- Season 1, Episode 5: The Anxiety and Pleasures of Money
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Kate: [00:00:00] I just don’t want her to be a victim of money in any particular way.
Kate: Right. I don’t want it to control her life.
Susan: So I’m curious. When you were growing up, what was your family’s relationship to money?
Jeanette: Yeah, I can, I can go first. I’ll just start off by saying that my family really didn’t. I feel like have any intentionally taught values around money. You know, like my parents never really said like, you know, they didn’t have explicitly explicit conversations about money as for X, and this is, you know, how you should use it or how you should take care of it or things like that.
Jeanette: I would say the implied kind of values to the extent that I could discern them were, you know, money’s like there to be spent. Actually, my mom would say that sometimes she’s like, money’s there to be spent. Like it’s only valuable if you spend it. Which I feel like in some ways it’s like very not [00:01:00] Asian, right.
Jeanette: Or like stereotypically Asian. My family was also pretty financially insecure growing up. So, you know, my parents were immigrants. I was, I was also an immigrant born in Korea and coming here to the States I mean, it was like the first, I would say probably like almost 10 years were pretty difficult for my parents.
Jeanette: And there was a lot of financial insecurity and I think I probably developed an awareness about what money was and all the things in your life that require money from like a fairly early age. And so I probably carried over some of that anxiety around money into adulthood, even though I don’t think that that was a value that my parents were trying to teach me intentionally.
Jeanette: Yeah. I mean, I think that [00:02:00] despite being financially insecure and and I think my parents also knew that they were financially insecure, but I think that they also took a lot of opportunity to still use it, to have fun with me and my brother and to do things that were enjoyable. I mean, maybe to an extent that I wouldn’t do if I were in their same situation, but I do think that they didn’t see money as something just to be like squirreled away.
Jeanette: Right. They wanted to also use it to enjoy their life and enjoy their life with their kids and create good memories. And so that’s part of it that, you know, when I think about my kids, like I do want to pass on that part of it. Right. There’s like some other things that I want to do differently, but, but you know, that that’s kind of the environment that I grew up.
Jeanette: Been vis-a-vis my family and values around money. How about you guys?[00:03:00]
Susan: I have total issues with money. I have total issues with many, like whenever I go to a restaurant, it doesn’t matter if it’s a cheap restaurant or if it’s an expensive restaurant. I always eliminate the most expensive item. Like I don’t, even if I really want it, I can’t allow myself to have the most expensive one for some reason.
Susan: Or I like do my own calculation of what’s the best deal per dollar spent, given what I could make at home, given what it’s hard to make, you know, like it’s, I I’m like always doing this mental calculus and it’s very disturbing to me because then Marvin will choose whatever he wants. He grew up, I mean of kind of middle income.
Susan: I mean, his, his parents were Korean and his dad came over. To pursue a PhD, right? So they didn’t have that much money to start, but I mean, they are, they were suitably middle-class at a certain point and he has no problem choosing whatever he [00:04:00] wants, buying whatever he wants. He doesn’t need to buy things on sale.
Susan: And for me, it’s like almost like I immediately go to clearance racks in stores, you know, even when I was a management consultant, like I just, it’s so uncomfortable for me to actually think about buying something that I truly want at retail price. And even to this day, like when Marvin buy something, I kind of just wait to tell him to see if he’s gonna tell me if he bought it on sale or not.
Susan: Or if there was some kind of a deal involved or, or deals at Costco, you know, like as opposed to retail price and in cross-referencing wine prices or whatever it is, like he sees that I’m more visibly happy when I know that there was a deal involved and, and I think. That just goes back to scarcity, right?
Susan: Like we came over as Vietnamese refugees. We had our nail salon and my family was always talking about money and saving it and that, and, and the price of everything to the point where, you [00:05:00] know, I didn’t get to do band in, in, in fourth grade. It was like pulling teeth to try to do girl Scouts or soccer because that would cost money.
Susan: And so my entire childhood, I was trained, but no one told me to, to just fill out scholarship application forms for things. And I would forge my parents’ signatures because I know if I asked them, then they also would say no. So that was the only way I got to do extracurricular stuff growing up is that I would just apply for it on my own.
Susan: And so I guess to this day, it’s, it’s hard for me to really enjoy money or also think that I’m deserving of like retail prices. Yeah, I think that anyone else have that complex or no. Is that just me? I still have it to some extent, but I think it’s kind of lessened over the years. My mom will make comments.
Susan: Like if I [00:06:00] put an order online on like whole foods or something, she’ll be like, you’ve changed so much, you know, because you know, whole foods is expensive. It was like a grocery store that was expensive. I mean, it wasn’t even around when I was a kid. Right. But yeah, I think compared to my family growing up, it’s like when I go to the grocery store, I’m not really now like thinking so much like, Oh, this is like the price of this.
Susan: And it’s like a good deal because I saw it at a different price, you know, like for me now with two kids and then also like just being a double income family, it’s like, I value convenience more. Right. And so I’m just like, okay, like just put the thing in the card and, you know, let’s, let’s like check out and go home.
Susan: But my mom will not in a disparaging way, but she’ll just like note that she’s like, Oh yeah, like it’s kinda different, you know, you’re pretty different now. And, but, but, you know, I think that I can definitely identify with what you’re saying, Susan. I mean, I think I [00:07:00] still do that in certain spheres of life and I think it was more dominant in earlier years.
Susan: Right. And it’s still around
Kate: Okay. Before the last three years I was more like Susan. You know, my parents didn’t have a lot when we first came to the U S they were poor students, but then, you know, you mentioned the middle-class once you get a job after your you graduate.
Kate: And so, but you know, they’re always pretty thrifty, right? And so I was very proud in high school of like clipping all the coupons for my mom to go shopping. But I think it actually, at some point I realized it became pathological. When a few years ago, I remember I bought my first townhome and my parents helped me with the down payment.
Kate: And I was proudly telling my dad how I saved. Like, I don’t know, $150 or something by spending like many hours researching, which were the best and washer dryers. And I could also get rebates on them. And then my dad said something to me, he’s like, Kate, Why did you spend like five, six hours trying to save like a hundred dollars [00:08:00] and it really, and, and you know, it, wasn’t, my dad’s also very, still very thrifty where he doesn’t really spend that much money.
Kate: I think what he was trying to teach me is the value of your time. Is worth a lot now, especially that you were a professional person. Right. And that, yeah, it’s great to, you know, want to like save money, but spending five hours trying to save a hundred dollars on a washer dryer is like, you know, a little going overboard.
Kate: Right. And so I was like, Oh shit. Like, you know, he’s right. And so I started thinking about all my other like behaviors and, you know, I think some of them are fine. Right. Like I have actually also like Susan, like I scan to look for the cheapest used to look for the cheapest item in whatever category or like, you know, wouldn’t buy certain fruits if it was like above a certain number of dollars.
Kate: And it’s hard to break that habit. Right. But I think. You know, a few years ago, I kind of started realizing in some ways I was getting a little bit pathological, but then I also have this part of me where I really like nice things. Right. And so I would, I will like, you know, look online and stock certain products and try to find them on eBay, but like designer things, but like that are super [00:09:00] discounted.
Kate: And I get this thrill out of that. Which is, I guess kind of fun, but I think in the last couple of years, the biggest changes that I’ve allowed myself kind of like Jeanette mentioned, you know, now that we’re two income family you know, we have a kid, you know, to kind of. I also shop at whole foods and I don’t really look at the prices.
Kate: I just type in, you know, I want this kind of yogurt. It turns out the yogurt that I liked the best. And I think, you know, my daughter likes the best. It’s not the cheapest yogurt and that’s okay. And so I think it’s just a gradual process of overriding these like lifelong habits that are so ingrained, you know, like automatically I was exactly like Susan before I know how you feel, Susan, I would look at them and you, I never ordered dessert.
Kate: I never ordered drinks because I know that’s how restaurants make their money, like on drinks. Right. Especially alcoholic ones. But then as my husband who, you know also grew up in an immigrant family, but he, somehow his family’s like, I don’t know, their spending habits are different from ours. Right.
Kate: So he’s always ordering desserts. He’s like always ordering a drink and you know, and so I think I kind of now I’m like, okay, ordering a drink or [00:10:00] like dessert because you know, that’s, we’re married and just kind of adapt each other’s habits, but it’s hard. It’s hard to overcome
Jeanette: that. Yeah. Well, it goes back to a genetic thing is like, Enjoy the money.
Jeanette: That’s what my wife says. Mom says not, not necessarily what your mom, my mom.
Susan: Yeah, you know, I gotta, I gotta tell you, like last year we finally like pulled the trigger to get house cleaners. And I was feeling very guilty about that. I was feeling so guilty because I remember every Sunday, everyone in the house had their chore to do, and then we would get it done. And if, if my aunts knew I was paying for house cleaners or my dad, like I don’t, I think I would like give him like a baby heart attack, you know?
Susan: And, but at the same time, and like, I love how [00:11:00] clean the house feels. And my sister will always ask me, she goes, how often do you change your sheets? And I was like, you know, To be honest before we had house cleaners, I don’t even know how often we change our sheets, you know, and, and that we would, me and Marvin would get into a lot of like little tension about like, well, I always do the bathroom or I always do this.
Susan: And it would just like take up so much mental energy and time. And it’s just like, at this point it’s worth it. But it, it took a lot of convincing on my part and then his part to, to, to make a big change. But it’s so much better. Like it’s so worth it to us. Can I just. Add a side note, which is that, you know, as I hear us talking about it, I don’t want us to, self-censor , I think the whole point of us doing this is to share like pretty honestly where we are and how we think about different things.
Jeanette: But I mean, I think just like the reality that, you know, the choices that all of us are making, like, I think all of us have our own kind of approaches to money. We’re all in our own specific situations, [00:12:00] you know, they might also be pretty different from any listeners who might be listening to our podcast.
Jeanette: I just wanted to acknowledge that and also just say that, as we’ve alluded to , where we are now may not be where we have been and it may not be where we’re going. I’m just. Trying to share honestly about like where we are, but I think that just given the economic realities in our country, right? Like this may be pretty different than th the choices that people aren’t able to make in a lot of different situations. So I, I don’t know for ultimately like keep that part or not, but I’d feel like I needed to like, say something to acknowledge that.
Jeanette: I also just wanted to say Susan, I think you bring up a great point about, you know, outsourcing and spending money to take care of things that otherwise you might cause tension between you and your spouse. I mean, I think that that’s the way we solved a lot of [00:13:00] problems, I think between Jake and I before kids.
Jeanette: Right? Yeah. Like, so we would have this tension around like, You know, like I’m always cooking. So we eat out more. Right. Or I’m always cleaning. So we would get somebody to clean the house, which I think is fine and good. But I think that when you have kids, it also, I don’t know if you guys feel this way, but like, I feel that it adds another layer of complication because I don’t necessarily want my kids to grow up thinking that paying for things that you don’t want to do, or that you can’t work out with your partner, how to split them up is like the way to solve your issues.
Jeanette: Right. Like I think that’s like one thing I want to be able to teach them is, Hey, like there’s certain things you need to be able to take care of in your life. Even if you can outsource them. Right. And and I also just want you to know these basic life skills. I don’t want you to grow up, [00:14:00] not knowing how to clean the bathroom.
Jeanette: And so I don’t know if you guys, if, if you guys have started thinking about that, but I mean, Isaiah’s three now. So it’s something that I think about. Right. I don’t want him growing up thinking like everything is just, you know, you just push the pay button and then things just happen magically.
Kate: You know, I do have thought about that recently, but with a very different perspective.
Kate: So we only recently started outsourcing things that I feel like I do physically me, if my husband ever hears this, we’re probably getting into a fight over it, but I basically do most of the lifting around the household, like everything. And so finally we, we are like outsourcing the cleaning. My mom is here, so she cooks when she’s here.
Kate: And you know, childcare, we have like a couple of babysitters, but I still feel like I bear like the men, the burden, right. Of like basically doing keeping track of all the stuff for our daughter. And so the thing that I think about is. First of all, I don’t want her to grow up thinking that, Oh, like, mommy does all this stuff.
Kate: Right. That’s what women do. I’m [00:15:00] very conscious of the role. And my worry is like, I don’t, I actually don’t want her to get caught up in feeling like she needs to as a girl, like, do the laundry, do the house. I mean, she can do it to be sufficient, I think to be like an independent person. But because in at least my home, when I was growing up, my mom did all the domestic stuff.
Kate: Right. I’d like my dad, whatever. I mean, I know he could cook cook rice and like, he made his own noodles from time to time. But like, what I saw in the household is very gendered. And so for me, I actually don’t want my daughter to like, be so skilled in some of these things that she ends up basically kind of in a similar to me situation, right.
Kate: Where then you do pay for somebody else to do it because you know, there’s an uneven division of duties between the partners. Anyway, that’s a little bit off topic, but yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot about that. As well. And, but I think like, you know, my response to that is, I think it’s fine to outsource these things, but it’s not mutually exclusive with teaching your kids the value of, you know, doing certain things independently.
Kate: Like, [00:16:00] you know, even now I’m starting to get Ryan involved in doing laundry sort of, right. So like, I’ll bring her down with me to the washer dryer and I’ll say, Hey, you know, like in Chinese, I’ll tell her, put things in or take things out, sort of, I mean, she doesn’t really know too much yet, but it’s fun to get her involved.
Kate: And I think that it’s less about, you know, it’s more about teaching independence and less about I don’t know Oh, we’re paying for other people to do this, so you don’t have to do this. I don’t, I don’t know if that makes sense. I think there’s, there’s, there’s not, it’s not like mutually exclusive per se and there ways that you can kind of work that in.
Kate: Yeah. And we still have cleaners, so,
Jeanette: but yeah, I know. I don’t think it’s mutually exclusive, but I do think you have to be conscious of it because I think that there are some trade-offs there. I mean, I think the way that I’m thinking about it now is like when the kids are young, right?
Jeanette: So, you know, three and seven months, I feel like I don’t have the time to do everything. And so if possible, I would [00:17:00] like if I can pay for somebody else, then, you know, to do some of these things, like I would like to do that. But my hope is as the kids get older and are able to actually help with something that, you know, they would actually be able to be helpful.
Jeanette: And so I could outsource a little bit less and, it gives them an opportunity to know how to do some of these things so that yeah, they can be independent and know how to take care of themselves. And also just I don’t know, there’s something about it to me. About just having respect for, for that kind of work and all kinds of work.
Jeanette: Right. I feel like in the U S like, there’s kind of like this thing right. Of certain types of maybe work, like don’t get as much respect or societal esteem. Right. But like, I want them to know that this is like real work. And [00:18:00] that I want them to experience it. I mean, I think it’s kind of like the same type of thing.
Jeanette: Like when I w when they’re teenagers, I think that they should get a job. Right. Not because hopefully, like, we need them to work at that age, but more because like, I want them to have that experience of doing all different kinds of work. But, but I also am sympathetic K2. What you’re saying, like, especially on the gender thing.
Jeanette: Right. Because I think as we discussed on a previous episode, I also feel like I was trained to do much more household stuff than my brother was. And so with Jake, I’m just much better at all of the laundry cleaning, cooking than he is. And so I do end up doing more of it and I don’t want to put my daughter in that position, but, but I do, I do want her to know somethings.
Jeanette: I want both of my kids to know something’s equally.
Kate: I think like question, Oh, sorry, go ahead. [00:19:00]
Jeanette: Oh, go for it.
Kate: Oh, no, no, no. I was going to say, I mean, for me, I actually, I do want her to be an imminent, be able to do all, do all these things, but I also want her to be able to focus on what she really wants to do in her career, if, or what, whatever she chooses to do.
Kate: And I don’t want any of these things to be a hindrance to her. Like I feel like they have been for me in a domestic setting. Right. Then that speaks more to how, you know, we, as parents would raise the children less about money per se. Right. Because I mean, money is part of the value, but it’s just sort of how you what kind of.
Kate: You know what kind of values you want your child to grow up with? And I would rather my, not that you have to pick, but if I had to pick I’d, rather than my daughter, not really like cook well and be able to take care of things in the household that well, but that she is really able to pursue, you know, what she wants and if it’s a career go for it, not have these things, be a hindrance to her, again, not mutually exclusive, but if I had to play that game, I’d rather that situation than for her to be like, you know, be able to take care of everything [00:20:00] by herself and do it all by herself.
Kate: But then, you know, somehow be hampered by that because then she, I don’t know, ends up in some sort of situation where, because she’s just really good. She ended up, ends up having to do a lot of that. Again, I know it’s like very black and white, but I just feel like based on my experience and experience of a lot of other people that I see, I just, you know, and that’s probably, I mean, me projecting onto her, I think in a lot of ways, but yeah, I think we should have a.
Jeanette: I actually don’t think we have a episode scheduled for moms and careers, but if we don’t, we should, because I think that that’s actually a hugely important thing. I think one of the things that my mom has said to me over the last several years, which kind of hurt me and I don’t think she meant it to be hurtful.
Jeanette: And I was kind of stuck with me is she just said one day, like after I had Isaiah, so it must have been within the last three, she was like, Oh, it’s really hard for women. And to go really hard at their jobs [00:21:00] and have a kid you know, because my mom, she wasn’t, she didn’t have like a, she was a bookkeeper.
Jeanette: Right. But like, you know, not like not really you know, a white collar professional with like an upward trajectory. Right. And so I think she, she always Thought of me as having that career path. And I do, but I think she sees like some of the issues that I’m facing versus like my husband. And I think it just dawning on her that, you know, like I face issues that Jake doesn’t face because I’m the mom.
Jeanette: Right. And so, I mean, that’s a, that’s a whole different conversation. And so like, in some ways I’m like, well, duh, like, what did you expect? Like, why is this a surprise? You know? And, and it also made me feel like, am I disappointing you right. Somehow, am I doing it wrong?
Jeanette: I had all these feelings after she said that. So [00:22:00] I I’d love to talk about it more, but, you know, it’s, it’s all kind of tied up with this it’s T it’s related to, but not central to this discussion we’re having about money. Yeah, I think that would be an episode nine women in the social contract with family.
Jeanette: Right, right, right. So I I’m hearing what both of you are saying. I, we, we enjoy outsourcing. It’s very helpful in our daily lives, but at the same time we want to teach our kids work and that things just don’t come out of nowhere. So here’s the question that I’m debating. Do you get kids in allowance based on them doing chores?
Jeanette: Like, are you going to create kind of like a reward system for them to structure all of this doing of things or not?
Kate: I don’t know. I mean, I never had an allowance, although my parents or my dad promised at one point, but he reneged [00:23:00] on his offer as a basically looking back. I feel like sometimes I was like Free labor for my parents.
Kate: Cause it did a lot of stuff around the house. And I mean, I’m not really, I’m slightly bitter about it, but I don’t know, actually I’m sort of, I don’t know, cause I never had an allowance myself. I can see the pros and cons in each. What do you guys think?
Jeanette: Yeah, I don’t think I really had an allowance. I mean, I went away to boarding school in high school and I had a job the summer after freshman year.
Jeanette: My parents and like their friends gave me some money, like my, for my freshman year of high school. And then like after that, I just worked every summer and that was like my spending money for the rest of the year. My basic thought about the whole allowance issue is my, my first thought is no.
Jeanette: We wouldn’t give them an allowance because. I want them to be doing the chores as part of just the [00:24:00] responsibility of being a part of the family. Right. It’s not, I don’t want to create this dynamic where you know, you do X, so I pay you. Y I don’t know that, I guess that’s, that’s my initial reaction.
Jeanette: What do you guys think? Or what do you think, Susan? Wouldn’t that be funny? If then parents gotten an allowance and then every time we made them a meal, we noted it. You know? I would say as much as we had a money scarcity mentality growing up, I was very bad at like budgeting or understanding money in time until like, honestly my mid twenties to be super real about it.
Jeanette: And it’s like, The jobs I pursued was just like my passion and volunteering at a nonprofit and doing international development work. So it’s not like I made that much money. And when I actually had a nonprofit job before business school, I was like, Oh my God, I’m [00:25:00] making so much money. And it was like nonprofit wages.
Jeanette: But because of that, because of the fact that I was just always kind of like in my own world, figuring out whatever I wanted. I just, it was really hard for me to understand time and money. I know that sounds really crazy, but I did, I did start working. You know, I’ve always, I was always working in the nail salon when I was a kid, but then I I’ve had jobs since I was a teenager in the, as a caterer, you know, working at hotels and stuff.
Jeanette: But I would say like, it was very hard for me because we never talked about budgeting or also saving up for something you want. Like that was never a conversation. And so it was actually very hard for me to ever justify anything I ever wanted. So I’d always like buy things on sale, even if I didn’t actually want it because it was on sale, but then I wouldn’t use it.
Jeanette: Like there’s so much hoarding that goes on. I think an immigrant families have like stuff that kind of has some partial value or we went to an outlet, but then like you don’t actually use. So it’s very confusing to me. [00:26:00] And overall, I’d like to teach my kid that like, you save for things, you budget for things if you want them.
Jeanette: And it’s okay to want things. But at the same time, I’m like, no, you clean your room. I’m not going to pay you to clean your room.
Kate: I think Susan brings up a really good subject, which My husband and I have talked about before, which is financial literacy. And so it’s interesting because I always thought my parents had great finance, like values because we didn’t spend very much, you know, the credit card.
Kate: It was a shocker to me when I went to college and one of my friends, her sister was 3000 to also at Harvard, by the way, very well-educated woman had like thousands of dollars of credit card debt. I was like, wait, but isn’t the whole point of a credit card so that you just pay it off. Like it’s just money on credit.
Kate: I didn’t realize that people didn’t pay off their credit card balances. Anyway, all that to say my parents were very good at saving, like being thrifty, but they were never particularly good at like proactively growing money. Does that make sense? Or like, for example, I had [00:27:00] a friend whose parents taught her about like, You know Roth IRAs, and she opened one as soon as she could.
Kate: I forget, what’s the minimum age. Right. And so, and then you think about compound interest and you’re like, Oh, M G I didn’t open it Roth IRA until I was fucking 27 years old. That lady has been having a, you know, her own Roth IRA from years already. So it’s this kind of thing. And so my husband also feels the same way, right?
Kate: Where, like, you know, even at elite schools, like you get taught really great things academic subjects, but you don’t get taught financial literacy. And if you don’t understand money, it controls you. And so, like in the example that Susan, I used earlier where we are like, so we were so obsessed with like, not ordering this or like buying the cheapest thing.
Kate: You think you’re saving money, but you’re actually allowing money to control you because it is driving your decisions in a way where it’s like really crippling. Right. But it’s also controlling you if you have like a lot of money. And then you’re just like, you know I don’t know, Spending it everywhere and, you know, being really irresponsible with it because you don’t know how to steward your money.
Kate: And I think that’s the one thing that my parents, you know, [00:28:00] never really taught me when I was young. Now we talk a lot about money and like they’ve learned a lot too, so we’re all getting better, but I really would like to teach that to my daughter when she had her appropriate age. Of course. So I would never want three years old, but I, I just don’t want her to be a victim of money in any particular way.
Kate: Right. I don’t want it to drop, like I don’t want it to control her life.
Jeanette: I think with the allowance though, just to tie that off, I don’t think that you could still have an allowance and not tied to chores. Right. I mean, and I think the way that. We’re thinking about it as like, this is just, and I think it’s just like the message you send with those types of roles. Right?
Jeanette: So it’s like, you’re part of this family, therefore you need to hold up your set of responsibilities, but there’s like privileges or there’s things we provide for you as being part of this family. And that’s, that’s an allowance, but I don’t really want to make it like a [00:29:00] one-to-one kind of corresponding thing.
Jeanette: Sorry. I, I know that’s not directly responding to, I think what you’re saying, Kate, but I think it’s related because you know, it’s like what is the message that we’re sending our kids by like yeah. By our interactions with them, like concerning money, right? Yeah. And it happens on a micro level, like when I’m at the grocery store, I really love these $5 and 99 cents bagel chips.
Jeanette: Okay. From the shorts brothers and their everything bagel chips. And they’re like, good. They’re so good. I can eat half of them, like in one sitting. Okay. And I will see them in the store. Me and Marvin will go take our path and I’ll talk to him about it for like four minutes and I’ll keep bringing it up and be like, Oh no, you know, I should be low carb.
Jeanette: Like, Hmm. This is kind of a lot. Ooh, it’s a better deal at Costco. [00:30:00] And I’ll just like, go on and on. And he’s heard it so many times that he just kind of lets me do it until he goes, well, what do you want to do? And I’m like, I really want it. And then when we’re like on our way to the, the cashier, I like I’ll run all the way back through the potatoes, through the squash.
Jeanette: And I’ll like, go get it. And, and, you know, put it on the conveyor belt right when we’re there. And it’s kind of like, What am I doing? You know, like I just spent a lot of energy telling them yeah. How much. And he will just throw like wine in the cart and I’ll be like, Marvin, you should buy wine at Costco.
Jeanette: Like, you know, this is like not good prices, you know? And he’s just, he doesn’t have this, like, do I deserve it? Did I earn it? He doesn’t, he doesn’t, I didn’t have any of those decision trees in his brain. He’s just like, I work what I, you know, I work hard. I should just, you know, it’s cheaper than going out to the bar anyways and that’s it, you know?
Jeanette: And, [00:31:00] and so I think it’s also in the little actions that I’m doing, that art is probably watching me obsess about these big old ships and wonder why we’ve just gone back and forth in the grocery store, like five times. And then finally I go get these bagel chips. So I’m just saying they’re always watching and it’s, it’s beyond the allowance, right?
Jeanette: Like it’s, it’s just how we. Our own relationship to it, and I’m still trying to unpack it and undo it and, and just watch me and my own neurotic self about money in the grocery store.
Jeanette: Maybe this will be a fruitful tangent. I mean, the, the thing I was thinking about is whether you feel like women, and this is a broad generalization kind of tend to worry about the details.
Jeanette: And so I’ll put it in my, in the context of like how I feel. Right. I feel like I worry a lot about like the details and I spend a lot of energy on them, which prevents me from [00:32:00] having energy to think about like bigger picture things that I actually do really enjoy thinking about. Right. Whereas like, Jake.
Jeanette: He does exactly the same thing, right? He doesn’t like worry about whether this like small purchase decision is the right one or not. He just, like he said, Marvin, he just puts it in the cart. Right. And, but I feel like, because he’s, doesn’t, he’s not spending mental energy there. He has more energy to spend elsewhere.
Jeanette: So I think on one hand, it’s like, why am I spending all this energy? Like, worrying about the details. But then on the other hand, you know, there’s a Korean saying that’s that’s like, you know, pearls that are not strong or worth. Right. Which means basically like just having it, doesn’t it doesn’t it’s it’s you don’t extract the value from it.
Jeanette: Right. It’s like you have to buy it, but then you have to like, bring it home and you have to take care of it. Right. It’s like you just bought like a really expensive heirloom mini seedless, watermelon or whatever, and you brought it home. Right. But then [00:33:00] if you, if there’s like nobody who is like keeping track of that and like cutting it up and, you know, putting it out and it just like rots in the fridge.
Jeanette: Right. Then like, you actually don’t get any value out of it. But like, who’s the one who like keeps track of that thing and making sure that, you know what food is like going bad. What food do you have to eat next? Like all of that. Yeah. Like Susan’s pointing at herself. She’s like us, like generally the moms do.
Jeanette: Right. And so there’s a part of me that feels like, well, there’s value in that job. Maybe it’s not recognized like by society or by the market, but there’s value there. Right. And so somebody has to do it. So I feel torn, right. Because I think on one hand, I’m like, I want to stop worrying less about the small things, because I want to do the big things that I, I know I can do, but like somebody has to worry about the small things.
Kate: Yeah, no, I totally feel you there, Jeanette, like I was just, as you were talking, I was just thinking about sushi. So like for example, when [00:34:00] nerv ordered sushi, like for himself and I’m not around, or like I’m not participating, the sushi bill is like $80. Right. But he, and he like orders this fairly frequently.
Kate: And so, which is ironic because I kind of get shit sometimes for spending too much money on Amazon. What many of which are, you know, related to our basic necessity, it’s not like I’m buying luxury purchases on Amazon. Right. And he complains that there are so many Amazon packages all the time. So yeah, I get it.
Kate: I’m like, dude, my husband has no problem spending 80 bucks for himself on sushi, sushi. Right? Like. Ordering in, but you know, I’m buying all this stuff for our household. Okay. Maybe not all of it is necessary, but it’s like, I think it’s necessary. It’s like, not for fun. Right. You think I’m like shopping on Amazon for fun to buy like spoons for our daughter?
Kate: No, but you know, and then he’s the one who complains about my like, dropping, which okay. I do slightly have an addiction, but that’s not related to this particular subject. And so yeah, I totally get you there where, you know, we, somebody has to do [00:35:00] worry about those things. Right. And even as much as I would like to not have to, unfortunately I’m the only one who is either able, willing, or capable of doing it in this household.
Jeanette: So what we’re talking about is unaccounted for emotional labor and also the fact that we, because we’re taking on so much labor, our decision fatigue, Is going down like, or, sorry. Our default decision fatigue is V is getting exhausted quicker so that we have less space for our stuff. Right. And in the last week, two girlfriends have told me about the book called Fairplay.
Jeanette: Have y’all heard about it, I’ve heard about it, but I haven’t read it. So the basic concept here is okay, we all are doing stuff that’s hidden, seen, announced to each other, and then we can get resentful because it just doesn’t feel fair.
Jeanette: You know? And so the question is, is, are we distributing tasks that the other person. Most more enjoys or it bothers them more. If they [00:36:00] tests don’t get done and have we kind of laid it out. So we feel that it’s fair. It might not always be equal, but is it fair? And whoever is in charge of each of those tasks.
Jeanette: So maybe it might be art going to daycare. So it’s like finding the daycare place, taking him every day, making sure his supplies are taken care of, maybe make sure the payment is happening. Who’s totally in charge of that thing because frequently Marvin and I are kind of like half dividing single tasks into, into half.
Jeanette: And then, so it’s just always a lot of negotiation and a lot of checking in. And then that takes a lot of labor. And so this book has a deck of cards where it has over like a hundred tasks that are for the household. And you kind of have this conversation where you talk about, well, what’s important.
Jeanette: What’s not, who’s going to own it. And now that we’ve dealt the cards in that way, does it feel fair? Because oftentimes we’re not actually having these explicit conversations and then you just kind of live life and then kind of get resentful. And I [00:37:00] think that’s, it is because some partners are very visible about the work that they’re doing and let the other partner know and then gets angry.
Jeanette: And so it’s, it’s this one thing that I I’m thinking about doing with Marvin and I’ve like sent him the link to the, to the cards, like by the cards, you know, by the book. He has not done either. And but I think that’s like, it just, it doesn’t feel fair. I feel like I’m always doing more and I am furious when he insists on the tomatoes being stored outside, but then they always rot and I’m like, dude, Well, just keep it in the fridge to take one out when you’re ready to, you know, whatever.
Jeanette: And he’s like, you know, philosophically, you just should never refrigerate tomatoes. And I see his point and I feel like he’s a born again, Italian, but that, but they rot every time. Like I throw away tomatoes every week and my grandma is rolling in her grave to know that we are wasting food [00:38:00] Fairplay.
Jeanette: There’s our first product placement.
Jeanette: Okay. I want to ask you, is there no, no, no. Go for it about money and partners. So I am a working artist and I make a quarter of what Marvin makes he’s in tech and we both have MBAs from Yale. And I make a quarter of what he makes. And so there’s always this kind of like under Korean, like voice going like Susan, you should pick up a little bit more Slack with art it’s okay.
Jeanette: Or give him a, his free time that he wants it’s okay. Give Marvin his free time or yeah. Yeah, I’ll just take that on. That makes sense. Like, I I’m the one with the more flexible career anyways, besides the fact that I am working. When, when art’s at daycare eight to four, I am working hard. And then also I have evening programs.
Jeanette: I do stuff on the weekends. My work [00:39:00] extends all the time, but because I know I am not paying at least like equally 50% of the mortgage and our joint stuff. I happily. I convinced myself that I should be taking on more work or complaining less. So I know both of you have had different careers over time and that your salary is not always equal to your partner.
Jeanette: So my question here is, do you do that too? Do you devalue your time ever or feel like your time is, is more valuable if you make more?
Kate: Oh, well, yes, definitely. And the joke was, well, this has been a longstanding point of tension between me and my husband when we first met, he was like a poor resident physician, right.
Kate: Where he’s making, like, I don’t know, whatever, $40,000 a year. And I was making like three X, but he was making and it was great. Cause I was like, you know, at the time I would take him out. I mean, he would take me out sometimes, but you know, I really liked it. And he kept joking that I had [00:40:00] this like power dynamic where I really enjoyed earning more than him and like taking them out.
Kate: Of course, as you know, when physicians graduate from there? Well, when he graduated from fellowship, it’s like their income, like. Quintuples overnight. It’s like the most insane profession, right? Where you’re making like 40 K 40 K 50 K. And then all of a sudden, your, you know, your income goes to like anywhere from 200 to like, I don’t know if you’re a surgeon like upwards of a
Jeanette: Well, he’s a fancy doctor, right?
Kate: No, no, he’s not, no, he’s not a neurosurgeon. He’s a neurologist, which I learned after we started dating. The joke is that I made a mistake anyway, bad joke, but no, no, no. So he’s a neurologist. He’s not earning like a minute. He was not earning a million dollars a year, but anyway, he like earned a lot more overnight.
Kate: So I think that created really interesting tension in our relationship because literally overnight, I was now earning like. I don’t know, a third of his income. Right. And so, yeah, I definitely did devalue my time. And also my work is like a lot more flexible. It was, has always been a lot more flexible than his, I like, you know, sometimes do part-time.
Kate: Also I [00:41:00] work for my dad’s companies if there’s like this weird dynamic there. And so, you know, yeah. And I definitely do think ID value my time. I did that when he was like practicing. Now he’s no longer practicing, but he’s in a startup. So he actually earns not very much, but like our incomes are fairly similar now, but like, because he’s in a startup, it’s like a tech startup.
Kate: So I still feel like, you know, somehow I’m, de-valuing my time. So for sure, I definitely happens. And it’s not so much him saying anything. It’s kind of like more internal. Right. And I feel like, you know, there’s a lot of gender dynamics at play too. Yeah,
Jeanette: it’s a lot to unpack. Yeah. Yeah. The, so I feel like there are similar dynamics that I experienced as well.
Jeanette: I think the irony is that one of the earliest memories I have of Jake is and this was before we started dating, is that I remember him yelling in the freshman dining hall. This is why I came to [00:42:00] Harvard so that I could meet a woman who wants to work. And I can just be a stay-at-home dad. Of course the irony today is that yeah.
Jeanette: I mean, he earns more than I do. But, and I also do more stuff around the house and with kids than he does, I think it’s complicated, right. Because I actually don’t want his job. Like I don’t want. The demands of his job. Well, my kids are this young. Like I actually do want more flexibility and I do want like the mental space to really be present with them.
Jeanette: So it’s complicated because I, I it’s like somehow I both like resent that I have to take on more, but like, I also feel like that is what I want to do. I don’t know. It feels so messed up.
Kate: No, I totally I’m totally there Jeanette, because on one hand I complained [00:43:00] about how we need more childcare because otherwise I’m the one who defaults.
Kate: Ends up spending, you know, doing more childcare. But then on the other hand, I feel like, Oh, but I really do want to spend more time with my daughter. So my husband’s like, we can’t have it both ways. You can’t be like childcare,
Jeanette: but then be like, Oh, she’s growing up
Kate: so fast. I really want to be around for and spend more time with, you know, but I think that’s part of being a mom that I don’t know why don’t like dads ever get this right.
Kate: Where it is. Especially if you work, it is attention. Like you want both of those. And I think it’s okay to hold both of those in Gore. I don’t know, in your heart or in your mind, and there’s no one answer you might have to kind of be managing them over time. But I think it’s a very mom, unique mom position to be in.
Jeanette: But, but are we just bringing that burden upon ourselves? You know, like, should we just put the bagel chips in the cart while we’re walking and just. Just do it, you know, like, I guess what I’m trying to say is we’re doing so much mental math, and we’re being so considered of [00:44:00] everyone else and then saying we have to take on X burden, but would it be worth the conversation to say like, actually I want to outsource this or can you do this?
Jeanette: And like, have we already had the debate inside and lost without even bringing it up?
Kate: Partly. I do think so. I think part of it is that I feel like I, I have. Been so conditioned in my life, like, you know, to do things in a particular way. So for example, you know, my husband, we had actually had a fight about this the other day, about how, like, you know, if he takes on certain things, but then I’m always like nitpicking on because I don’t think he does a good job.
Kate: Right. Or what have you. And so he’s like, well, if you say that, then I’m less likely to want to do things. And so I do feel like in a way I kind of like shot myself in the foot from the beginning where, because I’ve been doing this thing just like Jeanette mentioned earlier, right. She’s so much better at like all the domestic things and Jake.
Kate: [00:45:00] So, you know, whereas I’m so much better and it’s very hard for me to be like, Oh, you did such a great job, even though there’s a giant grease Mark on all the, you know, dishes. I don’t know. It’s, it’s, it’s hard. I have to put that down and it’s like a mental thing I have to put down, but it’s hard. I don’t know how to do it.
Kate: I don’t, because it’s been with me my whole life.
Susan: Right. You know, I think that comes from the conditioning of being the dutiful daughter. You know, like we were just taught to be a good daughter, you just do everything. And don’t really complain. And being a son, you know, back when, you know, the son was the one to carry the lineage or the sun didn’t have to, we don’t have to pay for a dowry for the sun.
Susan: And the sun was always placed at a certain way. The women bore that burden. And I think we just have generations of it inside our genes and we don’t even realize it. I’m going to get those bagel chips next time. I’m just going to walk in and throw them in my [00:46:00] card. Yeah. I mean, I think that where we can spend less mental energy, we should, we definitely should.
Susan: I think though with regards to things like, cause I think that there’s kind of also like a, sorry, not to get super academic about it, but kind of like a principal agent problem. Right. Because, like, there are certain things that you can outsource and there are certain things that are very hard to outsource, right?
Susan: So like food cleaning, maybe even laundry there are many things that you can outsource, but there’s things like really paying attention to whether your kid is like eating well, or if they’re like eating healthily or if they are safe or if, you know, like spending time with them, right.
Susan: You can’t outsource those things. I mean, you can spend, you can outsource care, but like really like your relationship with your kid, you can’t outsource. And so I [00:47:00] I feel like those things still take up a lot of mental energy. And. And so that’s still enough for at least me to feel like, okay, I have to leave a little bit more room for these things.
Susan: Vis-a-vis like how I plan my work, because like, I, I feel like I need to do them. So I, I don’t really see, I think even after you reduce a mental load, like wherever you can, there are still like some set of core activities that, that are still substantial, right. That you still have to take on. No, that’s totally fair.
Susan: But like going out, go back to you and be academic in Emily Austria’s book expecting better. She talks about how she remember her mom, Sharon Auster, who was one of our professors at Yale, was like, W E I think it was maybe in the early nineties, they were getting grocery delivery in the early nineties and her mom and Emily was like, mom, why are we doing this?
Susan: Sharon was [00:48:00] like, my time is worth so much as an academic and a researcher that I’m not going to go by gross. It just makes no sense, but she was able to do the mental math about it and just create a system for it and not feel guilty at all. Cause she just could be so rational about it. And what I’m talking about is we can still be really rational, but it still comes with a lot of guilt of like, maybe I should do that, even if you could outsource it technically.
Susan: Right. And so I’m saying like, Jeanette, you’re totally right. We should delineate the two, but sometimes it’s very hard to still execute that. Like it took me a long time to get cleaners and because it was this like intense guilt where I was like, Yo, I know how to clean a toilet. Like just, just suck it up and do it, you know?
Susan: But like I would agonize over it. I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t, I didn’t have any like Susan special secret sauce when I cleaned the toilet. Like, it was just probably like [00:49:00] sufficiently done. Right. But to like really drive and like drive through all the baggage of our upbringing around like money and scarcity and all these things and resilience and bootstrapping and all that.
Susan: And just, just kind of pull the trigger on certain things when you know, it’s not worth your time. I think that’s what I’m more fascinated about is like, even if, though it is a rational decision, it’s very difficult to do. Oh yeah. And try my mom. I love my mom. She’s super helpful to us. But one of the challenges I think of living in the same house as your mom is that.
Susan: The things that you’ve internalized from her, even if you can get over it, she is still there telling you those things. Right. I mean, I agree with you, I’m just pointing out that even after, even after you’ve kind of, kind of like worked it out of your system [00:50:00] internally, the people around you, the messages that you are getting from society and your community can still like, press you the other way.
Susan: Right. Which is like, why is there no cut fruit for your kids? Like every day, you haven’t cooked in X days or like the laundry’s not folded this way. The kids laundries have to be double rinsed, like all this stuff. Right. And I’m just like, Have the meant, like, I just choose not to do those things.
Susan: Like I’ve made a conscious choice. Those things are not worth my mental energy or time. Right. But just because I’ve made that choice doesn’t mean I still think they don’t just still come back to me in different ways and even dealing with that right. Buffering. That is if it is energy in and of itself.
Kate: I mean the older generation definitely has double standards. It comes from both my mom and my mother-in-law right on one hand, my mom complains about how, like, my husband doesn’t do a lot around the house, but on the other hand, she’s like, why aren’t you cooking like this XYZ for your, you know, for, [00:51:00] for, for RIAA?
Kate: Or why don’t you take lunch down here too narrow if he’s like working and I’m like, He can come up and get it himself. Why should I go bring him like his basement office? Right. You know? So there’s that, it was just interesting. She lives with us like part of the time, my mom, I mean, and so I definitely get that Jeanette about like, trying to fight off all this stuff that I’ve come sort of unconsciously and consciously copied from her.
Kate: Or, you know, even my mother-in-law right. She like, you know, we’ll treat him the same way. Like his time is very precious, all this stuff, but anything related to the household, it always comes to me like all the little bits and bobs and things like that. So,
Jeanette: yeah. And if that’s still not good enough sometimes.
Jeanette: Totally. So I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about your perception of your self-worth and money. And I was curious on like, Are you ever going to be happy with how much money you make? Like there was that [00:52:00] New York, maybe it wasn’t New York times, but there was a study that said, if you can make at least $75,000, every incremental thousand dollars you make, it won’t be as high marginal utility.
Jeanette: Because up until that point, every thousand dollars really matters. But after that, it kind of, it starts to taper off in utility. And so that was the happiness number was 75,000. And so the question is, is if you’re not really worrying about your basic sustenance anymore, can you be satisfied with yourself or is there always this kind of like yearning to make more?
Jeanette: Because, you know, we grew up in a capitalist society and more means. Better in success or, or are you kind of like, you know, I’m going to teach my kids this, if you do what you love, no matter how much you make, and you’re not like a stoner in my basement, then that’s all good. You know? Or do you think money does mean success?
Jeanette: [00:53:00] Sorry. I’m just trying to kind of calm myself down because I don’t know why, but I feel like talking about this is just internally, like riling me up.
Kate: I know I’m getting very upset too, because recently my husband, I just had an argued about this. It’s like reminded me of all the things that are,
Jeanette: I want you to be upset.
Jeanette: Why are you upset?
Kate: I mean, honest, you know, when I was the happiest. In terms of like my income and self-worth when I was literally earning the least amount of money since I graduated from college. Right. So my first job out of college was in Paris. I know it sounds so romantic, but guess how much I was earning like net, I was taking home, believe it or not, I was taking home like 1800 euros a month because, you know, in France they take off a lot for like social security or whatnot.
Kate: My rent was 900 euros, which means that 50% of my income went to right. And, you know, things are like not cheap right in Paris, but I was so happy because, you know, I just [00:54:00] really enjoyed being where I was. I really enjoyed being free. I intentionally didn’t want to go to like one of the big cities in the U S because I didn’t want to like, be stuck doing all the things that my friends were doing.
Kate: I just want to do my own thing. I was so happy and it didn’t matter that like, you know, I was buying like inexpensive things and like, I never went out shopping. I just really enjoyed life. And things were pretty simple. Right. I didn’t have to worry about that many things, but now I feel like, I don’t know what kind of, what, what amount of money would like income would make me feel valued?
Kate: Like valued or happy? I don’t know. I mean, I can’t really go backwards to back to that time, but that’s really the only time I can think of where I didn’t really associate, you know, happiness with how much I was earning. I just wasn’t really thinking about it.
Jeanette: That’s so interesting. Yeah. I think for me, like the amount of money that I have or earn isn’t, isn’t really [00:55:00] tied to my self-worth, but to me it represents more freedom and security.
Jeanette: So it’s not really tied up with what I think of myself or what I think of other people, but it’s more tied up with, do I feel safe? And do I feel like like I have the freedom to do what I want to do. Right. So yeah, so I don’t think it’s tied up with my self-worth, but I think because like I said, I grew up in a pretty financially insecure situation with my family.
Jeanette: And it’s something I worried about a lot, probably like way younger than, you know, would have been healthy. To me, that’s what it represents. Right. And yeah, I think I, you know, Jake and I have financial goals but they’re not to be, you know like bill Gates or something.
Jeanette: Right. It’s but, but yeah, I mean, there’s like kind of like a wide range below grades, but basically this range you can [00:56:00] have. Right. So but I mean, I think that that’s a good question of like, just like how much is enough. It’s a complicated one, right? For example, if you went to interview for a job, right. And the salary that you’re getting, even if you might not care about it personally, like it is a marker of how much they value you as an employee. And also like maybe, I mean, in many cases, like how seriously they’re going to take you.
Jeanette: Right. And so in our society, I think that money is like the main kind of shorthand for your value. But, but I think in reality, it’s like there’s many things that go into your value, right? Money might be the least important of them, but it just because it’s quantifiable and it’s visible, it just becomes like the metric.
Jeanette: I wonder how much of it is, is just like being in America and how obsessed we are about money and status. And I got to tell [00:57:00] you when I was doing development work in Zambia, in a refugee camp or when I was working with cacao farmers in Vietnam, like these people who were very poor were way happier.
Jeanette: You know, like, and, and it, you know, we can talk about positional authority and me showing up and all that, but just me observing them and how they took moment to moment. Like there was just like a different energy and happiness and that, that I could experience with them. And I’m not justifying their financial situation at all.
Jeanette: It’s more like, I just wonder about being in America and also being with this immigrant narrative of like, well, we’re here. We might, as, you know, we have this opportunity and we might as well, always do better and like make more and like keep achieving, you know, like there’s something that’s like, so charged with that and expecting to be successful.
Jeanette: That, [00:58:00] that I’m just curious about, like, would we be feeling this way if we weren’t living in America?
Kate: I don’t know. No, no. I think, and then you layer on top of that, you know, the, the socioeconomic. Space in which we occupy. Right. Where, you know, well-educated upper-middle-class and you know, there are all these considerations that people start talking about.
Kate: Once you have kids too, right? Like what schools? I was just telling a friend I’m getting stressed out because even though my daughter is just enrolling in daycare, now I really want her to go to Mandarin bilingual, English, Mandarin immersion schools. But like, there are so few here and like, it’s all very competitive and I’m just like, seriously, she’s one, like, I don’t really want to have to think about this, but, but Y right.
Kate: And I think a lot of it is definitely very cultural to the U S and, you know, we were like, we’ve got that Protestant ethic, right? It’s like this country where people have bootstrapped themselves up. And even though unfortunately, this like upward mobility is not really all that much, all that possible anymore in the U S but still it, [00:59:00] I think, infuses our culture, right.
Kate: Of this, like, I don’t know. It’s yeah. I think part of it is definitely cultural. I don’t know. Don’t you think that Asian culture is also pretty status and money conscious? Oh yeah. What purpose do you have? What kind of purse do you have? Yeah, or like, like literally, I mean, and also, like, I feel like in a lot of Asian cultures, talking about money, like much more directly as just more acceptable.
Jeanette: Right. And, and I think some of it tells the, and some of it’s just sometimes jarring, honestly. Like your relative might just like straight out ask you, like, so how much do you make? Or, you know things that I think would not be more socially acceptable in the U S yeah. I have this unfortunate story of talking to my in-laws and they asked me about my book deal.
Jeanette: And I would say for the most part, when we have conversations at the dinner table, they always talk about [01:00:00] money, who flew business, where did they go? How’s the stock market going? How are your investments? And and for my book deal, you know, I got a pretty good book deal for being a D debut memoirist, like pretty good.
Jeanette: It doesn’t really compare to their Pinterest stock or like how much money they have. And I felt like, I felt like I had a flacid penis, you know, like I felt pretty insignificant when if you take a step back, it’s like, Oh my God, I got a publishing deal with a top five company. I got a pretty good deal and it’s like very extremely exciting.
Jeanette: And it’s to get this so quickly is actually. It doesn’t come often. It didn’t matter because they looked at the absolute number and there was like a lot of judgment there. And it really hurt my feelings because I didn’t really like how the conversation went because it was, I was [01:01:00] pretty much dismissed.
Jeanette: And then they started talking about Rolex’s and I was angry because relative in my space, as an artist, I’m doing quite well for myself being a full-time artist of three years. Like I am fully sufficient on my salary. It is awesome. And I teach courses to artists on how to make more money. And they’re just kind of sitting there going like their eyes are falling out of their face being like you do what?
Jeanette: And I was like, yeah. And I do this and this, and this is how you’re going to sell out a show. So in my industry, I am doing fantastic relative to my husband and absolute numbers. I’m a joke. You know, like it’s a complete joke in terms of absolute numbers. And so my issue here, and especially when I look at other dual MBA couples that are both working in tech companies, I, I know how much money they make and I kind of tally up the number and think about all their benefits and think about what I I’m not making.
Jeanette: [01:02:00] And I, and I feel inferior. And the problem here is there’s always going to be someone making less than me and someone making more than me unless I’m Jeff Bezos. Right. There’s only one number one. And so I think that’s my problem is that yeah, like I get, I get you Kate. Like when I was working first job out of college, I was in Vietnam working with cacao farmers with USAID on an internship, and I made $500 a month in Vietnam.
Jeanette: That was my first job out of college. I was having the time of my life in Vietnam and relative like. On average, the average salary was about a hundred dollars a month, a working class person. Right. So I was still making more, but relatively, I wasn’t making that much, but I was so happy. But now today I’m always kind of feeling pretty bad because even though I’m doing better than most artists, I know how much I’m putting in my SEP IRA.
Jeanette: And it’s not that much money. [01:03:00] Like my retirement is still a joke, but at least I’m putting something into it, you know, compared to other artists, but there’s always going to be comparison. There’s always going to be someone better off and worse off. So the question is, is why we still playing that game?
Jeanette: How can you not play that game with social media? How can you not play that game? When someone tells you they’ve just bought a house and you look it up on Zillow to see what the list price was? How can you not play this game? Yeah, I think now just with so much information, right? I mean, I think about our kids and they’re going to have access to so much more information than read it, right?
Jeanette: When I was growing up, like you, you, you have a friend like living somewhere. Like I had no idea, like if their parents own that house or how much it was worth, like you just don’t know, but now it’s so easy to find out all of those things. So, yeah. I mean, I think that’s just like a different topic, right?
Jeanette: Like how do you help your kids navigate that? I mean, I think what you’re saying though, Susan’s like, it’s something, I, I [01:04:00] feel like there’s another lesson I want to teach my kids, which is that yeah, like on the earning side, there’s always going to be people earning more than you and always people earning less than you on the spending side.
Jeanette: I think it, no matter how much you earn, I mean, I think there’s always ways to just blow through money. It also just relates to what Kate was saying about how money can control you. Right? If you don’t set your own goals for what you want out of money, then it’s going to control you. And, and so I think for you, it’s like the way that I see it is you make enough to cover what you want to cover or need to cover.
Jeanette: Right. And you get to do the work that you want to do. I feel like that’s pretty much the best thing you can, you can have. Right. I think it’s, it’s a worst off thing to make a lot more, but then like, hate what you’re doing [01:05:00] every day. Yeah. I love what you’re saying here, which is like earlier, someone was like money.
Jeanette: Has a value. If you exercise that value, like money is the tool who is in control and how do we raise our kids to be like, Hey, actually, maybe like for me anyways, art, what is the most important question to solve? The most important question is what do you want? You know, what do you want? Because most of my peers, or most people I run into don’t know what they want.
Jeanette: And so they’re going to pursue the opportunity that came into their laps and keep pursuing it and trying to optimize in an and climb that career ladder. But they don’t know why. And so then the money has less enjoyment out of it or they’ll just keep going and then had their midlife crisis or go, you know, by their boat.
Jeanette: Marvin [01:06:00] wants to buy a boat and, you know, and, and that’s, that’s what that’s, what’s going to happen. But the question is, is then. Who’s in control. What are you chasing? Why are you chasing it? And if you don’t have an answer for what you truly want, then yeah. Money is controlling you. Yeah. And I think that’s also, when you start running into these like weird things, right?
Jeanette: Like you make these purchases maybe that you don’t actually need or want, because you’re trying to justify why you’re spending all this time doing something you don’t like. Right. It’s so that I could buy X, which doesn’t actually make you happy. So I mean, I think this isn’t just like the way that I see it is it, but it takes like a lot of inner strength to and I don’t want to sound all new-agey here, but like, it takes a lot of strength to.
Jeanette: Rue yourself in your why, right? Like it [01:07:00] in your goal, like, this is what I want, like you said, I think I definitely agree with you. I think the most important question that I want my kids to be able to answer is what do you want if you want money or if you want to be the richest person on the planet.
Jeanette: Okay. Okay. But at least you’re clear. Right. But like, I don’t want you to just float into that. Right. And just kind of get on this track of, I’m just going to climb this ladder that somebody put in front of me. And I think if you’re rooted in that, then everything else, you can kind of order around that, but you’re still gonna face challenges all the time from people around you about measuring you against their metric.
Jeanette: So, yeah, I mean, I think it goes back to the question is, is more better. You know, is the most equal success. And then when does it stop? Like right now, my income almost looks like a normal distribution [01:08:00] curve. And I peaked when I was like 32. And, you know, you wouldn’t, you don’t think that should happen. I’m 30 I’m I’m I’m about to be 36.
Jeanette: Like shouldn’t it just be an upward, upward trajectory, but at the same time, it’s like, well, you have ebbs and flows and, and, and there’s investment periods. And do I want to make more money? Of course, I want to make more money. Do I want to give it away? Yes. I also want to give it away, you know, do I want to maximize my step IRA?
Jeanette: Yes, I also do. But the other part is like, am I living this life that I’m super pumped about and love most days that I’m working? Yes. And, and that’s the trade-off that I’m making.
Kate: Yeah, I think to sum that up, you have to, you know, be comfortable with yourself and the decision that you’re making this reminds me of an anecdote, which might be a weird, maybe good to close on or conclude with. But [01:09:00] at my previous job years ago I was up for a raise and a promotion after less than a year, which is like, you know, it was fairly unusual.
Kate: But then I found out that even though I had the same, I got a new position as earning less than my friend, former colleague who used to be in that same position. So I was like kind of annoyed because I’m like, I do work just as good as she does. Right. And so I went and like poked around and nobody could offer me a real explanation as to why I was earning less than she was basically.
Kate: Then finally HR was forced to, or my boss was forced to tell me yeah, it doesn’t actually make any sense. And I was like, Okay. And he was like, by the way, she shouldn’t have told you how much she was hurting. I was like, well, she’s no longer here anyway, this pointless. So he actually, he felt bad. So he asked me, he said, I will give you, like, how about I just give you some more money basically.
Kate: And then I was like, no, what I’m really annoyed about is the fact that there is no logic to how you do it. If people raises, right. Like this is not [01:10:00] fair. I was like, I don’t care about the money. So ladies, I actually freaking turned down that additional raise. I know it’s like kind of stupid now that you think about it, but into principal at the time, I was like, no, it’s not about the money.
Kate: It’s about the fairness. And I actually don’t regret it still don’t. But I was thinking at the time I was okay with turning down that extra money because in my heart, I knew what I had wanted from that conversation. It was not the money. It was like, I wanted someone to validate my actual work. Like I did such good work.
Kate: I should get the money. I didn’t want pity money. Right. And I don’t know. I mean, sorry, it’s a kind of roundabout way of saying, okay, You just have to kind of check in here. I mean, new agey, right. Jeanette kind of, but it’s true. Like you, you have to be okay in here and if you’re
Jeanette: not okay, but for listeners, she means her
Kate: She’s not my boob. I mean, you want your boob to be okay too, but yeah, like in your heart, our listeners won’t go. Yeah. That’s why they can’t see me. But yeah, I’m also, I’m touching my chest, but really my heart anyway. Yeah, [01:11:00] because otherwise, no amount of money, nothing, no promotion, anything. It’s not going to be meaningful to you.
Jeanette: but on the rational end, I know, I
Kate: know. I really should have said yes, that would have
Jeanette: been an extra, I don’t know, like 5% salary at the time. I know. Well, I mean, was the other girl white? Yes, she was white. Okay. So I’m just saying like on the. You know, we are going to always make less and we ask for less and we just ask less.
Jeanette: Right. And so shading. And so part of that is also confronting that too, because I’m not sure if you didn’t upheaval of how they make purchasing decisions, or if you found it Glassdoor or PayScale after that, you know, like th these institutions were, are meant to serve a particular audience of like who they will deem as average.
Jeanette: And then there’s a range. And unfortunately, because we don’t [01:12:00] ask as much, or we’re not as forward because we want to be recognized for our merit and be rewarded for our merit, we will always make less, that’s a good point, Susan. So another topic for another episode is about asking less, asking for more, yeah.
Jeanette: Asking for more negotiating. Right. As women and as Asian American women, it’s like a double disadvantage. Oh yeah. Do you know how many times in the workplace someone has said, Susan, we really like you, but you kind of ruffle feathers. I told you that I got called, like somebody told my manager that I was bossy, which I was like, okay.
Jeanette: I mean, have you heard that high-performing women often get called bossy in the workplace? I hope you sent them an attachment. I should have. [01:13:00] So I think the lesson with all of this is next time you’re in the grocery store. If you want your metaphorical bagel chips, put them in the cart. Don’t think about it.
Jeanette: No more emotional labor and move on because men do that all the time.
Jeanette: All right. We’ll wrap there.