Dear Mary: My husband spends a lot of money wining and dining friends and family. When we started dating, I loved this generous side of him, but now that we have a mortgage and two kids, I'm beginning to resent it. When I bring it up, he says he likes doing nice things for people and calls me a tightwad. How can I stop this needless spending?
- Nancy, Missouri
Dear Nancy: There's no need to squelch your husband's generosity altogether, especially since it reflects a side of him you both value.
Instead, sit down during a calm moment and propose a way to curb it. Agree to a set amount for his "giveaway" fund each month, then have him keep the money in an envelope. Whenever he feels like treating, he'll literally have to dip into it.
I'm guessing he has been charging these meals, and being faced with the reality of forking over cold, hard cash may encourage him to express his generosity in other ways.
Dear Mary: My daughter is getting married this summer, and my wife and I have offered to pay for the wedding. We're not thrilled by some of the pricey extras she wants, like doves and ice sculptures. How can we draw the line without looking like we're trying to ruin their special day?
- Richard, Michigan
Dear Richard: While you want to give your daughter the wedding of her dreams, it's not worth going into debt for a few hours of fun. The simplest solution is for you and your wife to determine exactly how much you can spend, then hand over a check to the couple and say: "This is our gift - use it however you like. And whatever is left over, you can keep."
Doing so will let them know that this is the only money they'll be getting from you and may inspire them to be bit more frugal. Considering that the average wedding costs $25,000 and that nearly 30 percent of couples are footing the bill themselves, your gift may turn out to be priceless.
Dear Mary: We were house hunting, and the Realtor showed us one we loved, but it was out of our price range. My husband asked if she'd take a smaller commission. I was so embarrassed. I thought the cost of the house was negotiable, not the Realtor fee.
- Debbie, California
Dear Debbie: Generally speaking, the buyer's Realtor nets one-fourth of the total commission fee, which is usually 6 percent of the sale price. However, that share is not set in stone, and in today's real estate climate, your husband's question was not at all out of line - especially if the Realtor showed you the property knowing it was out of your price range.
If the house you like has been on the market a long time, she may be willing to give up part of her commission to close the deal.
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