It is noon and the ferry is leaving in just a few hours. My partner and I are in Puerto Montt, South Chile, trying to reach the Southern tip of the continent.
In spite of being summer in the Southern Hemisphere, it is cold as hell, and we had spent the last three hours riding in the rain. Originally, we were to cover the trip entirely by road on a motorbike.
I am soaked, cranky and exhausted: Do we want to continue the ride for another week, or board a ferry for three days, and stay warm, but miss on the real adventure?
The ferry, which they pompously call a cruise ship, is far from a floating luxury hotel. It is a cargo ship that runs supplies to remote communities, and makes some extra income packing a few tourists on board. Online reviews say the $690 price tag per person for three days will get you college-cafeteria meals and a shoebox to sleep in.
For the two of us and the bike, it comes to $1,600. Ok, we'll bite the bullet because it is too cold to face the roads.
The cabin doesn't have an inside bathroom. The saleswoman is asking for an extra $740 for the privilege of a cabin with shower inside.
No way, I tell my partner. That's almost $250 a night; I'm not paying the price of a fancy hotel, on top of an overpriced cruise, just for a private shower. $690 for a three-day "cruise" is already making me cringe.
My travel mate piped in, "You just pay the $690 and I'll cover the difference. I will invite you."
Instead of me being grateful, a heated argument ensued in front of a confused sales lady.
Why wouldn't I roll with it, and let someone else pay, and just enjoy my ensuite bathroom? Because I am fiercely IN-DE-PEN-DENT. I can't emphasize it enough. My partner has more money than me, but that is not a reason for me to take advantage; he worked just as hard for it as I did for mine.
I hope to have kids someday, and would like to be a stay-at-home parent, and even then, I picture myself covering half the bills.
Because I never, ever want to hear things such as "I pay, I decide", or "I provide everything in this house and you don't". No way.
I talked previously about my last breakup, and how within 24 hours, I had booked myself a last minute air ticket back home at twice the usual price without blinking. That, to me, is freedom.
I wish all women had the same power: The means to leave an abusive relationship, to stop being roommates with someone you don't love anymore because you can't afford rent on your own, or simply to say hey, I love you for you, and because you don't have to provide for me, you can be sure that if I am around, that is not because you make my financial life easier.
I am not judgmental about kept women, as long as they are happy in their relationships. But many of my friends have gone through nasty divorces, and found themselves unable to maintain the lifestyle they had while married.
My sister, after her divorce, ended up in a 400 sq.ft apartment with the one bedroom given to my niece while she slept on the couch for two years, and her rent was 70 percent of her take-home pay. It breaks my heart to see women in that situation.
I always recommend you keep separate savings, just in case.
Sure, marry for love. But be prepared for the worst.
If everything turns out ok, you can give the savings to your grown-up kids to go to college and all is good. If things go sour, you should have enough to get the hell out, rent a new place, and get back on your feet.
Living in Guatemala, I often lament the lack of financial independence for women. They manage the household with whatever is left after their husbands get drunk on payday. They have four or five kids and no way to make a living, so they stay in, enduring abuse and worse.
I never want money to be the Damocles' sword hanging over my head. I don't want to be in a situation where I don't love him, but don't want to leave his wallet. I never want to have to beg for alimony to feed my kids after a divorce.
Being a strong, independent woman is one reason why I started saving money, and encourage all women out there to do the same.