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It's Been Three Years???

January 6th, 2018 at 03:52 pm

Oh my goodness, it has been three years since I checked in.  Just the highlights of 2018 then.

Daisy graduated from high school a year early.  She was old for her grade anyway, so it's okay.  She continues to live with us and is a legal adult.  She is working as a barista and going to community college.  She's anticipating a career in a business-oriented field.  

Mr. H bought the business he worked for for the last 20+ years.  More detail than I want to give, but the financial risks to us were low.  Over the 20+ years the business has gradually lost clients with no replacement clients coming in.  Mr H talked like he wanted to grow the business, but I think he would have to develop new skills, something he does not seem willing to do.  I encourage him when I can, he poo-poos what I have to say.  From what he has told me, they are on track to lose a couple more clients in 2018 with the result that he will have to let his one office staff member (a family member) go.  He will also have to move his office.

I did take a couple of classes in my former field in 2015.  Then I re-engaged in Daisy's education for the next couple of years.  When she graduated this spring, I felt lost.  I knew it would be bad for me to sit around and pout, so within a week I volunteered myself at a local charitable organization.  I would have done whatever they asked, but when they realized that I wasn't afraid of computers, I started working with their systems.  Then, to help with some of the reporting using said computer systems I enrolled in a couple of classes at the community college.  Just like riding a bike - it all comes back.  One of my instructors noticed my work there, and recommended me for a part time job.  I started this week.  I'm slowly moving back into a branch of my former field.  Those are the doors that are opening anyway.  It's surprising to me.  

We have fairly simple finances but we are stable.  I just calculated our net worth - with our home it's 700,000+.  Shocking to me.

The best thing that's happened over the last few years though, is the sense of peace I have about life, most of the time anyway.  Did I gain wisdom from growing older?  Am I just supremely fortunate?  I have no idea, but I am so, so grateful.  A couple of months ago my instructor and one of my classmates both told me that they thought I was "so zen".  I didn't know what to say to that but at least it validates my experience. I bring problem to Mr H's attention --> I suggest we work to solve the problem --> Mr H verbally attacks me/reacts by "solving" the problem with the first solution that comes to his head (even/especially if it's one we both hate and it doesn't solve the problem!) --> I later solve the problem by myself or the problem remains unsolved (and uncomfortable for me) --> Mr H experiences that everything "just works out". Dysfunctional? You bet. At the beginning of our marriage I gave him the benefit of the doubt, believed that he would eventually come to see how unproductive this was. Now I realize that I was just way too nice and forgiving . . . but trying to change this pattern requires the full emotional amour because no woman wants to be verbally attacked by her husband. . . and yet I've been down this path enough to know that's pretty much what's going to happen. Much earlier in our marriage I asked Mr H what I could say or do differently to help this situation, or if there was another approach to take. He had no response.

In this instance, the problem is that there is no obvious source of money for these savings. Our budget's stretched pretty thin. Pointing this out to Mr H, and that, if it's not funded it's not a priority, and that bothers me . . . brought the predictable response. Mr H's solution was to sell my car and have us become a one car family, and since Daisy will be homeschooled next year she and I could just stay home all the time. He needs his car for work so of course he'll get to have it every day. It was way less pleasant than I'm reporting it here. Ouch.

At the heart of it though is what seems to be an irresolvable difference in priorities, and an unwillingness to change with circumstances.

Our income is unlikely to go up in the near future. Mr H will not work harder/smarter/more than he is now, and I'm unwilling to sacrifice my home life at this time for another corporate job. (I had two working parents and neither of them were really around to raise us. When Daisy is 18 I plan to work full time and more to make up for what was not saved during this time.) I'm very concerned about retirement savings, planning ahead for seen and unseen expenditures, and having a home life. Mr H appears to be concerned about keeping the house (and only this house) and not having to make any changes to anything about his life. I would be happy to sell the house and go to one car if we lived somewhere where walking and public transportation were more workable. Mr H wouldn't hear of selling this house. We're at something of an impasse.

In the end, I relentlessly forced us to stay focused on the problem. Mr H backed down a bit and apologized. It's progress for us, although sometimes I feel like having to work this hard (and unpleasantly) with him on *every* problem that occurs in our lives is going to kill me.

We agreed to discuss income generating ideas and saving ideas in a couple of weeks. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [50440] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) [3332] => Array ( [category_id] => 3332 [category_name] => Frugal Experiments [category_stub] => frugal-experiments ) ) [entry_id] => 50440 [entry_title] => Reflections on a year of blogging [entry_stub] => reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/04/18/reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging_50440/ [entry_date] => 1240113008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-04-18 20:50:08 [entry_text] => Well, my blogoversary has passed without much fanfare. I don't post much and I guess I'm kind of a lazy blogger. But even the little I've done in the past year has brought some positive changes in my life.

* While Mr H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page, we have more productive discussions. I initiate most conversations, but every now and again he'll bring up something related to our financial life. It's progress.

* I've learned that to engage Mr H in almost anything involves stages. First he ignores what I'm saying, then I provoke him**, then he reacts, then I gently tell him that he's reacting and suggest that we look at different options to solve the problem. Then he'll come through. Kind of. It's kind of dysfunctional, but it works better than him ignoring the situation and me finally just solving the problem on my own. (That has been the dynamic for most of our marriage.) Not all of our discussions are this way, but bringing up anything new is.

* We have a budget that balances for Checkbook One. It took several months to get there. It didn't balance, really, for about five years.

* We have a grocery/food budget that balances. We have never spent that little on food. We're eating well. I actually don't mind this part. It's fun to get creative with food, and I have done it for many years. I'm just way more conscious now, trying to use leftovers before they spoil and figure out how to have great dinners with lower cost foods.

* We have an emergency fund, that is designated as an emergency fund. I feel a lot less anxious.

* We have a plan for increasing retirement savings.


Everyone here has been so kind and helpful. I have been so grateful for the support. Thank you all so much!


** Believe me, I really don't want to provoke him. However it seems to be the only way I can get him to engage. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49849] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 49849 [entry_title] => Retirement [entry_stub] => retirement [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/28/retirement_49849/ [entry_date] => 1238264405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-28 11:20:05 [entry_text] => As you can probably guess, retirement is a source of contention in the onion patch.

Mr H's approach is: he'll work until he can't work any more, then he'll live on savings, then the government will support him. (You'll notice that it's "he" and not "we", although I think the "we" is somewhat implied.)

This is not what I would want for my older age, but I'm willing to live with it - up to a point. In order to live on savings, we have to be saving now, and all the time until then. We've saved relatively little - we have the 401k that I contributed to during my corporate years. That is 10 (or is it 9? I may not have been able to contribute the first year, although I don't remember now) years out of a total of 28 years of my working life (starting the count at age 18). DH has no pensions or 401k's from any present or past employers from his 28 years of working life.

Now that the budget is balancing with regularity I'm turning my sights toward saving 15% of our income savings for retirement. Is this enough? Probably not, but we have to start some where.

It seems like an impossible goal, but then we've managed to keep the food budget at a limit that I never would have imagined a year ago, and it hasn't been that hard. And with the few changes I made over several months getting checkbook one to balance hasn't been that difficult either.

After a rather heated discussion last week I think I've finally convinced him that in order to live off savings we have to be saving now, that he must be involved in this, and that a graduated approach (first 1%, then 2% etc up to 15%)* is the most reasonable approach. Starting in April we will be saving 2% of our monthly income towards retirement/old age.

*I have been setting aside 15% of my tutoring money since I started tutoring in January - trying to move us in that direction. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49123] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49123 [entry_title] => Do we have enough? [entry_stub] => do-we-have-enough [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/06/do-we-have-enough_49123/ [entry_date] => 1236376390 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-06 13:53:10 [entry_text] => Do we have enough in Checkbook One to buy some bird food? Yes, Mr H asked me this last night. Looks like he's getting with the program.

I just finished running the numbers (I'm behind) and we had a $248.72 surplus in Checkbook One for February. Wow, this budget thing is working!

Unfortunately, the temptation now is to spend. I haven't yet figured out what we've spent so far for March, but I have given in to the temptation a bit. It's so easy to get careless. I'm reigning myself in and getting back into "keeping our money" mode.

I have decided that my tutoring money will go towards our annual Memorial Day camping trip. Expenses for this trip include space in the campground (already paid for), ferry fare for two vehicles, extra gas money and extra food costs. You would think that we would just eat normally but no. . . our camping diet includes things like s'more fixings, bacon, snack foods and beer and wine, and those food items add up.

I love camping. I love sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent (even in pouring down rain), I love getting up and making coffee and looking at the beautiful surroundings, I love sitting by the campfire on damp mornings, I love Mr H's obsession with tarps, I love our friends who we camp with, I love my camping clothes (wool sweaters, long johns and rain poncho in addition to other layers). I'm getting giddy just thinking about this trip. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49041] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49041 [entry_title] => How'd we do in February? [entry_stub] => howd-we-do-in-february [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/04/howd-we-do-in-february_49041/ [entry_date] => 1236202398 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-04 13:33:18 [entry_text] => These words came out of the mouth of Mr. H on the first day of March.

I'm shocked and thrilled. Mr H seems to be engaging a little more in our financial life. I didn't have the information for him - we had commitments throughout the weekend that kept me busy. But even with a last-minute burst of spending we are still had a surplus in Checkbook One for the month of February. Yay us!

I'm reading an interesting book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's apparently on the best seller list, and discusses why some people are super-successful in what they do. There are lots of interesting observations made, but the one I am finding useful at the moment is the contrast between Chinese rice-growing farmer's proverbs and Russian peasant's proverbs. (It's on page 237.) Here is one listed as the Chinese farmer's: "If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy." Here is one attributed to Russian peasants: "If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it." Do proverbs express what the cultural beliefs are, or do they shape the cultural beliefs, or both? In a way it doesn't matter. Gladwell discusses the cultures that produced both of these proverbs and how the proverbs might have developed.

I'm not a Chinese farmer and Mr H isn't a Russian peasant, but I think the two proverbs above express our very different attitudes towards life. I am working to make things happen and Mr H is waiting for something to happen that he will then react to. In a way we both have a self-fulfilling prophecy - things happen because of my efforts, but to Mr H it looks like things "just happened". It's become clearer to me over the last year that Mr H really doesn't see much of connection between his efforts and his results.* Which is fine, except when we try to work together. . . which in a marriage is pretty much all the time in one way or another.

Mr H handles Checkbook Two and I handle Checkbook One. I've written quite a bit in the last 11 or so months about Checkbook One - with persistence and changes to some parts of our financial life it's finally not being overspent. Part of these changes involve some real effort on my part to not just spend money randomly. Mr H has noted that Checkbook Two is running a bit low. He's concerned. . . but I'm not seeing much effort or involvement on his part to figure out and solve this problem.

I can't change Mr H's very deeply held beliefs. . . that I'm not even sure he recognizes as having. But I am going to continue to point out cause and effect in our lives, to the best of my ability to do so.

*I should qualify this. It looks like he does see this in very short term efforts, things that can be completed in four hours or less. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [48792] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 48792 [entry_title] => January and February Update [entry_stub] => january-and-february-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/02/25/january-and-february-update_48792/ [entry_date] => 1235624194 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-02-25 20:56:34 [entry_text] => We spent a little over a month being sick here in the onion patch - all of us, Mr H, Daisy and me. I finally went to visit my doc and got antibiotics. Normally I'm not in favor of that stuff (plus a doctor visit isn't cheap, even with insurance) but I could feel the difference within one hour of taking the first dose. So it was a good decision. Being sick put me in a stupor. It wasn't a terribly productive month.

Checkbook One had a small surplus in January and looks to have the same in February. That will be three months in a row now that Checkbook One has not been overspent. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

We had a windfall and now our EF is funded for six months. That would be six *tight* months, but I feel relief about our EF.

I've been soliciting Mr H's feedback on the budget for Checkbook One. Usually he doesn't give much. One day he expressed frustration "because the money's already spent". I went back and tried to figure out what he meant, because isn't that the point of a budget - to prioritize and spend your money on paper first? I never did get a clear answer, but I suspect he wants to spend money on some items and doesn't feel like he can. I added a "wish list" to the bottom of the budget page. If there's a surplus we can look at spending money on those items. Some items Mr H would like are on that list.

I've made good progress on Goals 2 and 3, but none on Goal 4.

Mr H and I have had many, many short and sweet financial conversations in the last two months. The all start with one person stating something they want or something that needs to be purchased and the other person asking how we will pay for it. Fortunately they have been civil and productive discussions. It's definite progress for us.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47735] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47735 [entry_title] => Budget Update and Goal Update [entry_stub] => budget-update-and-goal-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/24/budget-update-and-goal-update_47735/ [entry_date] => 1232821733 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-24 10:28:53 [entry_text] => I've decided that updating the budget for Checkbook One on Thursdays works well. So far so good. We are still under or at budget in all categories for Checkbook One. I think we'll even make the budget in the grocery category this month and not be 21% over.

I've moved what used to be Goal 1 off to a page. It is fun to look at past accomplishments but I don't want to get stuck there!

Goal 3: Decrease food costs. I've given it a dollar figure. Some people here might wonder why the budget is set at $650 for just three people. Two reasons: It includes personal care and cleaning supplies (and also any eating out), and I value organic and locally produced food and that adds up. To bring the costs down I've done things like look for sales on food that we typically buy, change some things about our diets (oatmeal instead of cold cereal for example), and figure out how best to use meat and dairy products which seem to be the most expensive categories in the food budget. Last year's average was higher than this, so it's definitely an improvement.

Future goal: Develop a source of "egg money". Here's a definition I found of egg money:

Before World War II, most eggs were produced by small flocks that scratched their way around the barnyard. The farmer's wife usually supervised the operation. The money received from the sale of the eggs was considered hers. Source: http://www.georgiaeggs.org/pages/eggmoney.html

I started tutoring a couple of weeks ago. . . and I really like it! I'm tutoring math with younger children using materials I'm already familiar with. I'm not charging enough, and both my client and me know that. But as I told her, she's helping train me so we're both winning. We will re-evaluate the fees in a month or so.

While the definition of egg money posted above has it under the control of the farmer's wife, I asked the farmer what he thought we should do with the money. He had no opinion. So I suggested that a percentage of it be set aside for taxes, 15% for the EF or retirement and the rest in to Checkbook One. He was agreeable. It's not a whole lot in to the checkbook but it might be enough to fund our summer camping trips. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47523] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47523 [entry_title] => 2009 Goals Update [entry_stub] => 2009-goals-update- [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/18/2009-goals-update-_47523/ [entry_date] => 1232339437 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-18 20:30:37 [entry_text] => Mr H and I had a discussion about the EF in December. We agreed to take some of his bonus money and add it to the 4496.85 already in the Emergency Fund. We later discussed what type of account to put this money in and decided to put it in a three month CD. While it's possible we could lose some interest if we had to tap in to the account, it wouldn't be a huge loss. If we don't have to tap in to it the account will earn better interest than a money market account would.

So, Goal 1 (emergency fund to 8625.00) on my list is completed, six months ahead of schedule!

Goals 2 (budget for checkbook 1) and 3 (decrease food costs) are in progress, with more progress on 2 than 3 I'd say.

Goal 4 (stay away from coffee shops) has had minimal progress. I was given a Starbucks gift card which has helped our bottom line but not my coffee-out habit.

Goal 5 will probably get moved elsewhere, but I may blog about it from time to time.

I will add a goal of earning part-time or sporadic income. This has been in my head for a while, but strangely it's also under way. I was asked by a friend to help tutor some of her children. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47457] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47457 [entry_title] => Checkbook One Conclusions [entry_stub] => checkbook-one-conclusions [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/17/checkbook-one-conclusions_47457/ [entry_date] => 1232204487 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-17 07:01:27 [entry_text] => I've been giving some thought as to why we suddenly didn't overspend Checkbook One in December. I have been concerned about this problem since I started blogging here in April, but feel like I have been chasing my tail trying to solve it.

I've come to the conclusion that it's just perseverance in trying to figure out where we went wrong each month and correct that. (Having bad weather for about two weeks which limited us leaving the house also helped. When you don't leave the house you don't spend money or use up your gas.) So, I suppose it's not really sudden at all.

Our top three problems with Checkbook One were the credit card, spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started, and not having a spending plan that works.

Credit card: Although we pay off our credit card every month, it's psychologically hard to write a check for one-quarter to one-third of the amount in your checkbook at the beginning of the month. Our credit card usage increased over the years as stores stopped taking checks. I got a debit card a while ago, and Mr H got one a couple of months ago. Where we regularly used to put gas and take-and-bake pizzas on the credit card we now put them on the debit card. "Pay as you go" is working better than "put off the paying until next month". Don't people spend 23% more when they use a credit card?

Spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started: Okay, that was me. . . and it wasn't THAT much. . . but enough to kill the budget. I wrote about this last spring. I called it "The Dead Zone". My brain kind of went on holiday during that week. What was I thinking? I wasn't thinking, and that was the problem.

Not having a spending plan that works: There are so many ways to write a budget. For this checkbook and us, having a limited number of categories and looking at the amount left in each category weekly, on Friday, seemed to do the trick. We have the following categories: Grocery/Personal Care/Cleaning, Gas, Church Contribution, Bowling, Master Card and Everything Else. (Regular bills like mortgage, insurance etc are paid out of another checkbook.) The Everything Else category scares me - the dollar amount is limited and it covers a huge number of other categories like clothing, gifts, office supplies, household items and yard and garden. But lumping these into "Everything Else" works better than trying to allocate a few dollars into each of the sub-categories. Or at least it did this month.

January is looking good so far. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

Car Fixed . . . Again Using Google

June 9th, 2013 at 04:13 pm

I while back I posted about fixing my car using Google:

Text is http://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/05/31/youre-crazy-petunia_51390/ and Link is
http://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/05/31/youre-crazy-petun...

I didnt actually fix it, but narrowed down the source of the problem and presented it to my car guys. The problem was intermittent and they had tried several ways to fix it that didn't work.

Yesterday the in-car fan in Mr. H's car stopped working. (No defroster! No air conditioner! No air movement in the car, except the 4-60.) Today Mr. H fixed his car using Google. . . and Youtube. He actually did fix it though. Using Google he found car owners of his make and model discussing this problem, as well as some more technical information. He watched some Youtubes and went out and got the replacement part. Installed the part and his fix seems to work.

The part was $50. Im guessing it would have been $150 to $200 for the car guys to fix it.
I bring problem to Mr H's attention --> I suggest we work to solve the problem --> Mr H verbally attacks me/reacts by "solving" the problem with the first solution that comes to his head (even/especially if it's one we both hate and it doesn't solve the problem!) --> I later solve the problem by myself or the problem remains unsolved (and uncomfortable for me) --> Mr H experiences that everything "just works out". Dysfunctional? You bet. At the beginning of our marriage I gave him the benefit of the doubt, believed that he would eventually come to see how unproductive this was. Now I realize that I was just way too nice and forgiving . . . but trying to change this pattern requires the full emotional amour because no woman wants to be verbally attacked by her husband. . . and yet I've been down this path enough to know that's pretty much what's going to happen. Much earlier in our marriage I asked Mr H what I could say or do differently to help this situation, or if there was another approach to take. He had no response.

In this instance, the problem is that there is no obvious source of money for these savings. Our budget's stretched pretty thin. Pointing this out to Mr H, and that, if it's not funded it's not a priority, and that bothers me . . . brought the predictable response. Mr H's solution was to sell my car and have us become a one car family, and since Daisy will be homeschooled next year she and I could just stay home all the time. He needs his car for work so of course he'll get to have it every day. It was way less pleasant than I'm reporting it here. Ouch.

At the heart of it though is what seems to be an irresolvable difference in priorities, and an unwillingness to change with circumstances.

Our income is unlikely to go up in the near future. Mr H will not work harder/smarter/more than he is now, and I'm unwilling to sacrifice my home life at this time for another corporate job. (I had two working parents and neither of them were really around to raise us. When Daisy is 18 I plan to work full time and more to make up for what was not saved during this time.) I'm very concerned about retirement savings, planning ahead for seen and unseen expenditures, and having a home life. Mr H appears to be concerned about keeping the house (and only this house) and not having to make any changes to anything about his life. I would be happy to sell the house and go to one car if we lived somewhere where walking and public transportation were more workable. Mr H wouldn't hear of selling this house. We're at something of an impasse.

In the end, I relentlessly forced us to stay focused on the problem. Mr H backed down a bit and apologized. It's progress for us, although sometimes I feel like having to work this hard (and unpleasantly) with him on *every* problem that occurs in our lives is going to kill me.

We agreed to discuss income generating ideas and saving ideas in a couple of weeks. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [50440] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) [3332] => Array ( [category_id] => 3332 [category_name] => Frugal Experiments [category_stub] => frugal-experiments ) ) [entry_id] => 50440 [entry_title] => Reflections on a year of blogging [entry_stub] => reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/04/18/reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging_50440/ [entry_date] => 1240113008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-04-18 20:50:08 [entry_text] => Well, my blogoversary has passed without much fanfare. I don't post much and I guess I'm kind of a lazy blogger. But even the little I've done in the past year has brought some positive changes in my life.

* While Mr H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page, we have more productive discussions. I initiate most conversations, but every now and again he'll bring up something related to our financial life. It's progress.

* I've learned that to engage Mr H in almost anything involves stages. First he ignores what I'm saying, then I provoke him**, then he reacts, then I gently tell him that he's reacting and suggest that we look at different options to solve the problem. Then he'll come through. Kind of. It's kind of dysfunctional, but it works better than him ignoring the situation and me finally just solving the problem on my own. (That has been the dynamic for most of our marriage.) Not all of our discussions are this way, but bringing up anything new is.

* We have a budget that balances for Checkbook One. It took several months to get there. It didn't balance, really, for about five years.

* We have a grocery/food budget that balances. We have never spent that little on food. We're eating well. I actually don't mind this part. It's fun to get creative with food, and I have done it for many years. I'm just way more conscious now, trying to use leftovers before they spoil and figure out how to have great dinners with lower cost foods.

* We have an emergency fund, that is designated as an emergency fund. I feel a lot less anxious.

* We have a plan for increasing retirement savings.


Everyone here has been so kind and helpful. I have been so grateful for the support. Thank you all so much!


** Believe me, I really don't want to provoke him. However it seems to be the only way I can get him to engage. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49849] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 49849 [entry_title] => Retirement [entry_stub] => retirement [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/28/retirement_49849/ [entry_date] => 1238264405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-28 11:20:05 [entry_text] => As you can probably guess, retirement is a source of contention in the onion patch.

Mr H's approach is: he'll work until he can't work any more, then he'll live on savings, then the government will support him. (You'll notice that it's "he" and not "we", although I think the "we" is somewhat implied.)

This is not what I would want for my older age, but I'm willing to live with it - up to a point. In order to live on savings, we have to be saving now, and all the time until then. We've saved relatively little - we have the 401k that I contributed to during my corporate years. That is 10 (or is it 9? I may not have been able to contribute the first year, although I don't remember now) years out of a total of 28 years of my working life (starting the count at age 18). DH has no pensions or 401k's from any present or past employers from his 28 years of working life.

Now that the budget is balancing with regularity I'm turning my sights toward saving 15% of our income savings for retirement. Is this enough? Probably not, but we have to start some where.

It seems like an impossible goal, but then we've managed to keep the food budget at a limit that I never would have imagined a year ago, and it hasn't been that hard. And with the few changes I made over several months getting checkbook one to balance hasn't been that difficult either.

After a rather heated discussion last week I think I've finally convinced him that in order to live off savings we have to be saving now, that he must be involved in this, and that a graduated approach (first 1%, then 2% etc up to 15%)* is the most reasonable approach. Starting in April we will be saving 2% of our monthly income towards retirement/old age.

*I have been setting aside 15% of my tutoring money since I started tutoring in January - trying to move us in that direction. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49123] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49123 [entry_title] => Do we have enough? [entry_stub] => do-we-have-enough [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/06/do-we-have-enough_49123/ [entry_date] => 1236376390 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-06 13:53:10 [entry_text] => Do we have enough in Checkbook One to buy some bird food? Yes, Mr H asked me this last night. Looks like he's getting with the program.

I just finished running the numbers (I'm behind) and we had a $248.72 surplus in Checkbook One for February. Wow, this budget thing is working!

Unfortunately, the temptation now is to spend. I haven't yet figured out what we've spent so far for March, but I have given in to the temptation a bit. It's so easy to get careless. I'm reigning myself in and getting back into "keeping our money" mode.

I have decided that my tutoring money will go towards our annual Memorial Day camping trip. Expenses for this trip include space in the campground (already paid for), ferry fare for two vehicles, extra gas money and extra food costs. You would think that we would just eat normally but no. . . our camping diet includes things like s'more fixings, bacon, snack foods and beer and wine, and those food items add up.

I love camping. I love sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent (even in pouring down rain), I love getting up and making coffee and looking at the beautiful surroundings, I love sitting by the campfire on damp mornings, I love Mr H's obsession with tarps, I love our friends who we camp with, I love my camping clothes (wool sweaters, long johns and rain poncho in addition to other layers). I'm getting giddy just thinking about this trip. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49041] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49041 [entry_title] => How'd we do in February? [entry_stub] => howd-we-do-in-february [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/04/howd-we-do-in-february_49041/ [entry_date] => 1236202398 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-04 13:33:18 [entry_text] => These words came out of the mouth of Mr. H on the first day of March.

I'm shocked and thrilled. Mr H seems to be engaging a little more in our financial life. I didn't have the information for him - we had commitments throughout the weekend that kept me busy. But even with a last-minute burst of spending we are still had a surplus in Checkbook One for the month of February. Yay us!

I'm reading an interesting book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's apparently on the best seller list, and discusses why some people are super-successful in what they do. There are lots of interesting observations made, but the one I am finding useful at the moment is the contrast between Chinese rice-growing farmer's proverbs and Russian peasant's proverbs. (It's on page 237.) Here is one listed as the Chinese farmer's: "If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy." Here is one attributed to Russian peasants: "If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it." Do proverbs express what the cultural beliefs are, or do they shape the cultural beliefs, or both? In a way it doesn't matter. Gladwell discusses the cultures that produced both of these proverbs and how the proverbs might have developed.

I'm not a Chinese farmer and Mr H isn't a Russian peasant, but I think the two proverbs above express our very different attitudes towards life. I am working to make things happen and Mr H is waiting for something to happen that he will then react to. In a way we both have a self-fulfilling prophecy - things happen because of my efforts, but to Mr H it looks like things "just happened". It's become clearer to me over the last year that Mr H really doesn't see much of connection between his efforts and his results.* Which is fine, except when we try to work together. . . which in a marriage is pretty much all the time in one way or another.

Mr H handles Checkbook Two and I handle Checkbook One. I've written quite a bit in the last 11 or so months about Checkbook One - with persistence and changes to some parts of our financial life it's finally not being overspent. Part of these changes involve some real effort on my part to not just spend money randomly. Mr H has noted that Checkbook Two is running a bit low. He's concerned. . . but I'm not seeing much effort or involvement on his part to figure out and solve this problem.

I can't change Mr H's very deeply held beliefs. . . that I'm not even sure he recognizes as having. But I am going to continue to point out cause and effect in our lives, to the best of my ability to do so.

*I should qualify this. It looks like he does see this in very short term efforts, things that can be completed in four hours or less. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [48792] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 48792 [entry_title] => January and February Update [entry_stub] => january-and-february-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/02/25/january-and-february-update_48792/ [entry_date] => 1235624194 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-02-25 20:56:34 [entry_text] => We spent a little over a month being sick here in the onion patch - all of us, Mr H, Daisy and me. I finally went to visit my doc and got antibiotics. Normally I'm not in favor of that stuff (plus a doctor visit isn't cheap, even with insurance) but I could feel the difference within one hour of taking the first dose. So it was a good decision. Being sick put me in a stupor. It wasn't a terribly productive month.

Checkbook One had a small surplus in January and looks to have the same in February. That will be three months in a row now that Checkbook One has not been overspent. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

We had a windfall and now our EF is funded for six months. That would be six *tight* months, but I feel relief about our EF.

I've been soliciting Mr H's feedback on the budget for Checkbook One. Usually he doesn't give much. One day he expressed frustration "because the money's already spent". I went back and tried to figure out what he meant, because isn't that the point of a budget - to prioritize and spend your money on paper first? I never did get a clear answer, but I suspect he wants to spend money on some items and doesn't feel like he can. I added a "wish list" to the bottom of the budget page. If there's a surplus we can look at spending money on those items. Some items Mr H would like are on that list.

I've made good progress on Goals 2 and 3, but none on Goal 4.

Mr H and I have had many, many short and sweet financial conversations in the last two months. The all start with one person stating something they want or something that needs to be purchased and the other person asking how we will pay for it. Fortunately they have been civil and productive discussions. It's definite progress for us.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47735] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47735 [entry_title] => Budget Update and Goal Update [entry_stub] => budget-update-and-goal-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/24/budget-update-and-goal-update_47735/ [entry_date] => 1232821733 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-24 10:28:53 [entry_text] => I've decided that updating the budget for Checkbook One on Thursdays works well. So far so good. We are still under or at budget in all categories for Checkbook One. I think we'll even make the budget in the grocery category this month and not be 21% over.

I've moved what used to be Goal 1 off to a page. It is fun to look at past accomplishments but I don't want to get stuck there!

Goal 3: Decrease food costs. I've given it a dollar figure. Some people here might wonder why the budget is set at $650 for just three people. Two reasons: It includes personal care and cleaning supplies (and also any eating out), and I value organic and locally produced food and that adds up. To bring the costs down I've done things like look for sales on food that we typically buy, change some things about our diets (oatmeal instead of cold cereal for example), and figure out how best to use meat and dairy products which seem to be the most expensive categories in the food budget. Last year's average was higher than this, so it's definitely an improvement.

Future goal: Develop a source of "egg money". Here's a definition I found of egg money:

Before World War II, most eggs were produced by small flocks that scratched their way around the barnyard. The farmer's wife usually supervised the operation. The money received from the sale of the eggs was considered hers. Source: http://www.georgiaeggs.org/pages/eggmoney.html

I started tutoring a couple of weeks ago. . . and I really like it! I'm tutoring math with younger children using materials I'm already familiar with. I'm not charging enough, and both my client and me know that. But as I told her, she's helping train me so we're both winning. We will re-evaluate the fees in a month or so.

While the definition of egg money posted above has it under the control of the farmer's wife, I asked the farmer what he thought we should do with the money. He had no opinion. So I suggested that a percentage of it be set aside for taxes, 15% for the EF or retirement and the rest in to Checkbook One. He was agreeable. It's not a whole lot in to the checkbook but it might be enough to fund our summer camping trips. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47523] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47523 [entry_title] => 2009 Goals Update [entry_stub] => 2009-goals-update- [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/18/2009-goals-update-_47523/ [entry_date] => 1232339437 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-18 20:30:37 [entry_text] => Mr H and I had a discussion about the EF in December. We agreed to take some of his bonus money and add it to the 4496.85 already in the Emergency Fund. We later discussed what type of account to put this money in and decided to put it in a three month CD. While it's possible we could lose some interest if we had to tap in to the account, it wouldn't be a huge loss. If we don't have to tap in to it the account will earn better interest than a money market account would.

So, Goal 1 (emergency fund to 8625.00) on my list is completed, six months ahead of schedule!

Goals 2 (budget for checkbook 1) and 3 (decrease food costs) are in progress, with more progress on 2 than 3 I'd say.

Goal 4 (stay away from coffee shops) has had minimal progress. I was given a Starbucks gift card which has helped our bottom line but not my coffee-out habit.

Goal 5 will probably get moved elsewhere, but I may blog about it from time to time.

I will add a goal of earning part-time or sporadic income. This has been in my head for a while, but strangely it's also under way. I was asked by a friend to help tutor some of her children. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47457] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47457 [entry_title] => Checkbook One Conclusions [entry_stub] => checkbook-one-conclusions [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/17/checkbook-one-conclusions_47457/ [entry_date] => 1232204487 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-17 07:01:27 [entry_text] => I've been giving some thought as to why we suddenly didn't overspend Checkbook One in December. I have been concerned about this problem since I started blogging here in April, but feel like I have been chasing my tail trying to solve it.

I've come to the conclusion that it's just perseverance in trying to figure out where we went wrong each month and correct that. (Having bad weather for about two weeks which limited us leaving the house also helped. When you don't leave the house you don't spend money or use up your gas.) So, I suppose it's not really sudden at all.

Our top three problems with Checkbook One were the credit card, spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started, and not having a spending plan that works.

Credit card: Although we pay off our credit card every month, it's psychologically hard to write a check for one-quarter to one-third of the amount in your checkbook at the beginning of the month. Our credit card usage increased over the years as stores stopped taking checks. I got a debit card a while ago, and Mr H got one a couple of months ago. Where we regularly used to put gas and take-and-bake pizzas on the credit card we now put them on the debit card. "Pay as you go" is working better than "put off the paying until next month". Don't people spend 23% more when they use a credit card?

Spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started: Okay, that was me. . . and it wasn't THAT much. . . but enough to kill the budget. I wrote about this last spring. I called it "The Dead Zone". My brain kind of went on holiday during that week. What was I thinking? I wasn't thinking, and that was the problem.

Not having a spending plan that works: There are so many ways to write a budget. For this checkbook and us, having a limited number of categories and looking at the amount left in each category weekly, on Friday, seemed to do the trick. We have the following categories: Grocery/Personal Care/Cleaning, Gas, Church Contribution, Bowling, Master Card and Everything Else. (Regular bills like mortgage, insurance etc are paid out of another checkbook.) The Everything Else category scares me - the dollar amount is limited and it covers a huge number of other categories like clothing, gifts, office supplies, household items and yard and garden. But lumping these into "Everything Else" works better than trying to allocate a few dollars into each of the sub-categories. Or at least it did this month.

January is looking good so far. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

Waiting. . . .

January 21st, 2013 at 08:17 pm

My Roth contribution continues to sit in the money market of my mutual fund, and now I am waiting. . . for the share price of various mutual funds to go down a bit before I purchase them. My various mutual funds have been hovering around the 52-week high share price since the 1st of the year. From what I could glean from the Wall Street Journal the markets were "happy" (my paraphrase) that we didn't go off the financial cliff, and then they were "happy" because of what went on with the debt ceiling. Seems kind of kooky to me! I'll watch and wait a bit longer, but would really like to complete this so I can get it off my list for another year.

Mr. H made his Roth contribution also.
I bring problem to Mr H's attention --> I suggest we work to solve the problem --> Mr H verbally attacks me/reacts by "solving" the problem with the first solution that comes to his head (even/especially if it's one we both hate and it doesn't solve the problem!) --> I later solve the problem by myself or the problem remains unsolved (and uncomfortable for me) --> Mr H experiences that everything "just works out". Dysfunctional? You bet. At the beginning of our marriage I gave him the benefit of the doubt, believed that he would eventually come to see how unproductive this was. Now I realize that I was just way too nice and forgiving . . . but trying to change this pattern requires the full emotional amour because no woman wants to be verbally attacked by her husband. . . and yet I've been down this path enough to know that's pretty much what's going to happen. Much earlier in our marriage I asked Mr H what I could say or do differently to help this situation, or if there was another approach to take. He had no response.

In this instance, the problem is that there is no obvious source of money for these savings. Our budget's stretched pretty thin. Pointing this out to Mr H, and that, if it's not funded it's not a priority, and that bothers me . . . brought the predictable response. Mr H's solution was to sell my car and have us become a one car family, and since Daisy will be homeschooled next year she and I could just stay home all the time. He needs his car for work so of course he'll get to have it every day. It was way less pleasant than I'm reporting it here. Ouch.

At the heart of it though is what seems to be an irresolvable difference in priorities, and an unwillingness to change with circumstances.

Our income is unlikely to go up in the near future. Mr H will not work harder/smarter/more than he is now, and I'm unwilling to sacrifice my home life at this time for another corporate job. (I had two working parents and neither of them were really around to raise us. When Daisy is 18 I plan to work full time and more to make up for what was not saved during this time.) I'm very concerned about retirement savings, planning ahead for seen and unseen expenditures, and having a home life. Mr H appears to be concerned about keeping the house (and only this house) and not having to make any changes to anything about his life. I would be happy to sell the house and go to one car if we lived somewhere where walking and public transportation were more workable. Mr H wouldn't hear of selling this house. We're at something of an impasse.

In the end, I relentlessly forced us to stay focused on the problem. Mr H backed down a bit and apologized. It's progress for us, although sometimes I feel like having to work this hard (and unpleasantly) with him on *every* problem that occurs in our lives is going to kill me.

We agreed to discuss income generating ideas and saving ideas in a couple of weeks. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [50440] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) [3332] => Array ( [category_id] => 3332 [category_name] => Frugal Experiments [category_stub] => frugal-experiments ) ) [entry_id] => 50440 [entry_title] => Reflections on a year of blogging [entry_stub] => reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/04/18/reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging_50440/ [entry_date] => 1240113008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-04-18 20:50:08 [entry_text] => Well, my blogoversary has passed without much fanfare. I don't post much and I guess I'm kind of a lazy blogger. But even the little I've done in the past year has brought some positive changes in my life.

* While Mr H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page, we have more productive discussions. I initiate most conversations, but every now and again he'll bring up something related to our financial life. It's progress.

* I've learned that to engage Mr H in almost anything involves stages. First he ignores what I'm saying, then I provoke him**, then he reacts, then I gently tell him that he's reacting and suggest that we look at different options to solve the problem. Then he'll come through. Kind of. It's kind of dysfunctional, but it works better than him ignoring the situation and me finally just solving the problem on my own. (That has been the dynamic for most of our marriage.) Not all of our discussions are this way, but bringing up anything new is.

* We have a budget that balances for Checkbook One. It took several months to get there. It didn't balance, really, for about five years.

* We have a grocery/food budget that balances. We have never spent that little on food. We're eating well. I actually don't mind this part. It's fun to get creative with food, and I have done it for many years. I'm just way more conscious now, trying to use leftovers before they spoil and figure out how to have great dinners with lower cost foods.

* We have an emergency fund, that is designated as an emergency fund. I feel a lot less anxious.

* We have a plan for increasing retirement savings.


Everyone here has been so kind and helpful. I have been so grateful for the support. Thank you all so much!


** Believe me, I really don't want to provoke him. However it seems to be the only way I can get him to engage. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49849] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 49849 [entry_title] => Retirement [entry_stub] => retirement [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/28/retirement_49849/ [entry_date] => 1238264405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-28 11:20:05 [entry_text] => As you can probably guess, retirement is a source of contention in the onion patch.

Mr H's approach is: he'll work until he can't work any more, then he'll live on savings, then the government will support him. (You'll notice that it's "he" and not "we", although I think the "we" is somewhat implied.)

This is not what I would want for my older age, but I'm willing to live with it - up to a point. In order to live on savings, we have to be saving now, and all the time until then. We've saved relatively little - we have the 401k that I contributed to during my corporate years. That is 10 (or is it 9? I may not have been able to contribute the first year, although I don't remember now) years out of a total of 28 years of my working life (starting the count at age 18). DH has no pensions or 401k's from any present or past employers from his 28 years of working life.

Now that the budget is balancing with regularity I'm turning my sights toward saving 15% of our income savings for retirement. Is this enough? Probably not, but we have to start some where.

It seems like an impossible goal, but then we've managed to keep the food budget at a limit that I never would have imagined a year ago, and it hasn't been that hard. And with the few changes I made over several months getting checkbook one to balance hasn't been that difficult either.

After a rather heated discussion last week I think I've finally convinced him that in order to live off savings we have to be saving now, that he must be involved in this, and that a graduated approach (first 1%, then 2% etc up to 15%)* is the most reasonable approach. Starting in April we will be saving 2% of our monthly income towards retirement/old age.

*I have been setting aside 15% of my tutoring money since I started tutoring in January - trying to move us in that direction. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49123] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49123 [entry_title] => Do we have enough? [entry_stub] => do-we-have-enough [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/06/do-we-have-enough_49123/ [entry_date] => 1236376390 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-06 13:53:10 [entry_text] => Do we have enough in Checkbook One to buy some bird food? Yes, Mr H asked me this last night. Looks like he's getting with the program.

I just finished running the numbers (I'm behind) and we had a $248.72 surplus in Checkbook One for February. Wow, this budget thing is working!

Unfortunately, the temptation now is to spend. I haven't yet figured out what we've spent so far for March, but I have given in to the temptation a bit. It's so easy to get careless. I'm reigning myself in and getting back into "keeping our money" mode.

I have decided that my tutoring money will go towards our annual Memorial Day camping trip. Expenses for this trip include space in the campground (already paid for), ferry fare for two vehicles, extra gas money and extra food costs. You would think that we would just eat normally but no. . . our camping diet includes things like s'more fixings, bacon, snack foods and beer and wine, and those food items add up.

I love camping. I love sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent (even in pouring down rain), I love getting up and making coffee and looking at the beautiful surroundings, I love sitting by the campfire on damp mornings, I love Mr H's obsession with tarps, I love our friends who we camp with, I love my camping clothes (wool sweaters, long johns and rain poncho in addition to other layers). I'm getting giddy just thinking about this trip. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49041] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49041 [entry_title] => How'd we do in February? [entry_stub] => howd-we-do-in-february [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/04/howd-we-do-in-february_49041/ [entry_date] => 1236202398 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-04 13:33:18 [entry_text] => These words came out of the mouth of Mr. H on the first day of March.

I'm shocked and thrilled. Mr H seems to be engaging a little more in our financial life. I didn't have the information for him - we had commitments throughout the weekend that kept me busy. But even with a last-minute burst of spending we are still had a surplus in Checkbook One for the month of February. Yay us!

I'm reading an interesting book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's apparently on the best seller list, and discusses why some people are super-successful in what they do. There are lots of interesting observations made, but the one I am finding useful at the moment is the contrast between Chinese rice-growing farmer's proverbs and Russian peasant's proverbs. (It's on page 237.) Here is one listed as the Chinese farmer's: "If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy." Here is one attributed to Russian peasants: "If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it." Do proverbs express what the cultural beliefs are, or do they shape the cultural beliefs, or both? In a way it doesn't matter. Gladwell discusses the cultures that produced both of these proverbs and how the proverbs might have developed.

I'm not a Chinese farmer and Mr H isn't a Russian peasant, but I think the two proverbs above express our very different attitudes towards life. I am working to make things happen and Mr H is waiting for something to happen that he will then react to. In a way we both have a self-fulfilling prophecy - things happen because of my efforts, but to Mr H it looks like things "just happened". It's become clearer to me over the last year that Mr H really doesn't see much of connection between his efforts and his results.* Which is fine, except when we try to work together. . . which in a marriage is pretty much all the time in one way or another.

Mr H handles Checkbook Two and I handle Checkbook One. I've written quite a bit in the last 11 or so months about Checkbook One - with persistence and changes to some parts of our financial life it's finally not being overspent. Part of these changes involve some real effort on my part to not just spend money randomly. Mr H has noted that Checkbook Two is running a bit low. He's concerned. . . but I'm not seeing much effort or involvement on his part to figure out and solve this problem.

I can't change Mr H's very deeply held beliefs. . . that I'm not even sure he recognizes as having. But I am going to continue to point out cause and effect in our lives, to the best of my ability to do so.

*I should qualify this. It looks like he does see this in very short term efforts, things that can be completed in four hours or less. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [48792] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 48792 [entry_title] => January and February Update [entry_stub] => january-and-february-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/02/25/january-and-february-update_48792/ [entry_date] => 1235624194 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-02-25 20:56:34 [entry_text] => We spent a little over a month being sick here in the onion patch - all of us, Mr H, Daisy and me. I finally went to visit my doc and got antibiotics. Normally I'm not in favor of that stuff (plus a doctor visit isn't cheap, even with insurance) but I could feel the difference within one hour of taking the first dose. So it was a good decision. Being sick put me in a stupor. It wasn't a terribly productive month.

Checkbook One had a small surplus in January and looks to have the same in February. That will be three months in a row now that Checkbook One has not been overspent. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

We had a windfall and now our EF is funded for six months. That would be six *tight* months, but I feel relief about our EF.

I've been soliciting Mr H's feedback on the budget for Checkbook One. Usually he doesn't give much. One day he expressed frustration "because the money's already spent". I went back and tried to figure out what he meant, because isn't that the point of a budget - to prioritize and spend your money on paper first? I never did get a clear answer, but I suspect he wants to spend money on some items and doesn't feel like he can. I added a "wish list" to the bottom of the budget page. If there's a surplus we can look at spending money on those items. Some items Mr H would like are on that list.

I've made good progress on Goals 2 and 3, but none on Goal 4.

Mr H and I have had many, many short and sweet financial conversations in the last two months. The all start with one person stating something they want or something that needs to be purchased and the other person asking how we will pay for it. Fortunately they have been civil and productive discussions. It's definite progress for us.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47735] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47735 [entry_title] => Budget Update and Goal Update [entry_stub] => budget-update-and-goal-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/24/budget-update-and-goal-update_47735/ [entry_date] => 1232821733 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-24 10:28:53 [entry_text] => I've decided that updating the budget for Checkbook One on Thursdays works well. So far so good. We are still under or at budget in all categories for Checkbook One. I think we'll even make the budget in the grocery category this month and not be 21% over.

I've moved what used to be Goal 1 off to a page. It is fun to look at past accomplishments but I don't want to get stuck there!

Goal 3: Decrease food costs. I've given it a dollar figure. Some people here might wonder why the budget is set at $650 for just three people. Two reasons: It includes personal care and cleaning supplies (and also any eating out), and I value organic and locally produced food and that adds up. To bring the costs down I've done things like look for sales on food that we typically buy, change some things about our diets (oatmeal instead of cold cereal for example), and figure out how best to use meat and dairy products which seem to be the most expensive categories in the food budget. Last year's average was higher than this, so it's definitely an improvement.

Future goal: Develop a source of "egg money". Here's a definition I found of egg money:

Before World War II, most eggs were produced by small flocks that scratched their way around the barnyard. The farmer's wife usually supervised the operation. The money received from the sale of the eggs was considered hers. Source: http://www.georgiaeggs.org/pages/eggmoney.html

I started tutoring a couple of weeks ago. . . and I really like it! I'm tutoring math with younger children using materials I'm already familiar with. I'm not charging enough, and both my client and me know that. But as I told her, she's helping train me so we're both winning. We will re-evaluate the fees in a month or so.

While the definition of egg money posted above has it under the control of the farmer's wife, I asked the farmer what he thought we should do with the money. He had no opinion. So I suggested that a percentage of it be set aside for taxes, 15% for the EF or retirement and the rest in to Checkbook One. He was agreeable. It's not a whole lot in to the checkbook but it might be enough to fund our summer camping trips. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47523] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47523 [entry_title] => 2009 Goals Update [entry_stub] => 2009-goals-update- [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/18/2009-goals-update-_47523/ [entry_date] => 1232339437 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-18 20:30:37 [entry_text] => Mr H and I had a discussion about the EF in December. We agreed to take some of his bonus money and add it to the 4496.85 already in the Emergency Fund. We later discussed what type of account to put this money in and decided to put it in a three month CD. While it's possible we could lose some interest if we had to tap in to the account, it wouldn't be a huge loss. If we don't have to tap in to it the account will earn better interest than a money market account would.

So, Goal 1 (emergency fund to 8625.00) on my list is completed, six months ahead of schedule!

Goals 2 (budget for checkbook 1) and 3 (decrease food costs) are in progress, with more progress on 2 than 3 I'd say.

Goal 4 (stay away from coffee shops) has had minimal progress. I was given a Starbucks gift card which has helped our bottom line but not my coffee-out habit.

Goal 5 will probably get moved elsewhere, but I may blog about it from time to time.

I will add a goal of earning part-time or sporadic income. This has been in my head for a while, but strangely it's also under way. I was asked by a friend to help tutor some of her children. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47457] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47457 [entry_title] => Checkbook One Conclusions [entry_stub] => checkbook-one-conclusions [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/17/checkbook-one-conclusions_47457/ [entry_date] => 1232204487 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-17 07:01:27 [entry_text] => I've been giving some thought as to why we suddenly didn't overspend Checkbook One in December. I have been concerned about this problem since I started blogging here in April, but feel like I have been chasing my tail trying to solve it.

I've come to the conclusion that it's just perseverance in trying to figure out where we went wrong each month and correct that. (Having bad weather for about two weeks which limited us leaving the house also helped. When you don't leave the house you don't spend money or use up your gas.) So, I suppose it's not really sudden at all.

Our top three problems with Checkbook One were the credit card, spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started, and not having a spending plan that works.

Credit card: Although we pay off our credit card every month, it's psychologically hard to write a check for one-quarter to one-third of the amount in your checkbook at the beginning of the month. Our credit card usage increased over the years as stores stopped taking checks. I got a debit card a while ago, and Mr H got one a couple of months ago. Where we regularly used to put gas and take-and-bake pizzas on the credit card we now put them on the debit card. "Pay as you go" is working better than "put off the paying until next month". Don't people spend 23% more when they use a credit card?

Spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started: Okay, that was me. . . and it wasn't THAT much. . . but enough to kill the budget. I wrote about this last spring. I called it "The Dead Zone". My brain kind of went on holiday during that week. What was I thinking? I wasn't thinking, and that was the problem.

Not having a spending plan that works: There are so many ways to write a budget. For this checkbook and us, having a limited number of categories and looking at the amount left in each category weekly, on Friday, seemed to do the trick. We have the following categories: Grocery/Personal Care/Cleaning, Gas, Church Contribution, Bowling, Master Card and Everything Else. (Regular bills like mortgage, insurance etc are paid out of another checkbook.) The Everything Else category scares me - the dollar amount is limited and it covers a huge number of other categories like clothing, gifts, office supplies, household items and yard and garden. But lumping these into "Everything Else" works better than trying to allocate a few dollars into each of the sub-categories. Or at least it did this month.

January is looking good so far. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

Contribution Made

January 4th, 2013 at 08:21 am

As planned, I made my Roth contribution for 2013 on January 2nd. The funds went into a money market to be allocated later. I have been watching the price per share of my mutual funds at the end of the year and now, and they have gone up! Is that because we didnt quite fall off the fiscal cliff? I'll wait a bit and see if they come back down before reallocating out of my money market. They adjusted a bit yesterday.

Mr. H received his annual bonus, and I've encouraged him to put some of it in his Roth. I think he will do that. I bring problem to Mr H's attention --> I suggest we work to solve the problem --> Mr H verbally attacks me/reacts by "solving" the problem with the first solution that comes to his head (even/especially if it's one we both hate and it doesn't solve the problem!) --> I later solve the problem by myself or the problem remains unsolved (and uncomfortable for me) --> Mr H experiences that everything "just works out". Dysfunctional? You bet. At the beginning of our marriage I gave him the benefit of the doubt, believed that he would eventually come to see how unproductive this was. Now I realize that I was just way too nice and forgiving . . . but trying to change this pattern requires the full emotional amour because no woman wants to be verbally attacked by her husband. . . and yet I've been down this path enough to know that's pretty much what's going to happen. Much earlier in our marriage I asked Mr H what I could say or do differently to help this situation, or if there was another approach to take. He had no response.

In this instance, the problem is that there is no obvious source of money for these savings. Our budget's stretched pretty thin. Pointing this out to Mr H, and that, if it's not funded it's not a priority, and that bothers me . . . brought the predictable response. Mr H's solution was to sell my car and have us become a one car family, and since Daisy will be homeschooled next year she and I could just stay home all the time. He needs his car for work so of course he'll get to have it every day. It was way less pleasant than I'm reporting it here. Ouch.

At the heart of it though is what seems to be an irresolvable difference in priorities, and an unwillingness to change with circumstances.

Our income is unlikely to go up in the near future. Mr H will not work harder/smarter/more than he is now, and I'm unwilling to sacrifice my home life at this time for another corporate job. (I had two working parents and neither of them were really around to raise us. When Daisy is 18 I plan to work full time and more to make up for what was not saved during this time.) I'm very concerned about retirement savings, planning ahead for seen and unseen expenditures, and having a home life. Mr H appears to be concerned about keeping the house (and only this house) and not having to make any changes to anything about his life. I would be happy to sell the house and go to one car if we lived somewhere where walking and public transportation were more workable. Mr H wouldn't hear of selling this house. We're at something of an impasse.

In the end, I relentlessly forced us to stay focused on the problem. Mr H backed down a bit and apologized. It's progress for us, although sometimes I feel like having to work this hard (and unpleasantly) with him on *every* problem that occurs in our lives is going to kill me.

We agreed to discuss income generating ideas and saving ideas in a couple of weeks. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [50440] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) [3332] => Array ( [category_id] => 3332 [category_name] => Frugal Experiments [category_stub] => frugal-experiments ) ) [entry_id] => 50440 [entry_title] => Reflections on a year of blogging [entry_stub] => reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/04/18/reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging_50440/ [entry_date] => 1240113008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-04-18 20:50:08 [entry_text] => Well, my blogoversary has passed without much fanfare. I don't post much and I guess I'm kind of a lazy blogger. But even the little I've done in the past year has brought some positive changes in my life.

* While Mr H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page, we have more productive discussions. I initiate most conversations, but every now and again he'll bring up something related to our financial life. It's progress.

* I've learned that to engage Mr H in almost anything involves stages. First he ignores what I'm saying, then I provoke him**, then he reacts, then I gently tell him that he's reacting and suggest that we look at different options to solve the problem. Then he'll come through. Kind of. It's kind of dysfunctional, but it works better than him ignoring the situation and me finally just solving the problem on my own. (That has been the dynamic for most of our marriage.) Not all of our discussions are this way, but bringing up anything new is.

* We have a budget that balances for Checkbook One. It took several months to get there. It didn't balance, really, for about five years.

* We have a grocery/food budget that balances. We have never spent that little on food. We're eating well. I actually don't mind this part. It's fun to get creative with food, and I have done it for many years. I'm just way more conscious now, trying to use leftovers before they spoil and figure out how to have great dinners with lower cost foods.

* We have an emergency fund, that is designated as an emergency fund. I feel a lot less anxious.

* We have a plan for increasing retirement savings.


Everyone here has been so kind and helpful. I have been so grateful for the support. Thank you all so much!


** Believe me, I really don't want to provoke him. However it seems to be the only way I can get him to engage. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49849] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 49849 [entry_title] => Retirement [entry_stub] => retirement [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/28/retirement_49849/ [entry_date] => 1238264405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-28 11:20:05 [entry_text] => As you can probably guess, retirement is a source of contention in the onion patch.

Mr H's approach is: he'll work until he can't work any more, then he'll live on savings, then the government will support him. (You'll notice that it's "he" and not "we", although I think the "we" is somewhat implied.)

This is not what I would want for my older age, but I'm willing to live with it - up to a point. In order to live on savings, we have to be saving now, and all the time until then. We've saved relatively little - we have the 401k that I contributed to during my corporate years. That is 10 (or is it 9? I may not have been able to contribute the first year, although I don't remember now) years out of a total of 28 years of my working life (starting the count at age 18). DH has no pensions or 401k's from any present or past employers from his 28 years of working life.

Now that the budget is balancing with regularity I'm turning my sights toward saving 15% of our income savings for retirement. Is this enough? Probably not, but we have to start some where.

It seems like an impossible goal, but then we've managed to keep the food budget at a limit that I never would have imagined a year ago, and it hasn't been that hard. And with the few changes I made over several months getting checkbook one to balance hasn't been that difficult either.

After a rather heated discussion last week I think I've finally convinced him that in order to live off savings we have to be saving now, that he must be involved in this, and that a graduated approach (first 1%, then 2% etc up to 15%)* is the most reasonable approach. Starting in April we will be saving 2% of our monthly income towards retirement/old age.

*I have been setting aside 15% of my tutoring money since I started tutoring in January - trying to move us in that direction. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49123] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49123 [entry_title] => Do we have enough? [entry_stub] => do-we-have-enough [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/06/do-we-have-enough_49123/ [entry_date] => 1236376390 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-06 13:53:10 [entry_text] => Do we have enough in Checkbook One to buy some bird food? Yes, Mr H asked me this last night. Looks like he's getting with the program.

I just finished running the numbers (I'm behind) and we had a $248.72 surplus in Checkbook One for February. Wow, this budget thing is working!

Unfortunately, the temptation now is to spend. I haven't yet figured out what we've spent so far for March, but I have given in to the temptation a bit. It's so easy to get careless. I'm reigning myself in and getting back into "keeping our money" mode.

I have decided that my tutoring money will go towards our annual Memorial Day camping trip. Expenses for this trip include space in the campground (already paid for), ferry fare for two vehicles, extra gas money and extra food costs. You would think that we would just eat normally but no. . . our camping diet includes things like s'more fixings, bacon, snack foods and beer and wine, and those food items add up.

I love camping. I love sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent (even in pouring down rain), I love getting up and making coffee and looking at the beautiful surroundings, I love sitting by the campfire on damp mornings, I love Mr H's obsession with tarps, I love our friends who we camp with, I love my camping clothes (wool sweaters, long johns and rain poncho in addition to other layers). I'm getting giddy just thinking about this trip. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49041] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49041 [entry_title] => How'd we do in February? [entry_stub] => howd-we-do-in-february [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/04/howd-we-do-in-february_49041/ [entry_date] => 1236202398 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-04 13:33:18 [entry_text] => These words came out of the mouth of Mr. H on the first day of March.

I'm shocked and thrilled. Mr H seems to be engaging a little more in our financial life. I didn't have the information for him - we had commitments throughout the weekend that kept me busy. But even with a last-minute burst of spending we are still had a surplus in Checkbook One for the month of February. Yay us!

I'm reading an interesting book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's apparently on the best seller list, and discusses why some people are super-successful in what they do. There are lots of interesting observations made, but the one I am finding useful at the moment is the contrast between Chinese rice-growing farmer's proverbs and Russian peasant's proverbs. (It's on page 237.) Here is one listed as the Chinese farmer's: "If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy." Here is one attributed to Russian peasants: "If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it." Do proverbs express what the cultural beliefs are, or do they shape the cultural beliefs, or both? In a way it doesn't matter. Gladwell discusses the cultures that produced both of these proverbs and how the proverbs might have developed.

I'm not a Chinese farmer and Mr H isn't a Russian peasant, but I think the two proverbs above express our very different attitudes towards life. I am working to make things happen and Mr H is waiting for something to happen that he will then react to. In a way we both have a self-fulfilling prophecy - things happen because of my efforts, but to Mr H it looks like things "just happened". It's become clearer to me over the last year that Mr H really doesn't see much of connection between his efforts and his results.* Which is fine, except when we try to work together. . . which in a marriage is pretty much all the time in one way or another.

Mr H handles Checkbook Two and I handle Checkbook One. I've written quite a bit in the last 11 or so months about Checkbook One - with persistence and changes to some parts of our financial life it's finally not being overspent. Part of these changes involve some real effort on my part to not just spend money randomly. Mr H has noted that Checkbook Two is running a bit low. He's concerned. . . but I'm not seeing much effort or involvement on his part to figure out and solve this problem.

I can't change Mr H's very deeply held beliefs. . . that I'm not even sure he recognizes as having. But I am going to continue to point out cause and effect in our lives, to the best of my ability to do so.

*I should qualify this. It looks like he does see this in very short term efforts, things that can be completed in four hours or less. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [48792] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 48792 [entry_title] => January and February Update [entry_stub] => january-and-february-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/02/25/january-and-february-update_48792/ [entry_date] => 1235624194 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-02-25 20:56:34 [entry_text] => We spent a little over a month being sick here in the onion patch - all of us, Mr H, Daisy and me. I finally went to visit my doc and got antibiotics. Normally I'm not in favor of that stuff (plus a doctor visit isn't cheap, even with insurance) but I could feel the difference within one hour of taking the first dose. So it was a good decision. Being sick put me in a stupor. It wasn't a terribly productive month.

Checkbook One had a small surplus in January and looks to have the same in February. That will be three months in a row now that Checkbook One has not been overspent. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

We had a windfall and now our EF is funded for six months. That would be six *tight* months, but I feel relief about our EF.

I've been soliciting Mr H's feedback on the budget for Checkbook One. Usually he doesn't give much. One day he expressed frustration "because the money's already spent". I went back and tried to figure out what he meant, because isn't that the point of a budget - to prioritize and spend your money on paper first? I never did get a clear answer, but I suspect he wants to spend money on some items and doesn't feel like he can. I added a "wish list" to the bottom of the budget page. If there's a surplus we can look at spending money on those items. Some items Mr H would like are on that list.

I've made good progress on Goals 2 and 3, but none on Goal 4.

Mr H and I have had many, many short and sweet financial conversations in the last two months. The all start with one person stating something they want or something that needs to be purchased and the other person asking how we will pay for it. Fortunately they have been civil and productive discussions. It's definite progress for us.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47735] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47735 [entry_title] => Budget Update and Goal Update [entry_stub] => budget-update-and-goal-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/24/budget-update-and-goal-update_47735/ [entry_date] => 1232821733 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-24 10:28:53 [entry_text] => I've decided that updating the budget for Checkbook One on Thursdays works well. So far so good. We are still under or at budget in all categories for Checkbook One. I think we'll even make the budget in the grocery category this month and not be 21% over.

I've moved what used to be Goal 1 off to a page. It is fun to look at past accomplishments but I don't want to get stuck there!

Goal 3: Decrease food costs. I've given it a dollar figure. Some people here might wonder why the budget is set at $650 for just three people. Two reasons: It includes personal care and cleaning supplies (and also any eating out), and I value organic and locally produced food and that adds up. To bring the costs down I've done things like look for sales on food that we typically buy, change some things about our diets (oatmeal instead of cold cereal for example), and figure out how best to use meat and dairy products which seem to be the most expensive categories in the food budget. Last year's average was higher than this, so it's definitely an improvement.

Future goal: Develop a source of "egg money". Here's a definition I found of egg money:

Before World War II, most eggs were produced by small flocks that scratched their way around the barnyard. The farmer's wife usually supervised the operation. The money received from the sale of the eggs was considered hers. Source: http://www.georgiaeggs.org/pages/eggmoney.html

I started tutoring a couple of weeks ago. . . and I really like it! I'm tutoring math with younger children using materials I'm already familiar with. I'm not charging enough, and both my client and me know that. But as I told her, she's helping train me so we're both winning. We will re-evaluate the fees in a month or so.

While the definition of egg money posted above has it under the control of the farmer's wife, I asked the farmer what he thought we should do with the money. He had no opinion. So I suggested that a percentage of it be set aside for taxes, 15% for the EF or retirement and the rest in to Checkbook One. He was agreeable. It's not a whole lot in to the checkbook but it might be enough to fund our summer camping trips. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47523] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47523 [entry_title] => 2009 Goals Update [entry_stub] => 2009-goals-update- [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/18/2009-goals-update-_47523/ [entry_date] => 1232339437 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-18 20:30:37 [entry_text] => Mr H and I had a discussion about the EF in December. We agreed to take some of his bonus money and add it to the 4496.85 already in the Emergency Fund. We later discussed what type of account to put this money in and decided to put it in a three month CD. While it's possible we could lose some interest if we had to tap in to the account, it wouldn't be a huge loss. If we don't have to tap in to it the account will earn better interest than a money market account would.

So, Goal 1 (emergency fund to 8625.00) on my list is completed, six months ahead of schedule!

Goals 2 (budget for checkbook 1) and 3 (decrease food costs) are in progress, with more progress on 2 than 3 I'd say.

Goal 4 (stay away from coffee shops) has had minimal progress. I was given a Starbucks gift card which has helped our bottom line but not my coffee-out habit.

Goal 5 will probably get moved elsewhere, but I may blog about it from time to time.

I will add a goal of earning part-time or sporadic income. This has been in my head for a while, but strangely it's also under way. I was asked by a friend to help tutor some of her children. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47457] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47457 [entry_title] => Checkbook One Conclusions [entry_stub] => checkbook-one-conclusions [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/17/checkbook-one-conclusions_47457/ [entry_date] => 1232204487 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-17 07:01:27 [entry_text] => I've been giving some thought as to why we suddenly didn't overspend Checkbook One in December. I have been concerned about this problem since I started blogging here in April, but feel like I have been chasing my tail trying to solve it.

I've come to the conclusion that it's just perseverance in trying to figure out where we went wrong each month and correct that. (Having bad weather for about two weeks which limited us leaving the house also helped. When you don't leave the house you don't spend money or use up your gas.) So, I suppose it's not really sudden at all.

Our top three problems with Checkbook One were the credit card, spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started, and not having a spending plan that works.

Credit card: Although we pay off our credit card every month, it's psychologically hard to write a check for one-quarter to one-third of the amount in your checkbook at the beginning of the month. Our credit card usage increased over the years as stores stopped taking checks. I got a debit card a while ago, and Mr H got one a couple of months ago. Where we regularly used to put gas and take-and-bake pizzas on the credit card we now put them on the debit card. "Pay as you go" is working better than "put off the paying until next month". Don't people spend 23% more when they use a credit card?

Spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started: Okay, that was me. . . and it wasn't THAT much. . . but enough to kill the budget. I wrote about this last spring. I called it "The Dead Zone". My brain kind of went on holiday during that week. What was I thinking? I wasn't thinking, and that was the problem.

Not having a spending plan that works: There are so many ways to write a budget. For this checkbook and us, having a limited number of categories and looking at the amount left in each category weekly, on Friday, seemed to do the trick. We have the following categories: Grocery/Personal Care/Cleaning, Gas, Church Contribution, Bowling, Master Card and Everything Else. (Regular bills like mortgage, insurance etc are paid out of another checkbook.) The Everything Else category scares me - the dollar amount is limited and it covers a huge number of other categories like clothing, gifts, office supplies, household items and yard and garden. But lumping these into "Everything Else" works better than trying to allocate a few dollars into each of the sub-categories. Or at least it did this month.

January is looking good so far. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

Petunia in a Flower Garden

October 16th, 2012 at 08:47 pm

Wow, it's been a while since I've been here.

I've come to the realization that, despite all my efforts, Mr. H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page regarding finances, or a lot of other things. When we got married I believed that we had much more common ground than we actually do. I had hopes for many years that we would eventually come together on things, in a way we could both live happily with. Now, after almost 20 years, I think it's unreasonable to keep thinking that. I've spent the last six months developing a sense of peace about this. It's a thin peace, but still it's peace.

I'm in a denomination that discourages divorce, and I've had the opportunity to observe a number of marriages over the course of many years. Some people have great marriages that are sources of joy and pleasure for them and some have difficult marriages that create lives of patient endurance. It's a comfort, really. My situation isn't all that different from many women (and men).

We are still together, and likely will continue so (divorce is expensive!). . . but it's a different kind of together than I worked so hard for, for so many years. Frankly, I don't think anyone would get married and hope they would have a life like ours. But it is what it is, and I've decided to put more of my energy into things that will be fruitful, instead of trying to influence a situation that will not.

As such, I'm going to rename my blog to Petunia in a Flower Garden. . . . when I figure out how to do that. The French onion soup was helpful, but I'm moving on emotionally.

Daisy continues to grow, and our financial situation continues to be stable. We aren't rolling in cash, but we've weathered the current economy pretty well so far. I've kind of checked out of our finances for the last year and a half or so - now it's time to check back in.

I have achieved none of the goals I have on my side bar. . . still there's two and half months left in the year. Probably some time to make some progress on them. . . or rewrite them entirely.

I bring problem to Mr H's attention --> I suggest we work to solve the problem --> Mr H verbally attacks me/reacts by "solving" the problem with the first solution that comes to his head (even/especially if it's one we both hate and it doesn't solve the problem!) --> I later solve the problem by myself or the problem remains unsolved (and uncomfortable for me) --> Mr H experiences that everything "just works out". Dysfunctional? You bet. At the beginning of our marriage I gave him the benefit of the doubt, believed that he would eventually come to see how unproductive this was. Now I realize that I was just way too nice and forgiving . . . but trying to change this pattern requires the full emotional amour because no woman wants to be verbally attacked by her husband. . . and yet I've been down this path enough to know that's pretty much what's going to happen. Much earlier in our marriage I asked Mr H what I could say or do differently to help this situation, or if there was another approach to take. He had no response.

In this instance, the problem is that there is no obvious source of money for these savings. Our budget's stretched pretty thin. Pointing this out to Mr H, and that, if it's not funded it's not a priority, and that bothers me . . . brought the predictable response. Mr H's solution was to sell my car and have us become a one car family, and since Daisy will be homeschooled next year she and I could just stay home all the time. He needs his car for work so of course he'll get to have it every day. It was way less pleasant than I'm reporting it here. Ouch.

At the heart of it though is what seems to be an irresolvable difference in priorities, and an unwillingness to change with circumstances.

Our income is unlikely to go up in the near future. Mr H will not work harder/smarter/more than he is now, and I'm unwilling to sacrifice my home life at this time for another corporate job. (I had two working parents and neither of them were really around to raise us. When Daisy is 18 I plan to work full time and more to make up for what was not saved during this time.) I'm very concerned about retirement savings, planning ahead for seen and unseen expenditures, and having a home life. Mr H appears to be concerned about keeping the house (and only this house) and not having to make any changes to anything about his life. I would be happy to sell the house and go to one car if we lived somewhere where walking and public transportation were more workable. Mr H wouldn't hear of selling this house. We're at something of an impasse.

In the end, I relentlessly forced us to stay focused on the problem. Mr H backed down a bit and apologized. It's progress for us, although sometimes I feel like having to work this hard (and unpleasantly) with him on *every* problem that occurs in our lives is going to kill me.

We agreed to discuss income generating ideas and saving ideas in a couple of weeks. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [50440] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) [3332] => Array ( [category_id] => 3332 [category_name] => Frugal Experiments [category_stub] => frugal-experiments ) ) [entry_id] => 50440 [entry_title] => Reflections on a year of blogging [entry_stub] => reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/04/18/reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging_50440/ [entry_date] => 1240113008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-04-18 20:50:08 [entry_text] => Well, my blogoversary has passed without much fanfare. I don't post much and I guess I'm kind of a lazy blogger. But even the little I've done in the past year has brought some positive changes in my life.

* While Mr H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page, we have more productive discussions. I initiate most conversations, but every now and again he'll bring up something related to our financial life. It's progress.

* I've learned that to engage Mr H in almost anything involves stages. First he ignores what I'm saying, then I provoke him**, then he reacts, then I gently tell him that he's reacting and suggest that we look at different options to solve the problem. Then he'll come through. Kind of. It's kind of dysfunctional, but it works better than him ignoring the situation and me finally just solving the problem on my own. (That has been the dynamic for most of our marriage.) Not all of our discussions are this way, but bringing up anything new is.

* We have a budget that balances for Checkbook One. It took several months to get there. It didn't balance, really, for about five years.

* We have a grocery/food budget that balances. We have never spent that little on food. We're eating well. I actually don't mind this part. It's fun to get creative with food, and I have done it for many years. I'm just way more conscious now, trying to use leftovers before they spoil and figure out how to have great dinners with lower cost foods.

* We have an emergency fund, that is designated as an emergency fund. I feel a lot less anxious.

* We have a plan for increasing retirement savings.


Everyone here has been so kind and helpful. I have been so grateful for the support. Thank you all so much!


** Believe me, I really don't want to provoke him. However it seems to be the only way I can get him to engage. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49849] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 49849 [entry_title] => Retirement [entry_stub] => retirement [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/28/retirement_49849/ [entry_date] => 1238264405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-28 11:20:05 [entry_text] => As you can probably guess, retirement is a source of contention in the onion patch.

Mr H's approach is: he'll work until he can't work any more, then he'll live on savings, then the government will support him. (You'll notice that it's "he" and not "we", although I think the "we" is somewhat implied.)

This is not what I would want for my older age, but I'm willing to live with it - up to a point. In order to live on savings, we have to be saving now, and all the time until then. We've saved relatively little - we have the 401k that I contributed to during my corporate years. That is 10 (or is it 9? I may not have been able to contribute the first year, although I don't remember now) years out of a total of 28 years of my working life (starting the count at age 18). DH has no pensions or 401k's from any present or past employers from his 28 years of working life.

Now that the budget is balancing with regularity I'm turning my sights toward saving 15% of our income savings for retirement. Is this enough? Probably not, but we have to start some where.

It seems like an impossible goal, but then we've managed to keep the food budget at a limit that I never would have imagined a year ago, and it hasn't been that hard. And with the few changes I made over several months getting checkbook one to balance hasn't been that difficult either.

After a rather heated discussion last week I think I've finally convinced him that in order to live off savings we have to be saving now, that he must be involved in this, and that a graduated approach (first 1%, then 2% etc up to 15%)* is the most reasonable approach. Starting in April we will be saving 2% of our monthly income towards retirement/old age.

*I have been setting aside 15% of my tutoring money since I started tutoring in January - trying to move us in that direction. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49123] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49123 [entry_title] => Do we have enough? [entry_stub] => do-we-have-enough [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/06/do-we-have-enough_49123/ [entry_date] => 1236376390 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-06 13:53:10 [entry_text] => Do we have enough in Checkbook One to buy some bird food? Yes, Mr H asked me this last night. Looks like he's getting with the program.

I just finished running the numbers (I'm behind) and we had a $248.72 surplus in Checkbook One for February. Wow, this budget thing is working!

Unfortunately, the temptation now is to spend. I haven't yet figured out what we've spent so far for March, but I have given in to the temptation a bit. It's so easy to get careless. I'm reigning myself in and getting back into "keeping our money" mode.

I have decided that my tutoring money will go towards our annual Memorial Day camping trip. Expenses for this trip include space in the campground (already paid for), ferry fare for two vehicles, extra gas money and extra food costs. You would think that we would just eat normally but no. . . our camping diet includes things like s'more fixings, bacon, snack foods and beer and wine, and those food items add up.

I love camping. I love sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent (even in pouring down rain), I love getting up and making coffee and looking at the beautiful surroundings, I love sitting by the campfire on damp mornings, I love Mr H's obsession with tarps, I love our friends who we camp with, I love my camping clothes (wool sweaters, long johns and rain poncho in addition to other layers). I'm getting giddy just thinking about this trip. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49041] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49041 [entry_title] => How'd we do in February? [entry_stub] => howd-we-do-in-february [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/04/howd-we-do-in-february_49041/ [entry_date] => 1236202398 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-04 13:33:18 [entry_text] => These words came out of the mouth of Mr. H on the first day of March.

I'm shocked and thrilled. Mr H seems to be engaging a little more in our financial life. I didn't have the information for him - we had commitments throughout the weekend that kept me busy. But even with a last-minute burst of spending we are still had a surplus in Checkbook One for the month of February. Yay us!

I'm reading an interesting book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's apparently on the best seller list, and discusses why some people are super-successful in what they do. There are lots of interesting observations made, but the one I am finding useful at the moment is the contrast between Chinese rice-growing farmer's proverbs and Russian peasant's proverbs. (It's on page 237.) Here is one listed as the Chinese farmer's: "If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy." Here is one attributed to Russian peasants: "If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it." Do proverbs express what the cultural beliefs are, or do they shape the cultural beliefs, or both? In a way it doesn't matter. Gladwell discusses the cultures that produced both of these proverbs and how the proverbs might have developed.

I'm not a Chinese farmer and Mr H isn't a Russian peasant, but I think the two proverbs above express our very different attitudes towards life. I am working to make things happen and Mr H is waiting for something to happen that he will then react to. In a way we both have a self-fulfilling prophecy - things happen because of my efforts, but to Mr H it looks like things "just happened". It's become clearer to me over the last year that Mr H really doesn't see much of connection between his efforts and his results.* Which is fine, except when we try to work together. . . which in a marriage is pretty much all the time in one way or another.

Mr H handles Checkbook Two and I handle Checkbook One. I've written quite a bit in the last 11 or so months about Checkbook One - with persistence and changes to some parts of our financial life it's finally not being overspent. Part of these changes involve some real effort on my part to not just spend money randomly. Mr H has noted that Checkbook Two is running a bit low. He's concerned. . . but I'm not seeing much effort or involvement on his part to figure out and solve this problem.

I can't change Mr H's very deeply held beliefs. . . that I'm not even sure he recognizes as having. But I am going to continue to point out cause and effect in our lives, to the best of my ability to do so.

*I should qualify this. It looks like he does see this in very short term efforts, things that can be completed in four hours or less. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [48792] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 48792 [entry_title] => January and February Update [entry_stub] => january-and-february-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/02/25/january-and-february-update_48792/ [entry_date] => 1235624194 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-02-25 20:56:34 [entry_text] => We spent a little over a month being sick here in the onion patch - all of us, Mr H, Daisy and me. I finally went to visit my doc and got antibiotics. Normally I'm not in favor of that stuff (plus a doctor visit isn't cheap, even with insurance) but I could feel the difference within one hour of taking the first dose. So it was a good decision. Being sick put me in a stupor. It wasn't a terribly productive month.

Checkbook One had a small surplus in January and looks to have the same in February. That will be three months in a row now that Checkbook One has not been overspent. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

We had a windfall and now our EF is funded for six months. That would be six *tight* months, but I feel relief about our EF.

I've been soliciting Mr H's feedback on the budget for Checkbook One. Usually he doesn't give much. One day he expressed frustration "because the money's already spent". I went back and tried to figure out what he meant, because isn't that the point of a budget - to prioritize and spend your money on paper first? I never did get a clear answer, but I suspect he wants to spend money on some items and doesn't feel like he can. I added a "wish list" to the bottom of the budget page. If there's a surplus we can look at spending money on those items. Some items Mr H would like are on that list.

I've made good progress on Goals 2 and 3, but none on Goal 4.

Mr H and I have had many, many short and sweet financial conversations in the last two months. The all start with one person stating something they want or something that needs to be purchased and the other person asking how we will pay for it. Fortunately they have been civil and productive discussions. It's definite progress for us.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47735] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47735 [entry_title] => Budget Update and Goal Update [entry_stub] => budget-update-and-goal-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/24/budget-update-and-goal-update_47735/ [entry_date] => 1232821733 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-24 10:28:53 [entry_text] => I've decided that updating the budget for Checkbook One on Thursdays works well. So far so good. We are still under or at budget in all categories for Checkbook One. I think we'll even make the budget in the grocery category this month and not be 21% over.

I've moved what used to be Goal 1 off to a page. It is fun to look at past accomplishments but I don't want to get stuck there!

Goal 3: Decrease food costs. I've given it a dollar figure. Some people here might wonder why the budget is set at $650 for just three people. Two reasons: It includes personal care and cleaning supplies (and also any eating out), and I value organic and locally produced food and that adds up. To bring the costs down I've done things like look for sales on food that we typically buy, change some things about our diets (oatmeal instead of cold cereal for example), and figure out how best to use meat and dairy products which seem to be the most expensive categories in the food budget. Last year's average was higher than this, so it's definitely an improvement.

Future goal: Develop a source of "egg money". Here's a definition I found of egg money:

Before World War II, most eggs were produced by small flocks that scratched their way around the barnyard. The farmer's wife usually supervised the operation. The money received from the sale of the eggs was considered hers. Source: http://www.georgiaeggs.org/pages/eggmoney.html

I started tutoring a couple of weeks ago. . . and I really like it! I'm tutoring math with younger children using materials I'm already familiar with. I'm not charging enough, and both my client and me know that. But as I told her, she's helping train me so we're both winning. We will re-evaluate the fees in a month or so.

While the definition of egg money posted above has it under the control of the farmer's wife, I asked the farmer what he thought we should do with the money. He had no opinion. So I suggested that a percentage of it be set aside for taxes, 15% for the EF or retirement and the rest in to Checkbook One. He was agreeable. It's not a whole lot in to the checkbook but it might be enough to fund our summer camping trips. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47523] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47523 [entry_title] => 2009 Goals Update [entry_stub] => 2009-goals-update- [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/18/2009-goals-update-_47523/ [entry_date] => 1232339437 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-18 20:30:37 [entry_text] => Mr H and I had a discussion about the EF in December. We agreed to take some of his bonus money and add it to the 4496.85 already in the Emergency Fund. We later discussed what type of account to put this money in and decided to put it in a three month CD. While it's possible we could lose some interest if we had to tap in to the account, it wouldn't be a huge loss. If we don't have to tap in to it the account will earn better interest than a money market account would.

So, Goal 1 (emergency fund to 8625.00) on my list is completed, six months ahead of schedule!

Goals 2 (budget for checkbook 1) and 3 (decrease food costs) are in progress, with more progress on 2 than 3 I'd say.

Goal 4 (stay away from coffee shops) has had minimal progress. I was given a Starbucks gift card which has helped our bottom line but not my coffee-out habit.

Goal 5 will probably get moved elsewhere, but I may blog about it from time to time.

I will add a goal of earning part-time or sporadic income. This has been in my head for a while, but strangely it's also under way. I was asked by a friend to help tutor some of her children. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47457] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47457 [entry_title] => Checkbook One Conclusions [entry_stub] => checkbook-one-conclusions [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/17/checkbook-one-conclusions_47457/ [entry_date] => 1232204487 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-17 07:01:27 [entry_text] => I've been giving some thought as to why we suddenly didn't overspend Checkbook One in December. I have been concerned about this problem since I started blogging here in April, but feel like I have been chasing my tail trying to solve it.

I've come to the conclusion that it's just perseverance in trying to figure out where we went wrong each month and correct that. (Having bad weather for about two weeks which limited us leaving the house also helped. When you don't leave the house you don't spend money or use up your gas.) So, I suppose it's not really sudden at all.

Our top three problems with Checkbook One were the credit card, spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started, and not having a spending plan that works.

Credit card: Although we pay off our credit card every month, it's psychologically hard to write a check for one-quarter to one-third of the amount in your checkbook at the beginning of the month. Our credit card usage increased over the years as stores stopped taking checks. I got a debit card a while ago, and Mr H got one a couple of months ago. Where we regularly used to put gas and take-and-bake pizzas on the credit card we now put them on the debit card. "Pay as you go" is working better than "put off the paying until next month". Don't people spend 23% more when they use a credit card?

Spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started: Okay, that was me. . . and it wasn't THAT much. . . but enough to kill the budget. I wrote about this last spring. I called it "The Dead Zone". My brain kind of went on holiday during that week. What was I thinking? I wasn't thinking, and that was the problem.

Not having a spending plan that works: There are so many ways to write a budget. For this checkbook and us, having a limited number of categories and looking at the amount left in each category weekly, on Friday, seemed to do the trick. We have the following categories: Grocery/Personal Care/Cleaning, Gas, Church Contribution, Bowling, Master Card and Everything Else. (Regular bills like mortgage, insurance etc are paid out of another checkbook.) The Everything Else category scares me - the dollar amount is limited and it covers a huge number of other categories like clothing, gifts, office supplies, household items and yard and garden. But lumping these into "Everything Else" works better than trying to allocate a few dollars into each of the sub-categories. Or at least it did this month.

January is looking good so far. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

Final Things

February 1st, 2011 at 07:29 am

A close, older family member, "Lily", recently died unexpectedly. While neither Mr H nor I are the executors of her estate, I am getting a close-up look of what happens with a person's money and possessions after they die.

Lily lived with another family member, and we went to the family member's house every day for a while. We've looked at old photographs (who are all these people?), called family and friends, gone to the court house to record the will, enjoyed the company of many family members and friends, passed around the kleenex, met with the church people to help plan the funeral, and eaten lots and lots. The family member that Lily lived with has a network of church and work friends who brought food to the house every day. Mr H made some of the phone calls to get insurance straightened out, and met with the cemetery folks to find out what would be involved in the burial. We discovered that there is a fee for everything connected with death. We both helped with some parts of the funeral, and helped entertain out-of-state family members.

Lily had some items that could be considered monetarily valuable, but it's surprising how many family members are just not interested in them. I have asked for one of Lily's cookbooks, and Lily herself gave Mr H her crche set right before Christmas. (No, she was not ill.) For us, those two items have significant value.

Later this month I'm going to talk with Mr H about final things. We do have wills, but there are some parts of them that need changing and updating. I think I will look into cemetery plots, headstones, funeral homes and all that go with that. I don't anticipate that Mr H and I will move out of this area. Having a final resting place for us and having made some of the arrangements for that time will make it easier on Daisy when the time comes. Even though Lily and her husband bought plots many decades ago, Lily's husband requested to have his ashes scattered. She could never do that. He was still sitting in the living room (in an urn) when Lily died. When the paper work about the plots surfaced it made the decisions much easier for Lilys children. They went both to the plots they purchased together, and have combined headstone. Having them be together has been a great comfort to some of the family. I am going to add Final Things as a goal on my side bar.

I took Lily's library book back to the library and cancelled her library card. The only book she had checked out was called "Throw Out Fifty Things". How weird is that?
I bring problem to Mr H's attention --> I suggest we work to solve the problem --> Mr H verbally attacks me/reacts by "solving" the problem with the first solution that comes to his head (even/especially if it's one we both hate and it doesn't solve the problem!) --> I later solve the problem by myself or the problem remains unsolved (and uncomfortable for me) --> Mr H experiences that everything "just works out". Dysfunctional? You bet. At the beginning of our marriage I gave him the benefit of the doubt, believed that he would eventually come to see how unproductive this was. Now I realize that I was just way too nice and forgiving . . . but trying to change this pattern requires the full emotional amour because no woman wants to be verbally attacked by her husband. . . and yet I've been down this path enough to know that's pretty much what's going to happen. Much earlier in our marriage I asked Mr H what I could say or do differently to help this situation, or if there was another approach to take. He had no response.

In this instance, the problem is that there is no obvious source of money for these savings. Our budget's stretched pretty thin. Pointing this out to Mr H, and that, if it's not funded it's not a priority, and that bothers me . . . brought the predictable response. Mr H's solution was to sell my car and have us become a one car family, and since Daisy will be homeschooled next year she and I could just stay home all the time. He needs his car for work so of course he'll get to have it every day. It was way less pleasant than I'm reporting it here. Ouch.

At the heart of it though is what seems to be an irresolvable difference in priorities, and an unwillingness to change with circumstances.

Our income is unlikely to go up in the near future. Mr H will not work harder/smarter/more than he is now, and I'm unwilling to sacrifice my home life at this time for another corporate job. (I had two working parents and neither of them were really around to raise us. When Daisy is 18 I plan to work full time and more to make up for what was not saved during this time.) I'm very concerned about retirement savings, planning ahead for seen and unseen expenditures, and having a home life. Mr H appears to be concerned about keeping the house (and only this house) and not having to make any changes to anything about his life. I would be happy to sell the house and go to one car if we lived somewhere where walking and public transportation were more workable. Mr H wouldn't hear of selling this house. We're at something of an impasse.

In the end, I relentlessly forced us to stay focused on the problem. Mr H backed down a bit and apologized. It's progress for us, although sometimes I feel like having to work this hard (and unpleasantly) with him on *every* problem that occurs in our lives is going to kill me.

We agreed to discuss income generating ideas and saving ideas in a couple of weeks. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [50440] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) [3332] => Array ( [category_id] => 3332 [category_name] => Frugal Experiments [category_stub] => frugal-experiments ) ) [entry_id] => 50440 [entry_title] => Reflections on a year of blogging [entry_stub] => reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/04/18/reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging_50440/ [entry_date] => 1240113008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-04-18 20:50:08 [entry_text] => Well, my blogoversary has passed without much fanfare. I don't post much and I guess I'm kind of a lazy blogger. But even the little I've done in the past year has brought some positive changes in my life.

* While Mr H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page, we have more productive discussions. I initiate most conversations, but every now and again he'll bring up something related to our financial life. It's progress.

* I've learned that to engage Mr H in almost anything involves stages. First he ignores what I'm saying, then I provoke him**, then he reacts, then I gently tell him that he's reacting and suggest that we look at different options to solve the problem. Then he'll come through. Kind of. It's kind of dysfunctional, but it works better than him ignoring the situation and me finally just solving the problem on my own. (That has been the dynamic for most of our marriage.) Not all of our discussions are this way, but bringing up anything new is.

* We have a budget that balances for Checkbook One. It took several months to get there. It didn't balance, really, for about five years.

* We have a grocery/food budget that balances. We have never spent that little on food. We're eating well. I actually don't mind this part. It's fun to get creative with food, and I have done it for many years. I'm just way more conscious now, trying to use leftovers before they spoil and figure out how to have great dinners with lower cost foods.

* We have an emergency fund, that is designated as an emergency fund. I feel a lot less anxious.

* We have a plan for increasing retirement savings.


Everyone here has been so kind and helpful. I have been so grateful for the support. Thank you all so much!


** Believe me, I really don't want to provoke him. However it seems to be the only way I can get him to engage. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49849] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 49849 [entry_title] => Retirement [entry_stub] => retirement [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/28/retirement_49849/ [entry_date] => 1238264405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-28 11:20:05 [entry_text] => As you can probably guess, retirement is a source of contention in the onion patch.

Mr H's approach is: he'll work until he can't work any more, then he'll live on savings, then the government will support him. (You'll notice that it's "he" and not "we", although I think the "we" is somewhat implied.)

This is not what I would want for my older age, but I'm willing to live with it - up to a point. In order to live on savings, we have to be saving now, and all the time until then. We've saved relatively little - we have the 401k that I contributed to during my corporate years. That is 10 (or is it 9? I may not have been able to contribute the first year, although I don't remember now) years out of a total of 28 years of my working life (starting the count at age 18). DH has no pensions or 401k's from any present or past employers from his 28 years of working life.

Now that the budget is balancing with regularity I'm turning my sights toward saving 15% of our income savings for retirement. Is this enough? Probably not, but we have to start some where.

It seems like an impossible goal, but then we've managed to keep the food budget at a limit that I never would have imagined a year ago, and it hasn't been that hard. And with the few changes I made over several months getting checkbook one to balance hasn't been that difficult either.

After a rather heated discussion last week I think I've finally convinced him that in order to live off savings we have to be saving now, that he must be involved in this, and that a graduated approach (first 1%, then 2% etc up to 15%)* is the most reasonable approach. Starting in April we will be saving 2% of our monthly income towards retirement/old age.

*I have been setting aside 15% of my tutoring money since I started tutoring in January - trying to move us in that direction. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49123] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49123 [entry_title] => Do we have enough? [entry_stub] => do-we-have-enough [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/06/do-we-have-enough_49123/ [entry_date] => 1236376390 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-06 13:53:10 [entry_text] => Do we have enough in Checkbook One to buy some bird food? Yes, Mr H asked me this last night. Looks like he's getting with the program.

I just finished running the numbers (I'm behind) and we had a $248.72 surplus in Checkbook One for February. Wow, this budget thing is working!

Unfortunately, the temptation now is to spend. I haven't yet figured out what we've spent so far for March, but I have given in to the temptation a bit. It's so easy to get careless. I'm reigning myself in and getting back into "keeping our money" mode.

I have decided that my tutoring money will go towards our annual Memorial Day camping trip. Expenses for this trip include space in the campground (already paid for), ferry fare for two vehicles, extra gas money and extra food costs. You would think that we would just eat normally but no. . . our camping diet includes things like s'more fixings, bacon, snack foods and beer and wine, and those food items add up.

I love camping. I love sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent (even in pouring down rain), I love getting up and making coffee and looking at the beautiful surroundings, I love sitting by the campfire on damp mornings, I love Mr H's obsession with tarps, I love our friends who we camp with, I love my camping clothes (wool sweaters, long johns and rain poncho in addition to other layers). I'm getting giddy just thinking about this trip. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49041] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49041 [entry_title] => How'd we do in February? [entry_stub] => howd-we-do-in-february [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/04/howd-we-do-in-february_49041/ [entry_date] => 1236202398 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-04 13:33:18 [entry_text] => These words came out of the mouth of Mr. H on the first day of March.

I'm shocked and thrilled. Mr H seems to be engaging a little more in our financial life. I didn't have the information for him - we had commitments throughout the weekend that kept me busy. But even with a last-minute burst of spending we are still had a surplus in Checkbook One for the month of February. Yay us!

I'm reading an interesting book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's apparently on the best seller list, and discusses why some people are super-successful in what they do. There are lots of interesting observations made, but the one I am finding useful at the moment is the contrast between Chinese rice-growing farmer's proverbs and Russian peasant's proverbs. (It's on page 237.) Here is one listed as the Chinese farmer's: "If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy." Here is one attributed to Russian peasants: "If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it." Do proverbs express what the cultural beliefs are, or do they shape the cultural beliefs, or both? In a way it doesn't matter. Gladwell discusses the cultures that produced both of these proverbs and how the proverbs might have developed.

I'm not a Chinese farmer and Mr H isn't a Russian peasant, but I think the two proverbs above express our very different attitudes towards life. I am working to make things happen and Mr H is waiting for something to happen that he will then react to. In a way we both have a self-fulfilling prophecy - things happen because of my efforts, but to Mr H it looks like things "just happened". It's become clearer to me over the last year that Mr H really doesn't see much of connection between his efforts and his results.* Which is fine, except when we try to work together. . . which in a marriage is pretty much all the time in one way or another.

Mr H handles Checkbook Two and I handle Checkbook One. I've written quite a bit in the last 11 or so months about Checkbook One - with persistence and changes to some parts of our financial life it's finally not being overspent. Part of these changes involve some real effort on my part to not just spend money randomly. Mr H has noted that Checkbook Two is running a bit low. He's concerned. . . but I'm not seeing much effort or involvement on his part to figure out and solve this problem.

I can't change Mr H's very deeply held beliefs. . . that I'm not even sure he recognizes as having. But I am going to continue to point out cause and effect in our lives, to the best of my ability to do so.

*I should qualify this. It looks like he does see this in very short term efforts, things that can be completed in four hours or less. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [48792] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 48792 [entry_title] => January and February Update [entry_stub] => january-and-february-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/02/25/january-and-february-update_48792/ [entry_date] => 1235624194 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-02-25 20:56:34 [entry_text] => We spent a little over a month being sick here in the onion patch - all of us, Mr H, Daisy and me. I finally went to visit my doc and got antibiotics. Normally I'm not in favor of that stuff (plus a doctor visit isn't cheap, even with insurance) but I could feel the difference within one hour of taking the first dose. So it was a good decision. Being sick put me in a stupor. It wasn't a terribly productive month.

Checkbook One had a small surplus in January and looks to have the same in February. That will be three months in a row now that Checkbook One has not been overspent. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

We had a windfall and now our EF is funded for six months. That would be six *tight* months, but I feel relief about our EF.

I've been soliciting Mr H's feedback on the budget for Checkbook One. Usually he doesn't give much. One day he expressed frustration "because the money's already spent". I went back and tried to figure out what he meant, because isn't that the point of a budget - to prioritize and spend your money on paper first? I never did get a clear answer, but I suspect he wants to spend money on some items and doesn't feel like he can. I added a "wish list" to the bottom of the budget page. If there's a surplus we can look at spending money on those items. Some items Mr H would like are on that list.

I've made good progress on Goals 2 and 3, but none on Goal 4.

Mr H and I have had many, many short and sweet financial conversations in the last two months. The all start with one person stating something they want or something that needs to be purchased and the other person asking how we will pay for it. Fortunately they have been civil and productive discussions. It's definite progress for us.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47735] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47735 [entry_title] => Budget Update and Goal Update [entry_stub] => budget-update-and-goal-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/24/budget-update-and-goal-update_47735/ [entry_date] => 1232821733 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-24 10:28:53 [entry_text] => I've decided that updating the budget for Checkbook One on Thursdays works well. So far so good. We are still under or at budget in all categories for Checkbook One. I think we'll even make the budget in the grocery category this month and not be 21% over.

I've moved what used to be Goal 1 off to a page. It is fun to look at past accomplishments but I don't want to get stuck there!

Goal 3: Decrease food costs. I've given it a dollar figure. Some people here might wonder why the budget is set at $650 for just three people. Two reasons: It includes personal care and cleaning supplies (and also any eating out), and I value organic and locally produced food and that adds up. To bring the costs down I've done things like look for sales on food that we typically buy, change some things about our diets (oatmeal instead of cold cereal for example), and figure out how best to use meat and dairy products which seem to be the most expensive categories in the food budget. Last year's average was higher than this, so it's definitely an improvement.

Future goal: Develop a source of "egg money". Here's a definition I found of egg money:

Before World War II, most eggs were produced by small flocks that scratched their way around the barnyard. The farmer's wife usually supervised the operation. The money received from the sale of the eggs was considered hers. Source: http://www.georgiaeggs.org/pages/eggmoney.html

I started tutoring a couple of weeks ago. . . and I really like it! I'm tutoring math with younger children using materials I'm already familiar with. I'm not charging enough, and both my client and me know that. But as I told her, she's helping train me so we're both winning. We will re-evaluate the fees in a month or so.

While the definition of egg money posted above has it under the control of the farmer's wife, I asked the farmer what he thought we should do with the money. He had no opinion. So I suggested that a percentage of it be set aside for taxes, 15% for the EF or retirement and the rest in to Checkbook One. He was agreeable. It's not a whole lot in to the checkbook but it might be enough to fund our summer camping trips. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47523] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47523 [entry_title] => 2009 Goals Update [entry_stub] => 2009-goals-update- [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/18/2009-goals-update-_47523/ [entry_date] => 1232339437 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-18 20:30:37 [entry_text] => Mr H and I had a discussion about the EF in December. We agreed to take some of his bonus money and add it to the 4496.85 already in the Emergency Fund. We later discussed what type of account to put this money in and decided to put it in a three month CD. While it's possible we could lose some interest if we had to tap in to the account, it wouldn't be a huge loss. If we don't have to tap in to it the account will earn better interest than a money market account would.

So, Goal 1 (emergency fund to 8625.00) on my list is completed, six months ahead of schedule!

Goals 2 (budget for checkbook 1) and 3 (decrease food costs) are in progress, with more progress on 2 than 3 I'd say.

Goal 4 (stay away from coffee shops) has had minimal progress. I was given a Starbucks gift card which has helped our bottom line but not my coffee-out habit.

Goal 5 will probably get moved elsewhere, but I may blog about it from time to time.

I will add a goal of earning part-time or sporadic income. This has been in my head for a while, but strangely it's also under way. I was asked by a friend to help tutor some of her children. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47457] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47457 [entry_title] => Checkbook One Conclusions [entry_stub] => checkbook-one-conclusions [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/17/checkbook-one-conclusions_47457/ [entry_date] => 1232204487 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-17 07:01:27 [entry_text] => I've been giving some thought as to why we suddenly didn't overspend Checkbook One in December. I have been concerned about this problem since I started blogging here in April, but feel like I have been chasing my tail trying to solve it.

I've come to the conclusion that it's just perseverance in trying to figure out where we went wrong each month and correct that. (Having bad weather for about two weeks which limited us leaving the house also helped. When you don't leave the house you don't spend money or use up your gas.) So, I suppose it's not really sudden at all.

Our top three problems with Checkbook One were the credit card, spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started, and not having a spending plan that works.

Credit card: Although we pay off our credit card every month, it's psychologically hard to write a check for one-quarter to one-third of the amount in your checkbook at the beginning of the month. Our credit card usage increased over the years as stores stopped taking checks. I got a debit card a while ago, and Mr H got one a couple of months ago. Where we regularly used to put gas and take-and-bake pizzas on the credit card we now put them on the debit card. "Pay as you go" is working better than "put off the paying until next month". Don't people spend 23% more when they use a credit card?

Spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started: Okay, that was me. . . and it wasn't THAT much. . . but enough to kill the budget. I wrote about this last spring. I called it "The Dead Zone". My brain kind of went on holiday during that week. What was I thinking? I wasn't thinking, and that was the problem.

Not having a spending plan that works: There are so many ways to write a budget. For this checkbook and us, having a limited number of categories and looking at the amount left in each category weekly, on Friday, seemed to do the trick. We have the following categories: Grocery/Personal Care/Cleaning, Gas, Church Contribution, Bowling, Master Card and Everything Else. (Regular bills like mortgage, insurance etc are paid out of another checkbook.) The Everything Else category scares me - the dollar amount is limited and it covers a huge number of other categories like clothing, gifts, office supplies, household items and yard and garden. But lumping these into "Everything Else" works better than trying to allocate a few dollars into each of the sub-categories. Or at least it did this month.

January is looking good so far. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

Mortgage Decrease

January 3rd, 2011 at 08:28 pm

Here we are, on the third day of the year, and there is already progress on paying off the mortgage.

The regular payment was made on the first through the magic of auto-deduction. Plus, we discovered that the interest rate change in June hadn't been entered properly in Quicken, so we actually owe about $25 less than we thought. It's almost like paying extra. Smile

New mortgage balance: $4887.17 I bring problem to Mr H's attention --> I suggest we work to solve the problem --> Mr H verbally attacks me/reacts by "solving" the problem with the first solution that comes to his head (even/especially if it's one we both hate and it doesn't solve the problem!) --> I later solve the problem by myself or the problem remains unsolved (and uncomfortable for me) --> Mr H experiences that everything "just works out". Dysfunctional? You bet. At the beginning of our marriage I gave him the benefit of the doubt, believed that he would eventually come to see how unproductive this was. Now I realize that I was just way too nice and forgiving . . . but trying to change this pattern requires the full emotional amour because no woman wants to be verbally attacked by her husband. . . and yet I've been down this path enough to know that's pretty much what's going to happen. Much earlier in our marriage I asked Mr H what I could say or do differently to help this situation, or if there was another approach to take. He had no response.

In this instance, the problem is that there is no obvious source of money for these savings. Our budget's stretched pretty thin. Pointing this out to Mr H, and that, if it's not funded it's not a priority, and that bothers me . . . brought the predictable response. Mr H's solution was to sell my car and have us become a one car family, and since Daisy will be homeschooled next year she and I could just stay home all the time. He needs his car for work so of course he'll get to have it every day. It was way less pleasant than I'm reporting it here. Ouch.

At the heart of it though is what seems to be an irresolvable difference in priorities, and an unwillingness to change with circumstances.

Our income is unlikely to go up in the near future. Mr H will not work harder/smarter/more than he is now, and I'm unwilling to sacrifice my home life at this time for another corporate job. (I had two working parents and neither of them were really around to raise us. When Daisy is 18 I plan to work full time and more to make up for what was not saved during this time.) I'm very concerned about retirement savings, planning ahead for seen and unseen expenditures, and having a home life. Mr H appears to be concerned about keeping the house (and only this house) and not having to make any changes to anything about his life. I would be happy to sell the house and go to one car if we lived somewhere where walking and public transportation were more workable. Mr H wouldn't hear of selling this house. We're at something of an impasse.

In the end, I relentlessly forced us to stay focused on the problem. Mr H backed down a bit and apologized. It's progress for us, although sometimes I feel like having to work this hard (and unpleasantly) with him on *every* problem that occurs in our lives is going to kill me.

We agreed to discuss income generating ideas and saving ideas in a couple of weeks. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [50440] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) [3332] => Array ( [category_id] => 3332 [category_name] => Frugal Experiments [category_stub] => frugal-experiments ) ) [entry_id] => 50440 [entry_title] => Reflections on a year of blogging [entry_stub] => reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/04/18/reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging_50440/ [entry_date] => 1240113008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-04-18 20:50:08 [entry_text] => Well, my blogoversary has passed without much fanfare. I don't post much and I guess I'm kind of a lazy blogger. But even the little I've done in the past year has brought some positive changes in my life.

* While Mr H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page, we have more productive discussions. I initiate most conversations, but every now and again he'll bring up something related to our financial life. It's progress.

* I've learned that to engage Mr H in almost anything involves stages. First he ignores what I'm saying, then I provoke him**, then he reacts, then I gently tell him that he's reacting and suggest that we look at different options to solve the problem. Then he'll come through. Kind of. It's kind of dysfunctional, but it works better than him ignoring the situation and me finally just solving the problem on my own. (That has been the dynamic for most of our marriage.) Not all of our discussions are this way, but bringing up anything new is.

* We have a budget that balances for Checkbook One. It took several months to get there. It didn't balance, really, for about five years.

* We have a grocery/food budget that balances. We have never spent that little on food. We're eating well. I actually don't mind this part. It's fun to get creative with food, and I have done it for many years. I'm just way more conscious now, trying to use leftovers before they spoil and figure out how to have great dinners with lower cost foods.

* We have an emergency fund, that is designated as an emergency fund. I feel a lot less anxious.

* We have a plan for increasing retirement savings.


Everyone here has been so kind and helpful. I have been so grateful for the support. Thank you all so much!


** Believe me, I really don't want to provoke him. However it seems to be the only way I can get him to engage. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49849] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 49849 [entry_title] => Retirement [entry_stub] => retirement [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/28/retirement_49849/ [entry_date] => 1238264405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-28 11:20:05 [entry_text] => As you can probably guess, retirement is a source of contention in the onion patch.

Mr H's approach is: he'll work until he can't work any more, then he'll live on savings, then the government will support him. (You'll notice that it's "he" and not "we", although I think the "we" is somewhat implied.)

This is not what I would want for my older age, but I'm willing to live with it - up to a point. In order to live on savings, we have to be saving now, and all the time until then. We've saved relatively little - we have the 401k that I contributed to during my corporate years. That is 10 (or is it 9? I may not have been able to contribute the first year, although I don't remember now) years out of a total of 28 years of my working life (starting the count at age 18). DH has no pensions or 401k's from any present or past employers from his 28 years of working life.

Now that the budget is balancing with regularity I'm turning my sights toward saving 15% of our income savings for retirement. Is this enough? Probably not, but we have to start some where.

It seems like an impossible goal, but then we've managed to keep the food budget at a limit that I never would have imagined a year ago, and it hasn't been that hard. And with the few changes I made over several months getting checkbook one to balance hasn't been that difficult either.

After a rather heated discussion last week I think I've finally convinced him that in order to live off savings we have to be saving now, that he must be involved in this, and that a graduated approach (first 1%, then 2% etc up to 15%)* is the most reasonable approach. Starting in April we will be saving 2% of our monthly income towards retirement/old age.

*I have been setting aside 15% of my tutoring money since I started tutoring in January - trying to move us in that direction. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49123] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49123 [entry_title] => Do we have enough? [entry_stub] => do-we-have-enough [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/06/do-we-have-enough_49123/ [entry_date] => 1236376390 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-06 13:53:10 [entry_text] => Do we have enough in Checkbook One to buy some bird food? Yes, Mr H asked me this last night. Looks like he's getting with the program.

I just finished running the numbers (I'm behind) and we had a $248.72 surplus in Checkbook One for February. Wow, this budget thing is working!

Unfortunately, the temptation now is to spend. I haven't yet figured out what we've spent so far for March, but I have given in to the temptation a bit. It's so easy to get careless. I'm reigning myself in and getting back into "keeping our money" mode.

I have decided that my tutoring money will go towards our annual Memorial Day camping trip. Expenses for this trip include space in the campground (already paid for), ferry fare for two vehicles, extra gas money and extra food costs. You would think that we would just eat normally but no. . . our camping diet includes things like s'more fixings, bacon, snack foods and beer and wine, and those food items add up.

I love camping. I love sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent (even in pouring down rain), I love getting up and making coffee and looking at the beautiful surroundings, I love sitting by the campfire on damp mornings, I love Mr H's obsession with tarps, I love our friends who we camp with, I love my camping clothes (wool sweaters, long johns and rain poncho in addition to other layers). I'm getting giddy just thinking about this trip. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49041] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49041 [entry_title] => How'd we do in February? [entry_stub] => howd-we-do-in-february [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/04/howd-we-do-in-february_49041/ [entry_date] => 1236202398 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-04 13:33:18 [entry_text] => These words came out of the mouth of Mr. H on the first day of March.

I'm shocked and thrilled. Mr H seems to be engaging a little more in our financial life. I didn't have the information for him - we had commitments throughout the weekend that kept me busy. But even with a last-minute burst of spending we are still had a surplus in Checkbook One for the month of February. Yay us!

I'm reading an interesting book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's apparently on the best seller list, and discusses why some people are super-successful in what they do. There are lots of interesting observations made, but the one I am finding useful at the moment is the contrast between Chinese rice-growing farmer's proverbs and Russian peasant's proverbs. (It's on page 237.) Here is one listed as the Chinese farmer's: "If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy." Here is one attributed to Russian peasants: "If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it." Do proverbs express what the cultural beliefs are, or do they shape the cultural beliefs, or both? In a way it doesn't matter. Gladwell discusses the cultures that produced both of these proverbs and how the proverbs might have developed.

I'm not a Chinese farmer and Mr H isn't a Russian peasant, but I think the two proverbs above express our very different attitudes towards life. I am working to make things happen and Mr H is waiting for something to happen that he will then react to. In a way we both have a self-fulfilling prophecy - things happen because of my efforts, but to Mr H it looks like things "just happened". It's become clearer to me over the last year that Mr H really doesn't see much of connection between his efforts and his results.* Which is fine, except when we try to work together. . . which in a marriage is pretty much all the time in one way or another.

Mr H handles Checkbook Two and I handle Checkbook One. I've written quite a bit in the last 11 or so months about Checkbook One - with persistence and changes to some parts of our financial life it's finally not being overspent. Part of these changes involve some real effort on my part to not just spend money randomly. Mr H has noted that Checkbook Two is running a bit low. He's concerned. . . but I'm not seeing much effort or involvement on his part to figure out and solve this problem.

I can't change Mr H's very deeply held beliefs. . . that I'm not even sure he recognizes as having. But I am going to continue to point out cause and effect in our lives, to the best of my ability to do so.

*I should qualify this. It looks like he does see this in very short term efforts, things that can be completed in four hours or less. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [48792] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 48792 [entry_title] => January and February Update [entry_stub] => january-and-february-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/02/25/january-and-february-update_48792/ [entry_date] => 1235624194 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-02-25 20:56:34 [entry_text] => We spent a little over a month being sick here in the onion patch - all of us, Mr H, Daisy and me. I finally went to visit my doc and got antibiotics. Normally I'm not in favor of that stuff (plus a doctor visit isn't cheap, even with insurance) but I could feel the difference within one hour of taking the first dose. So it was a good decision. Being sick put me in a stupor. It wasn't a terribly productive month.

Checkbook One had a small surplus in January and looks to have the same in February. That will be three months in a row now that Checkbook One has not been overspent. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

We had a windfall and now our EF is funded for six months. That would be six *tight* months, but I feel relief about our EF.

I've been soliciting Mr H's feedback on the budget for Checkbook One. Usually he doesn't give much. One day he expressed frustration "because the money's already spent". I went back and tried to figure out what he meant, because isn't that the point of a budget - to prioritize and spend your money on paper first? I never did get a clear answer, but I suspect he wants to spend money on some items and doesn't feel like he can. I added a "wish list" to the bottom of the budget page. If there's a surplus we can look at spending money on those items. Some items Mr H would like are on that list.

I've made good progress on Goals 2 and 3, but none on Goal 4.

Mr H and I have had many, many short and sweet financial conversations in the last two months. The all start with one person stating something they want or something that needs to be purchased and the other person asking how we will pay for it. Fortunately they have been civil and productive discussions. It's definite progress for us.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47735] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47735 [entry_title] => Budget Update and Goal Update [entry_stub] => budget-update-and-goal-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/24/budget-update-and-goal-update_47735/ [entry_date] => 1232821733 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-24 10:28:53 [entry_text] => I've decided that updating the budget for Checkbook One on Thursdays works well. So far so good. We are still under or at budget in all categories for Checkbook One. I think we'll even make the budget in the grocery category this month and not be 21% over.

I've moved what used to be Goal 1 off to a page. It is fun to look at past accomplishments but I don't want to get stuck there!

Goal 3: Decrease food costs. I've given it a dollar figure. Some people here might wonder why the budget is set at $650 for just three people. Two reasons: It includes personal care and cleaning supplies (and also any eating out), and I value organic and locally produced food and that adds up. To bring the costs down I've done things like look for sales on food that we typically buy, change some things about our diets (oatmeal instead of cold cereal for example), and figure out how best to use meat and dairy products which seem to be the most expensive categories in the food budget. Last year's average was higher than this, so it's definitely an improvement.

Future goal: Develop a source of "egg money". Here's a definition I found of egg money:

Before World War II, most eggs were produced by small flocks that scratched their way around the barnyard. The farmer's wife usually supervised the operation. The money received from the sale of the eggs was considered hers. Source: http://www.georgiaeggs.org/pages/eggmoney.html

I started tutoring a couple of weeks ago. . . and I really like it! I'm tutoring math with younger children using materials I'm already familiar with. I'm not charging enough, and both my client and me know that. But as I told her, she's helping train me so we're both winning. We will re-evaluate the fees in a month or so.

While the definition of egg money posted above has it under the control of the farmer's wife, I asked the farmer what he thought we should do with the money. He had no opinion. So I suggested that a percentage of it be set aside for taxes, 15% for the EF or retirement and the rest in to Checkbook One. He was agreeable. It's not a whole lot in to the checkbook but it might be enough to fund our summer camping trips. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47523] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47523 [entry_title] => 2009 Goals Update [entry_stub] => 2009-goals-update- [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/18/2009-goals-update-_47523/ [entry_date] => 1232339437 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-18 20:30:37 [entry_text] => Mr H and I had a discussion about the EF in December. We agreed to take some of his bonus money and add it to the 4496.85 already in the Emergency Fund. We later discussed what type of account to put this money in and decided to put it in a three month CD. While it's possible we could lose some interest if we had to tap in to the account, it wouldn't be a huge loss. If we don't have to tap in to it the account will earn better interest than a money market account would.

So, Goal 1 (emergency fund to 8625.00) on my list is completed, six months ahead of schedule!

Goals 2 (budget for checkbook 1) and 3 (decrease food costs) are in progress, with more progress on 2 than 3 I'd say.

Goal 4 (stay away from coffee shops) has had minimal progress. I was given a Starbucks gift card which has helped our bottom line but not my coffee-out habit.

Goal 5 will probably get moved elsewhere, but I may blog about it from time to time.

I will add a goal of earning part-time or sporadic income. This has been in my head for a while, but strangely it's also under way. I was asked by a friend to help tutor some of her children. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47457] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47457 [entry_title] => Checkbook One Conclusions [entry_stub] => checkbook-one-conclusions [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/17/checkbook-one-conclusions_47457/ [entry_date] => 1232204487 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-17 07:01:27 [entry_text] => I've been giving some thought as to why we suddenly didn't overspend Checkbook One in December. I have been concerned about this problem since I started blogging here in April, but feel like I have been chasing my tail trying to solve it.

I've come to the conclusion that it's just perseverance in trying to figure out where we went wrong each month and correct that. (Having bad weather for about two weeks which limited us leaving the house also helped. When you don't leave the house you don't spend money or use up your gas.) So, I suppose it's not really sudden at all.

Our top three problems with Checkbook One were the credit card, spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started, and not having a spending plan that works.

Credit card: Although we pay off our credit card every month, it's psychologically hard to write a check for one-quarter to one-third of the amount in your checkbook at the beginning of the month. Our credit card usage increased over the years as stores stopped taking checks. I got a debit card a while ago, and Mr H got one a couple of months ago. Where we regularly used to put gas and take-and-bake pizzas on the credit card we now put them on the debit card. "Pay as you go" is working better than "put off the paying until next month". Don't people spend 23% more when they use a credit card?

Spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started: Okay, that was me. . . and it wasn't THAT much. . . but enough to kill the budget. I wrote about this last spring. I called it "The Dead Zone". My brain kind of went on holiday during that week. What was I thinking? I wasn't thinking, and that was the problem.

Not having a spending plan that works: There are so many ways to write a budget. For this checkbook and us, having a limited number of categories and looking at the amount left in each category weekly, on Friday, seemed to do the trick. We have the following categories: Grocery/Personal Care/Cleaning, Gas, Church Contribution, Bowling, Master Card and Everything Else. (Regular bills like mortgage, insurance etc are paid out of another checkbook.) The Everything Else category scares me - the dollar amount is limited and it covers a huge number of other categories like clothing, gifts, office supplies, household items and yard and garden. But lumping these into "Everything Else" works better than trying to allocate a few dollars into each of the sub-categories. Or at least it did this month.

January is looking good so far. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

We Have a Goal

December 30th, 2010 at 08:09 am

Yes, it's true. WE really have a goal for 2011. It's as much Mr H's as mine. . . although it helps when you can see the finish line coming pretty quickly.

Our goal is to pay off our mortgage. As of today, December 30, 2010, we owe $4,990.38. Our mortgage payments themselves are very low we bought our house 13.5 years ago using an ARM and just paid extra. When the mortgage re-amortizes every year our payment drops. We don't have a specific plan for paying it off, but as extra monies present themselves they'll be applied to the mortgage.


I bring problem to Mr H's attention --> I suggest we work to solve the problem --> Mr H verbally attacks me/reacts by "solving" the problem with the first solution that comes to his head (even/especially if it's one we both hate and it doesn't solve the problem!) --> I later solve the problem by myself or the problem remains unsolved (and uncomfortable for me) --> Mr H experiences that everything "just works out". Dysfunctional? You bet. At the beginning of our marriage I gave him the benefit of the doubt, believed that he would eventually come to see how unproductive this was. Now I realize that I was just way too nice and forgiving . . . but trying to change this pattern requires the full emotional amour because no woman wants to be verbally attacked by her husband. . . and yet I've been down this path enough to know that's pretty much what's going to happen. Much earlier in our marriage I asked Mr H what I could say or do differently to help this situation, or if there was another approach to take. He had no response.

In this instance, the problem is that there is no obvious source of money for these savings. Our budget's stretched pretty thin. Pointing this out to Mr H, and that, if it's not funded it's not a priority, and that bothers me . . . brought the predictable response. Mr H's solution was to sell my car and have us become a one car family, and since Daisy will be homeschooled next year she and I could just stay home all the time. He needs his car for work so of course he'll get to have it every day. It was way less pleasant than I'm reporting it here. Ouch.

At the heart of it though is what seems to be an irresolvable difference in priorities, and an unwillingness to change with circumstances.

Our income is unlikely to go up in the near future. Mr H will not work harder/smarter/more than he is now, and I'm unwilling to sacrifice my home life at this time for another corporate job. (I had two working parents and neither of them were really around to raise us. When Daisy is 18 I plan to work full time and more to make up for what was not saved during this time.) I'm very concerned about retirement savings, planning ahead for seen and unseen expenditures, and having a home life. Mr H appears to be concerned about keeping the house (and only this house) and not having to make any changes to anything about his life. I would be happy to sell the house and go to one car if we lived somewhere where walking and public transportation were more workable. Mr H wouldn't hear of selling this house. We're at something of an impasse.

In the end, I relentlessly forced us to stay focused on the problem. Mr H backed down a bit and apologized. It's progress for us, although sometimes I feel like having to work this hard (and unpleasantly) with him on *every* problem that occurs in our lives is going to kill me.

We agreed to discuss income generating ideas and saving ideas in a couple of weeks. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [50440] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) [3332] => Array ( [category_id] => 3332 [category_name] => Frugal Experiments [category_stub] => frugal-experiments ) ) [entry_id] => 50440 [entry_title] => Reflections on a year of blogging [entry_stub] => reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/04/18/reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging_50440/ [entry_date] => 1240113008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-04-18 20:50:08 [entry_text] => Well, my blogoversary has passed without much fanfare. I don't post much and I guess I'm kind of a lazy blogger. But even the little I've done in the past year has brought some positive changes in my life.

* While Mr H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page, we have more productive discussions. I initiate most conversations, but every now and again he'll bring up something related to our financial life. It's progress.

* I've learned that to engage Mr H in almost anything involves stages. First he ignores what I'm saying, then I provoke him**, then he reacts, then I gently tell him that he's reacting and suggest that we look at different options to solve the problem. Then he'll come through. Kind of. It's kind of dysfunctional, but it works better than him ignoring the situation and me finally just solving the problem on my own. (That has been the dynamic for most of our marriage.) Not all of our discussions are this way, but bringing up anything new is.

* We have a budget that balances for Checkbook One. It took several months to get there. It didn't balance, really, for about five years.

* We have a grocery/food budget that balances. We have never spent that little on food. We're eating well. I actually don't mind this part. It's fun to get creative with food, and I have done it for many years. I'm just way more conscious now, trying to use leftovers before they spoil and figure out how to have great dinners with lower cost foods.

* We have an emergency fund, that is designated as an emergency fund. I feel a lot less anxious.

* We have a plan for increasing retirement savings.


Everyone here has been so kind and helpful. I have been so grateful for the support. Thank you all so much!


** Believe me, I really don't want to provoke him. However it seems to be the only way I can get him to engage. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49849] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 49849 [entry_title] => Retirement [entry_stub] => retirement [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/28/retirement_49849/ [entry_date] => 1238264405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-28 11:20:05 [entry_text] => As you can probably guess, retirement is a source of contention in the onion patch.

Mr H's approach is: he'll work until he can't work any more, then he'll live on savings, then the government will support him. (You'll notice that it's "he" and not "we", although I think the "we" is somewhat implied.)

This is not what I would want for my older age, but I'm willing to live with it - up to a point. In order to live on savings, we have to be saving now, and all the time until then. We've saved relatively little - we have the 401k that I contributed to during my corporate years. That is 10 (or is it 9? I may not have been able to contribute the first year, although I don't remember now) years out of a total of 28 years of my working life (starting the count at age 18). DH has no pensions or 401k's from any present or past employers from his 28 years of working life.

Now that the budget is balancing with regularity I'm turning my sights toward saving 15% of our income savings for retirement. Is this enough? Probably not, but we have to start some where.

It seems like an impossible goal, but then we've managed to keep the food budget at a limit that I never would have imagined a year ago, and it hasn't been that hard. And with the few changes I made over several months getting checkbook one to balance hasn't been that difficult either.

After a rather heated discussion last week I think I've finally convinced him that in order to live off savings we have to be saving now, that he must be involved in this, and that a graduated approach (first 1%, then 2% etc up to 15%)* is the most reasonable approach. Starting in April we will be saving 2% of our monthly income towards retirement/old age.

*I have been setting aside 15% of my tutoring money since I started tutoring in January - trying to move us in that direction. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49123] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49123 [entry_title] => Do we have enough? [entry_stub] => do-we-have-enough [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/06/do-we-have-enough_49123/ [entry_date] => 1236376390 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-06 13:53:10 [entry_text] => Do we have enough in Checkbook One to buy some bird food? Yes, Mr H asked me this last night. Looks like he's getting with the program.

I just finished running the numbers (I'm behind) and we had a $248.72 surplus in Checkbook One for February. Wow, this budget thing is working!

Unfortunately, the temptation now is to spend. I haven't yet figured out what we've spent so far for March, but I have given in to the temptation a bit. It's so easy to get careless. I'm reigning myself in and getting back into "keeping our money" mode.

I have decided that my tutoring money will go towards our annual Memorial Day camping trip. Expenses for this trip include space in the campground (already paid for), ferry fare for two vehicles, extra gas money and extra food costs. You would think that we would just eat normally but no. . . our camping diet includes things like s'more fixings, bacon, snack foods and beer and wine, and those food items add up.

I love camping. I love sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent (even in pouring down rain), I love getting up and making coffee and looking at the beautiful surroundings, I love sitting by the campfire on damp mornings, I love Mr H's obsession with tarps, I love our friends who we camp with, I love my camping clothes (wool sweaters, long johns and rain poncho in addition to other layers). I'm getting giddy just thinking about this trip. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49041] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49041 [entry_title] => How'd we do in February? [entry_stub] => howd-we-do-in-february [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/04/howd-we-do-in-february_49041/ [entry_date] => 1236202398 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-04 13:33:18 [entry_text] => These words came out of the mouth of Mr. H on the first day of March.

I'm shocked and thrilled. Mr H seems to be engaging a little more in our financial life. I didn't have the information for him - we had commitments throughout the weekend that kept me busy. But even with a last-minute burst of spending we are still had a surplus in Checkbook One for the month of February. Yay us!

I'm reading an interesting book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's apparently on the best seller list, and discusses why some people are super-successful in what they do. There are lots of interesting observations made, but the one I am finding useful at the moment is the contrast between Chinese rice-growing farmer's proverbs and Russian peasant's proverbs. (It's on page 237.) Here is one listed as the Chinese farmer's: "If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy." Here is one attributed to Russian peasants: "If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it." Do proverbs express what the cultural beliefs are, or do they shape the cultural beliefs, or both? In a way it doesn't matter. Gladwell discusses the cultures that produced both of these proverbs and how the proverbs might have developed.

I'm not a Chinese farmer and Mr H isn't a Russian peasant, but I think the two proverbs above express our very different attitudes towards life. I am working to make things happen and Mr H is waiting for something to happen that he will then react to. In a way we both have a self-fulfilling prophecy - things happen because of my efforts, but to Mr H it looks like things "just happened". It's become clearer to me over the last year that Mr H really doesn't see much of connection between his efforts and his results.* Which is fine, except when we try to work together. . . which in a marriage is pretty much all the time in one way or another.

Mr H handles Checkbook Two and I handle Checkbook One. I've written quite a bit in the last 11 or so months about Checkbook One - with persistence and changes to some parts of our financial life it's finally not being overspent. Part of these changes involve some real effort on my part to not just spend money randomly. Mr H has noted that Checkbook Two is running a bit low. He's concerned. . . but I'm not seeing much effort or involvement on his part to figure out and solve this problem.

I can't change Mr H's very deeply held beliefs. . . that I'm not even sure he recognizes as having. But I am going to continue to point out cause and effect in our lives, to the best of my ability to do so.

*I should qualify this. It looks like he does see this in very short term efforts, things that can be completed in four hours or less. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [48792] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 48792 [entry_title] => January and February Update [entry_stub] => january-and-february-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/02/25/january-and-february-update_48792/ [entry_date] => 1235624194 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-02-25 20:56:34 [entry_text] => We spent a little over a month being sick here in the onion patch - all of us, Mr H, Daisy and me. I finally went to visit my doc and got antibiotics. Normally I'm not in favor of that stuff (plus a doctor visit isn't cheap, even with insurance) but I could feel the difference within one hour of taking the first dose. So it was a good decision. Being sick put me in a stupor. It wasn't a terribly productive month.

Checkbook One had a small surplus in January and looks to have the same in February. That will be three months in a row now that Checkbook One has not been overspent. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

We had a windfall and now our EF is funded for six months. That would be six *tight* months, but I feel relief about our EF.

I've been soliciting Mr H's feedback on the budget for Checkbook One. Usually he doesn't give much. One day he expressed frustration "because the money's already spent". I went back and tried to figure out what he meant, because isn't that the point of a budget - to prioritize and spend your money on paper first? I never did get a clear answer, but I suspect he wants to spend money on some items and doesn't feel like he can. I added a "wish list" to the bottom of the budget page. If there's a surplus we can look at spending money on those items. Some items Mr H would like are on that list.

I've made good progress on Goals 2 and 3, but none on Goal 4.

Mr H and I have had many, many short and sweet financial conversations in the last two months. The all start with one person stating something they want or something that needs to be purchased and the other person asking how we will pay for it. Fortunately they have been civil and productive discussions. It's definite progress for us.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47735] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47735 [entry_title] => Budget Update and Goal Update [entry_stub] => budget-update-and-goal-update [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/24/budget-update-and-goal-update_47735/ [entry_date] => 1232821733 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-24 10:28:53 [entry_text] => I've decided that updating the budget for Checkbook One on Thursdays works well. So far so good. We are still under or at budget in all categories for Checkbook One. I think we'll even make the budget in the grocery category this month and not be 21% over.

I've moved what used to be Goal 1 off to a page. It is fun to look at past accomplishments but I don't want to get stuck there!

Goal 3: Decrease food costs. I've given it a dollar figure. Some people here might wonder why the budget is set at $650 for just three people. Two reasons: It includes personal care and cleaning supplies (and also any eating out), and I value organic and locally produced food and that adds up. To bring the costs down I've done things like look for sales on food that we typically buy, change some things about our diets (oatmeal instead of cold cereal for example), and figure out how best to use meat and dairy products which seem to be the most expensive categories in the food budget. Last year's average was higher than this, so it's definitely an improvement.

Future goal: Develop a source of "egg money". Here's a definition I found of egg money:

Before World War II, most eggs were produced by small flocks that scratched their way around the barnyard. The farmer's wife usually supervised the operation. The money received from the sale of the eggs was considered hers. Source: http://www.georgiaeggs.org/pages/eggmoney.html

I started tutoring a couple of weeks ago. . . and I really like it! I'm tutoring math with younger children using materials I'm already familiar with. I'm not charging enough, and both my client and me know that. But as I told her, she's helping train me so we're both winning. We will re-evaluate the fees in a month or so.

While the definition of egg money posted above has it under the control of the farmer's wife, I asked the farmer what he thought we should do with the money. He had no opinion. So I suggested that a percentage of it be set aside for taxes, 15% for the EF or retirement and the rest in to Checkbook One. He was agreeable. It's not a whole lot in to the checkbook but it might be enough to fund our summer camping trips. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47523] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3289] => Array ( [category_id] => 3289 [category_name] => EF [category_stub] => ef ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47523 [entry_title] => 2009 Goals Update [entry_stub] => 2009-goals-update- [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/18/2009-goals-update-_47523/ [entry_date] => 1232339437 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-18 20:30:37 [entry_text] => Mr H and I had a discussion about the EF in December. We agreed to take some of his bonus money and add it to the 4496.85 already in the Emergency Fund. We later discussed what type of account to put this money in and decided to put it in a three month CD. While it's possible we could lose some interest if we had to tap in to the account, it wouldn't be a huge loss. If we don't have to tap in to it the account will earn better interest than a money market account would.

So, Goal 1 (emergency fund to 8625.00) on my list is completed, six months ahead of schedule!

Goals 2 (budget for checkbook 1) and 3 (decrease food costs) are in progress, with more progress on 2 than 3 I'd say.

Goal 4 (stay away from coffee shops) has had minimal progress. I was given a Starbucks gift card which has helped our bottom line but not my coffee-out habit.

Goal 5 will probably get moved elsewhere, but I may blog about it from time to time.

I will add a goal of earning part-time or sporadic income. This has been in my head for a while, but strangely it's also under way. I was asked by a friend to help tutor some of her children. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [47457] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 47457 [entry_title] => Checkbook One Conclusions [entry_stub] => checkbook-one-conclusions [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/01/17/checkbook-one-conclusions_47457/ [entry_date] => 1232204487 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-01-17 07:01:27 [entry_text] => I've been giving some thought as to why we suddenly didn't overspend Checkbook One in December. I have been concerned about this problem since I started blogging here in April, but feel like I have been chasing my tail trying to solve it.

I've come to the conclusion that it's just perseverance in trying to figure out where we went wrong each month and correct that. (Having bad weather for about two weeks which limited us leaving the house also helped. When you don't leave the house you don't spend money or use up your gas.) So, I suppose it's not really sudden at all.

Our top three problems with Checkbook One were the credit card, spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started, and not having a spending plan that works.

Credit card: Although we pay off our credit card every month, it's psychologically hard to write a check for one-quarter to one-third of the amount in your checkbook at the beginning of the month. Our credit card usage increased over the years as stores stopped taking checks. I got a debit card a while ago, and Mr H got one a couple of months ago. Where we regularly used to put gas and take-and-bake pizzas on the credit card we now put them on the debit card. "Pay as you go" is working better than "put off the paying until next month". Don't people spend 23% more when they use a credit card?

Spending during the week between the time that Mr H got his check and the new month started: Okay, that was me. . . and it wasn't THAT much. . . but enough to kill the budget. I wrote about this last spring. I called it "The Dead Zone". My brain kind of went on holiday during that week. What was I thinking? I wasn't thinking, and that was the problem.

Not having a spending plan that works: There are so many ways to write a budget. For this checkbook and us, having a limited number of categories and looking at the amount left in each category weekly, on Friday, seemed to do the trick. We have the following categories: Grocery/Personal Care/Cleaning, Gas, Church Contribution, Bowling, Master Card and Everything Else. (Regular bills like mortgage, insurance etc are paid out of another checkbook.) The Everything Else category scares me - the dollar amount is limited and it covers a huge number of other categories like clothing, gifts, office supplies, household items and yard and garden. But lumping these into "Everything Else" works better than trying to allocate a few dollars into each of the sub-categories. Or at least it did this month.

January is looking good so far. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

Would You Ever Have a Blog?

December 28th, 2010 at 07:06 pm

My mother asked me this the other day as I read something from my blog reader to her. She was visiting from out of state for Christmas.

I don't really like to lie to my mother, so I think I side stepped the question. Did I want to explain to her that I already have a few languishing blogs, including this one? No I did not.

But. . .

Thrift-o-rama recently commented on how blogging must be magic, because if you write it on your side bar magic seems to happen and the goal you were pursuing falls in your lap. When I started this blog almost three years ago my biggest money issue was really a relationship issue - how to get Mr H involved in our finances. In the early part of our marriage he was somewhat involved. I woke up one day about 10 years ago and realized that he was not involved at all I was making all the decisions, paying all the bills and dealing with all the stress by myself. As time passed I realized that I could drop the bill paying on him without too much stress on either of our parts. I had set the finances up so the bill paying was all done using an account that didn't generally run short (the stressful part of bill paying) and Mr H excels at routine tasks. Paying the bills and making entries in quicken was easy for him (and he does something similar as part of his job) and also exposed him to our general finances. But he still wasn't really involved in financial decision making. He also wasn't very engaged in other parts of our mutual life that are outside the scope of this blog. I wrote several times about my attempts to get him involved in our financial life. Each attempt required planning, preparation and strategy. My attempts were somewhat successful although they did wear me out a bit.

In this last year. . . something happened. Part of the something was that Mr H's father died after a short illness. A death of a parent pretty much always seems to get a person to think about their life. Mr H tends to avoid thinking about and dealing with stuff (I don't mean this unkindly; I think even he would tell you that about himself) but I think his dad's death coupled with some boundaries I'd set got his attention. In the last months he:

Initiated a Sunday meeting to discuss general finances. We now do discuss finances more regularly and HE initiates it.
Had his car totaled (he's fine, was hit on an on ramp while waiting for a flow restrictor light). Used insurance proceeds to purchase a new used car and handled all the details with it.
Received his annual bonus; realized that he'd made more money this year than any year previous. Seemed quite proud of that.
Worked extra on an irregular basis; set money aside for taxes and, using percentages we'd decided on together, allocated money for family fun, car replacement, retirement, and mortgage payoff.
Opened a Roth IRA. Was tickled when it made more money than our savings accounts and CD's.
Thanked me for not giving up on long term goals even though he didn't participate for most of our marriage. He realizes that my focus got us where we are today. Although we've had lots of other problems (outside the scope of this blog) our financial picture has been modest but comfortable. Focusing on a long-term strategy means that the bumps of life (like his car being totaled) are just bumps and not huge stressors.
Wanted to discuss what to do with his annual bonus. He already has ideas he didn't wait for me to make suggestions and then just agree with them.

Is this really my life? Maybe this year will bring us out of the onion patch and into a flower garden.
I bring problem to Mr H's attention --> I suggest we work to solve the problem --> Mr H verbally attacks me/reacts by "solving" the problem with the first solution that comes to his head (even/especially if it's one we both hate and it doesn't solve the problem!) --> I later solve the problem by myself or the problem remains unsolved (and uncomfortable for me) --> Mr H experiences that everything "just works out". Dysfunctional? You bet. At the beginning of our marriage I gave him the benefit of the doubt, believed that he would eventually come to see how unproductive this was. Now I realize that I was just way too nice and forgiving . . . but trying to change this pattern requires the full emotional amour because no woman wants to be verbally attacked by her husband. . . and yet I've been down this path enough to know that's pretty much what's going to happen. Much earlier in our marriage I asked Mr H what I could say or do differently to help this situation, or if there was another approach to take. He had no response.

In this instance, the problem is that there is no obvious source of money for these savings. Our budget's stretched pretty thin. Pointing this out to Mr H, and that, if it's not funded it's not a priority, and that bothers me . . . brought the predictable response. Mr H's solution was to sell my car and have us become a one car family, and since Daisy will be homeschooled next year she and I could just stay home all the time. He needs his car for work so of course he'll get to have it every day. It was way less pleasant than I'm reporting it here. Ouch.

At the heart of it though is what seems to be an irresolvable difference in priorities, and an unwillingness to change with circumstances.

Our income is unlikely to go up in the near future. Mr H will not work harder/smarter/more than he is now, and I'm unwilling to sacrifice my home life at this time for another corporate job. (I had two working parents and neither of them were really around to raise us. When Daisy is 18 I plan to work full time and more to make up for what was not saved during this time.) I'm very concerned about retirement savings, planning ahead for seen and unseen expenditures, and having a home life. Mr H appears to be concerned about keeping the house (and only this house) and not having to make any changes to anything about his life. I would be happy to sell the house and go to one car if we lived somewhere where walking and public transportation were more workable. Mr H wouldn't hear of selling this house. We're at something of an impasse.

In the end, I relentlessly forced us to stay focused on the problem. Mr H backed down a bit and apologized. It's progress for us, although sometimes I feel like having to work this hard (and unpleasantly) with him on *every* problem that occurs in our lives is going to kill me.

We agreed to discuss income generating ideas and saving ideas in a couple of weeks. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [50440] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) [3332] => Array ( [category_id] => 3332 [category_name] => Frugal Experiments [category_stub] => frugal-experiments ) ) [entry_id] => 50440 [entry_title] => Reflections on a year of blogging [entry_stub] => reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/04/18/reflections-on-a-year-of-blogging_50440/ [entry_date] => 1240113008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-04-18 20:50:08 [entry_text] => Well, my blogoversary has passed without much fanfare. I don't post much and I guess I'm kind of a lazy blogger. But even the little I've done in the past year has brought some positive changes in my life.

* While Mr H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page, we have more productive discussions. I initiate most conversations, but every now and again he'll bring up something related to our financial life. It's progress.

* I've learned that to engage Mr H in almost anything involves stages. First he ignores what I'm saying, then I provoke him**, then he reacts, then I gently tell him that he's reacting and suggest that we look at different options to solve the problem. Then he'll come through. Kind of. It's kind of dysfunctional, but it works better than him ignoring the situation and me finally just solving the problem on my own. (That has been the dynamic for most of our marriage.) Not all of our discussions are this way, but bringing up anything new is.

* We have a budget that balances for Checkbook One. It took several months to get there. It didn't balance, really, for about five years.

* We have a grocery/food budget that balances. We have never spent that little on food. We're eating well. I actually don't mind this part. It's fun to get creative with food, and I have done it for many years. I'm just way more conscious now, trying to use leftovers before they spoil and figure out how to have great dinners with lower cost foods.

* We have an emergency fund, that is designated as an emergency fund. I feel a lot less anxious.

* We have a plan for increasing retirement savings.


Everyone here has been so kind and helpful. I have been so grateful for the support. Thank you all so much!


** Believe me, I really don't want to provoke him. However it seems to be the only way I can get him to engage. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49849] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [2715] => Array ( [category_id] => 2715 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 49849 [entry_title] => Retirement [entry_stub] => retirement [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/28/retirement_49849/ [entry_date] => 1238264405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-28 11:20:05 [entry_text] => As you can probably guess, retirement is a source of contention in the onion patch.

Mr H's approach is: he'll work until he can't work any more, then he'll live on savings, then the government will support him. (You'll notice that it's "he" and not "we", although I think the "we" is somewhat implied.)

This is not what I would want for my older age, but I'm willing to live with it - up to a point. In order to live on savings, we have to be saving now, and all the time until then. We've saved relatively little - we have the 401k that I contributed to during my corporate years. That is 10 (or is it 9? I may not have been able to contribute the first year, although I don't remember now) years out of a total of 28 years of my working life (starting the count at age 18). DH has no pensions or 401k's from any present or past employers from his 28 years of working life.

Now that the budget is balancing with regularity I'm turning my sights toward saving 15% of our income savings for retirement. Is this enough? Probably not, but we have to start some where.

It seems like an impossible goal, but then we've managed to keep the food budget at a limit that I never would have imagined a year ago, and it hasn't been that hard. And with the few changes I made over several months getting checkbook one to balance hasn't been that difficult either.

After a rather heated discussion last week I think I've finally convinced him that in order to live off savings we have to be saving now, that he must be involved in this, and that a graduated approach (first 1%, then 2% etc up to 15%)* is the most reasonable approach. Starting in April we will be saving 2% of our monthly income towards retirement/old age.

*I have been setting aside 15% of my tutoring money since I started tutoring in January - trying to move us in that direction. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49123] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49123 [entry_title] => Do we have enough? [entry_stub] => do-we-have-enough [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/06/do-we-have-enough_49123/ [entry_date] => 1236376390 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-06 13:53:10 [entry_text] => Do we have enough in Checkbook One to buy some bird food? Yes, Mr H asked me this last night. Looks like he's getting with the program.

I just finished running the numbers (I'm behind) and we had a $248.72 surplus in Checkbook One for February. Wow, this budget thing is working!

Unfortunately, the temptation now is to spend. I haven't yet figured out what we've spent so far for March, but I have given in to the temptation a bit. It's so easy to get careless. I'm reigning myself in and getting back into "keeping our money" mode.

I have decided that my tutoring money will go towards our annual Memorial Day camping trip. Expenses for this trip include space in the campground (already paid for), ferry fare for two vehicles, extra gas money and extra food costs. You would think that we would just eat normally but no. . . our camping diet includes things like s'more fixings, bacon, snack foods and beer and wine, and those food items add up.

I love camping. I love sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent (even in pouring down rain), I love getting up and making coffee and looking at the beautiful surroundings, I love sitting by the campfire on damp mornings, I love Mr H's obsession with tarps, I love our friends who we camp with, I love my camping clothes (wool sweaters, long johns and rain poncho in addition to other layers). I'm getting giddy just thinking about this trip. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [49041] => Array ( [journal_id] => 3366 [journal_url] => petunia [author_photo] => 1 [journal_name] => Petunia in a Flower Garden [journal_author] => Petunia [journal_author_email] => westernredcedar1@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [2698] => Array ( [category_id] => 2698 [category_name] => Checkbook Number One [category_stub] => checkbook-number-one ) [2707] => Array ( [category_id] => 2707 [category_name] => DH and Money [category_stub] => dh-and-money ) [3290] => Array ( [category_id] => 3290 [category_name] => Goals 2009 [category_stub] => goals-2009 ) ) [entry_id] => 49041 [entry_title] => How'd we do in February? [entry_stub] => howd-we-do-in-february [entry_url] => https://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/03/04/howd-we-do-in-february_49041/ [entry_date] => 1236202398 [entry_date_mysql] => 2009-03-04 13:33:18 [entry_text] => These words came out of the mouth of Mr. H on the first day of March.

I'm shocked and thrilled. Mr H seems to be engaging a little more in our financial life. I didn't have the information for him - we had commitments throughout the weekend that kept me busy. But even with a last-minute burst of spending we are still had a surplus in Checkbook One for the month of February. Yay us!

I'm reading an interesting book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's apparently on the best seller list, and discusses why some people are super-successful in what they do. There are lots of interesting observations made, but the one I am finding useful at the moment is the contrast between Chinese rice-growing farmer's proverbs and Russian peasant's proverbs. (It's on page 237.) Here is one listed as the Chinese farmer's: "If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy." Here is one attributed to Russian peasants: "If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it." Do proverbs express what the cultural beliefs are, or do they shape the cultural beliefs, or both? In a way it doesn't matter. Gladwell discusses the cultures that produced both of these proverbs and how the proverbs might have developed.

I'm not a Chinese farmer and Mr H isn't a Russian peasant, but I think the two proverbs above express our very different attitudes towards life. I am working to make things happen and Mr H is waiting for something to happen that he will then react to. In a way we both have a self-fulfilling prophecy - things happen because of my efforts, but to Mr H it looks like things "just happened". It's become clearer to me over the last year that Mr H really doesn't see much of connection between his efforts and his results.* Which is fine, except when we try to work together. . . which in a marriage is pretty much all the time in one way or another.

Mr H handles Checkbook Two and I handle Checkbook One. I've written quite a bit in the last 11 or so months about Checkbook One - with persistence and changes to some parts of our financial life it's finally not being overspent. Part of these changes involve some real effort on my part to not just spend money randomly. Mr H has noted that Checkbook Two is running a bit low. He's concerned. . . but I'm not seeing much effort or involvement on his part to figure out and solve this problem.

I can't change Mr H's very deeply held beliefs. . . that I'm not even sure he recognizes as having. But I am going to continue to point out cause and effect in our lives, to the best of my ab