Lying Isn't Stupid Tax

Cindy and her husband can't seem to agree on the envelope system and their budget. The biggest issues are blow money, setting a budget for vacation and Christmas, and sticking to the budget in each envelope.

QUESTION: Cindy in Phoenix and her husband can’t seem to agree on the envelope system and their budget. The biggest issues are blow money, setting a budget for vacation and Christmas, and sticking to the budget in each envelope. Dave tells Cindy they both have to be absolutely committed to this plan to make it work.

ANSWER: He isn’t supposed to give you receipts on blow money. That’s why it’s called blow money. You don’t track blow money. I don’t agree with your financial coach. I would just sit down and do a budget and track your spending and adjust your budget going in and out.

You didn’t stick to your word. It’s not stupid tax; it’s just lying. You just lied to yourself, and you lied to each other. When you say you’re going to spend this much on clothing and then you take the money out of that envelope and you go out to eat on it, that’s lying to yourself. You’re not hurting anybody but you. And then you’re lying to him, and he goes and does the same thing the next time he sees a fishing lure he wants.

Let’s back up. Let’s just pick a number on vacation and Christmas, and it probably needs to be a low one. Let’s just go with that together. Then, as far as the envelopes go, I think the two of you have got to be very committed to this to the point that when you do a written budget before the month begins, when you are finally in agreement—meaning the amount going into some of those envelope categories—we’re going to pinky-swear and spit-shake that this is our program. Then you pretend like I hired you to do a job of managing my money, and this was the agreement we had. What would I do if you didn’t follow the agreement? I would fire you and have you arrested for embezzlement. This is the way you treat it. That is a contract once it’s done. We pinky-swear and spit-shake to stick to it.

The only way you change a category once it’s agreed to is if you both sit down and agree to that. So no envelope hopping, no changing things and then coming in and going, “Look what I did,” None of that crap. That’s part of the problem. You guys are trying to do this tracked spending while doing a budget. I would just do a budget. Just sit down and say, “This is what we think we’re going to spend.” It’s going to be a train wreck the first month. You’re not going to be good at it. That’s why you’re running into all this stress.

He needs you to loosen up, and you need him to tighten up. You’re pretty tight. Needing receipts on blow money is a bunch of crap. Don’t be such a control freak. Let the budget be places where we have some wins and some communication and some cooperation. Lighten up, and he needs to tighten up.

Blow money needs to be a small amount. Blow money should be like $50 or something. It’s not $500. It’s a small amount. It’s grace money. It’s money you don’t have to report to Mama on. You don’t want to have to report to him on it either. It’s that kind of stuff. It’s not a lot of money, so that really shouldn’t be a deal breaker. The thing is, this is interwoven into your other communication problems and breakdowns. The budget, if you’ll actually use that as a marriage communication and cooperation tool with your marriage counselor, you’re going to find that makes a huge difference.

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