The Displaced U.S. Virgin Island Couple Living On $75,000

Everyone wants money, yet discussing it within the parameters of a relationship could be intimidating. When handled incorrectly, finances can crumble a romantic partnership – but when done in tandem, the right money conversations can go a long way. That looks different for different people, though. Welcome to Money Talks, AskMen’s series on the relationship between our money and our relationships. Let’s talk about cents, baby.
Emma and Ryan are a nomadic and madly in love couple who met nearly a decade ago on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Despite their fondness for a traveling lifestyle, the engaged pair were ready to set roots and get married on St. John – and then two Category 5 hurricanes hit. Hurricane Irma, which was followed by Hurricane Maria, left the majority of the U.S. Virgin Islands residents without running water, electricity, and Wi-Fi. The lack of internet access and damage from the storm has affected U.S. Virgin Islanders’ ability to work. What’s more, the storm damaged all three hospitals in the territory so badly that access to medicine is nearly impossible. Because of Ryan’s recent cancer diagnosis and Emma’s dependence on internet access on her behalf job, the couple left the island for Florida. AskMen swept up with them to understand how to utilize the pillars of a relationship to remain strong through unimaginable natural disasters.
What industry can you both work in?
Emma: My job is all online. THEREFORE I had to leave because there’s no Wi-Fi and when I didn’t leave I’d have lost my job. I work in hospitality, for an extravagance club, and we lost a lot of properties in the Caribbean in Hurricane Irma and Maria. Ryan is really a chef, but he quit his job recently and was going to begin working on boats, which he recently got his certificate for.
So did you leave St. John for Florida as a result of financial stress of the hurricane as you’re struggling to access Wi-Fi?
Emma: Yes, but additionally the big reason we left, and we didn’t stay to greatly help is a week before Irma we discovered that Ryan has cancer in his eye for the 3rd time. A kind of skin cancer. We’d to obtain out of there because this medication he’s on should be on ice, and he couldn’t even obtain the medicine down there, aside from keep it on ice, due to power. You need capacity to make ice.
I’m so sorry. And you’re engaged?
Ryan: We have been engaged for two . 5 years now. That’s precisely how we roll. We were going to get married. We were making plans to obtain married , which happened.
How did you two meet?
Emma: We met when I was on summer vacation in the Caribbean from my second year of college. I was waitressing at Lotus, the tiny sushi place, and he was doing his externship from college there. Inside a month he quit his job there to build up in Massachusetts where I would college at the time.
With regards to finances, do you keep them shared or separate, and do you make an effort to keep track of things or do you have a more casual attitude?
Ryan: It’s pretty casual.
Emma: I’ll provide you with a background story; I’ll never forget this. It was in 2011 where I said to Ryan, So these are the bills we need to pay, here’s what’s going on this month. This is what I need.” He just looked at me and said, I don’t want to hear about it anymore, I’ll just give you my paycheck, and you’ll do what must be done.” So it became my role to take care of the bills, and it’s just trust between us.
Where are you staying in Florida, and how did that affect finances?
Emma: We’re in an Airbnb right now, as we’re apartment hunting. We will live anywhere; that’s how we’ve always been. We will live where it’s convenient, and we will adapt, so, we’re used to doing that sort of thing. But I think it’s the first time where we felt displaced because we weren’t ready to move. We’ve lived in probably seven states during the past nine years. Each and every time we moved we were ready to move. But in this situation, it was just like they swept the rug out from under us and we weren’t ready. St. John was the first place where we were like…we’ll buy a home. We’ll buy a juicer and a blender. Everywhere else we were like, we’re good with the clothes on our backs.
In calmer times, if you were to splurge or buy a gift for just one another, what would that be?
Ryan: Two days ago we made a decision to walk around this town, and we got some craft ice cream, but we’re not like, Let’s go to a Michelin Star restaurant,” we’re like, Let’s talk to the locals and find the best street food in this city.” I would say food. God, what do we splurge on?
Emma: Good weed. It actually really helps Ryan with his eye. This can be the third time he’s had cancer, and it’s been three and a half years now. The very first time the doctor said, Don’t smoke weed,” and now she’s saying, You know what, smoke weed. If it feels better, do it.” There’s nothing wrong with weed. If anything there’s something wrong with alcohol.
How do you split up car payments, debts, and food spending?
Emma: I manage the finances, but we both make the money to pay them. We rented a car when we got here. We did have a car in St. John; now it’s in my dad’s driveway. We left it specifically for protection from looters to make it look like someone is home. For food, the way we see it, is when we first got to Florida we were like, we went through plenty of crazy sht in the Caribbean. We ate plenty of canned soup, but we also ate well – my father had a grill on St. Thomas. We’ve been traveling back and forth between St. John and St. Thomas using our dinghy boat. We went to the grocery store and bought a piece of steak to eat and sat right down to dinner together from the balcony. We didn’t eat fantastically following the storm, but much better than many. When we surely got to Florida, one night we said, Let’s get some good crab legs.” We’re not wanting to eat packaged ramen each day, but we’re not exceeding the top. I believe that the largest thing is that we’re not venturing out to consume. We’re doing perfectly compared to others.
Talking about money, if people desire to contribute to U.S. Virgin Island hurricane relief, what organizations can you point them to?

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