Style: Nicola Rose. Makeup: Caroline Barnes at Frank Agency. Hair: Alex Szabo in the management of Carol Hayes
Forget owning yachts and Ferraris: On my post-marriage dating checklist, “abundance of money” was a low priority. I ended up dating everyone from poor creatives to millionaire CEOs.
Rather than material wealth, I admit I’ve always been much more interested in superficial physical traits (strong arms, twinkling eyes, thigh circumference bigger than mine), as well as the more wholesome traits of kindness, loyalty, and humor. When I met my boyfriend (who then became my husband) in college, I knew he would never go to town to earn megabucks. And I was fine with that, because hey, it’s the 21st century and I can make my own money.
Because wealth was so unimportant to my younger, idealistic self, I could never understand those reports that said money was the main reason couples broke up. Of all the things to divorce about, the overdraft wasn’t one of them, was it?
I could understand if your libidos weren’t compatible, or if you wanted to live in the countryside and your other half wasn’t, or if they licked their plate and thought Kim Jong-un was a decent guy. But money? How gross. And to go out with someone purely on the basis of the zeros in their bank balance? I couldn’t contain it.
Now that I’m older I still feel the same. (Although I was somewhat tempted when I was approached by an introductory service whose clients had net worth averaging £50 million – but that’s a whole different story…)
I realized that both the younger and the older me were missing the point. In another revealing moment after the divorce, I thought it wasn’t about how much money someone makes, but their attitude towards it. Whether they were eager to spend or save; whether they are a flashy Harry or a steady Eddie.
Full disclosure: I am both a spender and a scrimper. Much to my children’s chagrin, I take my own popcorn to the cinema and know the words for tap water in seven different languages. I want to bang my head against the cash register if I forget to take my shopping bags to the supermarket. And if I get a free flight on airmiles, I’ll be grinning madly in my seat all the way to my destination. But while I love a deal, I’m also into the finer things.
A ‘live for today’ type who likes cashmere, cocktails and expensive candles. My ex-husband once said lighting a five was. I like to stay in hotels where you feel there is no health warning on the bedspread.
My ex was ‘careful’ with money. When we first met in college halls, his room was like a monastery cell. He wouldn’t waste his money on Red Hot Chili Peppers posters and a lava lamp. For food, he and his buddies went to Kwik Save to stock up on the No Frills range.
At first, we thought our differences were funny. And then children came. And mortgages. And it got tight. Our incomes, always fairly equal, suddenly weren’t anymore. I thought it was reasonable that we had carpets upstairs. The thermostat became a point of friction. Our differences became less fun. For the both of us. In the end we became one of the statistics. Money has divided us.
Now, in my relatively new relationship, I hope the boyfriend and I are financially compatible.
So far, so good. He seems to have a similar ethos of spending and saving as I do — he likes a five-bubble spa with premium toothpaste, but today, when he redeemed his coffee loyalty card for a free cappuccino, he was happier than a Kardashian in a diamond shop.