(Photo by David Boyle)
It’s true. My wife is spending too much money and she knows it.
(Please note I don’t say that in a condescending tone! This post was read and approved of by my wonderful bride.)
How She Knows
We allocate 2% of our monthly income to individual spending for the each of us. If our total income is $3,000 then we would each get $60 to spend the next month on anything we want. (Except for the percentage, these are not accurate numbers for us.)
In the recent past she has been running into a small deficit pretty consistently every month. Let’s say at the end of the month she was $20 in the hole. We would divvy up our individual spending money, and she’d be out of the hole. At the end of the next month, she’s back to being $20 in the hole.
What’s going on here?
Hint: It’s Not Constant Overspending
To the smart readers who caught it, congrats. My bride — at least in the above example — hasn’t been over spending every single month. If she ends the previous month at negative $20, gets $60 in spending money, and ends up at negative $20… then she’s just spending what she had during the month. Somewhere in the past she spent too much money and has just spent consistently since then.
Thankfully, she isn’t digging a deeper hole in her “account” every month. She’s just treading water.
How I Found Out About It
Lest you think I pointed the finger at her in a chastising manner, I’m happy to report that was definitely not the case. We were discussing where we stood for our budget and she pointed out that she felt like she was always in the hole.
She came to me for advice. Did I have any ideas as to why she never seemed to have money left over? (As a contrast, I dip into my “spending” money only occasionally and usually have some left over to build up for next month.)
After sitting and talking for a while, we discovered a few things:
- She’s not a spendaholic. (We knew that already.)
- At some point in the past, she spent too much money, and spends every last dime usually.
- If she wants to buy something for another budget category — like house decorating or for our dog — and we don’t have the money for it in the budget, she spends her own money.
- The primary thing she was spending money on is school supplies.
That third and fourth points were the kickers. On one hand, it’s a good thing. We weren’t dipping into our budget categories for decoration/maintenance of our home or on our dog. She was footing the bill herself. For example, if she went to PetSmart and saw a toy (or we needed to replace an old destroyed one), she would just pay for it out of her own money.
My wife is just starting her second year of teaching. She doesn’t have the supplies of a 20 year veteran. She thinks at some point in the past the things she spent too much on — and went into the hole — were school supplies. She doesn’t get her school funded money until October. If you’re in the midst of planning during the summer and need supplies, you can’t wait.
Result of those two factors? She spent most of her money every month.
So? What now?
Thanks to our wonderful marriage, we were able to have this open, honest communication. I didn’t point any fingers about her spending too much. She didn’t accuse me of being a budget nazi. All is well in our household.
After talking, we have a better understanding of what she has been spending money on. We — she — is making some changes to her behavior. She understands that if we don’t have the money for something, then she probably shouldn’t be buying it. And if she does, she may end up in the hole again.
We also made an adjustment so that her school supplies come out of our miscellaneous category. Granted, we can’t empty out this account every month, but it does give her a buffer to use.
The bottom line? We’re on the same page, headed in the same financial direction. All is well. (And now I’m going to go give her a foot rub.)