Author Topic: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?  (Read 8708 times)

Mickijune

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Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« on: April 10, 2013, 08:15:29 AM »
Hi All. To start with, I feel like I'm starting to enter the realm of becoming a Mustachian Nazi. For info on my background here is a link to my journal:  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/journals/mickijune's-journey-to-fi!!/

While I feel like we have been progressing forward at a decent pace in regards to getting rid of the credit card debt first..I also feel like time is moving extremely slowly and we aren't doing enough to get rid of all this debt.  To compound this feeling, my husband seems to have fallen off the boat. When we first started paying everything off back in August 2012, he was just as much into it as I was/am. We paid off a lot of little debts, found ways to cut back and found cheaper alternatives to certain things. Last night I came across a glass starbucks cup and asked my husband if he ever planned on using it again. It's been sitting in the same spot for over a year. He said yes, when he is allowed to start getting coffee again. I told him *we* made the decision (together) to get a Keurig so he could make his coffee at home. He used to get Starbucks just about every day. When we got the Keurig, he was using it a lot, sometimes twice a day. This last month or two, he hasn't touched the Keurig and has buying coffee 1-2 times per week and charging it to the credit card.

So...that one little comment has got me thinking. Have I become too Nazi-like with the finances? I do the budgeting, paying bills, shopping, etc. Mind you, we have over $100k in debt, not including the house. I want to have everything except the house paid off in 5 years. First the credit cards (by the end of this year), then the hightest interest student loan and on down the line. As much as I try to be Mustachian, am I making too big a deal out of it? Should I give in an let him have his precious Starbucks? If that's the case, WTF did we buy a Keurig FOR HIM for? It's gotten to the point where he says we have done so much towards getting rid of debt, we should be able to enjoy stuff once in a while (i.e. go out and spend money on stuff).

How do all you Mustachians find a balance with your non-Mustachian spouses?!?

giggles

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2013, 08:24:36 AM »
If he's going to Starbucks, at least make him bring the cup to save the $0.10!  Put that cup to good use ;)

Reepekg

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2013, 08:47:00 AM »
Lack of control over your spouse's behavior is one of the most common frustrations in a marriage. Getting on him or policing his behavior will not help. It will make him less excited about Mustachianism and you. As a married guy, believe me when I say this happens even when I recognize my wife is just trying to look out for my best interests. It is completely illogical.

You are going to need to redouble your Mustachian efforts by exercising patience. It is a marathon. Start by setting a good example with your own behavior. Let little setbacks go, but mention how excited you are about new initiatives you have found to save money. And above all, celebrate together when you reach milestones.

Finally, don't forget your Pavlov. If you want to crush his Starbucks habit, celebrate with a non-monetary treat (i.e. back rub, whatever) every time he avoids going. 

smedleyb

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2013, 09:14:26 AM »
I think a discretionary budget for each spouse that allows minimal spending on life's little "perks" is perhaps in order? 

Mind you this is coming from perhaps the internet's pre-eminent Coffee Gestapo High Commander himself.   Yes, a huge pet peeve of mine, but one I've learned to tolerate in moderation for the sake of the overall goal.

Good luck. 

Starstuff

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2013, 09:19:50 AM »
I have this same trouble with my boyfriend. It's less dire because our finances are separate, but now that we share a home, we have to at least align some values. I've found that anything I ask him to do, even if it's good for him, he'll refuse. I tried to get him to the gym for years. Finally, I stopped trying and starting tell him how attractive he was regardless. He's been working out like a fiend, lost a ton of weight, and gotten quite muscular in the last year, and is now more devoted to fitness and health than I am.

I'm trying the same tactic with finances. I have insisted that he budget, because his lack of budgeting was hurting me. Otherwise, I'm just subtly praising his current financial form for it's good parts, and watching him slowly improve as he realizes how rewarding saving really is. It sounds manipulative, but I see it as the opposite. I'm just pointing out what's good about him, so he feels great about the great parts of him, and that leads him to want to be better at the less frugal/fit (but not bad) parts.

With your husband, you could thank him for some other frugal things he does, or point out how he's really good at doing X things that save you a ton of money. Once he feels that being good at certain frugal things is a part of his personality, he'll start doing more frugal things. But I do feel that it's fair that you demand that if he's going to buy Starbucks, it's with his personal cash (I hope you budget spouse money?) and not on joint credit cards.

mikefixac

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2013, 09:24:11 AM »
My story:

I wish it was only Starbucks a few times per week.

Here's how my wife chooses to spend money: A housekeeper though I am home most of time and would be more than willing to clean house. Wife says she likes how HK folds her clothes. (HK hurt herself cleaning another friend's house and is thinking of suing.)

Cable TV-4 TVs with cable and she's the only one that watches TV.

SUV to work. Refuses to take scooter to work or even ride scooter. But when we take vacation, first thing she wants to do is rent a scooter at $50/hour.

So these are just a few things that I bring up, even so, compared to her girlfriends, she's frugal.

superheropunk

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2013, 09:27:08 AM »
Sadly, but would say it will be nearly impossible to get out of debt and more importantly stay out of debt if you are not both on the same page.

Going to Starbucks 1-2 times a week isn't going to break the bank but what the heck is the credit card being used for?
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 09:30:15 AM by superheropunk »

WageSlave

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2013, 09:42:25 AM »
Depending on the dynamic of your relationship, you can perhaps discuss these things without the conversation devolving into chastising or an argument.  Ultimately I guess you could call it "tact", but every relationship is different, so it's really whatever works for the two of you.  And I think this is one of those things that takes time, and is the "work" part of a relationship.  For example, my wife and I have a fantastic marriage, but we still haven't found the perfect way to approach these kinds of situations.  I think we do pretty well, but I think we'll get better as time goes on.

Anyway: what works for my wife and I is the weekly sit-down where we update all our expense information.  Since the start of 2012, we've been tracking everything to the penny.  We use this opportunity to discuss anything that is out of the ordinary or an obvious deviation from our goals.  Monthly, we roll up all the numbers and input them into a simple spreadsheet that we call the "dashboard" (this is really just a variation on the "wall chart" as described in Your Money or Your Life (YMOYL)).  Issues and deviations are often more obvious at the monthly level, but the idea is the same.  If either of us strayed from our goals, we use it as an opportunity to discuss what caused us to make that decision, and think through it's the long-terms effects on our wealth-building plans.  Again using YMOYL as a guide, we don't play the blame game.  It's just the mental exercise of seeing how short-term indulgences hurt our long term goals and actually go against our bigger values.

That's really the gist of it: framing such "errant" behavior in terms of long-term goals and/or shared values.  At least for us, that's enough to strengthen our resolve and do better next time.

I tried to get him to the gym for years. Finally, I stopped trying and starting tell him how attractive he was regardless. He's been working out like a fiend, lost a ton of weight, and gotten quite muscular in the last year, and is now more devoted to fitness and health than I am.

I've never been able to convey the importance of exercise to my wife without having her interpret it as a veiled jab at her appearance.  I've tried to approach it so many ways.  Pretty much given up now.

Starstuff

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2013, 09:55:03 AM »

I tried to get him to the gym for years. Finally, I stopped trying and starting tell him how attractive he was regardless. He's been working out like a fiend, lost a ton of weight, and gotten quite muscular in the last year, and is now more devoted to fitness and health than I am.

I've never been able to convey the importance of exercise to my wife without having her interpret it as a veiled jab at her appearance.  I've tried to approach it so many ways.  Pretty much given up now.

Seriously, tell her you think she's beautiful and mean it. Forget the gym, and just make her feel good about who she is. It's a strange psychology, but it's really research-based. People who like themselves less perform more destructive behaviors, and people who like themselves more perform more good behaviors. I only eat fast food when I'm depressed.... and I exercise like crazy when I'm happy. Make her feel more and more like she's beautiful and she'll start seeing herself as worth the effort.

I Love Cake

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2013, 10:18:26 AM »
I think everyone deserves a bit of autonomy. If his thing is Starbucks then so be it. The last thing he wants is someone watching his every move

That's why I am a big believer of 'mad money' decide (together) how much you each get weekly for mad money. Then, he is free to spend all of his at Starbucks. But once it's gone for the week, it's gone

See if he can commit to that.

EMP

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2013, 10:52:50 AM »

I tried to get him to the gym for years. Finally, I stopped trying and starting tell him how attractive he was regardless. He's been working out like a fiend, lost a ton of weight, and gotten quite muscular in the last year, and is now more devoted to fitness and health than I am.

I've never been able to convey the importance of exercise to my wife without having her interpret it as a veiled jab at her appearance.  I've tried to approach it so many ways.  Pretty much given up now.

Seriously, tell her you think she's beautiful and mean it. Forget the gym, and just make her feel good about who she is. It's a strange psychology, but it's really research-based. People who like themselves less perform more destructive behaviors, and people who like themselves more perform more good behaviors. I only eat fast food when I'm depressed.... and I exercise like crazy when I'm happy. Make her feel more and more like she's beautiful and she'll start seeing herself as worth the effort.

Ugh.  Starstuff is so right.  I'm constantly working to undo years of negative programming on my hubby.  Thanks in-laws!  The weight thing is so sensitive.  If you feel like you have no worth b/c you're fat, then why bother to work out?

As far as getting spending in line, we're not there yet, but the positive reinforcement goes a long ways there too.  If I make an effort to praise him, or tell him how pleased I am with our savings rate the hubby doesn't want to splurge as much.  The validation is worth much more to him.  I just have to remember to do it, since this is all second nature to me. 

Spork

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2013, 02:34:39 PM »
Sadly, but would say it will be nearly impossible to get out of debt and more importantly stay out of debt if you are not both on the same page.

Going to Starbucks 1-2 times a week isn't going to break the bank but what the heck is the credit card being used for?

This is sorta what I was thinking.  Or... sort of on the lines of: Can we agree that we'll get $40 a paycheck as cash (or whatever number makes sense) that is totally discretionary.  We can go out to eat.  We can have starbux.  We can throw it in a drawer and go out to eat BIG once a month... or whatever.

What I am getting at is: agree on something that makes sense and don't lord it over him.  If he can flush $20 a week down the toilet on something that makes him happy **AND** you can put $200 a week on your debt: everyone can be happy.

AJ

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2013, 03:04:44 PM »
Does your hubby have any kind of a side hustle, or something he could do on the side for pocket money? My hubby wanted to spend money on some bigger ticket things that blow money just wouldn't cover. So, we agreed that his freelance income would be divided as follows:

50% off the top to taxes
25% to family money (investments, extra mortgage payments, etc.)
25% to an account for whatever the hell he wants

He bought an Xbox and some games with it, and is saving for new fancy flooring (that I don't think we need, as our floor are pretty new already). It kinda sucks to give up a lot of time with him while he works the extra hours, but I also benefit from the extra money he is contributing to our stash.

Mickijune

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2013, 04:02:14 PM »
Thanks all for the replies. We had a budget for "entertainment" but stopped that a few months ago. We wanted to get out of debt as fast as possible, plus we have both been working out more and trying to lose weight. The "entertainment" was mostly pizza on nights I was too lazy to cook.

Does your hubby have any kind of a side hustle, or something he could do on the side for pocket money?

He can probably get a weekend part time job in security. There are plenty out there, but so far he doesn't seem to be willing to put that much effort into paying off the debt. And that would interfere with his WOW time (don't get me started).

If he can flush $20 a week down the toilet on something that makes him happy **AND** you can put $200 a week on your debt: everyone can be happy.

From my point of view, $20 a week makes $80 a month. That's $80 a month that we could be using to pay off debt. And heck, double it because I should get some fun money too right? That much money going towards something so useless that only gives you five minutes of happiness seems crazy to me!

Going to Starbucks 1-2 times a week isn't going to break the bank but what the heck is the credit card being used for?

We only keep a few dollars in our bank accounts. Paychecks are paif first to bills then any extra to debt. He charges it to the credit card because when he gets to work, he wants coffee, so he gets coffee. Despite the fact that he could have taken two minutes at home to make some without spending money.

I think a discretionary budget for each spouse that allows minimal spending on life's little "perks" is perhaps in order?   

This I might have to suggest. I'm afraid of what my reaction might be when he says something outrageous like $75 a paycheck because he wants to eat out AND have his starbucks. At that point, what's the point in trying any more? I can't put *US* in a better position all on my own.

Finally, don't forget your Pavlov. If you want to crush his Starbucks habit, celebrate with a non-monetary treat (i.e. back rub, whatever) every time he avoids going. 



We go over the budget/spreadsheet every paycheck and discuss what goes where. So he knows what is going on and I don't keep him in the dark. We have both had issues lately where we would be out an about, buy something we "need" and ask each other how are we going to pay for it. Put it on the credit card is always the answer, since we are going to pay it off this month anyway. So, I suggested we leave the card at home and he agreed.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 04:14:56 PM by Mickijune »

rue

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2013, 06:05:21 PM »
This issue comes up a lot - as others have said!  There have been some great replies so I will just stick to one of my own little learning curves- When I became serious about changing our reliance on money and seeking simpler and more ethical lifestyle choices I took more control of the shopping and meal making.  I found it was easier because the garden I was growing linked so much into what I was trying to get us to eat and the organic meat I was buying needed to be rationed so the budget didn’t blow out and also I was learning to cook from scratch.  It has worked OK in that I have learnt to grow more and use what we grow throughout the year (through preserving and stock piling too), my cooking from scratch has improved and is at least edible now!, our protein is mostly clean and green and portions are mostly not too big and I am meeting our savings goals.  The down side is I have turned a partner from someone who shared the shopping and meal making into someone who is less actively involved and I can at times hear some stereo typical gender role bickering between us that was not so present before.  So I am seeking ways of shifting back the balance (unsuccessfully so far).  I don’t regret doing what I did because the whole thing needed a healthy and frugal over haul but in hind sight I would probably have put more work into doing it together rather than steaming ahead solo.  I suppose non of us are perfect and it’s all about compromise.  I remind myself that my partner is great at some things and not so great at others just like me.  Good luck relationships are wonderful but can be the hardest work too! : )

Reepekg

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2013, 08:12:58 PM »
We only keep a few dollars in our bank accounts. Paychecks are paif first to bills then any extra to debt. He charges it to the credit card because when he gets to work, he wants coffee, so he gets coffee. Despite the fact that he could have taken two minutes at home to make some without spending money.

If saving the money is a top priority for you, maybe try making the coffee for him. You've told him you think the spending is wasteful. He should get the hint.

badassprof

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2013, 08:16:31 PM »
Something similar happened in my household: my partner started off enthusiastically, but that enthusiasm has waned. And I admit: mine ebbs and flows too.

One thought is to ask your partner what he'd do if he could retire early or work less.  We are getting ready to go for a camping trip and lamented how crowded it was going to be on the weekend. This got us talking about how wonderful it would be to go during "off peak" times, which led to a conversation about how we wanted to hit all the national parks when we are FI or at least able to take more extensive time off. Fire reignited! 

One thing I realized is that sometimes I want my vision to be my partner's vision. That works fine if you are in the partner-hunting stage, but a bit trickier if you are wanting things to change in medias res (especially if both persons' previous choices created debt and/or certain lifestyle habits).  It is a process, and while debt is an emergency (and admittedly not one we're grappling with) I wonder if it isn't more prudent to moderate one's response to it if the other person isn't fully onboard.

clutchy

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2013, 10:17:50 PM »
I've had success with automating most of the processes.

Honestly constantly monitoring and holding your spouse accountable is exhausting and it's exhausting for them too.


We've discussed it and setup a budget.  It rolls automatically every month and if the bank account gets drained well... then that's it.  Your card gets rejected and there's some mildly embarrassing social repercussions.  The new system is in its infancy because the older one was not working after 4 months.  So we(I) analyzed the situation and basically just set everything to autopay.

Looked at our bills and the timing.  We decided how much money goes into the accounts and how much is automatically xferred off to be invested.

So far it worked last month.  We'll see how it goes.  There is a cushion in the account and if there is excess on the last day that also gets xferred off to investments land.


I've started calculating the passive income that is already being generated on a yearly basis and it's somewhat surprising how quickly it can build....  Well that will buy you a coat... well this can make one of our mortgage payments per year etc.  I see this as the biggest advantage to the system.


good luck!  Just remember you're both adults/ partners on this trip and you both get a vote.  Currently your husband seems to be voting in absentia by buying things that are off-limits.  You should talk about it.

Spork

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2013, 08:07:54 AM »

If he can flush $20 a week down the toilet on something that makes him happy **AND** you can put $200 a week on your debt: everyone can be happy.

From my point of view, $20 a week makes $80 a month. That's $80 a month that we could be using to pay off debt. And heck, double it because I should get some fun money too right? That much money going towards something so useless that only gives you five minutes of happiness seems crazy to me!


Oh, you're absolutely right... or, to be more contextual: If I were in your situation, I'd feel the same way.  However, if he doesn't feel that way... now what?  My point is that if you can still attack your debt *AND* have hubster feel like you're not "on his case" -- that's still win-win.

If there is constant contention about money, it will rear it's ugly head in other parts of the relationship, too.  If you can find a compromise where you both give a little and you both feel like you're in this together -- the whole thing is going to be a lot easier.

If it is a constant push-pull (from both ends) ... that's when verybadthings™ happen.   Men have a tendency to HATE if they're being badgered or nagged or mothered...  And often EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW THEY'RE WRONG, they'll dig in and start pulling the other way.  [ I'm a man... I may be breaking ManCode by admitting this openly. ]

Good luck.  I bet you can find some middle area where you can both feel like you are working towards the same goal.

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2013, 09:02:00 AM »
If it is a constant push-pull (from both ends) ... that's when verybadthings™ happen.   Men have a tendency to HATE if they're being badgered or nagged or mothered...  And often EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW THEY'RE WRONG, they'll dig in and start pulling the other way.  [ I'm a man... I may be breaking ManCode by admitting this openly. ]

+1. I think it's a pride thing for me. Ironically I am not proud of it. I do try to minimize it though and to go back and apologize after I calm down.

Enphuego

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2013, 03:14:28 PM »
I'd try moving to a cash based envelope budget.  When you have to hand over physical dollars for a Starbucks coffee you start thinking of that else you could have with that money.  You could make the coffee at home and then had a scone instead for the same price.  Then you might start thinking about how you could go to the movies on the weekend if you made the coffee at home all week.  This is how I learned to budget and figured out the value of money.

You just take your budget out in cash every two weeks (or week or month) and then stick it in envelopes for each category.  Any credit cards are best left at home.  You can move the money around all you like so long as you can live with the consequences and you don't take out more.  It's great for reinforcing the fact that each little amount of spending over the budget for one area has a necessary impact on some other area of your life.  The thirst for cash will also make large expenses like expensive cell phone plans attractive targets for downsizing.

shelfins

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2013, 04:23:39 PM »
This might seem a little off-topic for a question about money, but I'd definitely recommend checking out John Gottmann's The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work from your local library. There's a chapter on dealing with ongoing marital conflicts, including money, that I think would be helpful. It sounds like, even though you were originally both on board, your husband is now resentful of the tight purse-strings and feels like this is something you're making him do, rather than something he really wants to do, and it sounds like you are (very understandably) resentful because you're the one doing all of the work to get to this goal that will end up benefiting both of you. I think you definitely need to talk to your husband and figure out how he's feeling about all of this and see if you can come up with a plan that you both feel good about, bc you don't want to be debt-free at the cost of your husband's misery & resentment.

Mickijune

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2013, 09:50:19 AM »
Enphuego-We started our debt payoff with the cash envelope system in August of last year. We were doing really well, so we figured we could adjust the system using the debit cards, but it doesn't seem to be working. We both agreed to move back to the cash system for expenses other than bills.

shelfins-I'll have to check out the book you mentioned. I have been meaning to go to the library to rent another copy of the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover (it's what we got started with and really convinced my husband to get in on the debt payoff) to refresh our goals and such. I wish I could get him into MMM. I'll check out that book if I can find it.

The good news is that we talked and came to an agreement. We talked specifically about the Kuerig we bought for him and he complained it always tastes like water. I suggested he read the manual and clean it, since water was coming out of places it shouldn't have been. He was shocked to see all the nasty build up in that thing. It runs fine now after a thorough vinegar wash and many rinses. So I hope he will start using it again.

Regarding me being a tight wad with the money, we agreed that we both get $20 every paycheck, or $40 at the beginning of the month to do with what we please. **He came up with the idea that if either of us has anything left over at the point where we get new money, it goes straight to debt and we get the new money**  That seems very fair to me!

MsSindy

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Re: Finding a balance with your Non-Mustachian Spouse?
« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2013, 08:05:37 PM »
Great, it looks like you were able to come to middle ground! 

I know it can be frustrating when you can see the potential of what you could accomplish if your partner was as committed as you - but I guess we all have to pick our battles.  I have to remind myself that I'm changing the rules after 20+ years, so I have to give him some room to grow accustomed to a different way of thinking.

Keep leading by example, gently nudge, and you'll see changes (even if it's slow).

Congrats again on coming to a resolution.