Accountability

One of the up-sides of being a single mom was the lack of having to account to anyone for anything. Well, yes, I do have kids, but they were not going to criticize how I spent my time or my money so long as they had everything they needed.

I knew what my budget was for everything, I knew my bank balance to the last penny. I knew what was going in to the bank and what ridiculously high percentage of that was going out to pay bills etc.

If I wanted to buy a pair of high heeled hot pink suede knee high boots that were on sale for a ridiculous price – if I could afford it, there was nothing stopping me. Those boots walked on home with me and had pride of place in my shoe closet.

In my first marriage I had a housekeeping budget. So long as I kept within my budget any extra was mine to do with what I liked. However, with 4 little boys there was not usually any extra. When there were other purchases that needed to be made (or that were a luxury not a necessity) it had to be discussed.

So having the financial freedom to decide how to spend my money was a breath of fresh air. I enjoyed not having to answer to anyone.

Here I am now, married to the most wonderful man in the world, and I have to readjust my thinking about spending. Again. And I am realizing that I am not handling it well. I get defensive if I am asked how much something cost, even if it’s just a little something that cost $3! I take it personally, as a criticism, when all the KoD wants to know was how much it cost. There is no hidden agenda, just open curiosity. The KoD is an awesome shopper. He knows prices like the back of his hand. He knows when we are being overcharged and he knows when he sees a bargain. Especially when it comes to grocery shopping. Food is his business and he knows it well.

Yet bring up how much something cost, and my hackles rise. It isn’t fair to him. But three years of not having to account for a penny to anyone but myself – well, I got used to that. I need to stop getting so defensive – it’s not like I am this crazy over-spender that buys and buys and has filled the house with unnecessary stuff. I am not. The KoD knows exactly how careful I am with money – so I should know that any question is simply that, a question, not a criticism.

How do I get over this? (Honestly, folks, the KoD is the most patient man in the history of the world. Sometimes I wonder how in heaven’s name he puts up with me). Logically I understand what I need to do, but emotionally – well, that’s a whole nother story…. Do any of you who were formerly single-parents but now remarried identify with my story? How did you handle this kind of situation?

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  1. Estee Lavitt says:

    I would agree to a dollar amount that requires that the purchase be discussed beforehand. Buying a nail file or a pair of shoes should be okay, but something for say, $100+ or $200+ (depending on your budget) should be discussed and the decision should be made as a couple.
    That will give you a certain level of freedom and greater accountability on larger purchases.
    Good luck!

    • Mark says:

      Marketing people have a word (or phrase) for the purchase amount at which spousal consent is not necessary. For many products, especially electronics that men love to buy [repeatedly], that is known as a “sweet spot” for pricing. I forget what that word/phrase is….

  2. lady lock and load says:

    I don’t think this has anything to do with being a single mom and now married and feel accountable. It would really annoy me if Lord Lock and Load would ask me about the cost of every little grocery item. If he did, I would explain to him that I know it’s just because he is curious but still it gets me nervous and defensive…like he doesn’t trust me. Thankfully he does not ask me about the cost of small things and trusts me to come to him if we need to make an extra purchase. Or else HE would be doing the grocery shopping!!!

    • batya from NJ says:

      I agree with LLL completely. This is not a “newly re-married issue” but rather an issue that some couples will have in their marriages & some will not. My husband is not concerned with the spending that I do on groceries & household items. He knows that I am careful with my money & that I try to clip coupons & get good deals whenever possible & thankfully he doesn’t question my judgment or my purchases. He also knows that for larger items that I may be contemplating purchasing or possibly may have purchased on impulse (but can returned if need be) I will always discuss those with him just to be sure that he is cool with my purchase/intended purchase. I would honestly go crazy if I had to justify every grocery bill or every pair of socks that I bought for myself or my kids. It also helps that I am in charge of all of the bill payments including the credit card bills which I reconcile (balance)on Quicken just to be on top of my credit card purchases. In addition, I reconcile our personal & business bank accounts on Quicken (which is basically balancing the checkbooks online) which helps me be completely on top of our financial situation. In my case, my husband is just too busy running his physical therapy practice to be bothered by the mundane household spending that I do in order to run my household efficiently.

      hopefully, over time, you & the KoD will be able to work out an understanding/agreement whereby you do not have to be accountable to him for every nickle & dime that you spend (be they grocery items, clothing for the kids, household items etc) b/c that can become maddening for a wife even if is not meant as a criticism but rather as curiosity on the husband’s part.

  3. tikunolam says:

    I am with Lady Lock. My husband does the same thing, just asks the question. I never question him for some reason. I also always reacted defensively. I told him when he asked I was somehow waiting for a criticism. Think it had to do w/ my parents’ extreme antimateralism and spending habits (they didn’t spend but had the money). Over time my husband just stopped asking. He knew he cld trust me (and has access to our credit card bills if he really wants to know).

    If he wants to spend the time checking prices at Shoprite for the biggest bargain, by now he knows that means he has to go himself. I won’t do it. I want to be in and out of the store.

  4. Rainy says:

    My ex and I had our own separate bank accounts and took a draw from the common family account – that was our personal money and we didn’t have to be accountable. The rest of it, the family money, we had a budget, and as long as I stayed IN the budget, I didn’t have to account for it, but he could totally look at the account, see receipts, etc, so there was transparency. If I went over, our agreement was that I’d talk to him about why.

    having my own money made me less defensive about the family money for some reason.

    • Ari says:

      Yes, separate accounts for “discretionary” purchases.

      • batya from NJ says:

        While I do know that some couples have 3 checking accounts, his, hers & theirs, I personally have always been a fan of having 1 joint checking account with full disclosure regarding all important or non-grocery related purchases & not having to account for how much I paid for the OJ & the eggs etc…

        Of course, it is problematic when some wives are shopaholics & will just buy, buy, buy. In fact, one of my former friends was like that. She always complained that she had no money yet somehow she seemed to find the money for “necessities” such as louis vuitton purses, chandeliers, a piano & the like which she would not bother sharing with her husband (who happened to put up with it b/c he was a REALLY nice guy) but I really had issues with her behavior & thought that she was very wrong for not bothering to discuss with her husband b/f making these ridiculously grandiose purchases.

  5. tikunolam says:

    I am with Lady Lock. My husband does the same thing, just asks the question. I never question him for some reason. I also always reacted defensively. I told him when he asked I was somehow waiting for a criticism. Think it had to do w/ my parents’ extreme antimateralism and spending habits (they didn’t spend but had the money). Over time my husband just stopped asking. He knew he cld trust me (and has access to our credit card bills if he really wants to know).

    If he wants to spend the time checking prices at Shoprite for the biggest bargain, by now he knows that means he has to go himself. I won’t do it. I want to be in and out of the store. I am always rushing so I get what is on my list.

  6. DTRS says:

    You mean you sometimes get frustrated at the KOD??

  7. Shoshana says:

    One solution is for each spouse to get an allowance of a sum each month – for purchases they choose to make with no questions asked.

  8. Z! says:

    R knows that I am a true believer in spending money wisely. I like clipping coupons and love the feeling of joy I get from a great sale. In Canada, I had more time and less money so I would clip more coupons and run to the different stores to pick up the various ‘on sale’ items. I have learned here in NY that the cost of gas and parking can add up fastert than the few dollars saved. If I need it, I will buy it.
    Hubby is more of the impulse spender, but I think I have had a good influence on him and he is beginning to see that a penny saved comes in handy when you want to do something spontaneious like run off the Israel or have that extra spa treatment!

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