Author Topic: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!  (Read 3907 times)

mrsdreamer

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When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« on: December 01, 2016, 10:31:17 AM »
Hello! A little background: I'm very new to these ideas of FI/RE, but I have immersed myself in reading about them this past month. I dream BIG and big (sometimes too big) dreams are what inspire me to do hard things. I LOVE dreaming and scheming and the bigger the possibility the more excited, alive, and driven I feel!

Reading these FI principles has really sparked something in me and I have come up with a plan to (hopefully) achieve early retirement for my husband and I in 5(!!!) years. I've shared these plans with him, explained the exciting things we could do once we achieve FI, and stated that this would take some (albeit minor) budget cuts.

He responded overall positive to the plan, but didn't really engage in the idea and stated that he wouldn't mind working an extra 2 or 3 years if it meant eating out more often, and living more comfortably. This statement kinda deflated my gusto... like: I don't want to work those extra 2-3 years!!!

To give some context: my husband has a stressful job that he has hated/learned to endure as a construction pm.  He is very tired after a strenuous work day and prefers to spend most evenings vegging out watching Office re-runs... Don't get me wrong, his steadiness is a quality I GREATLY appreciate in him.  But sometimes it manifests as complacency...

I would never ever say he is lazy, he is extremely hard working, loyal, and dedicated... but not a dreamer! My question is, how do you get a spouse to exercise their dreams a little?  Especially when they regularly tell you, "I don't really have dreams like you"...


And... if anyone is interested here is our situation and my FI plan:

We both make the same salary (~70k). I am 24 (3 years into working), he is 27 (5 years into working). We are currently putting most excess cash towards paying off our mortgage (45% of our income).  And this is the timeline I've projected:

2017 - work on paying off mortgage (husband prefers to do this over investing for flexibility's sake, and he is conservative/risk-averse)
2018 - finish paying off mortgage
2019 - invest 15% of income, use 42% of income to buy 2 rental properties
2020 - invest 15% of income, use 42% of income to buy 2 more rental properties
2021 - invest 70% of income plus rental income
2022 - FIRE!!!!

Thanks all for reading, can't wait to hear your input/ideas! And I'm so honored to be joining the ranks of 'Mustachians'!!
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MATSG

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2016, 06:27:22 AM »
Welcome mrsdreamer!  I love your enthusiasm and am excited for your plan. 

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer to this question, but am posting to follow this thread and in hopes someone else has good advice to share.  I'm in a similar position - SO is frugal, but not a dreamer.  I talk (sometimes too much?) about my dreams and a life I envision for myself post FIRE and while he doesn't hate it, and agrees it sounds wonderful, I know he doesn't SEE it. 

swick

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2016, 07:46:54 AM »
You might be going "too big" in your dreaming that it is hard for him to see what that would actually look like (being a detail oriented person) on a day to day level.

Instead of talking about all the big things, why not lead him through a "Perfect Day" visualization? Basically in as much detail as possible have him envision what his perfect day looks like. What does it look like? Feel like? taste like? Smell like? What does life look like when you can wake up every morning to your perfect day?

Also explore things like what hobbies doesn't he have time to do because of work, what experiences have you been putting off, what relationships have been suffering? These things are more motivating for some as opposed to the general idea of FIRE.

When you are talking about FIRE it might be an idea to reframe away from the big general ideas to the small concrete ways your lives would be better on a daily basis.

Keep in mind, his idea of the perfect day might be very different than yours, and that is also important to know when going into FIRE.

mrsdreamer

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2016, 08:50:22 AM »
@Swick, thank you for those suggestions!!

I think those are gold... I can't just arbitrarily ask him what his dreams are, I need to help him define them!  I'll be starting some of those conversations in the coming weeks to begin planting the ideas for him of what life could look like after FIRE.

Your specific suggestions are great... what hobbies does he wish he had more time for? What if every day looked like our beloved Saturday's? What does a 'perfect day' look like?

Thank you all for the encouragement!  I know we can do this, we are both already frugal at heart.  But I think to achieve FIRE it take more than frugality; it takes a DRIVE to accomplish your DREAM!

He is close and I think I can light a 'fire' inside of him. (pun intented ;)

@MATSG I hope these suggestions help you encourage your spouse as well!
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SisterX

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2016, 11:10:59 AM »
Your spouse sounds like mine. Frugality comes naturally to both of us, but dreams of the big picture are my realm.

I don't really have any answers. I tried to ask my husband what he really wanted out of life and he gave me a blank stare. "What do you mean?" That conversation really didn't get anywhere (which might have been partly a timing thing).

We're working on one step at a time. We don't actually have that many money conversations because, for the next year or so, we both know what our goals are and how we plan to work toward them. Sometimes having a shorter term plan rather than going for longer term is important. We can steer things in the right direction but still feel flexible when life (inevitably) comes up. I think if we had a set date where I said we'd be FIRE that would freak him out a bit. It might feel like too much responsibility to put on one date, or like something grand would be expected of him after that. So, we think short term instead while I keep the long term goals in mind. That helps shape the conversations we do have. I can remind him of the things we've agreed we really want, like more travel, for the short term goals but it also plays into the long term goals.

stoaX

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2016, 12:37:08 PM »
Is your husband on-board with being a landlord?  Running several properties is no small task and can play a big part in his enthusiasm for the dream.

This thread doesn't exactly address your topic, but it is kindof related...

 http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-convert-your-so-to-mmm-in-50-awesome-steps/ 

Good luck - I wish I had a little more of the "dreamer" gene.

Ynari

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2016, 02:21:35 PM »
So I have what might be an odd question - does it matter if he has the same vision as you? Or put in another way, can you sell the budget cuts without selling the vision?

Sure, it'd help if he were as motivated towards the vision as you are, but 5 years is a long time and it's very possible he can't really visualize that far out, but that as time goes on he'll be happy at the trend towards FIRE. But even without the vision, if he's cool with the budget cuts, saving, etc., you can make the progress you're so excited about.

If your budget cuts are along the lines of eating out less, can you get him excited about making meals together every weekend instead? Alternatively, get him excited about paying off that mortgage by cutting a few costs, and then use the next year or so to show him how continuing to keep your lifestyle inflation down isn't that hard but can have such a big payoff.

arebelspy

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2016, 06:39:52 AM »
Is he willing to read a bit about it?

I'd suggest the two Zalinski books: Work Less, Live More and The Joy Of Not Working

Also:
he wouldn't mind working an extra 2 or 3 years if it meant eating out more often, and living more comfortably.
...
I don't want to work those extra 2-3 years!!!

So let him!  Nothing says you have to FIRE at the same time.  In fact, it seems much more common that both spouses DON'T FIRE at the same time.  You can find plenty of cool things to take up your time in FIRE the first few years before he FIREs.

And maybe, when he sees you enjoying FIRE a lot, he'll realize after a year or whatever that the extras AREN'T worth it to him, and he'll quit earlier than planned to join you!

:)
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Metric Mouse

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2016, 07:00:09 AM »
We're working on one step at a time. We don't actually have that many money conversations because, for the next year or so, we both know what our goals are and how we plan to work toward them. Sometimes having a shorter term plan rather than going for longer term is important. We can steer things in the right direction but still feel flexible when life (inevitably) comes up. I think if we had a set date where I said we'd be FIRE that would freak him out a bit. It might feel like too much responsibility to put on one date, or like something grand would be expected of him after that. So, we think short term instead while I keep the long term goals in mind. That helps shape the conversations we do have. I can remind him of the things we've agreed we really want, like more travel, for the short term goals but it also plays into the long term goals.

This is how I would approach it - one step at a time.  It plays into my mental process, and makes the tasks, and the goal, seem much more achievable. I think you're on the right track with a list of steps by year - if that is the plan you have, get your husband on board with "By 2018 I'd like to have the house paid off."  That gives over a year to bring up the suggestions "Hey, once we have the house paid off, what do you think of investing in some rentals?"
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mrsdreamer

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2016, 09:24:18 AM »
@stoaX - he is pretty comfortable with the idea of landlording... fixing up houses is one of his hobbies, so it makes sense as a passive income strategy. So I am very thankful he is open to that idea :) Thanks for that thread! So interesting and fun to see the steps she took to be on the same page as her SO.  It's really out of a place of love, care, and respect... seeking to help someone understand your point of view while simultaneously wanting to understand their's.

@freznow.. very interesting question!

So I have what might be an odd question - does it matter if he has the same vision as you? Or put in another way, can you sell the budget cuts without selling the vision?

While I appreciate the direction of the suggestion: still moving towards my dreams even if he doesn't share them... To answer your question: yes. It really does matter to me that we as a couple have the same vision (and this may not be the case for everyone).  I am much less motivated by my own dreams than by dreams that I can share with him.

And to be honest, the root of these dreams is that we could enter FIRE together and possibly start a family.  The previous plan was me becoming a SAHM while he continued to work the rest of his life... but that idea seems so stale when we could do it together. So pursuing this dream essentially means that I have to work an extra 3+ years.  Which I'm willing to sacrifice if he is on board. :)

And that somewhat addresses @arebelspy's points... (sidenote: yours was one of the first FIRE stories I heard on the MadFientist's podcast... wow! Love you guys!)  You are right, splitting our FIRE date up by a few years wouldn't be the worst thing and is definitely still a consideration. Thanks for the books, I'll be putting them on our holiday reading list for sure!

@Metric Mouse - so true! Take it step by step and it will seem more possible/manageable.  I definitely will be doing this :)

I've already seen progress in 'firing up his dream' in the past few days thanks to everyone's suggestions!

(Cheesiness alert) Today I sent him the music video by Luke Brian: "Hunting, Fishing, Loving Every Day" with the caption: this is gonna be you every day in 5 years!  He liked that ;)
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Linda_Norway

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2016, 01:34:57 AM »
What about just letting it go and in a year or 2 calculate how much you saved on average per year by your normal frugal lifestyle. We do this sometimes and found out that we save on average more than 1 netto income. My DH concluded that we can stop working 1 year earlier for each year that we work and manage to save this much.

By the way, my DH who is a much more naturally frugal person than I am, recently told me that we don't need to live more frugal than we already do. That was his reaction to my newly discovered Mustachianism. But I know that I can become a lot more frugal. So the least I can do is continue with my plan to improve myself by eating more lunch brought from home at work, buying groceries at the cheaper shop and selling some of my personal stuff.

csdreaming

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2016, 10:03:03 AM »
He responded overall positive to the plan, but didn't really engage in the idea and stated that he wouldn't mind working an extra 2 or 3 years if it meant eating out more often, and living more comfortably. This statement kinda deflated my gusto... like: I don't want to work those extra 2-3 years!!!

To give some context: my husband has a stressful job that he has hated/learned to endure as a construction pm.  He is very tired after a strenuous work day and prefers to spend most evenings vegging out watching Office re-runs... Don't get me wrong, his steadiness is a quality I GREATLY appreciate in him.  But sometimes it manifests as complacency...

Compared to other spouses (and ex-spouses), your husband is not that bad(although you haven't posted spending) if he is putting almost all excess money into repaying the mortgage. Considering how stressful his job is I think you should give him some slack if it is only a few hundred a month in frivolous spending. If the mortgage is new, math wise it may actually give the best investment with how mortgages work.

If you still really want him to cut excess spending I would do what Linda_Norway suggested and just show him how much more quickly you would be able to buy a house by cutting out the spending.  I don't have a SO, but another poster says she just kept reminding her husband and it just sunk in. Perhaps if you post your monthly we can offer more targeted advice.

If your husband is hard working and does enjoy maintaining houses he does sound like an ideal landlord. I would just empathize you want to buy property on the low end of a cycle. Bring up zillow on an example property, show the ups and downs of the market.

Dividend Growth Investing is also another option. Show him a company that raises their dividends every year that you can buy on the cheap.

http://www.dividendgrowthinvestor.com/

ShortInSeattle

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Re: When your spouse is frugal; but not a dreamer!
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2016, 01:02:39 PM »
It sounds like you dropped a big awesome plan on him, he agreed with most of it, and now he's starting to explore/articulate own comfort level about FIRE, lifestyle, and risk. That's all very good! That's huge!

My advice is to back the heck off for a while, at least when it comes to deadlines :) Asking someone to agree to quit their job and give up their income in five years and to agree to all of that NOW is a bit much, I think. Why can't you move forward with your savings plan and continue to check-in as you get closer?

Your DH may need to come to his own conclusions, in his own time. It doesn't sound like he's stonewalling you, rather that he's figuring out what feels right to him. And if the real issue is that you want to have kids at a certain time, talk about that specifically. Don't use the FIRE talk as a proxy for other topics.

It's his ER too. And it sounds like you're already 90% aligned! As a dreamer married to a rational-and-steady guy, I've learned that sometimes my enthusiasm can be steamroller-pushy and I gotta give my guy some processing time. Like *months* of processing time. I wonder if you're in a similar boat with your SO.

I worry sometimes when on this forum we read one spouse getting excited about FIRE and upset their spouse doesn't agree 100% then the advice is to pile on that person even harder with more numbers and persuasion and demands....

My advice is to be thrilled about how much you already agree on, then give the man some space to evolve his thinking. Meanwhile you can work your plans where you agree.

Good luck. I'm excited for you both. :)