Author Topic: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?  (Read 4766 times)

hybrid

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Hello all,

I'm a newbie to the site, like so many others I discovered MMM from the recent article in the Washington Post.  And MMMs philosophy really spoke to me, it was like finding religion (said the agnostic).  The missus and I are typical consumers, but we have also put away a decent nest egg for the future.  We don't spend more than we have, we did buy a rental home last year, I prepay on the primary mortgage, and I invest in the stock market, and my only debt is the remaining balance on the primary mortgage and the rental, and two years left on a car (less than 200K total, all at 4% or less).  So I'm comfortable with the investing side of the equation.  One caveat for us is that the missus is 59 and I am 46, so she is rapidly nearing retirement anyway.  I figured the missus would retire "on schedule" (65 or 66) and I would go on working another 20 years or so and also retire at 66.

But now I've caught the mustachian fever regarding how much we consume, and I'm convinced it won't be a passing fad because I already was investing and refusing to borrow for anything (except the car, which was a 0% loan over 60 months so essentially a delayed purchase).  My new short term goal is to pay off the rental in three years, for the missus to retire at 63, and my longer term goal is for me to retire at 56.

I'm pretty lucky in that I already have a good head start toward my goals, but my question is this:  How quickly did some of the married veterans of this site change their ways?  Did you go cold turkey, or did you start plucking the low hanging fruit first and move on to the more difficult items later?  If I were a single man I'd probably opt for the former, but as a married guy I have to be mindful of the fact that my wife does truly enjoy some of the comforts in life and she's not quite on the same page with me yet (but rapidly getting there).  Any advice for the married newbie with the cautious bride of 28 years?  I've got a long list of things I want to do but I don't want to go too fast and damage the relationship in the process. My gut says ease into it one step at a time over several months or a year. 

grantmeaname

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2013, 02:41:55 PM »
I won't provide my opinion on how fast to make the changes, because I think that's pretty personal. I do want to say, though, that six months after any change, even a major one, you wont even notice it anymore, whether that's shopping in bulk and cooking all the time or keeping the house at 84 degrees for the summer. You may be annoyed at first, but it quickly wears off, and two years after you find Mustachianism you'll be annoyed that you can't trim any more expenses.

MrsStubble

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2013, 03:12:20 PM »
Hi and welcome!   I am also a 1/2 stacher.  My husband, although frugal, is not entirely on board either but we are making it work.  My advice is to do both - lay it all on the table and then go cold turkey on some things you can agree on and slower on things that you the mrs is not on board with. 

For example, we having investments and savings too but we had a bit of debt so I made the decision that we had to go cold turkey on that - and just explained that we are not using credit cards and we were accelerating our extra mortgage payments. That was fine because he knew he could use cash, but getting him commit took some effort.  To cancel TV took a bit of effort and a subscription to Netflix and Hulu and a promised trial period ( if you absolutely hate it we can revisit in a 6 months - it's been 1 year so far).   Same with going out and vacations.  We still do them, but less frequently and with better planning and more money savings then before.  He knows that if we need to spend money on something I'm going to cut something else out. 

It's not the easiest but I think the longer he sees me doing it and the more MMM-like I become, the more he's willing to try. 

The other thing that helped was that I put the big goals (pay off mortgage by x date, save up x amount by y date, retire by z date) up on the blackboard in our fridge so he can see it. It's a great motivator to keeping us both in check.

You may want to to also get her on here reading the site.  There are a lot of ladystaches and lots of girl advice about changing lifestyles.   Good luck!

hybrid

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2013, 08:40:18 AM »
 

The other thing that helped was that I put the big goals (pay off mortgage by x date, save up x amount by y date, retire by z date) up on the blackboard in our fridge so he can see it. It's a great motivator to keeping us both in check.

You may want to to also get her on here reading the site.  There are a lot of ladystaches and lots of girl advice about changing lifestyles.   Good luck!

All good advice, especially what I cherry-picked above, and many thanks for the tips.  The blackboard idea crossed my mind as well, think I will go ahead and try that.

She is reading the site some, and that has helped.  It really is a very different mindset after all these years.  It's not like we were living paycheck to paycheck, but to come to grips with the notion that our merely adequate savings rate (if you plan to retire at the "normal" age) isn't anywhere near what it could be, that's a big adjustment for any couple married as long as we have to make.  So my challenge is to get the adjustment right.

oldtoyota

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2013, 09:17:10 AM »
I think you got some good advice.

For us, I spotted some bills we could reduce immediately. DH was on board with getting rid of the newspaper and land line. That eliminated $1100 right there. Funny how uncomfortable it felt to get rid of the land line, and we kept it longer than we should have. Now, though, I do not regret it a bit.

We have a mobile plan with only 500 minutes between the two of us. So, until we get a different mobile plan, we're being conservative on making calls (making them from our offices if we think we'll be on hold with, say, any of the companies we're contacting in order to change/reduce our bills).

My next item is the mobile phone plan, and I've gotten great advice from this board. Using IP Daley's mobile phone calculator (http://www.techmeshugana.com/tools/wirelessroi.html), I see we can save more than $800 per year EVEN THOUGH we have to "buy out" of our contract. That was an eye opener.

So, dig around your expenditures and this forum. You might find some of the changes will not even be that painful to you guys.

For us, we were frugal in terms of vacations, home purchase, car loans--and had no debt beyond our house. However, we'd not spent the time to seek the absolute best deals on cable, phone, land line, etc, etc.

Now, I am going through and starting with the biggest wins to make myself feel great. Then, I will move on to the areas with smaller returns.




hybrid

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2013, 09:47:34 AM »
I think you got some good advice.

For us, I spotted some bills we could reduce immediately. DH was on board with getting rid of the newspaper and land line. That eliminated $1100 right there. Funny how uncomfortable it felt to get rid of the land line, and we kept it longer than we should have. Now, though, I do not regret it a bit.

We have a mobile plan with only 500 minutes between the two of us. So, until we get a different mobile plan, we're being conservative on making calls (making them from our offices if we think we'll be on hold with, say, any of the companies we're contacting in order to change/reduce our bills).

Now, I am going through and starting with the biggest wins to make myself feel great. Then, I will move on to the areas with smaller returns.

Thanks for the advice, I especially like what you say above.

This sounds exactly like where I am.  There are some very easy items for us, starting first and foremost with our country club membership (which, to be completely honest, was something I pushed for eight years ago and have used extensively so I own that face punch).  I've golfed enough in the last ten years that quite frankly I've been looking for a decent reason to ditch that expensive, yet quite fun, habit of mine.  I think it will be a relief to turn in my resignation letter.  The cell phone bill is another easy one (our Verizon contract is over so I can switch carriers), eating out less is simple enough, and I plan to bike more.  Cable TV will be tough, that's something the missus really enjoys and I can live without, so that item will move further down the list.  It should be very easy for us to come up with an extra 800 a month without a lot of heavy lifting, and if we ease into that simply enough I think that number could get closer to the 1200 range. An extra 15K a year means the rental is done in three short years. 

lifejoy

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2013, 09:56:21 AM »
What helped me and my bf was doing the "jar system" for a month.

You budget money into each jar, and it causes you to REALLY watch your spending. It took our food budget from $600/mo. to $250/mo!! We just started paying attention.

Now that we're no longer doing the jars together, I am still doing them. So shared purchases are affected by the budget, and I'm quick to suggest less expensive alternatives. However it is not affecting my bf's discretionary spending, so he is staying happy.

That being said, I am leading by example and I think when I am debt free before him, he will be even more interested in mustachianism.

Good luck!

cbr shadow

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2013, 11:44:12 AM »
My wife and I have made good money for a while, but never tracked it or had much of a budget.  She signed us up for Mint.com which was LIFE CHANGING for us.  It really opened our eyes and showed us where our money was going.
A few months later I found a good deal on an old Honda Insight and started looking up how much it costs for people to commute to work, which led me to Mr Money Mustache.  I started linking my wife to his blog posts and asking her to read them.  We made the big cuts right away (paying off student loans, replacing a very expensive car with a more practical one, stop eating out 4 days/week, no more fast food, less expensive entertainment and hobbies etc), and now we've taken it a step further and cut cable and are looking closely at other budgets.

I think the trick to getting a spouse on the same page is to get her interested in it.  Show her the goal and explain that it's possible to reach it, and how.  Sign up for Mint.com and spend the initial time to get it setup, then show her how much is being spent on each line item, and how much that adds up to per year.

Good luck!

oldtoyota

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2013, 11:59:49 AM »
I think the trick to getting a spouse on the same page is to get her interested in it.  Show her the goal and explain that it's possible to reach it, and how.  Sign up for Mint.com and spend the initial time to get it setup, then show her how much is being spent on each line item, and how much that adds up to per year.

Good luck!

Good point. I have a cooperative spouse, and he was still amazed that I've knocked $7K off our spending without a lot of pain on our part.

savingtofreedom

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2013, 09:06:23 PM »
You can't manage what you don't measure.

Setting up mint.com or some other budgeting software will help make you aware of where you are leaking money.

We were never in debt by any means and always saving money but I blew way too much on clothing, eating out, etc.  I think part of it was because I didn't like my job and shopping made me happy - at least for a little while.

Then the light bulb went off when I found the blog and I realized I could sock away money to get a jump on retirement. 

Your frugal muscle will surely get better over time.  I was the one watching crappy cable tv and realized what a waste of time it was.  Maybe you can make the same appeal to your wife.

Easing into this lifestyle may make it less of a "shock" to the wife if you are the one on board.  My husband was always more frugal but he has also gotten much better too and we started doing more work around the house.

Good luck - you can do it!

meadow lark

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2013, 09:34:27 PM »
I found writing a journal on the forum has helped me make goals of things to change, and is a way for me to check on my progress.  With my wife I try to focus on the goals - what is she gonna get out of it?  If you focus on the earlier retirement for her, that may motivate her to go along with your new plans!

hybrid

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2013, 09:35:35 AM »
If you focus on the earlier retirement for her, that may motivate her to go along with your new plans!

Thanks for the tip, I think you hit the nail squarely on the head.  She is ready to get out of the rat race, she is a letter carrier with the USPS (25+ years).  That is not a fun place to be these days.  She will get a defined benefit equal to 1% of her pay for every year she worked, so when she does stop working money will keep coming in from the employer, just a lot less of it.  We'll likely defer her social security to maximize the benefit but I haven't crunched the numbers closely there yet.  I'm still getting my arms around knocking a bunch of years off our working careers.  We'll still have a combined income that should easily allow us to build the nest egg further if she gets out by age 62 or 63, my salary is the larger of the two.

We're very tempted to use part of her 401K money when she retires to pay off the last of our debt completely (especially when equities are the only place paying decent returns with interest rates near zero, and I feel there is a very good chance we are in a stock bubble already).  The mortgage is the biggest item on our list, get rid of that and life gets a whole lot easier (yes, we know there will still be insurance and real estate taxes, but no biggie). 

little_owl

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Re: How quickly did former consumers change their spending ways?
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2013, 05:10:41 AM »
I just wanted to say that I agreed with other posters who recommended looking for some of the low-hanging fruit while starting to track your spending.

After you have tracked for two months, simply multiply out what some of the "wasteful" categories are costing you across 10 years.  That made my head spin, and caused me to cut out a lot more waste in my life.  I'm happier for it!