Friday, March 13, 2009

Big Money

Do you and your significant other have the same spending style? For the most part, Tom and I do. This helps avoid a lot of stress in our relationship.

Neither of us goes for fancy things. I’m not saying I don’t drool when I see a granite countertop or my neighbor’s new windows that actually open and close, but aside from an obsession with “house stuff,” I’m not a big spender. You know about my thrift store jaunts and dumpster diving. And when it comes to clothes, I’d rather wait 6 months and wear a knock-off than be on the cutting edge.

Our charitable giving is also aligned. We love to give money away. Oops, I bet there is some Internet troll-like thing that scours the Net for the words, “We love to give money away.” Before my in box starts filling up with messages about somebody’s poor uncle Jed or Mrs. Mary Williams in Africa let me just say we already have designated charities we support.

However, when it comes to two areas we differ. Electronics and Legos. I would be content to use my TV/VCR combo, while Tom has jumped on the crazy and possibly fleeting bandwagon of DVD’s, HDTV, DV-R and goodness knows what else! You can read about his hilarious encounter with his Blackberry here. Okay, so maybe it’s not a bandwagon, but you saw what happened to Beta and 8-track tapes. I’d just hate to jump into anything too soon.

We also differ when it comes to Legos. You may hear that girls are more expensive than boys, but in our house that isn’t true. For Molly’s birthday, we can barely figure out what to get her. Her room is already filled with tchochkes, and her idea of a good time is to line up little slips of paper and play school with her stuffed animals.

Her tastes are not expensive, b/c she doesn’t discriminate between Swarovski Crystal and a cotton ball rich in sentimental value. Her wallet is full (although I do borrow from it from time to time), and her Wal-Mart and Target gift cards sit unused, taunting me from the pile of rubble that is her room.

Jake, however, is always plotting his next Lego purchase. Birthdays are a Lego explosion around here. When I wonder aloud to Tom if there is such a thing as Too Many Legos, he gives me a blank stare. I guess it’s the equivalent of asking him if one could have too many baseball cards.

When I point out that our latest acquisition of Lego Café Corner, retail $139.99, could buy 1.5 pregnant goats through The Heifer Project or enough mosquito netting for a small village, I am looked at as a spoilsport.

Yet, if we journey back two Christmases ago, let’s see who was spoiling the sport….

We had purchased Molly an American Girl Doll named Samantha. The week before Christmas we got a call from our local toy store that out of 1,400 entries, I had WON another American Girl doll! Talk about a girl’s Christmas dreams coming true (Molly’s, not mine…really).

The first thing Tom asked me was, “You’re going to return the first doll, right?” Hell, no. Let’s not penalize the girl for my good fortune! I stood my ground, we ended up keeping both dolls, and of course Molly is now back to playing with cotton balls and q-tips.

So I’m wondering, in these days of belt-tightening and reprioritizing, which are just nice ways of saying the crappy economy, how do you spend, how do you save? If you are married, how do you and your spouse deal with different spending styles?


Christy said...

This was an excellent post Anna - both funny and thought provoking. My husband and I have had to really tighten our belts lately, as I stopped working last summer to stay home with our daughter. We had to let our beloved cleaning ladies go months ago, and I am now a coupon clipper. I also joined BJs and buy items in bulk there every other month or so. Instead of running to the grocery store several times a week after work, I now plan out our menu on the weekends and do one large shopping trip. That simple effort alone has saved us so much money.

And my latest and greatest adventure is ebaying. Not buying stuff - selling stuff. LOVE it. I'm headed to the post office right now to ship off some size 7.5 stilettos that I no longer fit into (my feet grew half a size during pregnancy! ugh!) but I also have no use for.

Isn't Heifer great? I discovered that charity a few years ago and think in terms of them too -- but probably not as often as I should!

anymommy said...

The lego addiction had me cracking up. We agree on most spending issues. I know a major area where I could reduce is groceries/eating out. There have been so many great shows and articles lately on cutting your food budget. It all comes down to organization and forward planning though and, ahem, therein lies the problem.

bernthis said...

big problem b/w me and the ex is he loved to spend but hated to work. Wha a sucky combo huh? Well, now he's gone and spending his mother's money. good riddance, I say

Anonymous said...

I'm a penny-pincher. Jeff is a spender. Jeff does the books, and I keep him on his toes.
He has a thing for electronics, but also has a thing for ebay. So he buys new and current... then sells on ebay to trade up before the technology is obsolete. It is to the point that we have had people call and ask if we cameras or ipods, etc. before they go shopping... people really like his hand-me-downs.
Me... the thing I overspend on... books. I like to own books so I can keep my favorites... turn down the pages, underline, loan. If I don't love them, I donate them to schools and libraries.

Gretchen said...

Uh, I didn't even know what cafe corner was until I googled it and then I saw...

Oh. Dear. Lord. Can you imagine putting that thing together? THEN THE INEVITABLE PILE OF RUBBLE ONE WEEK LATER? I have sworn off all lego kits. Lego buckets of blocks are fine. But kits? uh-uh.

And us? Texan Papa spends alot on fishing stuff, but within reason. I spend on the kids' stuff - shoes, clothes, etc. I probably get them more than they need, but 98% of the time it came from the thrift store or the clearance rack. Today I bought the baby a coat for next winter - $5 brand new at Walmart.

Our overspending area is probably tuition. Not like we dont' know how much it costs, but it feels like wasted money sometimes, when I see that the kids come home with work that is below their ability level.

Shana said...

Along those same lines, my hubs and I are currently engaged in a kid's birthday gift standoff. My stepdaughter turns 16 next week and wants a digital camera. SHE'S TURNING 16. That's a big deal! And she's very responsible, will take care of the camera, etc. And hubs is trying to apply our current "tightening of the belt" mentality to her birthday gift, which I think is incredibly cheesy. I'm online searching for the perfect camera that is a compromise of meeting his cheap ass needs and still a nice "adult" camera. Oy.

Gwen said...

I'm trying to get my kids to move away from the plastic crap at Target and onto things that last a little longer. So far, it's a battle I'm not exactly winning. My husband and I spend differently, and neither one of us sure that the other's desires are quite appropriate.

Heidi said...

My three year old boy has inherited a ton and I mean a ton of lego from his dad (who is living...inherited sounds like I'm implying death) and he is now getting lego for other occasions and, yeah, it is expensive! I don't remember it being so expensive when I was a kid. So, I'm with you on keeping that American Girl Doll. How sweet is your daughter by the way?!

As for spending and saving I just try to look for and wait for sales. That doesn't always work, but I try. We have gone through quite a journey with money over the last while, so we have's taken us years...arrived at the same place when it comes to finances. It's freeing.

Okay, this became a rather long comment. I also wanted to add that I've been enjoying your blog. :)

the mama bird diaries said...

It makes my husband nuts that I can't really tell the difference between HD and regular stations.

katarina said...

We are in a belt-tightening mode right now...for sure!! We lost our business (started in early 2007...went STRONG that year and then BOOM! Who knew what was about to happen??). So, right now we're really struggling to make ends meet and get income rolling back into our household.

Prior to this, though, when we had discretionary income to spend...we REALLY disagreed on how to spend it.

When we first moved into our new home, in May of 2006, he thought nothing of spending mucho buckos on a gigantic TV w/ complicated components, any other electronic stuff.

Yet, I've had to fight for window treatments & some other basic decor stuff...he just doesn't "see" the value in that stuff.


Sigh. I stick to my guns and try not to get nasty about it.

Thanks for your blog!

Candice said...

I know exactly what you mean about the lego's. My son is a lego addict, and there is always a set that he's got his eyes on.

Prior to his Lego obsession, he was all about Thomas the train. Yet another expensive hobby, but they didn't hurt as much when I stepped on them. ;)

By the way, I'm the spender and my husband really isn't. I make up for it though, so we sort of balance each other out.

Keetha said...

My dear son never got all into legos and it's a good thing - the few times he did play with them when he was a toddler I managed to step on several with my bare feet and those little suckers hurt!

Maggie May said...

Your lucky girl!

Debbie said...

We could have bailed out another failed bank with the money we spent over the years on Legos. But, my boys still play with them so I do consider them a worthwhile investment. And we are trying to cut corners anyway we can. I am always open to new ideas on how to save.

a little sewing said...

Your blog is really funny! I saw your make-over on This Young House and I am also in the midst of applying design advice from the youngsters (what a great blog they have!!) I save lots of money on sewing and DIY projects, but I spend on my supplies. (And I keep a separate bank account for that stuff!) My husband was shocked when I told him you CAN spend $10,000 on a sewing machine and I am not ruling it out. someday. maybe.....
congrats on the AG doll, too. I gifted one to my niece for Christmas and she swooned.