Thursday, July 23, 2009

$50 Therapy

For the first few years of marriage my hub would meet me at the door whenever I returned from shopping with the same question.

"How much did you spend?"

I hated that question and I almost felt it was none of his business. Plus I'm a pleaser and hate to be scolded so I often found myself shaving off a dollar or two (or ten.) I rounded down. Sometimes generously. I didn't see anything wrong with it, for the most part.

Then one day I went to the GAP. They had a deal that if you spent $100 you'd get a free $20 gift card. I made sure my purchases equaled $100 and slipped the gift card in my wallet.

I didn't mention it to my hub, but one day he found the gift card and said, "where'd you get this?"

I said "Oh, if you spend $50 at the GAP you get this free $20 gift card."

BIG LIE, but my hub said "WOW! Good job."

A few days later we were walking through the mall and he saw the real GAP ad. You can imagine what hit the fan.

That one seemingly harmless lie had broken his trust in me in an instant. For a few years he questioned everything I said. And not just about finances. This frustrated me but when I said, "HEY, it was only $50" he would say, "It wasn't just $50. If you're willing to lie about $50 then why wouldn't you be willing to lie about more serious things?

I worked hard after that to be completely forthright and upfront about what I was spending. For some reason that helped me become more honest and upfront about other things, like how it made me feel when he was constantly asking me how much money I spent.

It's taken years, but I no longer lie about money and he no longer pins me wriggling to the wall about everything I buy.

I've learned that when you lie about finances, you're not really lying about finances.

You get me?

In other words, you can use your financial conflicts to reflect on deeper issues in your personal life.

Soooooo, go ahead. Let's all hold hands and do some group therapy. I already know I'd rather be a big fat liar liar pants on fire than get scolded.

What do your attitudes about finances say about you (and your spouse?)


IWA (e - va) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
val of the south said...

I round down too, always have, but luckily it's never come back to bite me in the butt quite like yours! I wonder if there is some deeper meaning underneath it all that we don't think we're worth how much we really spend...or if we just don't want them to know so we can get away with buying more for ourselves...or like you, we just don't want to be scolded?

I think I just might be a combo of all three!

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

That's a good one. I've found myself doing similar things, saying I spent $80 when it was really $95. Getting cash back when I buy groceries so I can have a little extra pocket money and not pointing out that $20 was cahs back and not really grocery related.

I think we've all done it at some point. But my husband doesn't question what I spend because I generally won't spend money on myself. I usually spend on the kids.

I too would rather lie than get scolded though!

Mr. Anonymous said...

I have a question for you all, do you actually budget in your families? I mean really sit down and budget out your money every month. This is a great activity especially to do as a family. It helps teach the kids about finances and what it takes to run a household. Plus you can put into your budget a category called Mad Money. I am sure you have heard of it before, but for Shelle's sake I will explain it. Mad Money is where you put XXX.XX amount of money aside each month to buy what ever you want no questions asked. Both spouses will have their own mad money.

The next time Crash sees a deal at GAP and her hubbie questions her on it, all you have to do is reply this was bought with my Mad Money, smile give him a big kiss and hug and walk away feeling good.

I am just saying,

Mr Anonymous

SAHD DAD said...

I've never entirely understood this kind of fighting over money. It's not that we have so much of it (believe me), but neither one of us is big on buying things for ourselves, especially big things. So when one of us does spend, the other tends to figure it's okay because of how infrequently it happens. But I also know that this kind of relaxed attitude regarding money puts us in a very, very small minority.

I think that attitudes regarding money are almost always indicative of bigger issues in a relationship. My wife and I have just as many problems as any other couple, but trust issues generally aren't one of them. I think the bizarre fact that we generally agree on "the big things" in life is what's enabled us to stay together for twenty two years. If one spouse is constantly keeping track of exactly how much the other has spent to the point where the other feels compelled to lie just to give herself some breathing space, I don't think the problem is money. Money is just a symptom of bigger trust and communication issues.

Now that I've finished, that sounded a lot harsher than I intended. Sorry. But you did ask for the whole group therapy thing. [grin]