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Author: idlenote One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 308545  
Subject: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/9/2003 6:58 PM
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In the last year, we've made good progress. We've taken the total CC debt from $63,000 to $48,000, and we're one payment away from doing a BT that will finally drop our maximum interest rate to below 20%.

I come here everyday and read the latest posts, keeps me very focused on what I'm trying to do. DW, on the other hand, says she doesn't have time to read the posts, although she will come read over my shoulder sometimes when I can show her someone in a worse position than us.

Of late she seems to be losing her enthusiasm for the program. We came through a really busy period, (we work together), she made lots of overtime, but it seemed like everyone had their hand out at the same time. Me, I'm on salary, so I got the short end of the stick.

In the last three months, the IRS hit us for $1600, DD had to have $1700 for this semester of college, couple of car rental bills, and of course, its been summer down here in deep south texas, don't even want to talk about the electric bill.

Consequently, our snowball slowed to a crawl. Last card we paid off was back in July. I thought I would have Walmart paid off by now, but I'm still about six weeks away from that goal.

Now she's making Christmas noises. Wants cash too. Knows better than to ask for a credit card. Wouldn't surprise me if she asks for a rent car to take a trip to Houston to see the kids before the end of December.

I don't mind doing this if I can get her back on track by January 1st. Problem is, the next card after Walmart is going to take a while, and after that there will be the big three left. I think it's going to be hard for her to generate any enthusiasm for that long haul.

I bought her the sewing machine she asked for after we got the second card paid off. Think she's used it about three times. Not sure what to try and bribe her with next.

She was making noises about retirement, explained to her that with our level of debt she was going nowhere but work. (She planted a coconut palm outside the office this spring, told me it was a pity she'd never see a coconut on it. I told her not to be so sure.)

Anyway, the point of this long and somewhat rambling post, how do you keep dragging your partner along with the program? To have come this far in the last year, I am not going to give up now. And that means she can't give up either.

I must admit that she hasn't done anything to really bust the budget yet, but I feel it coming on. I need to head it off before that happens.

Jim




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Author: ImaFitnessGirl One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 172996 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/9/2003 8:21 PM
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Hi Jim,

While unfortunately I don't have an answer for you, I can sympathize with you situation. I am having exactly the same problem and was about to post a simailar question before reading yours. (I sincerely hope you don't mind me tagging along on your post.)

IMHO, I don't think that there's anything I can do with my situation, short of handing the financial responsibility back over to DH. That would be even worse. Then I would have no control at all. For some reason, DH despises talking finances. This morning I asked him for 5 minutes of his time to go over some of our financial goals and he responded like I asked him to cut off his left arm. I am coming to the conclusion that while some people like to do something about their situation, others just want to complain about it.

DH spent all day doing comparison shopping on the computer for a DVD/TV/playstation2 set-up for his Excursion and a $250 alarm. We are driving from Florida to Boston for the holidays and he claimed that he's getting it for us. I mentioned to him that I have a perfectly good laptop with DVD playing capabilities (work-issued) but that's just not good enough for him. He admitted it would be "cooler" to have it built in, and would impress his friends. I want to tell him he is being a shallow jerk, but here's the problem...

DH never buys anything for himself. The last thing he bought himself was a pair of shoes several months ago that he desperately needed. He buys tools for work and that's just about it. He works very hard at work, and is not paid salary or by the hour. He is paid by the number of projects (houses) he completes. Therefore, he works 10-12 hours a day, 6, sometimes 7 days a week. I would feel like a complete... uh, witch, to tell him that he can't buy this for himself. OTH, the holidays are coming up, and our big trip up north, and... we have our (MY) debt payoff goals. And it's so MUCH MONEY! Am I being selfish? I don't think so, since paying off our debt involves both our futures, but I don't think he will see it like that.

He has said that he has some of his "Allowance" saved for the purchase, and that he has a side job coming up that should cover the rest, so that it shouldn't take away from our debt repayments. but, the way I see it is that ANY money we have, that is going out for anything besides paying down our debt, is money that could be much better spent. AND... if we were talking a $300 purchase that would be one thing, but we're talking about ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS here.

Jim, I really feel for you. It sounds as though you and I are in a similar boat. I would really love to have the support and encouragement from my husband, but I can't change how he feels about money. I am hoping when I make some big progress (all cards should be paid off this month) he will take a more active interest. I like the bribe idea. Maybe you could take her on a weekend get away, (not too expensive) like a bed and breakfast, or to the beach for the night when your next goal is reached.

It is hard enough to be wrestling with debt without having to go up against your spouse. I really think you need your spouse on the same page with you regarding finances and debt reduction, or you'll be working twice as hard.

I just re-read your post, and I see you mentioned her losing her enthusiasm. So she must have been enthusiastic at one point, right? That's a good sign. Maybe sitting down with her, laying out all the bills, and having a brochure for that bed and breakfast (or next bribe)will reel her back in. Tell her you NEED her help to be sucessful.

I know I probably won't ever have the interest and enthusiasm of my husband, but I guess that's why I come here. Remember, Jim, that it would be best if you can get her on board, but if you can't, we are all here for you. And don't worry about that snowball. It won't take much before you get it back on the roll again.

Best of luck to you,
(and sorry again for tagging along, but thought it was too similar to post anew)
FitGirl

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 172998 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/9/2003 8:50 PM
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Jim,

This is a tricky question, and you'll need to read a lot of responses before you hit the right combination.

But a couple of things in your post struck me, and I'm not sure whether or not you talked them through with your wife. So if you did, you're allowed to yell at me, and if you didn't, you can take some time and think.

You mentioned being out of debt as a goal. Apparently your wife doesn't see that as a goal. But does she have other goals? Travel? A vacation home? Early retirement? Some major luxury item? Some regular moderate luxury, such as a day spa, or a weekend at a bed and breakfast? A luxury car?

If you can find something she desperately wants, something important, something she can use as a goal, this is more likely to help her focus. At least more than the simple goal of "Being Out of Debt." (As for me, staying out of debt is a permanent requirement, but I've noted elsewhere that people think I'm weird).

Now. Second point. About bribing her. Stop it. Bribing is a technique you use with children, not adults. Ask her if she truly needs and wants, and has space for, that sewing machine. If she doesn't really care about it, sell it on ebay, and use the extra money for Christmas presents.

Have you been on the budgeting board?

http://boards.fool.com/Messages.asp?mid=19831105&bid=100163

Some of the suggestions there might help avoid this Christmas crunch. There are methods of setting aside a certain amount of money every month or week, in order to make sure that once a year expenses are met. It's too late this year (what with it already being November) but by next year you should be in good shape.

If the two of you can focus on some long term goals, beyond the immediate possibility of being out of debt, then you may be able to work together. But you have to have a common focus, a goal, in order to get there.

Clearly this isn't the last you'll hear of the problem. But I hope it gives you some food for thought and consideration. You can't set a single, short-term goal without offering some ideas and suggestions to the other partner in a relationship. She might not be interested in being out of debt as a goal. But what you can do with that extra money might be a lot of fun.

Whatever you do, it's easier if you do it as a pair.

Nancy

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Author: windyelliott Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173003 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/9/2003 9:30 PM
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In my opinion, it would be better to put a temporary hold on your plan during the holidays, give her some cash to get her gratification on and then start again in the new year. That way she is feeling like she can enjoy the holidays and isn't trying to get you into more debt to do it.

I would give it a month of rest, let her go on a shopping spree for Christmas and get it out of her system. In the long run, you are only adding a couple of months to your plan.

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Author: vkg Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173004 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/9/2003 9:44 PM
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He has said that he has some of his "Allowance" saved for the purchase, and that he has a side job coming up that should cover the rest, so that it shouldn't take away from our debt repayments. but, the way I see it is that ANY money we have, that is going out for anything besides paying down our debt, is money that could be much better spent. AND... if we were talking a $300 purchase that would be one thing, but we're talking about ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS here.

He is working a side job on top of long hours to make certain that it does not add to your debt. It must mean more to him that you realize. I understand how you feel about debt.

Debra


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Author: ImaFitnessGirl One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173009 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/9/2003 11:14 PM
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It must mean more to him that you realize

Yes, I suppose it does. But it was that kind of thinking that got us into debt in the first place. Trying to impress people, or "keeping up with the Joneses" isn't how to find yourself debtfree. That mentality will keep you in debt.

Like Jim said in the OP, I just want to get my spouse involved in the process. What he decides to do is his decision, as he brings 70% of the income to our household. I just want him to keep our goals in mind.

Thanks for lending another perspective. I suppose I wouldn't mind the purchase, if he would give me the 5 minutes and sit down and discuss finances and our future goals. If he would listen to what I have to say, and add his thoughts, then I could accept his decision if he decided to go along with the purchase.



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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173011 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/10/2003 2:19 AM
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<<DH never buys anything for himself. The last thing he bought himself was a pair of shoes several months ago that he desperately needed. He buys tools for work and that's just about it. He works very hard at work, and is not paid salary or by the hour. He is paid by the number of projects (houses) he completes. Therefore, he works 10-12 hours a day, 6, sometimes 7 days a week. I would feel like a complete... uh, witch, to tell him that he can't buy this for himself. OTH, the holidays are coming up, and our big trip up north, and... we have our (MY) debt payoff goals. And it's so MUCH MONEY! Am I being selfish? I don't think so, since paying off our debt involves both our futures, but I don't think he will see it like that.
>>


Difficult questions in both posts.


The best reply I can suggest is to point out that a financial plan is a PLAN for action. It is necessarily subject to revision as time goes on.

Both of the people are suggesting that their spouse is on the verge of being unable to live with the financial stringency originally planned, and wondering what to do about that.

I think it's worthwhile recognizing that either spouse can blow up a financial plan and there is not much the other can do about it. A plan to live frugally and pay off debt necessarily requires the co-operation of both people. If one person can't live with the stringency originally proposed, perhaps it's time to reconsider the strategy and renegotiate the plan if that is the best, all things considered.

So I's suggest that it might be time to declare a six month review of the strategy and to discuss how it is working and any revisions that might be needed to keep everyone able to live with a good program.

Perhaps that means stretching things out somewhat, or making a one time exception for something deemed to be important. But it's not unusual for getting out of debt to be an irregular process. Better to revise the plan that to blow it up through excessive stringency.



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173017 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/10/2003 10:04 AM
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I am in a similar situation to both of you but I DO have a solution that works here:

DH is also paid per job, so that actually helps with this system (I am salaried)...

I base all of our payments on the second lowest check he received within the last year. Any time he gets a higher check than that (which IS most of them) I split the excess into 3 parts: one part for additional debt reduction, one to our e-fund, and one part to spend. Since he is the one making the extra money (and not very involved in the finances) I think it's important that he be rewarded for the extra work he puts in to make extra money.

btw, DH was also not very interested in any of the budgeting/debt-reduction until recently. It's been a 10 year fight to get to where we are. The way I got him excited was to show him the plan I'm working on the allow HIM to retire early. I showed him a chart of what our debt has done over the last 3 years (the first 2 were REALLY ugly, this last year is awesome now that he's cooperating). I then showed him a spreadsheet of which areas I was attacking in what order. (The spreadsheet had a line for each year and columns for the balances on all debt, savings, and retirement items). When he could see that this is NOT an endless process of scrimping with no reward he actually got excited about it.

If your partner can't get excited about the dwindling debt numbers, I think it's really important that they are given something else to be excited about. (Sewing machine was a good one). We all need rewards for sticking to it.

Hope this helped!
Frydaze1

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173018 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/10/2003 10:16 AM
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<<btw, DH was also not very interested in any of the budgeting/debt-reduction until recently. It's been a 10 year fight to get to where we are. The way I got him excited was to show him the plan I'm working on the allow HIM to retire early. I showed him a chart of what our debt has done over the last 3 years (the first 2 were REALLY ugly, this last year is awesome now that he's cooperating). I then showed him a spreadsheet of which areas I was attacking in what order. (The spreadsheet had a line for each year and columns for the balances on all debt, savings, and retirement items). When he could see that this is NOT an endless process of scrimping with no reward he actually got excited about it.

If your partner can't get excited about the dwindling debt numbers, I think it's really important that they are given something else to be excited about. (Sewing machine was a good one). We all need rewards for sticking to it.
>>


Excellent post! But rather than having two different ways to keep your husband motivated, I suggest it is really only one way: showing him that he gets something he values by sticking with the discipline.

In the first method, you are showing him the long range advantages of fiscal discipline ---early retirement. But some people have a hard time thinking about goals that far out. So you offer short term goals that he can envision and which do motivate him.

As I read posts from people trying to find ways to motivate their spouse to pay off debt, that idea of showing people what you get when you do so seems to be the key motivator over and over again. And it has to be something that motivates YOUR spouse. What works for someone wlse is no good if your loved one doesn't value or respond to that.


So it seems when "Plan A" didn't work for you, you went on to a "Plan B" which has worked.


Very wise I think. Congratulations on your success!



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: idlenote One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173059 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/10/2003 6:07 PM
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Thanks to everyone for the very thought provoking suggestions you posted.

Right now, I'm inclined to go with the idea of a moratorium for the month of December. Just dropping the snowball amount for a month won't really hurt, and what's an extra month tagged on the end.

Maybe just getting a break for a few days from sending every penny to the CC's might be enough to restore her enthusiasm. Anythings worth trying.

I have tried explaining to her what a difference having all the CC's paid off will mean - more money going to our retirement funds, the opportunity to take more vacations, not having to worry about if there's enough in the bank to cover this weeks payments.

Have it all on a spreadsheet, which I try to show her from time to time. Thats were I spotted the drop in her enthusiasm level.

I think for too long, a shopping trip was the antidote for what ailed her. After a year without, this could be the problem. At least it's worth trying. Just so long as I don't re-awaken the monster.

And to those of you in the same situation with your SO, my heartfelt sympathy. Just remember, one day these are going to be "the good old days"!

Thanks again.
Jim

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Author: Booa Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173069 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/10/2003 7:12 PM
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A moratorium for December sounds good, it's really hard to adjust holiday shopping. You might want to sit down with her and try to estimate what would be a reasonable amount to spend on Christmas gifts. I say this as a girl who can pinch pennies eleven months out of twelve and who goes nuts at Christmas. The best thing my DH has found that works for me is:

1) list everyone we're going to buy presents for

2) list an amount for each person that I *cannot* exceed

3) total it

and that's the Christmas money. Otherwise, everyone gets smashing gifts and we wonder why we're so broke in January...;-) Oh, and obviously, I have to keep track of how much I've spent on presents and make sure I don't bust the budget. That way, I don't end up slipping other things in with the Christmas present spending.

Good luck!


--Booa


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Author: AbsGal Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173076 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/10/2003 10:03 PM
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Boy I am late to the discussion - but have one last suggestion I don't think I saw ...

resign.

from your position as financial manager.

I did and the look of pure terror in my husband's eyes is forever etched in my mind. (I did it very sweetly by the way ... no recriminations.) Then I grew up, took back my position as Home-CEO and told him point blank the true state of our wretched finances. I went into detail about how our debt was erroding our chances to buy a home we'd want. (I did this by showing him MY credit score -- 728 versus HIS credit score 830 (seriously). Big deal? Well 96% of our income comes from my job. His income is small and he is wonderfully generous as a volunteer (he is disabled).

The point I made was his spending habits reflected on my hard earned good standing as my score was lower due to enormous debt, kazillion cards in both of our names, etc.

Additionally, I asked him to research homes, (we plan to purchase our first in 2005) and he sent for materials, photos, no-cost plans etc. and got excited about the big picture goal.

In 8 months we reduced our debt by $20,000! He contributed with the sale of some much loved items. But soon ... his "enthusiam" petered. So I told him - when I get my big raise in Jan... If he could hold out until then, we'd separate $250 a month for his "allowance." Spend it any way he liked - foolishly or Foolishly. He immediately started planning what he'd buy (vice just BUYING it!) and planned on putting whatever number of months together he needed to, to "save up" for his prized items.

We have debt. We have plans. We have desires. But I figure we can stand a little fun too so that our income is still something we look forward too and the work to gain it is still meaningful as a means to joy.
Good luck to both of you and congrats on the progress thus far!
AbsGal

He got it when I backed up my arguments with tangible stuff.

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Author: Catleen Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173083 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/11/2003 10:12 AM
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I spent too much last year. So I sat down on Sunday and figured this all out. I got most of my shopping done. Contacted an old ex neighbor and friend and begged out of buying a gift this Christmas. Not that we don't see each other. And I know that she is barely making ends meet and I am not going to contribute to her spending any more money on my account.

My shopping total is down from next year.

But in early January I have to pay for the local taxes (oh the joy of being a home owner) and have the 60,000 mile check up on my car which will cost about $500.00. I also have cat dental work coming up and that may be as much as $300.

So I must be more watchful of my money.

Catleen

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Author: vkg Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173084 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/11/2003 10:46 AM
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Yes, I suppose it does. But it was that kind of thinking that got us into debt in the first place. Trying to impress people, or "keeping up with the Joneses" isn't how to find yourself debtfree. That mentality will keep you in debt.

Like Jim said in the OP, I just want to get my spouse involved in the process. What he decides to do is his decision, as he brings 70% of the income to our household. I just want him to keep our goals in mind.

Thanks for lending another perspective. I suppose I wouldn't mind the purchase, if he would give me the 5 minutes and sit down and discuss finances and our future goals. If he would listen to what I have to say, and add his thoughts, then I could accept his decision if he decided to go along with the purchase.


Unforunately, it is very difficult to get an uninterested spouse to sit down and discuss finances. My husband's father badged all of his kids that they were incompetent with money and only he could give them advice. All of the his kids have issues with money.

Trying to impress other people is one of the worst reasons for debt. Maybe praising him for what progress your husband has made would help. He has set a goal. He will obtain it without credit or impacting your credit payments. He is not yet at the same financial understanding as you are but he is making progress.

Debra

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Author: idlenote One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 173105 of 308545
Subject: Re: How do I keep DW on track? (long) Date: 11/11/2003 7:57 PM
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I must admit resigning as CFO of this enterprise hadn't occurred to me.

After thinking about it, I think the scenario might go something like this:


ME (in stern voice) "I don't think you understand how hard it is to take care of all these bills and make the payments on time. Therefore, I'm going to give you back the check book and see if you can do any better".

SHE (reaching over and giving me a hug as she snatches the check book) "I'd love to stay and talk, dear, but they've got ***** on sale at ******. Ill talk to you after I get back. Come on kids, you're Daddy's lost his mind"

Sound of slamming door, truck screeching out of driveway, followed by loud explosions as local retailers send up pyrotechnics to celebrate return of their best customer.


Now it's not that I don't appreciate the suggestion, I really do, but that kind of idea sometimes wakes me up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night.

Now I'm going back into my normal lurker mode. I'll come back and post in January and report on how the loosening of the reins worked out.

Thanks to all, Jim

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