Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Journey of a Spender and Saver: How to Stop the Nagging

I hate nagging my husband. I try so hard not to. But sometimes it's unavoidable. Especially when it comes to our money. 

My husband’s spending has decreased so dramatically over the past nine years that I feel bad when I bring up little expenses that pop up. But I know, that if I don’t say something, he won’t know, then I’m even more frustrated if they happen again, and we all know what happens when something is left to stew and brew inside. So, I’m a firm believer in talking about it before it becomes a bigger issue.  

I’m fully aware that the examples I’m about to list will seem like nothing to some of you. I also know that I’m going to sound crazy cheap, but…that’s probably because I am (compared to some). But I absolutely hate wasting money on little things that fly under the radar that I don’t get any pleasure from. So, here goes:

$1 fee for using his ATM card to buy something. Fees are unacceptable! It infuriates me that banks want to charge me to use my money, when they are making money off my money. We don’t incur late fees, usage fees, monthly fees, or interest. Period. 

$4.99 for a large pack of gum at the convenient store around the corner from his work that we could buy for $2.29 at Target, if he planned ahead. 

$200 a month spent on random out and about stuff, food, things, etc...We know what some of the expenses are and I nag because I disagree with his choice to spend money on them, he gives me the husbandly “uh huh” and then does as he pleases, because after all, it is his money. 

Yes, I heard the tone in that last sentence. The wifely tone and husbandly response is exactly why we have decided to start managing our money separately. After six years of me managing our money, my husband feels restricted and slightly resentful. I can’t blame him. 

So, we’ve separated our income into personal accounts. We split up our household budget 50/50. We each agreed to put 15% into our joint long-term savings per month. In addition, each of us is responsible for funding our own savings for a trip to Europe this summer for a friend’s wedding. If one of us doesn’t save enough, then that person doesn’t get go. Guidelines established. 

When we were discussing our new plan, my husband was confident that this was going to be a piece of cake. After all, his not-spending skills have come so far. But his saving skills… 

One day, he was daydreaming about how he was going to spend his savings on after Europe. He's always wanted a motorcycle, but it's never fit into our budget. Now, it’s his budget. After a bit of online window shopping, he realizes that if he spends his savings on a motorcycle, he won't have any savings left. Which means he won't have anything saved for our next trip, because there’s always a next trip. 

He just talked himself out of something in minutes that I’ve been trying to rationalize out of him for years.

Next step, he creates his very first budget. 

(Income) – [(50% of household expenses) – (long-term savings) – (his personal miscellaneous expenses)] = (Europe savings)

Realization: He can’t have his cake and eat it to. 

At this rate, he’ll only have enough for the flight and nothing for the trip. So, he heads straight for the “miscellaneous” expenses, because it’s the one category he has most control over. If he cuts it to $0, he’s solid. But that’s not realistic. So, first things first, he identifies exactly what ends up in this category, prioritizes, then cuts and trims. 

Once again, he’s just figured out in an hour, what I’ve been talking (sometimes nagging) about for months. 

I can’t wait to see what happens next. 

Oh, I forgot, I had realizations about myself and my budget too. Next time. 

Want more stories about our journey with money as a couple? Check out my other blogs “Finding Common Ground" and "A Bumpy Ride."

-Leah Schonlank

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  1. I know shock collars are cruel, but after the 10th atm fee, what else is gonna get through to him??

    1. HA HA. In my husband's defense, this has only happened once in the past few years. The banks have gotten so sneaky about ATM fees, since the creation of the ATM/Debit/Visa/MC card combo, that our rule is to never use them in anything other than the bank ATM.