Money and Relationships: Giving in to Your Spouse’s Spending Crisis

Money and Relationships: Giving in to Your Spouse’s Spending Crisis

Have you ever been chugging along on your budget path quite nicely for months or years only to be derailed by a spousal purchase? If the draw for a big screen TV, a video game, a designer purse, or a pair of (beautiful...) shoes finally got the better of your spouse, what should you do?

As mentioned in “Money and Relationships: Talking About True Desires,” it’s never too late to ask your partner to return a big ticket item. If the purchase will affect you or your family negatively (say that you can’t afford food that month), it is advisable to always take the item back to the store.

But what if you really can afford it? And what if you kind of like the way that TV looks on the wall or truly enjoy how happy those shoes make your partner? Let’s look at some ways you can give into this purchase without setting a new spending precedent.

Discuss Your Concerns

To begin the discussion, let your partner know that the purchase may set you back on your financial goals (in the nicest way possible, I might add). Sometimes tact or even biting your tongue may be absolutely necessary.

Although you may want to rant and rave about the huge dent the purchase has put in your financial plan, your spouse probably already knows this. Remember here that your partner is an adult and is (most likely) fully aware that he deviated from the plan.

A simple reminder can work wonders to open the lines of communication. Without blame, you may want to ask, “If we keep this, how can we get back on track with our goals?” Together, you can adjust your financial plan to include the purchase (if and only if you both agree it is affordable and desirable).

Lay Out New Ground Rules

Of course, as you give in to this spending crisis, you probably don’t want your spouse to make these types of purchases a new habit. Really, a big screen TV every month can become outrageously expensive!

So what do you do to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Just communicate this as calmly as possible. Tell your spouse that you as a couple cannot afford to spend like this, but you will allow it once. It may be wise to go into detail about why you will allow it now and only now to make sure there is no confusion. Also, you might wish to suggest a Photo Source

Alex | Perfecting Dad's picture

Alex | Perfecting Dad wrote:

Wed, 07/13/2011 - 14:21 Comment #: 1

To be honest, this hasn't happened to us -- certainly not on the scale of a TV. As we've talked before, my wife and I are fully integrated in our finances. We also each have freedom to buy things, but if they start to get up over $100 or $150, we each start feeling the need to mention the purchase to each other beforehand. Sometimes small purchases add up. For example I discovered online shopping a few years ago and started ordering things that were discounted versus what we could get in a store because the deals with too good to be true. They weren't high value, but a few $100 adds up fast. My wife set me straight and actually taught me that even if it's a good deal I'm still wasting money on things I don't need. And, it turns out that there are very few urgent deals anyways. So we talk, and we have no problems. Nobody has to lay down laws or allow anything, we just somehow end up agreeing.

retirebyforty's picture

retirebyforty wrote:

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 03:42 Comment #: 2

I surprised my wife at the airport with a BMW Z3. :)
She was not happy. That was early in our marriage and I now know not to pull any surprises.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:33 Comment #: 3

Alex, you and your wife do an awesome job of instictively understanding each other and your finances! I love your story about online purchases -- isn't it amazing how those things can add up?! My mom fell into online shopping a few years ago and has now stopped -- she was amazed at how much stuff she bought because it was such a great deal! Glad to hear you guys could talk it out :-)

Retirebyforty, LOL! I would not be happy to be surprised with a BMW either! My hubby surprised me with a Dyson vaccuum a few years ago after our old one died, and I was not happy about that. I can't imagine what I would have said to a BMW (even though it would be a dream to drive!).