We often speak up against money and advocate alternative systems, like exchange or gift. Not because we don't like it, but because we believe it is nothing but a tool. Or, sometimes, an issue. Indeed, one of the challenges we had to overcome in the first years of our relation was money, which is partly connected with the differences in cultural backgrounds described in the last post. Money was an issue from several points of view. Anna, at least at the beginning of our relationship, was less well-off, being still a student, coming from an economically weaker country, etc. So she was very careful in managing what she had. Andrea was in a quite comfortable financial situation, having enough for his needs and big part of his desires. He used to spend a lot in bars and restaurants, which, it's worth to mention, in Portugal are much cheaper than in Italy. But still more expensive than in Poland. The first few weeks of being together, when Anna came back to Portugal, it was Andrea to pay for both, which was touching Anna's need for independence. Yet, it was the only way to be together at that time.
The following year we both worked, Anna in Poland, Andrea partially in Portugal, partially in Italy, so we could both contribute, even if Anna's earnings were still significantly lower. We kept our accounts separated, deciding on the spot who pays what. The situation changed drastically when Anna moved to Italy and couldn't find a job. And even when she did she still earned much less, not even enough to sustain herself in Italy without Andrea's support. Logistically, it was also easier to get her salary into Andrea's bank account rather than transfer it to the Polish one or open a new one in Italy – both solutions were quite expensive and didn't make sense for a few months' salary. But it was not easy – being financially dependent is a challenge, a mental trial, which Andrea had to face as well one year later, when we moved to Poland and it was Anna to earn for both. When, after a few months of very low mood , Andrea found a job, his salary was poured into Anna's account, for the very reasons described above. We did not put together a fortune, so we had to be a bit careful with spendings, which drew up our approaches – Andrea started to pay more attention on what and when he spends, Anna smoothed a bit, letting herself go sometimes, as she started to earn some real money.
Being in turns financially dependent on the other person and having the money flow mingled up, although super challenging, paradoxically helped us a lot to overcome this issue. After that period we didn't have a problem anymore in sharing our expenses, we stopped considering money as mine or yours, we had a common account and quite common thinking. And believe us – if you asked few years before if we would share the account with anybody in the future we would have definitely said no. Independence, including financial independence, was a crucial value.
The following years, when we started to travel, we both quitted stable jobs and went into freelancing. It took us even more time, but finally we stopped thinking so much who is earning money, understanding that money itself is not the biggest value nor the goal of our work. Sometimes it's one of us earning while the other is more involved in volunteering in the particular place we are at the moment, which provides us accommodation and food in exchange for voluntary work. Without one person caring about conditions, the other wouldn't have so much time and space to focus on projects which may bring some monetary return. We share our duties and responsibilities based on our interests and skills, without really considering which of them bring money. And we always believed that caring about house, food and children - traditionally women chores - should be valued as much as a salary-based work - traditionally for men - as it requires at least as much time, effort and energy. The person who cares about the environment around and about fulfilling basic needs is at least as important as the one who plays around with money, which all in all are more abstract and less useful when the time of real crisis comes. If the economical system we have now collapses, being able to grow your own food, build your own house and make your own clothes would be more crucial than any other ability. But that's a topic for more philosophical discussion. ;)
To sum up, today we still have one account, we don't care who earns and how much, just checking from time to time that we still have enough to keep going. We also experiment a lot with alternative economies, we minimize our needs and stop considering money the only tool to fulfil them. If you want to know more, you may have a look at the article we wrote about How to find money to travel around the world.