Author Topic: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement  (Read 6800 times)

ch12

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Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« on: September 15, 2012, 01:35:29 PM »
I have a question that I would like to pose to the married Mustachians. If you do the Spousal Frugality Check http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/06/how-much-is-that-bitch-costin-ya/, then how do you enforce it? I know that it's tricky once you're married just in general, but how do you go about a conversation if your husband buys at $70 video game without asking you? What's the script and how do you move forward from there?

rjack

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2012, 02:38:51 PM »
This is a really tricky issue because of differences in personalities, priorities, etc.

I resolved the general issue with my spouse by giving us each a monthly allowance of Fun Money. Neither of us have a say in how we spend our respective allowances. This is not perfect either, but it is the best solution that I've come up with so far.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2012, 04:36:19 PM by rjack »

Jaherman99

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2012, 04:06:55 PM »
I totally agree with rjack! Sounds like you need to set up a blow money budget, or you'll both get mad over little things.  You both agree to the limit, and you let him know that it's important to you that if you go past that limit that it gets discussed.  A happy wife is a happy life.


ch12

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2012, 10:23:29 PM »
I was asking on behalf of someone else. If we say that the couple sets up a fun budget for which they are unaccountable (like the $70 a month I've seen suggested), how do you enforce the money spent over that, for example on a $2000+ bike or purse? How can you hold someone accountable for his/her spending when they act in a spendy manner without being confrontational or making him/her defensive.

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2012, 02:18:00 AM »
I think mindset is a big part of it. If your friend's partner is not ready to embrace a frugal philosophy then there's not much that can be done from your friend's side without being judgemental and controlling. I like the "yours, mine and ours" approach to money and time but this only works well if everyone has similar salaries and working hours. The great thing about each person having separate accounts is that they will see the difference in net worth in just a few months.

kdms

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2012, 09:49:18 AM »
My DH has absconded completely from responsibility for the household accounting (and while it's not ideal, we've both recognized that he really doesn't have any ability with it) and we've done what others have done....separate savings accounts.  I'd like to share how we've recently dealt with a situation like this (actually still going on today) and perhaps this might help your friend do what has to be done with a clear conscience....

DH is fully onboard with the concept of living within our means and spending the household money on what we need, as opposed to want.  His savings acct grows when we make debit purchases for household expenses....automatically rounds it up to the nearest $5 and stashes it sideways into a savings account.  Whatever's in that account is his to do with as he wants...that's what we've agreed, and while it causes me jaw pain to see some of the stuff he wants, I say nothing, because that's the agreement we made, and it's not affecting our household budget.

Recently he just about emptied his acct to buy a couple of game cameras to track the wildlife coming and going from his hunting areas.  Yesterday, he asked me to budget in the possible purchase of two antique weapons for his collection.....and I said no.  If he wants more guns for his collection he's going to have to figure out how to pay for it without using credit or dipping into household money.  He wasn't surprised, really, because it would detract from the household budget, and I think it really drove home the point that he needs to think really hard about how to get what he wants.

Enforcement is a hard thing to do (and it's a really confrontational word) when there's no separate play money accounts.  If buddy buys a $2000 bike or a purse (I just had a heart attack at the thought) and s/he doesn't get to eat or pay his/her bills or mortgage for a month.....they'd probably think twice (while their stomach's growling) about the wisdom of such an extravagent purchase.  By setting up a separate savings account for blow money....once the money's gone, it's gone, and that's it...and they have to figure out how to build the account up again to buy what they want.

I don't think purchases for items that don't benefit the whole family should come out of a family budget, although there's always going to be exceptions.  We want a new bed....that's going to be budgeted into the family budget.  I want some supplies for a stained glass project I've got in mind; that's coming out of my savings account.  I'd like a decent size food processor....DH agrees it'll be a benefit to all of us, so it'll be worked into the budget.

If someone isn't onboard, mentally, with recognizing that it's irresponsible to spend without care, it's going to be really hard to not get into a confrontational situation....I agree with everyone else here that there's got to be some division of accounts if the non-frugal person isn't interested in staying within a limit.

Worsted Skeins

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2012, 10:03:57 AM »
Graying mushachian chimes in...

A couple of decades ago (pre-kid) my husband had an audio crack (CD) addiction.  I growled until a friend pointed out that his $15 a week addiction was a whole lot cheaper than what some guys spend on alcohol or worse vices.  At that point we decided to go with an "allowance" or fun money or whatever you want to call it.  He had his money and could do as he pleased.

What I have come to realize is that my husband is in a stressful job so he needs to have some built in stress relievers to be a happier guy.  Some of these stress relievers do come with a price.  For example, he has a couple of kayaks. He is out in one as I write, a model that he has converted to a fishing kayak.  That investment made fifteen years ago or so has paid off in a happier and healthier partner.  And if he brings home fish for dinner I'll be doubly happy.

Having some honest conversations is really important, particularly if you feel any resentment toward your spouse's purchases. 

One other idea:  if your husband really "needs" new games and things, can he at least be converted to being Mustachian in their acquisition?  For example, can he bike to yard sales on Saturdays looking for cheap entertainments, maybe last year's model as opposed to the new thing?


ch12

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2012, 11:05:21 AM »
The couple in question is trying to figure out how to live a Mustachian life together. They are going through some pre-marriage financial questions right now. They both come from frugal immigrant Mustachian families. The male in question has been saving 50% or so of his income from the get go, because that's pretty much the model that he accepts.

The girl of the couple used to shop a lot and was very anti-Mustachian with her money. Now that she's older, she's seen the wisdom of saving and has Vanguard investment accounts. He told her that she is not allowed to spend any money on nonessentials like purses, jewelry, and expensive clothing ever, while he has rationalized a $2000+ bike purchase as "for his health." She is understandably upset with the double standard, as he has accused her of definitely ruining any chance of them getting to an MMM-style early retirement with their children. The issue I see in the conflict is that he seems to talk like a finger-wagging (face-punching) Mustachian while personally behaving like an Ultra-Consumer!

He told her to talk to me about spending money on designer things, since I seemed "more rational" about the use of money. (I have, after all, spent the last three years as part of the personal finance blogosphere.) But, as a nascent Mustachian, I am just as troubled by him dropping 2k on a new bike as I am troubled by her potentially dropping $700 on new designer shoes.

She has the link to this forum post and has read the comments. What can she/they do to live a harmonious, financially content life? The question that she posed to me was what happened when one of them did not stay within their fun money budget and spent the family, combined money? If they've both agreed that Mustachianism and ESP is a great goal around age 30, then what kind of conversation happens when s/he spends more than allotted?

Jaherman99

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2012, 12:20:00 PM »
Sounds like some pre-marriage counseling is in order.  They need a referee, and this might be a much larger issue than just the purchase of a bike.

ch12

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2012, 12:35:05 PM »
I completely agree.

She says that I'm framing this wrong: "In terms of a relationship, what happens when people mess up?"
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 12:39:16 PM by ch12 »

rjack

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2012, 02:30:28 PM »
She says that I'm framing this wrong: "In terms of a relationship, what happens when people mess up?"

What does that mean?

MB

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2012, 02:47:22 PM »
"In terms of a relationship, what happens when people mess up?"

Above all, try not to do anything out of resentment or spite (like go out and buy a $2K purse to "get even").  But that probably goes unsaid since she is asking for advice, seems as though the emotions are under control.

When people mess up, and you'd prefer that it not happen again, you really just need to call them on it.  In this case, at some point the double standard needs to be discussed.  He is condemning her unnecessary expenditures and defending his unnecessary expenditures.  When it comes down to it, they're ALL unnecessary expenditures.  They need to get on the same page ASAP. 

This couple can't expect to reach goals together, mustachian or otherwise, if they are not on the same team.  By the husband saying one thing and doing another, he is not being a very good teammate.

If he is smart enough to appreciate mustachianism, he is smart enough to understand the above concepts, if they are presented to him in a tactful, loving manner. 

And maybe when he sees the light on this issue, he will sell the bike ;-) or at least agree that it is his next year's worth of fun money or something.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 02:54:35 PM by MB »

gooki

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2012, 02:54:20 PM »
The question that she posed to me was what happened when one of them did not stay within their fun money budget and spent the family, combined money? If they've both agreed that Mustachianism and ESP is a great goal around age 30, then what kind of conversation happens when s/he spends more than allotted?

For my wife an I, we have separate accounts for our weekly fun money allowance. So all the money in our individual account is for us to do as we please. There's no chance of going over budget, as once you've spent all you money the account balance is zero.

Then we have a joint account which our salaries go into and family expenses come out of. If any money goes out of this account without agreement from both parties you have a row about it - but it's never happened because we both respect the nature of the joint account. I believe trust is important in a marriage so we don't lock this account down any further. However one could easily set it up that both parties had to sign the checks (cheques), if you're happy to pay all bills that way.

If changing attitudes towards money is going to be a long process I highly recommend setting up fun money accounts. The amount you receive does't have to be static for life. Ours has fluctuated from a peak of $75 a each week to $40 a week now that we're on a single income, and our attitudes towards spending has allowed us to enjoy life more while spending less. And to be honest our attitudes towards money are sufficiently mustachcian that I'd be happy dropping them, but do note it's taken us a 7 years to get to this place.

PS a $2000 bike is a designer bike, just as much as a $700 purse is a designer purse - sure it may well help improve his health but so would a $200 bike.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 02:56:45 PM by gooki »

ch12

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2012, 08:19:12 PM »
@rjack That was a verbatim quote from her as I read her the responses and my own posts. She told me that was the real question, which I expressed in a different way. She said I was unclear and confusing people.

@MB I don't think that she's pulled up the bike issue yet. I think that it should be added to their discussion, because it's definitely valid. If they become hardcore Mustachians, then neither of them should be spending $2000 on nonessential items.

@gooki I really think that they should have separate personal spending accounts, which was their first plan. They were going to keep 15% separate and put 85% into their joint accounts (which they already have set up). He now wants to keep their money in one big pot, though, and it's causing friction; the way that she tells it, he keeps telling her that she can never spend money on expensive things ever, regardless of what they are, because he doesn't want the kids growing up with those things around the house.

Yes, I agree that the bike could be a lot cheaper if he wants to bike ride for his health. (He's actually from Longmont, just like MMM, but he lives outside of Denver now.) I was a bike fiend at one point and I don't know if I would've been ok spending $2k on a bike then, let alone now.

Angelfishtitan

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2012, 10:07:44 AM »
He now wants to keep their money in one big pot, though, and it's causing friction; the way that she tells it, he keeps telling her that she can never spend money on expensive things ever, regardless of what they are, because he doesn't want the kids growing up with those things around the house.

I think this might be a big part of the problem, on top of the double standard that seems to be happening with the $2k bike. He seems to view that a mustachian budget as 0% luxury spending, when really, it is just supposed to minimized. Hell, MMM himself states that more than a third of his 2011 spending was considered "luxury" by him. Obviously his family is not buying thousands of dollars in designer clothes or bikes, but if that is what one gets happiness from, then you just need to take from the other luxuries and add onto these. The goal is to think like a hermit, not actually go and live in a cave. I think the two of them would benefit the most on discussing what mustachianism (or whatever you want to call it) really means to them.

As far as "In terms of a relationship, what happens when people mess up?", you forgive the person but you also need them to understand that what they did not follow what was agreed upon. If the financial plan needs to be revised, that's fine, but it needs to be a plan that both can, and want to, follow. It may be best to actually sit down with a pen and paper or a spreadsheet on the computer and discuss the plan. At what point is something considered a luxury? Why does a $500 vs $50 purse count, but a $2000 vs $200 bike does not? What will change after FI, are major luxuries still taboo? Etc.

ch12

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2012, 04:53:01 PM »
@angelfishtitan Thanks! That's perfect. I already told them to examine their future household budget line by line, but that script was exactly what I needed. :)

EDIT: She loves that answer.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 06:52:28 PM by ch12 »

sowantere

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2012, 08:41:02 PM »
We each get 100 dollars a month for entertainment.  This is about %2 of our take home budget each.  We can spend this money however we please without asking.  If we want to "break" the budget,  we have to ask each other and its usually no.  If she wants to spend her budget on shoes or purses then that's her choice.  I see this as a small price to pay as its %2 percent of our budget and lets her enjoy some of the fruits of our labor.  I am the math type, i enjoy saving.  She enjoys nice things from time to time but this allows the majority of our budget to go elsewhere without her feeling deprived.  This has been relatively painless and we have never yet had a real money fight in our relationship.  I have noticed that doing this she always "clears her plate" as in whatever she gets of the budget she will spend and does not usually roll over and does not ever dramatically go under.  This method does not encourage saving within the entertainment budget itself.  Its more of a sacrifice to save the bigger whole.

For big purchases like the 2k your friend is referring to we would have to vote on that together and could break the budget for it but it would be for dramatically less.  A compromise such as 200 dollars and add whatever his entertainment budget would be to it.  In the example above it would be 200 plus 100 dollars a month the longer he chose to wait.  He wouldn't want to wait long enough to save 2k so would buy sooner probably at 2 months so would get a 400 dollar bike which would be 1600 less than initially proposed.  If he wanted to save up more he could and eventually trade up by selling the 400 dollar bike for near the same and buying something more expensive down the road.  Most people however will gain a bit more respect for their money if it takes a lot of time to save up for it.  Chances are that when he saves up the difference he wont want to spend it all on a bike if at all.  This worked with my wife and Coach purses has she initially liked the 200 - 400 dollar purses but after doing the above she choose a 80 dollar side satchel from coach and hasn't bought one since.  It in effect "cured" her as she was no longer looking at the price but that 80 dollars was 80% of her allotment of the month on "stuff"/entertainment.  Again its not deprivement, shes happy, its just that the more money you make you almost have to create an artificial sense of "not being able to afford it" in order to save the big picture.  After doing this for awhile its amazing how much less you start to want.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 08:56:50 PM by sowantere »

happy

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2012, 08:20:10 AM »
Sowantere, I agree I think this works.  Its similar to the idea in YMOYL where you work out  how long you will work to earn enough to pay for something, using your real hourly wage. In this case you are essentially looking at disposable income  set at $100 /month, and how long it will take to save up using disposable income, rather than hourly work rate. A nice twist, since, you might be willing to spend x hours worth of work on an item, but in fact not actually have any disposable income left to spend.

Angelfishtitan

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Re: Spousal Frugality Check Enforcement
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2012, 12:43:21 PM »
@angelfishtitan Thanks! That's perfect. I already told them to examine their future household budget line by line, but that script was exactly what I needed. :)

EDIT: She loves that answer.

You're welcome, and I am glad to help someone, even if it is just a little. I hope that your friend and her husband can come to agreement together that they both find acceptable.