Posted by: Kate | November 17, 2010

Money Talk

I was telling my mum that we were taking the truck off the road for a few months over the winter, and her first comment was “Are you having financial problems?” Well no. But it made me realize that other people around us probably think that, especially in this town where so many families really are having financial difficulties.

We’re taking the truck off the road because we are a small family, with me working at home most days, and without a lot of extra activities taking us in different directions. So we don’t need to be running two vehicles in the winter. We run two vehicles in the rest of the year as we haven’t found a truck (yet) that is economical to run as a family vehicle. But we need a truck for much of our lifestyle (camping, fishing, boating, etc). So we run two vehicles, but Mr. Kate now uses the motorbike more for work and we use the truck more on the week-ends. Over the winter there will be no fishing or camping, so we don’t really need the truck on the road. The motorbike is already off the road as driving in our wet winters isn’t advised, so we will use our little Saturn.

We made this decision for financial reasons, as well as environmental reasons (smaller footprint and all that), but not because we have financial problems. More because we are always looking to avoid financial problems! My mum’s reaction made me realize that there are probably many people who don’t evaluate their finances regularly, or look at making changes when things are going well. We don’t need to do this, but it will benefit us to do it.

I also think that these are good conversations to have with people. Just as I think parenting conversations are helpful, I think general discussion on finances can be helpful. I’m not going to tell you my bank balance, but talking about financial decisions, mortgages, insurance, etc can help more than just me. And why the big secret?

To be continued….


  1. Good on ya, Kate, one less vehicle on the road. We made the same decision a few years ago, it was hard at first, but we’ve (I’ve) adapted. DH uses the car for work everyday. I feel better knowing there’s one less car on the road, taking up space, burning energy, &etc., not to mention the cost.

    Yes, please do continue this money discussion. More of us need to talk about these important issues and get it out in the open.

    Another question to ponder: what is everyone planning for Christmas? Will you be spending more or less? I’d like to give handknit gifts, alas, I’m not going to make it this year! argh. I was thinking of the usual impersonal giftcards, much easier to do for family out-of-town. I’m also considering donating to charity in family member’s name. What do you all think? I need some cost-effective ideas. And thx v much!

    • I have such a small family that it isn’t a big issue for us. I saw the Unicef flyer the other day though, and thought that a donation through a gift there would be lovely. You can choose what to send the money for (e.g. school supplies, vaccinations, animals, mosquito nets) and there is a big range of prices for those things. Then you send a card to the recipient telling them what the donation bought in their name.
      Gift cards are actually great – and grocery store ones are awesome for grown ups! My son loved the iTunes gift cards his grandpa gave him last year. And you don’t need an iPod for it, you can listen to everything on the computer.

  2. I agree. I think it is so funny the way people will not talk about money. With most topics if we want to learn something we talk to everyone we know. Think how much smarter we would be if we did that with money.

  3. We currently have two vehicles on the road, but when the old Toyota dies we won’t be replacing it. I think we can make do with just one vehicle. The few times that my husband or I travel alone to visit family we will rent a car for the person staying behind. Much cheaper overall.

    I think it is much more acceptable to talk about money now than it used to be. For older people who grew up with it being a taboo subject I think they still try to avoid it.

    • Good point, Kristie, that money talk is certainly more acceptable today than in the past.

  4. This sort of hit home because in my family, I’m considered frugal…which apparently is like a 4-letter word to them…and was just ‘accused’ of it again recently. My opinion though is that there is a difference between being frugal and being a miser. I don’t buy things that we don’t need (except yarn and really, it serves all sorts of purposes!), and we don’t need to have ‘the best’ of anything. Adequate is fine. I find the cheapest ways to travel, the cheapest places to stay if not staying outdoors (I feel quite uncomfortable in fancy hotels…it feels wasteful), I’d rather cook at home than go out to a fancy meal…I do some things because of environmental reasons but most it’s just because we really don’t need it. In my late 20s, I was shocked that so many friends were going in debt because they paid $15K on a set of cabinets…and another $15K on one room of furniture and so on (this was after the outrageous mortgage and 2 car payments). I pay off my credit card every month and if I can’t, I don’t spend the money. I’ve done this since my first credit card in college. Most of our furniture is from our college years outside of a new table and a new bed and John has made all our bookshelves. And even then, I often feel like we have ‘too much’. BUT…we still live life and we don’t limit ourselves because we just don’t want to spend money. THAT’s the difference in my opinion.

    I have no idea where I learned restraint from…it’s not a common trait in my immediate family except maybe my dad. My grandfather was truly a miser so maybe I averaged out in the end. Considering part of what’s wrong with our economy is rampant consumerism and living about ones means…I just don’t understand why ‘we’ get criticized.

  5. good for you and your family for going down to one car for the winter.
    we have two, but try and be frugal about how we use them.

  6. A very interesting and important discussion. I was raised by frugal parents and went a bit wild once I had my own money. I still spend a lot of money on stuff I feel is important… our biggest indulgences, however are on food, wine, yarn (for me) and books (for partner). Last year, partner was really unhappy with his job. I told him to quit. I’m glad that we’ve lived in such a way that I could suggest throwing away over 30% of our income (he has a retirement from another job and is starting to work from home). Of course, our indulgences have been reduced, but we pay off the bills each month.
    For my Australia trip, I got a travel allowance from work. I rationed that allowance and it got me a 6 day vacation after my work was done, about 10 christmas gifts, a WHOLE LOT of yarn, and souvenirs for my close family. By staying in youth hostels and eating two meals I prepared, I spent $150 over my travel allowance (and less than my half of our two week budget for that time).
    And kristieinbc is right – older folks aren’t likely to talk about money. My parents still don’t. My parents were worried I couldn’t make mortgage payments when I bought my house. I finally told my mother how much I made and she was shocked. And told me not to worry, she wouldn’t tell my dad how much I made. Why would I care?!
    anyway, looking forward to the next installment.

  7. oh, AND, it’s a very important conversation to have with kids!! Now that Boy #2 is living with us, we’re discovering just how little he understands about the concept of money in this credit card and financially irresponsible world. He requests $100 items as a matter of course and doesn’t think it’s outrageous. I explained that my family still spends 20-30 per gift at Christmas most of the time – to spend $100 on a random day just isn’t done. I’m not sure he believed me.

  8. okay, can you tell you touched a nerve? And that I’m disorganized?

    Last year I did a donation to Heifer International in a friend’s name. I’m still a little hung up on the Christian overtones to many charities, but I think these types of donations are a great way to honor a friend, help those less fortunate, and give a thoughtful, non-consumer gift. We’ve spent a lot of time paring down our stuff and have sent a lot of stuff to Sioux reservations. It’s hard to say that you need some item when you know there are people that freeze to death in their (unheated) homes.

Welcome! I always like to hear what people think of a post, it often leads to a great discussion! I am now responding to comments and questions right in the comments themselves, so other people can follow the conversation.

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