Author Topic: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.  (Read 8740 times)

Matte

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Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« on: November 07, 2012, 09:12:54 PM »
I have a question for you all.  My spouse and I have been able to get ourselves out of a large hole finance wise.  In 3 years we have paid 20k down payment on house, acceletated mortgage, 50k put in rrsp, 15k wedding/honeymoon, 10k school tuition, countless money commuting to Jschool and bills, really treading water, Vancouver is a very expensive city and high taxes and fees.  We are both young, 24 to be exact. I am making 100k before tax, 65 after tax the last couple years.  I have been hauling scrap metal, buying and selling, scrapping, importing vehicles, atvs, pretty much anything legal I can do, last year I made about 20k tax free (1 truck, one blazer, 3 atvs i bought at a company auction)the previous year about 10k.  All these craigslist deals were very high cash per time, the problem is that my wife despises this, she hates random people coming to buy stuff, me being on the phone, the space, the stigma, now she is done school and we are in positive money every month she wants me to stop.  She makes good money, about 40k a year now, and sees not having to deal with that a worthwhile luxury.  It is something that is easy to put the brakes on as with what I do i need Capitol investments, to get the money back exponentially.  What do you guys think?  Another complication is that I have received threats on a forum and Craigslist from a local towing company for undercutting their prices, and had my truck vandalized once.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 09:44:44 PM by Matte »

Matte

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2012, 09:35:37 PM »
I should add that I really enjoy making all these deals. My comPetitive advantage is that I work in the city where land is worth a fortune and people are finally getting smart and clearing out all their junk cars, trucks, boat motors ect.  I am able to combine my commute with picking stuff up for a song. Then selling it in the country/suburbs where the old 4x4s still roads and stuff is of high value.  The fact that I use my economy car on a trip I'm making anyways really helps.

 There are also many other services she wants professionals for to save stress and my time.  I have a hard time with that as I have been doing home repair my whole life with my dad and grandpa and hiring anything out is unacceptable in my family.  We have done several projects, typically minimalist because of budget and that has left a really bad taste in her mouth about do it yourself projects. 

I would rather be putting more that I am able to in the stash, where my wife seems more into relaxing, going warmer places and having a clear driveway.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 09:42:07 PM by Matte »

Jack

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2012, 07:19:51 AM »
What makes you think the $20k you made buying and selling is "tax free?" You may be able to avoid reporting it, but in my neck of the woods that's called "under the table" (and at the tax office it's called "tax evasion").

Aside from that, it sounds great. Here's my advice:

1. Keep wheeling and dealing, but report the income.
2. Keep DIYing. (I don't see how your wife is entitled to get upset about it, unless you're making her help!)
3. Report the intimidation and vandalism to the police.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2012, 08:38:26 AM by Jack »

zhelud

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2012, 08:12:24 AM »
Divorce is very expensive. Definitely more expensive than compromising and hiring a handyman for the jobs your wife feels most strongly about. 

Jack

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2012, 08:43:11 AM »
Re-reading more carefully, I have a question: did the DIY projects leave a bad taste in your wife's mouth because of the "minimalist budget" part, the "we" (as in, she had to participate) part, or some other reason? I think it's worth making changes to accommodate (appease) the wife short of giving up the DIY entirely.

palvar

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2012, 09:10:56 AM »
Is she on board with your Mustachian goals?  My wife puts up with a lot knowing of silly stuff that I do knowing that I'm doing it to make sure we have time and security for our family.

Posthumane

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2012, 10:16:58 AM »
What makes you think the $20k you made buying and selling is "tax free?" You may be able to avoid reporting it, but in my neck of the woods that's called "under the table" (and at the tax office it's called "tax evasion").

Aside from that, it sounds great. Here's my advice:

1. Keep wheeling and dealing, but report the income.
2. Keep DIYing. (I don't see how your wife is entitled to get upset about it, unless you're making her help!)
3. Report the intimidation and vandalism to the police.
Easy there. It's quite possible that the OP has looked into the tax regulations. In Canada, buying and selling cars and such is subject to Capital Gains Tax, not income tax. However, there is a $750k capital gains lifetime exemption, so as long as what he makes from capital gains is less than that over the course of his life (including house appreciation) then it is tax-free. Also, things like cars and furniture are considered personal use items on which capital gains are not paid if the item is sold for less than $1k. If on the other hand you are performing a towing service for money then that should be registered as a business (may still be favourable over personal income tax rate).

Other than that, I agree with the advice given here. If you enjoy the wheeling and dealing talk it over with your spouse and see if there is some way you can reduce the impact on her (such as not having people come to your house, but meeting them elsewhere or delivering). On the DIY front, try to increase the quality of your work to match your spouse's expectations of what she would get from a "pro".

Jack

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2012, 11:24:19 AM »
Easy there. It's quite possible that the OP has looked into the tax regulations. In Canada, buying and selling cars and such is subject to Capital Gains Tax, not income tax. However, there is a $750k capital gains lifetime exemption, so as long as what he makes from capital gains is less than that over the course of his life (including house appreciation) then it is tax-free. Also, things like cars and furniture are considered personal use items on which capital gains are not paid if the item is sold for less than $1k. If on the other hand you are performing a towing service for money then that should be registered as a business (may still be favourable over personal income tax rate).

That's fine, I just figured it was better for me to point it out and let him ignore it if it didn't apply, than to say nothing and have him potentially learn it the hard way.

Matte

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2012, 03:09:51 PM »
The income is legal and yes the majority of it falls under personal use items and under 1000,and the capital gains pay for other vehicles in my hobby. I keep receipts, print outs of adds, phone numbers ect. I have rental income as well so really don't want to play tax games.  I should have elaborated I don't tow stuff for people, way too much liability and insurance.  I typically find garage/estate sales or talk to people with stuff that is clearly neglected and unwanted that has value.  I will buy for next to nothing and in the process of buying the stuff I leave their yard much tidier, and take other stuff to the dump for them.  The problems are mostly because this towing company and wrecker have been setting the Craigslist prices in my area for some time. 

The bad taste I believe comes from either the time to complete things ie waiting for more money or time.  I work a rotating shift plus overtime so if I can get lots of work projects can be delayed, especially yard ones since it rains so much.  She just thinks it would be so nice to just sign over a check and have things done instantly and she believes that contractors will always do it Iright and somehow it will be better.  It almost seems like a wants it to come from someone else not me if there is bad news or added difficulties.  An example of this was when I added recessed lighting to the kitchen and she wanted all the fixtures removed and pot lights added, Where I left the fan in tact and put pot lights over half and we left the fan (modern nice and practical) since it had a large hole to fill in a popcorn ceiling that I knew I could not get to match well.  She is convinced that an electrician would do all the lights and could do that fix no problem.  In reality the75 I spent on new lights would probably cost 400 or so from an electrician, and removing the fan would require a drywall guy and several hundred dollars more.  There have been a couple other things like using cheap snow fence that warped in the back yard that now she is convinced that I am an incompetent fence builder and wants it done professionally.  Where my only real mistake was buying the 40 dollar roll of snow fenc instead of the 120 dollar chain link. 

I have been laying off lately, the big problem is I think she likes it too much and just wants all new things done by others.  I have been good by changing to only doing one thing at a time. 

Another Reader

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2012, 03:31:43 PM »
I would sure like to hear HER side of the story......

It sounds like you and your wife are not in agreement about what work should be done and to what standard.  In your shoes, I would sit down with her and put the whole project on paper, just like I was a contractor.  Then when the two of us agreed what should be done and with what materials, then I would purchase the materials and do the job.  If, when the project was completed, she did not like the result, I would step back and realistically ask myself if I had done what we agreed on in a workman like, professional manner.  If I had not,  then I would agree to hire the job out.  That might mean fewer things were done, but the jobs would not threaten my relationship with my wife.


happy

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2012, 09:18:55 PM »
When i was growing up, my father was good at DIY, and would NOT let my mother outsource most jobs around the house. Trouble was he worked long hours and although he could do the job, he mostly never got around to it. My mother spent more time at home than he... and mostly the job not being done afftected/bugged her, not HIM. When i got married I realised my hubbie was useless at DIY. Initially it upset my frugality, but he always agreed to pay for the work to be done and I soon realised how much more smoothly things ran when jobs were actually done. 

So I understand your wife's issue if you have a long list of stuff that never actually gets done. On the other hand, tradies don't necessarily do the job properly either, and sometimes you can do stuff yourself that a tradie won't do because it takes too long and is not cost effective to pay someone.

If you are planning a project along the lines of Another Reader's  approach, you could also get a quote from a tradie.  This will give a true estimate of the value of the job, and with a bit of luck some of the time they might tell your wife that they can't do exactly what she wants (ie you're off the hook). If you chat to the tradie when he quotes you might learn somethings, and get ideas about how to do the job better yourself.

Matte

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2012, 12:20:38 AM »
We discussed the idea of a plan and quote.  Having something to compare it to is a good idea.  We also discussed splitting the work, like having the finishing done professionally. Because of my power engineering training I am allowed to do wiring, gas, and plumbing legally, and have done it in school.  Also it came about as she felt helpless when I did projects with my dad on our house.  She felt that her ideas get ignored (often due to cost/practicality) but she really felt two against one and that was the problem.  My dad built many houses and has carpenters training, so is good advice practically but not at the cost of upsetting my wife.  There really was a lot that came out, that I really did not understand before. 

First Fiduciary

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2012, 01:54:13 AM »
It sounds like you have a Vancouver special property and spouse. Long story short ask her why she falls victim to the institutionalization of trust (assuming a "professional" does a better job). The banks in Canada are a perfect example of this.  If you can save cash and do any repairs or renos without bleeding your pocketbook why is there a rush?  Long story short you need your spouse on board stat. Explain to her the savings on projects will compound overtime allowing you to reach FI sooner. In any event having your spouse on board is paramount to a long term strategic plan. From the sounds of it she is concerned with the here and now, not the future.  Have you even considered how you will operate when/if kids come around?  Sorry to sound harsh but I have known way too many guys that fall victim to there spouses expectations. Btw I am only 4 years your senior.....
« Last Edit: November 13, 2012, 05:12:42 AM by FrugalToque »

happy

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2012, 04:36:46 AM »
We discussed the idea of a plan and quote.  Having something to compare it to is a good idea.  We also discussed splitting the work, like having the finishing done professionally. Because of my power engineering training I am allowed to do wiring, gas, and plumbing legally, and have done it in school.  Also it came about as she felt helpless when I did projects with my dad on our house.  She felt that her ideas get ignored (often due to cost/practicality) but she really felt two against one and that was the problem.  My dad built many houses and has carpenters training, so is good advice practically but not at the cost of upsetting my wife.  There really was a lot that came out, that I really did not understand before.

Sweet. Between you and your dad you've got a lot of skills! Sounds like you might  need to listen and explain more... you guys are probably 10 steps ahead of her all the time.To us non trades people its often not obvious why some ideas won't work especially when retro fitting. I remember I wanted a light in my pantry: didn't seem like an unreasonable request. Couldn't get a sparky to do it and was sure I was being given the run around. Finally asked my brother, also a sparky and he explained how the access was now pretty well impossible without taking out bits of wall. Took him 15 mins to explain it to me all the reasons why a cable couldn't be run in, but I finally could see they were all right.

Jack

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2012, 07:33:24 AM »
This might not be the best idea, but as a last resort you could intentionally hire an incompetent contractor to do a terrible job (on a small project) to "prove" to your wife that you're better off doing it yourself...

Matte

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2012, 08:37:38 AM »
Thanks for all the advice, I think slow will be the way to go.  It actually is me who is chomping at the bit to do more so the patients will have to come from me.  We have a bathroom with a leaky shower that we have not used since shortly after buying the house, who really needs two showers right! We will wait and save till. Our bathroom acct has enough in it to get a pro then start myself.  Bit of a compromise, also doesn't want help planning it from dad, that will be a tough one.  My wife is so frugal in so many other ways, just to work that hard not spending and making extra money in so many other ways to line the pockets of some contractor really irks me.  I don't think hiring a bad contractor would work, she's way too smart, and really it's hard to tell since rarely here does the guy selling the work actually do it, they just drive 60k pickup trucks and sell the work.  Chances are when it comes to actually do it it will be a couple entry level guys.  I know because I worked condo construction the summer after I graduated, I remember being one of the bosses favorites by just showing up on time and not stoned or hungover.  The bar was pretty low, I know that is not a good generalization because obviously this contractor would hire anyone as he allowed me total freedom of hours, and days. 

As for the vandalism it was my truck being keyed, I am not with one hundred certainty who it was but It was at the same time as threats so I can pretty much guess, innocent until proven guilty unfortunately.  All the forum posts are saved for future reference if need be.  I'm not going to be flying off the handle without proof, considering one of those motion detectors with a camera at Costco.  I am kind of handy capped by that I have a house, good job, wife, equity equity.  None of wich I want to loose.  Not that I am backing down but I have way too much at stake to battle with slime balls.  I am a bit less aggressive with my adds.   The ones that were instantly flagged and brought the heat on we're when the title said will beat any price beside the part, also I had in the adds that I would give money back no problem and would meet them to deliver if convenient.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2012, 05:14:07 AM by FrugalToque »

PJ

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2012, 04:30:48 PM »
We discussed the idea of a plan and quote.  Having something to compare it to is a good idea.  We also discussed splitting the work, like having the finishing done professionally. Because of my power engineering training I am allowed to do wiring, gas, and plumbing legally, and have done it in school.  Also it came about as she felt helpless when I did projects with my dad on our house.  She felt that her ideas get ignored (often due to cost/practicality) but she really felt two against one and that was the problem.  My dad built many houses and has carpenters training, so is good advice practically but not at the cost of upsetting my wife.  There really was a lot that came out, that I really did not understand before.

Sounds like you guys have had some good conversations since you first posted ... good for you.  We all have different hot button issues, so it's great when you can come to a deeper understanding of your partner, and your teamwork in other areas will also benefit from the knowledge that you can really listen to each other. 

catalana

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2012, 10:14:17 AM »
Sweet. Between you and your dad you've got a lot of skills! Sounds like you might  need to listen and explain more... you guys are probably 10 steps ahead of her all the time.To us non trades people its often not obvious why some ideas won't work especially when retro fitting. I remember I wanted a light in my pantry: didn't seem like an unreasonable request. Couldn't get a sparky to do it and was sure I was being given the run around. Finally asked my brother, also a sparky and he explained how the access was now pretty well impossible without taking out bits of wall. Took him 15 mins to explain it to me all the reasons why a cable couldn't be run in, but I finally could see they were all right.
This +1.

My Dad is trained in carpentry, and gave me tonnes of help with my house when I bought it.  However I always thought he was taking the easy option by coming up with workarounds, and leaving existing stuff in place.  So I started doing some jobs myself. 

That was one heck of a learning experience!  I think you can only understand the trade off between  level of finish and time/cost by doing a few jobs yourself.  What would have left me dissatisfied if done by someone else was perfectly acceptable when I did it myself - probably because I was usually pretty proud to get to that point!  The fan in your kitchen is probably a perfect example of that principal.

I definitely agree getting your wife to scope the work and then laying out everything involved and getting alternative quotes would be a good idea.  Get her more involved, and teach her what is involved in getting to the finish that she envisages when planning the work.  This is the kind of knowledge that you usually only pick up over many years if you've not worked in a trade, or renovated a house.

Alternatively, let your missus deal with the trades for the next job - and better yet, pay for it out of her money if you have separate finances.  I'm not meaning that flippantly.  It would be an eye opener for her when things aren't quite finished off "perfectly" and she has to negotiate her way through the snagging.  (Or realises she didn't scope the work properly at the outset).

mm1970

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2012, 10:49:47 AM »
Yeah, it sounds like timing might be the issue.  And you might want to agree on a length of time to do things.

My husband is very handy.  He's done a lot of work on our house (including wiring and plumbing), and I helped him pre-kid too (mostly painting and sanding). 

But now with two kids, there's not a lot of time. And major projects take a LONG time.  So we've agreed if there is something we want done quickly, we will hire it out (this hasn't really happened much - except for insulating our floors last year).  And everything else - they take time.  And project creep is an issue too.  We had a closet in the hall which was just a recess.  It stored junk.  I wanted a real closet with doors (it had a badly made arch) and shelving.  He turned it into the place where our wireless equipment is stored, so it required a lot more work.  It's not done.  But it will be nice when it is.  Sometimes he just takes a day off work (vacation) to work on it.


kdms

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2012, 08:53:57 AM »

 There are also many other services she wants professionals for to save stress and my time. 

I haven't seen anyone else address a different facet of the 'my time' issue (aside from the DIY and project angle) but I'm wondering: three years of breakneck pace with DIY to save money, buy-and-sell to save money/reduce debt, schooling, etc, would put a strain on anyone.  How much time have you guys actually spent as a couple, just focusing on each other, in the last three years?  When was the last time you guys just took a break from life?

You've made it clear in your other posts that the communication is improving and she's opening up a bit about her frustrations and concerns, which is great.  I'm just saying there might be another side to her concerns about trying to save your time and effort -- it might be so she can get a little more non-DIY time with you.

Example: my DH went out the labour day weekend to shoot a bear with some buddies; this is not recreational, it's to make sausage, so it's for the family meat supply.  He didn't get it, and he's been out hunting almost every day since in an attempt to get it.  I'm getting annoyed to the point where if I see a bear, I'm going to shoot the damn thing myself, because myself and his 2-yr old son almost never get to see him for any length of time anymore.  15 minutes in the evening before bed doesn't cut it.  And I don't appreciate being left will all the jobs that need to be done, every day.  (And the season's over Nov 30, so I know this isn't for much longer, but it's still annoying.) 

Imagine your wife thinking 'It's been three years, school's finally done, we're doing well financially, now we can relax a bit' but finding out the hard way you don't see it the same way.  It's not hard to see why she'd like you to slow down a bit.

Unless she married you solely for your DIY skills and knowing she'd only get your attention for limited times during the day, I would gently suggest perhaps considering some activities with her in mind....something that she can fully take part in and doesn't need to be taught, unless it's something she suggests.   I'm not suggesting you stop what you obviously love to do, but you might need to find a work/life balance and spread your time around a little more, keeping her in mind.  It sounds like you enjoy the DIY/buy-sell so much that it's a way of life for you, but because you've been using it to help your financial situation, she may not realize just how important it is to you, and she thinks it's just a way to bring in more money, so now that it's not essential, it doesn't need to be done anymore. 

Just a thought, having been in her situation..... ;)

Matte

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Re: Getting spouse back on board with frugality after debt.
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2012, 10:30:28 PM »
Thanks for all the tips, you are making me feel a lot better.  We talked a lot, actually last week we were on a vacation to Mexico that until talking more and in a way reading this I resented and even went as far as laying on guilt about it.  Wich I have since apologized for, and saw the need to be away from the house and in a low stress place.  I agreed to slow down and make more time for her, she pretty much said that she felt that other stuff was the priority and not her.  It was not so much the fact of the time, as I mainly keep it to time she's working or coaching, but she really struggled with the phone calls and that I was re-arranging our schedule to accommodate lots of others.  All in all it was a good growth in our relationship, the projects are kind of on hold, and so is other spending, so I guess that's ok,can't build a dream home and massive pile overnight.