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AIBU to be careful with money?

(113 Posts)
mailfuckoff Fri 10-Mar-17 05:51:39

DH and I are careful with money, we don't spend on lots of stuff and think carefully before spending. We try to get the best value we can and do buy second hand if we can. I earn a good amount and we have thousands in the bank. However we both came from poor familes and I don't want my dc to worry about food or be cold. So I need a safety net in the bank just in case. The only sent we have is the mortgage and I'm over paying on that as much as I can. However at what point does being careful go to far and how do you know if you are tight? I would hate people to think we are mean.

EveOnline2016 Fri 10-Mar-17 05:58:43

I think it's sensible.

You say you have thousands in the bank, but in reality how far would that go if either you or DH was out of work.

SilenceOfThePrams Fri 10-Mar-17 06:11:46

Sensible with money: keeping an eye on your spending, be aware where all your money goes.

Mean with money : making the family go without when you don't have to, so for example not letting your child go on essential school trips because you don't want to spend £15 for the day. As opposed to not letting them because that £15 is needed to feed the family.

Sensible : handing on secondhand clothes from one child to the next.

Mean: making the children wear outgrown and damaged clothing rather than replacing it, when you have the means to do so. Again, not when you're actually living on the breadline and genuinely can't afford it.

Sensible with money: doing your research, picking good value holidays, deciding to leave at 5am instead of 8 and spend the saved money on treats once you're there.

Mean with money: never booking a holiday at all because the thought of dipping into the savings you have makes you feel ill.

Sensible: shop wisely, bargain hunt, cook from scratch with cheap ingredients, save meals out for a treat, and enjoy picnics.

Mean: refuse ever to go to a cafe (when you could afford to without causing financial problems), not letting your children meet up with friends anywhere that costs money ever, take the essential kit list from whatever hobby your child has and supply not the things on the list, but the cheaper not-quite-right options and tell them it's character building.

Sensible: save for house renovations, holidays, replacement cars, delay purchase whilst you save for them, and then buy outright rather than go into debt for them.

Mean: have the money available in your eg decorating fund but decide on balance that since no one ever enters your house, your teenage daughter doesn't actually need to change her room from the nursery prints she loved twelve years ago after all.

Critically, for me, the "mean" side of things assumes you can afford to do these things and simply choose not to preferring to see your savings grow faster. They become sensible when you have no money at all. But you said that wasn't the case for you.

It becomes mean I think when your satisfaction at salting away yet more money against a rainy day outweighs your pleasure at eg treating the children to a hot chocolate and a donut after a long cold walk. Or when you find yourselves making do with lukewarm water and no heating for years, because you prefer to watch your savings grow than use them to replace the boiler - fine if it's just you that's affecting, but mean when it means your children are going to school unwashed and with chilblains, and when you could afford to fix it but can't bear to let yourself spend the money.

Sensible: set your children up with savings accounts and encourage them to use them, I still good financial sense into them, including the idea of delayed gratification.

Mean: taking any money they get for birthdays/Christmas/jobs for neighbours, and insisting every penny goes into the savings account and that they must never ever make a withdrawal.

mailfuckoff Fri 10-Mar-17 06:19:30

Thanks for the replies. I think from your list we are sensible rather then mean. DC get the same oppotunitues as others I think (school trips, days out and activities) although I refuse to get them tv's for bedrooms and more games consoles then the couple we already have. We do have snacks out but will take a picnic as well. DC probably better treated them DH and myself as we find it hard to spend money on ourselves. We are spending money on decorating the house this year (and getting someone to do it properly) and we will be having a holiday.

sabzii Fri 10-Mar-17 06:27:11

Sensible to save and build your safety net.

Why are you worried you come across as mean? Do you scrimp on hosting/gifts/days out with others?
If so I think YAB a bit U.

We have friends who earn good salaries but spend the bare minimum when hosting (cheapest food and drink for dinner parties or ask people to bring a dish/bottle), bring cheap wine when attending dinner party at ours, give birthday gifts from charity shop etc. Quibble over who had what if group wants to split bill. Yet they go on fancy holidays 3x year!

Where friends and family are concerned I think it's good to be generous. We splash out on nice food whenever people come round, days out and meals out with friends, generous gifts at birthdays etc. Being savvy with money is good but friends, family and shared experiences are important too. People warm to generosity.

skerrywind Fri 10-Mar-17 06:43:38

OP I come from a similar background to you
I prefer to save than spend, but I don't find it hard to walk that line between miserly and careful.

99% of my clothes and furniture are second hand. My car cost £700 four years ago. a lot of my shopping is value brand. I get my hair cut twice a year and use £1 box dyes I never buy magazines, rarely a coffee whan out, bags, shoes and jewelery don't interest me. My cosmetics come from ALDI/ Poundshop.
But I don't mind that because "stuff" doesn't interest me. OH is the same.
We have 4 years of salary in the bank.

However- both kids have iphone 6/7, DDs dance fees are £200 a month which I happily pay, I will pay out for good fruit and veg, go the odd cheap holiday abroad, kids enjoy a takeaway meal weekly, Kids have all the clothes they need ( although they show little interest in clothes with labels, maybe the odd pair of converse or Ugg boots)

So in all I feel happy with the balance.

IamFriedSpam Fri 10-Mar-17 06:56:55

It's a good idea to have a safety net - I'm the same, and I don't like to be wasteful. On the other hand if you're massively compromising your standard of life now just to save a few extra pennies it's probably gone too far. Do you spend on things like days out? Hobbies for your kids (not talking an expensive club every night but things like council swimming lessons or football club)? Occasional treats? If so I think you're fine.

Bumblebiscuits Fri 10-Mar-17 07:01:10

Generally you don't sound mean, just sensible. But I'd be careful with too much self denial. My mother never went to the hairdressers, bought clothes second hand, never replaced old stuff in the house, and then ended up buying a house outright as an investment. We all thought we were poor! Anyhow, it's made me feel guilty about treating myself to anything. I do it but there's still that feeling of overindulgence. There's a massive difference between not being able to afford something - I'm the queen of self denial if I need to budget - to denying yourself for no real reason. If I were you I'd treat myself occasionally, so the dc can see you modelling the idea that, while being sensible with money is a good thing, there's nothing wrong with occasionally indulging your own needs and wants as much as those of others.

OhTheRoses Fri 10-Mar-17 07:08:30

ILS: DH and his sisters remember being hungry as children - there was never enough for seconds. Everything came from the mill shop, years out of date, holidays were in Scarborough or Brid and they remember sharing a 99. The house was not decorated between 1960 and 2008 when the heating and electric were condemned when a fire broke. DH offered to give them £30,000 for the work worried they had no money. FIL died three months later. He had more than a million in the bank. That's mean. They didn't buy ds a present on his first birthday. Try waited until after Christmas for the sales to get a reduced sit on tractor for £12. His birthday is on Christmas day and it was a combined present for both. He's 22 now and I've never forgotten that.

That's mean OP.

IamFriedSpam Fri 10-Mar-17 07:28:39

OhTheRoses shock that sounds pathological to be honest. I kind of feel sorry for them.

PolarBearGoingSomewhere Fri 10-Mar-17 07:29:10

When money is not very very tight, I'd say

Being careful - shopping at Aldi, having a well-maintained and safe older car, passing down clothes in good condition, choosing a kid's birthday party present that they will love in the sales, taking a picnic on days out

Being mean - insisting that meals are only ever "whoopsie" bargains even if no one likes them, driving an unsafe car, only letting kids have hand-me-downs even if they're tatty or don't suit them, not attending the party so you don't have to "shell out" for a gift, not going on day trips

I think you're ok OP. It's all about striking a balance between saving for a rainy day and enjoying life now. My grandma, when she was poorly in her eighties, banged on about saving for a rainy day while denying herself the M&S fruit salads she loved. That was hard to see, but perhaps a natural reaction to being a wartime baby.

TheNaze73 Fri 10-Mar-17 07:33:01

You sound sensible & prudent OP. Nothing wrong with that

lottieandmia Fri 10-Mar-17 07:37:23

My definition of mean was a (well off) man who wouldn't buy himself a pair of new shoes even though his current shoes had holes in and were letting in the rain.

sonlypuppyfat Fri 10-Mar-17 07:40:20

My parents were the most wonderful loving parents, but very very careful with money. I only went on 3 holidays and never abroad. My mum even borrowed clothes off a friend to go on holiday! We ate well but we would never ever eat out. And my wardrobe was pretty sparse, I only had one pair of shoes and they were my school shoes. Be careful your being careful with money means you don't get to enjoy life

HRHCocoa Fri 10-Mar-17 07:43:02

PolarBear sums it up for me perfectly. We shop at Aldi, we have a 17 year old car that does us very nicely. We only have one car because we only need a second car maybe 3 times a year. I buy my clothes from M&Co, or tescos or from charity shops.

But I think we are very generous hosts - and guests. A friend of DH's is turning 55 this year so we are buying him a bottle of whiskey (he loves whiskey) that is over £200 for example. I have a friend who lives 300 miles from us- when she comes each year to visit we pay her travel costs etc.

Another friend of mine is what I consider to be 'tight'. She calculates her share of a meal down to how many slices of garlic bread she ate. She quite often 'forgets' her wallet. She is always complaining about how skint she is. We were in London last week (we both live far away and were meeting up) and she insisted on us having dinner at a McDonalds because it was too expensive otherwise. Yet- she boasts about her 8 rental properties and the fact she has a mortgage on just one of them. Her constant topic of conversation is about money and who earns what and how much someone might be getting in an inheritance for example. She's funny, and great company, but the constant money talk I find a little exhausting.

Letseatgrandma Fri 10-Mar-17 07:46:33

You say you're worried people might think you are mean-that's a strange thing to think.

Who do you think might think this about you and why? Do you buy other people rubbish presents? Do you go to people's houses for dinner but not reciprocate the offer etc?

AstrantiaMajor Fri 10-Mar-17 07:48:53

Back in the 70s when our DC were primary age, I think that our friends thought we were mean. We did not have car, foreign holidays,fancy big toys or nice furniture. We also had no debt nor were we constantly remortgaging our house to spend the equity. I used to worry whether the children thought they were missing out. Like you, we came from very poor backgrounds and our priorities were to make sure the children were well fed, well clothed and we could make the rent if DH lost his job.

Fast forward to now and my 3 DC are all careful with money and seem to raising their kids as they were raised. I think meanness is more in the spirit of begrudging spending, denying yourself any treats and taking advantage of others. Careful with money is a sensible description for what you are doing.

MuffinMad Fri 10-Mar-17 07:51:09

I know exactly where you're coming from.
My husband and I are both retired now. We didn't get married till later in life. When I was on my own with children I didn't have much,but I was very thrifty.
After we were married,it took a while to get used to the extra income and because I wasn't used to spending (he felt the same as me), we found our savings built up.
We still live now as we did then. We buy clothes in sales, look out for food bargains etc. And we do enjoy nights out and holidays.

But the best thing of all is that we have shown our children that they could live the same way without going into debt and just being a bit careful. They are all grown now and are doing well with savings and have a good eye for a bargain!

HRHCocoa Fri 10-Mar-17 07:52:03

Astrantja has the definition of meanness down just right I think.

MrEBear Fri 10-Mar-17 07:53:55

Mean: taking any money they get for birthdays/Christmas/jobs for neighbours, and insisting every penny goes into the savings account and that they must never ever make a withdrawal.

My DS 6 has more toys than he knows what to do with and gets pocket money. However Birthday / Christmas money I tend to put in his savings account. Is that classed as mean?

JoJoSM2 Fri 10-Mar-17 08:03:04

It sounds like you're living within your means, le paying the mortgage, have some savings, presumably pension, too? And spend some money on the essentials as well as treats. 2 consoles in the house is a lot, tbh...

PolarBearGoingSomewhere Fri 10-Mar-17 08:04:08

MrEBear I would say not, unless he has asked for something specific (like a particular Lego set) and isn't allowed to spend his money on it.

Personally we let our girls have a few pounds in a purse as fritter money in the weeks around their birthday /Christmas - they love to spend it in a gift shop on a day out or buy themselves a Kinder Egg . Our eldest chose to take a friend to the cinema with her birhday money. Whatever is left would be saved.

Rafflesway Fri 10-Mar-17 08:04:47

Oldish buffer here mail and TBH you and your DH sound just like DH and me.

We have always been "Careful" without being tight wads, i.e. We always lived comfortably within our means but always had holidays abroad and nice cars. We were never ones for going out and preferred nice meals with lots of good wine at home. (DH was an exec head chef in luxury hotels for much of his career so no hardship there smile)

Our prudence paid off in dividends! We have lots of investments, great pensions, no mortgage on our very nice detached country home - oop North - and our disabled adult DD has always had a wonderful life and wants for nothing.
Both DH and I retired very early and take at least 3 luxury longhaul holidays each year plus brand new cars every 2-3 years.

My BFF on the other hand is totally the opposite and has always spent gazillions in renting in the very best areas of London, eating at the finest restaurants, flying business class everywhere etc. and thinks DH and I are nuts for STILL being prudent.
Unfortunately she blew a very large inheritance in less than 5 years during which time she paid very little interest to her previously very successful business. She is now almost broke and could lose pretty much everything. Her choice I totally agree but I wish she had been a little more sensible with the inheritance as it would have seen her comfortable for life. However, that wasn't her choice and I totally respect that.

We are all different and all entitled to live how we prefer. My BFF, even though she is now scared for her future, has no regrets at all as she is very much a "Live for today" type of person and I am completely the opposite. As long as you are happy with your choice, who is to say which is right?

Garnethair Fri 10-Mar-17 08:11:07

I think we all prioritise our spending money in different ways. I have friends who eat our several times a week, take many short break holidays every year, buy designer clothes. None of these things interest me. I'm as happy with a McDonald's every so often as I would be with an expensive meal out. I could afford a new luxury car, but drive a small six year old car. However, I do spend a great deal on my horses and don't think twice about doing so.

RiverStyx Fri 10-Mar-17 08:14:23

I am careful with money because I'm worried about my financial future. The money I do let us spend is still fairly generous, but funnelled into holidays and days out because those are my happy memories from childhood.

I've discussed this with my children and given them the opportunity to pipe up if they'd rather spend more day to day. They love how we prioritise. We have a nice house full of nice old or secondhand things, they have generous pocket money to buy whatever they feel is important (including clothes after a certain age, with big bump in pocket money rates accordingly), I am relaxed with a big chunk going into savings every month, and we have lots of lovely holidays. They are always welcome to have parties and I buy nice things for them and their friends to eat. They can do any activities or lessons they want.

I think mean would be saving everything and not leaving fun money (if a household budget has enough spare for fun money at some level) to be allocated according to everyone's preference. If I spent money on multiple holidays but the kids were dying for a new TV or sofa, that would be mean.

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