I had an interesting conversation with a couple of my FPU students a couple weeks ago. I was telling them about how much I like Republic Wireless and they asked if I am planning to upgrade my phone when they release the new one. I said that Kyle has been pushing me to upgrade but that I didn’t see the need – to me upgrading a functional smartphone after only one year of use seems like lifestyle inflation.
Previously in the class we have discussed how spouses keeping joint finances act as accountability partners for one another’s spending choices. In FPU spouses are encouraged to each be allocated a little bit of “blow money” for totally discretionary use, and in discussions about that point with my table I have said that we keep all of our money completely joint and don’t have separate discretionary spending each month. If we can’t convince the other person that what we want to buy is justified (given that each of us is reasonable and loving, which we are), then it’s really not a good purchase.
One of the people at my table said, regarding the potential phone upgrade, that since my “accountability partner” is for the purchase that mean it’s a go-ahead, right? I replied that Kyle does not get to be the accountability partner for electronics purchases. Whether it’s for me or for him, he needs me to slow down this one area where he is a “spender.”
me: We have too much cash on hand. We should do something with it.
Kyle: OK, great. I have a list of things I want to buy: 1) a tablet, 2) a router, 3) a desktop, and 4) a new laptop.
me: Sheesh! I was thinking more like making a lump sum contribution to our IRAs…
Piece of Evidence #2 (while re-evaluating our budget)
me: In your ideal world, how much money would you want to be saving into our Electronics account? Right now we’re saving $50 per month.
Kyle: Definitely more than that.
me: How about $100?
Kyle: No, that’s not enough.
Kyle: No, more than that.
me: How much, then? $200???
Kyle: I think $300.
me: You want to be saving $300 per month just to spend on electronics!? That’s almost as much as we spend on food!
I’m not saying that Kyle should never spend money on electronics (we increased our savings rate to $100/month, in fact). He likely wouldn’t buy all the stuff on his list even if he were still a bachelor because he is very good with keeping spending in check. My point is that there are certain areas in our life that Kyle is more likely to overspend in and certain areas that I am more likely to overspend in, and in those areas the accountability should shift to the spouse less likely to be tempted. I need to be the accountability partner for electronics purchases, whether they are for me or Kyle. I definitely need Kyle to be an accountability partner for food and clothing purchases. Left to my own devices, I would buy local organic almost everything and completely bust up our budget – not to mention ALL THE DRESSES!
I wonder if other married couples work the way we do – not that one of us is always the spender and the other always the saver, but alternating those roles depending on the type of purchase.
What are your biggest areas of spending temptation? Does your spouse help you temper your spending inclinations in those areas and vice versa? If you are single, do you have someone who serves as an accountability partner for your budget and spending (this is encouraged in FPU)?
photo from Free Digital Photos