How to Solve Disagreements about Spending Money

Have you heard the joke that says, “A man will pay two dollars for an item he needs that is only worth a dollar, whereas a woman will pay a dollar for an item she doesn’t need that is worth two dollars but is on sale”?  

Is that always true? Of course not.

But people laugh at this because they have heard many women in their lives justifying a purchase because “it was on sale!”

On the other hand, while men tend not to do as much shopping as women (though there are exceptions), when they feel they have to have something, they will typically pay more to get it right then and there.

How to Solve Disagreements about Spending Money

Naturally, between husbands and wives, disagreements arise when each finds out what the other did. He asks with emotion, “You did what? You bought something that you didn’t need?” And she firmly states, “What a rip-off! I can’t believe you paid what you did for that thing!”

But each has a reasonable explanation for spending what they did, when they did it, on what they spent it on.

Many traditional wives, who appreciate their husbands as the primary provider, are quite conscientious about spending wisely. In their deepest hearts, they want to please them with their excellent stewardship and certainly do not want to meet with their displeasure. One way for her to achieve this is by finding good deals and telling her husband. She knows the value of most things, so when a bargain presents itself, she weighs the long-term benefit and pulls the trigger on the purchase, knowing tomorrow she will need this. Spend today to save tomorrow.

As for the husband paying more for the item, typically he deems the purchase worth it to save time and energy in the long run. He knows he paid more than he would pay elsewhere, but his time is of the essence since other things are on his to-do list for tomorrow. Spend today to save tomorrow.

Both have goodwill and are calculating the merits of their purchase. Incredibly, both even have the same motivation—to “save tomorrow.” Only they have different views on what that means for them in that moment. Not wrong, just different.

Many disagreements can be contained when realizing neither are wrong, just different. Giving one another the benefit of the doubt is the best way to go, given they haven’t secretly mortgaged the home and stopped paying the medical insurance to obtain the item. He may not have bought the kids an entire new wardrobe of winter clothes—in May—even though everything was half off; and she would’ve at least gone to a second hardware store or even checked out Craigslist before buying a new lawn mower. But was the other spouse actually “wrong” to make the purchase their way? No.

In fact, in their minds they were making a wise decision, based on trying to “save tomorrow.”

As long as there is money and marriage, there will be disagreements about money within a marriage.

But when we give each other the benefit of the doubt and try to understand their motivations, we will save ourselves more than a few spins on the Crazy Cycle.

We’d love to hear back from you now. How do you feel about some of the generalized differences and conclusions shared above? Do they echo your experience? Why or why not?

Please share with us a “not wrong, just different” experience you and your spouse have had concerning spending money. Did a negative response toward the spender help spark up the Crazy Cycle, or did a positive response toward the spender help fill up the love and respect tank? Explain.

-Dr. E


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