Author Topic: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it  (Read 24774 times)

Bettis

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Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« on: June 25, 2015, 08:47:53 AM »
Life Situation:
31 yr old Married to a 29 year old w/ 1 allowance, one son 9 months old, located in Massachusetts.

Gross Salary/Wages:
$5,167K/mth (Me) $500/mth (Wife) She went back to work in April one day a week(Saturdays while I am with our son)

Total: $5,667/mth

Pre-tax deductions:
401k - $517/mth
HSA - $250/mth
HDHP family plan through Cigna w/HSA $260/mth
Delta Dental PPO Premier (family) - $43/mth
Vision Plan (me only) - $10/mth

Total: $1,080/mth

Post-tax deductions:
Roth IRA $460/mth

Total: $460/mth

Other Ordinary Income:
I sell on Ebay once in a while but income is all over the map.  It's about $3000-4000/yr but could be all at once, never evenly spaced

Total: $300/mth

Taxes:
Federal withholding - $375/mth
Fed MED - $67/mth
Fed OASDI - $280/mth
MA state withholding - $200/mth

Total: $922/mth

Current monthly expenses:
Internet - $50 (6MB through Comcast with no phone/cable)
Gasoline - $150 (she doesn't drive too much but I have a 60 mile roundtrip commute at about 32mpg in a Kia)
AAA - $10
Car Insurance - $141 (may go up in August/Sept as I was rear ended on the way home from work a year ago and Mass seems to be a no fault state)
Car Tax/inspection/registration - $17
Electricity - $160 average/mth (I want this down desperately.  Central Air in the summer, cat house portable AC in the summer, and cat house heater in the winter).  We have 2 cats that hate each other and one has to live out in a shed which we insulated and hooked up electricity to.
Natural Gas - $150 average ($20-$40 in the summer and $200-$350 in the winter)
Water - $40
Trash - $30 (town sets rate and is non negotiable)
Cell Phone - $56 (her T-Mobile smart phone - I have a flip phone that my mom just takes care of because it's so negligible on top of her smartphone plan.  We tried Republic but she kept having issues so we had to return it)
Mortgage - $915(P&I) $300(T&I)

This is where the specific expenses are harder to track.  I jot down the place/type of expense and the amount and have done so since February but it's hard to figure out what is what so the below is going to be as best as I can

Dog food for 2 dogs - $100/mth.  I've tried nudging towards less expensive food but she won't go lower than Acana which is pricy even after the discount at her doggy day care work

Cat food for 2 cats - $60/mth.  Prescription food.  I've brought up trying to find homes for them because one is out in a shed and one is in a room downstairs so that they don't attack the dogs or each other.  I begrudgingly do all the care-taking

Human/baby food - $600/mth which includes groceries, restaurants, and parties we've thrown.  I do my best to cut down but we seem to have to go all out for family parties which are a few times a year.  Her relatives do the same so it isn't like they are taking advantage, it's a Portuguese thing I guess.  Actual food her and I ingest has got to be half of that.

Medical bills - $200/mth.  Paying $125/mth on a payment plan for the next 14 months to pay doctors for having our son.  Other bills come up.  Starting July 1st, our deductible starts over so I'm scared to say this may go up.

Total: $2,979 plus miscellaneous which I'm not sure what that equals but we spend more than we make every month.  I was fortunate to have a few windfalls and able to sell some old GI Joes from my father to help offset these overages.

Assets:
401K - $45K
Roth IRA - $30K
Checking/savings accounts - $70K put together (Wow this is a lot)  Wife wants a huge emergency fund and I occasionally funnel money out to pay down the mortgage.  She is accepting of that but would never let me invest more no matter how I present the information(she's not a math type while I majored in it)  This is due to a few windfalls we have received so we aren't really that great of savers.

Liabilities: Mortgage originally $178K for 30 yrs down to $107K with 13 years left at 4.625% if no additional principal payments are made.

Specific Question(s): I just feel like I'm spinning in the mud and slowly sinking as we spend more than we make each month.  Where can I make cuts, how do I get my wife to understand that even though we're saving more than our friends, we still have a lot of work to do.  Every month I've tracked, we've spent more than we've made.  I do define spending as including the retirement funds and the mortgage but I just feel very overwhelmed.  I know this is incomplete but I'll edit where I can as questions arise.  My wife is supportive and knows we need to cut down but she feels like we live cheaply already.

I drive a 2009 Kia Optima with 95K miles so it should last a while longer but she drives a 2003 Ford Focus with 135K miles which is slowly deteriorating and was probably near lemon when she bought it 10 years ago.  She wants a Rav4 for her next car because of the trunk space and being able to fit a lot of people in it and I know that isn't happening while I'm living but I just don't think she seriously gets how money works (that sounds way more mean than I intend but whatever).

I get this is a poor attempt at a case study but I'll edit what I can to make it better.  I'm just finding out my manual tracking system sucks and it's hard to tell what we actually bought at places, I just typically list the place.

justajane

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2015, 09:07:48 AM »
First things first -- breathe. You're doing fine. Plus you have a baby, which muddles the brain.

IMO, the extra cat in a climate controlled space is crazy. Maybe in the winter, but A/C for a cat in Mass.? That's unnecessary. I would try again to find a loving home elsewhere.

Otherwise, the pet food costs are insane but you already know this.

For parties, any way to buy food and booze ahead when it's on sale? What kind of food and drink do you serve? Maybe we can help you find ways to save on the parties.

Dental plan seems high for three people, one of whom doesn't have many teeth. Does one of you have teeth problems? Or do you just get two cleanings each  per year? If so, drop it and pay cash. Couldn't you use HSA money to pay for anything major? What do teeth problems top off at? A couple thousand?

Chrissy

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2015, 09:12:26 AM »
401k, HSA and ROTHs are savings, not spending.  You've miscategorized these.

Your house's current value should be listed as an asset.

You're using that HSA money to pay down your medical debt, right?

I've looked at your numbers, and there seems to be >$700/mo that leaks out somewhere.  Keep ALL the receipts!  Then you'll know exactly why the money was spent.

My suggestions are:

1)  downsize your housing and move closer to work.
2)  stop the ROTH contribution and funnel the money into a tIRA or your 401k to maximize your tax savings NOW.
3)  get rid of as many of the pets as possible.  You can't afford them.

Bettis

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2015, 09:29:50 AM »
JustaJane - Thanks, it sucks being overwhelmed, especially at work because I have focus issues even when I'm in a good mood lol.

It actually gets pretty hot here.  Mid 80s which is probably too much for a furry cat in essentially a fixed up shed.

For the parties, we actually don't even need to get booze which helps.  For some parties, it's lots of sandwiches (chicken salad usually) and chicken wings.  We had our son's baptism a few weeks ago which she wanted catered food delivered so we'd have hot food(chicken wings and lasagna) along with the sandwiches right after we got home since we were all meeting at the chapel first.  Luckily that was a one time thing but it just feels like there are way too many "one time things".  I'm a hawk when shopping for sales and my wife is pretty good at it too.  We typically go to BJs(I think it's like Costco) when we need anything that won't go to waste.

The dental includes 2 cleanings (our regular health insurance dropped the preventative dental part).  Wife had a root canal and has more fillings that need done.  My teeth weren't great when I was younger but I haven't needed anything beyond cleanings in 3-4 years.  The baby is going on the dental as of July 1st.  I assumed 6 cleanings plus anything else that comes up would cost less than the insurance.  We have HSA money but I had to work out a payment plan for medical bills because I didn't have enough in it.  $6K out of pocket max hurts in a year you have a baby.

Chrissy - I do get that those thnigs aren't spending but if it's money I cannot touch today, it doesn't help me in the short term.  HSA is the exception as that does get included in my income and the medical expenses would come out of that account.

House's current value on Zillow varies between $220K and $260K but moving/downsizing isn't something her or I would like to do.

I do need to keep all receipts.  I figure writing it in my notebook is enough but clearly that doesn't work so well when the item line just has store name.

1) If I move closer to work, we'd be further from family although not by too much.  I'll bring it up to her but that's a big pill to swallow.
2) I could stop the Roth but I'm afraid that the spending would creep up even more.  I guess I could put more into 401K.  I learned the Roth idea from following Dave Ramsey before I discovered MMM.  The 401K is through John Hancock and I know the fees are more than Vanguard who has my Roth IRA.
3) I want to downsize to 1 or no pets but I've been vetoed many times.  Hell one of the dogs hates men and barks at me every time I get up to go into a room or leave the house.  Not good for stress but she did have the dog before we got married so my fault.  She said she'd look for a home for one of the cats but it's been a few months.  She's a new mom so I understand the stress she has plus I tend to nag too much which I've been working on.

Kris

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2015, 09:34:11 AM »
1) Thank God you don't have a credit card balance.

2)  Definitely re-home the two cats.  They are not happy, otherwise they wouldn't have to be kept apart from one another and the other animals.  I would definitely push on this, and stress their unhappiness.  This will save you on cat food and the electric bill that you so desperately want to reduce.

cripzychiken

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2015, 09:41:12 AM »
Do you pay everything with a credit card (that is then paid off when the bill comes)?  If so, a website like Mint.com is great as it can help you find out what you are actually spending and where it is going.

For food:  Even if you split it $300-adults, $100 baby, $200 parties, that's $2,400/year on parties.  I would look at bringing that down.  What do you mean by "go all out" do you host 10+ people and cover everything?  Maybe look at switching to more of a pot luck style - oh MIL, I love your xxxx, can you make that and bring it to the party this weekend.  The host can cover the meats, let everyone else cover something else. Be nice, complement their cooking and ask for them to bring their special dish (and Uncle can bring the beer/wine since he has such great taste and is good a picking out new drinks).

70k cash - that's almost 2 years of expenses.  Even if your wife wants more of a e-fund, do you really needs 2 years?  Can you use some of that money to pay off the medical bills and free up $200/month.  If you are able to pay off the bills, ask the hospital if you can get a discount for paying it off in 1 go, used be surprised that a lot will give you a discount just to get the money now.

Dog food - can you do a mix - 1/2 affordable, 1/2 crazy priced?  Also, are you actually getting a good deal from her work, what's the price per lb you are paying and how's that compare to a huge bag from Costco/Sam's?  I pay $0.82/lb for purina 1 from Sam's, so good food and not as huge as a budget buster.

The Cats - honestly, you have an AC controlled shed for a cat that neither of you spend too much time with?  I hate to be mean, but that cat has to go (or the one in the basement, whichever one you like less).  And what's the point of having the cats if you lock them away?  Does your wife even want them?

Bettis

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2015, 09:54:40 AM »
Kris - True that.  I can't understand how people in debt can even function so how the hell is it normal?  Also, I know those cats are not happy and it's a crappy way for them to live.  They were together (mother and son actually) but a couple of years ago, the mother just turned on the son and he needed to be split away.  I'll keep working on the cat thing but she's worried they'll go to a shelter and be killed.  They're 10 and 8 yrs old and the younger has medical problems (not too serious but supposedly needs prescription food)  She's afraid the new owner won't know what he/she is in for and will send it away.

DMY - I do need to track better.  I've quit the once a week Honey Dew runs unless I have a gift card and I never buy food at work.  I do the PB&J or leftover thing.  We tend to go to Savers a lot which is probably $20-$30/mth in books/baby toys.

I'd love to retire any day now but I set 50 years old as a "realistic expectation" which gives me just under 20 years.  She does want more children which I agree with but am scared as all hell about the financial piece.  She totally glazes over any of the scenarios but she isn't trying to sabotage us or anything so I sorta feel like I'm doing it alone.  She doesn't like to "go shopping" or own designer stuff.  We hardly ever buy any clothes so she feels like we do okay.  It's the math I can't explain well enough even after we go over the tracking sheets.

The $70K is bad but I try to funnel a few hundred a month towards the mortgage to make the $1215 payment into $2000(not included in above expenses).  That's why we have 15 years left instead of 25 on the mortgage.  The rest is just "emergency fund" which is basically offsetting our current overspending.

crizpychiken (mmmmm) - She uses a credit card that has our netflix and if she buys anything online but it's paid off every month.  I don't use a CC at all, only debit because I feel like if I can't pay with debit or cash, I don't need it.  I'm as debt averse as  possible outside the mortgage which I want dead too.

I tried having her try to use some of the Diamond brand dog food which was a good deal $.75/lb but after half the bag, she quit and went back to only Acana and Core brands.  Those are around $1.50/lb.

She wants the cats but since I do all the caretaking(I started when she got pregnant), I try to tell her they would have a much better home somewhere else.  She understands and agrees but won't make the move.  The mother was a stray that she found years ago and had 2 huge litters.  Before we were married, she ended up with 14-15 cats that she worked on getting all fixed and given good homes until she was down to 2.  That has to be the reason she's attached to these.


justajane

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2015, 09:55:37 AM »
In light of what you said about root canals, etc., keep the plan. This was coming from someone who hasn't had anything other than a cleaning in 20+ years. It's a known expense for you versus the unknown, and kids do knock out teeth from time to time.

I know how discouraging health bills can be. I had a baby in 2014 plus three family health scares and we spent over 10K out of pocket last year.  Ouch! It really stinks. I try not to think about it.

Is the shed in the shade during the heat of the day? Does it have ventilation? If so, I wouldn't worry about it, or just run it for an hour or so in the afternoon. Could the cat wander during the day and be put in the shed at night? Alternately, do you have family that is willing to take a cat temporarily? Even if you offer to pay them a set amount per month ($15-20) you would still come out ahead. And they might grow attached to the cat and want to keep it. You never know.

This will sound terrible, but now that I have three kids, I am ready for our 17+ yr old cat to pass. I'm done with pets. It sounds like you are in a similar place. We jumped at the chance to give our second cat to my parents when my childhood cat died. We still see her and know she is cared for, which IMO is the best solution.

The dog food is so, so high, but I don't know how to advise you to lower it. What is the reason for the prescription food for the cat?

I will say it's not worth causing tension between you and your wife over the pets, but when one does pass, stand firm on not getting more. And don't let kids bamboozle you into more. Both my sister and my husband's brother let older kids talk them into pets, and they are unhappy. Once the newness wore off, the kids didn't care either. I know all this sounds terrible, but it's hard for most people to balance the needs of pets and young children, at least that is my experience.



velocistar237

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2015, 10:04:15 AM »
5967 gross
(764) pre-tax savings
(316) pre-tax expenses
(922) taxes
(460) Roth savings
---
3505 remaining
Assume you can at least get post-tax expenses down to 3000 and save the difference

Savings rate = (764+460+3505-3000)/(5967-922) = 34%

Current income-generating assets: 145K
Required amount to retire, in current dollars, at 4% SWR: (3000-915)*300+107K = 733K
Time to financial independence: 16 years

I was a little sloppy with this, but it's pretty close. It doesn't account for your mortgage interest, but that's offset by things like future commuting expenses. Also, once children are in school, your wife might work more. With the current MA law, health care should be cheaper. Odds are better than average that with income increases and reasonable expense reduction, you could retire around age 40.

You can reduce expenses for pets, meals, electricity, and phone and maybe refinance your mortgage to a 15-year, 3%. I'm happy with AIM loan, an online lender, and it sounds like you'd have the 75% LTV to go that route. You can shift your Roth savings to pre-tax (increased by the appropriate amount; at a 15% marginal tax rate, that would be 460/0.85=541). If it's fully in the 15% bracket, that step alone would bring your savings rate up to 36% and reduce your time to FI by almost a year.

If the 70K goes into an investment account, you can still get at it for emergencies. Worst-case, you sell low, but the chances of that are in your favor. Right now, you're losing 3% guaranteed.

It takes a certain counter-cultural outlook to get the Mustachian approach, which includes perspectives like 1) even low-cost American lifestyles are extravagant, 2) dollars should be invested so they work for you, and 3) it's much better to buy time than stuff. Your spouse might never get on board with you financially, so take any progress on her side at all as a huge plus. You've read the blog posts on this topic?

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/22/selling-the-dream-how-to-make-your-spouse-love-frugality/

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2015, 10:05:24 AM »
Yeah, for the cats, this isn't even just about the money. It is not fair to those animals. If they are that aggressive to each other and the dogs, then they are not happy creatures. Rehome them and give them a chance at a better life.

ETA: your wife's fear is they will be killed at the shelter. Well then don't send them to a shelter. There are many ways to rehome a pet, and many no-kill shelters.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2015, 10:08:26 AM by Bracken_Joy »

grundomatic

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2015, 10:22:15 AM »
Many great suggestions already. You are in good shape compared to many, but it is great that you want to improve. My contribution:

Pets--they are part of the family, but living in a separate space and not interacting with the rest of the family? That isn't being a part of the family. Maybe Cesar Milan can help you...wait...if your wife works at a doggie day care then either her or one of her coworkers should be able to figure out how to make everyone get along. If not, get seasons of Dog Whisperer from Netflix or the library or you are even allowed to buy them on eBay. Cat that has it's own house? Will your son be allowed to move into the shed if he doesn't like living with everyone else when he is older? Dog that hates men? Not okay, your wife is MARRIED to one. Getting rid of them is the "easy" solution--a true animal lover (which it sounds like we are dealing with) would work with the animals and find a solution. Word of warning--the humans might be the problem.

Everything else--if you aren't allowed to spend your savings on typical investments, and you don't want to move, and you hate your electric bill, and you have fix-it skills (if you did the work on the shed), then can you spend a little bit of money to make the house more efficient?

I'll throw this in too, though it might be off topic, incorrect, and/or none of my damn business. Do I sense a little frustration? Is part of this case study a little bit "how do I get my wife to see things the correct way"? While I don't know either of you, I will say that in general you won't ever hear a woman complain about too much communication in a relationship. Also, remember when communicating that she may not be as "solution oriented" as you. Try talking to her about some of these things, without working towards a resolution right then or even trying to change her mind. Just tell her how you feel, listen to how she feels, rinse, and repeat over the course of several conversations. See what happens then.

klystomane

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2015, 10:30:01 AM »
How about other non-food related expenses, like household stuff, baby items (diapers, wipes, etc.), personal items?

Have these been factored in?

Kris

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2015, 10:33:00 AM »
Also, if you do all the cat care, then find them new homes yourself.  I know that means it is work for you, but I think she kinda abdicates her veto power if she doesn't even do any of the work.

tvan

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2015, 10:35:11 AM »
Dog Food - Go to Chewy.com and get your Acana there (I use the same brand).  They do free shipping, and google a 5% off code.  The big bag (I think 28lbs) sells for around $63 shipped.  Should save you $30/month.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2015, 10:42:21 AM »
I can tell you love your wife because you haven't hired a local teen to "help" shed cat escape. (Don't actually do this.)

I think cat house AC is the most hilarious expense I've ever seen somebody list. You realize people had housecats in Massachusetts well before the invention of air conditioning, right? And that bears live in Massachusetts, which are furrier and have a much lower surface area to volume ratio than cats?

Also, I at first thought that "cat house" was a really edgy side hustle.

Getting serious...

Your animals are not happy, as others have said. And, frankly, they are not people and you have a tiny person dependent on you now. Spending that much of your income on vanity animals is irresponsible.

I get that you don't want to move, but your commute is insane. If you can't afford to move, that I get. But if you just don't want to because of all your cat house sunk costs, you're avoiding real solutions to your problems.

justajane

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2015, 10:49:15 AM »
My husband's commute is 60 miles round trip, and we won't move either. So I understand you. Here are three things we have done to mitigate the distance.

1) He works from home two days a week. I realize this is probably not possible in certain jobs. He's in finance.

2) He drives a high MPG sedan.

3) He has carpooled for 10+ years and even made a close friend out of it. That means he only drives half the time.

All told #3 alone has saved us thousands of dollars over the years.


Bettis

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2015, 10:54:05 AM »
Jane - There isn't a lot of tree cover so unfortunately the shed is out in the sun.  I only will turn it on if it is going above 80 degrees that day and I the AC it on 76(fan blows if the temp is lower)  I will be firm about no more pets.  I try to work from home on occasion but it's hard to concentrate with a crying baby and that GD dog.  My car gets about 32mpg on average since I do mostly highway driving.  When it goes, I want a Honda Fit or something else that is extremely efficient. 

Velocistar - When you say MA health care should be cheaper, do you mean I could get it cheaper than what my work offers? I've tried the health connector site and they all seem to be $600+ per month when I'm spending much less.  I tried showing her that blog entry and the other one but I had horrible timing (son was only a month or so old and she was tired) so she didn't take it the way i intended.

Bracken - I totally agree.  We wouldn't put them in a shelter but my wife is afraid that no one would take them(one or both) and if someone does, they might get fed up and send them to a shelter.

Grundo - The man hating dog was abused by men way back and she took her in while we were engaged but not yet living together.  I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say she would choose her over me.  It gets to the point that I'm uncomfortable and unhappy being home and am counting down the days til she's gone and I feel horrible for it.

I've been meaning to add more insulation to the attic.  I have to call a contractor to do venting out of my roof (currently in the attic).  Then MassSave will do the insulation.  I always freeze up with this kind of stuff because even though I know the long term benefit, we're spending so much now that it's hard to commit to spending more.

And yes, I am totally frustrated.  I love my wife and my son so much but I'm almost always unhappy, at work or home.  I am too results oriented but it's because every day we don't work to fix it, the problem grows.  I want to be a good father so being unhappy at home i something that needs to change before he can notice it.  I lost my dad when I was 12 and I know how it can fuck you up so I'm doing what I can to be happy around him.

klystomane - I tried to include what I could but a lot of that miscellaneous bucket I couldn't account for includes that stuff.  Diapers and wipes are from BJs so that actually went with food.

Kris - I'll try to find them a good home but I gotta see if she's onboard or else I open up an ass whooping lol

tvan - We did start using Chewy for the dog food but because it's two dogs, it's sometimes a 2nd bag bought in a month plus wet food which one dog eats some of because she's stubborn.  The cat food comes from the vet and I've tried looking for "good" non prescription food and the price per meal seems to be the same or more.

Shoulder - Thank you for agreeing about the cat house expense.  It infuriates me when I need to turn that thing on, or even acknowledge a cat is out there.  I don't know about affording to move, I haven't really done calculations on it.  I will bring up the possibility even though I like where I am because I have to change something to make progress.  If we moved, the cat house stays where it is and the cat goes(I won't bring that up in the first conversation)

I'm assuming someone will ask so yes I've tried therapy(just by myself) because I know I have some sort of combination of ADD/Depressions/whatever else.  It didn't help and I think spending the $85 a session stressed me even more.

I love my wife a ton and I couldn't see myself without her but I keep building lots of resentment because of all this.  I know she means well and she sees we do better than the rest of her family and friends (lots of debt) but better doesn't necessarily equal good.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2015, 10:59:29 AM »
Do you have a porch or something like that where you could work from home occasionally but also wouldn't hear the home commotion? I have an 18-month-old and WFH full-time so I know what you mean there.

Maybe you could set up a desk in the cat house and get some use out of the AC out there.

Also, some vines grow pretty fast and would shade the shed so it needs less AC. Morning glories are one, and they'll re-seed year after year. Cypresses grow very fast but you might be too far north for them - I apparently am not.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2015, 11:06:07 AM »
Sounds like your wife is a big animal lover - same here. Appeal to her mama side. she obviously knows this isn't what's best for the cats, but it can be hard to admit you need to give up on your furbabies. You might want to take the lead and call some no-kill shelters (I know north shore animal rescue in Salem, MA is a big one), explain the situation to them, see if they have any foster homes available. if they do, you can tell her you know she is overwhelmed with the new baby but you felt so bad seeing the cat out there that you went ahead and called to see if a foster was free. she may just be terrified of dumping him in a shelter, but could be willing to place the cat in a foster home.

at the end of the day, it is cruel to lock a social animal in a shed long term. think of what that cat's life must be like. if she is too overwhelmed to take responsibility immediately, you might have to, for the cat's sake. this will also give you a sense of control over that situation as you won't be spinning your wheels waiting for something to happen.

as for the dog food -there are ways to get quality brands at lower prices. for example, we feed our dogs diamond naturals (pick up in 40lb bulk bags from tractor supply at $32/ea) which is ranked as 4 stars on dogfoodadvisor.com. It's not acana but it's still high quality food with good ratings. would she be willing to mix the acana with a 4 star brand? after all, even humans don't eat organic gourmet food all the time :)

« Last Edit: June 25, 2015, 11:19:29 AM by little_brown_dog »

Bettis

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2015, 11:17:20 AM »
Shoulder - No porch unfortunately.  We have small house (maybe 1100 sq ft).  We do have a basement which would work but it isn't fixed up well yet.  I'm sure I could make it work, especially once I clear out the stuff I need to sell.  The shed is very narrow so unfortunately, it wouldn't function well as a workstation.  It'll be a hell of a playhouse when my boy gets bigger though.

Little_brown_dog - I'll have to take the lead on the cat thing but I'll discuss it with her tonight so it isn't completely out of left field.  If I go behind her back, it will cause more problems than I could handle.  We ordered Diamond off of Amazon but she didn't think the dogs liked it(not sure the actual reason) but half the bag went to waste.  I would try giving it to one dog, even a half and half deal and she'd get so pissed so I just gave up.  I'm not good at putting my foot down without being a wicked ass.


Thegoblinchief

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2015, 11:23:16 AM »
You've gotten good advice already. I'll +1 everything, especially switching your ROTH contributions out for the same (or tax adjusted more) amount into 401(k), assuming you have low-fee index options in your work's plan. At your income level the 401(k) is a better tax advantage than the ROTH.

Also, T-Mobile has cheaper plans than $56/month. The cheapest I know of is via WalMart and is around $30/month. How many minutes/data/text does she use? There's also P'Tel, which is a well regarded TMo MVNO. I went from an unlimited monthly plan to pay as you go, adjusted my usage a bit, and went from $35/mo to $10/mo.

For parties, tons of ways to feed people cheaply. Our families and friends are all about pot lucking. We host a lot, provide main meal, then ask folks to bring snacks, sides, drinks, etc. We had 20 people over last weekend - made homemade pizzas, big salad, all for not even $20. Rice and lentil or bean burritos is another of my favorite cheap, large group dishes. Pasta is another. We're not vegetarians but meat for large groups gets expensive fast, so I often go meatless when entertaining and no one minds.

The pets...sigh, well, good luck with that. I love animals, but usually the kind I get to eat after they're all grown up ;)

And don't think 1100sqft is a small house. We have 3 kids in 730 and my wife can easily work from home when able (rarely in her current position, as she's heavily involved with manufacturing and needs to be at the plant daily in some capacity).

Scandium

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2015, 11:39:40 AM »
Maybe Cesar Milan can help you...wait...if your wife works at a doggie day care then either her or one of her coworkers should be able to figure out how to make everyone get along. If not, get seasons of Dog Whisperer from Netflix or the library or you are even allowed to buy them on eBay.

ohgod don't do this! That guy is an idiot and should not be let near any dog! His "training" is outdated, dangerous and cruel. Find a proper animal trainer if you need help. If you're going with TV-show route the "it's me or the dog" lady is better.

partgypsy

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #22 on: June 25, 2015, 11:42:12 AM »
I feel you about being an animal lover, but you are animal too, aren't you? What about your happiness? I understand where she is coming from, that many people do dump animals that are older and are getting into health problems. Most people don't want to adopt older animals (which the cats would be considered). I would look into no-kill shelters and give a decent donation to them (say 3 months living expenses), if they are able to take in the animals.

in the south all the traditional shelters are kill shelters (they put down animals very quickly). The no-kill have very long lists.
But being in the north which has more no-kill shelters, you may have more options; start now and get on the waiting list for a few of them, and good luck.

Chrissy

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2015, 11:44:59 AM »
I would try giving it to one dog, even a half and half deal and she'd get so pissed so I just gave up.

You are unhappy all the time, and y'all are fighting about dog food.  DOG FOOD.  Take yourselves to couples' counseling immediately.  Not all therapy is created equal; I had success with a couples counselor who specialized in behavioral therapy... less touchy-feely, more "fix it now".

Also, retirement savings are totally optional.  If you need to take the stress off, suspend paying in to one of those temporarily.

Chranstronaut

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2015, 11:45:36 AM »
I'm going to side step in here and say that I drive a 2003 Ford Focus with 135k miles on it exactly.  To my surprise, it is going strong, even after a 2k mile cross country drive in January when I moved to a new state.  I do basic maintenance on it (not the timing belt, fuck that) and I honestly believe I'll make it to 185k with about $200 a year in parts.

Not everyone is handy with cars, and I appreciate that, but parts for the Focus are common and cheap.  At this age you should have a new timing belt (pricey, but will literally kill your car if it fails), check the coolant lines and thermostat housing (it leaks and is easily replaced ~$80 for housing and thermostat)  and check the vacuum hoses (there is one that breaks down and collapses at the rear of the engine bay causing weird noises -- it's super easy to change out, ~$35 for the upgraded version).

This website is seriously awesome for diagnosing your issues, and I'm happy to talk with you about it, just shoot me a message.

http://www.focusfanatics.com/

I respect that you might have a car that isn't going to work for you, but check out what it needs and do a little cost benefit analysis-- you might have more time left in it than you think, or be able to fix a few things and sell at a higher price. 

velocistar237

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2015, 11:51:37 AM »
Velocistar - When you say MA health care should be cheaper, do you mean I could get it cheaper than what my work offers? I've tried the health connector site and they all seem to be $600+ per month when I'm spending much less.

I mean MA health care should be cheaper post-retirement, so you don't need to save as much. From my journal:

I hadn't looked at the status of Massachusetts health care for a few years, so I just checked for an update. What used to be called Commonwealth Care is now ConnectorCare (pdf brochure). ConnectorCare appears to work with benefit tiers rather than subsidies. For example, for someone between the 150% and 200% federal poverty levels, premiums are $40/month with no deductible and reasonable copays. It goes up to 300% of FPL.


I tried showing her that blog entry and the other one but I had horrible timing (son was only a month or so old and she was tired) so she didn't take it the way i intended.

I think the blog entries are for you, not her, but at least it sounds like you got to "Step 1: realize that your good news will initially feel like a punch in the face."

If you push you'll get push-back. If you let it be, she's more likely to come around. There are people who read the whole blog and say where has this been all my life, and then there are people who have to see it in action, which takes a while. The former can stand a bit of argument, but the latter will shut down to argument. Keep it from becoming adversarial, assume the seeds are being planted, and let the results speak for themselves. You can have more discussions about it as she comes around. If nothing else, she'll see that it's important to you, unless you ignore what's important to her.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2015, 11:54:17 AM »
Well good for you for trying with the food switch despite the fierce opposition - it sounds like you are being as proactive as you can be on that front without causing world war 3.

Good luck with your conversation tonight with your wife - it is a hard one to have.  I'd recommend focusing on this one thing with the one cat (try to avoid letting your frustration fast track you to bringing up too many issues or animals at once, which will just make her reactive), talk lots about feelings, and how you want to help the cat and her, and wanted to see if she would be willing to look into foster care for the cat. avoid talking about money or cost or how much it annoys you that you have to take care of the animals (if you do, she will probably assume you think money is more important than the animals and it could cause her to doubt your sincerity for the rest of the discussion). it sounds like she is stuck in the traditional animal lover line of thinking, which is that a truly loving owner NEVER re-homes their pets. But it sounds like your situation is one of those where many rescues would actually advocate removing the animal given the sheer number of other pets with their own behavioral needs and the fact that you are both at your wits end.

Here is a link for no kill shelters in MA: http://www.catsontheweb.org/no-killshelters.htm. You might want to check the ones closest to you first, or the bigger ones like NorthEast and MSPCA which might have more extensive foster networks.

former player

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2015, 01:30:14 PM »
I know you are concerned that you are spending more than you are making each month.  But I don't think you are, even allowing for uncategorised expenses (vet bills?) over those you have listed.  What you are actually doing is pulling money from your $70,000 cash pile that your wife will not let you invest and putting it into your 401k and your Roth IRA - where it is invested!  So try to think of what you are doing as gradually moving your cash pile into investments.  As long as more is going into your monthly investments than is coming off your cash pile, you are staying ahead of the game.  Give yourself a pat on the back!  So my advice would be to work on maxing out your 401k and any other tax advantaged investments available to you.  You can tell your wife, if she is concerned, that you know that it is not cash in the bank, but that the tax advantages mean that you can keep 15% or 25% more than you would have if it just went to cash, and putting it into your retirement etc. is the price for saving the tax.

How would your wife feel about a (tax-advantaged?) savings account for your child's college expenses?  That could be another way to move money out of the cash pile and into investments.

At some point I'm guessing your wife will want more kids.  You need to sort out the pet situation before you get to that point.  Because of the situation you are in (new baby, two dogs, two cast which don't get on) you obviously cannot provide the socialisation the cats need in order to be happy and healthy, and keeping them locked in isolation is borderline cruel.  It seems that it is up to you to find a solution = try the no-kill shelters, try your vet - they sometimes take in cats, or know of someone who will take one in or have a noticeboard you can use to advertise the cat, try foster homes - for the cats' sakes.  If those fail, then euthanasia by a vet could be better than their current situations.

If the dog barks at you but no more, try to learn to ignore it, as it is a nuisance but no more - but do make sure that the dog is not left alone with your baby son, in case at some point it decides that your son is a male it doesn't like. A muzzle would stop the dog from barking, and perhaps the temporary use of one in conjunction with advice from a good animal trainer would enable his habits to be changed.


Sibley

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2015, 01:58:45 PM »
Regarding animal shelters - check with local SPCAs, humane societies, etc. There are plenty of shelters that are no-kill, and will keep an animal until it's adopted. You can safely take the cats to one similar, they will be properly cared for. (as an example, search Hinsdale Humane Society, it's in IL but if you can find something similar you're golden)

justajane

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2015, 02:09:00 PM »
I wanted to add that depression after a baby is born is not just something that happens to women. Men can also suffer from it, and it sounds to me like you might have a mild case of paternal postnatal depression - see, there's even a term for it.

I would try to cut yourself some slack. You are not spending more than you earn. You have a nine month old. You are exhausted and overwhelmed in large part because of this fact alone.

Life and your finances might look at lot brighter in 6-10 months.

Bettis

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #30 on: June 25, 2015, 02:18:22 PM »
I wouldn't be surprised if I had a touch of that but I've been like this for quite a while, it isn't anything new.  I read a pretty awesome book about ADD (from the library of course) after seeing a PBS show on the topic and while it's never a good idea to diagnose yourself, most of it has applied to me ever since I was in elementary school.  I was always smart enough in school to cover up for it but I may have something up with me.  I've been taking notes from the book and I'm going to try to do what I can with diet, exercise, brain exercises, etc to see if anything gets better.  Maybe it will help me chill out a bit and not be so agitated.

Telecaster

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #31 on: June 25, 2015, 02:22:44 PM »
The $70K is bad but I try to funnel a few hundred a month towards the mortgage to make the $1215 payment into $2000(not included in above expenses).  That's why we have 15 years left instead of 25 on the mortgage.  The rest is just "emergency fund" which is basically offsetting our current overspending.


This is probably going to be contrary advice (nervously looks over shoulder), but the benefits of paying down the mortgage are much, much, smaller than most people think they are.   I've examined this issue in a bunch of different ways, and the fastest way to financial independence is to keep money out of the house.   The reason most people cite for paying off the house is it makes them feel better.   Great.   That good feeling and $4 will get you a latte'.   Feelings don't get you to FI.  Being smart does.   

I certainly understand the need for the wife's approval.  You're a partnership, and you've got to pick your battles and all that.  My wife has joke when we're discussing such matters.  She says "Honey!  Stop using logic and reason to argue!"   She's mostly just joking.  Mostly.   

I echo former player's advice that you need to somehow move that giant stack of cash that's shrinking due to inflation into a place where that money is working for you and making you wealthier.   In this particular case, your wife likes the idea of a big emergency fund, but if the money is in the house it is really hard to get at in the case of an emergency.    A nice index fund from Vanguard has cash value.   Easy and fast to access in an emergency.   Pleasant rates of return.   Maybe that's your area of compromise?  You would still have the money in case of emergency.  It just isn't in cash, but it could be with the mere click of a mouse.    And as that money grows, you become safer and safer, right?*    It isn't that you want to trump your wife's wishes, you just want her to feel even safer than she does now.    By your retirement target, that $70,000 could reasonably be $200,000.   


*And of course, there is potential for a market correction at anytime.  But even if it does correct, you'll still have most of the money.   

Bettis

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #32 on: June 25, 2015, 02:35:19 PM »
My wife is really against investing.  I basically had to do the Roth IRA and 401K before we were married so that it wouldn't be vetoed.  She likes the idea of a paid off house and while it might not be the optimal way, that seems like the only way I can make any use of the $70K.

One thing you didn't say but goes along with your train of thought a bit... because we have the emergency fund so high, she never feels the pain of overspending.  I often think it might be better to just not have any emergency fund so it will get her head in the game but naturally that's dangerous as all hell to really do.  Putting it all in a taxable account would achieve that in a sense.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #33 on: June 25, 2015, 03:04:54 PM »
As a woman who is also currently in a marriage where my husband brings in the vast majority of our income, I think you might have an unhealthy power dynamic here. Regardless of the income discrepancy between the two of you, the money is shared money so she should have a say in how it is managed. However, I am concerned about the fact that your wife seems to rely on you as the primary breadwinner (and animal keeper) but consistently vetoes your thoughts regarding both money management and animal care. It doesnít make sense that the person who contributes the most in these areas gets the least say while the person who isnít paying the majority of the bills or doing most of the animal care gets to call the shots.  This is an unsustainable and unequal power dynamic, and couples therapy may be useful in working it out.  Sure, it will be an additional expense, but if it can help you both learn to compromise on big issues it will be well worth it in the long run.

Chrissy

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #34 on: June 25, 2015, 03:10:38 PM »
As a woman who is also currently in a marriage where my husband brings in the vast majority of our income, I think you might have an unhealthy power dynamic here. Regardless of the income discrepancy between the two of you, the money is shared money so she should have a say in how it is managed. However, I am concerned about the fact that your wife seems to rely on you as the primary breadwinner (and animal keeper) but consistently vetoes your thoughts regarding both money management and animal care. It doesnít make sense that the person who contributes the most in these areas gets the least say while the person who isnít paying the majority of the bills or doing most of the animal care gets to call the shots.  This is an unsustainable and unequal power dynamic, and couples therapy may be useful in working it out.  Sure, it will be an additional expense, but if it can help you both learn to compromise on big issues it will be well worth it in the long run.

+1 to all of this.

Cassie

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #35 on: June 25, 2015, 03:56:46 PM »
Your wife's fear about new owners taking the cats to a kill shelter are real. I do animal rescue & people do that shit all the time.  ONly let the cats go if you know the people very well. As the animals die make an agreement about how many you will have.  I personally could never be with out a dog. 

Dee18

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #36 on: June 25, 2015, 04:06:00 PM »
If you can't work from home, how about the library?  I have an office 2 miles from home, but about once a week I go work at the nicest public library around where no one interrupts me....and they serve free coffee.  I get a ton done there.

Bettis

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #37 on: June 26, 2015, 06:58:37 AM »
Littlebrowndog - You're likely right about the unequal power dynamic but to be fair, she does bust her ass with housework and being the primary caretaker of our little boy so she certainly isn't lazy.

Cassie - I was afraid you'd say that but I believe it too.

Dee - Library is a good idea.  The local one doesn't open until 10am but I can manage working from home for 2 hrs then going there for the rest of the day.

I spoke to her last night about the no kill shelters in our area and she read about the one nearest us "MWHS is a volunteer-led, non-profit, no-kill shelter dependent on charitable donations."  She's concerned that if they don't get enough in donations, they'll be put down.  I understand her concerns so I mentioned that we should give them a call and see what the deal actually is.  I think it just means they can't take in more if they don't have enough donations, not that they'll kill the ones already there.  She only seems semi-okay with the downstairs cat being given away but didn't want to talk about it last night so I wisely didn't push any more.  I wish it'd be the outside shed one going instead because when we bring him in(we used to switch the cats between locations), he won't use the litterbox meaning lots of cleanup so he has to stay out and continue to use the heat and AC we set up.  Anything is better than nothing though so I won't push too hard.

partgypsy

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #38 on: June 26, 2015, 07:10:41 AM »
I also echo what other have said, about there is a lot going on, and not to escalate on issues that are relatively trivial. 2 years after giving birth with a child who was very needy on me, we we both had severe anemia not yet treated (he didn't know he was) and adopted a dog that at the time was entirely unsuitable for our lifestyle at the time (not bonded to us, untrained, needed tons of exercise esp in the evening or would go nuts, when I was home alone taking care of 2 small children). It was  bad. The few social contacts I had wouldn't come over because our dog was "crazy" and hubby would take off in the evening. I made the ultimation of consistent walks or would rehome, he escalated with the ultimatums but still wasn't giving the dogs walks (I worked during the day). The entire ordeal put a strain on our marriage. It wasn't just the dog, but that there was no compromise and little healthy communication or respect for each other. We are still working through that. One thing that helped, was hubby agreed that when I needed a break, the dog could be taken to a doggie daycare situation. Having that option available kept me sane and also made hubby take the dog walking more seriously.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2015, 07:15:00 AM by partgypsy »

partgypsy

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #39 on: June 26, 2015, 07:14:10 AM »
Littlebrowndog - You're likely right about the unequal power dynamic but to be fair, she does bust her ass with housework and being the primary caretaker of our little boy so she certainly isn't lazy.

Cassie - I was afraid you'd say that but I believe it too.

Dee - Library is a good idea.  The local one doesn't open until 10am but I can manage working from home for 2 hrs then going there for the rest of the day.

I spoke to her last night about the no kill shelters in our area and she read about the one nearest us "MWHS is a volunteer-led, non-profit, no-kill shelter dependent on charitable donations."  She's concerned that if they don't get enough in donations, they'll be put down.  I understand her concerns so I mentioned that we should give them a call and see what the deal actually is.  I think it just means they can't take in more if they don't have enough donations, not that they'll kill the ones already there.  She only seems semi-okay with the downstairs cat being given away but didn't want to talk about it last night so I wisely didn't push any more.  I wish it'd be the outside shed one going instead because when we bring him in(we used to switch the cats between locations), he won't use the litterbox meaning lots of cleanup so he has to stay out and continue to use the heat and AC we set up.  Anything is better than nothing though so I won't push too hard.

If it's a no kill shelter it's a no kill shelter. Just means they will have a waiting list, so get on that list. I think rehoming even just one of the cats (the one in the AC shed) would reduce your stress levels. Even to say something like I love you, but this is really stressing me out and affecting me.

Sibley

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #40 on: June 26, 2015, 11:28:22 AM »
Littlebrowndog - You're likely right about the unequal power dynamic but to be fair, she does bust her ass with housework and being the primary caretaker of our little boy so she certainly isn't lazy.

Cassie - I was afraid you'd say that but I believe it too.

Dee - Library is a good idea.  The local one doesn't open until 10am but I can manage working from home for 2 hrs then going there for the rest of the day.

I spoke to her last night about the no kill shelters in our area and she read about the one nearest us "MWHS is a volunteer-led, non-profit, no-kill shelter dependent on charitable donations."  She's concerned that if they don't get enough in donations, they'll be put down.  I understand her concerns so I mentioned that we should give them a call and see what the deal actually is.  I think it just means they can't take in more if they don't have enough donations, not that they'll kill the ones already there.  She only seems semi-okay with the downstairs cat being given away but didn't want to talk about it last night so I wisely didn't push any more.  I wish it'd be the outside shed one going instead because when we bring him in(we used to switch the cats between locations), he won't use the litterbox meaning lots of cleanup so he has to stay out and continue to use the heat and AC we set up.  Anything is better than nothing though so I won't push too hard.

If it's a no kill shelter it's a no kill shelter. Just means they will have a waiting list, so get on that list. I think rehoming even just one of the cats (the one in the AC shed) would reduce your stress levels. Even to say something like I love you, but this is really stressing me out and affecting me.

OP, those types of shelters are exactly what you're looking for. They only take as many animals as they can handle, and animals are adopted into homes that will work for them. If they're full, they won't take an animal. Animals aren't put down unless there's a compelling medical or behavioral reason (and when I say compelling, I mean it. The only one I'm aware of at the shelter I volunteer at the dog was in extreme pain and there was no treatment possible.). If I had to rehome an animal, I would take it there no hesitation for it's well being. So yes, talk with them if it gets her more comfortable.

Regarding the current living conditions of the cats - I'm struggling to be nice here. Lets just say that I think you should be permanently pet free, and that other punishments are likely well deserved. Of course, I'm not really very nice if I think animals are being actively mistreated. You've got those cats in solitary confinement. Think about it.

Sibley

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #41 on: June 26, 2015, 11:31:43 AM »
Littlebrowndog - You're likely right about the unequal power dynamic but to be fair, she does bust her ass with housework and being the primary caretaker of our little boy so she certainly isn't lazy.

It's not about lazyiness. This is a communication/decision making process issue, and both of you are contributing in some way. You're under stress, I'm willing to bet your wife is feeling stressed as well. Never mind your finances, this could seriously damage your marriage. Fix the underlying issues and the rest will get better, because you'll be able to communicate and make decisions together.

Bettis

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #42 on: June 26, 2015, 01:19:14 PM »
Sibley - I totally get what you're saying.  I always look at it from the financial point of view but I don't like seeing the cats the way they are.  I do spend time with them and make sure they are clean but they definitely need a better home with more attention.  The dogs get treated very well and are totally part of our family so please don't think of us as horrible people.  I think her judgment is too clouded to make the right choice regarding the cats and I'm not very good at being supportive and getting her to see the light.  Thank god she doesn't know about this forum.

I do need to work on our underlying issues.  I just don't know what they exactly are.  I suppose a good first step would be to have a calm conversation without even bringing up money and just ask her what causes her stress and how I can help with that .

Cassie

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #43 on: June 26, 2015, 02:03:28 PM »
A no-kill shelter is a better choice then giving them to someone that may take them to a kill shelter. The cats need socialization.  Most no-kills stop taking them in once they are full so usually do not kill animals there but it would not hurt to check.  WE have had cats at our no-kill shelter for up to 2 years. The ones with issues such as not using litter box, are old, etc take a very long time to get a home especially since there are so many cute kittens.

Sibley

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #44 on: June 26, 2015, 02:42:17 PM »
Sibley - I totally get what you're saying.  I always look at it from the financial point of view but I don't like seeing the cats the way they are.  I do spend time with them and make sure they are clean but they definitely need a better home with more attention.  The dogs get treated very well and are totally part of our family so please don't think of us as horrible people.  I think her judgment is too clouded to make the right choice regarding the cats and I'm not very good at being supportive and getting her to see the light.  Thank god she doesn't know about this forum.

I do need to work on our underlying issues.  I just don't know what they exactly are.  I suppose a good first step would be to have a calm conversation without even bringing up money and just ask her what causes her stress and how I can help with that .

Oh I know, don't worry. Animal care (or lackthereof) is one of the things that can really push my buttons is all. Litter box issues - if the cat is stressed or sick, that would explain it. And good shelters will do their best to get animals into fostering to help fix issues. Also, it's not unknown for mother and adult offspring to suddenly decide they hate each other, though sometimes it can be worked through. Kinda like humans :)

Your idea is a good one. Open the door, and if she doesn't know how to walk through it, then say why don't you sleep on it. I'm always here to listen.

Full Beard

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #45 on: June 26, 2015, 06:47:53 PM »
My wife is really against investing.  I basically had to do the Roth IRA and 401K before we were married so that it wouldn't be vetoed.  She likes the idea of a paid off house and while it might not be the optimal way, that seems like the only way I can make any use of the $70K.

One thing you didn't say but goes along with your train of thought a bit... because we have the emergency fund so high, she never feels the pain of overspending.  I often think it might be better to just not have any emergency fund so it will get her head in the game but naturally that's dangerous as all hell to really do.  Putting it all in a taxable account would achieve that in a sense.



The purpose of an "Emergency" fund is to be used for "emergencies".  It sounds like you guys just have a type of "Slush" fund.  I think it's a good idea to have an emergency fund, but it should be an amount that you guys are comfortable with and it should be used only for unforeseen emergencies.  Whether that be 3, 6, or 12 months worth of expenses, that is up to you guys to decide.  Then I would probably throw the rest into a taxable account.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2015, 06:49:57 PM by Full Beard »

MMMaybe

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #46 on: June 26, 2015, 09:00:22 PM »
Maybe make an appointment for you and your wife you go and visit a no-kill shelter? I think if she gets her concerns addressed directly, it will be easier for her to make the decision to move forward. It sounds like she is sticking her head in the sand and choosing to make no decision.

Either that or this is a point of stubborness for her and you will not resolve this easily. She obviously doesnt want to "be the kind of person" who re-homes an animal. But I think that there is absolutely nothing wrong with finding a solution that works better for everyone. If an animal is not a good fit or the dynamic is negative, re-home it so that it has the chance for a home where it will be happier.

It is not in anyone's best interest (animals included) to have this continuing.

Bettis

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #47 on: June 29, 2015, 08:36:47 AM »
I know she's been to no-kill shelters before and one in particular really turned her off.  It was years ago so I don't remember the reason why.  I've tried to ease into the conversation Friday and again last night but she doesn't want to talk about it.  She knows it's the right move but doesn't want to be pushed so I guess I just need to leave it up to her to psych herself up to do it and be there for support when she needs it.  I'm so tempted to tell her to take care of them herself because I'm done but I'm in enough shit to fight any more battles :-P

Until then, I'll just work on selling more stuff and cutting wherever I can to get the ball rolling.  Once I can get that going, I won't be so stressed about the expenses so I'll be less frustrated and then maybe she won't be as oppositional.

pachnik

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #48 on: June 29, 2015, 08:51:26 AM »
Until then, I'll just work on selling more stuff and cutting wherever I can to get the ball rolling.  Once I can get that going, I won't be so stressed about the expenses so I'll be less frustrated and then maybe she won't be as oppositional.

I think this is a very wise way to approach the situation.  Take care of your side of the street - the things you have control of and just do that for a while.  Believe me, you will be busy with that. 

Around our house, I found this website about 2 years ago and it really shook me up.  Long story short, I had a lot of negative feelings about my situation regarding the $ I had wasted over the decades.  I'm 51 now.  I began implementing the techniques I learned here.  For example,  stopped buying coffee and newspapers everyday.  i do this once a week now.  Started making my work lunches.  Suggested to my husband we eat out once a week not twice.  You get the idea.  And, most importantly, give it some time.

My husband saw what I was doing and he started to aggressively pay off his car loan.  I never said a thing to him about it. 

Good luck. 

PS I don't want to add to the hot water about the pets but I am also a person who would not dream of re-homing pets.  Pets are for life etc. But the situation you are in with a dog that hates men and 2 cats that live in separate residences sounds really awful for you and the animals.  I would consider re-homing under these circumstances where the pets may have a better life elsewhere. 

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Reader Case Study - Overwhelmed and losin' it
« Reply #49 on: June 29, 2015, 09:48:04 AM »

PS I don't want to add to the hot water about the pets but I am also a person who would not dream of re-homing pets.  Pets are for life etc. But the situation you are in with a dog that hates men and 2 cats that live in separate residences sounds really awful for you and the animals.  I would consider re-homing under these circumstances where the pets may have a better life elsewhere.

I hate to be negative, but this just strikes me as wrong. Never re-homing a pet seems to be about self-image and self-perception, fundamentally. While a good premise in many situations, that isn't going to benefit the animal in all cases. I feel like a much better view for everyone involved is "what is best for the animal?" Just like refusing to put down a greatly suffering animal because it upsets you too much... sometimes, we don't feel good about what is best for the animal. But that is what we should do, because that animal cannot advocate for itself.

But then, I'm a "farm kid" who has a really skewed view of the world I suppose. Hard choices is what that life is all about.

(Pachnik, I do realize you came around to advising what is best for the animals, I just get frustrated always hearing "NEVER rehome" as a good principle, especially when I see friends with large, active dogs move to small apartments and work long hours, etc etc. Hurts my heart every time.)