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Laura Hunt

Romance & Money

Communicating About The Budget

Develop behavior integrity

Nina in Sacramento, California:
"We’ve only been married for six months, and almost everything is wonderful. Except when my husband gets upset with me for buying something that’s not in our budget. I’ve stopped telling him when I go shopping. I know we’re saving for a house and that we need to focus, but sometimes I just like to shop. I don’t really like to hide things from him like my mother did from my father, but I also don’t like to get a speech about ‘the budget’ every time I want to buy a blouse. How can I help us get past this little problem?"

Well, congratulations on a successful six months of wedded bliss. But if you’d like to have more of that, then it’s time to wake up.

Nina, Nina, Nina. Shopping and hiding what you’ve purchased from your spouse is not a ‘little problem.’ It also sounds as if it's learned behavior from your mother. If you are overspending,  generally is indicative of a deeper problem. Keeping from your spouse things that directly affect him is a more serous problem yet.

One very important issue is the budget; did you design it together, or do you feel left out of the planning? If you do, this could be the seed of your problem. You must both be involved in the financial decisions that affect your lives together; whether it’s budgeting or spending. Resentment ensues when you are not. Actions speak volumes! If you’d like your marriage to stay happy, you need to develop some helpful behaviors related to your spending. What are your actions telling you?

I truly believe you wouldn’t have asked the question if you didn’t want to change. I also believe you already know the answer.

“Advice is what we ask for when we already
know the answer but wish we didn’t.”
Erica Jong

It sounds as if you and your husband agreed at some point that you wanted a house, and he’s working towards that goal, but you have somehow lost focus. Ask yourself some questions: Have I lost interest in buying a house? Do I want to be like my mother about shopping and hiding the bounty? Do I have deeper issues that lead me to deceive my spouse? Is my marriage worth a new blouse?

If the answer to those questions is ‘no’, then you need to get a handle on your behavior. If it’s learned behavior, then it can be unlearned. But, if the answer is yes, then you may want to seek some counseling. Once you have decided to be honest with yourself about WHY you’re spending when you shouldn’t, then take a good look at WHERE you’re spending. You can’t modify behavior if you don’t know what it is or when it happens.

Every situation is different because we are all individuals. But one rule of thumb that will help regardless of your situation is: Start tracking where every dime is spent. Use the ‘Monthly Budget Worksheet’ to see in writing where your money is spent. This is the best behavior modifier I know.

Remember, you cannot overcome an obstacle you cannot see.
Keep in mind that you and your husband also may need to adjust the budget a bit to allow you to shop now and then. Just be honest about it.

Additional information on this topic:

Read Earlier Articles
Editorial Calendar & Monthly Budget Worksheet
Important Financial Help Websites and Phone Numbers


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