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We Skipped A Big Wedding To Buy Our Dream Home

My husband and I have always been the practical pair. It came down to a house or a wedding party, so we eloped.

Finance

My husband and I have always been a practical pair.


In matters of the heart, practicality often comes up as the victor, even ahead of logic. What has always rang most true for us is what works best for us. We don't follow the law of the land, instead, we make our own. This year marked the tenth year anniversary since my husband and partner of 16 years said “I do."

Even then, he and I took the practical approach. While every bride-to-be is consumed with wedding planning details, racking up wish list items on gift registries, solidifying venues, choosing plate options for their guests of 25+ - he and I might of wanted some of that, but knew we didn't need any of it. We were the same couple who started living together as soon as a month into dating, just because it made the most sense with maximizing our income in New Orleans, where we grew up.

It was three years into our relationship when we revisited the conversation around what it would look like to build a life together. Although it included marriage, it also included home ownership.

We got really real with one another and knew we could not do both.

Neither one of us came from money. In fact, he was swimming in college debt, as was I. And when we visited a mortgage broker, I learned I was the victim of identity theft for eight years. My first lesson in credit was when I learned a relative burned mine down to a score of 345 out of 800.

Once we learned this information, all of our energy was focused on repairing my credit and any wedding plans were placed on the shelf. We were focused, and our end goal was home ownership. We decided owning a home made the most sense, especially not knowing the future of our young relationship. We decided the best plan of action would help both of us level up, and if our partnership fizzled, we'd at least walk away with more funds in our bank accounts.

That was always the plan for our relationship, to not lock one another in and to instead position both of us to end up better than we were when we found one another.

Introduction to Investing

After seven months of working with our realtor to purchase our dream fixer upper in our favorite New Orleans neighborhood, we closed and called the home ours. Two days later, we learned Hurricane Katrina was on the way, and we evacuated a day later, leaving our fully furnished apartment and our not yet inhabited first house.

A year later—11 years ago to date, in fact—he proposed when we returned to have our house gutted in New Orleans. It was the sweetest end to a stressful trip. A year after that, we eloped.

It seemed selfish and a bit financially reckless to host a grandiose party or to put our friends in a position to travel from wherever they evacuated and landed after Katrina to join us for a wedding. The thought of having people purchase dressy clothes and shoes, spend money on hair, makeup, travel, and gifts felt absurd. So we put the kibosh on that, ordered our first passports, and left for Negril, Jamaica.

To be fair, we decided not to invite anyone. As soon as that decision was made, I released the greatest sigh of relief. I purchased my non-traditional wedding dress from the Armani outlet store for $35. My childhood girlfriend gifted me with earrings. The husband purchased a white guayabera shirt and wore pants he already owned. We could wear all the items again and as many times as we wanted. And we skipped the purchase of shoes because a beach wedding was happening.

I also didn't want to make any decisions about the day. Guys typically don't have to decide anything. And after planning events in my career before, I just didn't want to have to be on duty for my special day. And I didn't have to. The resort had a 30-minute checklist we'd complete.

Playing the Long Game

I said it then and have said it several times since my wedding day, eloping was the best decision we made to walk into the next chapter of our relationship. Our two weeks in Negril totaled to $5,000. My paternal family sponsored our flights with points. The groom's family covered half the cost of our time in Jamaica and it was the only time we ever asked them for support.

It was the easiest and most sustainable decision to have a weddingmoon, instead of two separate and way more expensive events. As a practical pair, the husb and I always plan for the long game.

And here we are, a decade later, still making fiscally responsible decisions, growing stronger together, and we'll be moving into our fifth real estate investment in about three months.

Christine Moline is a New Orleans born, Austin-based productivity consultant and digital organizer with Dashboard Priorities. She explores and offers sustainable strategies to help others maximize their resources—such as time, energy and finances—to put themselves first.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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