Nov 2, 2011

A Single Dad's Dating Diatribe - 2, Money

Episode 1 of this single dad's dating diatribe railed on daycare.  Good feedback from readers on that post.  And by "good feedback", I mean it made people angry.   

I'm not a fan of fluffing words for the sake of making friends.  To not be honest about my opinions, beliefs and principles is to be ashamed of who I am.  I'd rather be open and twist down a few purple nurples than fake friendship through dilution of the truth.   

Today I dig on money, turn up the bass.  Statistically, financial grievances are often a factor in marriages splitting.  So I think it a wise idea for dating couples to be clear on their philosophy for saving, spending and debt.  Here's my take on the green stuff.


No Debt > Stuff
I'd rather live in a modest home (with charm) that's paid for than mortgaging McMonster which sucks income at a rate that both parents must work full-time to feed the beast.  An overextending mortgage is often linked to non-elective daycare for the kiddos.   And you know how I love daycare.

My goal is to burn the mortgage soon.  I like the idea of no house, car, credit card or loan payments.  Looking forward to complete financial freedom when the debt yoke is removed.  Then channel up to 75% of all income into investments, college savings and the future. 

Kmart Culottes
I'd rather dress my daughter in red-tagged Target skirts and recycled denim from the consignment shop than blow greenbacks on name brand threads that double-time the cash.  Kids grow like weeds, so paying a lower price for clothing always trumps quality.  

A 2-year-old doesn't really need high dollar outfits.  The messy brat's gonna stain that preppy Gap vest with Juicy Juice and green bean snot-bombs before she outgrows it, anyway.  And I've found the best of both worlds by hitting up 2nd-hand shops:  quality brands for $7 per item.

Setting Low Expectations
I have no shame in getting Pigtails excited about receiving a quarter from the tooth fairy and another quarter for her weekly allowance.  

Shhh, she doesn't realize her father's a miserly Grinch.  And that painting is crooked.

Call me a cheapskate, I purposely withhold a fair amount of "stuff" from my daughter.  We go small at birthdays and Christmas; maybe two or three simple gifts.  Oftentimes the presents are shoes, cheapo Target jeans or school supplies.  Poor kid, she gets excited and thinks I'm generous when she unwraps a 10-pack of glitter pencils in her stocking.  

In the case of kids and money, I'm a fan of setting low expectations.  

A spoiled kid grows into a spoiled, high-maintenance spouse.  I'm doing my best to prepare Pigtails to be a future wife that's thankful for the small things and appreciates the value of a buck.  Although not sure I'm doing a doing an effective job, she's begging to blow her quarters on Silly Bandz and purple hair feathers.  

Delayed Gratification
Restraint harnessed.  There can be greater satisfaction from delayed gratification with higher payout than instant gratification with a lower payout.  In other words, I'd rather invest $1,000 and let it compound to $10,000 in four decades than spend that thousand bucks today. *

* Unless I get hit by a bus tomorrow crossing the street to work.  Then I'd regret not spending the dough now.  Which is a reminder I probably need to ease my cheap ass up a bit and take a vacation.  My travels, photos, food recap and writing would be excellent.  Wait, you'll see.

Coupon Nazi
Eating out is a money burner.  Sure, I eat out sometimes.  It's too dang tedious to make a bloomin' onion or screaming fajitas on the hot iron at home.  But I won't hitch to a wife that can't cook or help with meals.  I did all of the cooking when married, and have done 100% of it the last 7 years as a single dad.  Been there, done that.  Not playing that game anymore. 
A wife who can cook, is a coupon Nazi and a classy cheapskate is attractive in my book.  You can be classy while spending less.  A spouse that spends money as freely as a hillbilly lotto winner (you know what I'm talking about) is not for me. 




  1. First things first, I'm starting a petition to increase Pigtails' allowance from a quater!

    Second, good for you for being financially sound! Although stick some silly bandz in that kid's stocking for Pete's sake!

    Third, nothing wrong with knowing what you are looking for in a significant other, and not be willing to compromise on the big things that matter. Naturally, there must be some compromise, but if you know there is something you can't live with, best to not ignore that and think you'll get over it...even if it's not a popular notion.

    Lastly, be careful crossing the street out for angry commenters driving buses. :-)

    1. Anonymous3/30/2012

      I got a quarter, then 50cents when I was 10,(28 now) which I had to pay tax on that went to my college fund-you give enough for them to do something, not so much they do nothing. I think a quarter is fine-and right now she doesnt know the difference. When she's a teen is when itll get tough!

  2. I call you smart! Hmmm, I doubt you're Occupying anything?

  3. Great tips. Nothing wrong with Pigtails being happy with a quarter (what do they really need money for anyway) but yeah I'm signing Cari's petition with a big red crayob.

    I'm looking for a guy that cooks. Like all the time and not hamburger helper. That would be totally awesome. I wonder if Chef Morimoto is single.

  4. Rachael11/03/2011

    Poor Pigtails! I'm like 102 and even I got 50 cents a week when I was a kid. :)

    I admire that you care enough about the adult Pigtails will become to build a strong foundation now. You're a good dad and your charming and thoughtful daughter is all the proof we need.

  5. Anonymous11/03/2011

    I'm defiantly on the same page with this blog…the Daycare one not as much. :)

    I'm the same way with my little ones. 2nd hand/garage sale clothes and toys. They get a bit more gifts at Christmas but what they don't know yet is that they are used or were on clearance. And that I'd been buying them through out the year when I find a good deal. So instead of frantically buying gifts all at once at the end of the year, I save it and hide it.

    As for the allowance…Pigtails is getting more than what my kids will get. I never got an allowance and I don’t really feel they need one either. They are apart of our family and should be expected to participate with chores free of charge. If there is something they really want or need, I’m more inclined to make them work for it with extra chores. Any money they do get from the Grandparent goes right into the piggy bank.

    Now I do still think my kids are spoiled. They aren’t without joys and toys. The $1 rack at Target makes them happy and value fries are always a treat.

    Also, I love hearing others that are couponers. I’m a big couponer and get excited about the great deal I got. Those Groupon sites are great if you looking for nights to eat out. Or even find those restaurants where kids eat free. If you have a kid like mine who only gets the tomatoes from the condiments bar then you get to take their meal for lunch the next day.

  6. @Cari - Mutiny if my kid ever gets wind other children her age receive $3 a week for their allowance.

    @Bruce - The only thing I hope to Occupy soon is a booth and a steaming blooming onion.

    @Christina - How do you feel about Tuna Helper?

    @Rachael - You are younger than I expected.

    @Anon - Agree on everything you say. I'm going to now take away Pigtails' allowance and tell her Anonymous told me to. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I'm signing Cari's petition as well for an increase...I'm voting for at least a $1 a week!

    I do have to take one particular statement to task: 'A spoiled kid grows into a spoiled, high-maintenance spouse.'

    As a spoiled, only child myself, I'd like to point out that it's not the spoiling that makes the child high-maintenance, it's the "how" they're spoiled that causes issues. You can teach lessons on saving, working toward a goal, earning rewards and the costs associated with rewards while still giving kids the "stuff" they think they need. I don't consider myself a "high-maintenance" fact, I'm the cheapskate in the marriage. My husband was definitely not spoiled as a child and he's more likely to spend than I am!

    And that's the other extreme that you can fall into. If all the child knows is how to live on less and doing extreme penny pinching, what happens when they get out on their own and suddenly they have enough or more than enough money available to them ? Will they spend it getting all that "stuff" they had to live without while growing up? Or will they know to save some of that extra for rainy day while maybe getting one or two "rewards" for themselves because they understand that life has a way of bouncing back and forth between lean and plenty?

    It's a balancing act. In the end, is getting a couple extra Silly Bandz, purple hair feathers or whatever else young girls crave these days really going to make her bad marriage material? I doubt it. Not when she's got an involved, caring and sensible father to teach her how blessed she is to be able to have that "stuff".

    1. I agree with Christine, that there are the extremes you can fall into! I know its nothing like the (wonderful) way you seem to teach Pigtails about money, but my husband and I were both raised very, very poor. We had no clue what an allowance was and were thrilled with any gifts or getting to to go McD's on a birthday. Now- I am a crazy cheapskate saver. I live in constant fear of the bottom falling out and ever having to put my family in the place that I was in. The Mr? He sees an extra $50 in his paycheck and its fomaing at the mouth to spend it. So sometimes you just don't know the way the mind will interpret things as an adult. I don't really know what the point was of this comment. I guess I just really agree with her statement on keeping a good balance and planning for the future!

  8. @Christine - Good stuff there! And yes, Pigtails is free to spend some of her money on fun stuff. She's got over 100 Silly Bandz, you know.

  9. OK you seriously need to up that allowance. Make it $1 and make her save $.50. My parents made me save half of my allowance, pay from odd jobs and babysitting I did as a kid/teenager. I bought my first car with that money. Talk about a great lesson in saving and what it can do! Watching the money add up and then my friends work all summer long and still not have a car to drive was a life lesson in saving. I also took a Senior trip to Costa Rica and many other fun things with my savings. One rule was that my parents and I had to agree that the money was worth withdrawing. Because I still had half to spend or save as I pleased - we never argued about that savings account.

  10. @Nessa - Survey says Beard is a cheapo and needs to loosen his wallet. We'll see, my daughter will be happy.

    1. My parents have me a larger allowance than a quarter, but I was required to save 50% and donate 10% (to any worthy organization of my choice. sometimes I wanted to help animals, sometimes sick children, etc).

      But I think those were good lessons for me, esp the donating part :)

  11. Jen M.3/22/2012

    I came over from YHL to check out more pics of your kitchen (awesome!) and stayed to read a while... Had to add my two cents on this one -- I think it's great that you don't give your daughter a large allowance! My sisters and I never had allowance growing up, and we were expected to do certain routine chores (mostly related to keeping our own rooms picked up and beds made, etc.). As we got older, we could earn a [small] payment for helping with larger chores (waxing furniture, vacuuming, unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the toilets or scrubbing the tub, etc.). Considering we were buying our own homes in our early twenties unassisted shows me that the example our parents set of saving and being mindful of our money paid off. And we did NOT grow up with much more than what we needed - my mom didn't go back to work until all three of us were in full-day school, AND they prayed and saved to send us all to Christian school through the end of high school. From the few posts I've read, it sounds like you are parenting the way God intended and I think He's going to bless you for that with a daughter who has her head screwed on right! Keep up the good work!

    1. I agree that overindulging our brats with a fat allowance is a mistake. I expect my daughter to do her chores regardless of allowance. That's part of being a family and pitching in. I mainly give her a small stipend to teach her about saving and tithing, with a small reward to look forward to. A quarter a week, and she's fine with that. We'll see how long that lasts though. Once she hits 13 or 14, we'll be out there job hunting, so she can start self-saving for college.

  12. Michelle3/22/2012

    Then I'm the best of both worlds!! I don't work, we don't have kids and I spend my husband's money like a hill billy lottery winner. (Thankfully he makes a lot of it! And this is money after savings and investments that I'm talking about here) But he comes home to a made from scratch, three course dinner every single night, I do every last bit of the chores, he doesn't pick up one single thing around the house or lift one single finger when it comes to laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, errands, etc. He works all day, I don't. He leaves his dirty socks and dishes all over the house, and I pick it up and serve him dinner when he gets home. And I'm happy to do it. It's a win win. We are a true testament to having a marriage where both spouses are on extreme ends of the spectrum! It works for us though.

    1. Does he also leave the seat up?

    2. Michelle4/04/2012

      Nope!! Putting the seat down is actually the ONE thing he remembers to do!

  13. Lindsey3/26/2012

    Love this post. I wish more parents had these same values. By the way - love the kitchen redo!
    -Faithful YHL reader

    1. Thanks Lindsey, I appreciate the note!

  14. I think it's very important to raise children to be future adults, not just "forever children." There are too many man-babies and pampered women out there that are a) in for a reality check and not liking it, b) still just living that life up with momma-and-daddy then the parents wonder why their kids aren't married yet or have kids or heck, jobs when everyone else does. That's because no one wants to date/hire/procreate with a man-baby who can't do anything for himself but burp or a spoiled grown woman who acts like a little girl and thinks money grows on trees. It's very sad. I have a friend who blames men and society for why she can't buy everything she likes because her parents bought her everything as a child and why no man stays dating her for very long. Well, it's because he's broke. She then gets angry when a guy doesn't want to pay for everything for her. When in ironic reality, she usually makes more money than most of her boyfriends but shes in oodles of debt still. Don't even get me started on man-babies...

  15. Give in occasionally once puberty/jr high hits. You don't want any self esteem issues to develop. Teach her to "own" these good values. "Mary's shirt cost 20 bucks but this one we found for $2 and dip dyed hot pink is waay cooler." That is so much healthier than "why does mary get all new stuff and then tease me that my stuff is used." Those can be cruel years.

  16. LOL, it's like we're the same person in different bodies.

    I feel the same way about cooking -- I did that shit the whole time I was married, I suck at it, and I won't get married with the expectation that I'm going to be chained to the stove ever again.

    So far so good...

  17. Second comment today. I don't have time for this. My dad was/is a dentist and we got a dime for our teeth. Our kids are stinking rich with their fifty-cent piece from the tooth fairy. I never grew up with allowance and neither did my husband. We do a pathetic allowance for our children considering the amount of work they do, but then is good and holy and part of life and being in a family. We do the allowance to teach finances for our kids. It goes something like this...they earn a dime for each year of their life each week (slave wages!). So our eight year old gets .80cents each week (we pay out monthly). However, in our home they tithe 10% of everything they earn (and sometimes what they are gifted) usually to a Feed The Poor program or a program through the adoption agency we used to adopt our Ethiopian sons. Same sort of thing buying flip/flops, soccer balls, goats, water filters, whatever. Our kids pool their tithe money in an old oatmeal container on our china cabinet and a few times a year add it all up and fight over what they want to purchase next. Ranting. So, after the first 10% is tithed, they MUST save in the bank 50% and they have 40% to spend. Luckily, my husbands first career was in banking and if you think you are miserly, not a chance in comparison with him. B/c he knows where every.single.penny is, he combines certain kids money and invests in stocks, college accounts (money is NOT my thing, but I can clean a mean toilet and make some good food), etc. Then he teaches them compounding at around age 7 and they watch their money grow...and drop...and grow...and see the trends. Honestly, our kids choose to save about 80% of what they earn and maybe once or twice a year agree to go in together on some cool new Lord of The Rings Lego set. We actually have to encourage them to write up Pro/con lists of what they want to buy and why to see that it is a good, long-term toy that will give them lots of pleasure therefore worth the buy. They will probably tend toward hoarding their money which isn't too healthy either. Anyhow, love that you are not spoiling your daughter.

  18. Anonymous1/02/2013

    I agree with your stance on money, but I'm totally weirded out by the way you talk about preparing your daughter to become a decent *wife*. Whaat?? Is that really all she's gonna be good for? What year is this?

    1. What a dumb thing to say, of course I will do my best to raise my daughter to be a good wife, mother, contributor to society. What is more important than that?

      I already answered your "what year is this" question in this set: 1951.

    2. Anonymous3/07/2013

      Oh how I love your blog!! Your frugalness (by the red underline I'm guessing that's not at real word) with Pigtails reminds me of how my dad was with me. I'm 36 now, and I still carry over much of that. Both me and my brother got 50c/week pocket money. The deal was that if we saved up $5 Dad would kick in a dollar, I always got the bonus, my bother never! We also used to weed Grandma's looooong gravel drive way for 50c a time- it used to take a full day, but the candy we bought with that was the most delicious ever. My parents were pretty well off, but are the most non-materialistic people I've ever known (both grew up poor) and felt it important to pass that on to their kids, and for that I'm eternally grateful. My husband and I now DIY everything we can (even though we have a good incomes and don't need to) and live very modestly, and the satisfaction that comes from that is priceless!! If we're blessed enough to have a kido, I hope I can pass these lessons on! Your devotion to pigtails is an inspiration- I hope you're archiving your posts for when she's older.

  19. Hi! I know I'm a little late in the game on commenting, but I just wanted to say that I really admire the way you are seeking to raise your daughter! I'm the 21 year old daughter of a single mom [since I was 3]. I also read your article about day care, and I know my mom was heart broken that she couldn't be there for much of my younger years because she had to work to support us! She has always encouraged me to save as much as I can so that I will be able to stay at home with my kids when I'm a parent. As far as Pigtails goes, I saw that many commenters were suggesting different things for when she gets into teenage years... What worked for our family, is that I would babysit or have small jobs over the summer and that money was mine to do with what I like. During the school year [once I started driving], I was given about $20 a week for helping my mom with errands, cleaning the house, etc. This was money I could use for going to the movies with friends, eating out with friends after church, or going shopping! And if I spent it all, then I would have to wait for the following week, much like a paycheck! You learn very quickly to make a budget and spend wisely :)
    And be sure to tell Pigtails, that it's much cooler to shop from the thrift store or clearance rack, because you get more for your money and you never have to worry about having the same clothes as everyone else!

    Just my suggestions, take it or leave it! But I'm so glad to see a dad so invested in his daughter's life!


Thanks for the note, check back for my response!