Spousal Conflict: Paying Full Price for Things

I can be frugal, a tightwad and sometimes downright cheap. I don’t like to spend money unnecessarily. I search for deals and clip coupons and cringe every time I pay full price. Interestingly enough my husband doesn’t possess any of these same qualities or characteristics.

He’s not a big spender, but he is perfectly content to purchase things that aren’t on sale. If he needs something he’ll buy it. If he wants something he’ll buy it. You will never catch him leafing through the Sunday circular or clipping coupons and matching them with sales.

He believes it is more worthwhile to make money than it is to try to save it. While I can certainly understand his point of view it’s difficult for me to abide by it. The truth is it’s in my very nature to save and I don’t want to pay full price for things unless I have no other choice in the matter.

I’ve stuck by this philosophy my whole life, but a recent trip to the grocery store altered my mindset.

We don’t get to spend a ton of time together these days. I go to sleep early and wake by six or seven to tend to Baby A. My husband works later hours and as a result often sleeps in. During the week we see each other for only an hour or two each day, so it’s very important to me that we spend as much time together as we can on the weekends.

The other day my husband joined Baby A and I on a short trip to the grocery store. I had a list in one hand and a wad of coupons in the other. I reviewed the sales circular and didn’t intend to purchase much that wasn’t on sale. Well that all changed with my husband in tow.

He grabbed items off the shelf that weren’t on my list and weren’t on sale. Each time he grabbed for something I pulled out my coupon binder and searched around for a matching coupon. I didn’t time my coupon searches, but they easily added at least a minute or two for each unplanned item.

While I was frantically searching through my coupon binder my husband and the baby strolled over to a quiet area near the bakery. When I rounded the last corner and found them smiling at one another I felt my stomach sink. I realized I was sacrificing time with my family to save a couple of dollars.

It was a beautiful day and rather than wasting time in the grocery store we could have been playing outside. In fact, we could have been doing a million other things that would have been more enjoyable and memorable for the three of us.

I realized in that moment that I needed to alter my philosophy. I could do this in any number of ways.

  1. I could try to get a list from my husband in advance so I could search for coupons at a different point in time.
  2. I could hold off on buying things that my husband wanted but weren’t on sale. I could simply make a note of the item so I could look out for sales and coupons at a later point in time. (This would only work if my husband was willing to wait to buy something.)
  3. I could decide that every once in awhile it’s perfectly okay to pay full price. I could remind myself that spending time with my husband and baby is more important than saving $5.

The next time I’m planning a trip to the grocery store I will do my best to try all three. While steps one and two will help me save money, step three is a reminder that the value of time should not be ignored. At the end of the day I will forgo $5 for 20 more minutes with my family.

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