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Not-so-frugal spouse? (slight rant)

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Is your spouse or partner on the same page as you? Mine is not really. I have made some progress in converting him to frugality but there is still a long way to go. His default mode is "I want"... or at least it seems that way from my perspective! He is about "experiences" so we have conversations like why can't we save $2 by ordering water when we go out to dinner--because he wants the "experience" of having a soda with his meal. He gets as excited by getting cheap/free stuff as I do, but doesn't get such a charge out of avoiding purchases. And when he gets cheap/free stuff, it's usually not something he put a lot of effort into finding at a bargain--it's something random that he might not have gotten anyway, like a cheap toy for our daughter that he found yard-saling, but wouldn't have purchased otherwise. Also he's very much inclined to be the voice of "Meh, let's go out" when we can't decide what to make for dinner, which makes me feel responsible for most of the meal planning.... and for making sure his lunch is packed because otherwise he'll do the same for lunch at work. Etc. etc. I feel like I have to be constantly vigilant because when I'm not, nobody is. 

 

I have control of the purse strings on most big things, but I feel like he pisses away money on little things and it just drives me nuts that he doesn't see that as a problem. 

 

Ugh, anyway. I guess I just needed to rant a little. We're making ends meet despite this, but we could be saving/paying off our debt faster if he was more committed to it. I feel like we are drowning in debt (>400k between the mortgage and student loans). His philosophy on debt is "Well, there will always be debt." ARGH! 

post #2 of 14

I just read some of your posts in the other thread, "High Income/ High Debt" where you were debating with yourself about whether to return to work full-time.  I think you are doing a great job with the family finances.  Maybe you can just look at meal planning and lunch packing as part of your "job" since you are not working outside the home full time?  I pack lunches for my hubby too even though he is perfectly capable of doing it himself, and in fact he often gets a stomachache from fast food.  What about making "experiences" at home?  Maybe a family movie night where you eat popcorn and share a soda on a blanket on the floor?  Or invite some friends over for a potluck and have everyone bring a dish? 

 

It sucks when you and the hubby are not on the same page though.

post #3 of 14

My husband definitely does the "Meh, let's go out" when at work for lunch. Then he complains that he spends too much money on lunches (hint, hint, pack my lunch for me). It makes me feel yucky that he thinks it's my responsibility to make sure he doesn't spend too much. I'm pregnant and have a toddler and a home daycare. I'm exhausted. I plan every other damn meal. You can make yourself a sandwich in the morning. 

 

/end rant.

post #4 of 14
Yep- add me to the list! DH talks a lot about paying off our debt and putting more in savings, but doesn't follow through on living frugally. He spends a lot on clothes, sunglasses, outdoor and sports gear, etc., justifying it by saying he works hard and wants to enjoy life to the fullest. DH grew up very poor, so I think buying stuff is about pride in some ways. He's proud of the successful business we've built and wants to show it off by having nice things I guess. It still drives me crazy though- I've never really been into shopping or brand name things and don't understand the appeal. Just ladt week, dh suggested a trip to hawaii in January. Obviously I would love to go, but i'd prefer to pay off the last chunk of our debt first. Oh, and DH totally does the "let's order pizza" thing anytime I mention I'm not up for cooking. I appreciate a break, but I'd appreciate it even more if HE would cook and save some money.

Ooh- thanks for a place to rant- I needed that!!
post #5 of 14
I think sometimes husbands like to feel like they're pampering/spoiling their wives. You can actually take advantage of this a bit by stocking up on some things that will fill the bill of not involving much "cooking," and being a little fancier than usual. Maybe if your husband likes to grill, you could say, oh, how about if we pull those steaks out of the freezer? How many times have you calculated the wondrous groceries you could have purchased for less, instead of paying for the dinner, drinks, taxes and tip? You could also premake some pizzas of your own, or other similar food. Just be sure to keep these things in reserve, while you meanwhile keep planning the meals the way you ordinarily would.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gitanamama View Post

 Oh, and DH totally does the "let's order pizza" thing anytime I mention I'm not up for cooking. I appreciate a break, but I'd appreciate it even more if HE would cook and save some money.

I know! Heck, I don't even so much want him to cook as to have one single idea of something that can be cooked using ingredients that we have at that particular given moment. It's like pulling teeth to get him to plan a meal using what we have, rather than "Well, I could run out and get ___". We do live less than 10 minutes from the store so it's not such a huge deal to run out if we need to, but if it's already 5:30 and we have plenty of food, just not what he happens to want, it would be nice if he'd pick something else. And he often suggests the same two things--either BLTs or homemade pizza (neither of which we routinely have the ingredients for). I like to keep ingredients in stock to make a variety of dishes. I've worked on ways to have more possibilities on hand (for instance, I don't typically buy bacon that often, but I realized if I freeze uncooked bacon, we can have spaghetti carbonara pretty much any time we want, since we almost always have spaghetti, eggs, and parmesan cheese). But some meals you just can't do that. 

 

I like the suggestion of seeing the meal planning as part of my "job", though. I think that attitude shift could help me. I just need to buckle down and think ahead a little bit more. I don't even necessarily have to cook it. He's perfectly willing to cook. He just sucks at planning. 

post #7 of 14

My mom used to say that she didn't mind cooking but coming up with dinner ideas was the hard part. I never understood that until I was living on my own and had to do it. LOL

 

One of the ideas I've thought of (but haven't implemented yet) is to have a "food idea bank". Basically write down quick-to-make dishes that you often have ingredients for anyway on little slips of paper and put them in a little jar with your recipe books, etc. Then when you need an idea just pull one out at random. It will get you started anyway.

 

I often write down what I'm planning to cook for the week before I go grocery shopping and I sometimes save those lists to refer to later when I need inspiration. Amazing how quickly I forget things that I cooked just a few weeks ago.

post #8 of 14
The woman who writes for the blog likemotherlikedaughter is a big advocate of meal planning. She suggests sitting down with the family and making a master list of every dinner you like. Easiest if it is separated into categories of "pasta" "casseroles" etc. Then, once a week when you make your meal plan you don't have to start from scratch, you just go to the master list and just pick 7 meals.
post #9 of 14

Is my husband on the same page?  Not really.

 

Similar to what another poster mentioned, my DH grew up poor, and probably more importantly, in flux.  The family wasn't stable, he moved a lot, revolving door of dad's girlfriends, etc.  Now that he is established, he sees having the money to "treat" himself and his family as the reward for his hard work.  I don't disagree with that but I grew up in a frugal (and stable) family and my parents set the example of a penny saved is a penny earned.  He thinks "whats the big deal?" to spend $7 at the convenience store for bottled water, gum and a newspapers and I think "why can't you wait until we get home to get a drink?"   At the end of the day, it isn't worth the battle because he is fair and reasonable about big purchases.  (I would feel differently if the budget was tighter.)

 

I agree with spinning the viewing the lunch packing and meal planning as part of your job within the family.  Maybe after 20 years of marriage I am more willing to accept that there is reasonable expectable of division of labor when one partner is working at home (as the homemaker) and the other works at an outside job.

 

I also agree that the meal planning is the hardest part.  Let me tell you, there have been fights in our house where I wanted to scream "is it so f-ing hard to just give me one suggestion for a meal!!!!!"  or actually participate in cooking a meal.  The stories I could tell!  I am getting riled up just remember the arguments. 

 

His favorite excuse, when I would ask for suggestions, was "but you don't like pork" as if the only meals he could envision were pork based.  (and for the record, I was perfectly willing to cook pork)  His other solution to meal planning was buying in bulk so there was always something "for dinner."  Bulk buying only works when one is actively working that stockpile all the time and if you don't have the energy or ideas to plan, all those ingredients do nothing more than frustrate you.

 

And then one day, I made the decision not to fight about it anymore. 

 

I got over the frustration by doing two things as it related to meal planning.  The first is I started making what I wanted to eat.  I figured "why not make myself happy?"  Sometimes a smidge of selfishness can be a good thing.  The second is to ask for suggestions at the beginning of the week.  If no one speaks up, I get to pick.  If anyone comments on the food, I remind them they have the opportunity at any time to offer suggestions and point to the tablet on the counter, end of discussion.

 

Meal planning, at least for me, takes a lot of organization.  Like the OP, I wanted to break the going out/ordering out cycle.  I now keep a couple of favorites on hand that are super easy.  You mentioned bacon.  Cooked bacon freezes great.  I cook it in the oven at 400 degrees on a sheet pan.  Let it cool and freeze.  I do the same with ground beef.  I brown it and freeze it in one pound portions.  I do several pounds at a time.  It is such a simple thing but it amazing how clearing the defrost hurdle prevents ordering out.   Cheese for pizzas can be frozen and canned sauce keeps forever.  If he wants fresh ingredients in addition, tell him you'll start the crust while he runs to the store.    

 

Check out the RelishRelish website.  Back in the beginning I used it for meal planning and I thought it was well worth the cost ($7 a month at the time)  The recipes were easy enough to tackle or make alterations to suite my tastes.  You have many menus to choose from and it prints a shopping list.  I "grew up" of the site but still think it has a lot of value to a new or stressed meal planner.  I noticed many of the menus used similar ingredients so if for example, carrots would show up as a side dish one menu and in a salad for another so things got used up.  

post #10 of 14

I'm the spender and the earner.  My Dh only spends on what is necessary which is really cool but he denies himself things he wants, which bothers me.  I don't deny myself anything and I don't like it when he does it to himself.  In order for me to be able to spend what ever I want I budget things in immediately.   I pay the bills, then put money into savings and then allocate money to household things like food, things the kids need or we need like essentials.  And then we both get a set amount.  He always has money left over and the option is to either put it in savings or give it to me.  He always gives it to me and then I buy him something he's been wanting or we go out to eat.  It sounds kind of unfair but it was his idea and I rather like it.

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caneel View Post
 

I got over the frustration by doing two things as it related to meal planning.  The first is I started making what I wanted to eat.  I figured "why not make myself happy?"  Sometimes a smidge of selfishness can be a good thing.  The second is to ask for suggestions at the beginning of the week.  If no one speaks up, I get to pick.  If anyone comments on the food, I remind them they have the opportunity at any time to offer suggestions and point to the tablet on the counter, end of discussion.

 

Meal planning, at least for me, takes a lot of organization.  Like the OP, I wanted to break the going out/ordering out cycle.  I now keep a couple of favorites on hand that are super easy.  You mentioned bacon.  Cooked bacon freezes great.  I cook it in the oven at 400 degrees on a sheet pan.  Let it cool and freeze.  I do the same with ground beef.  I brown it and freeze it in one pound portions.  I do several pounds at a time.  It is such a simple thing but it amazing how clearing the defrost hurdle prevents ordering out.   Cheese for pizzas can be frozen and canned sauce keeps forever.  If he wants fresh ingredients in addition, tell him you'll start the crust while he runs to the store.

 

You're way nicer than I am! No one gets a say in my meal plans. Of course I try to make sure I don't make anything anyone hates, but beyond that, I make what I like, what I have ingredients for, and what's healthy. If someone has an opinion on it afterward, they can voice it politely and I won't be offended, though. (And thanks for the recommendations!)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post
 

I'm the spender and the earner.  My Dh only spends on what is necessary which is really cool but he denies himself things he wants, which bothers me.  I don't deny myself anything and I don't like it when he does it to himself.  In order for me to be able to spend what ever I want I budget things in immediately.   I pay the bills, then put money into savings and then allocate money to household things like food, things the kids need or we need like essentials.  And then we both get a set amount.  He always has money left over and the option is to either put it in savings or give it to me.  He always gives it to me and then I buy him something he's been wanting or we go out to eat.  It sounds kind of unfair but it was his idea and I rather like it.

 

I was going to say something similar. DH and I weren't on the same page initially. I wanted to quit my job, and he really wasn't a big fan of that idea! Eventually he came around, but he really did not like feeling like he was doing all the "work" and then also feeling like he had to deny himself things he felt entitled to. Getting to the same page was an ongoing process. We talked about it a lot--like, a LOT. Over time I stopped stressing over some things (like the membership to the gym he never goes to) and stopped worrying about where every dollar was going, and he started seeing where some of my "crazy" ideas (like getting rid of cable and just relying on Netflix, Hulu Plus, and the library/Redbox) were actually pretty workable. We got ourselves on a good budget that affords both of us an allowance, and we try not to comment on how either of us spends that particular money (like, say, even when someone leaves behind the lunch I lovingly make him and buys lunch out...not that that ever happens, of course! *cough cough*)

 

Erigeron, have you talked to him about how you're feeling? Do you guys have a budget? Does he have any interest in developing a budget with you? Would he respond well to the idea of an allowance for each of you? Is there a concrete, short-term financial goal--maybe a one-time lump payment on your student loans, to get you below a major number--you can interest him in, where you can help him see how stopping the leaks, while sometimes irritating, can add up to a major win in your fight against your debt? Does he have any financial goals of his own that you can capitalize on? Do you track your spending with something like Mint.com? (We recently started using Mint and using our cards for pretty much everything, and it's been pretty eye-opening to watch the money move around. When we were using cash, it was still kind of easy to snitch money from other categories, because there was no record. Now that there's a record, there's more transparency and accountability--to each other, but also to ourselves!)

 

As for food, I struggle with the same issues. It drives me insane that DH is a fabulous cook but he never cooks for the family. I don't resent it, because he doesn't get home until after 8 p.m. most nights, and on his nights off we're usually running errands or seeing family, and the last thing he wants to do is figure out a meal. But I do wish he had more time to cook for us. He's so creative, and his meals are always amazing. Anyway, because of this, in spite of my best efforts at meal plans, we eat out WAY more than I want to. I've had to make some peace with it, but I've also started keeping some foods in my freezer that, while not the highest ideal for what I'd feed my family, are no worse--and way cheaper--than what we'd buy outside the house. At BJ's, I can buy a three-pack of Amy's chicken enchiladas or a six-pack (I think) of bean/cheese burritos for something like $10 each (less if you can find some coupons), and they sell a three-pack of organic frozen pizza (one feeds my two kids) for $12. On nights when I'm throwing my hands up in defeat, I can feed us all for around $12, and the kids think it's a huge treat :laughI also keep a big box of organic salad mix ($6--lasts us a week) in the fridge, and I add in cheese, hardboiled eggs, marinated artichoke hearts, avocado chunks--whatever I have in the house, really, and that's a fast dinner for me and sides for the kids. Is there anything like that you're willing to keep handy to take some of the pressure off?

 

Ultimately, I think you guys need to keep talking about it. It doesn't do either of you any good if you keep silent and try to handle it all on your end while you seethe silently. Also, I will say that I think sometimes you just need to let some of the excess spending go. For some people, standing guard over every penny makes them feel stressed and deprived, and some people, my DH included, would rather reach some financial goals more slowly than spend every day feeling tight and resentful. You might just have to recognize that not feeling pinched all the time is a higher priority for him, KWIM?

post #12 of 14

That stinks that he can't be on the same page as you.  The only thing I can suggest is reading this blog:  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/  It is really straightforward and got my husband to become even more frugal than I am.

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

He actually really dislikes that blog. :nut We got into a big argument about it the other night because he disagrees with MMM's method of putting economic value on leisure time. 

 

In general though, I think you hit the nail on the head... it is basically a philosophical difference. 

post #14 of 14

For what it's worth, I'm pretty frugal, but I really dislike MMM's blog. He is too hardcore and I find his assumptions a little rude. I'd hate to have him as my husband! 

 

Your dh sounds like my dh, erigeron. Is he in a high powered position and tends to be looking at the overall picture all day? Mine was and I'll tell you, he was a major failure when it came to the finer points of budgeting and saving $1.00 here and there by doing x, y and z. The trade off seemed minute to him - Not worth the effort (or in his words "inefficient"). But, in the same sense, he was also responsible and frugal when it came to spending large amounts of money.

 

It baffled me for months and after some deep thought (and a few arguments), I came to the conclusion that:

a) He stresses very little about everything in general, so of course he won't be thinking of the ramifications of spending that penny versus saving it

 

and

 

b) He did not spend hours everyday focusing on the petty parts of every project at work and to suddenly change his way of thinking once he hit home, was not going to happen. He has always been focused on the bigger picture, whilst I'm always focused on the details. 

 

That's not to say everything has been peaches and cream since my "epiphany", but I'm a little more understanding of his willingness to piss money away (yes, I used those exact terms when yelling at him once). 

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