Ten Money Questions for Dana Rudolph
Dana Rudolph publishes Mombian, a website for lesbian moms. Don’t worry; Mombian is not a “mommy blog” where she’s posting about what her adorable toddler did today. There’s none of that here. Instead Dana is online, typically twice a day, providing sustenance for moms that’s served up in a newsy, lifestyle format. She covers parenting and politics and everything in between including finances! I asked Dana for her perspective on money… as a parent, as a partner, as a child, and as a stay-at-home mom.
1. Mombian includes the practical side of parenting and one such resource is your frugal list of baby gear essentials. We all know that children cost a heck of a lot of money. Are they worth the expense?
If I wanted to be flippant, I’d say “Ask me when my son turns 18.” In truth, though, I’ve known from before he was born that it’s not about the money. That’s not to say kids should be overindulged–just that they’re priceless.
2. What is your most significant memory about money?
My parents often said “Let’s wait till the end of the month” when any of us wanted to buy something. We weren’t poor, but we were pretty much using up my dad’s paycheck every month to cover the necessities. At the end of the month, when he got paid, we might use a bit to cover a few extras. It taught me to be frugal and patient with my spending.
3. What is your worst habit around finances?
My one big indulgence is books, and I tend to buy even when the library would suffice.
4. When you gave up a career at Merrill Lynch to stay at home with your three-year-old son what were some of the adjustments made in shifting to one income?
I had to learn to rely on my partner for support without feeling guilty every time I wanted or needed to spend money. She had to learn not to let the pressure of being the sole provider get to her. As it happens, though, I had been the only breadwinner for a year just before and after she gave birth, then we switched. We’re thus better able to understand what the other is feeling about these issues. In terms of practical adjustments, we did cut back on some spending, like dining out, but we were pretty frugal in the first place. We’re also not able to put as much into pure savings now, though I know we’ll start doing so again when I go back to work.
5. Which is more important: how much you make or how you spend it?
How you spend it. This says much more about one’s core values.
6. Do you and your partner see eye-to-eye on money?
For the most part, yes, and that’s a big benefit to our relationship. We’re both savers, but not misers.
7. I read one article about your online venture that says “Mombian” keeps you from becoming “mombie”. How important is it for stay-at-home parents to keep one foot in the adult/work world?
I think it’s very important. We don’t immediately lose all our outside interests when we become parents, and we need adult interaction to keep us balanced. None of our children would want to become parents themselves if they thought it meant giving up everything else in their lives. Non-parental interests force us to step back and not become smothering, obsessive parents. They can also help keep our skill sets sharp for going back to outside employment. One has to find the right balance of child/adult time for oneself and one’s family, though. There’s no single formula that works for everyone at every stage of parenthood.
8. If you could buy one thing right now what would it be?
My partner and I are in the process of moving to a new state, so I’ll have to say a new home. If I was going to choose something frivolous just for myself, I’d get a KitchenAid stand mixer–the 575-watt kind that makes the lights dim when you turn it on. Cooking is my one claim to domesticity, and I’ve wanted a bad-ass mixer for a while.
9. What is the most important lesson you hope to teach your son about money?
That it’s a means to an end, but not an end in itself.
10. Does money buy happiness?
No–or at least not in and of itself. I’ll admit that money can sometimes facilitate the things in which one finds happiness–a home for one’s family, a nice dinner with one’s partner, or a new iPod for oneself, for example. We have to create the happiness from these things, though – it’s not just handed to us as part of the transaction.
More about Dana Rudolph
Dana Rudolph publishes Mombian, a lifestyle site for lesbian moms, offering a mix of parenting, politics, diversions, and resources to strengthen and sustain lesbian moms in all their varied roles. She lives with her partner of more than a dozen years and their three-year-old son. Prior to motherhood, she worked for over a decade in the online industry, at both the startup and corporate levels. Most recently, she was vice president at Merrill Lynch, developing marketing and business strategies for several key online initiatives. She was also the first leader of the firm’s global LGBT employee network.
Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.