each other, I recognize that, if the relationship fails, I will be kind of screwed. While my boyfriend has not pressured me “to find a job” or been anything but supportive with my job hunt and career development, this concern is beginning to affect my self-confidence and I am beginning to question whether the relationship “is worth it.”

Advice on the how to navigate this matter is welcomed. — Going into Debt for this Relationship

I’m a little confused. Before you moved, weren’t you aware that you’d have to take a licensure exam in your new state of residence? Didn’t you know how much it would cost, how time-intensive the studying for it would be, and how long you’d have to wait for results? I can’t imagine a professional attorney would be surprised by any of this, so I have to wonder: Why didn’t you plan better? If you knew you’d essentially be out of work for close to a year, why do you now seem surprised that your savings are dwindling? You were only in your LDR for a year before you moved. You could have continued for another six months, kept the job you had, and continued putting money aside to have once you moved.

It just seems to me that you were unhappy where you were and were a little over-eager to escape. You didn’t like your job, you were living in an undesirable city, and your boyfriend lived far away. Fair enough. I totally appreciate that. I, myself, was once in that position (well, except for the undesirable city part; I really liked where I lived). I had a job I didn’t like and a boyfriend who lived on the other side of the country. So, you know what I did? I got a better-paying job in my city, upped my freelance side work, and saved as much as I could over the course of another year so that I would have a little safety net when I moved to NYC. And I communicated extensively with my boyfriend (now husband) about the game plan if it took longer for me to find a job than I anticipated.

It doesn’t sound like you took those steps, or, if you did, you didn’t prepare enough or you weren’t honest with yourself (and your boyfriend) about what your expenses would be and how much savings you’d need to get by for many months. So, here you are: unable to work for at least the next few months and watching your savings shrink in the meantime. Obviously, it’s (past) time to communicate with your boyfriend. Here’s what you say: “I am so appreciative for all the support you’re giving me as I get settled here. My moving here was a big step for me — for us — to make and I am so excited about our future together. But right now the present is stressing me out. I have a lot of work ahead of me to get my career going here. The licensure exam is just the first step, and for the next 2-3 months I need to focus on it like it’s my full-time job. And until that first step is over, I can’t even work a part-time or temporary position. I underestimated how much money I would need to get me through this period and, while I watch savings dwindle, I am feeling more and more overwhelmed and stressed out. I know it’s a lot to ask of a boyfriend, but, given that we are on the track to sharing the rest of our lives together, I’m hopeful you’ll consider being an even bigger financial support to me during the next few months as I study for this exam and try to secure a stable career for myself here.”

That’s how you should start the conversation, and from there you both need to discuss what your expectations are for your future. Would your boyfriend expect you to pay him back at some point (especially if you break up)? Are you willing to be a breadwinner and support him like he’s supported you if something ever happened to his job? What are your financial goals as a couple?

As I said earlier, I was in a similar position as you once. When I moved to New York in the fall of 2007, I expected to find a job pretty quickly. I’d already been flown out for interviews that went well (and only lost out on the jobs mostly because I lived in another city and couldn’t start immediately). I figured that, once I actually lived in New York, it would be a matter of weeks — a month or two tops — before I landed a good job. But I wasn’t counting on the economy crashing and extensive hiring freezes throughout my industry (media). As a result, it took nearly eight months for me to find steady employment. In that time, I did some temping, a little freelance work, and served up lattes in a coffee shop once or twice a week. I felt like you’re beginning to feel: My self-confidence was shattered and I, too, wondered whether it was all “worth it.” But I hung in there and I’m so glad I did. What amounted to a little rough patch eventually led to where I am now: happily married, a mother, doing work I enjoy, and living in an exciting city. Oh, and debt-free.

It took nearly eight hard months, but, after I secured steady employment, I was able to pay off all my credit card debt (and I’d racked up about 12 grand) while my then-boyfriend continued paying our living expenses (because we had talked extensively about our financial future together and agreed that getting debt paid off would behoove us both). A year after that we were married, and, right before we tied the knot, my now-husband paid off all my remaining student loan debt with a chunk of his savings. I was floored by that gesture and it really took me months to accept that it was something he did for “us” and not just for “me,” because when you tie your life to someone else’s — especially legally — it ISN’T just one person’s debt or one person’s savings. All of that stuff — the assets and the deficits — belong to you both. So if you think you and your boyfriend may be together forever — and I hope you would think that before picking up your life and moving for him — then discussing your financial plan together is essential. It’s something that probably should have been communicated more before you actually moved, but it’s not too late now. Just sit down and do it. Do it before the growing resentment starts to poison the promising future you believe you have together, because that won’t just hurt you; it will hurt him, too.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

69 comments… add one
  • avatar

    csp March 19, 2015, 8:47 am

    LW, I think you have painted yourself into a corner and aren’t seeing the possibilities. OK, you have to study for the test. But you are saying you can’t pick up a part time job for 10 or 15 hours a week? I bet you watch more TV then that. You could do that but don’t want to. And after you study for the next few months, you can contract full time in the legal field like doing document reviews. Legal recruiters place those roles all the time. You work for 3 months at a great hourly rate then wait to pass the bar and start interviewing. High paying contracts are a great way to fill the gap. I feel like you feel overwhelmed and hopeless so you aren’t seeing real solutions to your problems.

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    • avatar

      csp March 19, 2015, 8:51 am

      Also, Why not go on linked in, search for lawyers within 5 miles of your home, and send a message saying, “I recently relocated to the area and am studying for the bar. I am looking for a law office that could use an assistant for document reviews and office help for 1 day a week. Let me know if you know anyone who would be looking for that.” I am sure that there are a ton of small, private practices that would love to have some help one day a week and you could make $20/hr doing it.

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      • avatar

        Juliecatharine March 19, 2015, 9:01 am

        Thank you! I was wondering if I was the only one calling BS on her inability to work in her field for the better part of a year.

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      • avatar

        csp March 19, 2015, 10:38 am

        I think that many times, people don’t realize that there are options out there. Like “most retailers require…” or “that will never…” so they just get discouraged and give up. I know that right out of college, I had a full time job that didn’t pay much. I found a Talbots store that would let me work 6-9 two nights a week. It was perfect. So many of their workers hated working late and I could only work late. I didn’t work weekends or anything.

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      • Portia

        Portia March 19, 2015, 9:12 am

        Agreed. I think maybe the LW is looking at this through the idea that the only real job is another attorney position. I’ve known some people who right after graduation thought that doc review was below them. Then months later and nowhere closer to a full job, doc review was looking better. Or a few months at another non-attorney job that pays something. At that point, something is better than nothing. The boyfriend isn’t the only source of income for the next 9 months.

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      • avatar

        csp March 19, 2015, 10:24 am

        Yea, I think if you are nervous and overwhelmed, you can’t see possibilities. When you are talking about small, private practices with one or two lawyers, they might not be able to pay a full time support staff. I think the would jump at the chance to have someone over qualified for a year. But you need to go after those jobs, they aren’t going to be posted on Monster. They can also be great gap fillers on a resume. I know a bunch of women who want to scale back when they have kids but not leave the workforce completely and it is working for small offices that are willing to be very flexible around scaled back schedules.

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    • niki

      niki March 19, 2015, 10:35 am

      Studying for the bar IS a full-time job plus. So no, she really can’t devote time to finding a part-time job while she studies. She can, however, find something temporary while she waits for bar results. There are legal temp agencies that usually can place you in short-term projects that only require you be licensed somewhere, not necessarily in that state.

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      • avatar

        zombeyonce March 19, 2015, 10:48 am

        This is what I was thinking. Sure she needs to spend all her time until she takes the test but that’s only a few months of continuing to spend her savings (and potentially more on her credit card). After she takes it, she should try her damndest to find a full time or a couple of complementary part-time jobs to fill in the pay gap while she waits for the results. Even if they’re low-paying jobs, they should cover her smaller expenses.

        And LW really needs to take a good look at her budget (though I have a feeling she doesn’t have one at all). If she’s feeling so bad about relying on her boyfriend while still spending all her savings, she could alleviate that a bit by cutting down to the bare minimum of spending until she takes the test and finds interim work. She should be able to kill off the debt she’s accrued so far and will accrue until she finds an interim job. Heck, even working for minimum wage should cover her general expenses since the boyfriend’s got the big bills covered.

        Don’t lose hope, LW. There are lots of things you can do to make this situation better.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous March 19, 2015, 10:49 am

        NIki, it’s true that studying for the bar is time consuming and exhausting. But the LW is going into more and more debt. If she can study full time, she can work part-time, too.
        *
        I mentioned below that my sister worked full-time (as an attorney) and studied the rest of the time for another state’s bar exam. She sacrificed nights out, some weekends, and various other bits of life to do so. If she can work full time and study for a ridiculously hard test, I can’t see why the LW can’t (unless there are other extenuating circumstances that we do not know about).

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      • avatar

        TheRascal March 19, 2015, 10:55 am

        Niki, I agree that studying for the bar is a full-time job. But this LW is burying herself in debt. She needs to be willing to sacrifice more of her time. People work full-time jobs AND part-time jobs all the time (my mom, for one).
        *
        I posted this below, too: My sister worked full time as an attorney in one state and studied the rest of her waking hours for the bar in another state. That other state was Louisiana, which if any attorney can tell you, has some of the weirdest laws on the books, ones that are vastly different from the rest of the country. Her studies were intense. She had to give up a lot of entertainment — dinners, drinks, weekends — but she did it. Unless there is an extenuating circumstance that we are not aware of, I’m not sure why this LW can’t do something similar.
        *
        Studying for the bar is tough and time consuming. That is no doubt. But burying herself in consumer debt? Using up all her boyfriend’s money for HER bills? Not cool. I think she needs to seriously consider working part-time, even while studying.

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      • Portia

        Portia March 19, 2015, 11:08 am

        I’ve known people on both sides of that spectrum (part time job vs making the bar your job). If the LW’s taken it before and knows what they can handle, then yeah, probably no job. At the same time, maybe the LW is thinking through the lens of the last bar and not from the view of someone who’s already passed it. So, maybe re-evaluate whether a day or a few hours a week is something that can be handled this time around.
        .
        Bassanio studied for 2 months straight, all day long every day except 2 evenings. He probably would have passed without that schedule, but, you know, if you have no experience in just what it takes to pass, you want to be 110% sure you’ll pass.

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      • avatar

        Annie March 19, 2015, 2:16 pm

        I find it hard to believe that someone studying for the bar actually devotes a full 45+ hours to studying every week (full time job plus average 30 minute commute). I understand it’s incredibly demanding, I’m not trying to say otherwise… But that being said, even working 5 hours a day at a part time job still leaves you plenty of time (12-ish non working, waking hours) to study for 8 hours a day. Additionally, someone who has taken the bar before should certainly be much better prepared the second time around, and thus should be able to set up an efficient study plan and manage their time wisely.

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      • Portia

        Portia March 19, 2015, 9:47 pm

        The first time around, it’s easy to let your anxiety get the better of you so that you study extra unnecessarily. Especially if your job offer is contingent on passing the first around. Bassanio got to school by 8 or 9 every morning, got back around 6 or 7 for dinner, then studied for a few more hours before bed. This was every day (including Saturdays and Sundays) for 2 months, minus 2 days. I wouldn’t say this was typical for his classl, but he wasn’t the only one.
        .
        That said, if he took it again, I very much doubt he would do that grueling schedule, and he’d probably do a full-time job (maybe part-time if it were Louisiana).

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  • coconot

    coconot March 19, 2015, 8:56 am

    I guess it’s true you would be “screwed” if you broke up after eating through all your savings and holding on to all this debt. On the flip side though, your bf would be screwed if he agreed to pay all your expenses and then you broke up. Maybe you need to come to some kind of compromise, for example like Wendy suggested, have it be a repayable loan that he gives you.

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  • avatar

    Miss MJ March 19, 2015, 8:56 am

    LW, I feel you. I do. But, I think you’re being a bit short-silted and throwing up some of your own road blocks here.
    .
    I am a lawyer, and, I agree that studying for the bar exam is time consuming, but, it actually doesn’t have to a be a full time job the entire time. When I took it, I went to Bar/Bri during the morning, worked part-time in the afternoon at a law firm and then studied at night right up until a couple of weeks or so before the exam, when I took time off of work to study full time. I know many other lawyers who took second bar exams while working full time. (I’m about to do the same myself.) So, you can work right now, even if it’s just at a coffee shop or something to bring in some cash. The bar exam isn’t until July, right? It’s only March. If you were a recent law school grad, you wouldn’t even start trying to study for the bar for 2 more months.
    .
    And, you can work while you’re waiting on the results, too, either in a non-legal field or in the legal field itself. Have you even tried looking for jobs in your new city? Lots of times, firms will hire you on a provisional basis pending the bar results. My old firm did this. Or you could work as a paralegal, where you don’t need a bar license (maybe even part-time, though you’d have to insist on the part-time part). My old firm did this, too. That’s a really good option if you don’t know anyone in the legal community because you can make contacts and learn a bit about local firms. Trying to do research and writing and/or paralegal work on a flexible contract basis is also a option.
    .
    Definitely talk to your BF about the financial stress you are feeling, but also, stop looking at your situation as “I cannot work for at least 8 months!!” and start looking at it as “I need to support myself now and start trying to get legal position set up for me now so I will have it in 8 months.”

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    • avatar

      TheRascal March 19, 2015, 10:30 am

      My sister worked full time as an attorney in one state and studied the rest of her waking hours for the bar in another state. That other state was Louisiana, which if any attorney can tell you, has some of the weirdest laws on the books, ones that are vastly different from the rest of the country.
      *
      Studying for the bar is tough and time consuming. But I think you can at least try to balance that with a part time job.

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      • Miss MJ

        Miss MJ March 19, 2015, 1:13 pm

        I’m in Louisiana, and it’s definitely different! I know lawyers who have done it both ways, though – worked full time and took the Louisiana bar and worked full time in Louisiana and took another state’s bar. It’s definitely possible. And, if the bar the LW is taking is the multi-state bar and then whatever is tailored to the state she’s trying to get into, it’s my understanding that the multi-state is basically the same everywhere (except Louisiana), so she probably already knows or is somewhat familiar with a lot of that. Plus, if the state she’s trying to get into bases its state procedure off of federal procedure, then she’s probably familiar with that, too. The first time you take the bar, it’s really intense and they drill it into you how much you need to study. And that is true. And, you definitely need to study for subsequent bars, but it isn’t all unfamiliar.

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  • something random

    something random March 19, 2015, 9:00 am

    WWS. Why didn’t you stay and study/pass the bar before you moved? It’s only been two months. Is there any way you could get your old job back? I would seriously consider moving back for another year until you save up and pass the bar. This would also give you time to put out resumes while you visit your boyfriend and do interviews after you pass the bar. When you find a job doing something you can move again. I know long distance is hard but so is moving in with someone you’ve only dated long distance. Why put more pressure on things? Of course I don’t know if you guys are looking towards marriage or being a forever couple. If so it might make more sense to stay put and let your boyfriend support you as a short term investment for team you. You should definitively communicate with your boyfriend just as Wendy suggested. I would just consider all of your options.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite March 19, 2015, 9:09 am

    Have you cut back on your personal expenses and household item use? One way to halt the debt going up is to cut back on lifestyle since it’s not something you mention here. It doesn’t sound like you have any personal finance skills, not around budgeting, projecting costs, halting increasing debt. There are tons of blogs on the issue, start googling.
    .
    WWS, I can’t believe you made the move knowing you needed to get certified in the state without researching it, having the costs, etc. $1300 isn’t actually that much for a professional exam and you’ve been moved for 2 months so you should be ready or nearly ready to take the exam unless you hadn’t already scheduled it.
    .
    It’s not “unfair” that you pay your own bills. Have you talked about what he can and can’t pay for? I think it’s very presumptuous to believe that someone who makes $90,000 can afford to take on another person just because, it’s a lot of money but if there’s corresponding student debt, consumer debt, etc then it might not go as far especially paying rent and utilities in a metro area. As you probably know, recently changing earning power and whatnot.
    .
    You can’t control feelings of unfairness but you need to put this in perspective. He’s doing exactly as the two of you planned, it’s not unfair that he’s keeping up his end of the agreement. Approaching marriage does not equal engagement or marriage and he’s right to keep his finances separate for now. I took on my fiance’s finances right around the same time as engagement but we had been doing 2 years of in person dating and I would not have done so if it had been 1 year LDR even with the same person. The fact that this relationship is in question by you because he’s not automatically supporting you and going into the red because you don’t want to is enough to tell me that you shouldn’t be combining finances further.
    .
    I would say sit down with the last month’s expenses and find your fat. Find what you can cut and let your boyfriend know you need his support to change your habits and lifestyle towards frugality because you can’t afford to keep going the way you have been. He may offer some more money or treat you to some of your favorite indulgences occasionally to make things feel normal but I really wouldn’t count on more than that.

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  • something random

    something random March 19, 2015, 9:20 am

    Thumbs up on pretty much all the comments. Unfortunately I can’t thumb because I’m having trouble logging on to the site. Is anyone else having problems?

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy March 19, 2015, 9:31 am

      Still having some tech issues my developer is working on. Hope to to have log-in issues fixed soon, along with everything else!

      Reply Link
    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy March 19, 2015, 9:32 am

      Can you describe what happens when you log in?

      Reply Link
      • Portia

        Portia March 19, 2015, 9:40 am

        I’m having trouble too. When I try to log in, it keeps sending me back to the capcha page, which sends me back to the wordpress login, in a loop. There’s also some error messages at the top of the capcha page and login page.

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      • something random

        something random March 19, 2015, 9:44 am

        After I type in my name and password, I then type in some encrypted letters as normal. I’m then prompted to type in my name and password and some simple arithmetic. Usually I would then be logged on instead I see this at the top left of the page:

        Notice: Undefined index: human_cookie in /home/acondell/WP-LC/wp-lc.php on line 5

        Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/acondell/WP-LC/wp-lc.php:5) in /home/acondell/WP-LC/wp-lc.php on line 29

        Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/acondell/WP-LC/wp-lc.php:5) in /home/acondell/public_html/wp-login.php on line 424

        Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/acondell/WP-LC/wp-lc.php:5) in /home/acondell/public_html/wp-login.php on line 437

        Under the Wordpress logo (above username) I see this:
        ERROR: Cookies are blocked due to unexpected output. For help, please see this documentation or try the support forums.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy March 19, 2015, 9:59 am

        Ok, thanks. I’m adding all this to the list of things my developer is working on today.

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  • Portia

    Portia March 19, 2015, 9:37 am

    I think Wendy nailed it right on the head when she said the LW was over-eager to escape her past situation and saw moving and the boyfriend as a ticket out, not thinking about the full money situation at the other end of the line. The answer isn’t “ask boyfriend to pay for more expenses,” it’s look for other solutions that will help the money problem in the short term.
    .
    I moved to be with my boyfriend at the time and because I was making some fairly large sacrifices to be with him, we talked extensively about the money situation, and even contingencies (I was in grad school, so what would we each be paying while I still had my stipend and after I wasn’t? Who pays for groceries and eating out and household expenses? In my case, how to pay for my travel so that I could continue to be in my program?) Because it was benefitting him for me to move to him, he was willing to take on expenses and we both went in knowing that me moving would mean it would take longer to finish my program and I wouldn’t be eligible for extended funding. There were a couple of times when we needed to re-negotiate who was paying for what (opportunities that came up and would help but were not well-paid), but that was 2 years+ from when I moved. The LW and the boyfriend have to think in the long-term about this, but it sounds like they barely thought in the short-term or there was some major wishful thinking happening.
    .
    LW, don’t think that some jobs that are below you, consider part-time positions while studying for the bar. If in addition to or after finding some ways to make money before 9-10 months from now you do ask the boyfriend to cover a little more, ask about covering more in specific areas or ways (like groceries if you’re doing a lot more cooking). Don’t ask him to literally cover your bills/loan payments, that’s your responsibility. Also don’t expect him to think of “his and your money” (which is really his money) as communal money at this point.

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  • avatar

    Kaluu March 19, 2015, 9:54 am

    If you can’t job hunt anyways then you don’t really need to have your own car insured (or buy new clothing) until it’s time to start pounding the pavement. If you study at home, personally I’d rather keep that money in the bank then pay to have 2 cars when only one/two people needs to drive to work. I can’t figure out what your personal expenses are, other than maybe skin care, prescription drugs and root touch ups? Hopefully your boyfriend can accept that you aren’t going to use your savings to get your nails done or buy pretty clothes for him to enjoy (on you). Also I think he should be willing to use his car for groceries and such and let you stop paying for insurance/gas. Maybe even sell the vehicle if that makes sense for your city. But it’s not such a bad deal that he pays your rent and you pay for going for coffee with friends and taking care of your own health/beauty or whatever you do out of your savings. Yes it could be considered a wasteful loss if you break up and don’t find value in staying it the new city but I find that amount of risk reasonable and that outcome quite survivable.

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    • avatar

      zombeyonce March 19, 2015, 10:54 am

      While cutting back on a lot of expenses is a good idea, I would caution LW not to cancel car insurance unless she doesn’t plan on driving later even though that’s probably a big expense for her. Car insurance companies seem to like it if you’ve had continuous coverage and it could end up costing her more in insurance payments down the road.

      Also, it sounded like she ‘s still paying off her car and a lot of loan terms require full coverage insurance until the loan is paid off, so it may not even be an option to start with. But I second the new clothing cost cutting.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh March 19, 2015, 1:53 pm

        Yeah cancelling car insurance is not a great idea! In some states I think you might be able to face fines. And like you said you usually always have to report to the company your car is financed through. If a tree fell on it while it was sitting in the driveway/street nothing would be covered and the LW would be responsible for the car damage and still paying the car payment! It’s just not worth it!

        Now not paying student loans by doing deferment/forbearance for a few months is something that makes much more sense. Sometimes credit cards also have unemployment benefits. I would basically research everything open to myself and use my savings before running credit cards up.

        And definitely look for employment of any kind, not necessarily employment in law!

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      • avatar

        Anonymous March 19, 2015, 5:51 pm

        Oh ok, I am in canada and the only penalty you might face is reduced discount (based on savings for buying a longer period initially) resulting in a slightly prorated refund. In my province you don’t get bad credit or bad insurance rating for cancelling insurance so I’ve never heard of that! but I know in “desirable” cities sometimes you really don’t need a car, especially 2 cars for 2 ppl living together. I would be happy to life car free if I didnt have kids. It’s not necessarily public transit (which i detest on rainy days) either now there are those car sharing co-ops. From what I’ve heard, very worth it if you have only 1 kid or no kids.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy March 19, 2015, 10:10 am

    Others are making the point a little more clearly than I did: don’t think of jobs as beneath you if you need money to live on. I had a masters degree and, as I said, served up lattes at a coffee shop because I needed the money to pay my personal expenses each month while I continued looking for more steady and skill-appropriate work. Count me among those who are skeptical that you couldn’t find a few hours a week to work part-time while you study for the exam (you don’t have kids, it doesn’t sound like you’re caring for anyone else; what’s the problem?). And if you truly, truly simply cannot work while studying, then at least get something lined up for as soon as that test is over. There’s no excuse to sit around on your ass for months waiting for test results when you’d be perfectly capable of working a variety of different jobs (including in the legal field) and contributing to your personal and household expenses. Just because you think your boyfriend COULD pay all your bills, doesn’t mean he should. You are perfectly capable of taking some responsibility here. Doing so would also go a long way in helping your self-esteem, too.

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    • Diablo

      Diablo March 19, 2015, 3:35 pm

      I kinda feel a DW contest coming on: everybody, what’s the crappiest job you did AFTER you finished your professional or graduate degree? Or for those who do not have said degrees, what’s the crappiest job you ever took temporarily just to put some “food on your family” (my fave Dubya quote)? In my case, it was working at a screenprint shop pressure washing dangerous caustic chemicals out of screens. I also worked as a lens grinder at a budget eyeglass outfit. Both were after I had my Master’s, and both were for minimum wage. In the words of Randy Couture, “Suck it up, Buttercup!”

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth March 19, 2015, 10:41 am

    I really think LW did not plan this well. She should have known all the expenses required for moving and what she would need to do to practice in a new state and saved for it. I also work in the legal field, though I am not an attorney. There are always opportunities for extra work and as stated before, a lot of firms hire you contingent you pass the bar for that state. I also think its unfair of you to pass all of this stress onto your boyfriend. You are an adult. Pick up a small side job or something until you pass the bar.

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  • avatar

    shakeourtree March 19, 2015, 10:42 am

    Hey attorneys, is it really that difficult to study for the bar with a part-time job? I was planning on working 10-15 hours a week this summer while studying. Am I fooling myself that it’s doable?

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    • avatar

      TheRasca; March 19, 2015, 10:57 am

      Shakeourtree — it’s doable but it requires discipline and sacrifice. My sister worked full-time as an attorney and studied for another’s state’s bar at the same time. She had to give up a lot of social events during that time, but she did it.

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      • avatar

        shakeourtree March 19, 2015, 11:24 am

        Thanks for the response! I’m pretty disciplined, so I think I’ll be fine. I did the math and realized that I already spend, on average, more than 50 hours a week between school, work, and studying (some weeks less, some weeks way, way more).

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    • Miss MJ

      Miss MJ March 19, 2015, 1:15 pm

      No, as long as you are willing to devote extra time to studying after work AND you actually study every day during the summer. Most people I went to school with worked part time at the law firm they ended up working for while they studied and then just took a couple of weeks right before the bar off to study full time.

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    • Copa

      Copa March 19, 2015, 3:07 pm

      I didn’t work while I studied for the bar and I’m glad I didn’t but think it’s very doable. I took the BarBri classes and went to them every morning but outside of that, didn’t put in even a fraction of the time our study schedule told us to until the very end. I think more than anything it’s stressful to work while bar prepping because we are conditioned to think we will fail if we don’t devote every waking hour to bar prep. I showed up to the second day of the exam hungover and still passed. (I definitely don’t recommend anyone do this and am still appalled I did, but just trying to make a point that the bar isn’t THAT hard, it’s more about working well under pressure. I passed because to me it wasnt the end all of my existence since I knew I wouldn’t go on to practice. My results didn’t matter so there was less pressure.)

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray March 19, 2015, 3:17 pm

      No, it’s really not that difficult. I mean, it’s no fun. And there’s a lot of stuff to cram in your brain. But it can be done around full-time work. For my first bar I studied a whole lot, full-time, beginning in June until the exam (end of July). For my second bar (which was just the one-day state portion), I studied after work for a couple of weeks. For my third bar (which was both days again), I got 4 weeks off work and I studied about 6 hours a day for those 4 weeks, at the pool. Man that was the life.

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      • avatar

        csp March 19, 2015, 3:30 pm

        You are my hero

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray March 19, 2015, 3:38 pm

        Go on.

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      • avatar

        ktfran March 19, 2015, 4:26 pm

        I just thought of you because I’m picking up a cheese plate from Pastoral for my Amtrak ride home to visit the fam this weekend.

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      • avatar

        Shakeourtree March 19, 2015, 8:05 pm

        I have a lot more time to study than you did for your first bar exam. My last exam is in April, and I graduate on May 9. The exam is July 28-29, so I have almost three full months to study.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray March 19, 2015, 8:45 pm

        I had that much time too but took the first few weeks after graduation off. If I remember correctly BarBri didn’t start until first of June and I started studying when BarBRi classes did. But wow it’s been 10 years already. Can’t believe it. 10! How is that possible?

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    • avatar

      mugw March 19, 2015, 5:45 pm

      There’s a huge difference between the first bar you take and the second or third, especially if you take the later bar exams after you’ve been practicing for a few years. I would not try to work and study for your first bar exam, if for no other reason than failing it likely means you lose your job or can’t find a job.

      I’m guessing the LW hasn’t been practicing long if she thinks she has to study full time for her second bar exam.

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  • avatar

    Ceejay March 19, 2015, 11:04 am

    When I took the bar (long, long ago), all I did was study from the end of May – when classes ended – until July. But I am admittedly a type A, nervous type. And I was sitting for 2 exams – NY and Mass. but, as others have said, you definitely do not need to wait for results until you find a job. Many firms will hire you, pending results. so once the exam is over you can work. And if you are admitted in another state, you can probably work in-house, depending on the rules of the state you’re living in — especially if you’re waiting on bar results.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra March 19, 2015, 11:34 am

    You dug yourself into this hole, sorry to say. You made the conscious decision to move without a good cushion lined up, and it’s pretty obvious your boyfriend doesn’t want to pay your bills right now even though he said he would. And that’s fine — it doesn’t sound like you have talked extensively about finances yet so he’s not obligated to pay your bills or anything like that. You have no “right” to his money…I get that you made the move, but you’re not engaged, not married, and it doesn’t sound like you have any joint accounts. I know YOU see it as “our” money, but he doesn’t, so please don’t press the issue. If you insist that he pays for your bills, don’t be surprised if that creates a huge argument between the two of you because it sounds like you have very different views on money.
    .
    Also…SLOW down. I say slow down because it sounds like you jumped into this move without adequate preparation and you say you know this is leading to marriage even though you’ve been dating long distance for only a year. Just slooooow down. You are “confident” this is leading to marriage, yet it sounds like there are some issues that need to be worked out first — finances in particular. If you see money differently — and it sounds like you do — that can create a LOT of tension and conflict in a relationship.
    .
    It’s time to get a job outside of your field until you take your test to get a job in your field. Coffee shops, retail, temp work, waitressing, babysitting…anything to bring in some money. I know you’re used to having a full time job with benefits, however it’s high time that you dug yourself out of this by finding ANY kind of work to dig yourself out of this.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover March 19, 2015, 11:48 am

      Actually, the boyfriend IS paying some of her bills – rent and utilities, plus he paid for the move. She just wants him to pay more, which as people above have noted, is somewhat unfair. Her boyfriend is doing what they agreed to. If she wants to change the terms, fine, but she should at least try to find a solution (many suggestions have been made) before just expecting him to pick up a bigger load.
      .
      Also, LW, if you have savings WHY ON EARTH are you putting incidental expenses on your credit card?!?!?! Use your savings for them! The interest you’ll pay on your credit card is way higher than what you’ll gain on your savings. It makes no financial sense to take on debt at such a high interest rate when you have savings. You’ll have to pay it off sometime. Might as well pay it now, interest-free.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra March 19, 2015, 11:55 am

        Yeah I did see that — it seems her idea of what was agreed upon for him to pay is different than his idea of what was agreed upon.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover March 19, 2015, 12:06 pm

        I don’t think so. The way I read it, he’s doing what was initially agreed to. But now she’s feeling the pinch so she wants him to pay more than what they agreed to. Which is fine, if the original agreement turns out not to make sense then I think it’s definitely ok to sit down and talk about it and renegotiate. But I don’t think it should be her go-to move before even considering other ways of lowering her expenses or bringing in more income.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra March 19, 2015, 12:12 pm

        Completely agree that she needs to lower her expenses and bring in more money.

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      • avatar

        Sunshine Brite March 19, 2015, 12:32 pm

        I read it the way you did. She wants for him to do more than what they talked about. Phone, car, insurances, debt shouldn’t be depleting her savings this quickly unless she’s taking on new debt and spending on junk as well. Has she even looked into loan forbearance? Is she still paying x amount at the minimum of her student loans? She needs to build financial skills.

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      • Portia

        Portia March 19, 2015, 1:43 pm

        I read it like RedRover and Sunshine Bright too, that they’re paying what they agreed to, but she’s feeling the pinch now and wants to pay less. If she’s used to working at a big law firm and having more disposable income, she needs to realize she can’t live like that between now and getting a job.

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  • Copa

    Copa March 19, 2015, 11:49 am

    Umm. Notwithstanding the fact that I totally disagree that bar prep is a full-time job (a decent number of my friends worker while they studied because they had to and those of us who didn’t probably didn’t really hit the books HARD until a few weeks before), it’s mid-March and the next bar exam will be at the end of July. And it sounds like you moved awhile ago. So what have you been doing? I can’t imagine being as anxious for the bar exam the second time around–you were a practicing attorney, right? You were using legal skills and knowledge every day! Yeah, the exam is more comprehensive than one area of law but it’s funny how all those concepts that bored you to sleep the first time around are still in your head–but if you are…work part-time and start studying sooner than you otherwise would. If you’re doing the bar prep thing there are digital versions to allow you to go at your own pace.

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  • avatar

    Boosker March 19, 2015, 12:41 pm

    Yeah, I’m in the “Well, what do you think would happen to all your money if you stopped working?” camp. I am also finding it hard to believe that every person who studies for the bar takes nearly a year off from working and is supported by someone else. You are an educated adult. You need to work at least part-time, even if it means pushing back your test date to give yourself more study time. Maybe find a job that doesn’t require a lot of mental energy so you can reserve your brain power for studying. But expecting your boyfriend to cover your whole life just because you have to study and you moved to his city shows a pretty entitled attitude. Also, maybe some of this risk-taking on your part (putting living expenses on credit cards rather than finding a “just-for-now” job) is because you assume there’s going to be a high-paying job as an attorney on the other side of that bar exam. But, as I’m sure you’re aware, the US has a surplus of lawyers/law school graduates right now. Instead of putting so much focus on the future (AFTER I pass the bar, AFTER we get married, etc.), you need to figure out how to fix your present. And that starts with finding some income that doesn’t involve practicing law, even if it hurts your pride a little.

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  • mylaray

    Mylaray March 19, 2015, 2:38 pm

    LW, you’re looking at this as “all the sacrifices you’re making” and how unfair it is, but really, you made a choice, one that wasn’t planned well and discussed much with your boyfriend. Everything sounds rushed. And for what? You were in a LDR for only a year and didn’t even plan for things like getting licensed in a new state, having enough savings, etc. If I were your boyfriend I would be really concerned about your financial sense. Also it’s ridiculous to resign yourself to the idea that you can’t work at all for the next 6+ months. It’s one thing if you find yourself having trouble getting work afterward and need some support from your boyfriend, but you fully put yourself in this situation. So I don’t think it’s fair of you to ask to rely on him solely. Figure out something. While you may see this relationship as heading towards marriage, you also don’t want to be stuck with no way out.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray March 19, 2015, 3:11 pm

    I don’t know why other people’s financial irresponsibility makes me so mad but it does – I get so mad! This is so bad, LW! You knew about all these costs but you just up and moved anyway. And putting crap on the card instead of paying from savings is terrible. What the hell? Stop buying stuff. Stop eating out. You can’t afford any of that – he’s already letting you live rent fee. It’s not your boyfriend’s responsibility to do more. Get a job anywhere until you get a legal job, and pay your own way. And you don’t need to study for 2-3 months. 4 full-time weeks is plenty of time. I’m irrationally upset at your poor financial decisions. It’s nuts.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray March 19, 2015, 3:37 pm

      I mean, it’s not rocket science, people. Look at all the $ coming in each month and add it up. Look at your expenses (rent, utilities, phone, insurance, gas, internet, cable, je ne sais quoi). If the expenses are more than your income then you’re screwed and you need to make a change. Even if it means getting rid of your iPhone. People act like they’re entitled to things – an iPhone, internet and cable at home, dinners out, new clothes from time to time, etc. But no, until your expenses are reduced below your income, you don’t get those luxuries. You’re in poverty. You can’t afford a cell phone, etc. Deal with it. And if that sounds horrible to you, then don’t quit your job and move until the numbers are in your favor. It’s not going to just work itself out later. Geez. God, why am I so mad? Haha.

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      • avatar

        Sunshine Brite March 19, 2015, 3:58 pm

        Entitlement gets me all worked up too, you’re not alone haha!

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      • Boobs Magee

        Boobs Magee March 20, 2015, 11:18 am

        Entitlement issues + pregnancy hormones = a mad Addie Pray. 🙂

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover March 20, 2015, 11:25 am

        Maddie Pray. 🙂

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray March 20, 2015, 11:47 am

        haha, so true!

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    • Guy Friday

      Guy Friday March 20, 2015, 9:43 am

      Part of what I suspect angers you here is because you KNOW she’s full of crap about the whole “Woe is me! I’m a poor moved attorney!” BS.

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  • avatar

    Kim March 19, 2015, 3:37 pm

    I took the studied for the bar while working full time in a legal job. She can get a part time job at least and I think she wanted to make the move to the more desirable city. Suck it up and pay out of your savings as you agreed to and get a job.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo March 19, 2015, 4:06 pm

    When i was writing my thesis, I had LITERALLY NO TIME for any type of employment. In addition to writing, there was liquor that needed to be consumed daily, deckchairs that had to be held down so the wind wouldn’t blow them away, cheese that needed to be sprinkled across gigantic platters of nachos, clubs that needed to be danced in, deceptively deep cross-court backhands that had to be returned, sunrises that needed to be witnessed through bloodshot eyes, and sweet naughty love that had to be made. Who had time for work?

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  • avatar

    pebblesntrix March 19, 2015, 7:56 pm

    WWS. My first thought was her first words: “I’m a little confused. Before you moved, weren’t you aware that you’d have to take a licensure exam in your new state of residence? Didn’t you know how much it would cost, how time-intensive the studying for it would be, and how long you’d have to wait for results? I can’t imagine a professional attorney would be surprised by any of this…It just seems to me that you were unhappy where you were and were a little over-eager to escape. You didn’t like your job, you were living in an undesirable city…”
    *
    But that’s water under the bridge now, I suppose.
    Here are my two cents:
    Only you know what your stamina is and whether you can work and study, so I don’t have a dog in that fight. If you say you need to study full-time that’s just what it is.
    Similarly, I don’t think it’s helpful for people to randomly criticize the spending habits of others when they don’t know the whole situation. Sometimes living off one’s credit card, especially if you know it’s a temporary situation, is the smartest thing to do. You want to have cash on hand for emergencies and if you’ve worked hard to maintain good credit (paying it off, keeping your balance low, etc.) such that you can take advantage of a substantial amount of credit when you hit hard times, it makes sense to leverage that when you need to.
    And for student loans, apply for a forbearance or an income dependent repayment plan or something to get that monkey off your back for a while.
    *
    Here is where I think the bread-and-butter is: “We spoke a bit about finances before the move.” If you’re seriously thinking you’re on the track for marriage (and is this just your sense or have you too had this conversation yet) then you have to learn how to start having difficult, substantive conversations about finances. To talk only “a bit” about something when you’re putting yourself in a totally dependent position is not good. Whatever led to your not being more diligent here needs to be addressed: maybe it has to do with a lack of planning and foresight on your part so you thought you two really had covered the key bases, or maybe you’ve been socialized to feel that talking about money is rude and inappropriate and it makes you uncomfortable or maybe it’s something else, only you know. But I’m saying whatever it is needs to be figured out and addressed if you’re going to protect yourself for the future.
    With respect to how to approach the situation/conversation, I don’t think it would be helpful or wise to approach it from the perspective of “I am beginning to think it is unfair for me to pay all my bills from my savings indefinitely”. It is not unfair for YOU to pay YOUR own bills. Yes you contribute to the household and the relationship by cooking and cleaning, and in return, he pays for the largest portion of communal relationship stuff–the rent and bills. It is perfectly fair to ask you to cover your personal stuff and to say that it’s only FAIR that he pay for everything (as if you were a child) because you moved to be with him (a choice it’s seems you were just as on board with as he was) and you contribute non-financials to the household is ridiculous. However, I think it does make sense to talk to him about your situation and express the stress and strain it’s putting you under, admit that you did not plan well and/or weren’t totally upfront or realistic about the kind of support you would need to get back on your feet starting over in a new place (for which an apology to him might be in order), and see if he would pick up the slack during this interim time not because he is obligated or owes it to you but because he is thinking longterm and sees you two sharing a future together and this as an investment in that future as you work to increase your earning potential and because perhaps he wants to alleviate your stress during this time of transition.
    Good luck on weathering this storm. It’s a tough one but not insurmountable.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover March 19, 2015, 8:55 pm

      Taking advantage of credit is one thing. Taking advantage of credit CARDS and not paying them off every month doesn’t make sense. Leveraging low-interest credit is financially smart, leveraging high-interest credit is not. There’s no point saving your cash for a rainy day while paying 20% interest on your debt. You can always get cash off your credit card if that day comes. At least that way you delay paying the interest until you absolutely have to.
      .
      As to the rest of your comment, I agree with you.

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  • avatar

    Erika March 20, 2015, 9:28 am

    FWIW-I moved from New York (where I was a licensed lawyer) to Texas (where I was not) a few years back. Every day I worked from 7am to 6pm at a Big Law firm, did Barbri (the study prep course) from 6:30-9, worked a few more hours from home and then did it all over again for the entirety of the course 6+ week course. Then I took 2 weeks of vacation right before the bar. Yes, it sucked. Big time-I had no social life, I used a lot of dry shampoo in lieu of showers, I ate a shit ton of fast food. But it is doable.

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  • Guy Friday

    Guy Friday March 20, 2015, 10:06 am

    Ok. People have done a good job questioning the LW’s comments on the finances, so I’m not going to rehash that. But seeing her comments on being a lawyer REALLY pissed me off, so let’s break them down even further:
    .
    “I am an attorney, a career that requires licensure in each state. Because I moved out of state, I have to take another licensure exam which is both time-consuming and expensive.”
    Did you look at the reciprocity laws in place? Did you look to see whether your state bar requires you to retake the Multistate Professional Responsibilities Exam (MPRE) again, since some states don’t if you’ve taken it within the last few years? Or did you simply assume you have to start from scratch?
    .
    “the exam costs about $1,300 and will require 2-3 months of studying.”
    I won’t dispute the studying part, but $1300 is not a ton of money to take the bar, especially since every state I know of includes membership in the bar for the remaining fiscal period upon passing it (which, at least in my state, means you save about $250).
    .
    “Studying for the exam is a “full-time job” and I will have little time or energy to work even part-time during this process.”
    BS. Besides everything everyone else has said (and, again, I want to emphasize: unless you went to a Wisconsin or Vermont law school and got admitted there via the diploma privilege, YOU HAD TO TAKE A BAR BEFORE) if three years of law school and whatever amount of time you practiced before moving didn’t teach you how to multitask, you should save your money, because it’s not like your workload will LIGHTEN when you start practicing full-time. Furthermore, most people don’t wait until after they take the bar to get a job; the majority of firms hire people contingent on them passing the bar, especially when you have prior work experience in that field in another state. One of the big firms here has a tradition of hiring out-of-state associates and paying them to intern at the local DA’s office watching trials and prepping cases while they do their bar review; the associate gets paid, the DA’s office gets much-needed help with their workload, and the firm gets the benefit of getting associates who know how to put together a case file. Everyone wins.
    .
    ” It will likely take at least seven months to get an attorney position, perhaps longer given the state of the legal market.”
    Again, BS. That was the case 6 years ago when I graduated, but it’s not now. The legal market has corrected itself, and there’s a need for new lawyers in every city I know of. What you mean to say is “It will likely take at least seven months to get an attorney position THAT I LIKE,” to which I respond that I have the world’s tiniest violin playing the world’s saddest song for you. This isn’t limited to you, LW; I’m in my early 30s right now, and for the life of me I can’t BEGIN to understand what the hell is wrong with people coming out of law school in the past year or so. I mean, I paid my dues, free-lanced for a bit, worked at a shitty firm, and now I have a great job I love that pays me well; what’s wrong with that? Take the job that’s offered to you, build some legal experience, pay your dues, and THEN go after the jobs you want.
    .
    “After all, the sacrifices I am making — essentially putting my career in the slow lane by taking another licensure exam and leaving my old job, are “for the relationship.””
    No, the sacrifices you’re marking right now are selfishness. You CAN adequately prep for the bar and work; you just don’t want to, or you’re afraid to, or whatever, which is fine and all but is something you should own up to. The bar is a binary thing: they only report publicly if you passed it or you didn’t. Your score isn’t disclosed to employers or anyone else. So if you need a 70% to pass, who the hell cares if you get a 100 versus a 70.1? A pass is a pass. If there is one thing, ANY THING, that you get from this rant, it’s that you need to stop being a law student and disabuse yourself of the notion that anyone gives a damn what your scores were once you start working. All that matters is what you DO in your job. Period.
    .
    Ok. Soapbox rant over. Sorry for the length, all 🙂

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