Most people don’t have a lot of extra money right now. For most of the country, couples and households are worrying about how to pinch pennies, not which hot-off-the-runway item would be best added to their wardrobe. But that doesn’t mean there’s not financial infidelity going on. It’s very stressful to have so much financial pressure put on your relationship and constantly worrying about making ends meet can take its toll.
When you’re craving a “me” purchase, sometimes it seems the easiest thing to do can be to try and hide it. To pay for it in cash you’ve squirreled away, to charge to a credit card or account your significant other doesn’t know about. Making an off-budget purchase that – in different economic times – would be no big deal, can suddenly turn into a trouble spot in your finances and in your relationship.
It’s normal to need to unburden the stresses of always having to think about money, and it’s also perfectly normal to want to be a little self-indulgent from time to time. But we need to learn to do so in a way that doesn’t cause greater stress down the line. These behind-the-back purchases can lead to fights as well as more financial pressure. In this situation, you’re only fueling the problem, not fixing it!
Being Open And Honest About Finances
The first thing to do – before you attempt to make and then hide a purchase – is to discuss your finances with your partner. You may already be doing this, but it’s likely that you’ll need to tweak your budget as you go along when you find things that work and things that don’t. Talk with your partner about the possibility of having even a small discretionary spending budget. This may mean planning for a pedicure date with your girlfriends, or getting even $25-$50 a month for personal expenses like a new t-shirt you’ve been wanting or brunch with a friend. It’s important to connect and draw support from friends and family during tough times, and sometimes that costs money so it’s good to have a game plan for how to deal with that.
Keeping this in mind, you will still have to accept that keeping up appearances can be exhausting. Whether or not your friends and family are in the same economic place that you are, it’s OK to be up front with them. Money is a difficult subject to breach, even among friends, and I’m not suggesting that you air your dirty laundry, but if you have friends who aren’t stretched as thin, they may not think twice before making a lunch date. Instead, you may want to be prepared to suggest more economically-friendly ways to spend time together, like enjoying a picnic in a park, having tea together at your house, etc.
On the flip side, be conscientious of people who may be struggling more than you and take their circumstances into account. While a recession is painful and frustrating, it can be a good time to get back to basics and realize we don’t need the latest trend to come off the runways or an expensive meal to connect with the things and people we care about!