Q: After finding out that my partner spent over $1000 on toys for his car, I had a spa day and got something for me too. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but we got into a huge fight about money. What can we do to fix this?
A: The situation that you are describing is called “revenge spending” and it’s a way to get back at your partner financially. Regardless of the intention behind it, revenge spending is when one person in the relationship spends money and then the other person spends to get their “share,” to keep the money “even.” While the reasons behind the spending might be quite individual - need, want, fear, spite, etc., the consequences are real for both.
Before you can “fix” the problem, you need to find out what is causing it and why you both acted as you did. Separate the financial consequences of your actions from what motivated the behaviours in the first place. Then agree to work on a plan about what to do now.
To make a financial plan, start by considering your financial life together:
• What are your financial goals? 1 year? 5 year? 10 year?
• How can you work together to achieve these goals?
• What will each of you do to get you closer to your goals?
• What will each of you not do to ensure that you are achieving your goals?
• How committed are you for the long term?
Once you’ve got answers to the big questions, work on solutions that you can both live with every day and avoid revenge spending all together.
• How does each of you want to handle money, e.g. do you need separate accounts for spending money?
• Who do you want handling the finances? Develop a joint plan and draw on each other’s strengths so that you get ahead together.
• How will you negotiate expenditures? Set time aside regularly to discuss and agree on purchases ahead of time.
Revenge spending may seem like a good idea at the time, but karma has a way of coming full circle when you least expect it. Instead of trying to hurt each other’s feelings with revenge spending, turn it around and see who can save more. That way you both win and your spa day will truly feel like the treat it’s meant to be!