HomeFinancial ExperiencesMoney over marriage?

Money over marriage?

Most of you know I’m moving to Seattle in late March. You also know Girl Ninja is not coming with me. Don’t worry, it’s not ’cause she hates me (at least I don’t think she does?), but because she’s a teacher and the school year doesn’t end until late June. That means we will be living in different states for about three months. Although we both decided she should stay in San Diego, we had a much different thought process.

Girl Ninja’s thoughts:

Last year was Girl Ninja’s first year teaching. She spent the whole year taking any and every substitute job she could get. The work was easy. She’d show up, teach some lessons, and then leave. No grading homework, no parent-teacher conferences, no lesson planning. Even though the work was easy, the job security sucked. Some days she got called in. Other days she didn’t. Work was never promised, and that made her life stressful.

This year, however, she was offered a position to start a Kindergarten class room. She was super excited because it meant she would have the same class all year. She was finally going to be a teacher and not just a substitute. She’s learned a ton over the last six months, especially in regards to the administrative aspects of the job. She feels it’s important to finish out the school year, and I can’t say I disagree.

My thoughts:

Girl Ninja’s motives for sticking around San Diego are noble. Mine, not so much.  For me, the decision really came down to numbers. It just didn’t make much financial sense to have her move in March.

If she quit her job and moved in April, she wouldn’t have enough time to become a certified substitute teacher in Washington state before the school year ended. She’d likely have to work odd jobs, like babysitting. If she stays in San Diego, however, we know that she will make between $7,000 and $9,000 (over three months) from teaching. Plus, if she ever gets that stinkin’ back pay the district office promised her, she’d bring home an extra $5,000+.

Not only will we have higher earning potential being separated during those three months, but our expenses will decrease. She’ll be living with some family friends here in San Diego for next to nothing, and I’ll be moving home with my parents, rent free. We should end up saving $4,500 just on housing costs. 

(All in all, we will be between $15,000 and $20,000 better off keeping her in San Diego for those three months.)


As weird as it will be to live 1,200 miles away from each other, we both realize it makes the most sense personally and financially. I know our strategy may not be ideal. I know some of you probably think she should just move with me. But we have to do what works best for us, and in this case, being away for a short while is what works. Are our motives different? Yeah, but at least they both lead to the same conclusion.

If you were in our shoes, would you do the distance thing, or suck it up and make the move together? Am I a horrible husband for admitting the financial benefits had a huge impact on my thought process?

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  1. I think it’ll also look good on a resume that she actually finished out her first year of teaching. I’m sure most schools would think twice about hiring a person who left their class high and dry part way through the year.

    It’s absolutely the right thing to do. It’s a no brainer if you ask me. Especially since it’s only a few months.

  2. If Hubby and I were in your’s and GN’s position, we’d have done EXACTLY the same thing and I see no shame in admitting one factor in the decision is to save some serious coin!! It is only for 3 months; in the grand scheme of things, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the lifetime you’re going have together.

    I also agree with FGA; it’ll look really good on GN’s CV to finish out the school year.

  3. My BF and I do the same. He he is living with his parents 2h away from me who and I am living with my mom. Finically it makes the most sense. He’s still in Uni which is in his town so personally it makes the most sense. I am working on paying of student debt so if we ever do live together the hope is that we will only have his debt to worry about and not both our debts.

  4. Both your reasons make sense… especially hers, if I may say so. It will suck for you both. It will be really hard. But you’ll make it.

  5. You’re not putting money over marriage (so long as you don’t feel it will negatively impact your marriage). Sounds sensible to me.

  6. It’s practical thinking – and completely reasonable. Not only for the financial benefits, but for Girl Ninja’s career. She would have a much harder time finding her next classroom if she left her first mid-year…she’s demonstrating her worth ethic and value to her current and future employers. She’s also showing that her job is as important as yours, by staying for a couple of months.

  7. If the money were the ONLY reason, yea you’d be kind of a jerk. 😉 But clearly it’s best for her job, and 3 months isn’t that long. Good luck! 🙂

  8. I think you were looking at being apart for your “dream job” for 5 months to obtain a better future so this is no different. You both will end up in Seattle and a few months apart is nothing in a lifetime.

    Dadninja and I did it for 7 months when he had to go for work and look were still here and together.

    Time will go by fast, she will have a sense of accomplishment and your new home in Seattle will be here to welcome you back together!

  9. My now-husband and I were an 8-hour drive apart all through college, and we made it work. 3 months is nothing for a couple of ninjas! 🙂

  10. I would do the same thing-in fact I did! When I got into grad school, DH had just gotten a great job in his field that represented a major step in his career. It made no sense to quit and find a crappy job where my school was located, either financially or career-wise. We got married and moved very far apart from each other 5 days later for the next 18 months. It could have been longer, we didn’t know at the time. It was the right choice, because he got further promotions that led him to where he is today, and I now have the qualifications to do my dream job. People thought we were mad, but we looked at it as a short term sacrifice for the sake of our futures. Three months will go quickly, and you have a set end point. It will only improve your already good communication-if talking is all you’ve got, you make the most of it! Even though I think we communicated well before living apart, we certainly grew and learned more about each other and our relationship through the experience.

  11. I hope that you are planning to make at least a trip to see each other once or twice over that those 3 months. The cost of three or for round-trip tickets (in terms of either $$ or miles) is going to absolutely be worth it because (IMHO) going 3 months without seeing each other wouldn’t be worth the money saved.

  12. My husband & I lived 7hrs apart for 2 years. It was a lot of work, I had a full time job, the house & two dogs to walk daily. He took his 4 wks of holidays and tried to spread them around long weekends, etc. It was hard, probably more on him than me as I was so, so busy. In the end it paid off and I don’t regret it. You won’t either.

  13. Wait she makes between 7-9k every 3 months? Is that after taxes? That’s more than me! I had no idea teachers made that much. Does she get paid during the summer? Man maybe I should rethink my career, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.

  14. IMHO, definitely the right choice, especially for Girl Ninja’s career. Three months is nothing compared to the rest of your lives, right?

  15. If you’re saving $15k by having her stay, then expending ~$250 (i did a quick search for Fri-Sun non-stops) every other weekend to fly her up there (or you down there) should be a no-brainer. That’s less than $2000, so you’re still saving a bundle. And you’re making a huge dent in the major downside of this situation.

  16. The teacher in me says it is a great idea for her to stay and finish the school year. That will definitely look better on a resume than leaving a position for personal reasons her first year as a contracted teacher. The time will go by quickly and she will be super busy with the last 3 months of school anyway. Also, could be a great time for GN to research WA certification differences from CA. If memory serves, they are not super different, but she will probably have to take some tests to get her cert up here. In my experience a lot of districts start the hiring process in spring, so it could be advantageous to get her resume out as soon as possible.
    I agree with Larry about making some plans to see eachother during the break…although that will cut into your savings potential:) Those weekends away will be really fun and something to look forward to during the months apart.

  17. I think like you do…about the money aspect of the decision. But that is not saying that I (or you) disagree with your wife’s motives. The main thing is that you communicate clearly enough to understand each other and to come to a decision you both agree to. It will be tough to be apart, but you are doing the right thing. By the way I was drafted into the Army two months after we got married. It was a difficult time, but we are still happily married 40 years later.

  18. To really utilize this money making opportunity, you should get your real estate license 🙂 I’m sure there are some great crash courses you can do in the next 3 months. That license will set you up for a nice house purchase in the future.

  19. She should finish the year because she is contractually obligated. If she returns to teaching, they will notice. Secondarily, she can return to San Diego if she wanted. Good luck.

  20. I think you’re doing exactly the right thing, and would likely make the same decision if I were in your shoes. First of all, it’s three months – not three years. Likewise, not only is this the most responsible thing to do in terms of your finances, it’s also the most responsible thing to do in terms of your wife’s career. Leaving a teaching position mid-year is a bad idea all around. It’s bad for her future prospects, it’s bad for the school, and it’s especially bad for the students. She should absolutely stay and finish out the year with the kids.

    As for your marriage, well, I think you’re doing the right thing there as well. Marriage is a commitment to doing life together, and all that that entails. Most of the time, for most people, that means LIVING together. But not always. There may be times where where geographic proximity is sacrificed, but that in no way, shape or form means that your marriage – your PARTNERSHIP – has to be.

    In fact, it may even be strengthened as a result.

  21. I definitely agree with your decision. JZ and I are doing the same thing, essentially for financial reasons as well. If he comes home with me, he essentially leaves his job and a major source of income. If we can wait out 8 months (with a couple of visits in between) then we’ll be way better off in the long run. But long-distance really sucks.

  22. As a military wife/ teacher I have nine school districts in my portfolio :>)
    If she leaves her first contracted year- her chances of another job in the future are slim.
    I agree- that it is very important to put out resumes now— while she has a job! If she gets out of school before Seattle, get on the substitute list to meet administrators. Kindergarten teachers are ones that often get snatched up if the principal can see them in action (which is obvious since she got snapped up after a single year of subbing in the highly competitive SanDiego area).
    Many people live apart at some time in their marriages. Look at the military- it is constant. Start looking at Southwest Air and book some cheap tickets for weekend visits. Sign up with Skype. Get those texting fingers ready:>)

  23. I think it makes total sense. Plus, you can spend some time finding a new place to live while she is finishing up work.

  24. Hmm, well for starters finances are much more important to me, so our roles would be reversed in this situation. I think the separation would be harder for him, because while I would miss him, I also greatly prize my alone time…so while 3-4 months would be incredibly hard, I know I could do it. And if there were career reasons, I’m sure he would understand and support the decision. But ultimately we would both have to make a choice that we both agree with…partnership is all about compromise.

  25. My husband and I did something similar when he went to grad school twice actually. The first time, he went cross country for a 9 month master’s program and I stayed behind. We knew he’d only be gone 9-10 months and then he’d return just in time for our wedding. It didn’t make sense for me to give up my two decently paying jobs for just 9 months away, plus since the program was accelerated we knew he’d be insanely busy. I just worked extra hours to fill my new spare time and he was so busy with school that he had very little time to do anything. We missed each other of course but it made the most sense logistically and financially. The second time, we were only apart for about a month when he started his PhD program but decided that I’d stay behind for that extra month so that I could get vested in my 401K at work plus get an extra two paychecks. We gave up the lease on our apartment when he left so I was actually couch surfing for that month but between friends and my mom who lived in town it wasn’t too bad. We were both so busy that we barely had time to think about missing each other. I was trying to finish up work at two jobs plus all the loose ends associated with moving while he was getting ready for his new program and then went on a trip with all the new students in his cohort. It was hard to be apart but wasn’t unbearable. Sometimes, you have to make short-term sacrifices for the best long-term outcome.

  26. It is only 3 months – out of the rest of your lives together. And having her quit mid-semester won’t look good for her when she relocates. I think you’re doing the right thing. Irregardless of the financial aspects.

  27. I so would have done the same thing- for the same reasons. I think it is great that she finishes out the year, and it is also great that you guys can each stay with family and save so much money!

  28. […] you live apart from your SO for financial or career reasons? Debt Ninja […]

  29. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your decisions. Both of you were amenable with the arrangement so I think you’ll work it out. Starting out a life as a married couple can be difficult with financial constraints and maybe this is the part that you’re getting ready for a more stable and comfortable life in the coming years. I wouldn’t object if I were in your shoes. Besides, with the earnings you think you’ll have, it won’t be difficult for you guys to have a vacation or see each other once in a while. 🙂

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