Author Topic: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse  (Read 11554 times)

Lagom

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Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« on: October 27, 2012, 03:24:20 PM »
I meant this post to come after the usual dipping my toe in the water, introducing myself, etc. rigmarole, but I just had a somewhat frustrating conversation with my wife that made me think again about this topic. So, hello everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster. Here's what's on my mind (TLDR version: how much pushing is fair on a non-mustachian spouse if he/she significantly outearns you?):

To make a long story short, my wife and I are in ungodly amounts of debt due to a couple of majorly bad money decisions that precipitated ongoing small bad decisions because of our refusal to reduce expenses. Today, several years later, we are finally on the right track, paying down what peaked at over $100k of consumer debt and another $85k of student loan debt (today the totals are $77k and $80k respectively). We're also $30k underwater on a $180k mortgage. Don't worry, I have punched myself in the face many times for our sins.

Fortunately, my wife's recent career success has drastically increased our income over the past two years. This year, I will make about $40k in a low-stress nonprofit job. She will make around $100-110k in a high-stress business job (with a $20k raise on deck for 2013). Starting two years ago, I also started to push for a more mustachian outlook on our finances, with some limited success. The best approach has been the shared goals discussions, and to be fair, my DW has made several changes based on those conversations. We are making progress, paying about $2500/month towards debt for over a year now and will be putting most of an expected $25-30k (net) bonus towards knocking out another chunk.

Nevertheless, she is still something of a spendthrift. In addition to $350/month of "fun money" (yup), she also claims all incidental bonuses she receives (not the year-end) as personal prizes to reward her for her stressful work situation. This year that total will be at least $3k, from which she has already purchased a new laptop and several hundred dollars in designer clothes (the subject of today's conversation). Further twist--she has lost a fair amount of weight over the past few months, making new clothes a literal necessity. She insists on a nicer car to drive clients around (purchased used, but still $20k) and wants 3-4 non-mustachian vacations each year (e.g. Vegas). She is also one of those "I don't know if I would enjoy retiring early" kind of people. She has told me she would be happy if I spent as much as she did on "fun" stuff because she doesn't want me to resent her. I don't resent her, but I can see why me pushing frugality makes her worried about this.

For the record, I am madly in love with and deeply proud of my wife. Our relationship is very strong, and I only want her to grow a long and lustrous mustache because I think it would suit her fine features and bring us both many years of lip-tickling happiness. Hence my dilemma.

Because my income and job stress are both so much lower than hers, I feel I have no business being too pushy about her habits. Our finances have been combined since we were both broke 20-year olds, and I don't want her to start feeling defensive and potentially developing a me vs. you mentality. At our current rate, we're still on track for FI sometime before 60 because she is perfectly satisfied with our current level of spending and has agreed that 90-100% of future wage increases can be saved (after our debt is gone). I feel, however, that there is a reasonable chance she will get burned out by her job by 40-45 (we are 29), and I would hate for her to feel stuck. She could easily bring in significant money consulting part time, so my hope is to get us far enough that she would be able to quit her full time job whenever she wants. But I don't want to harm our relationship towards that end. I've tried most of the ideas in this post, http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/22/selling-the-dream-how-to-make-your-spouse-love-frugality/, but maybe some bear revisiting/pushing harder?

Sorry for the long first post! I would be interested to hear your thoughts...

happy

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2012, 04:32:03 PM »
Although her spending is too high for you, it does sound like at least she is responding to some extent. Keep making frugal suggestions and modelling frugality..don't underestimate the power of the partner to subtly influence. Pushing doesn't really work.

I'm not clear on your goals here: are you interested in FI or do you think she should be interested in FI? Or do you want you both to do it together? If she really isn't interested in FI, I'm not sure you can insist on her doing it with you, especially as it sounds like a new idea you've come up with relatively recently in the span of your relationship.

Why don't you try to clarify your expectations and what she wants. If you want FI and she doesn't, why don't you separate your finances?

c

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2012, 04:32:43 PM »
Quote
she also claims all incidental bonuses she receives (not the year-end) as personal prizes to reward her for her stressful work situation.

Well technically they are.

I am in a similar situation earnings wise. I have a very stressful job and make more than twice what my husband does for his relatively low stress job. For a long time he wasn't working at all. I really started to resent everything I was doing to earn "our" money, while he sat back and reaped the benefits. That's not exactly how it was, but that's exactly how it felt. It drove me crazy that all my money went towards debt, living expenses etc and none of it on myself. I'm starting to feel like I may be burnt out on my job and as I'm the frugal one it was easier for me to say "no more spending". I also separated all our finances. I also used to think that things would be much easier if he earnt what I did.

It is extraordinarily stressful walking into a high stress job every day, with a mountain of debt and knowing your money won't be used for what you'd prefer it was. It sounds like your wife is feeling the pressure of this as the lifestyle change and that everything is really on her in terms of earning the money to pay for all these things.

I'm not making excuses for your wife, just letting you know how I felt in a similar situation.




Lagom

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2012, 06:23:22 PM »
Although her spending is too high for you, it does sound like at least she is responding to some extent. Keep making frugal suggestions and modelling frugality..don't underestimate the power of the partner to subtly influence. Pushing doesn't really work.

I'm not clear on your goals here: are you interested in FI or do you think she should be interested in FI? Or do you want you both to do it together? If she really isn't interested in FI, I'm not sure you can insist on her doing it with you, especially as it sounds like a new idea you've come up with relatively recently in the span of your relationship.

Why don't you try to clarify your expectations and what she wants. If you want FI and she doesn't, why don't you separate your finances?

Good questions. I thought about including more, but it was already a huge post. I am personally very interested in FI and have been for some time. I have so many diverse interests that the idea of working in a single field for 40 years makes me ill. Thus I have job hopped, which has stunted my income potential. If I could do it over again I would have gone the high wage for 8-10 years route, but oh well. I am lucky to have such an understanding wife, in that regard! Until about a year ago, I also thought we would need millions to pull it off and thus it felt hopeless, even during the early days of us turning around our debt situation. For context on my viewpoint, I personally could make due with a far lower standard of living than the DW. Even as a low earning job hopper, I could easily save 60-70%+ if I were on my own. But that's a pointless thought experiment because I love her beyond measure and I absolutely do not want to impose my higher tolerance for discomfort on her, especially as she has the income to pay for a little luxury! :)

She doesn't know what to think of FI as a goal. As I said, she is unsure whether it's truly possible and whether she could handle not working. At the same time, our debt ordeal stressed both of us out a lot, and we still have some lingering issues surrounding it. She has also had a number of low moments related to work and I know her well enough to see a very real (not inevitable) possibility of this becoming more severe over time. She has already more than once said things like "I don't know if I can do this." My response is always unequivocal support of her awesomeness and she continues to kick ass every day. But I don't want her to ever feel trapped (which is by far one of her biggest fears in any personal or professional relationship). We also don't have kids yet, and who knows how that will change the equation. Even if she never quits, I am 100% certain that the security of not needing to work would take a load off her soul. I honestly believe bringing her around would benefit us both.

This is a new concept for us and it may just need gentle persistence on my part. We don't believe in separate finances (at least in our relationship) and I actually believe merged finances have been a net positive in our case.


Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2012, 06:55:27 PM »
Here's the deal: you have gotten religion now. You've had the aha moment. She hasn't. And if you get all "Get on board my crazy ER train!" too hard and too fast she's just going to resent your "suggestions" and start "suggesting" things on her own, like "then go make more of your own money, sweetie."

She sounds like she's being pretty reasonable by, you know, normal-people standards. But, you might talk about the debt repayment in terms of opportunity costs. Ie., carrying this debt for XYZ more months or years = $ABC more money we LOSE on interest, just give away. Or, we could pay down the debt faster and keep that money and pay it to OURSELVES and go spend 6 weeks in Europe with it in a few years, etc. etc.

In other words, put this in terms of the benefit to be gained by being a bit more aggressive than she wants to be without making it all about deprivation for her. Cause she probably feels pretty great about earning her goodies, and who could really blame her, ya know? So try goodie substitution. Since she's lost weight, this is a good analogy: you cut down on necessary stuff (calories) now and you get a big reward that is way better later (being super hot).

All that said, I say walk the walk but be softish with the talk. If she is meeting you half-way, take it. You guys will continue to grow in all this stuff together. Just allow it to take a bit of time.

Lagom

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2012, 07:07:48 PM »
Quote
she also claims all incidental bonuses she receives (not the year-end) as personal prizes to reward her for her stressful work situation.

Well technically they are.

I am in a similar situation earnings wise. I have a very stressful job and make more than twice what my husband does for his relatively low stress job. For a long time he wasn't working at all. I really started to resent everything I was doing to earn "our" money, while he sat back and reaped the benefits. That's not exactly how it was, but that's exactly how it felt. It drove me crazy that all my money went towards debt, living expenses etc and none of it on myself. I'm starting to feel like I may be burnt out on my job and as I'm the frugal one it was easier for me to say "no more spending". I also separated all our finances. I also used to think that things would be much easier if he earnt what I did.

It is extraordinarily stressful walking into a high stress job every day, with a mountain of debt and knowing your money won't be used for what you'd prefer it was. It sounds like your wife is feeling the pressure of this as the lifestyle change and that everything is really on her in terms of earning the money to pay for all these things.

I'm not making excuses for your wife, just letting you know how I felt in a similar situation.

I really appreciate your perspective, it's helpful to have input from someone in a similar situation. While her spending bothered me more a couple years ago when we made closer to the same income, I now find it pretty easy not to get upset in light of her success (and getting over myself).

I chose the word "frustrating" on purpose. It's a loving frustration. It's funny because I also think tying income to relationship privileges is a VERY slippery slope, but we have found a reasonable equilibrium. Now I am more concerned with maximizing our long-term happiness. For example, despite working similar (but lower stress) hours, I do 70-80% of the chores, fix stuff around the house, handle the finances, and deal with annoying crap like when our cell phone provider gave us a bogus $100 charge. Most of it I don't mind, and some I actually enjoy. The 30% she does is great for me, because it's stuff I hate like cleaning the bathroom or doing laundry. We both feel like the other person is taking care of stuff that would make us less happy.

I agree that those bonuses are clearly rewards for being amazing at her job. I will say however, that it would be more ideal if she saw those as fun little boosts to our savings. Then again, maybe she will once they actually ARE boosts to savings, rather than additional credit card payments... Ultimately, if she needs to spend to be happy, so be it, but I feel like the spirit of this community dictates that no matter your background, it's possible to escape that mentality and be happier for it.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2012, 07:26:00 PM by Lagom »

Lagom

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2012, 07:23:14 PM »
Here's the deal: you have gotten religion now. You've had the aha moment. She hasn't. And if you get all "Get on board my crazy ER train!" too hard and too fast she's just going to resent your "suggestions" and start "suggesting" things on her own, like "then go make more of your own money, sweetie."

She sounds like she's being pretty reasonable by, you know, normal-people standards. But, you might talk about the debt repayment in terms of opportunity costs. Ie., carrying this debt for XYZ more months or years = $ABC more money we LOSE on interest, just give away. Or, we could pay down the debt faster and keep that money and pay it to OURSELVES and go spend 6 weeks in Europe with it in a few years, etc. etc.

In other words, put this in terms of the benefit to be gained by being a bit more aggressive than she wants to be without making it all about deprivation for her. Cause she probably feels pretty great about earning her goodies, and who could really blame her, ya know? So try goodie substitution. Since she's lost weight, this is a good analogy: you cut down on necessary stuff (calories) now and you get a big reward that is way better later (being super hot).

All that said, I say walk the walk but be softish with the talk. If she is meeting you half-way, take it. You guys will continue to grow in all this stuff together. Just allow it to take a bit of time.

All very good no-nonsense advice and just what I needed, so thanks! I could definitely see her getting defensive and snarky with "suggestions," (and I wouldn't blame her!) which is exactly what I want to avoid :)

A fault of mine is that I tend to get overly excited about new things, whether it be "honey, let's learn Italian!" or "no, really, THIS is my true calling" or "financial independence is the new hotness." It's sometimes hard to remember that everyone else doesn't also live in my brain.

In our case, focusing on concrete rewards (e.g. 6 weeks in Europe) may be the way to go. Not the most mustachian approach, perhaps, but I can't say I would mind the vacation! Getting over feelings of deprivation is definitely one of those lingering issues from being in massive debt (ironic, but true).

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2012, 07:41:24 PM »
Get your share of "fun money" and start investing it. Show her how much enjoyment you get from saving and investing and she might start to "get it."
« Last Edit: October 27, 2012, 08:18:11 PM by MarkCB »

DoubleDown

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2012, 07:59:19 PM »
Really excellent advice here from the folks above. I agree with the general sentiment: approach this softly, it sounds like you and your wife are on the right track, even if it's not quite as fast or frugal as you would prefer. But as long as she's earning well, and you guys are doing a very healthy job paying down that debt, I'd say don't push any harder. While she is earning the large share of the total income, it will be pretty hard to push any further and could breed resentment. Just keep making small steps.

I also really like the advice about putting together some numbers you could show to her about how much you could save in interest payments by paying them down a little faster. You could pitch it as having the freedom to do whatever you guys want with your money and future earnings, such as taking vacations (or becoming financially independent earlier!).

Also, since she sounds like many (normal) people who do not necessarily find the idea of retiring early to be desirable, I would not cast the argument to her in terms of retiring early yet. Instead, cast it in terms of becoming financially independent. That independence (especially from debt) would mean the freedom to do whatever she wants -- continue working, go on more of those vacations she loves so much, buy things she might want in the future, prepare for future needs (college for kids, retirment, long term care, whatever). Then hopefully along the way she'll see the benefits of the growing accounts, no debt, and the freedom to retire early if wanted.

TomTX

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2012, 08:55:52 PM »
Get your share of "fun money" and start investing it. Show her how much enjoyment you get from saving and investing and she might start to "get it."

++

If she wants to have $350/month in "fun money" (each?) and you want to save - let her do whatever she wants with her fun money, while you open an account at ING or the local credit union (or wherever) and label it as "Logon's Fun Money" - since you have fun by saving.

Lagom

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2012, 10:50:31 PM »
Get your share of "fun money" and start investing it. Show her how much enjoyment you get from saving and investing and she might start to "get it."

++

If she wants to have $350/month in "fun money" (each?) and you want to save - let her do whatever she wants with her fun money, while you open an account at ING or the local credit union (or wherever) and label it as "Logon's Fun Money" - since you have fun by saving.

I've gone back and forth on this. Lately, I have been "taking" the same $350, but I just put it towards debt. While this may be the most mathematically defensible move, maybe it would be better to invest it as an example. It's not like I'm going to excite her with "honey, guess what??? I just paid off another $300 of our $150k debt!" Yes, I do take a little for myself :)

Thanks again everyone for the input. I have witnessed the power of this community and I am grateful to benefit from it first hand.

okits

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2012, 12:13:24 AM »
Your wife has already taken some small steps towards Mustachianism; don't lose sight of those improvements or fail to recognize the effort on your wife's part in doing that already (since she's the less frugal one to begin with.)

Erica/NWEdible is spot on.  You have to take this slow.  You're a team and in this together, so you have to share the goal and both accept the pace at which it is achieved.  You can be frugal and sock your portion of fun money into the debt-repayment pot, while still being supportive of your wife's spend-some-save-some (balanced) approach.  Serenely lead by example and be genuinely free of judgment in what she does with her fun money.  For a couple pulling in $150K (perhaps $170K next year), $7K (for now) in fun money and bonuses spent isn't the end of the world.  Not worth creating resentment and ruining your relationship.  She may come around in her own time (and she may not, which you have to accept; you're a team so it won't always be your/her way every time.)

Not everyone gets excited about spreadsheets, numbers, or the idea of not working (traditional retirement).  You need to find a way to effectively communicate why you think FI is good for your family. 

"Honey, I never want you to feel trapped at this job because we need the money.  Once we pay down our debt and save some, we'll have options."

"Honey, I'm proud of your success but would never want your job stress to affect your health or happiness.  With lower interest payments we could get by if you made a career change to something that makes you happy."

"Honey, you know how awesome life is when we're on vacation (we're relaxed and have free time, so we do lots of fun stuff and have lots of sex)?  If we worked less we could have more days like that in our regular life.  I get excited about paying off our debt and saving so that I can spend more time with you."

Your wife spending money to treat herself because of job stress is a warning sign that her work situation isn't sustainable (the burnout you suspect is coming.)  She may already be feeling the pressure of golden handcuffs.  Gradually showing how frugality will take that pressure off her may be the "a-ha! moment" she hasn't had yet.

StetsTerhune

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2012, 10:08:16 AM »
I'm in a somewhat similar situation, though to a much lesser extent. I earn considerably more than my wife, but her job is quite a bit more stressful than mine. Because of this stress, she tends to overspend on weekday evenings (e.g. picking up wine from the convenience store on the way home). I was pretty annoyed by this for a while, but realized that best case for that tack was her stopping and bringing some of that stress to bear on me.  She has a very stressful job, and I work 40 (easy, and exactly) hours a week, and if I started telling her she shouldn't do something then it was going to end with her more annoyed with me than I was at her. The fact that your wife earns so much more than you would only make that thought proces worse. So my tack, and my advice to you, if you want to change this, is that you need to even the workload somewhat between you. You now have two jobs, your regular job and making your wife's life easier.

Unhappy with how much she spends on lunch? Taker her out for a nice, cheap picnic sometimes. Or pack her something healthy and nice. Think her vacations are too expensive? Plan some fun camping trips or visits to friends. If your wife is anything like my wife, she spends money when she's stressed for two reasons: because it's convenient and because it's fun. You need to  give her convenient and fun options. This will help your finances, and (much) more importantly it's going to help your relationship.

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2012, 02:54:52 PM »
Unhappy with how much she spends on lunch? Taker her out for a nice, cheap picnic sometimes. Or pack her something healthy and nice. Think her vacations are too expensive? Plan some fun camping trips or visits to friends. If your wife is anything like my wife, she spends money when she's stressed for two reasons: because it's convenient and because it's fun. You need to  give her convenient and fun options. This will help your finances, and (much) more importantly it's going to help your relationship.

This is a great point - and you get to earn Super Husband points in the process! For the first 8 years of our marriage my husband made me and brought up to my side of the bed a latte. I literally had a latte at my fingertips as soon as I was awake enough to grope around for it. He wasn't doing this to stop me from spending $5 a day at starbucks, but guess what...I didn't spend $5 a day at starbucks. AND I got to feel like the lucky wife whose husband brings her coffee in bed. (This is like anniversary stuff every day and women can brag about it to other women.) For the last 4 years he's brought me coffee but it's black drip b/c when our fancy pants espresso machine died we didn't want to cough up the $$ to replace it. :)

So I'm supporting this idea of Stets that by being an awesome partner in a targeted stress-reducing way to your wife you could covertly save a lot of money AND totally sidestep being resented for your frugality. Win-win.

Re: $350 of your "fun money" - you should apply that based on what the math says. If the interest rate on your debt is higher than a reasonable rate of short/moderate term return (which is low right now) you should just pay that debt the hell off and be done with it. My two cents. Debt sucks. Avoid at all costs.

Lagom

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2012, 04:51:25 PM »
You now have two jobs, your regular job and making your wife's life easier.


This is a great way of putting it and exactly the how I see it. You guys make a good point, too, that I could definitely be doing more. Whenever I organize something cheap and enjoyable like a picnic, board game night, having friends over for a potluck dinner, etc., she usually loves it. If I'm feeling lazy and suggest nothing, she usually wants to go shopping, go out to a restaurant, see a movie, or something similar. If claim to care so much about FI, I should be willing to make that extra effort. I also never even considered doing things like making her lunch for her, even though I bring my own lunch to work every day. Go figure.

I do brew up a mean pot of freshly ground coffee every morning, though :)

MooreBonds

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2012, 07:20:21 PM »
I realize that you're in a somewhat tricky situation, and it seems that you're truly respectful of your spouse and are level-headed enough to view the situation logically. A few observations/questions

To make a long story short, my wife and I are in ungodly amounts of debt due to a couple of majorly bad money decisions that precipitated ongoing small bad decisions because of our refusal to reduce expenses. Today, several years later, we are finally on the right track, paying down what peaked at over $100k of consumer debt and another $85k of student loan debt (today the totals are $77k and $80k respectively). We're also $30k underwater on a $180k mortgage. Don't worry, I have punched myself in the face many times for our sins.

I presume the student loan debt was for her occupation?

Also, in the previous financial life, was your overindulgence approximately equal, or was it always her spending/choices making up about 80%-90% of the reason for the debt growing? If you had just as much 'fun' in running up that debt, then - as other posters have commented - you have to give her some slack in gently nudging her in your fiscal direction.


This year that total will be at least $3k, from which she has already purchased a new laptop and several hundred dollars in designer clothes (the subject of today's conversation). Further twist--she has lost a fair amount of weight over the past few months, making new clothes a literal necessity.

It sounds like she has a 'legitimate' reason for the clothes. Do you think this will be the majority of her clothing purchase for a while, or do you have a feeling it'll be a monthly excursion of retail therapy to help her cope w/ her stressful job? If the former, then remember that many of women's clothes can be expensive. Also, try seeing what types of fashions she likes and/or certain designers. Do you have any stores like TJ Maxx/Marshall's/Ross/etc. that have a variety of clothes (some fashionable), where you could buy her one that she likes and show her how much less it could cost if she buys smartly?


 She insists on a nicer car to drive clients around (purchased used, but still $20k)

Well, how long will that $20k used car last? What kind of depreciation per year are you looking at? If you buy a decent used car and the total depreciation/repairs only run a couple hundred/month, it's not that different from buying a cheaper car brand new and taking depreciation hits. Some people could actually argue that buying a used car and wrestling with repair bills (and the inconvenience of running to get a rental car everytime something comes up) could end up being a wash vs buying a modest new car, maintaining it for 8-10 years, and running it in the ground.



and wants 3-4 non-mustachian vacations each year (e.g. Vegas).

Just as with any purchases, there are ways to have a very fulfilling, active life on the cheap.

What kind of budget (cost per day, for example) do you have on these trips? Regardless of where you go anywhere in the world, there are ways to piss the money away like water, and there are ways to enjoy a damn nice lifestyle on the trip for a far less cost. For example, you can get hotels on Hotwire for sometimes less than half of what you would normally pay going to the website. And if you time your trip, you can also get additional discounts or packages.

Right there, you can save 30% of your flight/hotel just by doing a few simple, not very time consuming actions, for not very much change in quality at all! And getting coupons on different shows (if that's what she likes) can likewise stretch the travel dollar farther.

If she's the type that simply buys stuff without researching for the best cost, offer this: tell her to give you some criteria of what her next trip would be like (date ranges, types of hotels to stay at, activities there), and do some research. Come back to her with a list of 3 hotel options, 3 date ranges, and 3-5 activities to do that you found. To get a variety, maybe try picking 1 free activity (like a museum, or walking around town, or a free band/concert), 1-2 lower cost activities, and then 1-2 higher price activities (but with a Buy-1-get-1-free/Groupon/other coupon)....but don't tell her any prices. Then after she picks, ask her what she would pay for a trip like that. Subtract the actual cost of the trip, and then tell her that you can put the savings towards paying off additional debt.

When I retire, I'll be enjoying quite a bit of traveling with the future Mrs. MooreBonds. Will we be spending a fair amount overall? Sure. But our cost/trip will be pretty good, given my scouring to get the best deals, and purchasing in a smart manner. So you can still live on a modest budget with tons of fun along the way.

jawisco

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2012, 07:44:44 PM »
Lots of good advice here.  I think you are on the right track and so is your wife.  I would be patient if I was you, but if I was in your shoes, I would have trouble being patient. 

Part of the fun of mustachianism for me is the challenge of trying things and learning various lessons from the result - until your wife is on board fully, your opportunities to do this are limited.

cats

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2012, 07:47:17 PM »
One thing I am wondering...is there any potential for you to bump up your income a bit?  I'm just thinking that making a serious effort to increase your income (if you are not already doing so) and then putting that extra money towards debt repayment/FI is a very "real" way of demonstrating that yes, you're serious about this and that you aren't expecting her to earn all the $$$.

I agree also with the statement upthread that you can help by "taking on" some of her stress.  I am in the position of being the less-stressed, earning-less half in my relationship, and I do try to pick up some of the "slack" (if you will) by doing things such as taking on preparations for our (cheap camping) vacations, occasionally doing his laundry or other little chores.  Obviously you can't take on all of it (as you can't just show up and do their actual job for a few days), but do what you can (just be careful you don't tip over to the point of doing so much that YOU resent it, it's definitely a balance).

PJ

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2012, 07:54:08 PM »
In regard to reducing expenses while travelling while still getting to do what you really want, I've found City Passes can be great value.  I've used them in Europe and North America, and would always at least check them out when travelling to a new place.  Never having been to Vegas, I've never researched what the main attractions (other than casinos) are, so don't know if this idea would be worth it there.   

Here's the Vegas one that I found:  http://www.viator.com/tours/Las-Vegas/Las-Vegas-Power-Pass/d684-3787PP?pref=204&aid=m10291 

It looks pricier than some I've bought - compare it to the Paris pass, for example (which includes public transportation):  http://www.parispass.com/ 
 
You have to do your research, and know what things you might want to see, then compare the list of what's covered.  For Paris, everything I wanted was included except for going up the Eiffel Tower.  You also have to use the pass for consecutive days.  So for example, we visited the Eiffel Tower and wandered neighbourhoods and had leisurely meals in cafes one day, then used the pass for the next 3 days at a faster pace to see a bunch of sites.  We planned it that way so that our pass was active on the day that the Louvre was open late, for example, to extend our site seeing day.  On a second trip to Paris, we bought the passes again (I was travelling with a different friend that time) and we decided not to go up the Eiffel Tower, but to view it from the ground, then spent another lovely evening on top of the Arc de Triomphe (covered by the pass) at sunset, taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower with the lights on.  When the pass includes hop on hop off tours, public transportation, and line bypass privileges, then you can really get good bang for your touristy buck. 

As an aside, some libraries (like the Toronto Public Library system) also have museum passes available for residents to borrow (http://torontopubliclibrary.typepad.com/new_to_canada/2010/02/take-a-break-and-visit-torontos-best-museums-for-free.html)  So if you have family or friends in the location you're visiting, maybe they could investigate similar programs in their area. 

$_gone_amok

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2012, 01:50:59 PM »
I have a relative who used to have a high earning and high stress job and she would spend like there's no tomorrow because she could afford it. So I know where you are coming from. My suggestion is to find ways for your wife to de-stress without spending too much money.  Spending time together away from the shopping mall. Take day trips to the local hiking trails or biking as opposite to taking international travel trips.  Volunteer at the shelter, adopt a pet, host dinner at home with friends.  All those activities that will make your relationship stronger and makes you both feel fulfilled without the need for retail therapy.

Lagom

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Re: Dealing with a High-Earning, Non-Mustachian Spouse
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2012, 03:03:30 PM »
@MooreBonds:
I hesitate to play the blame game, so Iím going to be intentionally vague, but itís fair to say that she has contributed to our debt status more than I have. That said, I am not blameless, especially in the area of student loan debt (itís not all mine, but I did get a masterís degree that had zero impact on my earnings).

She doesnít exactly participate in ďretail therapy,Ē but it does seem like she buys a new winter coat (for example) practically every year, which puts my teeth on edge a bit.

The main problem with the car is not that it was $20k (still too high in my book), but that it was purchased with a $20k loan when we were already in a major hole. I hadnít had my epiphany at that point, though, so I donít hold any resentment as I didnít really try to convince her to try something else. I doubt I could convince her to sell it, though.

I do try to conduct a lot of research on our vacations and get the best deals that I can. Sheís actually not that bad on a per trip basis, but I doubt many people our age (much less mustachians!) are going on 4-5 out of state (and at least one international) vacations/year that involve air travel and semi-fancy accommodations. I love traveling, but I would rather achieve FI earlier so we can appreciate our trips more, instead of cramming everything into 3-5 exhausting days. I think I may be able to bring her around to agree with me on that.

@Cats:
Thatís actually a somewhat complicated issue. As part of my ďtaking on her stressĒ role, I have willfully passed up on higher income opportunities because they involved too much travel or night/weekend work (and likely would involve more stress for me). Unfortunately, my qualifications best fit many positions requiring one or both. My wife has specifically asked me not to take a job like that unless I feel it will make me much happier (which is unlikely). She cares more about having me around than an extra $10-15k/year and I am indifferent (so far) to these opportunities, except for the income potential. I have been working on some side hustle options, however, with which I hope to earn at least a few extra thousand/year. But again, I have to be careful they donít eat up too much of my free time because that would make my wife unhappy and they are more about money than enjoyment for me. My hobbies donít really pay, unfortunately! 

@PJ:
Those passes look great! Thanks for the tip!

@gone_amok (and the rest of you):
We definitely need to get out more. Itís hard to overcome the momentum of ďIím so exhausted I just want to sit around all weekend,Ē but I think getting off our asses has almost always been worthwhile.  I suspect if we had more inexpensive fun, she might feel less need to splurge on big things to make up for too much work and not enough play.

Thanks to everyone for the thoughts. You have given me much to ponder!
« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 05:56:12 PM by Lagom »