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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 12:00 PM   #21
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by azanon
I've brought this up before in some form or other, but my biggest hurdle in my quest to FIRE has been, and continues to be my wife.* Ok, sure, she's not just horrible about spending friviously, but she's probably about average for an american, which is bad enough.* *

I try to help her by telling her how important it is that we save, and encourage her to bring her lunch and shop smart, but i think he just nods and smiles and waits for me to shut up.* *And every other paycheck i get asked, so how much can i spend for fun?* *I'm thinking, woman, how bout just desiring not to spend??* Is that just too radical for you?

Help!

Azanon
"Need tips for training my spouse." Good grief, man, you train dogs. If that's what you want then buy a puppy.

Your main hurdle to FIRE appears to be having a partner who shares your FIRE goal. While she may want to be FIRE herself, maybe she's going about it in a slightly different manner. You're keenly aware of how your life will change in FIRE and that's a powerful motivation. What motivates her toward FIRE? How will her life change?

Perhaps the two of you need to verify what life/marriage goals you share, decide together on a FIRE goal (if that's even on her list), and then plan together how to get there. Sure, you could develop a plan yourself and brief her, but she'll just start nodding & smiling. The idea here is that she contributes most of the input and planning.

Or you could make her do the Quicken data entry (since she generates most of the entries) but that will probably just turn an adversarial relationship into an acrimonious one...

Good luck. As long as one of you is imposing FIRE upon the other, you're gonna need lotsa luck.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 12:30 PM   #22
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Yeah, maybe “educate” would be a better word, which would include exposing her to alternative ways of thinking or “lifestyles” that will hopefully affect how she lives.* Books have been suggested, like "Your Money or Your Life".* A couple more are “The Overspent American” and “Affluenza”, although these may not be so applicable since you said your wife is not horrible at spending frivolously.

Sharing goals and not imposing FIRE as a goal has already been touched on.* That implies equality or at least an attempt at it, listening to her input and having her participate rather than “training” her.*

If she agrees on the same goal as you, then that’s half the battle and you can explain to her the strategies that you think will get you there, and how you need her help and participation to make it.* You can then also show her the math, like the power of compounding, 4% SWR and how every $25 saved would be $1 to spend in RE, etc.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 12:52 PM   #23
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

azanon: I have one suggestion that worked for me in our early portion of marriage: After the "establishment of budget," I recommended that each of us try to reduce our alloted budgetary allowances. I handled the food budget portion. I said I would try to reduce food expenses by 20% without affecting our lives (too much beans and rice; too little going out). My job turned into one of attempting to be smarter with less money. DW's job was to make the home and assorted activities enjoyable--but at a reduced expenditure of 20%. Again, I appealed to her intelligence and ability to be frugal but achieve the same ends results--my our happiness, focusing attention on where we both had definite room to work--frugal smarts. We shared the same goal but allowed the expression of that goal to be individually determined. But try to make her clean the toilet no matter how other negotiations turn out.

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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 01:30 PM   #24
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

I'll tell you what worked for me

My wife comes from a frugal but well to do family. She doesn't work and had become very separated from our finances. She just assumed that I did everything.

In the past year she had gotten pretty free with her spending. She was going out to lunch 5-6 times a week. On top of that, she was dropping $100 here, $100 there etc.

Finally about 2 months ago I just had to have a sit down with her to explain the situation. I told her how I know that she doesn't like it when I have to work late, and sometimes on weekends. I showed her that the only way for me to spend more time at home was 1. for our living expenses to go down 2. which increases our investments meaning less time to FIRE.

she understood and has done a really good job of making things better for us. IT has removed the greatest point of stress in our relationship, so I suggest you start working on it now.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 01:56 PM   #25
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

As simple as it may sound, many people have a disconnect in the relationship between saving and FIRE.

LBYM facilitates savings, which can lead to eventual FIRE.

Not rocket science. In my case, DW believes FIRE to be an almost unattainable goal, so distant that the $100 saved today doesn't make any diference.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 02:15 PM   #26
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Great thread title.

If you ever watch daytime TV - Oprah, Dr. Feel - or listen to radio psychologists, you will hear this endless refrain, "But I thought he would change after I married him." Everyone groans when they hear that. The conversation might be about booze or drugs or appearance or cleaning or irresponsible behavior or how kids get treated or ... There is no exemption for money.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 03:28 PM   #27
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

I've always hated the concept of "allowances" for adults, but maybe it she got a certain about of money every month that she didn't have to be accountable for then she would feel in control of that and not go above it.

The grocery thing is another matter, maybe when you said good cheese she thought you meant really good cheese (now we know that you LOVE that free cheese )

I've always been the more thrifty one in our marriage, but getting DH involved in the spreadsheets, etc. this past year while trying to establish what we actually spend (and therefore what we'll need in ER) has really made him more aware of the day to day expenditures and how they affect our lives.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 03:40 PM   #28
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypse . . .um . . .SOON
... But try to make her clean the toilet no matter how other negotiations turn out.

--Greg
This has to be one of the funniest lines I've seen on this forum in a while. But that's just my opinion. DW wanted to know what the heck I was laughing so much about so I showed her the post. Her comment, "So the moral to the story is you better let your wife come out ahead in the negotiations if you don't want to clean the toilet."

My response, "Yes, dear."

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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 04:26 PM   #29
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

"Train" is an ugly word when you are talking about other people. Even "teach" has a subordinate connotation.

But if you want people to change there are similarities to training a pet.

Reward works better than punishment. At first, behavior that barely approximates the desired behavior in the slightest should result in praise. Gradually raise the bar. Praise has to be sincere and not condescending. Listening to a lecture feels like punishment to most people.

Something needs to be offered to replace the unwanted behavior.

Consistency is critical.

Patience makes the best trainer.

I'm not even a very good pet trainer. I wouldn't even try to "train" my wife.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 04:52 PM   #30
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wabmester
Don't even bother with a budget. Don't berate her. If you want to keep your marriage healthy, just accept her behavior as-is. If she picks up clues from your "good" behavior, that's great, but accepting the whole package is what marriage is about.
From Groucho...

The husband who wants a happy marriage should learn to keep his mouth shut and his checkbook open.

Here's to our wives and girlfriends...may they never meet
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:03 PM   #31
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

I am the frugal one in our marriage. We used to argue about money quite a bit and then decided to do the allowance bit. DH was very good about getting his allowance from the bank and then when the credit card bill came, he would still have alot of purchases. He spends alot of money on car parts. Some months there is $400-$600 on the credit card on these parts. Also, during the summer months, our gasoline bill probably rivals many people's grocery bills for the month. He crashed his corvette earlier this summer and told me the good news was that we would only have to pay $1000.00 (deductible). The good news from my standpoint was that he was not hurt, gasoline usage is down this summer and he is home much more. We now have 5 vehicles for 3 drivers. I need to start using Quicken or spreadsheets to keep track of the money that we are spending on insurance, personal property taxes, licenses and registrations for these 5 vehicles. He always states that he is going to work forever. I think that will change though and I worry about not putting enough away. He thinks that I puts way too much away. We definitely do not see eye to eye, so I understand and sympathize with you.

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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-25-2005, 12:39 AM   #32
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

I've got lots of thoughts here, but one quick question -- does your wife have an income or does she work at home? If so, what does she bring in relative to what you earn -- percentage-wise, that is?

Caroline
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-25-2005, 03:49 AM   #33
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Azanon,

I used to be your wife. Pretty bad with money, never had any money
in the bank, carried credit card balances all the time, etc. I got myself out
of debt before getting married, but was still pretty sloppy with money until
my wife, who is naturally very frugal, managed to "train" me. Her trick:
she put me in charge of taking care of all of the family finances. This
really forced me to get into the subject of money management seriously
and take responsibility (since I knew it wasn't just me that would suffer).
Having a kid also helped kick in that financial familial self-preservation
instinct. Now I very much enjoy budgeting, finances, investment, etc.,
stuff which I always found annoying or scary before.

Don't know if this would work for you, but at least it should tell you
that what everybody says about not being able to "train" a spouse
is not necessarily true. Try to find a way to get her involved
somehow, to take responsibility for the decisions rather than just
reacting to external pressure.

Bpp
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-25-2005, 07:04 AM   #34
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Thanks for all the responses guys. The wheels are definitely turning in my head and i'm going to consider implementing some of the approaches here. I do believe it is possible for either her or I to make some adjustments so that we're both on the same page, or as close to it as possible.

Caroline, i dont mind just givin you the numbers; I make right at 70k/year, and my wife makes 40K/year. My wife, though, probably has more room for salary growth since she just entered the workforce with a MSW and is very entrepreneur minded. I'm a GS-12 and thought my GS-13 boss is about to retire, i'm not sure i even want his job if they were to give it to me.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-25-2005, 10:11 AM   #35
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by azanon
Thanks for all the responses guys. The wheels are definitely turning in my head and i'm going to consider implementing some of the approaches here. I do believe it is possible for either her or I to make some adjustments so that we're both on the same page, or as close to it as possible.

Caroline, i dont mind just givin you the numbers; I make right at 70k/year, and my wife makes 40K/year. My wife, though, probably has more room for salary growth since she just entered the workforce with a MSW and is very entrepreneur minded. I'm a GS-12 and thought my GS-13 boss is about to retire, i'm not sure i even want his job if they were to give it to me.

Your wife works!!!!! What are you complaining about? I guess I'm so used to my wife not working that I just get a little jealous of other people sometimess
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-25-2005, 10:14 AM   #36
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saluki9

Your wife works!!!!! What are you complaining about?* * *I guess I'm so used to my wife not working that I just get a little jealous of other people sometimess* *
My wife doesn't have a paid job either Saluki. She has a small side business that makes maybe 5k a year, but mostly she chases after our daughter.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-25-2005, 10:38 AM   #37
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

From Nords...

Quote:
"Need tips for training my spouse." Good grief, man, you train dogs. If that's what you want then buy a puppy.
You are a gentleman as well as a scholar, Nords!

I don't know your wife, Azanon, but my reaction to reading your note was one of sympathy... I've been working with my partner on a life plan and financial goals so I know what hard work that can be.

At the same time, it occured to me that, since I make my own money, I would NOT want to be told what to do with it. It may be less of a money issue than it is a freedom and indepence issue.

I don't want to put down anything that looks like a feminist rant, but there are men in the world (none of whom ever visit this site, thank god), who have a tendency to try to tell us women what to do. Sometimes, we resist!

When I run into resistance from my mate I purge all "you" and "we" comments from the disucssion and go with "I" statements. Some examples:

"I love you very much and would never want to change you -- I just get SO tired of this workaday grind. I look forward to the day when you and I can be free to (fill in the blank -- travel, build a business together, spend more time with the grandkids, whatever.)"

"I want you to have the best of everything, sweetie, but I just get so afraid with the way the economy, the war, and the job-markets are going. I'd feel much more comfortable if we saved for (fill in the blank) and paid cash for it."

"I don't want you to feel monitored, but I need to feel comfortable. What if we "paid ourselves first" each month and had a set amount left over for each of us to spend any way we liked? Would that work for you?"

You get the picture. This sounds simple but it has proven VERY effective. My partner DOES want me to be happy - he just has trouble remembering that when he's busy defending himself against my efforts to "improve" him! "I" statements take the pressure off him and free him up to consider my request.

(Do be sure to start slowly -- if your wife hasn't heard this type of touchy-feely stuff from you in some time she may fall right over!)

Hope that helps - I want to get out of this job so bad I can taste it, and anything that gets in the way of that really stresses me out. Good luck, and hope my gentle ribbing was ok!

Caroline



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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-25-2005, 01:53 PM   #38
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Caroline,

I really don't trample too much on the freedom and independence of how she spends her money per se.* *Even I like to buy myself a few toys everynow and then if our available monies permit.

Right now, we dont have an outright drawn-out budget per se.* What we're currently doing is that we agreed to only buy "needs" up until the end/beginning of a pay period.* *At the beginning of a pay period, i try to pay ourselves upfront.* At the end of a pay period, whatever is left can potentially be fun money.

Where the damage seems to be done is during the middle.* Certainly, "food" is a need so she'll buy that, but one can still pay too much for food (like the 8 dollar/pound cheese).* *Clothes certainly are a need (she needs to look nice for work, even i agree with that), but how many clothes is enough and where does one wife go from need to excess.* *Everyone needs a haircut, but why does hers has to cost 50 dollars, and 20-25 extra for red-highlights that i cant even see (usually if i squint, i can see the red).* * Everyone also "needs" to eat, but does one need to eat out chinese for lunch everyday?* * Do you get what i'm saying here.* * * So by the end of a pay period, we're often left with nothing for fun money, which dissapoints her more than it does me, and this stresses me out cause the way i see it, she's the main reason we dont have any left.

But the way she'll see it, is the reason we dont have enough is probably cause i'm taking too much from the pot in the beginning (i.e. the retirement funds).

So my fear is, that to break the stalemate, i might end up laxing on the retirement contributions rather than her easing up on the discretional spending.* *I cant spend any less, cause i already spend personally like a minimalist.* I am socking away close to 18% of gross earnings though in retirement accounts (not counting my eventual pension, + both our social securities).* My employer matches up to 5% for my 401(k). So 18% of gross (18% of 110K) + employer match in largely equity investments would get me to where i needed to go in terms of a decent ER.* But I know if i start dropping much below 15%, then i'm going to be moving into the realm of just a typical retirement (60+).

So.... anyway, this is something we'll be working on.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-25-2005, 03:24 PM   #39
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

You could make a list with your wife of all the "discretionary" spending that occurs - dining out, clothes, expensive haircuts, etc. Prioritize the list by what is most important to you/her, and what is least important. See if she'll agree to try to reduce spending on the stuff that isn't really that important to her. The point is to keep the extravagances that mean the most to you, while reducing those that mean very little.

For example, the $6/day chinese habit may mean a lot to your wife - she gets to socialize with friends (stress relief!) and doesn't have to worry about eating a bologna sandwich every day. She may find that the $200 suit/purse/shoes that she just bought in a different shade of grey may not bring much value to her life when she is forced to prioritize what is important to her.

In my purchasing decisions, I view everything as a cost/benefit analysis. Identify the true costs of ownership, determine what benefits the purchase would have, and then take action.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-25-2005, 04:36 PM   #40
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Although I am the long term retirement planner, I'm also the spender. She does the day to day finances and gives me an allowance. I'll admit, it's hard to sacrifice now for something that seems so far off. Constant tempation, despite the fact that by all measures we live a nice lifestyle.
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