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Rock Bottom to Sky High

Rock Bottom to Sky High

My mission to reform Mr. Spendy began one fateful evening several months ago. We didn’t know it, but we were looking straight at his rock bottom… well, actually the rooftops.

Let me rewind.

Mr. Spendy got his name because he’s a technology enthusiast. He’s got gizmos and gadgets aplenty, whozits and whatits galore.

A couple of years ago, Mr. Spendy got into drones. His love for drones really took flight (pun!) by playing with an 8-year old relative’s Christmas present. This was a tiny drone meant for a child to fly around the house or backyard. In retrospect, this was his gateway drug. Once he got a taste, he needed more!

Drone 1

He bought his first drone, a humble $70 one from Amazon. This drone offered hours of flying fun for several weeks. Then, while hovering it over the wide, open spaces of a nearby rural community, it caught a gust of wind and was lost forever. That modest drone met its fateful end and probably landed in the field of a farmer who would suspect it to be a fallen UFO.

Discouraged, Mr. Spendy went back to the drawing board. This time, he thought his tinkering dreams could really take off (pun!) if he were to build it himself. After all, he did nothing but watch videos of drone flights and drone building when he came home from work, much to Miss Thrifty’s annoyance.

Over the course of two weeks, more and more boxes arrived marked with Amazon Prime labels. (Hey, at least it was free shipping!). Miss Thrifty knew his addiction had progressed; he was buying drone parts en masse. Now, he had to build his own!

Drone 2

Part by part, night after night, Mr. Spendy soldered away. The result? A beautiful, large drone with a mounted GoPro. Now Mr. Spendy was flying high (pun!). Miss Thrifty even encouraged him by buying him video goggles for his birthday so he could see the live footage that his drone was capturing. It was deluxe, people.

Until the second fateful day. Mr. Spendy went to fly after work with his video goggles on and lost track of his drone. This time, we suspected it to have fallen somewhere over a neighborhood.

We drove around that neighborhood like we were desperately searching for a beloved lost dog. From the car window, she scouted the rooftops and sideyards.

Mr. Spendy didn’t seem too bent out of shape about his first lost drone, but this one was different. He had a fire under him to find it and he looked for it for several days in a row.

I knew I had to ask. “So, how much was that drone you built?” I gulped in anticipation of the answer. I figured it was about $300, which is more than I’ve ever put into any hobby of mine at one time!

“About $1,200.”

I didn’t know how to respond. 

That drone represented a lot for Mr. Spendy. It was hours of work, his pet project, his newfound hobby. Oh, did I mention that drone also represented the whole of Mr. Spendy’s net worth at the time (excluding his 401k)? He had poured everything he had into it.

That drone represented a whole lot to me, though, too. It represented cowardice. It was a manifestation of my fears that Mr. Spendy wasn’t putting away money like I was, that we weren't on the same page. Hell, we weren't even in the same library when it came to financial philosophy. That drone represented my lack of an engagement ring. Yep, I jumped to that self-involved conclusion. I was already putting money aside for a down payment on a house and after four years together, Mr. Spendy was still spending like a selfish teenager.

Since then, we’ve come a long way. Mr. Spendy has accepted that I might be better at this money thing than he is and is open to some input; he’s already starting to see the benefits as his emergency fund grows and he’s learning to save half his income. Mr. Spendy and I defined what our money future will be together, we’re both now committed to setting goals together and saving, and we’re happily engaged.

Drone 3

Where are we on the drone front? He’s on his third drone. This one was purchased with a Christmas gift card. I’m sure he’s learned his lesson about losing drones and will hopefully keep an eye on it. If not, it wouldn’t be that big of a loss since it wasn’t too expensive ($70).

This exchange yesterday shows how it’s come full circle:

Mr. Spendy: Hey, the propeller on my drone is broken. I was thinking about getting a new one, what do you think?
Miss Thrifty: [gulp] Is it expensive?
Mr. Spendy: They’re $2 each but I can get a better deal if I buy $10 worth.
Miss Thrifty: Well, yeah! I was expecting a much higher number?

Why did Mr. Spendy ask? Not because I control his finances. His money is his money and my money is my money still because we haven't official combined finances yet. He wasn’t asking for approval, either. He was asking out of genuine curiosity if I thought it was a good money decision.

Needless to say, I was so proud. On paper, our progress might be modest. However, in ideology, we’re navigating clear, blue skies (pun!).

Note: The title makes it sound like Mr. Spendy was a heroin addict. In fact, he was just fairly bad with impulse buys and long-term planning. This whole ordeal may sound overly dramatic but it was so far from my money value system that for me, it was almost a deal-breaker.

Have you had to have a come-to-Jesus talk with your partner about his/her spending on hobbies? 

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