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You Asked: Can Our Relationship Work?

Dear Sugar,

I love beautiful things. Sometimes they are expensive (such as an Hermes Birkin) and other times they are cute outfits at H&M. I splurge and I save and then I splurge again. I'm never in credit card debt, and I spend my own money, making sure all the bills are paid, I've contributed to my retirement accounts, and I have put some money away for savings and emergency funds.

My boyfriend also has a well paid job; we live together and he saves most of his money. He doesn't have any habits that require money, we don't go out often to eat, but we have fun and we love each other deeply. However, he always argues with me and gets upset over my spending of my money. Whether it's a new pair of shoes or a new handbag, I sometimes want to just lie and not tell him I have something new or how much it cost. He says it's not the amount of money I spend, but the fact that I love to spend money on expensive things that are materialistic and excessive. I've tried budgeting and making changes so I don't end up spending an entire paycheck, but I can't give up my Louboutins and Chanels. They are who I am and I love fashion, beauty, style and glamour.

Can our relationship work? Are there solutions for both him and myself to make it work? We talk about it every few months when I purchase something, getting upset and then getting over it. I'm tired of the cycle, and I wish there was a way to change this! We come from different backgrounds and he is against materialism and strives for simplicity and happiness in the smallest things. Help! — Shopaholic Sophie

To see DearSugar's answer

Dear Shopaholic Sophie,

Clearly this cycle of arguing goes a lot deeper than your spending habits. Since he views material things differently than you do, you're going to have to make some choices if you want to save your relationship because it's pretty clear that it'll suffer if you continue to spend the way you have been.

Have you discussed the future of your relationship? Your boyfriend could be worried about being able to support you and your expensive taste if marriage and children is in your future. Since I don't know exactly what it is that upsets him, the best advice I can offer you is to talk about it. You don't want to get to the point where you have to lie to him to avoid an argument so I suggest you lay everything out on the table asap.

Compromise is key in every relationship, but I also feel it's very important to be the real you. Since you like the finer things in life and he enjoys a more simplistic lifestyle, you guys are going to have to figure out a way to accept each other for who you are. You don't necessarily have to see eye to eye in every aspect of the way you live you lives, but if your spending habits are putting a wrench in your otherwise seemingly good relationship, something gotta give. You can either limit your spending in order to salvage the relationship, or you can go your separate ways and hope to find a man you care equally for who will accept you for the person you are. I like the finer things in life too, but Sophie, make sure you aren't masking a deeper issue with your need to have new things because at the end of the day, you're boyfriend is right — material things really are just that. Good luck.


Join The Conversation
onesong onesong 9 years
WHOA this is crap! If you've saved enough to be okay, if you're saving for the future, then it's NONE OF HIS BUSINESS how you spend your money. My bf tried this crap once with me and I let him have it. I work, I save, I pay all my bills on time, I have darn near a down payment on a house in my bank account, and I will buy WHAT i want WHEN i want with money the I EARN by sitting at a gosh darn DESK everyday. We don't have a house, we don't have kids, and we're not engaged. Even when we combine our money I will still put X dollars towards bills, Y dollars towards our nest egg, and Z dollars to whatever the heck I feel like. And the arguments that "H&M is one thing but Chanel is another" are crap. I, too, like to skip 10 H&M outfits and get one really nice thing. Phew. Sorry but this infuriates me. Tell him to shove it, is my answer, and if he doesn't like it then he can stick it where the sun don't shine.
thelorax thelorax 9 years
As long as you DO NOT go into debt over your spending, it's not least in the short term...but what are your long term goals? Do you have a "cushion" of savings, in case you lose your job, get injured, etc. And don't you want to buy a house or travel someday? I would worry about getting into a serious relationship with someone who could justify spending a lot of money on things AND didn't have savings. As a single gal it's fine to shop and treat yourself, but you do need to have savings, and remember that once things get serious, it's not all about you.
glampop20 glampop20 9 years
Some people collect tea pots or china dolls, you simply prefer shoes! I too love fashion and my boyfriend always passes comments about me constantly spending my money on new things. In my opinion, I don't think he really needs to concern himself with your spending habits until you are seriously considering marriage or until you decided that your funds become "our" funds. I know that my boyfriend doesn't do it to hurt me, he just doesn't want to see me spend my whole paycheck on one bag. How about treating yourself to one great pair of shoes or bag or outfit a month instead of whenever you feel the urge? I started doing this and my boyfriend has been pretty quiet about things. He understands now that I love to shop, but I am not out of control and compulsive and simply buy things because I think that they're nice- at the moment. Good luck, hope everything works out!
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
to this man, it is not about the spending of money, but your life's priorities. why is spending $300 on a pair of shoes important to you?
emalove emalove 9 years
I think that as long as you're not married, he really has no business yelling at you or commenting on the things you're buying. It's your money, you're not in debt, you shouldn't have to worry about whether or not he approves.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
If it's your money and you're not going into debt and you're still saving for the future than you have every right to buy whatever you want. Tell him that the pieces you buy will be able to be resold when you're tired of them and you can make money back from it. You can buy whatever you want and you know what to do to stay debt free. Make sure that you talk to your man about it but tell him that it is your money and you ultimately can spend it any way you want.
bbqueen bbqueen 9 years
For all the women who think it's okay for her to blow thousands of dollars on designer shoes/bags/clothes/whatever without justifying it to her boyfriend... how would you respond if hubby or future-hubby came home and informed you that he just lost $20K in Vegas?
Meike Meike 9 years
It simply is a clash of values and I find it perfectly justified for any partner in a relationship to worry about the other's spending habits especially when their intent for the relationship is to potentially have a lifelong future together. If I ever hear a guy tell his girlfriend, 'I can't give up on the newest high-def big screen tv in the market or the latest car accessories and gadgets. They are who I am...", I expect the girlfriend to kick him where it hurts.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
You dont have to justify your spending and your income to anyone, whether you're married or not.
gossipqueen gossipqueen 9 years
Eventually he'll give up, dump you and find a less high maintenance girl....I think he might be thinking about the future and how much $$$ you're gonna cost him. It's a win get to live your life with your shoes...he gets a girl that happy with less pricey'll happen and it ain't a bad thing.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
You are doing everything right when it comes to saving, just make sure that you have a savings account with a large sum, as well as a checking. You can also look into investing into CDs and Stocks. Once you have all of that (especially the savings/checking) then you can splurge;) I do! But I also do all of the above plus what you do. But so that it doesn't go overboard or spending a whole paycheck, you can deposit your checks into a high interest savings account (WaMu is good for this!) and then you can allow yourself 1-2 purchases a month that are high priced and really nice. And you can treat yourself at the end of the month by pulling that amount out, rather than just going out and spending a whole check. Just remember that you want more than just retirement accounts and all bills want to invest more towards your future! So give yourself a little bit of fun now with nice purchases, and something to look forward to (like real estate or stocks!).
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
When me and my mother went clothes shopping we would always hide half the bags in her car boot and bring them out later. We'd show my dad the modest purchases and then siphon in the rest. Men are not observant enough (typically) to notice an extra pair of shoes here and there in your wardrobe. That said, if my boyfriend was spending money like this (saving up and having a total splurge) then it would make me uneasy too. Simply because I want to save for the future and have a family and clearly this is not at the forefront of his mind. For every pair of $500 shoes you buy, that's a term of schooling for your (potential future) child. If you have already discussed children and marriage and they are OFF the cards then you don't need to worry and continue as you are. However - if you have indicated that you want a family and to settle down then your spending is a little selfish and I can totally see where your boyfriend is coming from.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 9 years
I don't think that this is really a money issue. The original poster even said He says it's not the amount of money I spend, but the fact that I love to spend money on expensive things that are materialistic and excessive. It sounds more like it's a problem with conflicting values. You loves shopping, live to splurge, an wants the finer things in life. He isn't a fan of excessive consumerism and thinks that it's unnecessary. Neither way is a bad way to be (as long as you're responsible), but if it's important enough to each of you now to cause fights, I worry about what the future holds for you.
looseseal looseseal 9 years
Honestly, I wish I could splurge on things and still be able to pay all my bills and have savings left over for retirement AND emergencies. I say good for her! It's not like she's spending so much she's living paycheck to paycheck, or putting herself in debt. Yes, every dollar she manages to save can go towards making the future more secure, but what's the fun of living if ALL you do is work work work and save save save? Having a lot of money and never spending any is called being a miser. Anyway, if she takes good care of her designer stuff, a lot of it will be worth a pretty penny in the vintage market of the future. I would agree that if the couple is planning on marriage and kids soonish, she would have to curb her spending to save more even if she's saving some already. 'Cause kids are pretty much bottomless pits. But what do we know? Maybe she doesn't even want kids. In which case, keep spending and having fun with your own money! Let's make a deal with your BF - he doesn't get on your case about OCCASIONALLY splurging on something you SAVED for. You don't call him Scrooge McDuck.
jaxon jaxon 9 years
Appreciating high fashion is one thing but to be defined by it is another. The occasional splurge is great and fun (glad you are not in debt) but what about future family. You dont wait until you are engaged/married to discuss finances. That's is FAAAARRR too late. Are you going to pass these love of things down to your children. You may not be in debt now but what happens if you hit a rough patch. Will you be able to curb you NEED for these things? Find some good consignment/resale shops in your area. Go for that Vintage Chanel. There are ways to be both thrifty and feed your need for high fashion. I agree w/ JenFan budgets/saving/retirement planning are not words that are conducive to Loubs/Birkin/Chanel
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I agree with those that say you should spend your money as you see fit. You are saving and making sure you have an emergency fund etc. I do the same thing you do I also love my fashion and if there is a bag I want then I save so I can pay cash. It would be different if you rolled into Gucci with 10 credit cards and and bought a bag by splitting the cost amoungst all 10 cards. I have seen that.
JenFan1 JenFan1 9 years
Wow Jillerin..she hit the nail right on the head here!! I am in definite and full agreement with her! Of course your spending habits do matter if you plan on having any kind of a future with this man. If you one day get married, is he going to have to worry about a $20000 wedding dress...a wedding that perhaps costs in the hundreds of thousands because you "like the finer things..and they are who you are"?? What about kids? Are you going to be dressing them in head to toe Chanel/Armani/Dior etc? Of course this man is concerned - he might want to take a vacation one day but realize he won't be able to because his g/f/wife squandered $5000 on a Chanel bag! I could go on, you guys get the picture... This kind of extravance and luxury really has no place in your life unless you are very wealthy and truly do not have to give money a second thought. But if bills and savings are a word that is a part of your vocabulary, then you are obviously not in that small percentage of people who can live like this and not have it phase them. I am all for the occassional splurge on a fancy designer item...but when designers make up a large part of your spending habits then of course the man in your life is going to have second thoughts about his own financial future..
Melo-D Melo-D 9 years
I agree with KittyCat. Those things should not make you who you are. You know it's not about the money. So this thing is way deeper than that. It's about the values you both carry and it's about you. A statement like "I can't give up my Louboutins and Chanels. They are who I am..." says a lot about you. Are you hiding behind an issue with these purchases? It sounds like you are covering up something and I think he knows it. I also agree with Jillerin. Your spending habits DO matter because you live together. If you can't come to an agreement about money now, the future will look grim. Money can't buy you happiness dear.
jillerin457 jillerin457 9 years
I strongly disagree with those who are saying that your spending habits shouldn't matter to him unless you're engaged/married. If your outlook on money bothers him now, honestly he would be stupid to propose to you. Sure, you have every right to spend your money that way, and if you're not racking up debt, you're really not hurting anyone else; you're just cheating yourself out of savings and a financial future. That is certainly your right, but if he is more forward-thinking, he's probably concerned that he'll be supporting your ass during retirement, because that pile of 50-year-old worn-out Laboutins isn't going to pay the long-term-care bills. Studies have shown that money is the #1 cause of marital fights, and the #1 cited reason for divorce. You two clearly don't see eye-to-eye on this topic, and if neither of you is willing to change, you would be foolish to progress beyond a casual dating relationship. For the record, my first Master's degree is in Personal Financial Planning, with an emphasis in Financial Counseling, so if you want more info, feel free to message me.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Yes! Just hide your purchases from him. Keep them in the trunk of your car until he is out of the house or asleep at night. I learned this from my mother when I was a little girl; men NEVER want to see you coming into the house with bags and bags of clothes, shoes, jewelry. This is a horrible visual for them, they basically see all of their hard earned dollars going down the drain, no matter even if it is your money that you spent. This is something they will never understand, accept, or appreciate, so just dont even TRY to get on the same level with him or make him understand. Dont let him see price tags or receipts. If he notices something new on you, say, no I've had this, it was a gift, or say you got it at Target or on vague. Whatever you do, dont BRAG about how much your things are/what designers they are by/or how exclusive your items are. The fact that you guys have argued about this type of stuff leads me to believe you have been talking about your Loubs, Chanel etc. Your man shouldnt even know what/who these designers are. Keep a low profile girl!
puddlesworth puddlesworth 9 years
Is that picture of Fatima from americas next top model? :)
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
I completely agree with silly3. It's not about the money. It's about whether you two have the same values. If what you value is material things and he disdains consumerism, I don't see how this could possibly be a good fit.
kittycat8 kittycat8 9 years
"I can't give up my Louboutins and Chanels. They are who I am..." THAT is a problem. Your possessions are not "who you are." Buying more overpriced stuff will not make you any more "you."
fantome14 fantome14 9 years
I think you guys really need to consider whether you have the same values. If you plan to take the next step, not having the same values can be a real obstacle unless you work out a way to live with that going in. Good luck! And don't change who you are!
silly3 silly3 9 years
It doesn't sound like he's worried about money. Sophie says "He says it's not the amount of money I spend, but the fact that I love to spend money on expensive things that are materialistic and excessive." I say you have every right to spend your money the way you want, and good job affording Loubs and Birkins while managing to save in various ways! You should be proud of that. It sounds to me, from that sentence I quoted above, that your boyfriend is not concerned that you're spending too much money, but worried about whether or not your values are the same as his values, which to me, is the real issue you and he have to consider. Above all, I think you should be comfortable and happy with yourself!
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