Notice anything new, dear?

My friend Iris accompanied her husband Doug on a business trip to Vancouver, where she fit in some solo shopping. Iris has deep pockets, but like anyone else, has her limits. She fell in love with a costly silk blouse, and while in that particular trance that can descend when traveling, bought it.

Returning to the hotel, she was overcome with guilt, so she sat in the ba
r, ordered a G&T, threw out the bag, pulled off the tags, and stuffed it in her purse. "Every woman in the place looked at me and knew exactly what I was doing, she said."

She was flying home solo that evening and figured she'd face the music back in Toronto. The next evening, during a catch-up call, Doug said, "There's one thing about this room, it must have been occupied by some oil sheiks before us." "Why?" Iris asked. "I found this receipt for a blouse by the bed", Doug said, "and it was for $700. Who else would spend that much on a blouse?"

Iris owned up when Doug returned, and of course he knew all along. But Iris claims many women either hide what they buy, discount the price they say they paid, or practice some other obfuscation.

Ever since I was once married to a man who plunged us into debt with his binge-spending, I don't do this, but I understand it, especially if one has buyer's remorse like Iris. Or if, like someone else I know, her partner is so miserly that she has to pad her grocery bills to buy basic undies.

And it's not just an device of some marriages; I have a friend who is quite critical when I tell her the price of something (and she asked me). So I sometimes say it was a gift, just to avoid censure. Another acquaintance says when her partner asks, "is that new?", unless it came from the store that very day, she says no.

We all know honesty and communication are cornerstones in a relationship; this usually that means openness about what, exactly, you're buying even when it's your discretionary money.

When we don't admit to spending, what's going on? Is honesty the best policy?


Anonymous said…
My husband buys a new pair of shoes about once every 3 years, he just doesn't get why I need shoes at least once every 3 months. Men don't get it, therefore the truth about it should be denied them!!
Curlysam said…
I make it a point to tell my boyfriend when I buy yarn- we're in a serious relationship and if I don't say it out in the open I feel like I'm hiding it anyways. There's no point in hiding my habits, it will only hurt us in the end. When he goes shopping with me is best, usually it keeps me from overspending.
Frugal Scholar said…
It seems to me that honesty with yourself is crucial. Plus with your spouse (if you have one).

I knew someone who developed a shopping mania in grad school. She bought cocktail dresses by the dozen and hid them in the attic! Finally, she finished her degree, 'fessed up to her professor husband (and eventually got rid of him--he was part of the problem), lost her car and other things. She told me this years after it happened.

The truth will set you free!
Anonymous said…
If I'm in any doubt about spending a large amount on something for me I ask my husband's opinion. He either says yes or no. If he says no (hardly ever) I follow the advice, if he says yes I still dither and often still don't buy it. But it's only advice I get from my hub, he would never ever forbid me. It's just not part of our relationship.

But I admit I have bought things and not shown them for a while.

With age, I recognize certain routines patterns of behaviour in myself. The most important is that if I'm in any doubt it's best for me not to buy it. I am, at long last, learning from my mistakes!
materfamilias said…
I wouldn't ever lie about what I've bought or what I've spent, but I do sometimes introduce new items strategically. I tend to manage our financial stuff and Pater trusts me in those decisions -- by nature, he's like Cybill's husband, but has come to be interested in some aspects of fashion because I am, and his attitude is that if we've met our shared financial goals and it's my portion of the discretionary pot, it's up to me what I spend it on. That said, I often project my guilt onto him and/or use him to test out the wisdom of a purchase, much like greying pixie seems to do.
Susan B said…
Our monetary arrangement (we both work full-time) is to keep mostly separate accounts, split expenses, and what's left over after that and savings is discretionary for each partner. I joke that we have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to some items, as my husband flinches at spending more than $100 for a pair of shoes.

I've put myself on a ban for any big ticket items for a while; we're trying to save a bit more aggressively these days.
Anonymous said…
honesty is always best...
But I usually wait a day or two to tell hubby...That buys me time to figure out how to tell what a good deal it was, how much I'll wear it, etc.
~Tessa~Scoffs said…
I usually buy something my husband will like and then try it on for him. How can he complain when I look so good? Ha!
If it's basics, like new running shoes, I barely mention it.
WendyB said…
A lot of times I find that men are much less conflicted about spending than women. The key is to take them shopping with you! If you come out of the dressing room looking stunning, a lot of men will say, "Let's get it now. It's worth it." (This applies to clothing, shoes and definitely jewelry). If a pair is shopping, it's often the woman who feels guilty and tries to talk the guy out of spending. I see it all the time. Men are less emotional/dithering.
CompassRose said…
Well, I sometimes quietly slink items into my closet, especially if they're expensive ones... but that's because the Boy is an artist, makes a LOT less than I do, and feels badly about it. So I get a sort of twinge of ... something when I casually toss a couple of hundred at clothing when he can barely afford to keep up his end of the essentials.

I'm sure he in fact thinks that I have every right to spend my own money on whatever I care to, but it doesn't keep me from feeling as though I'm somehow flaunting my material advantage at him.

In my previous relationship, which was evenly matched financially, I never gave it a second thought. I'd run expensive purchases past my partner, but more in a "do you really like this on me, is it seriously worth $XXXX?" than to get his approval. He had (still has, I expect) excellent taste, so his opinion was always appreciated.

(For what it's worth, my Word Verification for this post, amusingly, is "guilti".)
Carlene said…
Wendy B said:

"...If you come out of the dressing room looking stunning, a lot of men will say, "Let's get it now. It's worth it.""

I have never, ever, ever had this happen to me. Not even close. How do you get this to happen? I feel cheated.
Duchesse said…
Cybill and Pseu: Men rarely say, "Aren't my new shoes to die for?" They take a utilitarian view. I feel sorry for them.
Ophelia: Income disparity takes tact!
Frugal: Symptom of some issues; I hope she came through this.
ma: We apportion our finances this way too. Having my ouwn bank account is essential for me.
Wendy/Carlene: Two ends of a continuum. Both exist- but few men at one end will ever move to the opposite pole.
GP: Agree about not buying if in doubt; I ask Le Duc for his opinion more all the time. I'm just like Wendy described, dithery... but he has a great eye.
Provided all the bills are paid, and it's money I earned, I don't feel any guilt on buying clothes for myself - in fact, as an image consultant I have to look good - otherwise my clients won't take me seriously.

But if I want to buy big ticket items, I'll have a conversation with my husband.

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