Tired Of Shiny New Toys

Melanie is having trouble talking to her husband about finances. Every time she thinks they're going to get ahead on finances, he finds another shiny new toy to buy.

QUESTION: Melanie in Iowa is having trouble talking to her husband about finances. Every time she thinks they’re going to get ahead on finances, he finds another shiny new toy to buy. Dave tells Melanie how to approach it with him because he’s the spender.

ANSWER: He’s a spender; you’re the saver. That’s the way it was at my house. I’m the spender; my wife’s the saver. That’s why God makes me teach this every day. I can relate to him.

I think you’ve got to sit down and start talking to him. Gary Smalley has a great marriage conversation technique. He says rather than you saying, “Hey, you’re an immature jerk who just goes out and buys shiny stuff and you’re wrecking our finances because you’re a moron,” which probably wouldn’t be a good way to start a conversation, talk about how you feel when something like this happens, because it’s really hard for anyone to argue with how you feel. Your feelings may or may not be valid. They are emotions. They’re not to be counted on. “When you bought that lawnmower, it made me feel really insecure. I didn’t feel like I had a say in that. I didn’t feel like you counted my vote when we didn’t have a chance to talk about it. You just bought it. And I understand we needed a lawnmower, but it really makes me feel insecure when things are purchased that we’re not on the same page on. Things are purchased, and it doesn’t seem like we’ve got some of our other basic financial things met. I would feel a lot more secure and a lot better about you as a man if we were working together in our marriage on money.” See how it’s all “I feel, I feel, I feel” instead of “You’re a twerp”?

What you’re doing is attacking the problem. You’re attacking the sin, not the sinner. It’s the behavior I can’t stand—it’s not you. You can reiterate that several times in the conversation. What you need to understand is when you make a deal here—and the deal is that you start doing a written budget together where everyone has a vote in the budget—then you’re going to have to learn to let him spend on some things. He’s going to have to learn to let you save on some things. That’s the compromise of cooperation that creates unity. When you do that, then we’re going to be unified. But when we do the written plan finally, we’re going to pinkie swear and spit shake. That thing’s a contract, and you don’t go buy something without us being in agreement on what it is unless it’s in the budget.

He impulses his butt off. I used to. I figured out impulsiveness is one sign of immaturity. It is one of the areas I really have grown up in. I’m proud of myself for that; God helped me do that. But if I saw something I wanted, I just bought it. I don’t do that anymore. I’m very deliberate. I’m very thoughtful. I’m certainly on the page, if it’s something of size and it’s not in our budget, then Sharon and I have to talk about it, and that’s just me respecting her. Talk through some of that stuff with him. At the end of the day, if you can get him through Financial Peace University, that’ll solve a bunch. Going through that class saves as many marriages as it gets people out of debt.