Monday, August 31, 2009

No-spend week outcome

Our no-spend week turned out to be an exercise in both self control and negotiation.  I'm not sure hubby was quite as sold on the idea as I was to begin with, especially for the weekend.  All day Saturday he said things to me like, "You don't have to cook tonight.  We can just go out.  You deserve a break.  Wanna just order pizza?  Let's just go order from the $1 menu." etc., etc., etc.  I made a conscious effort to not be frustrated at his attempts to sabotage our no-spending his unwillingness to cooperate. Instead, I tried to understand why he was being this way.  I was first tempted to say he simply lacked self-control.  My husband was raised Catholic which instilled in him a strong sense of "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission."  In other words, his natural inclination is to do what he wants and deal with the consequences afterwards, like going to Confession Sunday morning after partying all night Saturday.  I, on the other hand, was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home (and school) where great emphasis was placed on "spiritual discipline" which translates to personal, internal strength of will.  So maybe he just doesn't have the discipline -- the strength of will -- to make a plan and stick to it.  But I realized this wasn't a very fair assessment of him either.  It's more accurate of his parents -- in the almost-5-years we've been married, hubby's dad hasn't kept a job for more than 6 months at a time.  Hubby is much more disciplined than I am when it comes to things like exercise (he runs 3 miles a day on the treadmill), music (practicing on his saxophone), work (he gets up every morning at the crack of dawn to go work at a boring job), even budgeting (we're currently living debt free, thanks to him!).  So maybe he and I are disciplined in different areas, which I think is definitely accurate and not necessarily bad; we compliment each other.

I think the real reason is that hubby simply didn't want to do a no-spend week.  He agreed to it because it sounds like a good idea (spending less money always sounds appealing!) and because I wanted to.  But he was never really dedicated to it.  When I came to this conclusion, I was faced with a decision...force him to continue through the weekend, or negotiate a different ending.  We decided to end our no-spend week early, both because he never really wanted to do it in the first place and because we realized that no-spending for both days of a weekend is not very practical for our family since we do live a distance away from the shopping centers.  For example, I've been waiting for felt-by-the-yard to go on sale at JoAnn's because I need some to finish a Christmas project.  It went on sale this weekend and the sale runs through this week.  We could have completed our no-spend weekend and gone to JoAnn's some night this week.  It would be the same cost for gas and take the same amount of time to drive there and back, but it would take place at a different time of day, with much lower levels of energy and patience...overall, it would be less pleasant for all of us to do it on a weeknight rather than a weekend.  The same is true for any errands we want or need to run.  So Sunday we lifted our no-spend ban, went to JoAnn's, ate Chinese takeout, and enjoyed the gorgeous cool weather together as a family!  It wasn't the outcome I was looking for, but it was a very satisfactory one anyway.

I'm not sure we'll embark on another no-spend week anytime soon.  I think a better method for our family might be to set spending limits.  We could set aside a specific amount from each paycheck for "fun stuff" (which for hubby usually involves food! Ha!) in addition to our set amounts for putting into savings.  We basically started over financially a year ago when we moved to Missouri from California.  The cost of moving wiped out our previous savings and we've had to spend a lot on "extra" things like a bed, a kitchen table, and some costly car maintenance.  But after a year, we're well on our way to our two-part goal of having a 6-month "float" and saving for a house.

Many thanks to Eilleen for prompting this no-spend week. It's been a wonderful learning experience for our family!


  1. Thank you so much for joining me on this no-spend week! It sounds like you had come to a greater awareness of what works for both of you!

  2. Excuse me, but your hubby's propensity to "ask forgiveness rather than permission" is a Philippine trait, not a Catholic one.

  3. That very well could be! But as a vast majority of filipinos are culturally Catholic and I've observed the same trait in other Catholics of widely diverse backgrounds, I'm still under the strong impression that it's a Catholically imparted trait that may have been absorbed by filipinos as a people. My husband is no longer Catholic and as he moves away from Catholic thinking, I find him less and less inclined to that type of thinking.