I am 70 and a widow of six years. I was married for almost 43 years. Two years ago I met a New England man on a dating website who was just a little older than me. We are both healthy and physically active. We love to dance, hike and visit new places.
He has been married twice and has four children. He is very close to his children, grandchildren and siblings. I’ve met them and they are good, decent people. He has a lot of friends and is very sociable.
He is self-employed in a shop next to his house. He works when he feels like it. He wants to live and work in New England for four months and spend the rest of the time in Florida, where I live.
He doesn’t have a lot of money. His social security is minimal. He saves it and lives on the money he makes from his business and on the settlement his ex-wife sends him, which will end in two years. His house is paid for, his expenses are low, and he is careful with his money.
My husband gave me financial security. We have always been careful with money and never lived extravagant lifestyles. I have two grown children who are financially independent.
The man I see doesn’t have much disposable income and isn’t worried about it. I’m not sure about a long-term future that he will feel like this. When this pandemic is over, we’d both love to travel and do more, but I don’t want to travel cheaply. I’m not talking about upscale restaurants and five-star hotels. Just something in between. I have no problem paying my share, but not for both of us.
He knows that I will never get married again and that all the money I have left will go to my children. If he’s down here, he’ll stay with me (he’s been with me for six months now). He buys half the groceries and often pays for restaurants, so his monthly expenses can run to $ 400. He helps around the house.
After we got our vaccines I went to visit my family who live in another country. He decided not to join me but didn’t want to return home either.
I indicated that this is his busy time and he should take advantage of it. But he says he worked hard and now is the time to enjoy life.
Is this relationship doomed because of our different attitudes towards finance? Should we just enjoy what we have?
– Am I too old to have it all?
I’d rather be too old
You found a man who isn’t rich, but does he make your life richer? Your letter screams “yes” to me.
They share the same hobbies. You like his family and friends. It seems like he is an equal partner for you even though he cannot pay 50% of the bills.
Your friend sounds like someone who is careful with the small amount of money they have.
He can afford his lifestyle – he just can’t afford your lifestyle. My alarm bells would ring if you told me your 30 year old friend only works when he feels like it and says now is his time to enjoy life. But from a 70s? Not as much.
I want you to think about the next trip you want to take after COVID. Would you have more fun if you took it alone, with the comfort of knowing that you didn’t pay the bill for him? Or would you find it more fun traveling together, even if it means paying for most of it?
I have a feeling that you are assigning a level of urgency here that doesn’t really exist. He’s been with you in Florida for six months. He’s not talking about selling his New England home. No one begs for the other person’s hand in marriage. You can plan a vacation knowing you will pay for most of it without spending all of your retirement traveling together.
I don’t think your relationship is doomed – and age is a huge factor here. My answer here would be very different if you were in your 20s or 30s. If you built a house, nest egg, and family together, no matter how in love you were, your monetary differences could be too hard to reconcile. But in your 70s it’s much more realistic that you can keep your finances separate.
Whatever you do, do not have a future with this man if you believe you will change him. It sounds like money just isn’t that important to him. This is not a character defect.
You don’t always fall in love with someone in the same tax bracket. This means that one person often bears a larger share of the expenses. But if this relationship makes you really happy, it’s a small price to pay.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com