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Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 07:07 AM   #1
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Need tips for training my spouse.

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.* *

For example, i enter all the expenses into quicken at the end of every month.* I'll notice where she eats subway monday, mexican restaurant tuesday, another restaurant wednesday, etc., she spends 100s on clothes throughout the year, son just had a birthday party that would make a king proud due to all the crap we bought for it, and on and on.* *

I asked her if she'd get me some of the good ham and cheese at the grocery store sliced so i could make sandwitches.* Damn if that sticker on the cheese said $8.49 a pound.* I'm like woman, are you out of your mind? My point being, there's usually one that's on sale, and reasonably priced (albeit higher than those cheap sliced singles).

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
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 07:19 AM   #2
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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.* *

For example, i enter all the expenses into quicken at the end of every month.* I'll notice where she eats subway monday, mexican restaurant tuesday, another restaurant wednesday, etc., she spends 100s on clothes throughout the year, son just had a birthday party that would make a king proud due to all the crap we bought for it, and on and on.* *

I asked her if she'd get me some of the good ham and cheese at the grocery store sliced so i could make sandwitches.* Damn if that sticker on the cheese said $8.49 a pound.* I'm like woman, are you out of your mind?* *My point being, there's usually one that's on sale, and reasonably priced (albeit higher than those cheap sliced singles).

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
You gotta be kidding. My wife was a spending machine. I just divorced her
and ERed the same year. Not suggesting this to others. Worked for me
though.

JG
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 07:39 AM   #3
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

As, if I were you I would just set a budget and get her to buy into it. Then ignore what she spends the money on so long as its not over the budget.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 08:36 AM   #4
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Azanon -

Have you ever tried to actually sit down and include her in the process of planning and/or showing her why it is important? It is one thing to tell a person to do something. "Save money damnit!!" probably is not enough.

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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 09:42 AM   #5
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

I have lived on both sides of this one. I am in my third marriage so I guess I speak from some level of experience with women.

My first wife was a spender. No matter what I did or said she spent like there was no tomorrow. Her mother was one so I guess it was in the genes. I endured 5 years of not ever having any money in the bank and up to 10 credit cards maxed out all the time. He had nothing saved for retirement or college and had no cash to avoid interest payments etc. It sucked! The marriage ended in divorce over a number of issues. Freedom....sort of..I was now a single parent with no funds and the judge thought it appropriate to sock me with a QUADRO and to pay all her debts. Nice!

Second wife was a saver in many ways and would sniff out a bargain if it took her all weekend. While she did save by barain shopping the problem was that she shopped all the time. We had so much stuff she was not willing to part with we had to rent space to store some of it. But she did save for retirement and we always paid cash and carried no CC debt. That was refreshing. However, it ended all too soon.

Current wife is somewhere in the middle. She like to buy things but is careful about the prices. She likes clothes and is on her way to filling up every closet in the house. We have had some talks about saving money and she does appear to be trying. However, she is the new resident in the house and wants to redecorate to her tastes. Can you say $$$$$? Living alone did have its benefits from a financial postition but I would not trade her for anything. I will just have to "train" her to be a bit more frugal. I believe that she had to be most of her life and now that she has me we have a very comfortable income and she is still getting used to actually having money left over at the end of the month.

Sometimes you can "train" them and some times you can't. I agree that you need to have a serious discussion about goals and how to get there. She needs to buy into your budget plans or work to fund her excesses above it. Like Brewer said, give her some money of her own and let her use is as she wishes. But, anything else has to be in the budget including food. If she really wants to spend like a high roller she needs to understand what it takes to fund that kind of spending and the ramifications to income and savings.

Good luck and don't give up. Sometimes women can be trained or at least contained.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 09:55 AM   #6
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

I think for a marriage to work long term, each partner needs to share the same values and be in agreement with their financial goals. Although my husband doesn't participate in the planning aspect of our finances, he knows we have a budget and maintains a level of frugalness. His level of frugality sometimes puts me to shame as I have a tendency to deviate to dark side now and then .
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:02 AM   #7
 
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am that my wife and I agree very closely on this type of stuff.

My solution to problems like this is the throw a book at them. *That is, find a book that is very persuasive in its arguments for frugality and saving, and force it down your wife's throat get your wife to read it. *

The benefits to a LBYM lifestyle are so clearcut and dramatic once you can get someone to understand them.

Others can recommend some books (Your Money or Your Life, Millionaire Next Door?).
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:06 AM   #8
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Azanon,

I agree with brewer. The buy in to the budget is the biggest hurdle. When that's accomplished, don't sweat the $8/lb cheese. The budget is set and the light bulb will go off at some point. Or maybe the light bulb won't go off, but at least the ER plan wasn't harmed because the budget was held.

Another option is to do the shopping yourself or go with her when she goes, but don't be a PITA about it. Is saving an extra $35/week going to bring the ER date noticeably closer?

Cheers,

Chris
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:12 AM   #9
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

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.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:14 AM   #10
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

I find a bullwhip tends to help in the training process!
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:17 AM   #11
 
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Here's a recent, related post in a frugality forum.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:21 AM   #12
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Quote:
I find a bullwhip tends to help in the training process!
I don't think you should mention bulls around TboneAl. No more bull sperm stories please
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:30 AM   #13
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Azanon,

Are you sure you aren't married to my wife?

Basically, I pay the bills and then leave the checkbook with whatever is left. It doesn't matter if there is $500 or $2000 sitting there after the bills are paid...it all gets spent by the end of the month. I've gotten unexpected payments...which get frittered away. I don't hassle her too much because she makes good money.

Thus, I learned to "pay myself first." To do this, I have automatic deductions into all kind of accounts: savings, college, retirement, deferred comp. Thus, I can and do try to save enough for both of us, and she gets to have her fun.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:34 AM   #14
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

I'll jump in with a woman's point of view... just for the heck of it, and just my opinion.

I don't think you're going to "train" her - you'll probably just be met with resentment.

The budget may or may not work, but that's just putting a limit on the wasting of money rather than changing the philosophy.

If she is willing to pay attention the lecture on benefits of LBYM might have some impact.

My personal experience is women shop because they're bored, stressed, unfullfilled, don't know what else to do, (like eating) or because its a social or competitive thing with friends. *Shopping was my mom's major activity most of her life.

But people can change. * I used to love to shop, constantly had a running list of things I "needed to shop for." *At the time I was in a bad relationship, and a stressful job situation. *There was no hope of FIRE with him, he never had a penny, and spent any of mine he could get his hands on.

After starting a new relationship, with someone who shares my goals, and has the means to help achieve them, and started spending free time together on activities like kayaking, running, biking, remodeling (now theres a new $ black hole) I suddenly lost interest in shopping.

I am always amazed that there is nothing on my "need" list these days except maybe construction glue or a new camping stove....

My point, and *I do have one, is maybe working on the marriage and doing some things together would help her find something she enjoys more than shopping. * She may come around to seeing that saving and ER are worthy goals.

JMHO *
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:43 AM   #15
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Good point, Sheryl. I can see how spending can be a quasi-addictive activity and fill a void for some. Getting involved in non-monetary activities...what a concept!

My DW sometimes complains about working, and is envious of people we know who have ERed. I try to point out that saving more is her (our) ticket out of the rat race. But, her vision is too narrow, and she doesn't see how $100 here and $250 there will help her ER.

I think it is important to keep an eye on the little things. Yes, it may be just $8.00 for a pound of cheese, but the little things add up.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:49 AM   #16
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain_Mike

Thus, I learned to "pay myself first." To do this, I have automatic deductions into all kind of accounts: savings, college, retirement, deferred comp. Thus, I can and do try to save enough for both of us, and she gets to have her fun.
I use the "pay myself first" strategy as well. My 401k money is automatically taken from the paycheck. I invest in the taxable accounts twice a month automatically. These investments are just like other bills we have to pay. On the 10th and 25th, the draft hits my bank account. I have established a budget, but only in the sense that it is an estimate of what I think it takes to get by on each month. From our budget, I know how much our income exceeds our expected expenses. The surplus is the amount I set to automatically invest. We both try to save money as value conscious consumers, and if we're spending too much, our bank account balance reflects this. Constraining your "disposable" income in such a manner lets your spouse know how much they have left for the month, and then they can figure out how to spend the money. Of course, I have a generally frugal wife, so I'm not sure how my system would work on a non-frugal wife.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 10:52 AM   #17
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

I'm not hearing that you have a working budget to reference about her spending habits.

Can the two of you determine what an appropriate amount would be for groceries and allowance (for lunches out) each month, and an annual amount for clothing for each person. *For the allowance you would only post the amount you give her, let her spend it as she choses on lunches or otherwise.

Groceries are the best place to limit spending in a budget. *A family can spend 800 a month on expensive foods or spend 250 a month on the basics adding sale items to save money. *

I think if the two of you sit down and work out a spending plan which will help you meet your ER goals, then you can adjust as needed. *If you set a grocery limit of 400 and she spends 600, then the expensive ham can be a discussion. *

My mother was a spender. *My dad gave her xxx dollars a month to spend for everything monthly, he paid all the annual bills. *She spent it all but did not overspend. *It worked for them.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 11:23 AM   #18
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

Marriage is a partnership and both partners need to agree on some aspects of the marriage or it will not survive. Financial stress caused by misalignment of goals in the marriage can lead to some major conflicts and if not resolved, to divorce. While training a spouse is being dismissed here as an option, I believe you have to look at what one means my training. It is not forcing someone to accept your way of thinking it is showing them there is a different way to see things. Desired behaviour is rewarded and the individual makes their own decisions on what they do. You can lead a horse to water and he (she) will drink if the day is hot and the water cool and sweet.

If half of the partneship is overspending and the other half it stressed out because of it then where is this relationship going? No action is a receipe for disaster. It is not about being stingy or controlling it is about shared goals and what it takes to get to FIRE. If you can't agree on spending you will fail to save and you will be working long past your FIRE date.

Just my 2 cents.
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 11:33 AM   #19
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

One suggestion I have is to do things together. Both of you go to the grocery store or plan the kids birthday party. You'll both see what it takes to pay for these items.

Do the allowance system. Hubby complained that he never had enough money to spend on things he wanted. I had him figure out what he thought he needed for the week and then withdraw it from his savings account. (via debit card) Amazingly he was spending 4x what he actually thought he was spending. It didn't take long for him to see how fivolous some of his purchases were.

And discuss long-range goals. His was to retire early. I pointed out that this was not going to happen on the road he was on. It took a little while but he finally realized it. (and was able to retire this yr at age 53)

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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.
Old 08-24-2005, 11:35 AM   #20
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Re: Need tips for training my spouse.

My wife was the same way when we first got married. I think the two things that worked was I gave her a copy of Millionaire Next Door to read and that opened her eyes. I then followed up with a spreadsheet with projected wealth accumulation based on saving and investing. Her eyes bugged out of her head and she was a little more open. Then she went cold turkey and started pinching pennies on everything. I remember telling her that if she lived off her allowance she would never have to work again after 2004. We missed it buy a year however she say our networth accumulate and other people started asking her how to LBYM and she became an expert from experience. I don't think there is just one magic bullet that will get your spouse to change. Rather it is a series of events. Also, I almost forgot. Tell her to look around at her older relatives and their financial position (i.e. working at 62 with no retirement savings). There are plenty of examples of people spending all their lives with nothing to show for it.
Anyway good luck on your quest to train her
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