I don’t tend to spend any money unless I want something and I hate the process of shopping (exception: grocery shopping and Trader Joe’s). I’m the type of person who would totally hire a personal shopper to decide what I need, hunt it down, and purchase it for me. I tend not to buy anything for long periods of time and then to go on a single blitz to get things that I need. I don’t do much impulse buying (at least that isn’t edible).
My DH, on the other hand, seems to get more enjoyment out of the shopping process often than he does from actually owning whatever it is he’s purchased. He spends days poring over consumersearch or boardgamegeek comparing and contrasting, reading reviews, and so on. (Me, I decide I need something, I go to consumer search, see what their top choices are, compare prices, then I hit Amazon and buy it. Unless it’s something I have to try on, but I still try surgical strikes.)
DH also has an interesting relationship with money in which he wants to spend all the money he has or none of the money he has. Given how much he enjoys the shopping process, you can see how neither of these outcomes leads to anything but misery for poor DH.
So early in our marriage we hit upon the adult allowance. GRS describes the adult allowance here. We mentioned it briefly before here in our post on couples and finances. Basically, DH gets a certain amount of money per week and 10x the weekly amount at Christmas and at his birthday. He keeps track of it in his little black day planner (this year a somewhat larger Moleskine version). Early on this was awesome for me too because I could get him to do annoying phone things by telling him he could have half of whatever money he retrieved from whatever customer service thing had messed up. Win win! It also works out because if he buys me something nice and expensive as a gift, or something that I think is a waste of money, I don’t feel like I would have had better uses for that money because it’s not my money. He can get whatever he wants with his money. When we got real jobs he gave himself a raise, though not a huge one because his needs are simple. He tells me he’d been getting $30/week.
Things worked great with respect to the allowance for the first 10 years or so of our marriage. Recently though, he hadn’t been buying as much stuff. He got a french press which really cut down on his latte factor, and he’s been working through rather than going out for lunch. He feels like he needs to play more with the board games he has before he buys new ones, and so on. He’s also between hobbies.
So right before Christmas (and, importantly, right after doing our holiday donations), I noticed that DH had put in a $600 Zingerman‘s order. I love Zingerman’s as much as the next person, but $600 is a LOT of money for fancy foodstuffs to get shipped from Michigan. I literally felt sick to my stomach. It’s really best if I don’t know these things. ($300 probably would have seemed excessive, but I could probably have handled that.) I tried really hard to fight down the negative visceral reaction because the whole point of the allowance is that it’s his money and he can do whatever he wants with it, but I had to leave the room to do so.
Anyhow, DH canceled the order completely (despite my encouragement that he just cut it down and get some stuff… he’s really an all or nothing kind of guy) and decided his allowance was too high. Having $600 to spend was causing him to go a little crazy in the looking for things to buy.
So he dropped it to $15/week (!) and $150 and bought a couple boardgames or something for himself. However, recently he realized he wants a super fancy desk chair, so he’s reinstated the weekly allowance to $30 and made the reinstatement retroactive. We’re going shopping for chairs this weekend.
My moral would have been “don’t go looking for things to spend money on because things to spend money on will find you and it’s good to have cash saved up when that happens.” But I think his moral is that “it’s good to keep your spending money to your wants and just a little bit more.”
Do you use an adult allowance? Do you need one? Does your significant other?