12:48 pm , by
Category: setting up a budget
Social pressure is all around us. It is also the reason why we try to keep up with the Joneses. Maybe neither the Joneses nor the Smiths nor the Williamses care at all how well we are keeping up. It could be that keeping up with the Joneses is a challenge only in our own heads.
A spouse, on the other hand, most likely cares how well we are keeping up with him or her. My wife and I recently needed new cell phones and we struggled a lot over which ones to get, but we only bought them when we decided together that we would buy gadgets that meet our needs rather than our wants. (Check out our post “Forget Needs and Wants. Focus on Use Instead!”)
In our experience, though, many couples don’t work together on such purchases, or even make any of their personalized spending choices together. Sometimes, wifey goes shopping with the girls and buys a pair of shoes she does not need, but she wants them and she makes an income which gives her the right to buy the shoes. She may not tell him about the shoe purchase, but he notices the new shoes eventually anyway. Then he goes out and buys shoes for himself, or perhaps makes another purchase – like on an outing with his friends, or for tickets to a game – to even out the spending between wife and husband. Or maybe he’ll make a purchase so he can feel more in charge of the money by making buying decisions, even if he hates to do the shopping for himself and the children.
Or perhaps it’s the other way around. He decides to buy the new iPhone4 – he feels he wants it and he makes an income that he feels gives him the right to buy the iPhone4. She sees the new phone in the house and buys one herself to even out the spending, or maybe just to keep up in the gadget competition. She can’t be seen with her old phone if he has the newest iPhone, right?
You can see where this is going, right? When you don’t make spending decisions together as a couple, you can fall into the trap that you need to keep up with the Joneses Spouses which can become very, very expensive – perhaps even more than the cost of keeping up with the Joneses. After all, you don’t know every time when Mr. or Mrs. Jones gets new shoes, right? Playing catch-up with your spouse can become quite detrimental to your family’s finances since spending can easily get out of control.
There is one way to get out of such a trap. Talk to your spouse honestly about your spending and money. You are a couple, for crying out loud! You ought to be able to tackle all the important issues you face openly and honestly. Money is one of these important issues. So, go on and talk about it.
Please let me know via the “contact us” link or in the comment sections what experiences you have had talking to your spouse about money.
Also check out our 2-minute webcast “Financial Planning: Money Dates” on Youtube.
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