I got swindled

July 11, 2011 · 63 comments

Do you know what today is? It’s the third most important day of the year. First is Christmas, second is my birthday, and third is Girl Ninja’s Nordstrom presale appointment. Oh wait, I just checked in with Girl Ninja and she has notified me that the Nordstrom presale trumps my birthday :(

For those that are unfamiliar, the presale is exactly what it sounds like. An opportunity (by appointment only) to shop all of the newest Nordstrom’s items before they go on sale to the general public this Friday. In the past, Girl Ninja’s mom has given each daughter some money to shop the sale. Obviously, now that GN is married, things are different.

During our road trip from San Diego to Seattle we started talking about the presale and how much we thought we should budget to her upcoming shopping extravaganza. After a lengthy conversation we mutually agreed that $200 seemed fair. That was, until yesterday.

Being the financial freakazoid I am, I took some time yesterday to reiterate some of the things that are important to me. My requests were something along the lines of…

  1. Just because we agreed upon a $200 spending budget. That doesn’t mean she needs to spend all of that. Basically, don’t buy things that you don’t really need, or aren’t really that discounted.
  2. Don’t buy things you plan to return. Girl Ninja is a serial returner. It’s not uncommon for her to buy a shirt (or some other item) in two colors, knowing that she doesn’t plan to keep them both. A few days later, after thinking things through, she heads back to the store to return the shirt she decided not to keep. I don’t like this. It stresses me out, so I asked that she would only buy things she was relatively confident she would keep.

I apparently didn’t communicate those thoughts very well, as Girl Ninja felt like she was being babysat and told what she could and couldn’t do. Epic fail on my part. While my concerns were definitely valid, I could have done a better job letting Girl Ninja know that these were personal preferences and not Ninja-law.

We had a pretty intense conversation about communication and how different our perspective is in regards to our finances. I don’t really recall all the things we discussed, but I know one thing for sure, I GOT SWINDLED. She played her clever female jedi-mind tricks on me and managed to negotiate her shopping budget from $200 to $300. In the blink of an eye, I was out another $100! How the heck did that happen? Gotta love GN’s ability to get what she wants. Love her for it.

Has your significant other ever pulled a jedi-mind trick on you? What was your most recent PF disagreement about? Why the heck is being selfish so easy, but being selfless so hard?!

{ 63 comments }

1 First Gen American

Personally I would go crazy if I was so financially micromanaged, especially if I was also bringing home the bacon.

2 Mo D.

Gotta agree with FGA; if GN wasn’t contributing financially to the household, I’d say you have a case in capping a $200 limit on her shopping “spree”, but an extra $100 won’t make or break you, nor will it have you two eating Kraft Dinner for the next month. You’d once blogged about having an “allowance”; if you don’t already, this might be a good time to start one… some may think it’s childish, but Hubby and I get an allowance every 2 weeks… money to spend on what we want without it affecting our food/transportation/life budgets. A manicure every 3 weeks makes this girl one happy Mo D, and I don’t have to justify it because I pay for it out of my allowance.

Hubby got his way when we bought the big screen TV, though I gotta say, I REALLY enjoy it. With the fixing up of our condo to list for sale next spring, I foresee A LOT of PF discussions/disagreements in our future… we have an app’t with a kitchen renovator tomorrow… let the games begin!

HAPPY SHOPPING GN!!

3 Money Beagle

Every once in a while, you have to just let things be. If this was an ‘EVENT’ in pretty much every sense of the term, then trying to micro-manage this was a losing battle. Spending money on ‘wants’ is like a pressure cooker, you have to let off the steam every once in a while. Let the girl go and spend money once in a while.

I actually related to this article a lot, because I used to try to have the same conversation with my wife about returning things, but it continuously fell on deaf ears. Now, I sort of accept it as is and the only time I really bring it up is if she suggests that I come with her to complete a return.

You guys are adding like thousands a month to your savings from what I’ve been able to tell. An extra hundred bucks for an event she looks forward to all year is not going to endanger that. Ninjas should know: Pick your battles wisely.

4 Larry

Yep to all the above. You got to let out a little slack now and then. C’mon, this is the second most important day of the year.

5 No Debt MBA

Communicating with your SO is hard! Sure you live with them and have been together for years, but the sheer volume of communications and decisions you have to make with them means you’re going to screw up at least some of it. So don’t feel too bad on that count. GN seems responsible so I’d let this one go and think about how you guys can agree on a spending and shopping strategy in the future that minimizes stress for both of you.

PS – I’m no expert. This is just what my SO and I are trying to do. :)

6 Kristin

I’d be the opposite – I’m the more frugal one that is less free with my money, and my boyfriend spends with a bit more abandon. We recently had a long, several-week discussion about how much to spend on a vacation since we will each pay half – he was willing to go with a great experience and not look at the price tag, and I need to be a little more careful with my cash, especially since I had just spent a lot of money to travel to a friend’s wedding several states away. The wedding travel had always been in my budget; the vacation hadn’t been specifically (just general travel), and he felt like I wasn’t valuing our relationship as much as my friend’s wedding. At that point, I revised my yearly budget and figured out what I was comfortable with based on hard numbers and was able to point to my plan. He realized I wasn’t just throwing out a number to be frugal and that I did want to have a great experience with him. Then we found a vacation that worked for both of us which I’m excited about.

Communication is obviously the most important thing. GN, whether she is working or possibly a stay at home mom in the future, needs to be able to make purchases without feeling you’ll question the validity of each purchase. If she does return a lot of items, perhaps the two of you need to discuss some kind of rolling balance for these types of purchases, however you choose to categorize them. It seems like you, self-dubbed planny-mcplannerson, need to know where each dollar is going and lots of returns mess that up your sense of that since they stretch out over time – maybe in bringing all the shopping bags home and not seeing them get returned (even though you know some of them do), you concentrate on the initial purchase, not the balance.

7 LLF

I have to agree to points on both sides. It is good to have a spending limit, and to communicate what is important to you. Also, sometimes, these presales is just to make you feel good because they sound exclusive. Do they really mean you are so special, or is it a marketing ploy? Most of the time, it’s a marteting poly. If GN really feels like this make her ver special, by all means attend. It is very stifling knowing there is a limit, and even though that limit is an agreement between 2 people, it’s still not just your own idea. Sometimes, you want something that is above that limit and you feel it’s never going to be attainable. So maybe the try putting the limit on how many items that she can buy instead of a dollar limit? This way, if GN want a bag that’s $1000, but it’s just one thing that she will promise use for years(10+), it’ll be some what justifiable?
A note on the returning: A lot of times, things just don’t look as good as you thought after you take it home. Just be sure the return isn’t an excuse to shop for more.

8 Ninja

My issue with the returning gig is that there have been times where items aren’t returned quick enough and they are no longer returnable because it’s been too long. She has also bought two things from a store that would only give store credit for the return. If we were always getting the cash back I’d be fine with it, but sometimes that doesn’t happen and it stresses me out.

9 LLF

OK Ninja, I read some of the comments. What’s with all the hate you’re getting? I would have you defend you a little. Obiviously, you and GN decided on a budget of $200. It wasn’t like you decided that alone. I know you are trying to save for a goal, and both people should put in the effort. Seems lopsided when one is trying to save and one is wanting to spend. If GN get to spend $$$ on her shopping spree, would you get the same? if so, where do you draw the line when it escalates? Maybe there should be a annual limit for each person that gets rolled over to the next year? This way, she can spend hers at Norstrom each year, and you can spend your 3years’ money on a motorcycle for example.

I also hate stores that does not give refunds or only store credits. I rarely shop at thoses stores.

10 slug | sunkcostsareirrelevant.com

This is a legit gripe. Her previous behavior suggests an inability to properly implement the scenario she’s proposing. I’m with Ninja here.

11 Mary M

I heart GN. And hate to break it to you but MIL Ninja sent her a secret windfall too. Moms are like that. Just bc y’all are married shouldn’t ruin their tradition. You got double dog swindled. Well played GN.

12 Tiffany

Wow. You need to back off. You’re her husband, not her parent. If GN wants to spend time returning clothing she’s not going to wear, what do you care? She’s not demanding you go with her and wait in line. Just be happy she’s returning things at all!

13 Ninja

Am I not allowed to express my preferences? Marriage is a two way street and my concerns should be considered no matter crazy they may be.

14 Anne

I agree, this needs to be a conversation between the two partners. Maybe GN will post an article about how to get your husband to agree to something (e.g. an extra $100) without him realizing until it’s too late? :-D

15 slug | sunkcostsareirrelevant.com

This is the number 1 reason you should start splitting that savings account. You put a portion in play $ each month into an account for each of you. And, that person can spend it however they want. This way you can keep your micromanaging hands off, and she can spend all she wants at Nordstrom. She’ll quickly realize the lesson in opportunity costs when she doesn’t have cash for those lattes or area rugs at the thrift store for her classroom because it was too important to be the fanciest dressed teacher in the free world.

16 LLF

haha, “fanciest dressed teacher in the free world” reminds me of an old episode of How I Met Your Mother” in season 3, where Lily racked up huge credit card debt buying designer clothes. Her and Marshall could not get a loan to buy a house because her credit was so bad.

17 spork

You’re stressed that she returns things and money is coming back into your account? As long as the refund money goes back to the same bill cycle it came out of, it’s a wash. Catch and release shopping is more frugal than GN buying an outfit and then never wearing it.

100 point to GN for negotiating to $300. She needs write a post about her negotiating tactics in relationships, because she clearly has financial negotiations down.

18 Ninja

See my response to one of the comments above for my explanation of why returning items stresses me out.

19 spork

Ah, understood… when I worked in retail (in a major chain store) we gave cash back as long as there was a receipt/credit card no matter how long ago it was purchased. Guess I won’t be doing catch and release shopping at Nordstroms…

20 Ky

You didn’t get swindled. And I will say, if all of your conversations about GN’s shopping habits are going to result in you putting her in the position to defend her spending, it won’t matter how much love there is between you, this is one marriage that won’t last. GN is a grown woman. She did just fine before she met you. She has her own earning ability, she is not ‘mooching’ off of you. I was highly offended when you wrote, “In the blink of an eye, I was out another $100!” Really, Ninja? YOU were out $100? What about the income SHE contributes to your joint finances? Just because you are the husband does not make you supreme guru over the money. It means you and GN are a PARTNERSHIP. And if you keep on treating her like a kid with impulse control issues, you’re going to find yourself one lonely guy in a few years. Iagree with the allowance thing. And if you choose not to go down that road, then I suggest you find another way to allow GN the freedom to make her own choices. Given your opinion about yourself, I would have thought you’d think her judgement to be exceptionally discriminating – she said yes when you saked her to marry you, didn’t she?

21 Ninja

The statement about me being out another $100 was obviously lighthearted, but you seem to be the only person that didn’t pick up on that. I mean come on, it was after I used the phrase “Jedi mind tricks”. It was a way of showing that I went in to the conversation with the plan of setting some boundaries, but the end result was girl ninja increasing her spending an extra hundred bucks. I found that funny.

The rest of your statements are so ridiculous they don’t warrant a response.

22 Ky

Jenny-Z is correct in that we don’t know exactly what transpires in relationship. However, there is a healthy amount of evidence that money is the number one reason for divorce.

I normally find your posts humorous and useful, but in this case, you came off sounding like a misogynistic control freak. True, you covered yourself by noting you could have improved your delivery, but in retelling your situation, it sounded demeaning to your wife to have to justify her spending to you, knowing that this is the second most important day of the year to her.

23 Ninja

Or you could have read this post just like all the others. Humorous and useful. Do you really think the Nordstrom presale is the second most important day of the year to her? How do you possibly overlook the sarcasm of that statement? This post was no different, lighthearted and satirical.

You can villify me all you want, but at the end of the day all GN and I did was have a simple conversation about money. No need to bring up divorce, unhealthy relationships, or other negative things. Maybe you are divorced and are sensitive to the subject, but you have no place to predict the future of my relationship with my wife.

24 Ky

Appreantly you’re avoiding the theme of my posts just as much as you’re accusing me of not seeing the theme of your post. Obviously, I also need to work on my delivery, vilification was not ever the intent. Lysander below says exactly what I was trying to say in nicer words. Whether I am divorced or not has nothing to do with this conversation, putting conditions on your wife’s spending (and both you and she have mentioned this in PDITF posts) is just a bad way to go about discussing money. And from the comments, it looks like I am not the only one who thinks so. And FWIW, I’m 40 and still in the honeymoon phase of my first and only marriage. There’s a reason for that.

25 Mo D.

I, for one, always find the humour in your posts, Ninja! Please don’t change the way you blog or how you chose to express your opinions… it’s one of the reasons I read your blog on a daily basis!

26 jpassmore

Sounds like you swindled yourself. From the way you worded the article, you did come off as pretty controlling especially considering, as other people have said, she contributes to the finances. I’m not preaching, though. My fiance doesn’t contribute yet and still gets away with stuff like this :)

27 Anne

This is why, as someone already said, you need separate “fun” accounts. It is smart to have separate spending money.

I know a couple for whom it works to have a joint account and even though only one person works and the other is a SAHM, they communicate well enough for their needs. They also got married without a penny to their names and made all the money they have now (however little) together. So they don’t know life to be different.

Me personally, I like to have a “home” account where we split shared costs (e.g. rent) and all the rest of our individual money we have separate. That way, if I want to hang with my girlfriends and spend $20 on a dinner, I don’t ask permission to use my own money. This makes it easier to buy presents too :-) since you can keep costs secret.

28 Tom

This is the case for the spending accounts. Another idea is the matching game. If she spends $300, then you should spend $300. Think of it like cold war MAD. I caution to only use this in the short term to proove a point.

29 BLG

Umm, is this really your money, or is it joint money that belongs to you and GN? If it is joint money, then you don’t sound like Planny McPlannersperson, you sound like Obsessive McControllerd00d. If you’ve agreed GN can have $200 (or $300) to spend, why in the world would you feel the right to tell her to tell her not to buy things shes doesn’t “really need”? Perhaps you could also go through her closet and sell anything that you don’t think she “really needs”? I dunno – I don’t think anyone in the world “really needs” a ticket to a baseball game – it doesn’t mean I’m going to tell my husband not to buy one with his own (or our joint) money.

30 Ky

I think you owe Girl Ninja an apology.

31 Ninja

An apology would be owed if resolution wasn’t found. I didn’t go in to the conversation wagging my finger in her face telling her she was a terrible person. Why is it so hard for you to allow me a voice in my marriage? If I have a concern, why can’t I bring it up? A healthy marriage requires communication, not that I shut my mouth and never say anything.

32 Ky

What I see in yours and her posts is that while a resolution is found at the moment for that situation, it is a commonly recurring topic of discussion in the Land of Ninja. A true resolution would be an agreement to do X from here on out regarding Y. Only to be revisited if circumstances are greatly changed (i.e., you or she is unemployed; although, I agree that both of you are pretty much on the same page as far as goals, so it wouldn’t have to be revisited, in theory). What I see happening through your posts is that every time Girl Ninja wants to spend money, you put conditions on it or you question why she believes she has to spend it. Extrapolate that into you’re questioning her good judgement in a roundabout way.

You owing her an apology is related to the point that you’re questioning her ability to be a reasonable and rational spender with her allotted money. For $300 at Nordstrom’s, even on sale, she would be crowned bargain huntress of the century.

Or better yet, look into a closet shopping consultant for her next birthday, anniversary, whatever. These people go through your closet and teach you how to make new outfits with what you already have. And show you how to minimize your additional purchases to pieces you only need to round out your closet. She’d always have a list (a goal, so to speak) of clothes she needs to ward off those wants.

On a side note, my other half wants to know if your secret government job title is anything like those NCIS guys? That’s how we imagine you anyway…

33 Julia

“A true resolution would be an agreement to do X from here on out regarding Y. Only to be revisited if circumstances are greatly changed”

Why so maximal? This is a marriage we are talking about, not a business contract. Even a business contract usually has an “out” clause that allows either party to change their mind and back out of the deal with proper notice. In a marriage, there are two people involved, each of whom might change their mind about something at some point. Or they might forget why they agreed to “do X if Y” and so they bring it up to their partner and decide anew (whether the new agreement is different or not from the first).

Coming from a 32-year-long marriage, and counting, I am inclined to believe that maximal resolutions have no place in a relationship. When you get married, you don’t lose your freedom to change your mind one day. Hopefully, neither partner will change their mind about the relationship itself but it’s possible and it happens. That’s why it’s legal in the USA, where I am, and elsewhere: both parties are protected.

34 Julia

When I said “it’s legal” I meant divorce. :-P

35 Jennifer

Well said! Me thinks Ky is reading WAAAAY too much into what happend between you and GN. In a healthy marriage, things like this are going to come up. People are going to disagree. It’s how you handle the disagreements that defines what type of marriage you have – and it sounds like you and GN have a great one!

Oh another note…my husband is the swindler in our family…he’s gotten good at it too! He wrecked his truck and motorcycle last year when a deer hit him on the highway (his motorcycle was in the back of his truck) Somehow, rather than going the smart route of buying a new-to-us used truck with the insurance money, he talked me into letting him buy a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle instead (still not quite sure how that one happened…???) I try and justify the decision with the fact that we are now a one car family. So having the motorcycle instead of a truck is better for the environment and costs much less in gas….that makes up for it, right? ;)

36 Jennifer

PS – My “Well said!” was directed towards Ninja, not Ky….just in case there is any confusion….

37 Austin

It looks like you both aren’t struggling to pay your bills, nor does GN make this a habit every month. I say let it ride and let her have fun. Heck, I’d have trouble at Nordstrom not spending my entire budget on ONE pair of shoes. But then again… I’m not the best shopper.

Austin

38 Jenny~Z

I had a long comment then I realized who am I to judge? I don’t know the full situation. Maybe GN went and spent $5000 at Nordstrom last week? Or maybe you’ve been restricting her to less than $20 spending every week?? I hope neither of those is actually the case but point being only the two of you know the solution. I hope you’re able to work through these challenges and become more loving and selfless in in the process.

Last (and most importantly), maybe you need to improve your own jedi-powers to combat her in the future… young padawan there is much to be learned

Jenny~Z

39 Ryan

I don’t get why returning stuff is a big deal? I’m a bit OCD about money stuff too, but I buy stuff I know I probably won’t keep all the time. I take it back to the mall a few days later. My CC is credited, no big deal.

40 Ninja

See my comment above for explanation of my returning issues.

41 Rafiki

You went and set yourself up for the jedi-mind trick Ninja and I have no sympathy. I’ve fell for it countless times. Being selfless isn’t as hard as you think, sometimes you just have to let go and let things be. The best way to fight it off is do what I do. Know that it is something that makes her happy and what is more important than your wife’s happiness? It’s only once a year. Don’t stress it.

Also. The force is weak within you young jedi.

42 Quizshow

$300 at Nordstrom is nothing. You’re getting off easy and should be glad you have someone as reasonable as GN.

43 Matt

$300 is a lot of money in my budget. If my wife got $300 to nordstroms she would be going crazy. Not everyone has the opportunity to spend that much at one store. GN is a lucky gal if you ask me, not to mention her surprise trip to hawaii next month!

44 Melissa

Ever been to Nordy’s?

$300 is a drop in the bucket, but you also get what you pay for – fantastic service and quality clothing.

If she wants to spend the money she’s earned, then good for her. But then again, I’d go insane if someone was micromanaging my finances. You’re both adults. Set up a “fun money” budget and stop obsessing if the other spends it on something you don’t completely agree with.

45 Lysander

Once you agreed on the amount to be spent, you needed to just let her do with the money what she wants. Plus, it is at Nordstroms, returns would not be a problem (don’t you read your own blog?).

As others have said, I think that you and GN need to discuss the possibility of having separate personal spending accounts that the both of you can spend (or not spend) as you chose without fear of how the other person will react. In relation to yesterday’s post by GN, you could roll her classroom allotment into that account and what she doesn’t spend on herself she can spend on the classroom. That way the whole thing becomes a pair of line items in the budget: Ninja’s Fun Money and GN’s Fun Money.

You just need to let her do what she wants with her money, and not sit in judgment or try and control her personal choices, you negotiate the amounts and then you just let it go. To me it seems that this isn’t a money or spending issue, as much as a control issue.

46 Ninja

Wouldn’t this be a control issue, only if there was no resolution?

This was a conversation, compromises were made, feelings were expressed, and resolution was found. Is this not a portrayal of a healthy marriage? I feel like some commenters are expecting that Girl Ninja and I are suppose to have equal feelings about every money decision we make, where in the REAL world, we are different people and will need to be in constant communication with each other in regards to our finances and personal preferences.

47 Lysander

I should have given the caveat of that is how is is portrayed in this blog post and that we, as readers, are not privy to all the information, context and backstory that comes from any interpersonal relationship.

From my reading you agreed to the amount of $200, then at some point in the future you tried to add additional stipulations to the spending of that money. It wasn’t enough that you negotiated a maximum of how much money should be spend, but you then proceeded to negotiate HOW that money would be spent. That, to me, is very much a control issue. The fact that negotiation was used to resolve the issue this time is good, but it does nothing to address what I see as the underlying issue. I see the additional money as a implied admission that you recognized that you overstepped your bounds and were in the wrong. This is just my interpretation based on the limited information and my own experiences, I fully recognize that the possibility exists that I am 100% wrong about everything.

My personal feeling are that once you have reached an agreement on home much she is allowed to spend, you have to trust that she will make good choices and spend that money wisely. She may not spend the money how you would and she may make mistakes (through poor purchases or failing to return something) like all of us do. You are not going to get anywhere worrying if she is spending that money on another pair of shoes, or a handbag, or on Chinese Chicken Salads for everyone she is shopping with. She shouldn’t have to justify how she spent that money to you.

48 Melissa Z

I agree with you: it’s impossible & ridiculous to expect your partner to feel EXACTLY the same as you about every issue. The important part is talking it out & working through your differences (kinda like you said). I’ve also discovered we repeatedly have the same conversation about certain things too- mainly because even though we compromise & work through issues, it doesn’t always change how we feel about them.
For example, I don’t enjoy eating out both because I’m frugal and because I love to cook (and can almost always make food that tastes equally good or better). Hubby likes to eat out. So he routinely suggests we eat out & I routinely counter that I’ll cook- we end up compromising. Sometimes we eat out, and sometimes I make whatever style restaurant food he’s craving.

It seems like you & GN have learned how to compromise & work things out in a way that’s acceptable to both of you. Congrats & who cares who else agrees/disagrees with you. You don’t have to live with any of the rest of us :)

49 sheila

I feel for you! I am happy with my bf at the moment, but I acknowledge that if we were to co mingle our finances, we’d be having alot of compromising conversations. It must take a patient hand to let someone be themselves within the limit of not making you crazy. There’s no one solution for this of course and atleast you guys are talking about it and trying to compromise. Hopefully one day this yearly event will just be apart of the budget and she will try to not to buy things that are maybe’s.

Good Luck!

50 Daisy

Ninja, I don’t think the problem is the fact that you didn’t want her to spend hoardes of money on clothes at Nordstrom. I don’t blame you.

I think the problem is that, despite her earnings and the fact that she works hard for her money, you made it sound like she has to ask your permission to go shopping and spend money. As if you give her an allowance, which is a little unfair.

I think it’s great that you discussed it and came to a happy medium on the subject, as long as her opinion matters too. Because she does bring home some of the bacon, and she does deserve to enjoy the fruit of her hard work sometimes too.

I always think it’s sort of ridiculous when people jump down bloggers throats on posts like this. Even if you were smothering GN, that’s her battle to fight!

Although I do agree with some posters in that returning things can be the only way to go, as long as it gets back before the deadline.

51 Sara

Whoa things got super serious in the comments! haha.

I was just going to say that this is why I want to always have separate accounts for doing our own thing with. I like the idea of my man having NO IDEA how much I spent on my latest shopping spree, because it’s in MY account! :) Or maybe just settle on a yearly shopping budget… although I bet you don’t really want to know how much we can spend in one year! lol.

52 Amy

Allowances are the way to go! My husband and I each get the same amount per week. He helps his two daughters in college with part of his allowance; I have no kids so I went to Spain with a friend, Germany by myself to see a friend, a cruise with my sister, Harry Potter weekend at Universal with my nephew and husband (my treat). We each do exactly what we want with our allowances. We started this about 3 years ago and I love it!

53 Julia

I’m glad someone else uses a similar system! Way to go Amy, traveling up a storm!

54 Krantcents

My wife has made shopping into an Olympic event. In fact she and her sister plan their shopping around the after Christmas sales. Luckily, they used gift cards they accumulate. Then they return to brag about their bargains. I tell them am waiting for the day, the store pays them to take it. That would be a triumph!

55 Julie

This is an interesting post! I have been lurking for a while and appreciate the candidness you have on your blog. I’m newly married myself (9 months) and have found that “becoming one” in a financial sense requires some challenging conversations and learning experiences on both ends.

I find that when I’m controlling about money–and like you I’m the “budget nazi” in my marriage–the emotion I’m experiencing is fear, and if I can introspect and figure what it is I’m afraid of, and verbalize that, the conversation goes much better. Like if we weren’t saving enough for retirement instead of “We need to put $X in our retirement account each month, so you can’t have an iphone with that crazy stupid data plan” I could say “I’m really afraid that if we don’t max out our ira’s each year, will miss out on thousands of dollars of compound interest for our retirement, and then instead of flying to tahiti each year we’ll be stuck eating peanut butter sandwiches in a trailer park in Florida.” That kind of thing.

Also, I think having a rule that GN tries to shop in a manner where she does not return anything is trying to change her too much. It will feel prohibitive to her and she’ll probably resent you for it. Your concern is that she’ll miss the return policy’s deadline, correct? Why don’t you just make a rule that if she does that, the item’s cost will come out of her personal allowance? (Or the yearly Nordstrom fund?) Then, you don’t need to control her, but you can trust that she would be motivated to not let that happen :) I can really see both your points of view on this one. Since I’m our “budget nazi” I hate ANY kind of wasted money with a passion. I can also see GN’s point of view that she was feeling micromanaged. And both of your hearts are in the right place. You want to provide for and protect the family’s assets, and she wants to bless you by providing a beautiful and hospitable home.

My other idea is since she has the heart for decorating, let her have complete control over the decorating budget, which I’m hoping has its own line item in your discretionary spending, as it is uber important to GN. Then if she wants to save it up for the Nordstrom pre-sale, where she can bless your home with quality items from a sale, she can.

Anyway, keep up the blogging, and I hope you have more gutsy posts like this one. Sorry you got so much flak from other commentators when you already owned up to everything!

56 GN

Thank you :) Thank for seeing the reality of it and appreciating our vulnerability in sharing those differences. It’s all a part of loving each other in spite of our own selfish needs/desires. It’s the ever-present lesson that we aren’t to be living for ourselves, and I’m SO thankful I have a reminder of that in my marriage.

57 cashflowmantra

Don’t tell my wife that there is some pre-sale event. She would have to get on that list. I get Jedi-ed all the time, but I at least keep enough of my wits about me to get a round of golf in exchange for some shopping or a manicure. After you’ve been married a little longer, you become a much better negotiator.

58 Trina

I read this post in the morning but wanted to wait and see the other responses first. Sorry you got some heat for sharing what does on in your personal conversations. Like Julie said, I like the gutsy, honest posts. In 7 years of marriage, I have learned that I am the saver, he is the spender. That is how it is always going to be.
About 4 months ago hubby went to Nordstrom Rack and dropped $300. He then went and returned about $150 of it.
Tonight, he told me that Nordstrom was having their 1/2 yearly sale and he was going to go (I did not inform him that there is a pre-sale event:). After reading all of the comments and interpretting your post in a way that suited me, my response was “Ok.” I know he is going to spend money. I know it will be more than I would ever dream of spending in one shopping trip. And I know that he is going to return some/most of it. I skipped the entire conversation of, “What are you going to get? How much will you spend? etc. because it is basically just and opportunity for bickering. Worst case scenario, he drops $500 and returns nothing. Best case scenario, he doesn’t find anything and comes home empty handed. I can live with both..but we would have a little chat if the ‘worst case scenario’ happened:)

59 sandrac

WOW! Lots of comments – and some vitriolic ones at that! People, lighten up! The ninja’s had a discussion in which opinions were shared, differences of viewpoint were acknowledged, and they moved on. The column was more a light-hearted look at how different people view things and work through to a resolution. (The bonus is now many of us want to know how GN managed to out-manouevre Ninja.)

60 Emily

I so hope GN’s post is about jedi mind tricks. I’m a returner too and for good reason. I’m a 2-4 and stores do not carry more than one or two of each item in that size. So I buy something I like if they have it in my size and return it if it doesnt work when I get home. I’ve tried to wait on sales or think before purchasing but I end up coming back to an empty rack. I admit I do wind up with purchases that I dont return in time and those items I donate if I can’t wear.

Good job on the discussion and setting a budget. After years of working at Nordstroms I would still be paying off cards if I had not paid cash!

61 C.M.C.

I know I’m late to the party, but I don’t see what’s so awful about you guys having a discussion about the wisest ways to spend your money… before it’s spent. I see both perspectives: She wants to have some financial independence when it comes to unnecessary purchases and you want to be the voice of reason. As long as you guys are discussing it, I think it’s perfectly normal and healthy.

I look at this this way: You each have a maximum saving potential to achieve your joint goals in the shortest amount of time possible. This is if you both put the maximum amount of money into savings possible. If either or both of you deduct some of that money from savings, they are inhibiting the growth of the joint savings, thereby slowing down the goal achievement.

That’s not to say that it should never happen, but BOTH PEOPLE NEED TO BE OKAY WITH IT. If each of you were expected to contribute $500 to Joint savings this month, by Girl Ninja said, “I’m only contributing $200, because I want to spend $300 of that at Nordstrom’s,” well that’s up for discussion! It’s a partnership! You should both be in agreement about what types of purchases are allowed.

I don’t understand this attitude from people of “You can’t tell her how to spend her money!” I would definitely want my husband to be on-board with me not contributing as much as expected, because I want to spend it on something else. And if he’s not, then what’s the compromise? “How about $150, instead of $300?”

I mean, I’m just shocked that some people are so aghast at this. To me, the person who is impacting the financial health of the couple is the one who has to defend the need for this purchase (I’m not talking about a cup of coffee here, I’m talking about a $300 purchase). And it sounds like you jumped on-board, as soon as you felt that there were enough conditions in place.

People who suggest that one half of the couple working to uphold the integrity of their joint goals is being controlling or obsessive, seem crazy to me. If you want to have extreme financial independence… don’t get married. It’s as simple as that.

62 WinrWinrChknDinr

I am with you on this one Ninja. Bros before….wives. And like yours, mine does the Jedi-mind tricks too. Except she does use words. She uses low cut tops and cleavage. Net effect, however, is the same.

63 Wesley Wise

Well, yeah, I get the words, too. But sometimes it’s always settled quite amicably. I agree with C.M.C., too, though. I think if you trust her enough to have her independence when it comes to occasional splurging, it’s okay, as long as the essential matters aren’t overlooked.

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