We finally found the root of our money problems. Want to know what it is? According to my wife, it’s me.
When she said that in the car to me the other night, I laughed it off. But as I sat there and thought about it, she was absolutely right. I brought the most debt into the marriage and I probably would still be racking it up if I wasn’t with my wife. I was the most reckless with money before we got married.
But there are still things I do today that damage our finances. For one, I always seem to suggest eating out. Actually, my wife said “I was the problem” after I suggested grabbing something quick to eat. We have a ton of food at home and yet I always seem to want to eat out no matter where we are. What the heck is wrong with me? I really want to be debt free and yet I always want to spend.
I mentioned before that we want to still enjoy some “finer things” while getting out of debt. We would like to eat out once or twice a month and go to the movies occasionally. It just helps us from going insane. However, I have taken the eating out to an extreme. If I had to guess, I would say we ate out about a dozen times in May. Most were the fast food variety but still expensive none the least. About 90% of those occurrences were my idea.
I guess you could say that I have been a big consumer for most of my life. I grew up on a family farm and started earning fairly good money (for a kid) by the age of 10. I did what most kids would do at that age with money. I spent it and I spent it ALL. However, I earned way more than most kids my age and I got to buy the more expensive items that many other kids only dreamed about or begged their parents for. Life was good.
What I guess I am trying to say is that old habits die hard. I would imagine that many of you are having this same problem. It’s hard to go from one extreme to the next and I’m finding that out that hard way. I once spent with wreckless abandon and now I am trying to pinch every penny. Life is hard.
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What would you say has been the toughest for you? Cutting spending? Setting up a budget? Opening up the lines of communication between you and your spouse?
I’m not a marriage counselor, but I think it’s vital to be open and honest about finances in the relationship. How are you supposed to buy a house, car, figure out the best value when buying, well, anything?
It’s a team approach. The root of the debt may be you, but that root can’t grow into a bigger problem without “water” from both sides.
Btw, I’m not perfect either. I’ve been known to spend on stupid stuff all the time – another habit that is hard to break. I think we all have our vices, when it comes to spending money – whether it’s food, clothing, entertainment or gadgets.
At the same time, it’s almost necessary to have some self-indulgence otherwise you would go crazy. What are we supposed to do – stay at home and stare at the wall?
I hope you can figure out a way to keep chipping away at your debt, but still not go crazy. It’s an equilibrium that may is challenging to overcome.
I am certainly guilty about eating out. I have been known to let groceries go to waste in the fridge while I’m eating at a restaurant. I also occasionally frequent restaurants serving food I could have served much cheaper myself (even foods requiring minimal effort).
Even more twisted is that I am a pro at bringing my lunch to work, but what is the point if I eat out for supper? I may as well eat the cheaper of the two meals out and cook in the evenings.
How is it that I can save nearly 40% of my income, yet have weeks where I have eaten out or ordered in supper every darned night?
You’re doing pretty well by saving up to 40% of your income (that’s supperb if you’re debt free). I guess that simplifying your life does not mean feeling deprived. If eating out makes you feel nice and does not mean any trap to your finances, go ahead and enjoy life!!!
I don’t really have a budget, so that would be a bit tough for me.
A lot of people, including myself, would think of it as restricting. But another way to think of a budget is a method of categorizing your spending so that you can free up and direct your money to what’s truly important to you.
That way, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
I think Adam is being too hard on himself. The few times we have eaten out have not broke the bank and not really affected our overall debt snowball. We are extremely open about our finances and this thing has been a team effort from the get go. We have everything budgeted to a T and know everything that goes in and out to the penny. I can’t believe how “not open” the majority of married couples are with their money…
I just get swayed to easily when eating out is suggested, and get frustrated when I know there is food at home I can cook.
Yay, to paying off debt and being debt-free soon!
I have this exact same problem myself! Food accounts for nearly 15% of my budget, and most of that has eating out to blame. I think that Mrs. Adam made a great point. More important than what you’re spending your money is what’s getting sacrificed as a result.
If you’re still able to pay your debt snowball then maybe it’s not so bad after all.
It’s great to see both of you on the same page, because it’s true that many couples aren’t. Good luck in your continued battle with debt!
P.S. He should not blame himself for the recent slow down in paying off debt (last month). I would have to say it is the recent fees for grad classes that I have signed up for that are to blame. So I blame ME! Haha… Unfortunately my tuition reimbursement from where I work takes a few months…but we will get a huge chunk of the money back (and use it to pay our debt). I would much rather pay out of pocket now for school than to gain any more debt!
And also the 4 new tires MY car needed which cost $600. Life throws you curves and is hard! Darn right. Next month we will be getting back on track…
I’m not perfect, but my husband is definitelty the bigger spender. I cringe at spending money on anything that doesn’t add value to my life…that means that I’m fine with spending $2000 on a summer cruise, but $3 at McDonalds ticks me off. My husband is a fast food junkie and single-handedly demolished our food budget this month. I swear, make a darn sandwich, lol.
Luckily, even though he’s a bigger spender than me, he’s frugal compared to the population and our separate “fun money” accounts also helps keep irritation to a minumum. 🙂
You’re brave, and this is a great blog! I don’t think you (or any of us) is in the minority here. I think most of us can relate. And I eat out way too much, too.
The funny thing about reducing debt and getting better spending habits is that it absolutely requires a change in lifestyle. It simply can’t be done any other way (even if we won the lottery, we’d find ourselves back in debt if we didn’t change our ways).
Fast food really is a waste (occasional offender here, not really judging…we stopped when we realized our toddler threw up EVERY.TIME. we went out to a place like McD’s or Chik-fil-A). Maybe the question is: What do you get out of dropping a few bucks here and there at a restaurant like that?
Cooking blisses me out but I used to be a magazine cook. Now after spending a lot of time at home making food for my kids it really has become second nature to whip up good plain food for them, with a little more embellishment for us. We used to order out just for pizza and Thai, but as of a few weeks ago I make pizza at home that’s as good as the really good stuff we used to go out for, for about 1/10th the price. …I did just splurge on a Zoku pop maker though, so we could make ice pops fast. Silly but not if you have tiny kids and you want to make them lickety-split. But it seemed also like something fun to do with them, not just to eat, if that makes sense.
Can you make prep work and cooking more about quality time together? Making pizza (or pound cake) with my girls is loads of fun. But even just adults can use the time to really connect.
That said, the peach milkshakes at Chick-fil-A rock. 🙂
Definitely, some people are just born spenders! BF is also a big eater-out – the funny thing he’s a big foodie but also gets cravings all the time for nasty burgers, sweet and sour pork etc. Me, I only really wanna eat out if it’s quality/something we can’t make. He’s also a lot more social than me, even though I’m the one working at the moment, so it’s not easy – he’s always wanting to spend on something, but isn’t bringing in anything.
As disciplined as we are about our finances, eating out is our “money pit”. With our schedules & it just being 2 of us, it just seems so much easier. But I’m committed to “inventorying (sp?)” our food @ home & making a meal plan. Simple Mom has a great post on her blog about using Google Calendar to make a super easy meal plan. I have used this system in the past & it worked great! My husband was able to “see” the meal calendar (via sharing the calendar/Google) & he would put out the meat, etc to defrost or get dinner started. (He is retired…) I’m going to re-commit to trimming the eating out. Once you eat at home regularly, eating out really does feel like a treat!!
That sounds like an awesome idea! Do you have the link that share with the others?
Here you go….sorry, should have included it in my comment!
I am the bigger spender in our family.My hubby is
mor frugal than me.Being opposite really helps
our relationship. Very nice article.
Personally I believe the most common mistake moneywise is living above one’s means. Eating healthy is actually cheaper eating at home than in restaurants, for ex. Credit cards should be used only as a payment method not so you can buy more than you can really afford. If you just merely kmake payments on your montly balance you end up paying more than the original price. Sounds simple but many Americans can’t live below their means.