Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Husband Is Really Cheap

B and I have very different attitudes about money. Basically, I enjoy spending money: I like shopping, I like going out to eat and ordering too much, I like getting Frappucinos all the time. I don't usually overspend, but I will spend everything I've got (this is why I need a budget).

B, on the other hand, hates spending money. Left to his own devices, he could easily live on a few dollars a day. When we were in a long distance relationship, and he lived in LA by himself, he chose to:
1. rent a corner of someone's living room, where he slept on a blow-up mattress on the floor (he had standing screens but no door or real walls); and
2. eat either pancakes or cans of beans for pretty much every meal. He would make a large batch of banana pancakes in the morning, put them in a plastic bag, and then eat them throughout the day as his sole diet. His classmates called him Pancake Boy (of course B didn't care as he is more or less completely impervious to other people's opinions). He didn't even buy butter for the pancakes unless it was on sale. Occasionally for a treat he would go get hamburgers at the discount burger hut (cheaper than McDonalds!), where all the homeless people ate.
He also biked everywhere, to avoid paying bus fare. He loved this lifestyle and was so pleased with himself for figuring out how to eat for about $2/day. (Sometimes he still misses it, but I don't want to eat the pancake diet.)

Partly this is probably a relic of how we were raised. My parents didn't have much money, but protected me from all financial worries. I always had lots of toys, food and clothes. Even though B's family had more money, B's father had to declare bankruptcy (as a result of his mother's severe medical problems), which was extremely stressful and shameful for the family (B was instructed to keep it a secret from everyone, including his friends, for example).

Unsurprisingly, we used to fight about money/spending ALL the time. In fact, perhaps our first severe fight was over a pot of jam. I wanted to buy the fancy imported jam; B wanted to buy the off-brand discount version. Cue huge fight culminating in B stomping off and leaving me on the street corner in a strange city as I wept dramatically from self-pity (he came back about 10 minutes later so I wasn't actually abandoned). However, over time we both compromised: B learned to stop being so spending adverse (some things are worth a little extra), and I stopped being so wasteful (like ordering three drinks--Sprite, juice and tea, for instance--at lunch and then not finishing any of them). I also learned how to comparison shop and budget (thanks B!). We haven't fought about money for years now.

Spending money still makes B anxious though. That's why I do all the shopping (including for stuff like his clothes), and why we have some odd lacunae in our lives. For instance, we slept on a mattress on the floor until we moved to Singapore and didn't own a TV, DVD player, toaster or blender. I didn't care enough about these things to advocate for them.

--Exercise: Gym for an hour.
--Diet: Lunch: Focaccia with goat cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar; Dinner: Tortillas with pork and tomato hash, lettuce and tomato. Drinks: Frappuncino.
--Other: Didn't drink 8 glasses water; had a frappucino.


  1. There is a certain rush that comes from saving money! My husband is also a very conservative spender (though I think your hubby has him beat), where as when I make purchases I always consider the quality of the item (like... did the fancy jam TASTE better, thus making worth more?). Some times this gets me in trouble when I think I'm buying value but it ends up crapping out (like when I convinced my hubby we should buy our Jeep which turned out costing us a lot more than just the purchase price). Every time I consider convincing B-man to buy something, I remember the Jeep, and think twice. lol.

  2. I laughed harder at "his classmates called him Pancake Boy" than at anything I've laughed at in a long time. Thank you for making my night!