Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Checking in with Fifi

It's hard to believe it's been almost two years since I wrote about Fifi's bachelorette party. I haven't been seeing much of Fifi since then, but I had dinner with her recently to catch up... here's the scoop!

As is typical, Fifi and I met at a rather upscale restaurant she suggested. I always go along with it, because it's always someplace I've heard of and wanted to try, but sometimes I just sigh and think "why can't Fifi just eat a burrito once in a while!" We went to Applewood, a small restaurant in Park Slope that offers all organic, locally sourced ingredients. The entrees range from $19 to about $25, and though the food was good, it wasn't THAT good and the portions were on the small side. We got wine and dessert and coffee and the final total including tip came to $68 each. You'll hear me sighing about it once more when I do my May wrap-up and my dining expenses are over budget yet again! Fifi agreed that it wasn't quite worth the money, especially since she wasn't with her husband, who always picks up the check.

Anyway, back to the rest of Fifi's life. Fifi recently got a promotion-- that's good. Fifi's job involves fundraising for a non-profit-- not so good. It's like pulling teeth to get money out of anyone these days. Fifi probably makes around what I make-- just under six figures a year unless there's a really big bonus.
Fifi's husband, who I'll call Bruno, seems to do quite well and supposedly his job is secure. I don't know how much he makes but I'm going to guess it must be over $150,000.

Since at least 5 years or so before they married, Bruno has owned a house in the suburbs. He bought it figuring that he and Fifi would someday get married and raise kids there, but in the meantime, he was quite happy there anyway, since he worked nearby and was also close to family. But Fifi doesn't like the long commute into the city and has always wanted to live in Manhattan. One of the conditions for them finally getting married after a long off-and-on relationship was that they would sell Bruno's house and move into the city within the next few years. Meanwhile, Fifi had a rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn which she hung onto. Though she spent most of her time at Bruno's house, she still kept a lot of stuff at her apartment and spent the night there occasionally, with or without Bruno. The apartment apparently cost about $900 a month, which is cheap if it's your primary residence, but for someone with Fifi's finances, a pied a terre is probably not the best use of that money!

But now, Fifi will be giving up her Brooklyn apartment, and Bruno is selling the house in the suburbs. They decided to wait until they got the right offer, and despite the lousy real estate market, they got their price. They'd been looking at apartments to buy in Manhattan for quite a while, but have instead decided to rent a place for a year. They found a small 2-bedroom with fabulous views in a luxury building in Chelsea for about $4,100 a month. The landlord threw in a free gym membership, but Bruno won't be parking his car in the building's garage because that would be an additional $700 a month! He'll be taking the train for his new reverse commute.
But they are both excited about the move-- they've been walking around the neighborhood a lot on weekends, and have scoped out various restaurants and cafes that will be their new hang-outs.

If real estate prices continue to fall in Manhattan, Bruno and Fifi may have made a smart choice to rent for a year. I said so to Fifi, but she said that the real reason they're renting is that "this is the first time we'll ever be living together full time, without having my apartment to fall back on. This year will either make us or break us!" The response I kept to myself was "Wow! Maybe you should have tried that before you got married!"

Oh, and did I also mention that they just spent over $25,000 trying to get pregnant, without success?

It will be interesting to see how things work out for Fifi. I love her dearly, but we do not see eye to eye when it comes to managing one's finances. I think she senses this on some level, as I hear from another friend of ours that Fifi still has a lot of credit card debt that she is either hiding from Bruno, or Bruno is unwilling to pay off for her, I'm not sure which. Fifi never talks about that with me! Either way, I do hope things work out for her and Bruno, though I suspect there will be some more bumps along the road...


Andrea said...

These are my favorite kinds of posts...involving people you have relationships with and the issues that personal finance bring up in real life...

Thanks Madame X!

Madame X said...

Thanks Andrea-- I love telling stories like these too. I just have to hope none of my subjects recognize their slightly altered selves if they ever stumble across this site!

MtnMama said...

I am still choking and gasping at paying four thousand dollars in RENT! (I think I'd feel that way about a mortgage, though, too - but !)

Wow. I know it's NY and all. Still, I'm feeling better about the $1160 I'm about to start paying.

Mel said...

You would think that between the 2 of them they would have discussed all the finances by now if she is hiding her CC debt.

Lindsey said...

Stories like this make me feel like a frugal fannie, which I don't really consider myself to be. And I can't imagine ever paying that much in rent, ever. The good news is that I work in non profit fundraising as well, so there is hope for making a decent wage someday!

moocifer said...

I love your friends' names:

Mortimer and Fifi!

I want to hang with you guys!

I will say that $68 is a lot for dinner unless it is a very special occasion and the food is fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Fifi sounds like a spoiled brat. End of boring story.

Chad @ Sentient Money said...

Wow! Who would have have thought a negative comment by that "bastard" Anonymous...he seems to be everywhere!

She and her husband seem rather lacking in logic. They won't buy a place, because they might break up. However, they will try to have a kid? The complete disregard of facts for emotion by this couple is one of the prime driver's behind our current mess.