Laugh if you want, but I have anxiety over spending money... and I want your advice.

When I was 10, my dad lost a very good job and the house he built. We slept on the floor of a relative's house for many months, were on welfare, etc.  Lack of money was the source a lot of hurt and many conflicts. When I moved out at 17, money was still tight. I hear that it still is.

Anyway, my husband earns decent money. He grew up in a fiscally responsible household. We have minimal debt, controlled - we could pay it all off, but the steady payment history is good for credit score.  We are putting aside money each month, and max out matched 401k contributions.

Pretty much everything we have are hand-me-downs, my clothes included. We need a bunch of new furniture as everything's pretty much on it's last leg.  Our walls and floors are pretty sparse (a few pictures and that's it; no rugs) because I can't bring myself to spend money while we have some debt.

Being miserly means that everything is really shabby -- our table and chairs are hand-me-downs, and the chairs are too wide to fit under the table legs... so they are pushed out from around the table, and we have to move them to walk around them, for example.

BUT... I don't want to buy JUNK that's just going to break quickly. We'd have to go into some debt to get nicer things, and the idea freaks me out.

So.... what can I do? My husband seems frustrated by my lack of spending (even though I am appreciative of his job!) - can you help me understand what's going on in his mind? What tips on finding balance on saving vs. spending and buying new things? How do you work out similar money conversations in your household? What would you tell a wife who frets about money even though it's not an issue? What solutions have you adopted to accommodate you and your spouse's different attitudes toward money?

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You sound exactly like my wife, Sarah. She grew up with a dad who was the very definition of miserly. To this day, he doesn't buy anything new; his favorite pastime seems to be wandering around junk yards looking for "perfectly good" stuff that other people tossed out.

I've heard many times that most marriages are made up of a spender and a saver. I'm the spender, and she's the saver; together, we strike a good balance, allowing us to be responsible while still enjoying life. A thrifty wife (even one with a miserly streak) can be a huge blessing. We're not swimming debt, and we can usually swing an important purchase when we need to.

This has been good for us in the sense that we don't always have to buy the best or newest thing out there. We do a lot of Craigslist, thrift store, and Walmart shopping. There are a lot of ways to get expensive quality at bargain basement prices.

However, we do occasionally splurge when an item needs to last for a long time. Winter coats here in Montana have to be a good brand (Columbia, Carhartt, North Face, etc), not just the cheap crap off the rack at Walmart (unless it's for one of the kids, who will only need the coat for a season, anyway). Likewise, power tools need to be of a decent quality. Then there are vehicles. We have gone into debt twice to take advantage of a good deal on a used truck and a used car (both loans paid off within a year, though).
It sounds like you're stuck in the same cycle as most people: you have debt so you can keep credit so you can maybe have more debt in the future? But the debt is keeping you from the things you need and want? Why keep yourself in that situation?

If you can "easily" pay off the debt, then do so. It will lower your stress level by elimiating some risk from your life. Then take the payments you were sending to the credit card company and let them stack for a couple of months, and then go buy a new table or a rug!

When we got married, I told my wife I wanted to get her car paid off ASAP. She wasn't convinced. She thought the payment was "manageable," and wanted to do something else with the money. I told her that if we paid it off quickly and she just hated not sending money to Honda each month, we'd take out a loan and the bank using the car as collateral. Otherwise, she could have the cash to buy as much clothes and shoes as she wanted. So, we paid it off and began sending the $300 a month to the principal on our house. We're now making 3-4 extra payments a year and reducing our interest and payback period. It feels AWESOME!

Debt and credit are a messed up game. I know. It royally screwed up my early 20's. Now I pay cash. The only debt I have is a mortgage and I'm working to get that gone as soon as humanly possible. And I sleep very well at night.

Check out a guy named Dave Ramsey for tips. If this sounds familiar to anyone, it's his principles that I'm following. Simple, straightfoward, and effective.

And as far as differing attitudes, you need to come together and discuss. Together. Your concerns are just as valid as his idea that it's no big deal. You need to meet in the middle somewhere.
As I was reading that, I was thinking, "This guy's a Dave Ramsey fan." Then I hit your second-to-last paragraph. Yup. :)

My dad's a huge fan, as well. I'm learning secondhand through my dad's constant Ramseyisms.
Yeah, I'm a fan, but I was living his principals long before I ever heard of him. I got in over my head on a car and a credit card when I was too young to know better and it SUCKED! So much stress and worry. I hated my job, but I had to work even more to afford the stupid car... that I only used to get back and forth to work because I needed the money and couldn't afford to do anything else but pay for the car...

I credited myself out of being able to have credit and learned to live off cash. By the time my credit-worthiness returned, I was kind of like, "who needs you?"

Now when I see people in the same situation, I try really hard to show them that there is another way.

I discovered Dave Ramsey a couple of years ago and now I'm all "See, I'm not the only one!"
I felt the same way for a while but came to an epiphany one day. Here is how i see money:

It is a sick thing. It causes us all of this frustration and anxiety like you are experiencing. It really is nothing in the grand scheme of things. That is why i feel that you should use your money in this order.

1. Pay off debt with it. You don't have to hammer the debt down with everything you have, just keep it at bay. Pay ahead on it to make yourself feel better.

2. Buy things. Buy things like the nice furniture you want. don't skimp, get the good stuff. It will be well worth it. Since money doesn't get more valuable over time, it only dies slowly, anything you could buy that you want or is of use to you is an investment in your life. This leads me to...

3. Save money. Save the money you want to put aside. Don't save in a bank, just hang on to it and minimize the risk. You can invest if you are feeling saucy, but i feel that the real store of wealth is gold or silver. Im not some kind of anti government nut, and i am not saying that you need to become a savvy precious metals investor. I just inderstand what money should be and it should not become worthless over time. Think of it this way. If i found $10,000 in my grandpas old trunk and it was cash, then it would still just be $10,000. If it was gold that he bought for $10,000 then it would be worth ALOT more today. Just a way to maintain your wealth and pass it on to you children. Kind of like a treasure of sorts. Just my opinion on the matter but i am not going to turn this into a finiacial discussion. (Wait isn't that what it is) Anyway...

There you have it. Money is worthless unless you put it to use. No need to feel anxious about it. It is only a standard that has been forced upon us in life. Don't be affraid to spend your money to better your environment. I know that past experiences can ruin your outlook on the whole thing, but that is not a trait that you want to pass on through the generations. With money you want to be giving and not afraid to use it while still practicing financial smarts.
I disagree with commodoties. They barely beat inflation. In other words, yes your grandfather's investment of $10,000 grew to $100,000, but $10,000 to him then isn't that much different from $100,000 to you now.

Compound interest, baby!
Yes but the $10,000 in cash still has not beat inflation at all. It is still $10,000 cash. Yeah you are right that his $10,000 wouldn't be much different then my $100,000 but unfortunaly the $10,000 cash would still be just that. The dollar does not physically adjust for inflation. Now if the $10,000 multiplied as it sat there then that would be a different story. And you have to remember, i am talking about physical worth, not market worth. Just because you say that their dollar would buy more then our dollar doesn't mean that their paper dollar is more paper dollars to us. If you were to keep 1 paper dollar from back then and keep it until now, it would still be just 1 paper dollar. That is what i am talking about. It doesn't matter what you can buy with it, just what it physically is.
True, true. I'm just saying there are better investments that outperform commodoties like precious metals.

Interesting thing to think about. It's in my finance book- class I'm taking right now:

Just how powerful is the time value of money? Manhattan Island was purchased by
Peter Minuit from the Indians in 1626 for $24 in “knickknacks” and jewelry. If at the end
of 1626 the Indians had invested their $24 at 8 percent compounded annually, it would be
worth over $103.4 trillion today (by the end of 2004, 378 years later).


That's awesome.

Buying gold because it's pretty is fine, but it's not so good as an investment. Plus, it only does really good when the markets are down.
Very true. Remember though, i am not talking about investment. Just maintaining your wealth. It is pretty and all, but there is much more to it then that. Yeah you might not make as much money from it like the indians had, but it won't become worthless. Like you said, it does good when the markets are bad, but fortunatly those are the times you have it for.
I'm a Dave Ramsey fan like Billy, and I agree with him. If you can pay off the debt do so. Even if you want to use the card every month (not something Dave Ramsey would recommend, but for sake of argument) pay it off today, and then pay it off every month. Then just work on a budget. Talk with your husband about it, and say that you're comfortable putting a certain amount away every month for clothes, furniture, etc. Also get an emergency fund in place. If you have a few months worth of expenses in the bank then you'll know that even if something happens you're all set. Also are you properly insured (car, house/apartment, life, health)?

In his mind he's tired of having crappy things around the house. I'm sure you are too but your worry about losing everything is greater. Remember that it will take a while, you won't have all new furniture next month, it will be one piece at a time. Once you set up a budget though stress goes away because you've allowed yourself to spend a certain amount of money on things.
What he said.
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