By: Revanche

Married Life: Blending spending styles and learning the art of compromise

March 19, 2012

In Donna’s Strategic Pizza, she shares her experience with the beginnings of the same phenomenon that I’ve noticed has crept into our own shared lives organically, but not comfortably, over the past year and some.

One of the natural effects of living with PiC has been that my normal levels of frugality and privations to make sure that ends are met are offset by extra spending where I normally would not have chosen it.

Left to my own devices, life is conducted Broke Student Style. I don’t eat out, I don’t buy anything I don’t need unless (or even if) the existing item is falling apart, I stay home all weekend, every weekend because I can be productive, learn, and monitor finances without spending money that way. I’ll buy gifts, frugally, but rarely are purchases for myself.

PiC looks at me crossways, wondering why I didn’t just stop and pick something up to eat if I’ve run 4 hours of errands and I’m exhausted. He wonders why I don’t go out on a sunny day to shop, plan brunch, or have dinners out with family and friends.

Not only does it not occur to me to do that instead of cheap or free options like taking a snack on errands, cooking at home or going to the park or hanging out at home and catching up, it actually feels like I’m going off the rails. I’m being foolish and wasteful, spending.

Our experiences have shaped us so fundamentally differently, he and I.

When we come home after extra long (14+ hour) days, I wonder: What’s in the freezer and fridge? What kind of meal can I throw together if I don’t already have one ready? I can defrost and put something together. Or: maybe I can just pass out and forget dinner.

His is: Let’s just get take-out and get that worry out of the way.

The last thing I want to do is add spending guilt to my fatigue. The last thing he wants to do is spend more time and energy at the end of a long and tiring day.

Now that my health is so largely exacerbated by exhaustion and our income isn’t scraping by penny to penny, month to month, I have to admit that he has a point. I have to keep reminding myself that the ledger doesn’t need to be the absolute first (and only) priority.

In the early months of our living together, it was incredibly difficult not to object every single time the subject came up. To keep the issue from becoming a point of contention, I tried to artificially restrict the number of meals and the cost of eating out. I needed to impose some limits to know that we weren’t going to spiral into an endless convenience spending cycle.

After many months of tracking our expenses, we’re still looking for a system that suits us, but we’ve come to an understanding. Some convenience spending is part of our lives as a freedom he’s accustomed to, particularly when we’re, one or the other, just too tired to scrape the meal together, but we limit it to those times when the fatigue threatens familial harmony. The amount is still more than I’m comfortable with but that’s to be expected; we can work on that. Meanwhile, I’ve been learning to let go of the wallet-anxiety a little.

This is a small step in the direction of living a mindful, purposeful, and ultimately, peaceful life.

Married Life Posts:
Married Life: Benefits
Married Life: Mortgage Prepayment for Refinancing

8 Responses to “Married Life: Blending spending styles and learning the art of compromise”

  1. With the pregnancy and our busy schedules we’ve been getting take-out a lot. No regrets!

    But usually we do menu plan out the week in advance (on the weekend) and have pre-made meals in the freezer that can just be heated up.

  2. Sense says:

    Ah, the art of compromise…glad you guys are working it out!

  3. SP says:

    I feel like I made this compromise too – but with myself. As my income rose a little, I was much more able to convince myself that, yes, maybe it WAS worth it. Sometimes.

    This is why I still have to track my spending. It keeps me honest. It’s worth it, but how often and how much money?!

  4. StackingCash says:

    If you saw how much we spent on eating out and then tipping 20% on top of that, you wouldn’t even blink to order take-out for yourselves.

  5. My husband and I have this issue too, except I’m the one pushing for takeout!

    The solution we’ve found is to buy three or four high-quality frozen ready meals in our monthly grocery shop. They cost about £6-8 each, which is more than I like to spend on a “normal” home meal but is still half the cost of takeaway for two people. If we’re Just TOo Tired to cook we can turn on the oven and pop them in, and the 25-30 minutes they take is about as long as a food delivery would be anyway.

    There are some surprisingly nice gourmet frozen dinners so it doesn’t feel like we’re missing out on a nice meal!

  6. Katherine says:

    My husband and I have had a lonnnng road compromising on how we spend our money…it’s tough when your values are different but as long as you have an open dialogue, things should be okay 🙂 I am really enjoying reading your blog btw!

  7. Revanche says:

    @nicoleandmaggie: I’m doing better w/cooking ahead on the weekend and then freezing some of it too. I’m still crap at menu planning but as long as we have: starch, protein, veggie, the component parts matter less.

    The bigger compromise is being lazier on the weekend so I have energy to cook, and thus eating out more, then. Which is weird. But it works. So whatever.

    @Sense: Slowly but surely. 🙂

    @SP: I’ve gotten surprisingly bad at minute tracking, I do aggregate tracking where I just note how much the bills are. Which is not my favorite. I need a new/different way to do the household tracking.

    @StackingCash: Well, I feel takeout is so close to regular eating out cost that it’s basically the same cause we do fail to plan ahead and make it part of our commute so not an extra trip (so gas costs).

    @Frugal City Girl: That’s a good compromise, too. We don’t have as much freezer space as I’d like so we can’t do that as much but it’s a nice limited option and still less expensive.

    @Katherine: It is a long road and a lot of waltzing back and forth, isn’t it?? And thank you, welcome!

  8. […] adds her thoughtful analysis in Blending spending styles and learning the art of compromise and living on a combined […]

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