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The financially oblivious spouse

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

The short version - How do you teach your spouse how to be frugal???

 

DH understands in theory that we are on a tight budget, and he wants to be responsible with our money...but he just doesn't "get it". He was raised in a VERY wealthy area, being told that his upper middle class family was dirt poor. So, when we are living quite comfortably, he thinks we're just scraping by. Well, now we're actually just scraping by, and he is making it harder than it has to be. 

 

He's made HUGE progress, really. But he still does little constant things. I mentioned that I wanted soda, because part of tightening our belts is not buying a lot of little extras we'd like. Well, he is very sweet and went and bought a case of soda for me...and while he was at the store he picked up some cookies he knows I like that we haven't bought in a long time...and some treats for the kids. And like $15 later, he comes home all smiles with treats for the family. So, that's like $15 out of our $50 per week grocery budget for this month. When I explained it, he felt awful. I would take everything back, but he threw the receipt out on his way out of the store...like he always does. 

 

Are you married to that spouse? Are you that spouse? How do I get through to him?

post #2 of 14

One of us has ADD--impulsive, forgetful, and often depressed.  We do an envelope system ("Food", "Gas", "Household Supplies", "Entertainment") with cash for day-to-day expenses, which at least limits the potential damage, and also we each have a little spending money of our own each week, even when we're scraping by--Dave Ramsey wouldn't agree with that part, but I find that it keeps us from making bigger budget blowouts, and helps us keep going frugally.  I think it would help your husband to have a few dollars that he could spend however he wanted, but to know that when they're gone, they're gone.  Maybe you could share with him some other ways that he could express love for you in these tough times, without spending money?

 

Also it might help to have some concrete financial goals that you are both working toward.

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

We are doing most of that. We'd decided to forgo the personal spending money right now because it would literally have to come out of our household grocery budget. Maybe we need to revisit that issue though. Up until Oct, he was working full time. Now he's unemployed and looking for work. Normally, we budget about 10% of his income as his discressionary budget. He does other things to show his love (actually, he's practically taken over all the household responsibilities that the kids and I normally handle.). He just wants to buy us stuff because he likes to buy us stuff. He's not a bad guy...he's just bad at living on a budget. lol

 

We keep a very detailed budget, and have concrete short and long term goals. I have spreadsheets in google docs so that everyone in the family can see what are bills are, what's been paid or is due, how close we are to various goals, and comment with suggestions and ideas in the docs. ;) And, I have them set up for the kids too, and insist that they budget and track their money. No one ever did that for dh or me when we were kids, and our lives to this point would have been so much better and easier if we'd been taught how to manage our money before we got out on our own.

 

We do the envelope system, too. lol We figured that one out early on, because even when we were making PLENTY, he couldn't stay on budget. As long as each expenditure was less than about half the budget, he'd think there was still plenty left. Over and over and over....And he'd manage to trick me into thinking we had more than we did too, because he was SO sure that I'd assume I was wrong! It was a wicked mess! I've gotten super anal about money because of those first few years. lol He's mostly just turned the finances over to me, though. He doesn't really try to learn better habits because he assumes he can't, and would just rather only have access to money it's ok for him to spend without thinking. He's starting to come out of that mindset now, but we're so tight that when he slips up it has an exagerated effect on the household.

 

(not that I'm perfect or anything. I lean the other way with money, and that causes it's issues when things aren't so tight. ;))

post #4 of 14
My DH can be like yours, he means well & wants to just get something special once in a while, or doesn't get that one store's milk is $2 more than the store across the street, etc. For the most part we've solved it by me doing all the shopping & him staying out of the store. He helps by bringing in the groceries & eating them, and is quite happy to do both. smile.gif Occasionally he still stops for something but it's way better.

But if your DH really likes to shop, send him with a list, give him the cash, and see if he can stick to the budget. You might try a 2-part list: top half is everything you guys NEED to get through the week, bottom half is for things the family WANTS if he has enough cash left. Then let him get creative.

Other idea, your DH might still benefit from the personal allowance, even if it's literally only $1or 2 a week. I know it takes from your grocery budget but it would give him just enough to feel like he could do SOMETHING -- grab a candy bar or a small bottle of soda or give the kids dollar-store toys or save up to buy you flowers at the end of the month...
post #5 of 14

My husband mostly used to be that guy.  Well, let me rephrase.  He definitely used to be that guy... but he's mostly improved over the years.  He has a mental "default" of poverty too.  He really DID grow up in deprivation, and he can't shake the mindset that no matter how well we're doing (which... we are, for the time being, doing pretty darn well, for once) that we're also "just scraping by" - and thus he feels perfectly justified to spend whatever money we have because in his world, if you had money, you had to immediately spend it on stuff you wanted, because otherwise the collector's or bills or whatever would swoop it away in an instant.  He had no concept of saving, budgeting, etc.  So he would be spending WAY overboard on silly things like you mentioned - treats for the kids, sodas, coffee from the drive through... etc.

 

What improved was a) me doing all the shopping, b) sitting him down with budget sheets - they bored him to death and after the first couple of times he was just like, sure, whatever, you handle it.  It also helped that we used cash envelopes, that I sometimes verbalized things like "gosh, I really would like to go out and buy wings for dinner tonight... but we'll wait until next month when I have enough money."  But when I got too negative or focused on money he would end up depressed about our situation.  I found couching our financial progress in positive terms ("wow, we really stuck to the budget this month!  we should be out of debt in no time!"  or "I got a great deal on xyz at such and such a store") helped more than saying negative things ("don't buy that", "grocery prices have gone up again" etc.).  Shifting our conversations from money altogether helped as well - even if *I* was stressed about the budget, I would tend to kind of talk about something else.  And of course, a few little treats here and there (free or cheap) can help break up the monotony of living frugally.

post #6 of 14

My husband has improved a lot but is still much less frugal than I am. I don't think there is a magic bullet solution. All of the progress we have made is by discussing our underlying assumptions. In your situation you might point out that just because you were grousing about wanting soda, didn't mean that you wanted him to buy you some--because you wanted that money for groceries more. Maybe he genuinely didn't realize what your priorities were in that situation? My husband gets confused about my priorities sometimes regarding how to handle little financial things. I'm pretty clear on them but he gets mixed up a lot, I think because I do say conflicting things sometimes and I don't always explain my reasoning.

 

I've also found that it works best if I find ways to keep him happy with the changes that I'm making, and don't expect him to be gung-ho on every single new thing. I'm on a real "eat ALL the leftovers" kick lately, and am amazed by how much we used to throw out, but he's just not excited by that and I have to respect that. I bought 20 lbs of potatoes at a great deal, but he's not a really big potato fan. I know that nagging him to eat them won't work, so I need to come up with some yummy potato recipes to get him on board. Etc.

 

Maybe we could have a "my spouse isn't as frugal as me" support thread.

post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by erigeron View Post

My husband has improved a lot but is still much less frugal than I am. I don't think there is a magic bullet solution. All of the progress we have made is by discussing our underlying assumptions. In your situation you might point out that just because you were grousing about wanting soda, didn't mean that you wanted him to buy you some--because you wanted that money for groceries more. Maybe he genuinely didn't realize what your priorities were in that situation? My husband gets confused about my priorities sometimes regarding how to handle little financial things. I'm pretty clear on them but he gets mixed up a lot, I think because I do say conflicting things sometimes and I don't always explain my reasoning.

 

I've also found that it works best if I find ways to keep him happy with the changes that I'm making, and don't expect him to be gung-ho on every single new thing. I'm on a real "eat ALL the leftovers" kick lately, and am amazed by how much we used to throw out, but he's just not excited by that and I have to respect that. I bought 20 lbs of potatoes at a great deal, but he's not a really big potato fan. I know that nagging him to eat them won't work, so I need to come up with some yummy potato recipes to get him on board. Etc.

 

Maybe we could have a "my spouse isn't as frugal as me" support thread.

 

ITA with all of that!  And as far as the grocery thing... unless your husband is super savvy, he might just assume that soda can totally come out of grocery money because it's edible and *you buy it in a grocery store*.  Never mind you can't cook with it.  He just might not have thought that one through...

 

I go nuts when my husband stares at our full pantry, chest freezer, fridge etc and tells me there's "nothing to eat".  Well, they're INGREDIENTS and that's how we eat.  But if you can't microwave it or "just add water" to it, it apparently doesn't count as food to him.  Sometimes men (no, that's sexist.  Let me rephrase - non-cooks) have different ideas of what food, groceries, etc. really "mean".

post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiqa View Post

I go nuts when my husband stares at our full pantry, chest freezer, fridge etc and tells me there's "nothing to eat".  Well, they're INGREDIENTS and that's how we eat.  But if you can't microwave it or "just add water" to it, it apparently doesn't count as food to him.  Sometimes men (no, that's sexist.  Let me rephrase - non-cooks) have different ideas of what food, groceries, etc. really "mean".

Mine does that too! He can cook pretty well, but he's at the stage of meal-planning evolution where he still says "I want to make X, I'm going to go get the ingredients for it" rather than "We have A, B, and C, what can I make with those?" And the other day he thought that pork and nothing else was a reasonable dinner, and rationalized it with "We don't have anything else I want." headscratch.gif 1. That doesn't make your meal balanced. 2. What do you WANT? There are a billion things in the freezer. Do NONE of them suit you?

 

Well, whatever. I try to set a good example (ish). I fail a lot. Like today when I went to 2 different stores looking for the cookies i wanted. whistling.gif

 

I do try to plan meals that use what we have. Also when I freeze stuff I try to do it in a form that can be eaten with minimal fussing once defrosted, which I think makes him more likely to go for it. (ex. mashed potatoes or yams, just heat and eat.)

post #9 of 14

My ex was like that. Worse really....I highly doubt he even knew what bank we used if it wasn't printed on his debit card.

I'd tell him "yo, I paid extra on X Y Z...." or "we had a big bill for X...and we only have 100 bucks til you/me get paid again. DONT BUY ANYTHING"

a couple days later i'd look at our acct and find us -200 bucks because he went and bought a slew of DnD books (not having played in 10 years) or more video games. I generally kept a decent running tally in my head but my 20 dollar charge at the store ended up costing me 80 bucks with NSF fees etc.

OOOOOHHhhh....I just wanted to throttle him.

Lets just say that i'm now the BEST at getting NSF fees refunded to me. ugh.

 

Not only did my salary *double* since I got divorced, but it's nearly quadruple what I was making 7yrs ago. Add in the fact i'm no longer supporting my ex (he made 1600/mth, daycare was 1300/mth and gas for him to get to his job was more than 300/mth....so it was costing me money for him to work!) but he pays me a whopping 500/mth in childsupport i'm doing SOOOO much better financially now.

 

I find myself thinking i'll NEVER combine finances with anyone ever again, but I suppose never say never.

 

I was very tempted to use like paypal debit card (not sure if they still do that?) where I could automatically deposit like 50 bucks into that and he basically had an allowence, but I felt sure (and now i'm positive) he would have thrown a temper tantrum and divorced me over that. no big loss ;)

 

Point of the matter is I have a huge nest egg now, a brand new car, and i'm paying for the house by myself. Ex has been living with his parents since we seperated 5yrs ago, and still driving his 99 POS around. and telling my kids that I "steal" all his money.

 

Pays to be the wise one with money :)

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by incorrigible View Post

Are you married to that spouse?

 

Yes.  The soda/treat story?  I could have written it.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

My DH can be like yours, he means well & wants to just get something special once in a while, or doesn't get that one store's milk is $2 more than the store across the street, etc. For the most part we've solved it by me doing all the shopping & him staying out of the store.

 

Yep, I have basically structured our life so there is absolutely no reason for him to go to a store.  This creates more work for me but such is life. 

 

Our budget isn't super tight and he would be horrified if he read what I am typing but he just doesn't get it, that $20 less per week can add up to real money.  I know it comes from his upbringing and I won't change him, we just have learned how to deal with it, mostly......

post #11 of 14

LOL....I tried my best to keep my ex from going to the store too. Not because he'd spend too much there however, because he'd leave and be gone for 2 hours and come back with a gallon of milk. WTF? seriously? I could have WALKED to the store and come back with the milk in under 30!

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Basylica View Post

My ex was like that. Worse really....I highly doubt he even knew what bank we used if it wasn't printed on his debit card.

I'd tell him "yo, I paid extra on X Y Z...." or "we had a big bill for X...and we only have 100 bucks til you/me get paid again. DONT BUY ANYTHING"

a couple days later i'd look at our acct and find us -200 bucks because he went and bought a slew of DnD books (not having played in 10 years) or more video games. I generally kept a decent running tally in my head but my 20 dollar charge at the store ended up costing me 80 bucks with NSF fees etc.

OOOOOHHhhh....I just wanted to throttle him.

Lets just say that i'm now the BEST at getting NSF fees refunded to me. ugh.

 

Not only did my salary *double* since I got divorced, but it's nearly quadruple what I was making 7yrs ago. Add in the fact i'm no longer supporting my ex (he made 1600/mth, daycare was 1300/mth and gas for him to get to his job was more than 300/mth....so it was costing me money for him to work!) but he pays me a whopping 500/mth in childsupport i'm doing SOOOO much better financially now.

 

I find myself thinking i'll NEVER combine finances with anyone ever again, but I suppose never say never.

 

I was very tempted to use like paypal debit card (not sure if they still do that?) where I could automatically deposit like 50 bucks into that and he basically had an allowence, but I felt sure (and now i'm positive) he would have thrown a temper tantrum and divorced me over that. no big loss ;)

 

Point of the matter is I have a huge nest egg now, a brand new car, and i'm paying for the house by myself. Ex has been living with his parents since we seperated 5yrs ago, and still driving his 99 POS around. and telling my kids that I "steal" all his money.

 

Pays to be the wise one with money :)

 

Basylica - it sounds like our Exs are two peas in a pod!  Except yours actually had a paying job.  eyesroll.gif

 

At one point, I did indeed cut XH off financially.  I took his credit cards and debit card.  I gave him a $20 bill once a week as "running around money."  If he needed gas, I took his car and got gas myself.  Otherwise, he would have bought soda, cigarettes (secretly), etc. and then try to tell me that gas was mysteriously $6 per gallon at that station.  If he wanted to go out with his buddies, they could buy his drinks.  I didn't care anymore.

 

I also put us on a strict budget.  But then he would send me an email at work saying something like "the minimum balance on my Amex is due tomorrow.  Can you post $250 to my account?"  Um, no.  I don't have an extra $250...deal with it!

 

XH has been couch-surfing since I kicked him out.  Sold his '89 vehicle because he needed the cash.  Doesn't pay child support. 

 

Sorry for the thread-jacking!

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kate&Joey View Post

 

Basylica - it sounds like our Exs are two peas in a pod!  Except yours actually had a paying job.  eyesroll.gif

 

At one point, I did indeed cut XH off financially.  I took his credit cards and debit card.  I gave him a $20 bill once a week as "running around money."  If he needed gas, I took his car and got gas myself.  Otherwise, he would have bought soda, cigarettes (secretly), etc. and then try to tell me that gas was mysteriously $6 per gallon at that station.  If he wanted to go out with his buddies, they could buy his drinks.  I didn't care anymore.

 

I also put us on a strict budget.  But then he would send me an email at work saying something like "the minimum balance on my Amex is due tomorrow.  Can you post $250 to my account?"  Um, no.  I don't have an extra $250...deal with it!

 

XH has been couch-surfing since I kicked him out.  Sold his '89 vehicle because he needed the cash.  Doesn't pay child support. 

 

Sorry for the thread-jacking!

Yep - when they get that bad it's time to hit the road jack!!

 

Makes you super wary to ever get in that situation again anyway.

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiqa View Post

 

ITA with all of that!  And as far as the grocery thing... unless your husband is super savvy, he might just assume that soda can totally come out of grocery money because it's edible and *you buy it in a grocery store*.  Never mind you can't cook with it.  He just might not have thought that one through...

 

I go nuts when my husband stares at our full pantry, chest freezer, fridge etc and tells me there's "nothing to eat".  Well, they're INGREDIENTS and that's how we eat.  But if you can't microwave it or "just add water" to it, it apparently doesn't count as food to him.  Sometimes men (no, that's sexist.  Let me rephrase - non-cooks) have different ideas of what food, groceries, etc. really "mean".

LOL, i'm a pretty good cook i'm told but after a few years of traveling ALL the darn time I started my new(ish? it's been 6+ months now) job that allows me to be home on weekends and home at 530 each night. HUGE change for me. So I bought a freezer and i've actually stockpiled a lot more food. Bought frozen beef, etc.

but I've been super sick the last week or so, wicked bad sinus infection which has caused vertigo, nausea, stabbing pains (antibiotics) and so on. sunday I didn't have my kids and the thought of going into the kitchen and tossing something in the microwave for 5min seemed an impossible task. hehehe....

Reminded me I probably should have a FEW more things that don't require much effort ;)

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