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- For Love & Money is Insider’s bi-weekly column that answers your questions about relationships and money.
- This week, a reader asks how to tell her husband to stop spending his vacation money on himself.
- Our columnist says it’s hard to change the long-term momentum, but you have to be direct.
- A question for our columnist? Write to For Love & Money using this Google form.
Dear for love and money,
I am a happily married person. We get along great and don’t fight “much” about money, but we’re opposites in every way…especially in how we value things versus experiences.
I value experiences. I want to use all our pocket money for vacations, excursions and family activities that will create memories. However, my spouse didn’t experience these things until we got married, so he appreciates the things that were a bigger part of his childhood. Therefore, he wants to spend our leisure money on his expensive (very expensive, thousands of dollars) hobbies.
I don’t blame him for working so hard, but I feel like it’s unbalanced. How do I approach this? How do you divide things up and set priorities?
Home travel enthusiast
You say you don’t blame your husband, but you also used the word “imbalanced” to describe the financial aspect of your relationship. The two things don’t necessarily contradict each other, but I think the dissonance deserves honest consideration. Because the tone of your letter seems to be split between how you want to feel about it—thrilled that your husband is indulging his every whim—and frustrated that he doesn’t seem to offer you the same generosity.
But you clearly admire your husband and see him as a good person. This is why the problem you describe in your letter sounds less like a dilemma than a challenge.
Have a conversation about how to spend your money in the future
“Dilemma” refers to a person entangled in a complicated situation. While your situation may be difficult, it’s simple: you need to change your family’s current spending habits. This means having a chat with your husband and claiming more than half of your shared pocket money.
You don’t explain in your letter why, until now, your husband’s values have defined most of your family’s expenses. I can think of a dozen possible reasons for this – maybe his financial contribution is higher than yours, maybe his reasons for avoiding the experiences you crave are valid reasons that you respect, like the fear of flying or a job that offers little paid time off. Or, maybe you’re a woman and used to following traditional gender roles in your marriage.
But while these various reasons I’ve come up with may make it emotionally more difficult to assert your rights, my response to your situation remains the same: you and your husband are equals in your marriage, and you both have a word. to say about how you spend your family’s income.
And, practically speaking, since you’re married to a good person, you must realize that your reluctance to just put 50% of your pocket money into a vacation fund is due to your blockages and not any real threat your husband poses. .
what to say to your husband
That doesn’t mean you won’t be rebuffed if you buy tickets for a cruise before he can spend that money on a vintage sports car. Every time we change the long-term dynamic, the people who benefit the most will feel robbed. And I wouldn’t suggest that you push for retroactive equality. Don’t say, “You’ve been successful for the past 10 years. Now it’s my turn to decide how we allocate our income.
Have a conversation with your husband. You might say, “Going on a family vacation this year is important. I’ve done some research, and it looks like it’s going to cost us X. I’ll be putting money aside every month, which means our leisure budget will be cut in half. .”
If he protests that it will delay the plans he already had for that money, tell him what you told me – you have different financial goals, and while you like watching him enjoy his hard-earned cash, there must be parity between you in the pursuit of these goals.
Maybe doing more activities together will change your husband’s mind.
This brings me to my last suggestion. I never recommend assigning moral weight to arbitrary spending. I love going to concerts and staying in boutique hotels, and other people love driving around their subdivisions in oversized pickup trucks. I may not understand this preference, but I don’t need to understand it to respect it — everyone has their own taste.
However, you said your husband’s preference for things over experiences stems from a lack of childhood exposure. And I wonder if he was leaving for more vacations, excursions and family outings, if your priorities would start to align.
Often what we think are our values are actually our comfort zones. And being pushed out of our comfort zone is, by definition, uncomfortable. Choosing discomfort, particularly within the framework of leisure expenses, is never an appealing prospect. So if your husband rarely travels outside of your state or sleeps in beds other than his own, the thought of going out and trying new things can seem daunting and unpleasant.
Once you’ve asserted your right to half pocket money and your husband is forced out of his comfort zone, chances are he’ll understand why you value experiences more. than things. Together, you can experience moments that you can both remember later. And with each new experience, he will probably become more comfortable.
And while he still values things over experiences, there will come a time when he too can say, “I don’t blame my partner for those moments that bring him so much joy.”
Rooting for you two,
For love and money
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