How To Save When Your Spouse Is Not Interested In Finance

It’s very common for couples to have different spending / saving styles. Read this if you want good suggestions on how to get your spouse to be more frugal. (I’m assuming you’re the frugal spouse since this is finance blog.) Keep reading this post if you’re tired of attempting money talks with a partner who would rather gouge out his/her own eyes than read money blogs.

Without further ado, here are my uncommon, alternative “solutions” on how to save when your spouse is not interested in money.

  1. Your spouse keeps spending on “extras” because he/she has no idea how much money is needed for life’s necessities or future goals like retirement.  You’ve tried doing monthly/quarterly money talks over a romantic dinner. You’ve tried posting a picture of your future house on the fridge. Nothing has worked.  My solution: It’s time to get pro-active and set aside an amount via direct deposit to a retirement account (or accounts) each month. With time, the spouse gets used to a lower, net income.  Once in a while, he/she will ask “where does all our money go?” but their lack of interest in financial things will prevent a true investigation.
  2. Your spouse hates the idea of budgets. My solution: Get a joint credit card and have you and your spouse put most of your spending on this. The financially-savvy spouse can keep track of this by reviewing monthly credit card as well as bank statements for cash withdrawals.  Your spouse doesn’t have to know details but you can casually mention whether you’re in the red or black that month.
  3. Your spouse does not shop sales and wouldn’t know if a markdown is good or not anyway. My solutions:  1) Share drugstore and supermarket loyalty cards.  Every few weeks, CVS emails special offers such as “Spend $15, Save $5” or “Save 15% off your entire purchase”.  These are printable but can also be sent directly to your loyalty card. My husband shops at CVS without regard to sales but he is more than happy to see extra savings at check-out. 2) Get your spouse to try generic brands. Over time, you’ll find many items that are just as good as brand names. This is an easy way to save on groceries/household goods without using coupons.  3) Finally, be your household’s shopping ninja. Stock up on necessities during sales. Even if only half the household is saving money, that’s better than none.

However, it’s important NOT to think of money as his and hers, i.e. separate. At the end of the day, your finances affect each other.  On a day to day level, if you both spend without regard to household income/savings, it will be extremely difficult to save money for “bigger” things such as vacations, cars or home renovations.  At retirement, you will both need to have enough money to live on. You can’t eat caviar while the other one eats tuna!

To summarize, if your spouse is not interested in fiances and you want to save, practice deceit, take on the saving ninja role, and let it go because trying to change someone is impossible.

Of course the dividing line between frugal and non-frugal isn’t really clear cut. In our case, we usually agree on big expenses (which is important). Also, with time, we’ve influenced each other in good ways. I’ve learned to spend more freely. My husband has learned to hate late fees with a passion. He also asks me to find coupon codes before making most online purchases. Baby steps, baby steps…

 

 

 

 

 

Money Lessons From De-cluttering

I suffer from “sunk-cost fallacy“.  The term is used in economics and business to refer to a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered*.  For example, an investor bought a stock in a company for $100 a share. Subsequently, the company starts failing. The stock drops in price…$80 down to $70 down to $30 etc.. The investor holds onto the stock because s/he doesn’t want to lose more money (see loss aversion), regardless of the fact that the company is doing poorly.

How does this relate to de-cluttering efforts?  Like many people, I’ve held onto clothing and shoes that no longer fit, are not my style, have sentimental value (gift), wore once, etc.. simply because I attached a certain price to these items. Rationally, the money is already spent and if I don’t like the item, I should get rid of it. I could even sell it to recoup some of the cost. Instead I hold onto the clothing item because of sunk-cost fallacy.**

This weekend, I finally managed to really clear out my closet. For some items, I threw them in a donation bag and waited a few days to see if I would change my mind. Finally, I managed to donate these.

*Disclaimer: I’m not an economist. 

** Again, I’m not an economist.

I spent way too much on kids clothing.  I don’t need a shopping ban for myself. I need to rein in my spending on the kids! I now have 2 bins in the closet for “extra” clothing — i.e. clothes that fit them but are redundant. How many rugby polo shirts can a kid wear in one lifetime?

De-cluttering can save money. Now that things are grouped together and I can easily assess what I/we actually own, I feel like I will make much better spending decisions. Oh, I should give kudos to this book review post that helped me let go of more stuff.

BUT…

Re-organizing can cost money. Even though i focused on de-cluttering, I did buy some storage and shelving to better organize some closets. I can also understand the allure of the Container Store!  My Cost breakdown (so far):

  1. $30.45 for plastic storage carts
  2. $13.07 for hamper (RETURNED)
  3. $35.50 for stackable cubes (RETURNED)
  4. $25.00 for clothes to replace clothes I dumped (!)

I’m proud that I was able to re-purposed items to use as a charging station, book ends and miscellaneous storage.

All in all, I’m happy, probably way too happy, that I took the time to de-clutter and re-organize. The garage is another story for another day….

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Breaking Down My New Year’s Resolutions

I haven’t made New Year’s resolutions in a few years. It’s not because I don’t believe in them or forget them by mid-year. In fact, I’m actually pretty good at keeping my resolutions.

Some years, I set ONE BIG GOAL. Experts say that having too many resolutions is a set-up for failure.

Most years, I set multiple goals and categorize these (money, health, work, etc…) When I have many resolutions, I have to do one or two things:

  1. Make sure my goal is not too vague. (i.e. instead of saying I will work out, say I will go to the kickboxing class every Tuesday and Thursday).
  2. Write down specific actions to achieve goals. By this, I mean if I resolve to eat vegetarian on Mondays, I also need to include actions that may help me achieve this, such as download 10 delicious-sounding veggie recipes.

Since this is a money-blog, I’ll focus on my financial and career-related resolutions.

  1. Get my house in order with a will/special needs trust, life insurance, etc.. My husband and I have been saying this for years! The first step is scheduling a meeting with a lawyer.
  2. Look into passive/side income. Research the rental market, perhaps increase funds in my peer-to-peer lending account.
  3. Focus at work.  I’ve been making too many mistakes at work and I need to get back to basics — focus on the project at hand, single task, read the fine print, etc.. — in order to get a good evaluation and rebuild my career capital.  I came up 3 concrete actions to achieve this goal.
    1. Have only 2 tabs open on my computer at one time so that I’m not clicking between 5+ different websites.
    2. Read career-related books or articles during down time.
    3. Print out important information so that I really read it instead of scanning, as I tend to do with content on screen.
    4. Limit blog reading time. I will read Grumpy Rumblings in the morning and that’s it. Note: I’m already breaking this resolution but it’s a slow day…

My other resolutions are mainly about nurturing self and relationships with loved ones.

 

Do you make New Year resolutions? Are you good at keeping them?

 

 

 

 

 

Time vs. Money Or Another Reason Being Middle-Class Sucks

Do you ever feel like you often have to choose between saving time or money? I do. That’s not to say it’s always a choice between one or the other, but it sure seems like it.  If you’re poor, you often have to save money and spend the time. If you’re rich, it’s a easy to save time by spending money.

timemoneyTake the example of hiring cleaning help. If you’re barely scraping by, there’s no way you could justify spending money on this luxury. If you’re rich, there’s no way you would clean the mansion all by yourself.  The assumption is that if your time is worth a $$$$ amount per hour and that time should not be taken up by chores.

However, if you’re in the middle, there isn’t a simple answer. You have to weigh the pros and cons of both options. For example, if it’s a particularly expensive month, I may have to skip the cleaning service. However, if my husband or I are extremely busy with work, spending money for cleaning is a much better option. Of course, oftentimes, we’re extremely busy during a high-spending month, at which point we are paralyzed by indecision.

In short, being middle-class sucks.

31 Days Of Giving?

I am not a generous person. I don’t have a planned approach to giving and I can’t remember the last time I volunteered. However, even thought I’m a cynical frugal gal, I decided to give more this holiday season. Here’s my giving in progress.

  1. Donate $25 to a special needs classroom through donorschoose.org
  2. Donate $3 to keep Wikipedia ad-free
  3. Donate clothes to Salvation Army
  4. Donate 1 toy to Toy Drive
  5. Donate 1 bag of clothes to http://www.schoola.org ($ goes to schools)
  6. Donate $10 for a 4-year old boy killed by pit bulls.
  7. Donate $25 to help Syrian refugees
  8. Donate arts/crafts and office supplies to school. 
  9. Support independent artist via purchase on Etsy*
  10. Donate canned goods
  11. Gave cleaning lady some baby stuff
  12. Purchase online via http://www.igive.com*
  13. Donate 1 toy to another Toy Drive
  14. Register at Johnson & Johnson $2 donated to USO, plus if you buy $20 worth of J&J products, you can get a free shutterfly album.
  15. Donate toy to yet another Toy Drive.
  16. I’m a sucker for giving to classrooms. This one supports science and technology. I know some schools give an iPad to every child; unfortunately, schools in poorer neighborhoods do not have this advantage.
  17. Does leaving $ in a tip jar count? I hate those things.
  18. Donate $25 to another classroom for special learners through http://www.donorschoose.org. The Gates foundation is matching contributions (up to $500) so my little $25 = $50 for that class.
  19. Donate $20 to classroom. The Gates foundation is still matching gifts which doubles contributions to this very worthwhile project.
  20. Donate spare change to Ronald McDonald House.

Update: Well, I didn’t make it to 31 but I definitely enjoyed giving $ to classrooms.

If you’re really broke, here are some ways to “give back” without spending a dime, courtesy of femme frugality.

 

*If I include online purchases that result in a percentage of the sale going to a good cause, it can be pretty easy to get to #31.  I could buy some Toms and then count that as “charitable”. I just feel like I’m giving more to myself than to the charity.

 

Retired by 50?

Many finance bloggers are on the Early Retirement track.  They save a high percentage of their income in order to get out of the rat face, preferably no later than age 40. While early retirement has never been my top priority, I can see the attraction of spending more time on doing things you love/like and with friends and family.

However, I have seen way too many older workers get laid off in their 40s and 50s who are then unable to find a new job.  Maybe a forced Early Retirement will be the new normal?

layoffAs I approach my mid-40s, it’s hard not to wonder if I’m next on the cutting block. I enjoy learning new things and am relatively digital-savvy but I still find it hard to keep on top of technological changes. When I first got a smartphone, I had to ask a younger co-worker how to use it!  I still have no clue about Apple TV or other ways of streaming video to your TV set. I rarely use Twitter and haven’t even tried SnapChat or Instagram.

There’s a huge difference between getting laid off in your 20s/30s than in your 40s or 50s. Age discrimination is very real in corporate circles, from the lower echelons up to middle management. Even an experienced middle-aged managers with a stellar history can be passed over in favor of someone younger who is experienced but presumed to be more, tech-savvy and less expensive.

I’m not so much as focused on retiring in my 40s as NOT being retired by age 50 or sooner!