This morning, my husband shaved. Afterward, he had a horrible razor burn and said, “Honey, for Christmas I’d like some aftershave.” First of all, I just bought him a whole new package of razor blades and he uses the old ones until they’re rusty. Second of all, we are not impoverished by any means. As a matter of fact, we’re doing very well financially and are quite comfortable, so he could definitely go to Target and get some aftershave today without causing a major financial crisis. He does this all the time. He wears shoes until the soles are worn through and his socks actually get wet on his way to work. He wears t-shirts with dark yellow stains underneath the armpits and doesn’t mind because they’re covered up by his work shirts. He will drive a car until pieces of it are falling off on the street as he drives.
This can be very annoying, especially when he questions why I need a new winter jacket or why my running shoes need to be replaced. Things wear out and go out of style, and he has no concept of this. Is there any way I can get him to spend a little? Or to ease up on me so I don’t feel like by getting a new sweater I’m somehow depriving him of a clean shave?
The fun thing about being married is enjoying the personality quirks and interesting oddities of the person you’ve chosen to marry. Oh, I know, frightening frugality can be seen as a character flaw, and should you let it, will eventually drive you to drink, divorce or freak out one day and put a Land Rover, a week at the Four Seasons, and the entire contents of a Chanel store on your Visa card.
But you have to approach this as something your husband does that has nothing to do with you; it’s how he is. I married into a family that reuses McDonald’s cups. My husband wears, with pride, t-shirts he got in high school. When we first started dating, I wasn’t quite sure if, when he said he lived in Manhattan, he actually meant that he lived in his car parked on the streets of Manhattan, because that old junk heap was filled with clothes and a sleeping bag and all kinds of other stuff he couldn’t possibly part with. Even his mother (and this is a woman who saves price tags from new clothes to use as scrap paper) suggested he attend a couple meetings of Tightwads Anonymous.
I’ll occasionally get a hairy eyeball when I come home from the mall with a bunch of shopping bags, or an outraged yelp of, “WHO THE HELL SPENT FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS AT J. CREW?” when he’s looking over the credit card bill, but for the most part, my most favorite thrifty guy leaves me alone.
You and your husband need to look over your financial situation together, come up with a good plan for saving, and work out how much you can spend every month. I think when you’ve decided on an amount that makes you both comfortable, you can spend money without feeling like you’re going to get the smackdown, and he can happily wear his underpants until they disintegrate without worry that you’re going to mock him or pressure him into buying new ones. As long as you’re respectful of each other, I don’t see any reason why you can’t live together happily.