The Frugal Creditnista

The Money Talk – How $1.49 Almost Destroyed My Marriage

It is a gorgeous Thursday afternoon in the Chi and I decided to take off work a little early and get some good ole black walnut ice cream from the grocery store (being frugal, I did not stop at the baskin robbins across the street, it is just too high!).

As I approched the ice cream aisle, I hear a couple arguing over purchasing a cake from the bakery in the store:

Wife:  “There you go constantly grabbing things that are not on the list, we have cookies and that is all we're getting!”

Husband:  “Listen, that's my money too and if I want to get some damn cake; I'm getting some cake!”

Oh the memories, this was seriously Mal and I roughly 5 years ago.  As I mentioned in The Money Talk, I was serious about changing our spending habits, living below our means, saving, budgeting – and he was not (yet), lol.  So, to the grocery store we go, I have my list in tow (not new) and my grocery-marked cash envelope (totally new) and we start shopping.  In his typical fashion, he starts randomly grabbing things and putting them in the cart and I calmly took them out while he wasn't looking. 

We get to the cash register and he grabs a $1.49 pack of gum. OMG!  At this point I had HAD it!  I refused to bring my debit or credit card with us and I was not going to get to that cash register and put something back that was on the list because he couldn't grab the $0.50 pack of gum!

Me:  You can't get the cheaper pack of gum?

Him:  I want this pack of gum, it's only a dollar.

Me:  That's a dollar from my grocery budget that can be applied to something else.

Him:  What can you possibly buy for a dollar that this gum is going to stop you from getting?

Me:  Well, first off it's $1.49; not a dollar, secondly I can get a package of veggies, chicken quarters are $0.59 lb this week, 3 peaches, a pack of strawberries, a carton of eggs…

Him:  (cutting me off) You got that in the cart all ready, I'm getting this gum

Me:  If you put that gum in this cart we're going to have some problems


Me:  (Pushed cart out of the line and head to the door pissed!)

This was not the end of the ‘conversation' by far.  My husband and I have only had 5 arguments in 7 years, so this was far from the norm.  I just could not understand how he couldn't see that continuing to not track our expenses and stick to our budget would equal us not meeting our financial goals, I mean really?  Because what he was doing right now equated to a lifetime of brokeness and I wasn't having that.  He had to go! I mean, logically it makes sense; what was I missing?

EGO.  Lawd, men and their egos!  Because I TOLD him he couldn't buy it, that pack of gum represented his manhood and he acted a plum fool.  I was not going to tell him what he could and could not buy with his money, nor was I going to dictate how he was going to spend money he worked hard for 5 days a week.  I had to go, LOL!!!  

I RE-acted because that peace of gum represented our entire financial future – over spending, over indulging, over entertaining, with no restriction and no thought to the future; I remember thinking, “This is what I married.”  Yep, what; not who.  A person who is so fixated on obtaining things and feeling they deserved every pleasure simply because they work hard Monday through Friday.  

How did we resolve it?  Well, fortunately for him he married someone who doesn't stay angry long.  I just can't do it; a waste of energy, time, and effort that can be spent towards something more productive.  I am a feisty lil' sumthin' so I still gave him lip by stating that he totally over-reacted.  Unfortunately for me; I totally married someone who can hold a grudge to the next millennium.  I gave him his space, but since I left the entire cart of groceries at the store, I knew he had to speak to me sooner or later (hee hee!).  Basically we came to an understanding, once egos and anger and over-dramatics were cancelled out we got to the root of the problem.  

My entire point was that if we were going to get the next level financially we had to monitor every cent we spent – even that $1.49 pack of gum; why?  Because cents add up.  The more you make the statement:  “It's only $(insert dollar amount)” before making a purchase the more trouble you'll get into.

Those little “It's onlies” can add up to WTHs in a minute.  

Don't believe me?  How many times have you ordered from a dollar menu and spent more than you would have spent on a number 3?  How many times have you gone into a dollar store, or a clearance/estate/garage/store-closing sale and got to the register and had those 80% off items equal a heck of a lot more than if you had pre-planned a trip to the store and shopped on the regular priced-item rack?  Oh, but you got a lot more for that money so it's okay, right? WRONG!  You overspent on something that you did not need without thought to your money goals.  That thought process leads to money woes and credit lows – STOP IT!

(Back to us)  We ended up giving each other a spending fund just for the little things, he no longer goes to the grocery store with me and if he wants something special for himself that is outside of our budget and over his allotted spending allowance; he works more hours for it. Whoop?!  DId you just read that?  HE WORKS MORE FOR IT!

A lot of people think budgeting and living frugally is all about restrictions, I don't.  The BEST way to get to the next level is to work harder to bring in additional income; after all, there's only so much expense cutting you can do.  I personally think about how to monetize my talents minutely – you read that right, minutely – not daily, not monthly, not annually; M-I-N-U-T-E-L-Y.  I love dining out, shopping, traveling just as much as any other woman does.  But, I'm not about to take from my expenses and money-goals to do it; that money has a purpose to fulfill and fulfill them it will!  

I challenge you to write down some of your financial goals and think of ways to bring additional income into your household to bring them to fruition.  Here's a simple sheet that I use when I'm planning goals around things that I want to do or places I want to go:  Financial WANTS Goal Sheet.  If you're married, create and write down goals that you would like to accomplish together. Writing down these goals and putting them some place visible is the easiest way to get hubbie focused and on board as well (A couple that plans together stays together {yep I made that up}). Once it's written down; commit to it!  A goal written down without action behind it is merely a sentence or 2 written on a piece of paper; action brings it to life.

Happy Thursday!

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