Author Topic: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?  (Read 5566 times)

Le Poisson

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Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« on: March 19, 2015, 06:37:05 AM »
There are many things my wife and I don't see eye to eye on. She's a leafs fan, I'm a Habs fan. On work days, she gets up early, and I gget up late. On weekends, I get up early and she sleeps in. Ours is a relationship of opposites.

But we both agree we have too much debt. Yay!

  • Credit Cards - $0
  • Personal Lines of Credit - $27,550
  • Mortgage - 345,761

Thing is, we have very different approaches to servicing our debts.
  • In my mind, we should be working hard to put every extra penny we can to servicing debt, working extra hours and side gigs, tracking it fastidiously in spreadsheets, and killing the monster.
  • In her mind we should be shifting the debts between low interest accounts, paying what is convenient, and maintaining a comfortable lifestyle

Now I wish it were as simple as compromising between the two approaches, but somehow we've ended up on a very different path. She has become defensive, is hiding balance transfers (the shell game) and refusing to say where money is going. I am working less overtime ($60/hour) in favour of my side gig ($8 an hour) simply because I can hold the cash and track it. Just bringing up budgets and spending and especially debt starts a fight that can last weeks, only entrenching the mindsets.

How do we turn this around? Has anyone on here managed to pull their partner into the mustached world without hurting the relationship too deeply? She wants comfort, and thinks we will retire on pensions (we both work in government) and inherited money with no effort on our part at all. I don't think that plan is good enough, especially since one cancer diagnosis is all it takes to kill any inheritance we would ever see.

misschedda

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2015, 06:42:35 AM »
Oof. You should probably talk to a marriage counselor about what's going on in your relationship. Hiding money from each other sounds very toxic to your relationship (and not smart financially either).

Learner

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2015, 07:01:44 AM »
What is your retirement plan?  I am government as well with about 10 years to go before pension.  Since I only found MMM a few years ago, we've been improving our frugal ways.  Our debt situation is such that we should have all non-mortgage debt knocked out in 3-5 years.  At that point, our savings will make sense to keep working until pension.  Will the pension alone be livable?  Yes.  Will it be constant travel, gadgets, etc
.  No.  So it really depends on your combined plan after retirement.

One article we really enjoyed was MMM's guest post about the "and then...?" game.  This led to our current post-retirement dream of biking across Canada with our three kids, then build a small house, etc.

I was fortunate to take advantage of our extensive parental leave for the last one, and it gave us all a taste of ER.  I had no mandatory work, but I chose to continue several of my secondary duties to provide justification for our annual reporting period (stated policy regarding parental leave was one thing, experience after our twins was another). 

Maybe lining up to use the bulk of your combined vacation could give wifey the taste of ER?  Of course, the context of the overall retirement plan needs to be figured out (jointly).  There are a ton of great books (at the library) to open your perspectives on this.  Maybe instead of focusing on debts for now, work on the vision be recommending an occasional book?  My wife and I tend to split the reading and give each other synopsis (three kids and prepping a house for sale results in very little disposable time).

britton

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2015, 07:24:22 AM »
Perhaps you can take an intermediate step before worrying about addressing the debt on your line of credit.  One thing that was great for us was using You Need A Budget without regard for paying off debt (thought paying of debt is ultimately one main focus of YNAB).

The act of just consciously recording your spending each month and being able to see where it goes really opened our collective eyes. Once we saw where the money was going we really started to change our habits almost without thinking about it.

You and your wife's differences about how to spend is one issue, but I think the bigger one is the hiding of spending and lack of communication between you both. After all there is no point to having no debt if you and your wife are no longer in a happy, working marriage.

I would approach her and call a moratorium on the debt conversation if and only if she'll agree to be more open about her spending and working toward tracking what you are spending on. Perhaps this will lead her to a eureka moment when she sees how much money is probably being wasted.

Good luck.

Imustacheyouaquestion

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2015, 08:13:39 AM »
Disagreeing about how quickly/aggressively you want to pay down debt is a normal marital situation that requires compromise.

Hiding money or refusing to tell you where money is going is definitely not a normal situation.

It sounds like the discussion has already gotten pretty emotional and heated if sets off weeks of unhappiness. I can see how talking about being "one cancer away from financial ruin"  could lead to a fight-or-flight response. I'd definitely recommend more positive discussions (per posts above) about what great things financial freedom could enable you to pursue, vs. how cash hoarding will prevent future disaster.

Numbers Man

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2015, 10:10:58 AM »
Add some friends from the 55-62 year old age range. And just start gently egging them on about how hard it is to retire these days. You'll start hearing stuff like it's so hard to get up every day to go to work or you'll hear stuff like I wish I could retire right now. These are the people that have realized that their bodies are just not the same as when they were in their 30's and 40's and they wish they could have saved more to retire.

That dose of reality might just be the catalyst your wife needs.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2015, 11:50:14 AM »
I'm sorry, your marriage is doomed.  Leafs fan and Habs fan?  Will never work.  Never.  Unless you move to Ottawa and compromise on the Senators.   
Sorry about that, couldn't resist.  One of the best moments in my marriage was when the Habs were having a bad season, ExDH said they were out of it, and they took the Stanley cup.  He was also a Leafs fan.  I was a vindicated Habs fan.

Seriously, there are a lot of people who think like your wife - there are the pensions down the road, let's spend our money because the pensions will take care of retirement.  And actually, if you can stay out of debt and don't mind waiting until 65 (or whenever the pension is fully there), it does work, just not what those of us on these forums are looking for.  Mortgage and LOC debt - how bad it is depends on your ages, that is OK (not good, but OK) if you bought the house recently and are young, not so good if retirement is soon.

You two need the same goals - there are lots of discussion on how to get a SO onside.  She feels attacked and gets defensive, you feel frustrated and that is also leading to bad financial choices, not good.  Good advice already, especially from Leaner.

kib

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2015, 11:58:52 AM »
I agree on the advice to seek marital help, but there is one thing you might be able to do that would be advantageous from a strictly financial viewpoint: set up a direct deposit from your paycheck to your LOC, and then commit yourself to some amount of OT per month to cover it.  Sometimes agreeing to disagree and following two different strategies when you're not seeing eye to eye is an interim step that can make both people feel less threatened - i.e. "we can talk about it, as long as I get to do it my way for now".

bacchi

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2015, 12:38:04 PM »
I am working less overtime ($60/hour) in favour of my side gig ($8 an hour) simply because I can hold the cash and track it.

Wait, what? You can work overtime at $60 but choose to work at $8? That's a terrible idea.

yandz

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2015, 12:51:01 PM »
This sounds like a job for..."YNAB and monthly budget meetings!"  (not every superhero has a good name)

Other posters are correct in that it may take some pro help to get you guys in a place where she is open to a monthly budget meeting.  frufrau has a great suggestion. But here is why I think it would be a good fit for you:
-Since they have you build a month of buffer income, any income you earning during one month gets pooled for allocation the next month.  So you can sit down at the end of a month and say, we have X dollars, what do we need it to do?
-This conversation, happening routinely, should get you into a good place for compromises. Make it nice - do it over Saturday morning breakfast on the last weekend of the month or something. Make some yummy eggs or coffee.
-YNAB will give your wife some "protected spending" buckets so she knows she won't be "deprived" in certain areas even while making debt payments
-Spending awareness often reduces spending without too much thought

former player

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2015, 01:54:12 PM »
I wonder whether you did a mustachian 180 and immediately went hard-core on your wife without giving her time to adjust?  Putting the mustachian bazooka down and start with baby steps would have been the way to go - you catch more flies with honey, etc, etc.

Personally, I would start with -

1.  "I'm sorry, [insert endearment of choice], I mucked up on talking to you about our finances.  I drank the Kool-Aid offered by that MMM chap and tried to force you to drink it too.  I went overboard on it for myself and I was wrong to try and impose it on you too.  I hope you can forgive me."

2.  "Because I mucked it up so badly, I'm worried we've lost the trust we need to have between us on our financial decisions.  I'd like us to regain that trust.  I hope you want that too."

3.  "When you're ready, I'd like to talk about how we can sort this out."

Le Poisson

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2015, 01:58:56 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback. For others not familiar with all the mustache lingo, I dug back through the blog, and I think I found the link to YNAB: http://www.youneedabudget.com/ Can someone correct me if I'm looking at the wrong spot!

For all the talk about marriage counselling. Thanks. We've been down that road. Maybe its time to reopen the file. I don't think this marriage will fail, and if it does, it won't be me sending the papers. I simply won't go through another divorce if I can help it. Call me whipped, call me tamed, call me what you will, its not worth it to go down that road again, whatever sacrifices I have to make to keep this family together.

We had an eye opener last year when our union went on strike. We spent a month out picketing and making little cash, while fidgeting about what we were going to lose. Following that event we put ourselves in high gear and built up a $10,000 TFSA which is in a very liquid (but no interest) account. I am looking at moving it to Questrade. I was surprised I was able to get her on board with that adventure when it started.

Today we have a spreadsheet tracking paying down our PLC's, but they are moving very slowly. We managed to save $10K in 15 weeks after the strike when I was pushing hard. Once we switched to focus on debt, things dropped off, and we have only paid off $2500 in a sightly longer period. I've started cracking the whip again, but without knowing what money is being diverted to extra payments, its hard. I ask, but I don't hear answers. If I put extra payments I get backlash that I've buggered up the system. TBH I have no idea how her debt paydown system works, except that she makes payments and moves the money between zero interest accounts to maintain low payments. I know one of those accounts is in my name. I have no idea which one it is or what its balance looks like. We currently have 3 PLCs open.

On the plus side, we do have a positive net worth (I think). Last night I did a scratch pad tally, and if I'm right, we come out ahead by about $100K - mostly in the house. We are in our 40's though, and so should have much bigger stash than that. Of our net worth, only about $30,000 could realistically be accessed without selling the house, and making things worse, some of it is RESP's for the kids, which means its not really even our money.

My wife is more of money person than I am. She is the one who keeps up on everything, so I can see where she feels threatened that I am going to come in and upset the applecart. I am the kind of guy who says you have to crack some eggs to make a quiche, so I am not surprised by that. Weekly budget meetings would be a difficult proposition right now, when even tracking spending is difficult.  I am thinking that I will offer to track spending in the 'home improvement' and auto maintenance columns for a while and see where efficiencies are available. Then expand that until its nudging her areas of expertise (groceries/housewares - we are so 1950's in our household roles!)

For the past 10 years I have blindly let her manage our money without interfering. And she has done well, but I think there is room for us to do better. As long as I don't push too hard, I think I can coax her along. Baby steps...

Le Poisson

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2015, 01:59:47 PM »
I wonder whether you did a mustachian 180 and immediately went hard-core on your wife without giving her time to adjust?  Putting the mustachian bazooka down and start with baby steps would have been the way to go - you catch more flies with honey, etc, etc.

Personally, I would start with -

1.  "I'm sorry, [insert endearment of choice], I mucked up on talking to you about our finances.  I drank the Kool-Aid offered by that MMM chap and tried to force you to drink it too.  I went overboard on it for myself and I was wrong to try and impose it on you too.  I hope you can forgive me."

2.  "Because I mucked it up so badly, I'm worried we've lost the trust we need to have between us on our financial decisions.  I'd like us to regain that trust.  I hope you want that too."

3.  "When you're ready, I'd like to talk about how we can sort this out."

100%. This will be my first approach - I think.

Le Poisson

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Re: Oh wifey-poo, why do you make me cry?
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2015, 04:38:28 PM »
Some clever (I think) bargaining tonight. I got her to agree to YNAB in exchange for me finishing the trim work in our spare bedroom. I've been dragging my feet on the project and she really wants it done.

Fair enough.