My flight into Oakland was delayed and I arrived close to midnight, so I decided to take a taxi to Berkeley. My taxi driver asked me where I was coming from and about my family. When I told him that I was Korean-American, he said that he was Ethiopian. He then asked if I was married. When I told him that I wasn’t, he said that should get married soon, and to make sure to marry a Korean-American woman, not an American one. In his words, “People like you and me, we know the value of money and know how to save it. But the people here, they waste money. They have it one day and it’s gone the next.”
He may be right as a general matter (it is feasible that immigrant families have higher rates of saving, since their financial base tends to be more precarious.) Of course, there are exceptions, as I know some thrifty Americans and some spendy immigrants. On a personal level, it was a reminder that conversations about money are important in preparing for marriage. One prevailing cultural narrative is that money should not matter in a relationship and that love is enough. Yet it is precisely because of love that conversation about money is critical. If I have a disagreement about money with a client or a business partner, I can walk away from that relationship; it is much more difficult to do so with a marriage. Talking about money may not be fun, but it is important.
For now, I want to work on developing healthy financial habits, such as reducing spending. Now that my first winter is out of the way, I won’t have to buy more winter clothes.