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I’m the “Villain”

Posted by mapetitechou on Mar 26, 2015 in financial planning, philosophy, relationsips, saving

Apparently in my in-laws’ eye, I’m the “villain” because I am an iron-fisted wife with our money — I don’t let my husband spend any. I knew that they thought of me as “frugal” or “good with money”. But recently I think I got a better idea of what they really think. I find that quite amusing. I’m a private person so I don’t usually broadcast our financial situation, unlike some other family members. So I suppose it’s easy for them to speculate what’s going on in our family’s finance. For some reason all my husband’s family think that we have oodles and oodles of spare money laying around, especially my mother-in-law, according to my lovely youngest sister-in-law (my husband has three sisters). She and I get along very well and she’s very open about her life and her opinions and she appreciates that I’m a good listener, so we often chat. Personal finance is one of those topics.

When I explained to her, I basically said every dollar is accounted for. Ha, I wish we had a ton of spare money laying around for us to spend! If we did, I’d definitely let my husband get his dream car. He’s always complaining about having to drive my old Corolla because his Tiburon (a sport coup from his pre-children days) died last year and it was just not feasible to get a new sports car anymore. And my MIL thinks I’m holding him back somehow. There are quite a few aspects to our finance that she does not understand.

Because of my “pay yourself first” rule, basically for every paycheque some of the money is redirected to our RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs and other investment accounts. These have to be taken care of first. I am very firm on not shirking our responsibilities because you are ultimately responsible for yourself, present and future. So if you don’t take care of your future self, nobody else is going to do that for you. I think because she and my father-in-law did not live this way, she cannot even comprehend it. They are living on government pension. They never saved for their retirement. They don’t have any investments. They live a very simple life in a small town in Newfoundland. So their living expenses are very low, except for my father-in-law’s penchant for a new car every several years (that’s a whole other issue for another post). So the question of why you are putting your money in all these places is pretty complicated to grasp.

Also, my in-laws (and all my guy’s siblings for that matter), seem to forget that my husband has been in school for as long as we’ve been together. And that university education costs A LOT of money. My husband is a very smart and hard-working person. He did computer science in college. Then when we were dating, he did electrical engineering. And after we got married, he decided to do a business management degree while working full-time. And after he got that degree, he went on to do his MBA also while working full-time. He also had size-able student loans during early years of our marriage that we managed to pay off quickly. Essentially we invested a lot of money in his schooling. Every month a portion of our income was going to his tuition. I told my sister-in-law it’s like paying two mortgages every month. We just don’t broadcast that, it’s not in my nature to complain about it. If it was any of other siblings, we would be hearing about constantly. Again, this speaks to my philosophy about taking responsibility for yourself.

And furthermore, because we feel so strongly about education, we are saving for our children’s education. And somehow that’s hard for my MIL to understand too. She thinks when we talk about saving for their university education, it’s something that might or might not happen in the distant future. It’s not! My son’s 5, my daughter’s going to be 3 soon. In only 12 years my son will be going to university. 12 years will be gone in a blink of an eye. If you don’t start preparing for it now, you’ll run out of time. Time is your biggest ally in investing. So to my MIL, it’s money that’s being not used right now and being wasted. Well, again, I understand it’s a concept hard for her to grasp because they didn’t save for their children’s post-secondary education. My guy and his youngest sister are the only ones that have university education and they paid for it themselves. Massive student loans. My parents saved for my education. I had a jump start on life after school. That is something so valuable for your children to have.

We have our fun money obviously. Traveling is our biggest hobby. We go to China regularly. We take beach vacations every year. We’ve been to Europe a few times. My kids are seasoned travelers. My son has traveled more and further distance-wise in his 5 years of life than my in-laws have ever traveled in their entire life. It’s a gift that I want to keep giving to my kids for as long as they will let me (we will see how that goes when they are teenagers). The vacation funds have to be allotted and these aren’t inexpensive vacations. My MIL doesn’t seem to understand that either.

So essentially, every dollar is accounted for. And if somebody thinks it takes an iron-fisted wife to manage that, so be it. I sleep very well at night.

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I’m so lucky that my husband is on the same page as I am

Posted by mapetitechou on Mar 13, 2015 in relationsips

The other day I was talking to my sister-in-law and she was complaining about how frustrated she was with her husband’s spending habits. Their finances are tight enough, she is on mat leave and her husband has to work overtime all the time to keep them above water. Yet her husband still wants to spend $400 on a new gaming console. She is more frugal than he is and sounds like she has to try to convince him to spend less. I just thought to myself wow that must be a constant struggle. I am so glad my husband is on the same page as I am with regards to our family’s finances. The other day I was reflecting on something that I read in “Millionaires Next Door” about how important it is to choose the right spouse, one that shares the same philosophy and habits on spending, and ultimately same goals. You’ll never become wealthy if you are married to someone who wastes money. And if your family is wealthy, the wealth will disappear if you are married to someone who wastes money.

“Choosing the right spouse” sounds very un-romantic. Especially if you are dating someone, in our society, the last thing you want to talk about is money. But it is so important that the two people get on the same page when they are getting serious in their relationship. My guy wasn’t always on the same page as me. I was definitely more level-headed and frugal. I’ve always been a saver. My guys wasn’t so much. He had student debt. He had little in his RRSP account. But throughout the years I’ve been able to influence him enough that now he is a hard-core finance guy, sometimes even more frugal than I am. He got me to shop on Kijiji for used toys, bread-maker, computer parts, etc etc. He always checks kijiji first before buying new. It’s pretty impressive how good he is at that. I still give into my craving for clothes, shoes and bags often. I’m incredibly thankful that we are in complete lockstep with each other.

And often I see couples that are struggling with this. One person wants to reign in the spending and the other people doesn’t think that’s necessary, so they have friction. That really affects the relationship and family life because there’s always stress between the two of them. My sister-in-law wants to sell their full-size SUV because the cost of keeping it is getting so high, but her husband does not want to get rid of it. I said basically she and her husband need to have the talk and get on the same page. She knows that too but she is just too afraid of bringing it up and causing a fight. I think a lot of people are afraid of that. I was like that too in the beginning. But eventually you have to say something or it’s going to snowball into something unfix-able. Her husband needs to hear the truth. Which is you are not entitled to buying new toys if you have way more urgent debt to take care of. If you are working overtime so much that you do not have any time left to spend with your wife and two young children, maybe you need to change your priorities. These are definitely hard words to tell your spouse. I said to my sister-in-law “maybe lead with I love you and I don’t want to fight, but we need to be a team and tackle this together.” What’s your money relationship like between you and your spouse?

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