Author Topic: Case Study. What would you change?  (Read 9441 times)

Janelle12

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Case Study. What would you change?
« on: March 04, 2015, 07:48:14 AM »
Income:

DH grosses about 57K a year He has some put into 401K, HSA account, plus other taxes and deductions (federal, medicare, vision and medical insurance...more than $400/month).
What actually got deposited into our joint checking account last year from his job: 37,539.
I bring in about 450/month (5,400/yr).

Our expenses:

rent  $450/mo. We are renting DH's dad's house. We've never bought a home. I think his dad wants to sell this house, but we don’t want to buy (foundation issues) and his wife is pressuring him to get the house sold. So the motor home (below) is our backup plan
Electric $150/mo. (we have it averaged. before we did this, summers are around 300, winters 100. I plan to set the thermostat to 82 this summer and acclimate myself to the heat. My husband will come home around 5pm and set it to 70 for the next 12 hours and there’s nothing I can do about that. Other than maybe sneak downstairs at 3am and turn it up.
water $60
gas  $70
car ins $136
timewarner (internet only!) $63 for 100 mbps. Husband will not switch to slower speeds as he streams music/movies.
cell $200/mo. We're paying for two iphones: mine's got a balance of $366 left and his has 334. The kids each have a ‘free’ tablet that have contracts till around July 2016 and if we cancel we pay an additional $696 in early termination fees. We have 8 gigs shared data and unlimited talk and text. We typically use around 4 gigs. By switching to their 4 gig plan we could save $10/month but husband doesn’t want to worry about overages or go on a data diet. total cost to ditch sprint and start fresh with someone else: $1396.
student loan $100 (balance about 5,000)
gasoline $275
food/grocery $500
1994 winnebago elante motorhome $100 (my dad bought an RV several years ago and totally refinished the inside of it. He moved up north and never uses it, so offered it to us at around 8,000 less than what it's worth, zero interest loan, indefinite period of repayment as we get to pick our own monthly payment. We chose $100.)

home depot $130/mo. to pay back 780 balance in six months for interest free. Our oven went kaput.
2003 Toyota Sequoia (valued at 8,000 or more) paid off. We had to have a Toyota because my husband's a certified Toyota mechanic (free labor) and it had to seat a bunch of kids because that's what I do...I pickup kids from school and do afterschool care. We used to also 'need' it to haul my horse and trailer around. Sadly but in a way gladly, I was able to let the horse and trailer go. I’ve considered ditching the SUV but husband wants to keep it ‘in case we need to haul the flatbed or boat on the weekends, which are owned by my mother in law. Trailer used for projects around her ‘homestead.’
2005 Toyota Camry LE (valued at 4,300) (leather, heated seats, sunroof, premium sound, in really good shape with reasonable engine mileage), paid for by hubby's mom loaning us the cash...we owe her:
1,160. The car had needed a new engine and the customer decided to get a new car instead, so we bought it at a steal for 1,000 and bought a new motor. we sold our old camry to pay towards the debt to the in-laws and we still need to come up with the rest of the cash.
401K: contributed in 2014 was 2,303. Total in the acct. is 21,000.
entertainment: Netflix (we use the in-laws account so we don't actually pay for this. Thanks mom!) 0/month.
Hulu $7/month
Redbox (because for my movie-fiend husband, no amount of free or 7/month streaming movies is enough) $15-20/month
HSA covers things like medicines, dr. visit copays, supplements from my Holistic MD (thyroid condition and genetic disorder), although I really need much more to dial this medical thing in, it's just not happening right now. I'd like to get that budgeted in at some point eventually.
401k loan balance: 1,474
(loan was to pay off his huge tool cart work required him to have, and then the company got sold to someone else, and they rebuilt the shop, providing tool boxes, so now he has a huge one at home, in case he ever leaves this company and needs it for another job). tool cart current resale value: $5,000
Tools: $100/month (husband is an auto mechanic)
Pets (six chickens and two rabbits) $40/month. Chickens provide free eggs (we eat what we don't sell which pays for their feed). I gave my sister our guinea pigs on the condition that I’d still pay for their food ($11/month) so actual pet expense: $30
The kids' school lunches. $150/month. We have packed lunches in the past but it is such a struggle to get them out of bed on time to do it, and when they do get out of bed, they still don't seem to be organized enough to get it done by the time my husband has to leave for work. So we order. Luckily, DH (dear hubby) works literally across the street from the charter school four miles away. Plus we carpool two neighbor kids to the same school in the mornings and that's part of my monthly income, so the car trip is justified, we feel (feel free to prove me wrong).



If you go by what was deposited last year, it should be a combined income of an average of 3,578/month. Boy that sounds better on paper than what seems like actually comes in each month! I think this is because some of his paychecks are bigger than normal (1400 on a really good check) and some are much smaller than average (900 on a puny one). As a mechanic he gets paid by the ticket, not by the actual number of hours he's at work every day. Bummer deal. Most of the time it seems like we are dealing with more like 2,840/month. Some of the money is deposited into his bank of America account so is unaccounted for. He says that he uses it when our main account gets too low, probably because of miscellaneous overspending on both our parts.

Income adds up to 3578 averaged
Expenses add up to 2566/month
Difference equals to 1,012

So the un-assigned money comes down to $1012. I swear up and down that there is no way we have been wasting this ‘extra’ unbudgeted money per month. But numbers don’t lie so for now I’m staring straight at it.

If I had to pick wasted money holes, corner store trips would be one...if I had to guess, my DH spends about 15-25/week on beverages and snacks (read: junk food). I don't want to pick on him too much because he the main wage earner. Besides, this is not about picking on people and he will be the first to dig in his heels if he feels attacked.

We used to eat out more but this happens way less because of my income reduction from what it was before We eat out at fast food as a family maybe 2-4 times a month usually when we're on the run on the weekends working at the in-laws, or I'm too sick to cook dinner (which has happened all too frequently these last couple months), and my husband eats lunches out some days I don't have my hair or nails done, I cut the kids' hair, and the kids have school uniforms which thankfully, there is a uniform swap each year so we just round out whatever we can't get from that, usually that bill comes to around $100/year.

Things we have going for us: my willingness to look at the situation and try to make it better. My willingness to line dry clothes and curb my a/c use. My willingness to lower internet and cell (I DO NOT have  my husbands willingness at this point). My willingness to change out the SUV for something more gas friendly, even though our school commute is short (husband wants to keep the SUV). My giving up my hobbies (horse, saltwater fish tank) to make up for my loss in income (we used to make about $10,000 more per year when I was working). No car debt. Very little credit card debt and overall debt.

Goals: To be one month ahead (using Feb's income to pay March's bills all at once at the first of the month)
To have a Rainy Day fund for unforeseeable expenses
To have money budgeted for each expense that we know will happen over the year (birthdays, Christmas etc.)
To be able to retire, ever.

Ok pick us apart.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 07:50:38 AM by Janelle12 »

goober

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2015, 08:34:05 AM »
Hello! I'm sure there are more qualified folks to pick apart the financials, but it does seem like DH isn't exactly in the same place or as on board with these changes as you may be. This is a tough battle as you want them to see and appreciate that you can live a better and happier life with optimizing spending, and you don't want to come off as taking things away from DH as he likely won't last long.

As you aren't the breadwinner, and unless you control the finances, it will be difficult to have much success without your DH being on board somewhat. You may have to slowly build up small changes for him to see the benefits and success.

Are you able to work more, or find a way to earn more with some side gigs than what you already are earning? While optimizing spending is important, if there are opportunities to increase income, that could help a bit as well.

tlars699

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2015, 08:58:46 AM »
If you were to change anything- and agreed on getting DH on board first... but...

1. Sell the tool box unless DH is going to go into business for himself in the next 2 years.
If he likes his gig, have him sell that.
2. Use the money to sock the oven off, and then the student loan. Put the 130$ and then the 100$ in savings.
3. Make him homemade food for his junk food needs. Homemade cookies/crackers for the win, and are much more satisfying.
4. As you seem to have property, garden. That should knock down your grocery bill somewhat- also ALDI's. Seriously. 500 is way too much.
5.If you have rabbits, are they angora rabbits? Sell the fur trimmings, if so. If not, maybe find a way to make playthings for rabbits and sell them online? Side Gig.
6.Stop Hulu or Rebox. Seriously, you have netflix AND redbox, AND Hulu, AND the local Library(for free?). AND he works full time and you have two kids? There is not enough time in the day to watch all there is on all of those, and still have time for things like chores and kids... Asking to stop ONE of the many resources to save money shouldn't kill your DH's movie habit.
7. Tools need that frequent replacing? Or is this a rental cost?
8. How long was the guinea pigs feed thing supposed to go?
9. The winnebago- how often do you guys use that? How much is left on that loan? Is it possible ot rent it out to people you know/trust?
10. Cell phones: 1396/200=7 months' worth of bills. July 2016 is over 12 months away. If you chopped it down to the republic plan posted on here, that would cost you about 40$ a month per phone for the supremo deluxe plan.
Also, Hubby watches movies/music on his phone, too?

I think your first step is to talk to your partner in life, and ask what he would be willing to cut back on, seeing as you dropped the horse and SW tank.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2015, 09:44:27 AM »
Obviously, your husband plays a big role in this, and changing a person is not something you want to rely on (or base a marriage on).  So I am glad you are explaining his part as well as yours: His strengths, like his earning; his habits; and his current views; your time during the day, your obvious commitment to your children, the reading you've already been doing.

FWIW, there are previous articles by MMM and comments by others on the topic of mates where one is more enthusiastic than the other about the Way of the Mustache.  Read, learn, and IMHO value the marriage as much as the dollar, though I am no expert. 

Financially:
1. There is a great post on cutting phone and telecom bills.  Figure the tips that apply best in your  area; change your own phone to a cheaper one when the contract runs out; let DH's changes follow yours when you have an opportunity for buy-in.
2. You do have an opportunity to increase income, because of some free day time.  If a W2 job with just the right hours  is not available, consider the posts on the "50 jobs for $50,000" topic.

Ideas; you decide:
3. My take on the tools thing - if you're going to be pulling on the cost side already, selling it might be touchy.  Not sure if selling is the right thing in the circumstance.  Are such tools available all the time? If so, selling is lower risk; if not, holding them could legitimately reassure DH.  Not sure myself.
4. When in doubt, praise any small change in the direction you hope for.
5. Find ways to make cost savings pleasant - "Honey, would you like brownies for a snack tomorrow?"

Congrats on keeping the family together, keeping good relations with in-laws, etc.  Best of luck!

jeromedawg

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2015, 10:04:36 AM »
Sounds like there's a ton of stuff to here to discuss with your husband. It sounds like there's a lot he's unwilling to give up or budge on. I think you need to have a serious conversation with him as far as what your goals are and why it's important to you (and for your kids). Before tackling a majority of this stuff, it really is a good idea to make sure everyone is on the same page here and at least is heading in the right direction. Sounds like your husband has to be willing to give up a lot more in order to make the kinds of changes you want to make. As you alluded to, this could resort towards taking "baby steps" in every way, which of course would require a lot more of your patience.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2015, 10:11:50 AM »
The phone article is in the MMM Recommends section:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/mmm-recommends/

By the way, the phone article includes a link to I.P. Daley's fabulous cell phone Superguide, which includes internet service too:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-son-of-the-superguide!/

4alpacas

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2015, 10:52:28 AM »
While I agree that you need to start having conversations about cutting back with your husband, I think you can start on certain categories on your own.  For example, your food costs seem to be tied to being unprepared.  Fast food meals, snacks for your husband, school lunches. 

Pack lunches the night or day before. 

Buy the snacks your husband wants to eat.  If he likes Coke and chips, buy them from the grocery store in bulk.  It will be much cheaper than buying individual servings. 

Plan ahead for meals.  Both my DH and I work insane hours.  We're lazy in the kitchen, so I dedicate a few hours every weekend to cooking.  I freeze a lot, but we save a ton of money.  This has allowed us to avoid fast food and take out.  It's faster for us to pull something precooked and heat it up.  Try quesadillas.  Frozen to delicious is less than 2 minutes.  http://www.budgetbytes.com/2012/02/hearty-black-bean-quesadillas/

Davin

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2015, 11:13:47 AM »
This is just a little detail, but I stream music and video over a 3 MB/s connection. You may be able to reduce your internet costs by switching to the next lower tier of service for a month. If no one notices a difference, try again. If you cut too far, just tell them to bump it back up to the last level where you couldn't tell.

Dee18

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2015, 11:17:55 AM »
Hmmm. On your other thread about getting out of your crazy phone situation you said the data plan for the kids' tablets cost $25 per month ( and I think that was each). In this post you say they are free....

sol

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2015, 11:24:24 AM »
Holy smokes!  You're family has WAY nicer stuff than mine does, and we make several multiples of your salary.

It's this really how Americans live? Then it's no wonder people don't have any savings and we continue to have growing wealth inequality.  The number of bad decisions in that post is just baffling.

mandy_2002

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2015, 11:28:01 AM »
1.  Internet speed:  100 mbps is ridiculous.  I stream movies from Netflix and Hulu, as well as music, and my home has 1.5 mbps.  For a family of 4, I wouldn't see any need over about 10. 
2.  Redbox:  Has your husband looked into the DVD collection at the local library?  The branch near me shares movies freely with about 15 other branches (over 2000 titles and growing weekly), and on a limited basis with every library in the state.  I may have waited 4 weeks for Gone Girl, but I'd rather build up my library queue with 20 movies that are free than pay to rent them, if they are available at the kiosk. 
3.  For the junk food and pop issue, if your husband can't go without this stuff, can you at least buy the things that he likes in bulk to save on the C-store mark up? 

I may just be a staunch singleton, but your husband has a lot of demands and requirements.  Is he on board with any changes to move towards the idea of retirement?  Other marrieds can surly attest that you can't change much alone.

Travis

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2015, 11:44:36 AM »
Quote
timewarner (internet only!) $63 for 100 mbps. Husband will not switch to slower speeds as he streams music/movies.

To stream HD movies on television you only need 7Mbps. That's it.  Unless you're running a server farm and a business from your home there is no way in hell you're coming close to tapping 100Mbps (unless every member of the household is streaming a movie on their personal devices in which case you've got bigger problems in your home.)

Quote
husband's snacks

Anything bought at a gas station-type store is going to have a significant mark up compared to buying them in bulk at a grocery store.

Quote
school lunches

I brown bag my lunch every day. It takes me 5 minutes to assemble. What's the issue?

Quote
cell phones/tablets

Picked apart in your other thread

To summarize your extensive original post:

Electric bill: husband is sensitive to the temps
Mobile data: husband doesn't want to lower usage
Hulu/Redbox/Netflix: husband can't get enough movies
lunch: kid's don't wake up in time to make their own
Snacks: husband spends $100 a month at a convenience store
progress made: wife, wife, wife, wife

There is a significant trend in your household's financial issues and it comes down to you being the only one paying attention to them.  We can offer advice all day long, but if you're the only one making the slightest effort then we're all wasting our time. I notice that you're using YNAB, but still confused about money disappearing. This tells me you're not using it properly and letting spending fall through the cracks.  Spend a couple months tracking every dime your family spends and then have a meeting about it and lay everything out line by line.

sol

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2015, 11:55:36 AM »
Or just accept that you don't really have any control over your family's finances and go with the flow.  You're husband will spend wantonly until he has a massive coronary from all that junk food and your kids will grow up internet-adept but emotionally stunted.

For you personally, I think you're current path leads to ever increasing amounts of frustration and bitterness. Which usually ends in either divorce our substance abuse, unless you can forget you ever found this website and go back to being a mindless consumer drone.

Which is just to say,  you really need to get your family on board.  That's a relationship issue more than a financial one, so I'm not sure we can be of much help. 

MandyM

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2015, 12:28:26 PM »
I hate to jump on your husband...but the part that I keep scratching my head about is:

Some of the money is deposited into his bank of America account so is unaccounted for. 

What?? How much? Seems like he has his own slush fund in addition to spending whatever he wants with the "shared" money.

Also, your car insurance seems crazy high for two +10yo vehicles.

Daley

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2015, 12:33:27 PM »
I kinda have to agree with Sol and Travis (and others) on this from a bigger picture standpoint.

That said, something clicked for me on the larger picture and the spendy habits your husband has latched on to. He may be self-medicating. The junk food, the media habits... unfortunately, it's a self-fulfilling cycle of misery. We escape through television and eat junk food to feel better about the unhappiness in our lives by not thinking about it and getting that short-term pleasure fix, but it's empty and only makes things worse.

He may not be happy. There's clearly foundational marital issues as you're not working as a team right now. That needs to be your top priority, getting back on the same page and quit with the mine/yours nonsense. There is no me and you in a marriage, it is only us and we... and unless and until you can fix that, anything else is only going to rip things apart. Consider marriage counseling. Talk with your husband, deal with the fear and whatever else may be lurking, then address these financial issues and start developing a healthier relationship to your money together (one of treating it as a tool and not a substitute for happiness). The cycle needs to be broken so you can move forward as a team for the sake of the entire family.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 12:37:40 PM by I.P. Daley »

dunhamjr

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2015, 12:51:08 PM »
just echoing a lot of others i think.

your husband is not on board.
you both need to work on that and sort through how to compromise.
you both can't even agree on a thermostat setting, so the rest of this is really moot right now.

$$ DOES have a way of just disappearing very quickly if no one is watching it.
based on the story above, i am not really all that surprised $1k is missing each month.

there are lots of things that could easily be cut or cut back and have really very little actual impact on your comfort or luxury.

cellphones has been beat on, but i paid almost half what you pay, just for 3 phones. not 2.
100meg internet is NOT needed for streaming, my house has 12meg dsl and we stream just fine.
$275/mo on gas is a TON since it sounded like your hubby lives 5 miles from work. (maybe i misread that)
$136/mo for car ins is high as well.

food isnt $500... its $650, at least... since you broke out school lunches.  no need to break it out.
and you forgot the $100/mo on junk foods.
now that number is up to $750/mo.

to talk to brown bag lunches.  you need to make them at night.  thats what i do for myself.  if i dont do that, i know i will NOT make one in the morning.  the 5-10 minutes at night will save you $150/mo.  just do it.

why are you paying for a pet you gave aways food?  i know its small, but since it is small... they can pay for the food, or give the pet up completely.

gecko10x

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2015, 01:41:43 PM »
thats way too long, people are helping for fun not to read a life story.  I blanked out 3 sentences in
+1

Quote
So the un-assigned money comes down to $1012. I swear up and down that there is no way we have been wasting this ‘extra’ unbudgeted money per month. But numbers don’t lie so for now I’m staring straight at it.

You need to get a handle on this. Get Mint, YNAB, spreadsheet, paper, whatever, but this is a massive black hole, and your single biggest potential target.

MsSindy

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #17 on: March 04, 2015, 02:25:32 PM »
You've received a lot of great suggestions, and I'd echo the sentiment about the possibility that your husband could be "self medicating" with all the junk food, movie/media, etc.  He's not a happy camper.

Def need to have more of a high-level conversation, and not a conversation about reducing expenses at this point.  However, during subsequent conversations, maybe one of the things that you can approach is that you'd like to be more financially secure (forget early retirement right now) and that you'd like to put away XX $ in an emergency fund - the fact that you had to put an appliance on credit is telling.  Talk about how you're scared that if something should happen to him, that you guys have little to fall back on - even in a temporary situation.  Also, ask if there is something that you can be doing different to make for a happier marriage (you may be surprised at his suggestion - he may want more "one-on-one time" with you, without the kids).

There's a pretty good book by Dr. Laura, titled, The Care and Feeding of Husbands.  Find it in your library.  The basic principle is that husbands really do want to do right by their wives, they just don't always know how, or what we want.  It has a lot of good insight on communication, while being really easy to read and understand (not a lot of jargon). It also talks about changing our behavior first, and that you'll see a change in your spouse's behavior (I can personally attest to this being true).  Read the book first, (it's not long) before you embark on any conversations - how you initially approach this will be critical to your success of shoring up your marriage to be more of a partnership.


jeromedawg

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2015, 03:12:45 PM »
1.  Internet speed:  100 mbps is ridiculous.  I stream movies from Netflix and Hulu, as well as music, and my home has 1.5 mbps.  For a family of 4, I wouldn't see any need over about 10. 
2.  Redbox:  Has your husband looked into the DVD collection at the local library?  The branch near me shares movies freely with about 15 other branches (over 2000 titles and growing weekly), and on a limited basis with every library in the state.  I may have waited 4 weeks for Gone Girl, but I'd rather build up my library queue with 20 movies that are free than pay to rent them, if they are available at the kiosk. 
3.  For the junk food and pop issue, if your husband can't go without this stuff, can you at least buy the things that he likes in bulk to save on the C-store mark up? 

I may just be a staunch singleton, but your husband has a lot of demands and requirements.  Is he on board with any changes to move towards the idea of retirement?  Other marrieds can surly attest that you can't change much alone.

Agreed. 100mbps is more that sufficient for most peoples' needs. If all he's doing is streaming tv/music, he doesn't need that much. Now if you were a very small company it might be different.
For movies - it seems there are countless ways to find movies for pretty cheap or free if you really wanted to (outside of piracy). Look for the $1 redbox rentals or even free rentals (usually requires a credit card or whatever). Otherwise, borrowing movies from your local library is a great suggestion.
But I agree, if he's into watching *that* many movies (which it seems pretty excessive considering he "needs" the plethora of media services) + the junk food, something else is up.

kib

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2015, 03:29:16 PM »
I see some of my own marriage in what you're discussing here.  Depressing, isn't it?

I am the manager of our family's money, and the conclusion that I finally came to after years of frustration and illogical discussions that basically came down to, "I want what I want and you can't stop me", is that I'm simply not going to work as a team with someone who is addicted to his own lifestyle template and has no interest in mine - someone who is basically not behaving like a partner in life, but whom I still love as a friend.  So we have separate finances; I work like a bookkeeper with regard to his - no judgment, he gets what he wants but his path isn't leading to retirement any time soon - and with a true mustachian outlook and path with regard to my own money.  I understand some of the psychology behind his stance and I sympathize, but I'm done being a doormat in the name of psychology.

The difference here is that I bring in enough money to support myself.  I understand that you may be in a situation where that is not possible or practical, but I'm going to come at this from a totally different angle:  maybe you can't change him, but can you change you?  Earn more if you can, including allocating some of his income as yours for the work you do in the house, and then try to manage the money you earn and spend differently from his, by your own principles, so that you still feel like your financial values and goals have weight and respect from *someone*, that you have some control over your life regardless of how he wants to live.

Then see what you can do about his choices, if you still want to.  I absolutely agree that in a great marriage the participants work side by side as a team, but it doesn't always work out that way.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 03:52:17 PM by frufrau »

mm1970

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2015, 03:49:23 PM »
Holy smokes!  You're family has WAY nicer stuff than mine does, and we make several multiples of your salary.

It's this really how Americans live? Then it's no wonder people don't have any savings and we continue to have growing wealth inequality.  The number of bad decisions in that post is just baffling.

This is a very very good point.
You have to get your husband on board, but in a non-attacky way.
There are ways to discuss it, and be gentle.  You don't have to go all austere and all in, because some people will balk.
Our family has made gradual changes, and that's easier.

I can't tell how many kids you have, but $150 for lunches seems like a lot.  I have two kids, one in school.  Lunch is $2.50 a day.  So that's $12.50 a week or $50 a month.  Do you have 3 kids?  Anyway, I pack my 3rd grader's lunch almost every day (he eats school lunch on Weds). Sometimes, he helps me pack it.  But the important thing to note is that WE PACK IT THE NIGHT BEFORE.  I'm all for having kids get the responsibility of packing their own lunch, and we are working on that, but WE DO IT THE NIGHT BEFORE.  I also pack my own lunch the night before.  I can pack a lunch for my kid for about $1, so that saves me $1.50x4 or $6 a week.

I hear you on the fast food when you are sick or out.  We sometimes succumb to that too.  For this entire month, I am going cold turkey on eating out.  Here's how I do that:
1. Bulk cook.  So if I'm ever sick, my husband can defrost something.  Or make grilled cheese sandwiches.  Or frozen pizza, or bean burritos.  There are alternatives to eating out.
2.  Travel/ errands: plan ahead and pack food.  This one is harder, but we don't go out very often.

As far as your husband's "corner store" stuff, that is incredibly wasteful and frustrating.  I have a former coworker who was in a lot of debt with 3 (soon to be 4) kids, and he said "how can I tell my wife to stop shopping when she works so hard??"  Because you can't afford it!!  What does your husband do?  What does he buy?  Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and keep a few sodas and bags of snacks in the house and pack them for him.

Janelle12

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2015, 12:57:12 AM »
Holy smokes!  You're family has WAY nicer stuff than mine does, and we make several multiples of your salary.

It's this really how Americans live? Then it's no wonder people don't have any savings and we continue to have growing wealth inequality.  The number of bad decisions in that post is just baffling.

That was the obligatory face punch and I welcome it. Like others have said, I need to get my husband on board because he is basically really pissed at me right now for talking about any of this with y'all. It's like in the movie Matrix where people get pissed at you for trying to wake them up. (insert whiny complainy-pants icon here)

So many good points and I take them all to heart. A common thread is don't talk about finances or cutting back with my husband right now, but work on the marriage and try to see if he is self medicating with all the food and media. Right off the bat I THINK he will say no. But I will try to see. I think that you're right, if we felt more like a team, my suggestions might be more welcomed.

I'd like to address some of the questions.

Yes we could rent the motorhome out and that would be really good money. DH is not on board with this as he is afraid of damage. Hell, Even if the thing got trashed from renting it out, If we managed to keep it serviceable for a few years, we'd still come out on top probably. I'll see what I can do to work on him about that.

Packing school lunches: (we have two kids and school lunches are $3.50/each) I was trying to get my kids to get up, get focused and be responsible about this for the last two years (four for my older son). I want them to be independent and capable, and NOT to have to do it for them in order to get it done. But please punch me in the face again if I need to bite the bullet and do it for them to save money.

monthly $100 tool expense: This man has every size and brightness of flashlight under the sun. He needs all kinds to get under dashboards, in engine crevices, etc. and helps his job go faster (earning the same amount of money per ticket but working less time). This will be his viewpoint. Flashlights are but one example because of course that's not the only tool he buys. Some are cheap, some take several months to pay off. I don't know what is reasonable and unreasonable in this category so I can't elaborate more on it, sorry.

guinea pigs: good point. A millionaire is made ten dollars at a time so I will give up the guilt and just tell her that if she wants to keep them she has to feed them.

Kids' 'free' $25/month tablets. Sprint 'gives' them to us for FREE!! (don't get me started) but charges us a monthly device fee  of $15 each, but oh so generously gave us a five dollar discount. their data is mostly on wifi and if we did turn on their 3G, it would come out of our shared data plan.

YNAB. We JUST downloaded the free trial. Argued about how to use it (I watched more tutorials than he did, but he did the data entry, he did it 'wrong' per the video I watched, I tried to 'fix' the screwed up balances, deleted stuff, and now he's pissed about that whole thing now. I've sworn hands off and only to enter income and transactions from now on. He is still not willing to enter all income and transactions (I know, don't even start!!)

car insurance includes motorhome since its not paid off. was closer to $100/month without it. liability on car, full coverage on truck (for now, till we get a  few thousand saved up in case we need to pay a deductible or buy a replacement due to total loss)

275 in gas is real. we really do use three tanks of gas each per month, driving to and from work and school, plus weekend trips to georgetown to help out the inlaws. we don't charge them for gas since they give us interest free loans on things like cars and engines and we owe them money. they do throw cash at us for help on projects.

Thanks everyone, for all the tips, insight, and even for the rude and un-cushiony comments ;)

marty998

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2015, 02:12:29 AM »
Can we stop piling on the husband please? So he eats a little junk food and likes to watch movies.

Big deal. So do most of the population.

stones / glass houses. Come on people be honest with yourselves.

Janelle, this situation is not a train wreck that everyone is making it out to be. You're essentially a single income family with kids and you're still able to theoretically save $12,000 a year.

That a fuckin fantastic starting point.

Sure there are bits and pieces that could be fixed (which have been outlined by various people above). But don't sweat him paying a little bit here and there for Tools or conveniences. I mean, he's a mechanic - obviously he's going to like tinkering with tools and stuff in his spare time. Not a great idea to tell him 'no' on that one imo.

Oh sorry, 1 more thing to add - check if the tools purchases are tax deductible - say he needs it for work.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2015, 02:14:48 AM by marty998 »

N

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #23 on: March 05, 2015, 02:30:06 AM »
I can relate so much to your post. I have a journal in the journal section, and my start was a lot like this post. but worse.

I  know those conversations with reluctant spouse are hard. So maybe you get super knowledgeable on everything and present plans of action already thought out. Have solutions ready to talk to him about.

On ynab, cant you create a separate budget, that you can just do all the entry for, without his knowing? I have created extra budgets before for trying to figure stuff out. If just for your own self. Do you have access to all your account information? If not, that is a big red flag.

A lot of the savings things can take extra time (making lunches ahead, making freezer meals) but are worth it for the bottom line.
I absolutely would make my kids lunches the night before, as a gift to them and my own budget.
I make cookies, etc, all the time to have on hand. I  keep freezer meals on hand. I do try to make some lunches for my husband (often he prefers to stick to his routine of pbj and an apple)

In my case, our situation was pretty bad before I got it together. But Ive always been in charge of the bills, so I had access and power to change things. I had to convince husband to sell our cars (and get one cheaper one), to drop cable (and many other extras). Yes, we still compromise (and still have disagreements. I think his gym is too expensive and he could find a cheaper one. I think his weekly allowance is a little padded. he wants a better car, would love cable again, and wants the thermostat at different places than I do.) I spent a lot of time writing stuff down, writing him letters that he could read without pressure of immediate reaction, and I proved and showed what I was willing to give up and change. that went a big ways, too.

The first year of our mustachianism, I stressed to him that after the debt emergency, hair on fire was out, things would improve a bit. and they did. but we did a lot of uncomfortable things those first two years---sell our cars, move to a new apartment, drastically reduce our eating out and our food spending, change our phones, etc. etc. etc. Things have settled a bit. We plan to have a vacation this year (first in 5 years, I think) we do have a monthly budget for family activites and recreation.

When you add up all the things your husband wont change (yet) you can show him how that affects your bottom line, your future plans.
Show him sample alternate budgets. Talk about what you might do if one of you had to be hospitalized. Or if he was laid off. Or if he died. Or if you died. You have children. Look up your social security benefits for survivors. Get real. Get him to get real.

In my experience, the more you give up and let go, the easier it becomes to let go of more stuff, more expenses. The mindset changes, but it can take time. I found MMM and felt like I got religion. Husband has been reluctant the whole way, but is still here. :) Keep at it. Keep hope that things can change.

marty998

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #24 on: March 05, 2015, 02:31:00 AM »
LOL, I must be getting soft in my old age.

Agree DH can find a better deal on the internet.

Oh and regarding the kids lunches, make the sandwiches the night before and pop them in the fridge. They'll still be ok to eat - put an ice brick in with their lunchboxes.

Janelle12

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2015, 06:50:06 AM »
We don't eat grains so sandwiches are out. I usually have something like leftovers from the night before that we heated up and put in a thermos though, so there's still the morning prep. No big deal though.
Thanks for the encouragement. I tend to want to go all out to fix a problem all at once and get frustrated when I can't do that. I just have to live with the fact that that's not who I married....he is slow and likes the baby steps philosophy. No big deal either, I guess.
Yes tools are tax deductible. I have access to our main account, but not his other account at our bank nor the one at a different bank, and I don't have any way of tracing his cash outflow.
Thanks all.

Daley

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #26 on: March 05, 2015, 08:00:30 AM »
A common thread is don't talk about finances or cutting back with my husband right now, but work on the marriage and try to see if he is self medicating with all the food and media. Right off the bat I THINK he will say no. But I will try to see.

My advice, and I speak from personal first-hand experience, obviously don't start out the conversation with, "Are you self-medicating?" That'll get you nowhere and just make matters worse. If people are depressed or unhappy and doing this sort of thing to get through the day, they often don't even realize it themselves initially... they usually don't even recognize it until well after the point that they've stopped, hindsight being 20/20 and all. I also have a feeling he wasn't always like this in the course of your marriage, and the two of you were closer and spent more time together.

Go slow and gentle, do not be confrontational, and do not speak in absolutes. You should be loving and gentile with this. Just ask him about his day and how he's doing in general. Maybe reminisce about some of your shared happy memories from the past. Start there to open up a dialog between the two of you, and see what unfolds... but first and foremost, don't push. If he asks why, just be gentle and honest. Mention how it's easy when changes and new habits are gradual to not notice them in the process, but it's clear in retrospect that there have been changes and routines that haven't necessarily helped keep you as close as you once were and may hurt more than help. I suspect that both of you probably miss some of that older connection, and it's something that you always have to work on to keep. Be positive about it, and remember that you're not trying to fix him, because you aren't. Remember, there's no me and you in marriage, only us and we. Success (and even failure) here is a team effort. You've both changed over the years for better and worse, so you need to be just as critically introspective of yourself as you are of the larger picture if you have any hope of helping the team.

The actual process will need time, lots of patience, and lots of love. You probably need to re-establish the channels of expressing love and affection to one another, and by extension trust. Maybe give the original Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman a read as well to help express and better recognize that love between one another in more meaningful ways to how you've each learned over the years on how to understand and show that love. Love is an emotion that needs to be effectively communicated, so start working on your communications skills with one another.

A successful marriage needs unconditional love, trust, and submission to one another as its foundation. I know the word submission is a touchy one with a lot of people, but if there's a foundation of love and trust, the sort of submission I speak about will happen. It is a sort of submission in which one is able to defer to the wisdom of the other when expressed and requested without needing explanation, but it cannot happen without that love and trust to found it on. Start again with that love, so you can begin to re-establish the trust in your marriage that has gone unnurtured. If you can trust again, submission between one another can happen. Things will fall into place, you'll be on the same page, and you can work forward with the more trivial stuff like finances from there.

You'll be in my prayers, and may you be blessed with success in this endeavor.

jeromedawg

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #27 on: March 05, 2015, 08:53:39 AM »
A common thread is don't talk about finances or cutting back with my husband right now, but work on the marriage and try to see if he is self medicating with all the food and media. Right off the bat I THINK he will say no. But I will try to see.

My advice, and I speak from personal first-hand experience, obviously don't start out the conversation with, "Are you self-medicating?" That'll get you nowhere and just make matters worse. If people are depressed or unhappy and doing this sort of thing to get through the day, they often don't even realize it themselves initially... they usually don't even recognize it until well after the point that they've stopped, hindsight being 20/20 and all. I also have a feeling he wasn't always like this in the course of your marriage, and the two of you were closer and spent more time together.

Go slow and gentle, do not be confrontational, and do not speak in absolutes. You should be loving and gentile with this. Just ask him about his day and how he's doing in general. Maybe reminisce about some of your shared happy memories from the past. Start there to open up a dialog between the two of you, and see what unfolds... but first and foremost, don't push. If he asks why, just be gentle and honest. Mention how it's easy when changes and new habits are gradual to not notice them in the process, but it's clear in retrospect that there have been changes and routines that haven't necessarily helped keep you as close as you once were and may hurt more than help. I suspect that both of you probably miss some of that older connection, and it's something that you always have to work on to keep. Be positive about it, and remember that you're not trying to fix him, because you aren't. Remember, there's no me and you in marriage, only us and we. Success (and even failure) here is a team effort. You've both changed over the years for better and worse, so you need to be just as critically introspective of yourself as you are of the larger picture if you have any hope of helping the team.

The actual process will need time, lots of patience, and lots of love. You probably need to re-establish the channels of expressing love and affection to one another, and by extension trust. Maybe give the original Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman a read as well to help express and better recognize that love between one another in more meaningful ways to how you've each learned over the years on how to understand and show that love. Love is an emotion that needs to be effectively communicated, so start working on your communications skills with one another.

A successful marriage needs unconditional love, trust, and submission to one another as its foundation. I know the word submission is a touchy one with a lot of people, but if there's a foundation of love and trust, the sort of submission I speak about will happen. It is a sort of submission in which one is able to defer to the wisdom of the other when expressed and requested without needing explanation, but it cannot happen without that love and trust to found it on. Start again with that love, so you can begin to re-establish the trust in your marriage that has gone unnurtured. If you can trust again, submission between one another can happen. Things will fall into place, you'll be on the same page, and you can work forward with the more trivial stuff like finances from there.

You'll be in my prayers, and may you be blessed with success in this endeavor.

+1 on every point here

wintersun

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #28 on: March 05, 2015, 09:31:08 AM »
Hi Janelle12,

I recognise some similarities between your situation and my past situation.  This is what worked for me:

First I chose to work on myself and not on him.  I found that focusing on him was unhealthy for me.

I got YNAB for me and I keep the records. I do not share with him what I share on these forums.

I examined and re-examined our bills looking for ways to reduce them and called the companies to ask for better rates in some cases.  I am still doing this regularly. 

 I started small: using a water heater timer, always cooking three things when I used the oven, hanging clothes up sometimes instead of using the dryer, spending less, trying to reduce groceries, saying no to eating out.

More recently I brought up the subject of his spending and started to put spending money in a specific account each month for him. I put the amount he spends not less.  I did this while sharing with him that I was trying to reduce our expenses so we could have a one month buffer and rainy day savings.  I did not mention his spending at all, I just talked about where I overspend and how I am making it a game to reduce the electric bill.  He finds the idea of being prepared for a rainy day to be a great relief and is now thanking me regularly for taking care of our finances.  Men often find the mental burden of taking care of a family financially to be depressing and overwhelming. Knowing that you are not criticising him but are making it easier for him could help him a lot.

I agree with the other posters that buying him his junk food will help.  He may still want to go to the convenience store if it is a social thing.  If you start making things like brownies for him and giving him an already packed bag with a cold coke and chips and brownies he may feel spoiled.  My husband loves to eat out but even more he loves to be brought his food at the table by his wife...so I capitalise on that.  My being prepared has saved us thousands in eating out in the last year.

I would model the kind of life you are desiring and you may well find that he slowly joins you.

One warning note:  Why the unshared accounts?  Perhaps others can share with you whether this is common or not.

minimustache1985

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #29 on: March 05, 2015, 09:41:11 AM »
We don't eat grains so sandwiches are out. I usually have something like leftovers from the night before that we heated up and put in a thermos though, so there's still the morning prep. No big deal though.
Thanks for the encouragement. I tend to want to go all out to fix a problem all at once and get frustrated when I can't do that. I just have to live with the fact that that's not who I married....he is slow and likes the baby steps philosophy. No big deal either, I guess.
Yes tools are tax deductible. I have access to our main account, but not his other account at our bank nor the one at a different bank, and I don't have any way of tracing his cash outflow.
Thanks all.
This is the biggest problem I see, $20 a month on movies pales in comparison to whatever leaks you can't see.  Sign up with Mint and have ALL your accounts on it so you can both see everything.  Transparency is really important for you to be a team.

partgypsy

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #30 on: March 05, 2015, 10:34:04 AM »
It's not a total trainwreck, and doing exactly what you are doing now (seeing where the money goes) is important. I understand your husband's mindset. He feels you not working he has to pay for it by cutting into his quality of life. I don't know how you should do it (non-confrontational weekly or biweekly meetings), but it is critical you need to get on same page that you are all in this together and any changes in personal finance will help you ALL out in long term. Is there any way you can increase the amount of money you bring in monthly?

Housing costs look good.
The trailer. Are you all onboard with living in this thing? Be super honest how you are going to use this thing. If not seriously part of housing plan then it is another toy and would not be in process of buying it.

timewarner (internet only!) $63 for 100 mbps. Husband will not switch to slower speeds as he streams music/movies.
Like others say, you are paying for $63 for internet only. I bet you can get that lower.



Cell phone costs are high ($200 a month!!!). If you can't terminate, lower the plan. If he won't agree at least you do so.
We have 8 gigs shared data and unlimited talk and text. We typically use around 4 gigs. By switching to their 4 gig plan we could save $10/month but husband doesn’t want to worry about overages or go on a data diet

The kids each have a ‘free’ tablet that have contracts till around July 2016 and if we cancel we pay an additional $696 in early termination fees.
The kid's free tablets are not free if you are paying $25 a month. Get used tablets from amazon or craigslist and use your already paid for wifi (through modem. Really look into terminating early without huge fee. If you can't avoid, cancel when won't have penalty, and have this as a lesson to NEVER sign up for plans/deals etc that have recurring costs and early termination fees!!!

School lunches Packing school lunches: (we have two kids and school lunches are $3.50/each).
Personally most school lunches are crap. Your kids will be eating better AND cheaper if you or your kids brings a lunch. My oldest is a 6th grader and gets up early enough to get to her 630 bus and packs her own lunch. Granted we do buy prepackaged stuff to help them fill it in (yogurts, granola bars), which is more expensive than entirely homemade, but again they eat better for less. Our 8 year old also helps pack her lunch. She doesn't like bread products so for her we have lunchmeat in a container, cheese sticks, and cut up veggies or fruit, hummus. It's not going to save you a huge amount but I just believe kids should be able to make their own lunches. 

Regarding vehicles,
We are a 1 car family but we can walk, take public transpo or bike to our respective jobs. Ask yourself if you really need 2 vehicles, especially if you and husband have opposing schedules. Gas costs are high.

Not going to touch the $100 a month tools, you may need to let that go. If he is a mechanic I'm going to trust he knows what he needs to do his various jobs, etc. Might be tax-deductible.
but as others said, you can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink. You need to work on front of a) doing what you can to reduce costs and/or increase your own income, and b) work on your relationship with your husband, have regular times to communicate not during tv/computer time, to talk about your joint goals and where you see yourself, and also ask him what he would like or be helpful to him.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2015, 10:48:50 AM by partgypsy »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #31 on: March 05, 2015, 11:04:03 AM »
You need access to his accounts. Even in marriages with separate finances, transparency is still a benefit.

Once you have access, I personally think it is best that one partner (probably you) be the sole bookkeeper. Your husband can be involved - and it's best if he is interested - but data entry and moving money between categories should really be one person's focus. With two people doing it, it's too easy for it to be haphazard - as you can clearly see.

Argyle

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #32 on: March 05, 2015, 11:29:57 AM »
 I get that you want to encourage your kids to take responsibility for packing their own lunches.  And therefore that your packing a lunch for them looks like letting them off easy.  But when they don't take responsibility for their own lunches, you buy a lunch for them for $3.50.  So what that ends us teaching them is a) if they don't pack their lunches, you will buy for them, b) packing lunches is so troublesome and horrible that even you don't want to do it.

The thing is that kids don't have much practice in being organized.  So it helps to get the lunch fixings set out on one shelf of the fridge or on a counter.  You say you don't do grains, so I don't know what you'd have as your main lunch dish.  Are they avoiding all grains, bread, hotdog buns, etc. in their $3.50 school lunches? 

But okay, I'm imagining a lunch without grains.  So you have, say, a tub of hummus, and a bag of veggies, and a bowl of apples and oranges, and a small box of chocolate squares, all lined up.  So the kid spoons some hummus into a container, grabs some veggies and puts them in another container, grabs an apple, and grabs a chocolate square, and puts them all into the lunchbag.

They'll need to start out by seeing you do it, and as you get it started, you say, "You grab an apple and put it in."  "Great, now the chocolate."  Eventually they take over the whole thing.

Right now, though, they're being rewarded for not doing it.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #33 on: March 05, 2015, 11:38:32 AM »
I get that you want to encourage your kids to take responsibility for packing their own lunches.  And therefore that your packing a lunch for them looks like letting them off easy.  But when they don't take responsibility for their own lunches, you buy a lunch for them for $3.50.  So what that ends us teaching them is a) if they don't pack their lunches, you will buy for them, b) packing lunches is so troublesome and horrible that even you don't want to do it.

Yeah. Unless they are working, if they forget to pack a lunch, they can skip a meal.

Depending on what they eat, have a few days' worth of ingredients pre-prepped and portioned out. A lot of parents like to offer kind of a "free choice" by category: pick 1 fruit, 1 veggie, 1 snacky thing, etc. Having all of that ready to go, they can just take their bag, decide which things they want, and pack it up. Easy-peasy.

Perhaps ease into it. You pack their lunches 4 days/week, then 3, then...


jmusic

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Re: Case Study. What would you change?
« Reply #34 on: March 05, 2015, 12:02:32 PM »
I get that you want to encourage your kids to take responsibility for packing their own lunches.  And therefore that your packing a lunch for them looks like letting them off easy.  But when they don't take responsibility for their own lunches, you buy a lunch for them for $3.50.  So what that ends us teaching them is a) if they don't pack their lunches, you will buy for them, b) packing lunches is so troublesome and horrible that even you don't want to do it.

The thing is that kids don't have much practice in being organized.  So it helps to get the lunch fixings set out on one shelf of the fridge or on a counter.  You say you don't do grains, so I don't know what you'd have as your main lunch dish.  Are they avoiding all grains, bread, hotdog buns, etc. in their $3.50 school lunches? 

But okay, I'm imagining a lunch without grains.  So you have, say, a tub of hummus, and a bag of veggies, and a bowl of apples and oranges, and a small box of chocolate squares, all lined up.  So the kid spoons some hummus into a container, grabs some veggies and puts them in another container, grabs an apple, and grabs a chocolate square, and puts them all into the lunchbag.

They'll need to start out by seeing you do it, and as you get it started, you say, "You grab an apple and put it in."  "Great, now the chocolate."  Eventually they take over the whole thing.

Right now, though, they're being rewarded for not doing it.

All good points.  Especially the "cost" for not making lunch is that they can buy lunch at school.  If they still don't make their lunch after all steps listed above, maybe you should (GASP!) let them go hungry.  It's a natural consequence, and no, they won't starve...


Also +1 for Mint.  I tried YNAB and found it to be too tedious even for my advanced Excel geekery.  That said, I don't keep a real budget, just "don't spend whenever possible" and shunt quite a bit of money to savings each payday.