Am I being unreasonable in my frugality? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 12-30-2010, 08:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm sorry if this is long but I want to give as clear a picture as possible. TIA if you get through it all and can offer some advice. 

 

Everyone in my life is starting to get pretty hostile towards me when it comes to money matters. Both DH and I come from families that live way beyond their means using credit and debt to get them there. So, when we got together we followed the same pattern and lived that way for quite some time.

Problem is - I've changed and no one else has. It was a slow process but I've built up to trying to live simply, frugally and without waste or debt in the last couple of years.

DH has come along for the ride but very begrudgingly and we've been fighting a lot lately. He says he is miserable and it's all my talk and pressure about not spending that is causing it. My family and my in laws are also giving me the same issues. They complain that I won't spend money on gifts or to travel with them.

I really don't know how to make everyone happy while not giving in to spending needlessly. The way I see it we really can't afford to. We have zero and I mean zero savings. No bank accounts, no home equity (we rent), we are still paying on both our cars, and no investments - NONE- neither of us even have money in a 401k (and we are in our late thirties).

To me that is a pretty bleak financial situation and to be honest I'm kind of proud of myself that instead of sticking my head in the sand and pretending it's not happening or just sitting and crying about it, I have found ways to try and make it better. I've spent the last two years figuring out how to make more and spend less. I was a SAHM and I now work two jobs opposite dh's schedule so we don't have to pay for childcare. I've learned to use less energy, cook from scratch, find things we need used for cheaper or do without, negotiate lower prices for things, etc. It's been really hard but it's really paying off. If things go as planned all of our cc debt will be gone by the end of March. That's really saying something being that we started off at 25k.

Anyway, I don't want to have to choose between being financially secure and having healthy happy relationships but I don't know where the compromise should be. I look at it and think - how can I possibly justify putting thousands of dollars on a credit card for a family vacation that will last seven days when it will take me months if not years to pay it off. They look at it and think - you can't take it with you so spend, spend, spend. Then I struggle with DH on the day to day things - eating out, buying this and that, etc. and I'm so exhausted saying no to everything that I want to just say fine go ahead and buy it but that money is coming from time that I have to spend away from child and life and family. There's no food or gadget in the world worth more than time with my dd but no one else in my life wants to see it that way. 

Eeek! I'm rambling. How do you handle this with your SO and your families? 

 

 

 


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#2 of 17 Old 12-30-2010, 08:41 AM
 
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OK, first, just to reframe your issue a little more concretely (it can feel less overwhelming that way) - you refer to pressures from "everybody" and keeping "everybody" happy. However, your only, sole issue is your DH. If you have DH onboard, everybody else can take a flying leap. Your finances are between you and your DH, period. Yes, people do get pressures from their extended families but my advice to you in that case would be to smile and nod and do what you want.

 

But your DH, that's a totally different story on two fronts. One is that he has as much rights and responsibilities on financial decisions as you. And the other is simply that you can't be frugal alone, you could go without underwear for 10 years while your DH buys every toy that strikes his fancy, meals out every day, and a snazzy car.

 

Unfortunately, there are no 10 step programs or tried-and-true strategies for getting a spouse on board. It's like quitting smoking or going on a diet -  you can pressure all you want, but it's the person who has to want to change. There ARE things you can try, though. Some people have good luck with the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey - very motivating. Not sure if you have any debt or not, but it sounds like even if you have no debt, you might be teetering into the possibility.

 

TMMO can be motivating to avoid that and get your financial house in order. People on MDC have had some success putting books in the bathroom for the hubbies to read. Don't say anything, just put it on the toilet tank or something, and he may well start thumbing through it one day.


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#3 of 17 Old 12-30-2010, 08:55 AM
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Do you  have a budget written down on paper? Will your dh look at it? Does your dh know how much money he can spend during the month for small things (eating out, small purchases etc)? I know when you realize you're in trouble, you want to go gung ho but you've got to get your dh on board. If that means putting some money into the budget so he can feel like he has some control, you might have to do it. Money stuff can be so stressul.

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#4 of 17 Old 12-30-2010, 09:24 AM
 
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Maybe it would help if you guys set some goals??

 

Neither DH nor I is really into spending needlessly but one thing that really helped us save was knowing that we COULD, eventually, get some of the things we wanted/needed. For example, one of our goals was that when we saved up $XX in our savings account, we could buy a (cheap) new couch... we lived with falling-apart hand-me-down couches for years but we didn't feel deprived because we were making a choice & had a goal & knew when we reached that goal, we'd be able to get what we wanted. Maybe your goal could be to put $X in your 401K's and then some of what's left over at the end of the year could be used for a vacation. You might only have $100 left over, so 'vacation' might mean a single night at an affordable hotel, or you might have enough left for an exotic destination.

 

We aren't into budgeting in our house -- we're just very dedicated to saving -- but a budget might really help you guys. Once you account for basic necessities, you can decide together how to allot whatever's left. You can have an emergency fund, a savings fund, a vacation fund, a gift fund... and if there isn't enough left over to allot ANYTHING to non-necessities, then hopefully the budget will help your DH see that he needs to adjust his expectations.

 

I also want to echo what a pp said, that your finances are strictly between you & your DH. No one else gets a say in it (unless perhaps they are supporting you financially, and it doesn't sound like they are). So you & DH just need to get on the same page, & then you'll be able to present a united front in the face of any temptations or pressure from others.


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#5 of 17 Old 12-30-2010, 10:07 AM
 
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Living within our means is very important. You have done a great job with your cc debt!

 

  "I was a SAHM and I now work two jobs opposite dh's schedule so we don't have to pay for childcare."

Is it possible that although DH is upset about being so frugal the root of the problem is the time you spend away from each other. He now has to look after the children alone when before you were a SAHM, you work two jobs opposite his schedule so he has little time with you. Its possible that in his mind since both of you are working and sacrificing your time together you should have more money to spend. Spending time apart and money puts a lot of pressure on a relationship, focus on building your relationship and establishing common goals. 

 

I would try a few things-

-Set up a weekly or bi- weekly date night. It doesn't have to cost money. Make dinner together, let the kids eat and have a romantic dinner just the two of you after the kids are in bed, candles, wine. Watch a movie. Make dessert. Play a board game. Look up pressure points and give each other acupressure massages. Reading a book together.

 

-Make a dream board together. What would you like to be able to do? What are you working towards? Possible ideas...Family vacations or trips you would like to take, zero debt, a house, retirement. Fill a poster board together with magazine cutouts and a sharpie. Having it in your room or on the fridge allows you to see what you are sacrificing for. 

 

-Celebrate your accomplishments. Set goals- Do something special when you meet a goal. For instance when you pay off half of a car, when you pay off the car. Every two thousand dollars paid on the cars, every five thousand in cc debt, half of the cc debt, when something is paid off. Set the goals so you have a little celebration often enough to keep you both motivated and feeling good about your progress. Soon you wont have this payment and will be able to do other things with it! 

 

- Give yourselves a monthly allowance that is taken from your individual earnings. Even if its $20, you both have the option to save it for something bigger or treat yourself. 

 

-Family vacation. No I'm not talking about a 7,000 dollar trip to Indonesia. Plan an extended weekend together as a family. Pretend your a tourist in your own state or city. Go camping, plan day trips to fun local places.

 

 

Family giving you flack for not giving gifts or going on an extended family vacation is completely uncalled for. If it was brought up I would simply say, our finances our none of your concern but seeing as your so interested, we have been working very hard to pay off our debt so that some day our savings account might have a dollar or two in it. Or our finances are none of your concern, we don't have the money and we are not going into debt for a vacation.

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#6 of 17 Old 12-31-2010, 06:22 AM
 
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I want to echo previous sentiment--find a way to spend more time with your husbband in a meaningful way that has nothing to do with money.

 

hang on until march if that is when you will be debt free--when that happens a lot o fpressure will be off

 

after that take a look at WHY you don't have a 401k--maybe you need to spend a couple of years improving your employment. if that means classes or training it could mean a drastic increase in one person salary and benefits including retirement plans.

 

or you could funnel one income into a retiremement plan you set up yourself.

 

find a frugal way to gift people--a handmade craft--there are some super frugal ones that are beautiful. Not because of anyone elses problem with you not gifting them--but because I think you mention it because sometimes it bothers you to not gift people. sometimes we WANT to give.

 

 

read a few posts at theultimatemoneyblog.com 

 

good luck. I am still in the stick my head in the sand stage. I am paying things off-but the big picture is SCAAARY!

we were in a better place 10 years ago UGH!!


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#7 of 17 Old 12-31-2010, 06:47 AM
 
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I am so impressed with your post. You've knocked down $25k in debt while your DH and family were not on board? You are amazing. Come run my finances. :)

 

I think you've gotten a lot of good advice. I did want to add that I think your priorities are really in place, but once your cc debt is paid off and you have some savings (both an emergency fund and some regular contributions to retirement savings, which you do need to start as soon as you can) there might be a time to compromise with your DH. Can you sit down with him and look at a budget that includes even a very small amount ($20/mo, say) going towards savings for whatever his #1 spending priority is. If it's a vacation with family, there might be room to meet halfway like - it will take two years to save up for renting a cabin locally but then we'll do that.


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#8 of 17 Old 12-31-2010, 09:22 AM
 
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I don't have any advice, I'm sorry ~ but I think that you've done a fantastic job paying off that Credit Card debt.

 

Maybe a compromise with your husband, a suggestion that if he wants a gadget, evening out, holiday, then the money is saved for that item rather than putting it on credit cards?  Not sure if that has already been suggested, I haven't read all of the posts because I'm about to get ready for work.

 

 

Peace

 

LOL yes, the post previous to this one suggested the same thing

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#9 of 17 Old 12-31-2010, 03:49 PM
 
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I'm not a total Dave Ramsey fan, but one thing he says that you should look up is that most couples have a "nerd" and a "free spirit." He has some interesting thoughts on how to think about finances and work together to make those personalities work. Both are needed. You cannot live without ever doing anything fun, but you also can't just blow everything. It sounds like you and your husband both want your own position to be THE decision for the family, and you really just need to learn to find some middle ground. I also couldn't live without going out to eat or ever buying anything I wanted (and I'm definitely less free spirited than my husband) because to me, that's no way to live. That would be miserable. You also can't take no responsibility for your financial situation, and the key will be getting your husband to understand that, too.


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#10 of 17 Old 01-01-2011, 04:14 AM
 
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I think you've done a great job knocking down the debt.  Although it does sound a bit like you're too rigid about not spending money.  Is it possible for you to quit one of the two jobs after March, so you can spend more time at home?  That should reduce your stress level and your DH's stress level.  A happy relaxed person has a lot more reason and self-control.   I'm a SAHM and have always found myself spending more money buying things online, when DH's working overtime.  Maybe once his stress level is lower it'll be easier to reason with him.


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#11 of 17 Old 01-04-2011, 04:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies and support. 

As far as family goes .. they don't support us in any way other than being generous with hand me down clothes from the older kids. So I don't owe them anything.

They are mad that they never get to see us and I can't blame them to some extent. It really does suck that none of us are in the same state but travel is really expensive, really really expensive. I also work part time jobs so if I don't work, I don't get paid. There is no vacation time. So not only am I paying all the money to travel but I'm also losing pay while I'm gone. They are starting to take it very personally, as if I don't want to see them but I just can't afford it. They can't understand why I just don't pull out a cc like I used to. 

With DH it is a lot harder. I realize I'm being kind of a ... you know what. I don't want to live like this forever .. just until our debt is paid off and we have a little saved. Then we could occasionally splurge on eating out or a want of his here and there. 

I think we both resent the situation and we are taking it out on each other. I don't really know how to loosen up though. I miss having fun and being home just as much, if not more than he does but I can't stop thinking about money. DH's regular salary just barely covers our bills without the debt so even when the debt it gone it's not like we will have all this money free and I can stop working. Maybe I can work less and we could spend a little bit but we can never go back to the way we were. I don't think he's getting that part of it. I really like the idea of a dream chart. Maybe I could try and get him to do that with me but I'm not sure. He really doesn't want to talk about money at all anymore since whenever we do it turns into an argument. I don't know how we will ever meet in the middle. 


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#12 of 17 Old 01-04-2011, 05:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovemygirl View Post

Thanks for all the replies and support. 

As far as family goes .. they don't support us in any way other than being generous with hand me down clothes from the older kids. So I don't owe them anything.

They are mad that they never get to see us and I can't blame them to some extent. It really does suck that none of us are in the same state but travel is really expensive, really really expensive. I also work part time jobs so if I don't work, I don't get paid. There is no vacation time. So not only am I paying all the money to travel but I'm also losing pay while I'm gone. They are starting to take it very personally, as if I don't want to see them but I just can't afford it. They can't understand why I just don't pull out a cc like I used to. 

 



 

 

With DH it is a lot harder. I realize I'm being kind of a ... you know what. I don't want to live like this forever .. just until our debt is paid off and we have a little saved. Then we could occasionally splurge on eating out or a want of his here and there. 

I think we both resent the situation and we are taking it out on each other. I don't really know how to loosen up though. I miss having fun and being home just as much, if not more than he does but I can't stop thinking about money. DH's regular salary just barely covers our bills without the debt so even when the debt it gone it's not like we will have all this money free and I can stop working. Maybe I can work less and we could spend a little bit but we can never go back to the way we were. I don't think he's getting that part of it. I really like the idea of a dream chart. Maybe I could try and get him to do that with me but I'm not sure. He really doesn't want to talk about money at all anymore since whenever we do it turns into an argument. I don't know how we will ever meet in the middle. 


As far as the family, invite them to come down & stay at a nearby hotel for a week. Tell them they can come over every evening for dinner (if you're up for that) and will set aside the whole weekend to spend with them, & highlight some local attractions they haven't seen yet (if there are any). That puts the ball in their court, & if they truly want to see you then they will hopefully make it happen; otherwise, well, you tried!!

 

All I can say about things with DH is get him to keep talking, because the problem won't go away by avoiding it. Have you set aside a certain time to talk to him (when the kids won't be around), and printed out your income/expenses, and tried to actually hash out a budget? Or are your 'discussions' more like fleeting comments while you're cooking dinner or when he talks about buying something? Because I can easily see the latter turning into an argument but the former really could help you guys out. You can both come prepared to your 'meeting' with lists of priorities and concerns and just take each topic one by one, and if an issues gets too heated just set it aside for a bit 'til you've worked out the other details.

 

Is there room in your budget to have just a couple bucks a week (or month) for something 'fun'? $3-5 would be enough to go out for coffee together, or pick up a special treat at the grocery store (this is something DH & I do occasionally, it's way cheaper than eating out but kind of fun & no one has to cook because we'll get things like frozen/prepared dinners or canned soup and a fresh bread), or a movie rental from Redbox & some popcorn.


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#13 of 17 Old 01-07-2011, 12:17 PM
 
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This is such a tough situation and I really feel for you.  DH and I are in a similar situation, though we pretty much see eye to eye.  However, there are certain things that I'm not willing to give up...and one of those things is more time away from DH.  I just know from watching it happen to several other family members, that too much time away from a spouse can cause the relationship to crumble.  So can the fighting. I admire you for trying to eradicate the debt...but if you're free and clear...but single...is that a success?


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#14 of 17 Old 01-07-2011, 12:35 PM
 
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There has got to be a way everyone can be happy here.  You mentio that dh is sick of you talking about money, etc.  I did this for a while.  I was obsessed with money, I became a miser, it was ridiculous.  I wanted to be scrooge mcduck and swim in a room full of money, and never ever spend it.  The money was symbolic for me-  security, shelter, comfort, happiness.  I grew up raied by a single parent, and we never had dough for things like telephones, or cars, or etc, so I think that had a big effect on my attitudes as an adult, much like you.

 

After dh and I struggled with this (he was raised in money) for a year or so, we both reached a compromise:

 

1.  Debt is not that bad, as long as it's good debt; like a house, a much needed vacation, a surprise car repair, a vet bill

2.  Bad debt is BAD; retail therapy, shiny cars, I don't feel like cooking let's charge a pizza even though we have food

3.  We work to live, but we also DESERVE to enjoy the fruits of our labor on occasion.  You don't need to go to disneyworld for a vacation!  Go camping, visit a nearby historic city for a long weekend, borrow a camper and drive it to the beach or the mountains, etc.

4.  Seperate money;  This a toughie because right now he works, I stay home.  Basicallt we sat down and said, here's what you bring home, here's expenses, here's the rest.  we basically split "the rest".  He writes me a check when he gets paid, I deposit into my account, pay bills, savings when I can, food, and etc.  His part is his part, he works for it.  I don't care if he buys play dough or beer or a life size anakin skywalker love doll with it, his money, and vise versa.

 

I know a lot of myself in your post.  You guys have got to reach a compromise, this is not worth fighting over.  Also, renting is rather awesome, the american dream ends when the hvac takes crap or you need a roof, LOL.  (I say this as a homeowner, ces't la vie)

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#15 of 17 Old 01-07-2011, 12:39 PM
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I think an occasional splurge would be okay, debt-wise, and it might help your husband feel less deprived. Maybe you could talk to him about what sort of luxuries he misses most, and find a way to work them in. If spending $50 a month on a nice evening out will help your marriage, it's a good investment. Maybe when the debt is gone you could keep one of your jobs and put $50 per paycheck into a travel fund, and start saving for a trip. If you drive instead of fly, or take the bus (if megabus is in your area it's awesome and can be incredibly cheap), travel doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

 

I think you're both right, really. Saving is important, but doing the things that make us happy now is also important. You just need to find the balance that works for you as a couple and a family.


 
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#16 of 17 Old 01-08-2011, 08:16 AM
 
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IMO, I'd tell DH your thoughts: that clearing the slate financially is a NEED of yours right now, and he doesn't have to agree with you, but that you'd like his support. Let him know there's a light at the end of the tunnel and show him your exact figures to reach your goal. Maybe once you get your debt paid off, have a small cushion, then you'll save for a trip home (or maybe for your in-laws to come to you if it's sooo important to them).

 

I presented DH with a few different scenarios when we first started DR, and the DR scenario was the obvious winner! We fell short of that goal, but having a path to follow, even if you wander off, is better than heading off with no direction at all. We still got VERY far along, and hit our goal, even though it took us a bit longer. He fought it kicking and screaming, but I told him to give me 6 months- his way of doing things wasn't getting us anywhere, so let's just give it a shot.


Good luck, mama! YOU ROCK!!


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#17 of 17 Old 01-08-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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IMO, I'd tell DH your thoughts: that clearing the slate financially is a NEED of yours right now, and he doesn't have to agree with you, but that you'd like his support. Let him know there's a light at the end of the tunnel and show him your exact figures to reach your goal. Maybe once you get your debt paid off, have a small cushion, then you'll save for a trip home (or maybe for your in-laws to come to you if it's sooo important to them).

 

At the same time, the money's not all hers. Her DH gets a say, too. I can completely see his response to saying that getting rid of debt is a need that spending money on entertainment is a need of his as well. (I actually agree with him - couldn't live without EVER doing anything for long.) Even DR talks about that in his nerd vs. free spirit discussions.

 

If you're at different places financially, then you need to compromise. One person doesn't get to win and make all of the decisions for the family's finances. 
 


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