Why are the lights off? Matthew & Leslie Part 2

Leslie and Matthew have been married for almost a decade. In this episode, Leslie and Matthew share the answers to the questions they had been asked in the previous session.

Time Stamped Notes

[3:43] Matthew and Leslie both selected insecure and determined as two emotions they feel towards their present money situation. Other emotions that Matthew had are frustrated, proud, happy, satisfied, comfortable, insecure, content, motivated, worried, excited and nervous. On the hand, Leslie’s feelings were overwhelmed, annoyed, resentful, hopeful, scared, insecure, determined, tense, trapped and envious.


[6:27] Leslie share the vision they have for their financial lives. Leslie envisions a financial future that allows them to lead comfortable. Their home will be clean and organized. A housekeeper will come once a week. Furniture and other household items are replaced as needed and always look up to date. If something breaks, they can afford to fix or replace it. She hopes that household chores such as gardening and repainting can be outsourced so that they can enjoy their weekends. Leslie also visualizes them going on one to two vacations a year. Hopefully, as the children get older one of those vacations will be just the two of them. They will vacation on a budget but be able to stay in comfortable places. Leslie also hopes she can get her nails done every few weeks, join whatever gym she wants and buy a few items of clothing every season.


She expects that they will be able to take their kids to movies or do other fun Sunday activities without it affecting their standard of living. The children will be able to take up whatever afterschool activities they desire. This will have a positive effect on their relationships with others because they will be able to go out more often and not worry about money. It will also have a positive effect on their relationship with each other because Matthew will not be so worried about money all the time.


[8:56] Matthew shares his financial vision. He will be able to pay off his debt. Car, student loans and house hopefully within 20 years. Matthew expects that they will have enough money saved in retirement to actually contemplate retiring. In his free time, he enjoys cooking outdoors, bike hikes and make things in the workshop in the unusable son room and read. Matthew hopes to prioritize family over friends and he typically does not want to go out after coming home. He admits he used to go out to a men’s club and he hated it. He found he needed some time at the end of the day for personal time and for wife time.


[10:36] Matthew’s family were immigrants to America and so he always different. As a child, his parents showered him with love but not with tons of gifts. His parents met and were married in 1977 and he was born in 1979. They moved to Tampa from South Africa. In South Africa, they lived a good life. A nice house in a good area. They went on two weeks’ vacation every summer to the beach. When they came to America, it was as if they started all over. The money his parents were able to bring out was worth a lot less than the blood, sweat and tears it took to create. Matthew’s father came knowing he had a job which vaporized when he got to the U.S. He then spent many years studying and retaking the same engineering exams which he took in his early 20s all just to compete and get a good job.


Matthew’s parents taught them to save. They got savings accounts as kids and deposited their own money into it and saw it grow. Money was always there for the reasonable things like books. He did not go to expensive sleepaway camps. However, he did go a week here and there of sleepaway camp. They also took vacations and trips frequently to visit family in Miami. They took guests from overseas to Disney for the day. They did not eat ramen noodles, but did not have steak every night either. It was somewhere in the middle. They never spoke about money, how much or how little. As kids, they knew, you get what you get and you don’t get upset and you say, thank you. The first years were hard. His dad worked crazy hours while his mom used to work where she was able to. He was quickly domesticated and he learnt how to cook and help out.


[13:07] Matthew learnt early on to be self-sufficient. His parents paid for him to learn how to scuba dive when he was 13 and he worked at his uncle’s animal hospital to earn enough money to go diving. Matthew never cared what others had or did. He just did his own thing. Now, Matthew is frugal and tries to save wherever he can. He gives his kids’ some money education which he did not get. They help to pick things out of the grocery store and understand how much things cost. In his early teens, he earned money, saved it and then spent it. He had goals, unwritten, about what he wanted to do. He cleaned cages and walked dogs at his uncle’s animal shelter. Hard work made him want to save up for the big things like scuba diving and buying a computer. He was not lacking he had defined goals.


[14:11] In college, Matthew worked part-time for the school to pay for rent and food. He saved what he earned and was careful how he spent since he had bills to pay. He did not splurge as much on the fun stuff scuba diving but he did go once in a while with cousins. Once he found how variable some bills were, Matthew found that he was the variable able to control it. He was not lacking but there certainly was not an abundance. His internal dialogue was that a job would be coming and money would come easily, until 9/11 came and there were no jobs. He then moved backed home and his parents moved to Atlanta.


[14:57] Matthew feels that pre-wife were the lean years. He tried Law School but did not succeed. Money was very lacking since he had lots of loans and little coming in from odd jobs and consulting. He knew something would happen but not sure what or when. He applied and got into MBA programs. Once he had grad school and work rocking and rolling, life started to get better. He was busy learning and earning. He was saving what he earned and did not splurge. The only splurge was going on dates which were expensive. When he met Leslie, they merged lives and banks. They had small splurges, occasional dinner out or sushi. They were both working and watching their cash float to make sure they could cover all the bills. They did not have an excessive abundance but they were not lacking. They had their eyes on something they wanted to save up for and they did it.


[17:09] Once they had kids, Matthew feels that money appeared to go out faster than it came in. This time period money is more responsibility since now he’s responsible for everything for a little person who requires so many resources. The splurges are fewer and the wanting is greater and so saving up for the big things which matter is even more important.


[17:57] Leslie views his childhood in two different stages. The first stage was when they lived in Dallas. They lived there till he was 10. Their home was the largest in a quiet neighborhood, it was still smaller than those of his friends. She knew they weren’t rich but never felt they were denied anything. Money was rarely mentioned. When Leslie was 10 years old, her dad lost both of his parents. They moved to Atlanta to be closer to other family members. Her father must have got a nice inheritance or he had been saving because they moved to a much larger house and seemed to have more money. They were not spoiled but money wasn’t an issue. Leslie and her mom did a lot of activities together that cost money. Her favorite was going to the salon with her every two months to get a haircut and then going out to eat with her. It was their date.


They never wanted for anything and so Leslie wants her children to feel them same. Leslie’s parents bought them what they wanted but they never wanted anything so extraordinary. If they did, they spoke to them about needs and wants and if it was a wise choice. If they still wanted it, they supported that, but they had to pay for it themselves.


[19:15] Leslie came out of college with debt. She didn’t understand the concept of interest and so she signed up to different credit card companies. Her father helped her get on a budget and guided her to paying off her debt. Within a few months, she was debt free and able to live on her own while earning $30,000. Leslie was then able to put herself through graduate school without taking out any loans while working fulltime. She came into the marriage with no debt except for a monthly car payment. She was able to live within her means but only writing checks. She never used a credit card. Leslie was really proud of her financial situation. She hadn’t saved much but she could afford the lifestyle she was living without any debt.


[20:54] Leslie and Matthew opened a joint bank account several months before their wedding. They never even considered having separate accounts. Honesty about money came very naturally. They naturally divided the chores and Matthew ended up with opening the mail, balancing the budget, paying the bills. Months would go by and I had no idea how much we had and how much we were spending. This led to some issues. Matthew would get concerned that they had no money left and she was spending all of it. On her side, Leslie would feel that they had lots of money left and Matthew was nitpicking over every penny she spent.


They then started going over their finances every two weeks. Matthew would look at how much money was in the bank account, what expenses were upcoming in the next two weeks, where they would be at payday and the expenses for the following two weeks. At first, it was miserable but as they stuck with it, it got easier and easier. It allowed Leslie to show Matthew that they did indeed have the money for her to spend on some things. Sometimes Leslie also saw that they need to go on austerity measures. Leslie is confident that their kids have an understanding of needs versus wants. They understand that there is only so much to go around. Leslie doesn’t feel that they feel lacking at all.

[23:37] Matthew and Leslie identify their money personalities. Matthew is a security seeker saver. On the other hand, Leslie is a security seeker spender because if she feels a little nervous about her financial situation she’s able to put the brakes on her spending. Leslie hopes that Matthew will see that she is cognisant of their money situation.