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Q&A | Kids, Marriage, and Money

I have a 5 month old and am finding it hard to connect with my husband. How did you and Mr. FG maintain your relationship and marriage when your kiddos were young?

-Reese

Oh man, I feel totally not qualified to give marriage advice since I’m a frugal blogger, not a relationship blogger. I am expert level at saving pennies, not expert level at marriage-ing!

So, I’ll throw out an idea that is not my own: I’ve seen multiple relationship experts say that things like date nights, overnight trips, vacations, and such are not nearly as important as everyday interactions.

This is good news for people with small children because little kids make it hard to do getaways!

Joshua, Lisey, Sonia, and Zoe sitting on the steps

But even with a baby at home, you can do thoughtful things for each other, listen to each other’s problems, watch a show together, give each other some down time, and respond to each other’s bids for attention (a Gottman Institute concept).

So, maybe focus on small, mundane, everyday ways that you can connect and show love because those things will still be doable while you are in the baby stage of life.

What do you do when your husband or older children disagree about which things to be frugal about, and have different spending habits?

-Kristina

This is a hard thing for every family, I’m sure. I don’t think it’s possible for a bunch of people to live in a house together and all magically have exactly the same spending priorities and desires.

I think one of the best ways to solve this is to have systems in place that reduce the need to have debates/discussions about spending.

So, here are a few of the systems that have helped us over the years.

1. Mr. FG and I both have fun money accounts

We do not have to consult each other about fun money spending; it’s our own individual decision.

And we have an agreement that if one of us wants something rather selfish/frivolous, it needs to come out of the fun money accounts.

This is seriously freeing, and I highly recommend it to every couple because it offers relief to both the spender and the saver in the relationship.

2. We expect our kids to pay for things that are individual wants, not needs

We provide food, shelter, education, clothing, family trips, etc., and of course we give birthday gifts and Christmas presents.

birthday gifts

 

But if our kids randomly want an electronic device, a new game, a subscription, makeup, an unnecessary piece of clothing (so basically, fun things!), we expect them to pay for it themselves with allowance or odd job money, or as they get older, an actual job.

It’s not that we can’t afford to buy those things for them; it’s that giving them financial responsibility:

  • makes them realize the value of a dollar
  • helps them ponder whether they REALLY do want an item
  • helps them take good care of their things because you tend to value something you paid for yourself

3. We’ve given Sonia and Zoe a clothing budget

We ordered an extra card for them from FamZoo and we load it up each month with a clothing budget. They’re responsible for clothes, shoes, accessories, swimwear, etc. with this money.

The shopping practice this gives them is invaluable. Plus, now they are really grateful for my online shopping tips and tricks, and they are way more interested in shopping secondhand at eBay or ThredUp.

ThredUp box

Also, a clothing budget of their own completely eliminates any debates over clothing purchases because it’s all up to them.

A still-growing kid can decide if it makes sense to buy a second swimsuit in August, or if it’s smarter to make do and wait until spring.

And that pair of Doc Martens is my kid’s decision to mull over, not mine!

4. We sometimes split expenses with our kids

Sometimes, especially before our kids have actual jobs, they want something that really is beyond their ability to pay for. If it’s something that seems important and valuable, we will split the cost with them.

For instance, we’ve paid half for a guitar, an amp, a ukelele, a language-learning program, and other items.

We also split our kids’ car insurance with them while they are in school, and we help them out with their cell phone bill and gas at first.

Costco gas pumping opposite side

Splitting expenses gives them at least some skin in the game and that results in a lot of the benefits I mentioned in #2 above.

What happened to Joshua? You never mention him, so it seems like he fell off the face of the earth.

-Debbie

So many of you have emailed or messaged me asking some variation of this question, and I’m sorry I haven’t responded.

Here’s what I can say: our relationship has been largely severed for almost a year, and this has not been by my choice, Mr. FG’s choice, or the girls’ choice.

Joshua and Lisey

But, we can only control our choices, not other people’s choices. We hold love and hope, always, and we pray that one day, things will be different.

This is one of the most heartbreaking things we and the girls have ever had to go through, and I have often wished that I could be more open about it (I really, really hate to be vague!!)

But, sticking with my policy of just sharing things that are my story (and stories I’ve gotten permission to share), I don’t think I can blog about this, at least not right now.

If the situation changes in the future, I’ll be delighted to inform you all of the good news. But for the moment, I think the most respectful thing is for me to say as little as possible.

My silence on the topic is not because of a lack of motherly love; rather, it is a sign of motherly love.

baby Joshua with Kristen

And if you read some sad undertones in my posts here or on Kristen Prompted…well, now you know why those are there. I would say that I’ve cried until the tears run dry, but I’m nine months in and the tears are rolling down my cheeks as I write this.

I trust that God loves me, that He knows what He’s doing. I know that one day, all my tears will be wiped dry, and for now, I try to find joy and contentment in the midst of these hard circumstances. 

And I also try to focus on what’s in front of me; the three girls who still live here and want to have a relationship with me right now.

Thank you in advance for understanding that I can’t share more. <3 And thank you for caring enough to share your concerns in messages and emails. I appreciate the love those messages show!

I always ask for reader input on Q&A questions. Obviously that doesn’t apply to question #3 today, but if you have input on the first two, go for it in the comments.

P.S. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, send me an email with “Q&A” in the subject line.

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Millicent Borges Accardi

Thursday 17th of December 2020

I am finding your post months later, Kristen, and my heart is breaking for you during this holiday season (especially), because like other readers/fans, I, too. had been wondering about Joshua. Having been a daughter, estranged from her father (after her mother passed away)--I can attest that keeping communication open means SO MUCH. No matter how narrow the passage. So, I urge you (if you have not already) to reach out even in very very small non-confrontational ways, if ONLY so Joshua knows you are still out there, somewhere. Send a basic Xmas card (without pressure or judgment). Mail a chocolate egg for Easter. Just, once in awhile, reach out in a small, safe way--

Jennifer Y.

Friday 11th of September 2020

Kristen,

Hi. I need to echo what so many of your other readers have already said. I hope your family is whole again very soon.

Remember that you have taught him well, given him so many life tools, he needs to find his place in this world.

As a long time reader, I noticed your son's absence on your blog. It was so courageous of you to open up about your very personal family struggle. Hugs to you.

Jennifer

Kristen

Friday 11th of September 2020

Thank you so much for your kind words!

Lisa M Brown

Tuesday 8th of September 2020

Hugs and prayers, mama, Mr FG and girls. Hopefully with time and prayer this changes. Much love and respect.

Kristen

Tuesday 8th of September 2020

Thank you!

Jackie

Saturday 5th of September 2020

Kristen, I am so sorry. I am praying for you! I have an estranged sister and it is so hard on everyone in the family. Praying it is resolved soon! Thank you for your kind, cheerful blog even in the midst of hard times.

Kristen

Sunday 6th of September 2020

It really is. Hugs to you too!

DeeDee

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

Kristen, I can't imagine what you're going through. You've given support and comfort to so many of us, I wish I could give you some comfort, too. You're an amazing person and mom. Hang in there!

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