Living Below Your Means
How Much is Too Much?

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By jtsandy2
January 10, 2003

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Hi everyone.

I am brand new to this group; in fact, this is my first post on any message board, so please forgive me if I violate any posting etiquette!

I have been married for four years now. While single, I was making $50,000/year, and really didn't give much thought to savings, although I was not in any debt. My car was paid off, my rent was reasonable, and I did not hesitate to treat myself to the latest fashion, or chicest restaurant. There was really nothing left at the end of the month, but I was never worried.

My husband had lived the same way. Small amount of savings, no debt, almost everything going towards clothes, bar tabs and a luxury SUV. He makes a good living as a pro hockey player, but with the exception of a few NHL games 5 years ago, his career has been in the minors or Europe, so not the kind of salary you may be thinking. Not even close!

I stayed behind and continued working the year we were engaged, as I was nervous about becoming one of those "hockey wives", with no life of my own. It was terrible being apart, so I quit my job and am now with him. We have a joint account, credit card, and he would never, ever question a cent that I spent, but it took years before I could get used to "not contributing". (We are Canadian, and his work visa in the States and Europe does not extend to me, believe me, I've tried). I started a budget, and to feel "useful", (my word) I handle all of our money. Every summer he is "unemployed", and there is always a panic around July that maybe that next contract isn't forthcoming. So, we began LBOM. We sold the SUV. We put extra payments down on our mortgage, so that we could re-finance back over 25 years if we had to. We set up a six-month emergency fund. We contribute regularly to our retirement funds. We never carry a credit card balance. We go home to eat after games and join the rest of the team at the restaurant/bar later... you get the picture.

The thing is, it is starting to control my life! We are in Europe this year, and I don't really have any friends, can't speak Finnish beyond greetings, and I think that pinching pennies has become my obsession, to the point where I am getting worried. I will NOT buy food that is not on sale. I will not buy new clothes, even though the ones I am wearing are not fitting properly. My hair is orange because I have dyed it out of the box instead of paying for highlights. I make us leave team functions before the 2euro train stops running, because I won't pay for a cab (if we're drinking) or parking. I often find myself in a panic, calculator in hand, adding up how long we would "last" if he didn't get another contract in September. We are 30, and I want to start a family, but feel I can't because if there is no job for him in September I would have to go to work full time (great b/c I am bored silly, bad b/c I always envisioned being home with kids). Husband is halfway through University degree so at best would be able to work part time then, with no job experience that doesn't involve a stick and puck.

So how do you guys do it? How do you prevent yourselves from becoming obsessed like me? I started LBMM to prevent a lack of money taking over our lives, and the result is...that money has taken over my life. The sheer exhilaration I feel knocking 20euro off of our weekly budget is topped only by the fun I have logging on to our bank statements and checking to see how much our pre-payments knock down our mortgage. I do this almost every day, and we only pay bi-weekly, so it's not like anything is going to change!

So...How Much is Too Much? (Thanks for listening!)

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