I knew the minute I finished the sentence that someone would comment on it, and I was right. In my post last week describing an afternoon at a food and wine event I mentioned that I bought two bottles of BBQ sauce, but not before checking in with my wife first.
I wanted my wife’s approval before buying $12 of BBQ sauce.
I didn’t expect her to disapprove of the purchase. As the commenter articulated, it was simply an act of respect. We are a quad income family (we each have two sources of income), but we choose to combine our finances completely. We throw all our money into a common pot, pay our bills, and then decide together what to do with what is left over. Before the beginning of each weekend we discuss how much to allocate for discretionary spending, as well as a general outline as to on what that money will be spent.
From that point, things are purposefully a bit mushy. We had an amount of money that we had marked to be spent at the event, but we obviously could not foresee what we might find to purchase. Since the money allocated for the event was for both of us, it only made sense to me to ensure she was OK with me spending some of it.
In turn, she showed me the same respect.
As we walked through the event, we constantly had to put our glass down (each attendee is given a keepsake glass) if we wanted to read a pamphlet or do something else with our hands. When she saw a vendor selling necklaces that would hold our wine glasses to free up our hands, she expressed her desire to purchase one for each of us.
What if we don’t agree with the purchase?
This is where those relationship skills come in really handy. She could not care less about BBQ sauces or talking to a competition BBQ team. But she knows BBQ is one of my favorite hobbies so she supported something that is important to me. I’m perfectly capable of holding a wine glass, and we don’t attend these events very often so I would have never purchased a wine glass holding necklace. But, I know that these kinds of events are something Vonnie would like to attend more often, so she saw the necklace as an investment of convenience for the future. The wine glass necklaces are more than just a trinket to wear around the neck; their purchase is a statement of support and desire to attend more of these events with her.
Granted, these are small purchases that would not have a big impact on our overall finances. But showing this level of respect towards each other with small purchase gives us practice for when the stakes are higher.
Responsibility must also come from the person wanting to make the purchase as well. Let’s say that I instead insisted upon purchasing an entire case of BBQ sauce for a (made up) cost of $72. Now we’re talking about a larger number that would have virtually consumed the entire $75 fund we had allocated for the event. This request, which would essentially eliminate the possibility of my wife purchasing anything that she found interesting at the event, would show zero respect towards our budget as well as my wife.
Vonnie and I choose to fully combine our finances. We are successful by showing mutual respect in both requesting to spend our money, and in approving of the other doing the spending. A request to purchase something is more than just a question; it is a statement of respect for use of a common resource. Approvals of a purchase is more than just a nod of the head, it is a statement of support for something important to the other partner. This mutual respect keeps us constantly thinking about the wants and needs each other, and putting them first in our minds.
Sounds to me like a recipe for success in finances, and marriage.
Do you and your significant other have your finances combined? Do you show your partner respect with your spending?