Limits for Big Ticket Items

Limits for Big Ticket Items

Another suggestion from our post about becoming equals when it comes to finances is setting bit ticket spending limits with your spouse. When my husband and I were first engaged, we eased into a big ticket agreement pretty seamlessly. We have always asked each other if a $50+ non-standard purchase was OK. Then, once we got into the hundreds or thousands of dollars purchases, we have always bought the item together. Our TV, for example, was a joint purchase.

However, our approach to big ticket limits may not work for everyone. Let’s look at the pros and cons of big ticket limits, if big ticket limits are right for you, and how to set limits.

Making a List: The Pros and Cons

Big ticket spending limits are a great idea for many marriages. Anyone who needs to be on a budget to make the finances stretch the full month can benefit from limits.

However, spending limits can make partners resentful of one other. If one or both partners do not view the finances as a joint effort, being “forced” to ask a partner if he/she approves a big ticket item can send a marriage into a tailspin.

Are Big Ticket Limits Right for Me?

If you know you and your partner are on a joint financial path with limited spending capabilities, setting limits on big ticket items may be a great choice for your family. However, if you are not quite ready to pursue a joint financial path, you will need to first address either joining finances or viewing your separate finances as joint.

This means that if you never want to have joint accounts, you do need to be able to see your financial journey as a joint effort before you can agree that big ticket items warrant discussion.

How Do My Partner and I Set Big Ticket Limits?

Once you know that joint finances are your cup of tea, it is time to broach the subject. Sit down with one another to discuss finances, and offer the idea of big ticket requests. If your partner agrees, you can hash out the details.

However, if your partner does not see the benefits, spend some time discussing the pros and cons together. Ultimately, if your partner does not wish to discuss big ticket limits, give him/her some time and re-approach the subject at a later date.

Provided you are not in financial trouble because of big-ticket spending, you and yours can reach an agreement later; but if spending is putting you at financial risk, see a financial advisor/counselor as soon as possible.

For me, discussing big ticket items with my husband has helped us save for goals, talk each other out of unnecessary purchases (OK, I really didn’t need the espresso machine I wanted), and postpone some purchases for a point where we were more financially stable (purchasing a house could wait until we were back on our feet after a cross-country move). Our life journey is now joined in every aspect, including finances, so we enjoy checking in before checking out.

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retirebyforty's picture

retirebyforty wrote:

Wed, 12/22/2010 - 19:21 Comment #: 1

We don't really have a big ticket item limit, but we usually check with each other on any big purchases. We have our own allowance saved up for the big ticket items so it's not a big deal to if she spent her $300 saving for a Dooney purse. I know she saved up for that, but she usually tell me anyway.

Aloysa's picture

Aloysa wrote:

Thu, 12/23/2010 - 04:14 Comment #: 2

We don't have limits set but we always discuss big purchases first. Neither of us would go and spend big without talking it over. So far it all works...

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Thu, 12/23/2010 - 20:04 Comment #: 3

Retirebyforty and Aloysa -- I like both of your takes on big ticket spending limits -- anything that gets you and your spouse talking about money is a great way to get on the same financial page!

Canadian Finance Carnival #16 - Canadian Finance Blog's picture

Canadian Finance Carnival #16 - Canadian Finance Blog wrote:

Sun, 12/26/2010 - 09:57 Comment #: 4

[...] and even if only one works for you, it’s a win!”FrugalityJessica at MomVesting presents Limits for Big Ticket Items, saying “Big ticket spending limits are a great idea for many marriages. Anyone who needs to [...]

When Two Incomes Become One | MomVesting's picture

When Two Incomes Become One | MomVesting wrote:

Wed, 09/19/2012 - 11:15 Comment #: 5

[...] Over the past few years, we've really learned to stretch our dollars and consider wise purchases with long-term benefits over quick, impetuous purchases with little-to-no yield. While we don't take our used cups to McDonald's to get a "free" drink (and yes, I've actually heard of some super-misers doing this as means to cut costs), we do make it a point to pay cash for most everything and not spend over a weekly limit. [...]