It’s Your Money, YOU Spend It!

Hello debt haters! A few weeks ago I received an email from a reader that suggested I write a post about how other people spend your money for you. I have to admit it is a great post idea, and I am really surprised I had not come up with it earlier. You see, I have my own issue with this very problem.

Kelly in Cleveland Ohio wrote in:

“I’d love to see an article on “When others spend your money for you”. For example, a 50th wedding anniversary for my fiance’s parents. We were just notified that we’re paying 1/3 of a $20+ per plate gala for 60 people. We suggested low cost options- church cost $50 to rent, and we could cook ourselves, do set up and cleanup, etc… but now there’s a rift because we even mentioned that we’d have a hard time budgeting an extra $150 or more per month (on top of a wedding!). They are obviously paying on credit card. I have no credit card debt, but my fiance’ does- 15k or so that we’re attacking already on top of wedding bills. Where do people get the idea that they can spend other’s money for them?”

One of the things that really bug me is when someone else notifies you of an expense you didn’t plan for. Birthday parties, going away parties, work luncheons, etc. They seem to volunteer you without ever considering the alternative, which is asking you. Now to be clear, I am not against celebrating a co-workers departure, a birthday, a wedding, or a surprise luncheon, but I have a big problem with other people—who probably have no plan at all—spending your money for you.

The worst part about these common occurrences is that if you were to choose not to participate, if that’s an option, you look like a big jerk. You may then be labeled as a cheap, stingy, or scrooge-ish person, but even if you aren’t, the pressure to participate is still there. Another scenario that seems to be very common is when friends invite you to go out to eat. If you say no, you might be berated, but if you say yes you may spend more than you should. I’d rather say no.

My wife and I have discussed this many times as she seems to always come home to inform me that we are responsible for buying something for this or for that. What about the budget, I say? Do we really want to adjust our budget by taking from one category in order to account for this forced expense? We do not have a lot of waste in our budget so it may cause us to take away from something far more important. At Christmas time they often do a gift exchange where each person buys something for $20. We generally only buy gifts for the kids in our family, so this means that we spend $20 for someone else when we could of used that money to buy someone in our family something. They would and should be the priority no?

How To Handle These Forced Expenditures

Now that I have stated my case, I do not think this issue will go away. This leaves you with two options:

  • Spend the money
    • If you feel that you want to participate in these types of events plan for them.
      • Create a category in your budget each month to deal with these types of expenses. If you don’t use the money allotted for that month, carry it over to the next month.
      • Place an amount you agree on, (for the year) in an envelope and vow to only use it for these surprise expenses. When you run out, you run out.
      • If you want to plan for bigger “surprise expenses”, figure out how much you want to set aside, and put away money each month to fund it.
  • Don’t spend the money
    • Say NO, without feeling bad, it is after all, YOUR money.

In conclusion, I will say that you should never spend your money because you feel forced to do so. If you want to participate in an event that causes you to change your budget, do so, but be sure to adjust your budget. Another piece of advice would be to NEVER use a credit card to fund these random expenses. Spend your money the way YOU see fit, not how someone else sees fit. They don’t have to pay your monthly bills, you do.

Furthermore, if someone came to me and “told” me that I was going to be responsible for funding such a big amount, such as Kelly experienced above, I would flat out say no. There is something rather arrogant about someone coming to you and telling you how to spend your hard earned money because they have deemed it worthy. (kind of reminds me of the Government.)

Do you have a similar story to share? Please feel free to discuss it in the comments section. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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About Brad Chaffee

28 Responses to “It’s Your Money, YOU Spend It!”

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  1. Unfortunately, being financially responsible and / or frugal has not gained social acceptance in many circles. Many times you’ll be forced to choose between popularity and preserving your finances.

    Unfair – but reality.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      You’re right about that Lakita! It’s a horrible choice to have to make since it will cause problems somehow no matter what you choose to do. If you choose to break your budget, you are possibly risking the security of your family, but if you tell a friend or family member no, then you risk losing a relationship. I will choose the latter on almost every case, with the exception of smaller random expenses.

      The main thing I dislike is how people are made to feel as if they do not care about their 80 year old grandparents because they can’t afford to spend money to contribute to the celebrations. Which sometimes includes travel and lodging. That can get pricey.

  2. Dena says:

    Great post! I agree with Lakita’s comment — frugality doesn’t usually equate with popularity, unfortunately. However, what I’ve learned over the past year –whilst getting my finances in order–is that if you are going to lose a friend over it then that person was never really a friend to begin with!

    Thanks for confirming what I believed to be true, Brad. It means a lot to know that I’m not alone.

    P.S. I can’t figure out how to tweet your posts from your blog. If there is a way and I’m missing it, can you DM me on Twitter or Gmail? Thanks!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      You are definitely not alone Dena! Like with “The Dad” this is one of my pet peeves, right next to impoliteness, and smacking when you eat, just to name a few. LOL

      I am trying to figure out how to add a social bookmarking tool to my posts that will make this easier. The “share this post” doesn’t work at all. I do not like how the tweet me buttons are not customizable to a specific location. Thanks for wanting to share my post. LOL I’ll DM you the tweet. πŸ˜€

  3. Great topic… I think the prevailing “wisdom” simply assumes debt and falling into that trap is not the way to go.

    But I also think there’s a reasonableness to it as well. Some events – baby shower or wedding gift or some other such organized group contributions at work are easy to manage. I can contribute $5 or $10 from my ‘blow” money without having a problem. If someone suggests a $50 contribution for a fancy gift then said someone needs a reality check and I don’t mind assisting that effort.

    The other end of the deal is like the 50th Anny posed by the emailer. This speaks to a larger family issue as the organizer clearly has control issues and likley has a high need for praise. Contribute your 1/3 or even half or more and your participation will be but a footnote to the glorious effort expended by the organizing sibling. This person cares less about the cost – other than to err on the expensive side – because their 1) motive is recognition and 2) they know they’re not footing the entire bill. My response here is simple. My contribution includes both my money and my ideas and you don’t get one without the other. Such a large scale event will take some time and if it’s truly important to me than I can work it into my budget, even if that means delaying debt reduction so I can contribute in cash. It’s a managed balance but it’s a mix if priorities and contribution – ideas and money on both counts.

    Wow, again, a great topic, thanks for sharing.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      “This person cares less about the cost – other than to err on the expensive side – because their 1) motive is recognition and 2) they know they’re not footing the entire bill. My response here is simple. My contribution includes both my money and my ideas and you don’t get one without the other.”

      Dave, this comment you made sums it up perfectly. If you want my money then you better want my input. LOL

      Thanks man!

  4. the Dad says:

    Arg! One of my all-time pet peeves!

    With our family and within our closer circle of friends I have found it only took one, “Something like that is not in our budget” sometimes followed by a brief description of what we are doing, sometimes not, to stop these third party obligations.

    Great post.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Mine too sir! I get pretty irritated about this stuff. Some of you will remember me mentioning the fact that my wife and I do not argue about money much, but this is definitely one of those things that get the storm brewing. πŸ™‚

      My wife tends to feel really bad if she does not contribute. I understand the feeling but to me it is not justification for letting other people dictate your contribution. I have NOT participated in work functions in the past because of this detail. As Dave said below: If you want my money then you want my input too. You don’t get one without the other.

  5. Donna Korzun says:

    Wow, what a great topic and so timely for me! My husband and I were informed at Christmas that we would be required to pay one-third of the cost ($1,300) of my father-in-law’s 80th birthday bash. Well, my husband told his sister we could not afford this (I am currently off on disability and lost my job after my 13 weeks of family leave ended) not to mention other costs such as travel (800 miles), meals etc. We just can’t afford this at all. We have to fly because my husband’s time constraints. This is a nightmare with all the other bills we have, costs going up etc. I won’t make this any longer but it has made things very difficult for us both relationship wise and financially.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      That is unfortunate Donna! Good for you and your husband for standing up for yourselves. Family members that do not understand, are being selfish in the process.

      We have turned down invites to travel and see family many times when we were getting out of debt. I do not feel bad about it at all, but my wife did struggle with it at first.

  6. It irks me when family/friends plan events like this without discussing it with all the involved parties. It’s presumptuous and insensitive to the fact that many people have financial problems, especially in this day and age. It’s better to have a full discussion and come to a compromise, rather than “assigning” costs.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I could not agree more Rainy Day Saver. To assume that someone should spend their own money to do something you see as important is ridiculous and as you said insensitive. I have other plans with my money but if we can find a compromise that will not destroy our financial plan, I am open to suggestions. πŸ™‚

  7. Abigail says:

    This is a huge pet peeve of mine. We ran into it recently, in fact, because my husband went to his best friend’s bachelor party. The original plan was strip club (lap dance for the groom, one for my husband because otherwise it’s just mean) then 1-2 drinks at a bar (also milking the bartender by exclaiming he’s getting married) and that was that.

    Instead, everything got turned upside down and the groom nixed the strip club. (Hey, it’s his party but I’m a traditionalist and firmly believe you should go and enjoy your last naked woman as a free man!) Then he announces that the bride is coming along (part of the reason the strip club got nixed). So my husband is essentially on the spot to pay for both of them.

    I was pretty upset — this is the same groom who told us not to kill our budget to get to the wedding, he’d understand. But doesn’t seem to think about the ramifications of bringing along another person that Tim is expected to pay for. Even so, we got off pretty cheaply, by bachelor party standards, but Tim spent $50 or so more than we were expecting.

    It just bugs me because I go out of my way on this kind of thing. We didn’t have much money for the wedding, but one of the bridesmaids was working on part-time. Her live-in boyfriend made good money, but I wasn’t sure what the financial situation was, and the dresses I found were $60. Not bad, not great. So I pulled her aside before she got to the register and told her, since she was only working part-time, Tim and I were happy to help her with the cost. She laughed and said it was no big deal.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      That is some story you got there Abigail. LOL I would have felt so weird getting a lap dance from a strange woman before marrying my beautiful wife. πŸ˜‰ I guess that's why I didn't have a bachelor party. I went and played golf with my buddies instead. Haha!

  8. Kim says:

    It is a shame that folks can be so self-centered so as not to consider the needs and desires of all involved. While on pet peeves, I’ve encountered the issue (a number of times) of going to dinner with a group of people (generally friends), the restaurant won’t separate the checks due to the number of people, then everyone suggests that we all split the check evenly. Of course, everyone drank several bottles of wine or had several alcoholic beverages – except for me, and everyone ate appetizers and/or desserts – except for me. Now, I’ve learned to always ask beforehand if the restaurant will separate the checks before committing.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Self-centered is right. How can someone get mad at you for having a financial plan? It makes no sense at all. I too disagree strongly with splitting the check evenly especially when others we running up the bill.

      What do you mean you don't want to pay $10 more for your food than you should have. It's up to you to foot the bill for the one who drank, because wine is cheap after all. LOL I'll throw in my portio of the check on the table and tip the waitress myself. πŸ™‚

  9. Oregonsun says:

    Most certainly this topic hit home! We have not participated in so many of our families plans due to the fact we did not have the money. We were busy digging ourselves out of debt. It has created a lot of hurt feelings on both sides. We have been looked at as cheap, selfish, inconsiderate and a whole lot of other things. We did not win a popularity contest but we are credit card debt free. I might add that no one asks us anymore to participate in anything. Maybe it is better that way…

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I am so sorry that you have been looked at like that, simply because you have a plan. It's really a shame that people are so inconsiderate of other people's plans and goals. Keep doing your thing, you are on the right path!

  10. It is really annoying when others dictate how we should spend our money.

    That is annoying as heck. The worst is when they snide at you regarding being cheap.

    The gov’t analogy is spot on.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Anyone with a plan that is willing to put up with relatives or friends calling them cheap, and still remain diligent in working their plan deserves an award. Not to mention they should be able to walk around with their head held up high. It is highly likely that their friends and relatives are BROKE! Maxed out cards, car payments etc.

      People who have a plan and don;t give in should be called SMART instead. πŸ™‚

      Psst…I couldn't help but make the Government comment.

  11. Denise says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate….I’m usually the one in my family (5 siblings, plus spouses and kids and granparents) everyone looks to for special event planning – birthdays, camping trips, anniversaries. I love to do it and am happy to work with everyone’s budget, schedules, dietary needs, kids, etc….however, it can be difficult when people are not honest – UP FRONT – about what works for their family. I’ve had my sibs tell me one thing and then 6 months into the planning change their mind! Frustrating!

    So it’s a two way street. Everyone needs to be heard about what works for them (dates, budget, gifts, etc) and it would also be nice if everyone helped with a portion of the party (send invites, make reservations, collect money). It would also be nice if the usual “family planner” gets a break from organizing and someone else offers to make the plans…it’s a treat for me to just show up with a dish to pass and enjoy the party.

    Remember the ultimate goal is to celebrate our family’s milestones with joy – not anger and resentment.

    Fun conversation!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      If I have a voice in how I sped my money I am okay with that. I am opposed to someone volunteering my wallet as the source of their wacky hair-brained schemes. LOL

      Celebrating milestones doesn't have to destroy someone's budget. In this day and time it seems that FUN is associated with high dollar parties and gifts. Celebrate with love, instead of money. It is LOVE that you are celebrating after all. I love celebrating frugally! If I am cheap for doing so then it is not my love someone is after.

      Thanks for taking the time to join the conversation Denise. I really enjoyed this post very much! πŸ˜‰

  12. David Damron says:

    Learning to say "NO!" and understanding people are going to be disappointed or pissed or whatever is something more people should just ignore. I love it when people just expect something of me and then I just say "No!". I hate it when people assume I am free or want to spend money on their goals or adventures.

    Good article sir!!!

    David Damron

  13. Dude I get a kick out of it too, because I get to watch them unknowingly make a fool out of themselves. How could you not know that expecting someone else to spend their money, like you said so well, "on their goals or adventures" is beyond me. I just want to look them right in the face and kindly tell them to grow up. Thanks for the compliment my friend, I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

    P.S. I went to the store today and picked up the stuff to make the smoothie–all except for the stinking OJ. LOL I am going to walk to the store in the morning and pick some up. I want to taste this low calorie, easy to make, breakfast drink!

    Healthy Morning Starter Smoothie in 3 Minutes Thanks for writing that one dude!

  14. Bucksome says:

    I feel pretty lucky that this hasn't happened in my family. We have lots of family events and vacation together often , but all like a good bargain. Plus if someone decides to opt out, there aren't hurt feelings. We'll see them next time.

  15. Debtsolver says:

    What I have gone through before with both my mother and my boyfriend is that they were both unemployed but set out my budget before I actually got paid…it was terrible, I couldn’t say no..but that was because I believe I was a victim of emotional blackmail…and it led me into a world of debt!! Looking back I feel very silly about it…all I had to do was say NO!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Debtsolver – Thank you for sharing your story. That is definitely unfortunate, but I am glad you have realized the mistake that was made. One simple, errr…not so simple word is all it takes. There is a book called boundaries that touches on that kind of situation with perfection. You should check it out it is awesome!

  16. All I can say is my experience of being a debt advice worker is the earlier you get into debt in life the more time you have to catch. Debt is usually a result of a unexpected life event. Divorce was my problem and that ended up with bankruptcy. Still i am now 36 and have had 6 years out of bankruptcy. Only this week I got a normal bank account and just qualified a car loan. I have 4 kids so really a new car.



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