Ashleigh and Tim, 27, Edmonton
They've taken some recent financial hits: her car repairs, his dental work, tuition bills. Things were tight - and then she found the Blu-ray box set of Lost hidden in the crawl space. His reply: What about that Caribbean vacation she just booked? Which was the biggest spending sin?
SHE SAID: The Blu-ray box set
I work as an occupational therapist, and right now I'm the breadwinner while Tim's studying for a BA in philosophy. To be fair, he works really hard: He's putting himself through school with a job at an electronics store. But with money being really tight, discovering the hidden Blu-ray discs in the basement - when I was looking for my ski bag - was kind of the last straw. Yes, I just booked a week-long vacation for us in the Dominican Republic, but that was something planned months ago with my friends. I've been saving up for it, and I work hard all year, so I think I deserve this getaway.
HE SAID: The trip
Okay, so I knew the box set wasn't justified - that's why I hid it. I saw it, I wanted it, and I thought I could come up with some sort of rationale later on (I did end up returning it, for what it's worth). Ashleigh's salary really helps us a lot - when we go out for dinner, she pays for everything. But sometimes she'll tell me that she's really worried about money, so I have to stop overspending - which doesn't make sense given that she just dropped a grand on this vacation. Yes, it'll be nice to spend some time on the beach, but I don't really need to travel to unwind. I can just as easily do that at home.
Years living together: 5
Annual household income: $94,000 ($82,000 hers, $12,000 his)
Mortgage: $1,560 a month ($1,160 her share, $400 his share)
Cost of the Lost box set: About $240
Cost of the vacation: $1,050 all-inclusive
THE ADVICE: Budget and communicate
Financial expert Kelley Keehn:
There are two glaring issues here, Ashleigh and Tim. First, where is all your money going? With no children and a combined income of $94,000, you should have an emergency fund to handle unexpected expenses. Second, there are some deeper issues within your relationship that need to be aired.
Ashleigh, do you deserve to go on a vacation? You bet, and I'm impressed that you saved up for it. And so should equally hard-working Tim be able to buy a box set. But the fact that you're hiding it, Tim, is a red flag. I'm sure it's not easy being the lower-income earner, but that's no excuse for covert spending.
You need to have an honest discussion about your household spending and set some joint goals. Ashleigh's stress about money is valid (although you both need to budget) as the weight of the household bills is on her shoulders right now. And Ashleigh, the fact that funds are so stretched makes me wonder if you justify overindulging because you're the primary income earner.
I recommend that you plan a money date. Financial resentments only build over time, and the best antidote is open communication. I also suggest you agree to a percentage of income each month that each of you have to freely spend without the other's permission.
Kelley Keehn is the host of W Network's Burn My Mortgage. Her website is kelleykeehn.com
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