I went to a MaryKay party for clothes. A girlfriend was hosting a designer line that women sell from their living rooms. We sipped wine, tried on pieces and when it came time to fill out the order form for purchase, our hostess elicited the biggest laugh of the night. She said, “Now if you don’t want your husband to know you’re buying clothes, you can write a check to me personally and pick up your items here when they arrive.”
Everybody understood. Even I bought a jacket and didn’t tell my husband when I got home. And my husband and I are open about money. What is the allure of secret spending?
A financial planner friend of mine refuses to meet with only one person in a couple. There are different stories people have around spending money, he says, and that even if couples decide together how to meet a budget, individuals spend according to their own agenda.
So what is the agenda behind secret spending? Most women I ask say that they don’t like feeling controlled, and that men don’t understand or support what women like to spend on. So they spend under the radar. One friend told me that her secret spending was her private time, when she could relax and be herself. Overspending, for her, was a way to assert—if unconsciously—a little covert power over her husband, for the stricture of having to be controlled by the watchful eye of his budget.
1. Take away the dynamic of the rebel and the authority. Just take it off the table.
When you take away the authority inherent in a budget or a spouse’s opinions, you take away the need to rebel. Come clean. Talk about what you need and what you want to achieve. Discuss a personal monthly budget that feels good, and then go forth and spend.
2. Do not spend over your budget. If you do, go back to the drawing board.
Re-draw the budget in a way that will work for you, and reconsider where you can cut, and where you can add. Consider each of your priorities and get an understanding of which matter more to you.
3. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
Once you have made a personal budget you can both appreciate, refrain from talking up what you bought. If your spouse thinks you spend frivolously, but you love everything your money buys, don’t tell him what you spent on. It’s your money after all. Ask that he not inquire what you spent at Nordstrom. This should serve you well if you’re a secret spender.
The key is to hold yourself accountable to your agreements. Sticking to the budget you both deemed personal will give each of you freedom—to know the expenses will be paid, and to feel free to make moves in your relationship that are not always under scrutiny.
Originally published on GreenSherpa