Author Topic: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It causes conflict with spouse.  (Read 17818 times)

MarkM

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I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It causes conflict with spouse.
« on: February 23, 2014, 10:38:36 PM »
Okay, maybe I'm not cheap; I'm a thrifty, price-conscious non-consumerist, right?  What happens when my spouse is not?  It drives her crazy and causes me to become an annoying nit about her purchases.

Backstory: I've been "mustachian" long before this blog (but thanks for the outlet and ideas, MMM community).  My parents have always been very frugal and it's long been ingrained in me.  I've saved 60-70% of net pay every year since I've graduated college -- around 70% in 3 years pre marriage and around 60% in the 3 years post (including her income).  I don't make a budget, it's just how the dust settles.  At 28, our net worth is basically following MMM's trajectory, maybe a bit higher.  Often, this is all very exciting and cause for celebration, but lately it's not been so fun.  It's causing strain in my relationship with my wife.

It's easy being Mustachian when it's just you, but once you've got a spouse, it gets a lot trickier when your spending habits don't align.  She's no super spender, probably just a normal consumer.  I'm far from normal.  I can't make a purchase or plans with friends or a trip to the store without analyzing the financial implications.   She'll want to go out to dinner and I'll push for making something in.  She'll want to go see a movie and I'll suggest snuggling up to Netflix.  She'll want to buy a new dress for an upcoming wedding and I'll ask what's wrong with the ones she has.   

Frankly, I just don't enjoy spending money on things.  I've always been good with shelling out money for experiences and big trips with friends/family;  it's the day to day little things that bother me.  I can't help but nitpick the CC bill that has too many coffee shop visits or lunches out or whatever else seems unnecessary.  We don't live a deprived life by any means...we've gone on some great international trips, take nice weekend trips with friends, live in a nice neighborhood, and so on.  We're planning to buy a house soon and have kids so expenses will be on the rise.  Anyhow, I/we need to get better at managing the day to day stuff.  For starters, I need to be less of a micro-manager.  Easier said than done.

There must be others of you with similar issues/dynamics.  Provide me some perspective/advice. 
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 08:07:10 PM by MarkM »

ritchie70

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Re: I'm cheap. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2014, 10:45:08 PM »
My wife and I aren't as far apart as you two seem to be, but I've definitely been more of the long-term investor in the relationship. All we do is just try to make allowances for what is comfortable for the other one.

We also keep our finances totally separate. She's stay-at-home-mom at the moment, but when we were both working, she would write me a check each month for her half of the bills, and I would pay all the bills. These days, I just don't get the check. Even now, she has a lot of savings that she's paying "her" bills out of, and I'm covering everything else. (Actually she pays the cell phone bill and one other thing.)

The move from DINK to SIOK (dual income no kids to single income one kid) has definitely pushed her in a more frugal direction, though. We actually last had restaurant food in December. Last year I was stopping by a certain red and gold clown-mascotted fast food place a couple times a week on the way home to pick up dinner.

sheepstache

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Re: I'm cheap. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2014, 10:48:05 PM »
Feel like we need some AA atmosphere here. 

"Hi, my name is MarkM, and I'm cheap."

Everyone: "Hi, MarkM."

Anyway.

Simplest maybe: You each have an agreed-upon amount of "mad money" each month.  It's transferred to an individual account or credit card so you never see what she spent it on.  You just let it go that her money isn't going to be saved.

Would that help?

dragoncar

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2014, 10:54:31 PM »
Does your wife have a job?  As an unmarried, I don't have good advice, but it seems you should get  this sorted out before you buy a home and have kids together.  If she earns "her own" money, then maybe it's good enough to agree on separate finances.  If not... well I've never been a big fan of the traditional "breadwinner" mentality.

Zikoris

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2014, 11:08:04 PM »
This is a really good example of a situation where separate finances would help. Assuming you both work.

There are lots of things my boyfriend buys that would raise my blood pressure if they were coming out of an account with my name attached to it, but I don't think twice about right now since we keep our own accounts. And he's still pretty mustachian - saves about 50% vs my 60-70% of take home. It would drive me insane looking at a credit card bill with my name on it that had something like coffee shop drinks on it.

Frankies Girl

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Re: I'm cheap. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2014, 11:09:01 PM »
Did she know this about you before you were married? As in, did you opt for "cheap" dates instead of blowing gobs of money so it was pretty obvious that you are much more thrifty than average peeps?

I'm the cheap/frugal one and my husband was normal - but he's actually started being a bit more frugal since we've been married. He still spends money on things I'd not consider important but we worked out a few tricks to help me not freak out too much. We don't share checking accounts - we each have our own (still joint accounts, but one is mine and one is his) and we have separate cards for our own purchases. Either one of us can review the other's spending, but I try not to very often as long as the totals aren't crazy higher than average.

The other thing is to pick your battles and compromise. Eating out once a week or going out with friends since that makes her happy is a good compromise.

We set up a freebie type amount of money for personal spending - i.e. we each have $100 a month for no questions asked spending - so if he wants to go to coffee shops and eat out on that money, that's his choice and I don't care what he spends it on. It goes without saying that this should be a mutually agreed on amount and decision.

Large purchases should be mutually agreed on. You should also agree on what constitutes a "large" purchase.

But I think the best thing in your case is to sit down and talk to your wife. You need to really listen to her about what she feels is important, and understand that it's not right to push your savings and spending agenda ahead of hers if you're both technically doing well. Once you're married you have to consider the good of both parties.

You might want to do some reading over at http://earlyretirementextreme.com. I'm pretty sure that Jacob is ultra frugal, but his wife is not. I think they have separate finances so he's technically retired, while she's happy to keep working and saving for her own retirement.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2014, 11:12:01 PM by Frankies Girl »

gooki

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2014, 11:15:14 PM »
We have joint finances, but transfer a weekly allowance into our personal accounts to spend as we wish. This works fantastically well for us, and neither of us comments on the others personal spending.

MarkM

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Re: I'm cheap. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2014, 11:23:32 PM »
Feel like we need some AA atmosphere here. 

"Hi, my name is MarkM, and I'm cheap."

Everyone: "Hi, MarkM."

Anyway.

Simplest maybe: You each have an agreed-upon amount of "mad money" each month.  It's transferred to an individual account or credit card so you never see what she spent it on.  You just let it go that her money isn't going to be saved.

Would that help?
Indeed, kind of felt like AA writing that post.  I'm probably making this out to be more dramatic than it really is. 

I'm familiar with the his, hers and ours type of family finance, or just set blow money and the like.  But that's all just cover over the underlying issue of trying to find harmony in our finances.   Just after we got married, we did it where we each got $100/month to spend on whenever.  Then some months it wasn't enough, and we raised it to $150 or she'd just dig into the joint account.  After awhile it just seemed silly and we moved to the one pot approach.  Clearly this hasn't been perfect either.  Our income tilts 80/20 to me so doing straight separate accounts wouldn't work well.  That and I like to think as a couple we should be able to work it out as a single unit. 
« Last Edit: February 23, 2014, 11:29:25 PM by MarkM »

Jamesqf

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2014, 11:26:46 PM »
Have to ask: how much of this is down to 'frugal', and how much to what your basic likes & dislikes are?  As for instance, do you not go out to eat because of how much it costs, or because you just don't like eating out? 
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 02:07:28 PM by Jamesqf »

mxt0133

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2014, 11:28:31 PM »
I just found my internet twin, my name is also Mark btw.  I am in the exact same position as you are except I have two kids and she's a SAHM.  Everything in life is great except our finances and it's not because we have money troubles it's because we view it differently.  She constantly says that I want to die with my money because I do scrutinize everything that we spend trying to constantly optimize things.  Even when I back off and just follow our monthly budget she feels guilty about spending on conveniences because she is not earning money.

The only thing I can say is to try and be positive about the whole conversation instead of attacking/question her spending.  I try to set and example, I switch to pre-paid and she did as well, I cook and bring lunch to work and she started eating out less.  Slowly but surely we are getting there, but man is it slow.  I always try to mention why I'm being so frugal and ask her to look at our long terms goals.  And that sometimes the issue I think that is our goals when it's really just mine.  So I have gotten better at asking her what she would like for our family and discuss how we can get there.


FIreDrill

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Re: I'm cheap. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2014, 11:30:03 PM »


Simplest maybe: You each have an agreed-upon amount of "mad money" each month.  It's transferred to an individual account or credit card so you never see what she spent it on.  You just let it go that her money isn't going to be saved.


+1

Both my paycheck and my wife's goes into our main checking account for bills, food, and all other budgeted stuff including savings.  We allocate 100 to each of us in our monthly budget so that money gets transferred to personal accounts and is spent on whatever my wife or I wants.  It has been working pretty great for us so far.  I think a big part of our success has been just rolling with the unexpected punches, we have had some higher spending lately due to stuff her and there but we know that sometimes we will do great and sometimes the budget will get blown.

MarkM

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2014, 11:32:48 PM »
Have to ask: how much of this is down to 'frugal', and how much to what you're basic likes & dislikes are?  As for instance, do you not go out to eat because of how much it costs, or because you just don't like eating out?
I enjoy eating out.  We went out last weekend and got a rack of bbq ribs. It was damn tasty.  At the same time, I would have been more than happy not to spend $60 on a dinner for two that I could have prepared in our kitchen for under $10.  Unfortunately, that's what I think about when I'm reading over the menu options.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2014, 11:40:48 PM by MarkM »

MarkM

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2014, 11:36:26 PM »
I just found my internet twin, my name is also Mark btw.  I am in the exact same position as you are except I have two kids and she's a SAHM.  Everything in life is great except our finances and it's not because we have money troubles it's because we view it differently.  She constantly says that I want to die with my money because I do scrutinize everything that we spend trying to constantly optimize things.  Even when I back off and just follow our monthly budget she feels guilty about spending on conveniences because she is not earning money.
To the t, man.  Good to hear I'm not alone.  It's a struggle and a process.  Just been in a bit of funk lately.  I'll blame it on the rough winter.

FIreDrill

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2014, 11:37:04 PM »
Have to ask: how much of this is down to 'frugal', and how much to what you're basic likes & dislikes are?  As for instance, do you not go out to eat because of how much it costs, or because you just don't like eating out?
I enjoy eating out.  We went out last weekend and got a rack of bbq ribs. It was damn tasty.  At the same time, I would have been more than happy not to spend $60 on a dinner I could have prepared for under $10.

Dang, now I want ribs....

sheepstache

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2014, 11:38:39 PM »
I was getting from the original post that you were okay with the amount of money going out, it was just driving you nuts what it was being spent on and you were trying to make peace with that.  In which case, out of sight out of mind, might help, but ultimately you might have to adjust your attitude.  Finances are something you should agree on, yes, but presumably you agree on a lot of things in terms of lifestyle and values, etc., without judging how your wife spends every minute of her day, for example.

Is your goal FI?  And in which case have you shared the idea with your wife?  She may not see what the point of the frugality is, in which case her behavior makes sense.

MarkM

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2014, 11:58:11 PM »
I was getting from the original post that you were okay with the amount of money going out, it was just driving you nuts what it was being spent on and you were trying to make peace with that.  In which case, out of sight out of mind, might help, but ultimately you might have to adjust your attitude.  Finances are something you should agree on, yes, but presumably you agree on a lot of things in terms of lifestyle and values, etc., without judging how your wife spends every minute of her day, for example.

Is your goal FI?  And in which case have you shared the idea with your wife?  She may not see what the point of the frugality is, in which case her behavior makes sense.

FI isn't the singular goal, or at least shouldn't be.  Yes, the sooner we're FI independent, the sooner I can leave the corporate rat race and pursue other interests without money being a driving factor.  And yes, there's definitely a fine balance between aggressively driving towards FI and enjoying the here and now.  I think that's where I struggle.  Maybe I need to be okay with saving 40-50% of our income instead of 60-70%.  The long-term is more apparent and of interest to me than my wife, that part is certainly true.  I'm the more analytical, math-oriented one.  She's much more social and enjoys the social aspect/interaction/people watching of going to coffee shops, restaurants, etc whereas to me it's more just $$ going out the window. 

Anyhow, I'm appreciative of the ideas, stories and perspective you all have to share.  Seems you frugal types can relate to where I"m coming from. :)

AlexK

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2014, 12:09:09 AM »
What helped narrow the gap between my wife and I was to have discussions about our goals for the long term and what we can do to get there. What she thought was selfish behavior on my part was really just my way of accomplishing those goals, which included her and of course saving the world.

We have separate finances too, that helps. I earn 2/3 of the household income and she pays me her share of housing expenses but with our lifestyle that is just $200/mo, so it really doesn't matter who earns what, the vast majority goes into saving anyway. She buys a pair of shoes and a few evenings out with girlfriends each month, and I look the other way with only minor ribbing.

MayDay

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2014, 05:42:21 AM »
As a stay at home, female, tends to spend more partner in my own marriage, here is my take:

1.  You need to stop nit-picking and relax if it is within your agreed upon budget.

2.  She needs to stay within the agreed upon budget. 

If you agree that you each get 100$ a month for mad money as you called it, and another whatever for eating out, then let her spend it without comment.  Keep your mouth shut until/unless she goes over.  As the one who sometimes gets the crabbiness from my H (sometimes deserved, sometimes because he is out if touch with the cost of things, sometimes because he is stressed about something else and it comes out via financial complaining) it really sucks. 

I wonder if you sit down with her and agree to completely keep your mouth shut and not judge her spending, as long as she agrees to stay within the agreed upon limit, I wonder if you will see better compliance to the budget.  I know that is how it goes for me.  If I know my h will complain either way, than why bother staying in the budget! 

KMMK

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2014, 06:39:03 AM »
How much is your wife and marriage worth to you financially speaking? Would you give up all your money to save her life? Let's assume the answers are along the lines of priceless and yes. Then why the heck are you nickel and diming your marriage? Is she and it not worth the difference between 60% and 50%? You're doing great financially regardless. Do you want to be the guy that ruins his marriage through nit-picking. Let her do the things she enjoys as you can easily afford them.

Noodle

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2014, 06:45:30 AM »
What jumped out at me is your comment that you don't make a budget. I know many Mustachians don't, but I think that really works best either for single people or for couples that already have very similar values around spending (or time/ability to communicate regularly about financial decisions). Since your comments make it clear that you and your wife have different perspectives about your choices, you may need a more explicit plan and then the willingness to let go and follow the plan, even though it will include some compromises on your part too. On the other hand, it sounds like "If we make a budget and follow it then I promise to stop nagging you, honey" might be a welcome selling point on coming to an agreement.

soccerluvof4

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2014, 06:52:45 AM »
I think its important to have a discussion about alot of this before buying a house. As it been recorded money is one of the number one reasons for divorce and I am not implying you are on the course but it needs a talk. You also said you were saving 60-70% of your savings which is damn good so maybe there needs to be some give and take here. You cant change people BUT you can maybe get them come to your side a bit more. I have become the "Frugal" one in our family and though my wife is not a big spender the biggest thing is she like most people doesnt like to be questioned about expenses. What I found out the most helpful was just saying lets just keep things as they are but lets just keep track of everything spent. In our case though it took some time she has started and more and more each day i am listening to her talk about ways we can save. I found its more getting them to see than to just be preached too.

Gin1984

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2014, 06:55:04 AM »
Have to ask: how much of this is down to 'frugal', and how much to what you're basic likes & dislikes are?  As for instance, do you not go out to eat because of how much it costs, or because you just don't like eating out?
I enjoy eating out.  We went out last weekend and got a rack of bbq ribs. It was damn tasty.  At the same time, I would have been more than happy not to spend $60 on a dinner for two that I could have prepared in our kitchen for under $10.  Unfortunately, that's what I think about when I'm reading over the menu options.
Do you cook as much as she does?  Part of why I wanted to go out was because I did not want to cook.  Now that my husband cooks as much, if not more, I only really want to go out for what I can't make at home.

lexie2000

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #22 on: February 24, 2014, 07:01:36 AM »
As a stay at home, female, tends to spend more partner in my own marriage, here is my take:

1.  You need to stop nit-picking and relax if it is within your agreed upon budget.

2.  She needs to stay within the agreed upon budget. 

If you agree that you each get 100$ a month for mad money as you called it, and another whatever for eating out, then let her spend it without comment.  Keep your mouth shut until/unless she goes over.  As the one who sometimes gets the crabbiness from my H (sometimes deserved, sometimes because he is out if touch with the cost of things, sometimes because he is stressed about something else and it comes out via financial complaining) it really sucks. 

I wonder if you sit down with her and agree to completely keep your mouth shut and not judge her spending, as long as she agrees to stay within the agreed upon limit, I wonder if you will see better compliance to the budget.  I know that is how it goes for me.  If I know my h will complain either way, than why bother staying in the budget!

I agree that this would be the solution.  First, come to a mutual agreement on the amount and have her use cash so that you don't cringe when you see the credit card statement that shows how it was spent.  Psychologically, you will know in advance that that money will not be saved and she will know that she can spend it freely because there will be no paper trail.

lexie2000

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #23 on: February 24, 2014, 07:21:15 AM »
I have to admit, however, that I'm more like the OP.  We are FIREd and are in pretty good shape financially.  I love to go out to eat, but usually it only has value to me if the restaurant is going to provide something that I cannot or do not make for myself at home - sashimi would be a good example or other cuisine that I don't know how to make myself.

Yesterday, DH wanted to go out to get the breakfast special at one of the locally owned eateries.  The special consists of two eggs, English muffin or toast, sausage or bacon and then of course we'd want coffee.  I have a really hard time spending over $15 (after tax and tip) when I have all the same ingredients at home purchased when they were on sale - eggs for $1/dozen, bacon or sausage for $1-$2/lb., coffee for $1.99/lb., etc.  I can make him the exact same breakfast at home for 1/10 the cost or less.  It just seems silly to me to drive somewhere so that someone can make it for us when it's pretty darn easy to whip up at home.  But that's me...... 

brand new stash

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2014, 07:37:40 AM »
I think you need to create a budget together.  If you have been consistently saving 60-70% of your income, the two of you can easily work together and create a budget that will save over 50% of your income while allowing spending in areas that matter to her.   Then as long as she stays within the budget, stop criticizing her spending.


nottoolatetostart

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #25 on: February 24, 2014, 07:38:44 AM »
We have joint finances, but transfer a weekly allowance into our personal accounts to spend as we wish. This works fantastically well for us, and neither of us comments on the others personal spending.

Same boat here. We could retire today, as in 5 pm. We have cable because of DH. He gets (I know, I know, a facepunch here) the equivalent of $4500 annually for his fun money deposited into his personal account via direct deposit every 2 weeks. If it helps, we save about $131K per year, so this $4500 only adds 3.4% to our savings bottom line - it does not make or break retirement. He uses this for Zappos purchases for running gear, new running shoes, Vitamin Waters, books, travel to do his half-marathon out of state (he loves to run and read!). I never see the transactions because everything is maintained through his account and since it is direct deposited into his account, I don't have to begrudgingly transfer the funds each month, so I don't stress out with each transaction (I know I would totally stress out trying to do YNAB updates).

Our finances are merged though, other than this frivolous money. It's excessive and he knows that he is working right now (at 33) to continue to save to basically fund the lifestyle he wants (my retirement estimates do not include his fun money, just our necessities and some fudge factor for the what-ifs). He is ok with that. He knows he could quit today but only wants to do it on his terms. 

For the sake of my marriage - which is more important to me than my spreadsheets and calculations - I just grin it and bear it. We have more than enough to save and to fund his personal fun money. It would be a different story if we were not even saving for retirement as most Americans are not. I would have more of a leg to stand on if we were barely getting by. He knows the tradeoffs and has worked with me on so many other cost cutting means, so I need to see the forest through the trees sometimes and try to remind myself of that. He also came into our marriage with a positive net worth, was always a saver, and no student loans (unlike my lovely $80K of debt and negative net worth I brought into our marriage). We have accomplished so much financially in the last 4 years of marriage!

He is an awesome husband (so supportive, kind, funny, committed to me and his daughter, works hard, we have a great relationship) and a great Dad (our daughter just dotes on her da-da and they spend good quality time together). Forest through the trees.

Elaine

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #26 on: February 24, 2014, 07:39:41 AM »
I get where you're coming from as I'm the more frugal one in my relationship, and also the higher earner by about the same amount as you. I think we frugal types view nitpicking money as a way of maximizing efficiency (I welcome it!), but to normals we can come across as JUST nitpicking. I mean, would you want every bite that you take of, say carbs or sugar or salt, to be verbally critiqued by your spouse? While you're eating it? Any time you wanted to go to a thrift store or go hiking, would you want your spouse to immediately suggest something different like going to the mall or out to dinner? In a way that's like saying, "I don't like your idea, I want to do my thing instead."  I think it can be less about money and more an issue of feeling steamrolled and not heard (or at least it was for us, sorry if I'm projecting-might be different for you guys).

I would ask how much my SO spent on coffees or sandwiches out, which I thought would be helpful to show him how much money was being wasted. He saw it as me policing his every behavior and breathing down his throat/judging him. Now I make all his lunches and I make dinner, so I know he doesn't HAVE to spend on that- but if he blows $20 on coffee I don't say a word. You just have to choose your battles. We do separate finances and split bills, I handle any unexpected major expenses due to our difference in income, but it is mostly even. 

I think maybe a designated date night might be a good idea for you too- maybe every other week instead of every week, BUT with the catch that you aren't allowed to complain/mention how much is being spent. I've noticed even if I quip, "wow that's more than I thought it would be", it can cause additional tension, it's taken as a passive aggressive dig. After over a year of totally laying off about money I'm now finding my SO becoming more and more frugal on his own. Go figure. 

nottoolatetostart

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #27 on: February 24, 2014, 07:42:07 AM »
Have to ask: how much of this is down to 'frugal', and how much to what you're basic likes & dislikes are?  As for instance, do you not go out to eat because of how much it costs, or because you just don't like eating out?
I enjoy eating out.  We went out last weekend and got a rack of bbq ribs. It was damn tasty.  At the same time, I would have been more than happy not to spend $60 on a dinner for two that I could have prepared in our kitchen for under $10.  Unfortunately, that's what I think about when I'm reading over the menu options.
Do you cook as much as she does?  Part of why I wanted to go out was because I did not want to cook.  Now that my husband cooks as much, if not more, I only really want to go out for what I can't make at home.

Very good point here. Do you help her cook? A huge reason we save money in the grocery department is because I cook everything. He doesn't know how to cook except make boxed mac & cheese. If you knew how to cook a few dishes when she is feeling tired, that would help out too.

Elaine

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #28 on: February 24, 2014, 07:44:01 AM »
Have to ask: how much of this is down to 'frugal', and how much to what you're basic likes & dislikes are?  As for instance, do you not go out to eat because of how much it costs, or because you just don't like eating out?
I enjoy eating out.  We went out last weekend and got a rack of bbq ribs. It was damn tasty.  At the same time, I would have been more than happy not to spend $60 on a dinner for two that I could have prepared in our kitchen for under $10.  Unfortunately, that's what I think about when I'm reading over the menu options.
Do you cook as much as she does?  Part of why I wanted to go out was because I did not want to cook.  Now that my husband cooks as much, if not more, I only really want to go out for what I can't make at home.

Very good point here. Do you help her cook? A huge reason we save money in the grocery department is because I cook everything. He doesn't know how to cook except make boxed mac & cheese. If you knew how to cook a few dishes when she is feeling tired, that would help out too.

I'll second this, if I don't cook for a week (like if I'm sick or something)- our food costs quadruple.

lackofstache

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #29 on: February 24, 2014, 08:02:19 AM »
I think this boils down to goals. If you're on the same page with where you want to be in the future & have developed a plan to get there, then complaining is only allowed if someone veers off the plan. If you don't have shared goals or a plan, each of you can  do what you want individually & shouldn't expect the other to care.

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #30 on: February 24, 2014, 08:22:32 AM »
Listen to Elaine!  You need to lay off.  If you constantly suggest different, cheaper things, you may see it as optimizing, but your wife probably hears "I hate your suggestions, honey.  Why don't we do only the things that I want instead?"

I also think that a budget would be a good idea; in addition, you need to base it on ACTUAL SPENDING, not what you think you should be spending.  If you think $100/month for fun is fine but your wife has been spending more like $400/month, maybe start at $300 and see how it goes.

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #31 on: February 24, 2014, 09:42:22 AM »
I agree. I mostly need to shut my mouth and lay off. Easier said than done. Maybe just go over spending and goal tracking once a month or quarter and try not to mention otherwise.

Elaine

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #32 on: February 24, 2014, 09:44:00 AM »
I know it's hard- I have no idea your personality types but we have found it easier to do money stuff via email. It's easier to say what you really mean, refer back to, and it never gets super charged emotional. Just a thought.

MarkM

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #33 on: February 24, 2014, 09:51:05 AM »
Have to ask: how much of this is down to 'frugal', and how much to what you're basic likes & dislikes are?  As for instance, do you not go out to eat because of how much it costs, or because you just don't like eating out?
I enjoy eating out.  We went out last weekend and got a rack of bbq ribs. It was damn tasty.  At the same time, I would have been more than happy not to spend $60 on a dinner for two that I could have prepared in our kitchen for under $10.  Unfortunately, that's what I think about when I'm reading over the menu options.
Do you cook as much as she does?  Part of why I wanted to go out was because I did not want to cook.  Now that my husband cooks as much, if not more, I only really want to go out for what I can't make at home.

Very good point here. Do you help her cook? A huge reason we save money in the grocery department is because I cook everything. He doesn't know how to cook except make boxed mac & cheese. If you knew how to cook a few dishes when she is feeling tired, that would help out too.

We split meals duties pretty evenly. I tend to cook more on weekends since I work late during the week and get home a couple hours after her. Monday is usually leftovers night. We probably eat out once every other week.

bogart

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #34 on: February 24, 2014, 09:57:28 AM »
My short answer to this question is that I tell myself marriage counseling and/or divorce would be more expensive than X, where X is whatever nutty thing my DH wants to spend money on now.

My slightly longer answer is that I remind myself that there are plenty of things I enjoy spending money on, too.  It happens to be the case that the ones I choose are invariably sensible and desirable, whereas those my DH chooses are invariably silly and frivolous ;), but hey, whatever.

My much longer answer is that when I married my DH he had virtually no savings and two college-bound kids we were planning to support (and did support) through college.  At my insistence, we also planned to have more kids despite DH having had a vasectomy and after much expensive treatment and lots of failures and emotional distress (mine) had one.  DH is a wonderful dad to all his kids, but at any moment I could have stopped treatment and saved a lot of our money, at no emotional cost to him (well, he'd have had a crazy and unhappy wife -- but I mean, other than a crazy and unhappy wife).  Now instead of joining a carefree retirement he's a SAHD with primary child-fetching and -supervising responsibilities, and our relative freedom as a family is significantly constrained by the school calendar (and zero interest in homeschooling!).  Meanwhile, though he's still hardly affluent (I am his FI), DH does now enjoy a pension (in which I have survivorship) that is a useful part of our short-term household budget and long-term financial plan.  And as that description suggests, though I have no crystal ball, actuarial tables would tell you he can reasonably expect that fewer years remain in his lifespan than mine, so perhaps it's not surprising that he's not very interested in how much money I can stash in tax-sheltered retirement accounts.

Life's uncertain, and different people enjoy different things.  If you're unhappy about particular aspects of your current life (e.g. you are working too many hours or have a job you hate) or your long-term trajectory (you will never reach FI), then you should talk to your wife about that and figure out a way to fix it.  If you're content with most of the day-to-day and the long-term trend, you should quit worrying about the details.

fallstoclimb

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #35 on: February 24, 2014, 10:01:07 AM »
Just laying off can be hard.  I'm in a similar financial position (more frugal than my husband and make twice what he does) and these are some things that help:

1) Is there anything you spend on that she doesn't?  Be brutal here in your self-assessment.  I drink and my husband doesn't, which is obviously an unnecessary expense that he doesn't share.  I also spend a lot of money on riding horses.  We both support this expense, it's nonconsumerist and helps my overall sanity (and may turn into a side gig eventually).  However, every time I get mad about all of my husband's 7-11 trips, I remind myself that I also spend money on unnecessary things. 

2) Track your spending via Mint (or whatever) and talk about it briefly.  This can be as simple as forwarding the Mint monthly report to your spouse and saying "FYI, you spent $50 at 7-11 this month."  It's hard for people to conceptualize how the small expenses add up and just having that information available to her may make a difference.

3) Sit down together to create a budget for costs that you think are unnecessary, like going to restaurants.  Don't nitpick unless you go over that amount. 

I think it's really easy to get caught up in being efficient, and yeah you would be able to be more efficient if you had full control over all the money going out.  But, then you would be alone and unhappy!  Just get on the same page as best you are able.  This will mean BOTH of you have to compromise, even if you are technically "right" about the best financial moves.  Set some goals and discuss how to work towards them.

If it makes you feel better, I think most married MMMers go through a phase where they suddenly want to maximize every cent they earn and their spouse is like - wait, what?  We can't go out to dinner anymore?  And, eventually we all learn how to compromise.  You'll get there. 

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #36 on: February 24, 2014, 10:32:22 AM »
I'll pile on as another one recommending the "mad money" approach, BUT you have to let her know that it's up to her to "manage" this. If she wants that $200 dress for a wedding but her fund is only $100, then she either goes negative for a month, or you say 'tough luck' you should have saved up for it. This is (more or less) what my wife and I do, except currently we have zero mad money other than side-business income because we have a hair-on-fire debt we need to pay off while interest is still deferred.

When you go out to eat, is it just you two or is it with friends? If it's just you two, a great way to save money is allow yourself to splurge on INGREDIENTS once a week. That means fresh fish/seafood. Nice steak. Whatever you like. It'll be at least 50% cheaper than any restaurant, especially if you order drinks when you go out. If it's with friends, do you live in a climate where you can eat outside? A cookout is cheap if you do it potluck, relaxing, and leaves very little "clean up" afterwards if you go paper plates, etc.

I personally hate eating out because it's a waste of money AND I can outcook most restaurants if I have the ingredient budget to match. (If we liked it, sushi/sashimi would be an exception there, but ack.)

rogera

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #37 on: February 24, 2014, 11:14:23 AM »
I agree with the poster that said plan on a date night. It's possible she just wants the experience of eating out somewhere to have a "date" vs. just staying home. Staying home a lot with no new experiences will make your relationship stale and just enhance the problem since you'll have nothing new to talk about. There will be a lot of those stay home nights coming up with kids and she is probably aware of this. Could you live with 2x a month, her choice, with no comments on spending as long as it is under, say $50? Of course free experiences such as parks and museums are good too but she will realize you are trying to make date night cheap and that might backfire.

Another idea is to do nothing else but put the nagging on a 3 month hiatus. Just resist the urge.

My SO was the type to nag for every spending choice I made (and many were bad, I admit since I had some outstanding credit card debt). The more he nagged, the more I enjoyed spending $5 on a secret coffee (ha ha ha ha ha) or a pair of shoes, particularly since I made more money. Once he stopped nagging, I was more interested in turning my finances around and I've been plugging away at the debt. I could see he was trying very hard not to nag so I decided to meet him halfway and try really hard not to spend and work to pay off the debt. We also get along much better because I don't feel like he's the money police.


dude

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #38 on: February 24, 2014, 11:30:18 AM »
My wife is a Spender -- capital "s"!

But I've found that more and more she's coming to terms with what trading present consumption for future consumption means.  For me, it really helped to have her seeing money add up.  I pushed her to contribute more to her 401k, and with the market uptick the past few years, she's seeing it add up.  Our joing savings account (everything else is still separate) has grown and she's liking that too.  And I show her my 401k number annually, to which I've contributed more aggressively and a bit longer than she has to hers, to show her how such a strategy pays off.  Seeing the concrete results of saving and investing has made a great impression on her.  Which is not to say that she still doesn't like to spend, but each time she does, I point out what that means to her/our accounts.  She's come a long way.

hybrid

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #39 on: February 24, 2014, 11:37:18 AM »
We've struggled with this a fair amount over the years as well. I give a lot of credit to the missus, we've made a lot of changes the past year and she has gone along willingly for the most part. But given all that, I am still willing to be more frugal in places she is just not prepared to go.

You need to let some of this go (and she may need to as well).  You are making and saving good coin, so taking her out a few times a month (within reason) isn't going to set you back much in the long run.  I hear you about the $60 dinner, I often feel the same way. So make that $60 count by planning really good dates, something both of you will truly enjoy. Eating out because you don't feel like cooking doesn't count (and should be treated as points in your favor), eating out as date night does.

Think about it this way. You pay your taxes and you may cringe at your tax rate, but there isn't a whole lot you can do about it, right? So it doesn't keep you up at night, it is what it is. That may be the attitude to take with the missus as well.  Clearly she isn't pushing too hard to blow the budget given how much you are saving, so give her a break on the mostly small stuff.  Think of it as a built-in expense that comes as a part of a happy marriage.

Easier said than done sometimes, I know.   

Zette

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #40 on: February 24, 2014, 11:39:57 AM »
I think you need to create a budget together.  If you have been consistently saving 60-70% of your income, the two of you can easily work together and create a budget that will save over 50% of your income while allowing spending in areas that matter to her.   Then as long as she stays within the budget, stop criticizing her spending.

You might try flipping the budget on its head.  Instead of planning out $X for groceries, $Y for eating out, $Z for fun money, and then arguing about how much is spent in each category, you determine a saving percentage -- 50% or 60% or whatever goes directly into investment accounts.  $X amount covers mortgage, heating bills, insurance, groceries, etc., and then anything left over is fun money, to be spent ANY WAY SHE WANTS.  You meet your financial goals, she isn't being nagged to pinch every penny.

Unique User

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #41 on: February 24, 2014, 12:07:33 PM »
I agree with all the others on set amount of money per month and having a budget.  The budget is absolutely key, if you can't show where the money is going/allocated, it is hard to stay on track.  The social spending can be difficult to deal with, maybe give her a bigger budget than you give yourself?  Luckily I never wanted to join the gym/starbucks/shopping mommy crowd when the kiddo was young or I certainly could have seen my spending increase substantially. 

I am more frugal than my husband, but we save 50% of our income.  Since we can't quit our jobs until the kiddo is out of college, we don't have as tight of a budget as I might want or that wouldn't earn me some facepunches.  Would I like to save more, of course, but at least he is 80% to 90% on board, could be worse.  I've often earned more and do right now, but don't really take that into account.  I'm of the our money approach since it seems like the mine and yours just leads to issues. 

ShortInSeattle

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #42 on: February 24, 2014, 12:43:54 PM »
I'll tell you a story.

When DH and I were first married, I was a very messy person. Piles of paper everywhere. He never nagged me. Over time, I saw the benefits of his tidy habits and began adopting them.  Years later, I'm as tidy as he is.

When I asked him why he didn't give me more hell for being such a slob back in the day, he shrugged and said "I decided that I could have a clean house, or I could be married to you. The latter was more important to me."

The advice about budgeting and communication is great. Do those things. Just keep in mind what is more important to you.  :)

MarkM

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #43 on: February 24, 2014, 12:55:00 PM »
I think it's a good idea to plan say two official date nights a month and I accept that we'll drop some decent coin on it.  At least shows I'm giving some.

I probably just need to realize that the 60-70% savings rate isn't going to be sustainable going forward, at least not keeping everyone happy.  If nothing else, 6 years of that has gotten us off to a great start.

plantingourpennies

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #44 on: February 24, 2014, 01:12:47 PM »
This is the reason that having a budget is so important for our marriage - we're cheap and spendy in different areas.  So the budget maintains a balance between them and recognizes that 90+% of the "eating out" spending  is going to be initiated by Mr PoP, but that 100% of the spending on things like cleaning supplies or home decor are going to be initiated by me.  We spent too much time criticizing the others' spending in these areas early in our marriage - we make enough money that we can have the freedom to spend in these areas (and account for spending in these areas in FI), without seriously impinging on our savings goals or happiness, so why let it? 

MarkM

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #45 on: February 24, 2014, 03:12:37 PM »
This is the reason that having a budget is so important for our marriage - we're cheap and spendy in different areas.  So the budget maintains a balance between them and recognizes that 90+% of the "eating out" spending  is going to be initiated by Mr PoP, but that 100% of the spending on things like cleaning supplies or home decor are going to be initiated by me.  We spent too much time criticizing the others' spending in these areas early in our marriage - we make enough money that we can have the freedom to spend in these areas (and account for spending in these areas in FI), without seriously impinging on our savings goals or happiness, so why let it?
Your splurge item is cleaning supplies?  Ha, and I thought I was cheap.  ;)

ch12

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Re: I'm cheap. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #46 on: February 24, 2014, 04:59:51 PM »

I'm familiar with the his, hers and ours type of family finance, or just set blow money and the like.  But that's all just cover over the underlying issue of trying to find harmony in our finances.   Just after we got married, we did it where we each got $100/month to spend on whenever.  Then some months it wasn't enough, and we raised it to $150 or she'd just dig into the joint account. 

!?!!!

Trying to find harmony in your finances includes sticking to what you jointly decide. It's kinda a bigger issue than money if you make decisions together and she reneges on them. You might want to sort that out prior to kids.
After awhile it just seemed silly and we moved to the one pot approach.  Clearly this hasn't been perfect either.  Our income tilts 80/20 to me so doing straight separate accounts wouldn't work well.  That and I like to think as a couple we should be able to work it out as a single unit.
I live in a his, hers, and ours household, but I'm also not married to my roommate, who is just my best friend that I've known for a long time. It's actually a hers, hers, and ours setup.

I'm probably being dense, but I don't understand why straight separate accounts wouldn't work. I make X. My roommate makes Y. We each kick in half of whatever was jointly spent in December on Jan 1 (we refill an account up to Z when we are paid monthly). I have X minus whatever my half of expenses is. She has Y minus expenses. If she goes out and buys stuff, I don't really care. Vice versa.

We don't have any shared financial goals, which is a big difference, and that may negate how much my situation would apply to yours. She knows that I want to FIRE at some point, and she really just doesn't have much interest in it (mostly because she's not at all a fan of investing money). She's more frugal than I am, but my (unrealized) investment gains are a significant percentage of my income now.

Like just about everybody else on this thread, I think that you need to talk to her about your joint goals for your joint money.

ME BEING EXTREME: Debt is stealing from your future self. Taking extra fun money (!!!!!!!) is stealing from your joint retirement ability. If she's fine with working until 65, then you may need separate finances.

MissPeach

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #47 on: February 24, 2014, 05:11:58 PM »
Do you think your spouse would read 'Your Money or Your Life' or a similar book? Getting the idea of freedom and what I could do instead really helped me kick the consumerism habit. I stopped eating out and other habits that were costing me a lot of money. I still do buy things but I am really choosy about what items I purchase.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 05:14:04 PM by MissPeach »

Gin1984

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #48 on: February 24, 2014, 06:14:01 PM »
Have to ask: how much of this is down to 'frugal', and how much to what you're basic likes & dislikes are?  As for instance, do you not go out to eat because of how much it costs, or because you just don't like eating out?
I enjoy eating out.  We went out last weekend and got a rack of bbq ribs. It was damn tasty.  At the same time, I would have been more than happy not to spend $60 on a dinner for two that I could have prepared in our kitchen for under $10.  Unfortunately, that's what I think about when I'm reading over the menu options.
Do you cook as much as she does?  Part of why I wanted to go out was because I did not want to cook.  Now that my husband cooks as much, if not more, I only really want to go out for what I can't make at home.

Very good point here. Do you help her cook? A huge reason we save money in the grocery department is because I cook everything. He doesn't know how to cook except make boxed mac & cheese. If you knew how to cook a few dishes when she is feeling tired, that would help out too.

We split meals duties pretty evenly. I tend to cook more on weekends since I work late during the week and get home a couple hours after her. Monday is usually leftovers night. We probably eat out once every other week.
I'd start making a crockpot meal one night a week that she can plug in, in the morning.  Might help for week days.

DocCyane

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Re: I'm cheap/frugal. Help me. It's causing strain in my marriage.
« Reply #49 on: February 24, 2014, 07:31:57 PM »
I know it's hard- I have no idea your personality types but we have found it easier to do money stuff via email. It's easier to say what you really mean, refer back to, and it never gets super charged emotional. Just a thought.

That's funny. We "talk" money via email too. Then everyone can have their initial, emotional reaction in private.