The twenty dollar rule

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
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pondering
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The twenty dollar rule

Post by pondering » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:12 pm

To substitute for a budget I asked my wife to tell me before every time she spent more than $20 on groceries or things she needed for work.

These are the purchases she deferred or skipped this month because of the rule:

Aladdin pin, sandals, lots of clothes, necklaces for our elementary school daughter, leotard at Kohl's, necklaces and bracelets at Kohl's.

We also spent 700 dollars on a water heater and 350 on a lawnmower (rather than repair the 4 year old bought used one) so the overall spending was high.

How long should I try this approach to see if it is working? What metrics should I use?
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RickBoglehead
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by RickBoglehead » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:14 pm

Use it until she files for divorce...
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by fortfun » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:15 pm

pondering wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:12 pm
To substitute for a budget I asked my wife to tell me before every time she spent more than $20 on groceries or things she needed for work.

These are the purchases she deferred or skipped this month because of the rule:

Aladdin pin, sandals, lots of clothes, necklaces for our elementary school daughter, leotard at Kohl's, necklaces and bracelets at Kohl's.

We also spent 700 dollars on a water heater and 350 on a lawnmower (rather than repair the 4 year old bought used one) so the overall spending was high.

How long should I try this approach to see if it is working? What metrics should I use?
Until she punches you in the nose :)

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pondering
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by pondering » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:16 pm

I need a like button for that remark :)
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jebmke
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by jebmke » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:22 pm

What is your threshold for telling her about your spending?
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:30 pm

Interesting micro-management.
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delamer
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by delamer » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:31 pm

jebmke wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:22 pm
What is your threshold for telling her about your spending?
Bingo!

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by ThePrince » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:35 pm

pondering wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:12 pm
To substitute for a budget I asked my wife to tell me before every time she spent more than $20 on groceries or things she needed for work.

These are the purchases she deferred or skipped this month because of the rule:

Aladdin pin, sandals, lots of clothes, necklaces for our elementary school daughter, leotard at Kohl's, necklaces and bracelets at Kohl's.

We also spent 700 dollars on a water heater and 350 on a lawnmower (rather than repair the 4 year old bought used one) so the overall spending was high.

How long should I try this approach to see if it is working? What metrics should I use?
You need a budget--what you've proposed is madness. Check out Dave Ramsey in re. budgeting.

drawpoker
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by drawpoker » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:36 pm

Shirley, this has got to a Joke thread, right?
A water heater for $700? Just how long does he expect that to last?
Wife has many ground for divorce here.......

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by Olemiss540 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:39 pm

What a horrible way to live. With you being judge and jury, I am sure resentment is close to follow. Or layaway will become your new friend.

How about YNAB? Make a decision on each budget item, and then who cares if it is all spent at once or in small pieces. As long as you are within the category budget.
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by livesoft » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:40 pm

I'm laughing that folks think this is going to lead to divorce. My spouse doesn't want me wasting money on necklaces and bracelets either.
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delamer
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by delamer » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:43 pm

Track your expenses over a period of 3 months or so, without any restrictions or reporting requirements.

Record every penny.

Then sit down with your wife and review that spending. There will be some eye openers. Then come up with a budget — or spending plan, if you prefer — based on your joint priorities

squirm
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by squirm » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:44 pm

My wife shops at thirft stores, twenty bucks goes a long way there.

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by DanMahowny » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:45 pm

My wife and I do not impose any spending limits on each other.

We do track what we spend and we both make wise spending decisions.

Our spending is congruent with our financial goal- build our net worth.

We NEVER fight about money, EVER.
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DanMahowny
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by DanMahowny » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:45 pm

delamer wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:43 pm
Track your expenses over a period of 3 months or so, without any restrictions or reporting requirements.

Record every penny.

Then sit down with your wife and review that spending. There will be some eye openers. Then come up with a budget — or spending plan, if you prefer — based on your joint priorities
Solid advice right here.
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by tibbitts » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:54 pm

What the OP meant to say was that both he and his spouse report to each other before spending $20 on anything. The rules are the same for both of them. I think that's kind of ridiculous but whatever works for them and is fair to both is fine.

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by squirm » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:54 pm

livesoft wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:40 pm
I'm laughing that folks think this is going to lead to divorce. My spouse doesn't want me wasting money on necklaces and bracelets either.
Neither does mine. My wife grew up dirt poor, lived in a dirty trailer in a ghetto. She's now a very successful manager. We have no desire to flaunt our earrings and she doesn't want me spending money on her. She doesn't care for money and if we were poor she'd be fine with that.

CppCoder
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by CppCoder » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:20 pm

This will work until your wife learns about invoice splitting...

dekecarver
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by dekecarver » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:25 pm

My wife wouldn't even let something like this get started; she works, she contributes to the household, she spends her money the way she sees fit and I have no problem with that. In fact it's probably cheaper that way than a lawyer, stress or wondering.

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by bubbadog » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:27 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:14 pm
Use it until she files for divorce...
Dilly dilly! :sharebeer

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:37 pm

This post must be a joke!
Seems a bit extreme to go to this level of micromanagement.

$700 for a water heater amortized over the life of the unit is less than 6 dollars a month. Create a new line item in your budget - water heater: allocate $10 to this line. In 10 years, you'll have the necessary sum to pay for it.

If your daughter needs clothes and you have the means - buy them!
Sorry, but girls require accessories with their clothes - necklaces and bracelets are necessary.
Did you see the recent thread on bras in Consumer section of the forum? Get ready for a real shock, if you think $20 is going to bust the budget.

What happens if something like this occurs:

OP becomes ill, wife is told the procedure will cost more than $20. OP is incapacitated. Wife says to doctor, sorry but we have a 20 dollar rule, I have to confer with my husband before we even think about spending more than $20 at a time. Doctor says as you can see he can't talk right now. Wife says, then we'll wait..........

Tell your wife.....she has my sympathy.
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by Gnirk » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:44 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:37 pm

Did you see the recent thread on bras in Consumer section of the forum? Get ready for a real shock, if you think $20 is going to bust the budget.
:D :D :D Good One!

michaeljc70
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:05 pm

+1 on the micro-management and divorce :shock:

Who spends less than $20 buying groceries? Does she buy unnecessary groceries?

If she wants to buy 3 items for $15 each, is there a time limit between purchases? Can she buy one, go back to the car, then go back in and buy another? Or does she have to wait 24,48, 72 hours? This whole approach seems silly to me.

As others said, track all spending and review it. Come up with a budget. Compare spending to the budget and adjust the budget as you mutually agree.

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by JHU ALmuni » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:08 pm

One thing for sure... She's a keeper!

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by oxothuk » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:25 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:54 pm
What the OP meant to say was that both he and his spouse report to each other before spending $20 on anything. The rules are the same for both of them. I think that's kind of ridiculous but whatever works for them and is fair to both is fine.
My wife and I have always worked like this, but (a) the threshold was higher than $20, (b) the rule only applied to discretionary spending, and (c) we never codified a value for the threshold - we just “knew” when something needed to be discussed beforehand. Oh, and gifts for each other were excluded from the rule since that would defeat the surprise.

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by drawpoker » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:28 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:37 pm
...$700 for a water heater amortized over the life of the unit is less than 6 dollars a month. Create a new line item in your budget - water heater: allocate $10 to this line. In 10 years, you'll have the necessary sum to pay for it.......
Re-visiting the $700 water heater - since he could not possibly have bought a Bradford or a Rheem (only 2 brands were buying) in either 50 or 55-gallon size at that price - he must have got 40-gallon size.

Good choice for single-person household, er, not so good for 3 or more. As part of strategic planning, OP could limit wife to 1 shower per week.
Set the timer for five minutes to save even more money.

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by livesoft » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:31 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:37 pm
If your daughter needs clothes and you have the means - buy them!
A family story: We went shopping for clothes for my daughter. I told my spouse to pull up to the curb and drop me off, so I could go in and buy the clothes. I told her not to park because I would be right out. I bought the clothes and came right out. I saved myself about 2 hours of shopping by getting it done in 5 minutes. They were great clothes, inexpensive, and my daughter really liked them. She's the one that usually tells this story.
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Miriam2
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by Miriam2 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:32 pm

livesoft wrote: I'm laughing that folks think this is going to lead to divorce. My spouse doesn't want me wasting money on necklaces and bracelets either.
:D But it's ok for leotards?

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by livesoft » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:34 pm

My leotards were given to me as gifts, so yes if the leotards were for the OP, then it is OK. :)
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by TD2626 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:45 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:54 pm
What the OP meant to say was that both he and his spouse report to each other before spending $20 on anything. The rules are the same for both of them. I think that's kind of ridiculous but whatever works for them and is fair to both is fine.
The OP didn't exactly say this. If the OP meant to say that he and his spouse each consult before spending >$20, then that is at least fair.

oxothuk wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:25 pm
My wife and I have always worked like this, but (a) the threshold was higher than $20, (b) the rule only applied to discretionary spending, and (c) we never codified a value for the threshold - we just “knew” when something needed to be discussed beforehand. Oh, and gifts for each other were excluded from the rule since that would defeat the surprise.
Having a non-codified amount, and having exceptions (gifts and routine spending like utilities) would be probably more reasonable. If your cable or electric bill is $70 a month, do you need to talk it over to decide whether or not to pay it?

Also: A gift exception probably shouldn't be allowed for gifts that cost more than, say, $100. (Or expensive gifts shouldn't be given in the first place. Or one could discuss a rough dollar range of planned gifts over, for example, the holidays, without putting a specific number on it)

ReadyOrNot
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by ReadyOrNot » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:47 pm

pondering only said spouse must tell him, not that it should stop her.
This should work if you record what she tells you, as well as your major expenditures.
Then you evaluate your recorded information and decide if your system "works"
i.e. are you getting enough information about what you are spending.
Probably takes 3 or 4 months of information to find out, but you should see.
Or, if your wife objects, you know sooner.

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by jehovasfitness » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:51 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:14 pm
Use it until she files for divorce...
Hahahha :sharebeer

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by Teague » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:54 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:37 pm
Did you see the recent thread on bras in Consumer section of the forum? Get ready for a real shock, if you think $20 is going to bust the budget.
Heh, bust-budget, bras, I see what you did there. :wink:

OP, you describe this $20 dollar thing first as a "request" then as a "rule." What word(s) do your think your wife might use to describe it?
Semper Augustus

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TD2626
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by TD2626 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:57 pm

Also - think about purchases that are less than $20 but that are wastefully expensive if you're on a tight budget. For example, a $19.99 entree at a fine restaurant, when one could buy dinner off the dollar menu for $0.99 --- this is a $19 dollar savings. Further, if one gets a expensive coffee for $6 twice a day when a $1 coffee twice a day could do, that's another $10 a day wasted. Total excess spending = $29/day. Assuming this occurs about 300 days per year, there's $8700 down the drain. Small expenses do add up.

Not suggesting that anyone have teleconference with their family every time they spend a dime. Some people may live like that, but it may be better to either make a general budget or focus in on frugality in general.

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GoldStar
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by GoldStar » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:01 pm

You are doing it all wrong. Don't let her use any cash - just a single credit card should be given to her.
Watch the transactions throughout the day online and question any you don't like - "What's with the $150 you spent at Nordstrom today???!!!!:.

John Laurens
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by John Laurens » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:03 pm

If my wife told me every time she spent 20 bucks, I would just have to wear a headset. I would be answering the phone nonstop.

Regards,
John

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by momvesting » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:03 pm

I think an overall budget would be more useful to curb frivolous spending. On this plan she could be picking up $7 lattes and useless crap at the dollar store but needs to check with you before purchasing a cart full of milk, eggs, bread, and produce at the grocery store??? I guess I know too many people who have less than $100 in savings but always have a Starbucks cup in their hand.

UpperNwGuy
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by UpperNwGuy » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:06 pm

My marriage ended in divorce in large part because of financial issues. Family finance is a serious topic, and I think the $20 rule is a frivolous way to address it.

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Kalo
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by Kalo » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:16 pm

It's easier to get forgiveness than permission.

The role of management is to make sensible exceptions to policy.

Kalo
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by moehoward » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:17 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:14 pm
Use it until she files for divorce...
I laughed out of loud reading your response. Of course your right.

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by Cycle » Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:21 pm

How much do you spend on housing/transportation/education per month? Those are usually the Biggies that are easily within your control. Twenty dollars here and there won't add up to much.

I don't budget small stuff, but save 70% net
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delamer
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by delamer » Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:22 pm

Kalo wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:16 pm
It's easier to get forgiveness than permission.

The role of management is to make sensible exceptions to policy.

Kalo
So pondering is management?

What does that make his wife?

jebmke
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by jebmke » Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:24 pm

delamer wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:22 pm
Kalo wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:16 pm
It's easier to get forgiveness than permission.

The role of management is to make sensible exceptions to policy.

Kalo
So pondering is management?

What does that make his wife?
Maybe she should unionize.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

drawpoker
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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by drawpoker » Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:48 pm

Maybe she should have talked to Wife #1 first....
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There is a ton of good advise here.

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Re: The twenty dollar rule

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:13 pm

This thread has run its course and is locked (below acceptable threshold). See: Personal Consumer Issues

Note that this subforum has a much lower threshold for locking or removing posts than the financial and investing subforums. In general, controversial, offensive, pointless, divisive or mean-spirited posts or topics may be locked, edited or deleted (with or without notice) at the discretion of the moderating staff even if they do not otherwise violate forum policies.
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