Monday, May 16, 2011

Managing Major Purchases in a Marriage

I'm married to a wonderful guy who while he pays very little attention to his spending is not a big spender.  But, recently, this month, Mr. Sam has come to me (pursuant to our $300 rule*) with a desire to spend about $5,000 on a purchase that makes no sense to me.

Without disclosing the purchase, it is for something that will really only benefit him, has a danger factor, and I think is unnecessary, but will make him happy (or he thinks will make him happy).  Think something along the lines of flying lessons when I hate flying.

First of all, we discussed the money factor.  I suggested that we save up for the purchase, make it a savings goal, and he would be able to execute the transaction in 2012.  Alternatively, we could switch our $5000 house project fund, which is a 2011 savings goal, to a savings fund for him and he would be able to execute the transaction at the end of 2011.  But, he wants to move forward with the transaction now.  We do have the money, we have money in our emergency fund and we have money in our other short term/mid term savings that we could tap.

Second, happiness.  I fully support Mr. Sam in just about anything that he thinks will bring him happiness.  This transaction is important to him, something he has wanted to do for many years, etc.

Third, we discussed the fairness factor.  I direct the spending of the bulk of our household monies.  In the past few years, I've purchased new furniture, a nused car for me, etc.  In fact you could go back to our wedding and look at all the funds (granted this was before it was our money) I spent on our special day when he would have rather saved that money.  While one could argue that these purchases and expenditures  benefited both of us, and they do and did, they benefited me more because I cared much more about them.

Fourth, the danger factor.  There is an element of danger to this purchase that I'm not comfortable with.  In fact, in discussing the purchase I suggested spending more money to increase safety.  I also encouraged him to do more research, etc. 

Finally, decision time.  Ultimately we decided as a married couple to move forward with the purchase.  We are taking $4000 out of our emergency fund to front the cost.  However, this week, I'm receiving a bonus at work which will allow us to refund the emergency fund.  Said another way, we are using my bonus money to pay for this expense. 

* The $300 rule = we have to discuss and agree regarding any purchase over $300.

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