Frugal Opposites?

I’m beginning to think that my husband and I are frugal opposites, not in the classic saver vs. spender situation, but we’re frugal in such opposite ways that we still somehow disagree on spending (and saving) priorities to some extent.

First off, we are both fairly frugal.  However, I am more willing to spend money when I think it saves time, like on like housecleaning, moving or computer tech help and the like.  My husband is more of a DIY-er especially related to household things like dishwasher installation, property fixes, etc..  even if it can take him a lot of time and it’s not always easy to figure out. And I guess since he’s more of a DIY-er in aspects that he’s good at, he’s also hesitant to spend money in areas just to save time (since in theory we could tackle housecleaning, for example, on our own).  After having kids, he did come around to hiring housecleaning help and I guess he was never completely against it; he just saw less reason for it than I did/do.

If any spending is remotely related to career or career-advancement, he will spend the money (or want to), while I still like to weigh the return on investment.  This is a tough one because there are countless job-related spending opportunities from books to classes to conferences.   As for measuring ROI, how do you know if that networking event or conference will result in leads and work? I tend to give it one-shot and that’s it.  Say, I attend one conference but if I don’t get much out of it, I won’t go to ANY ever again. My husband wouldn’t rule out all conferences that way; he would look into another conference or would still be open to returning to the same conference after some time has passed.  Since work-related events are often costly, this can become  a sore point.  I think I usually “win out” but I wonder if I’m holding him or myself back from true career opportunities.   He’s been creative at networking on the cheap (with real results) and I do try to be open-minded about pricier opportunities but I still have a hard time justifying that spending.

I have a harder time pulling the trigger on purchases in general.  My husband doesn’t really pay attention to small-item purchases but hesitates on big item purchases (like furniture or appliances).  I guess I believe that little things add up and this is why I still use coupons, look for  sales to stock up on household items, send in rebates, and pay attention to recurring expenses/bills.  I know that my husband doesn’t really understand why I call our internet/cable/phone provider every year.  However, one year, I knocked down $40+ per bill ($480 annually) and I’m pretty proud of that!  

Our different spending habits haven’t been a contentious issue, however, because we do always talk about big purchases.  Even if we don’t always agree, both of us have a say.  I also think that it’s been a fairly even split in terms of who “wins” in the final decisions.  In many cases, we reach a compromise by setting a budget that we both feel comfortable with, delaying the purchase a bit, or not spending at all, without the other one holding a grudge.

Are you and your significant other opposites in terms of spending/saving?  Are you both frugal yet still have different spending habits?


7 responses to “Frugal Opposites?

  1. In a lot of ways, Mr. Sandwich and I have the same breakdown on types of frugality. We’re both more than willing to spend money on things we’re going to use–right now that’s an iPad for me and various pieces of woodworking equipment for him–but he’s definitely more of a DIY guy, and I’m more willing to spend money on time-saving.

    Although apparently not that willing, because I haven’t had anyone in to clean the house in nearly three years. But I would really like to.

  2. I’m kind of with your husband on the professional events. You need to think of it as a portfolio approach. Any one could be a dud (like any stock could tank) but a balanced portfolio will yield good returns. I have walked out of enough events with thousands of dollars in new business to amortize over the ones that result in nothing but a babysitting bill. You can’t do it every night. But one or two a month is not bad to aim for with evening events, and 2-3 conferences a year might be good too.

    • Good points. I guess it is a hit or miss approach but something worth looking into rather than ruling out completely.

  3. My husband is gradually becoming more like me in terms of spending vs. saving (though he’s still much more of an all or nothing guy, whereas I’m more a little from column A, a little from column B). In terms of the trade-offs you’re mentioning, I’m an economist and he’s an engineer so we both try to optimize and to satisfice. So that works well.

    • True. I found that as time goes on, my husband are becoming more alike in terms of spending/saving, although I’m definitely the one who thinks more about long-term and retirement.

  4. My husband and I both grew up with not a lot of money so we’re both pretty frugal. We both have a problem spending money on ourselves. We’d spend money on something new for the house or something for the baby instead of getting ourselves new clothes, shoes, etc. This is why for birthdays and Christmas, we kind of go all out. I buy my husband something I know he wants but would never get for himself and he does the same for me.

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