Spenders and Savers: Can’t We Be Friends?

I don't understand why everyone doesn't rush out to buy milk when they hear snow is on the way. Joke all you want.

I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t rush out to buy milk when they hear snow is on the way. Joke all you want.

Miles run today: 8

Gallons of milk purchased yesterday in anticipation of 2-4″ of snow (actual accumulation: 1/4″): 2

Dollars spent on said milk: 7.80

My friend and I were sitting in our social media class the other day, analyzing all sorts of information about our favorite subject: ourselves.

Ten year goals, five year goals, things that make us unique… our fingers were skipping over the keys like those bendable jump roping kids in a Christmas parade.

Until my fingers kept skipping, and my friend’s didn’t.

Subject: “I Love to Spend Money On…”

My fingers were happy:

1. Boots

2. Trips

3. Things for the kids

4. Clothes

5. Good food

6. Wine

7. Going out with friends…

Until I noticed that my friend’s fingers were not so happy. My eyebrows raised, I glanced at her empty page and tried to cover up the computer screen with my own exhaustive list.

“I hate to spend money,” she said.

“You hate to spend money on wasteful things, like food?”

“I hate to spend money,” she said. “On anything.”

“What about a vacation?”

“No, not really.”

“Or fun stuff for the kids?”

“Maybe… but no, not that either.”

“Not even Disney?”

[Anne trivia break here: When I heard one of the Disney marketing guys speak several years ago, he said that the state sending the most visitors to Disney was New Jersey and that the average family saves for 10 years to afford the vacation.]

“Not even Disney. I hated spending money on that, too.”

I do not have words for this situation.

I remember my grandmother telling me that one of the best things about not having much money was having the satisfaction of saving up for something and eventually being able to buy it. When she got to the point where she could afford to get and do the things she wanted, some of the fun went away.

Being a (conservative) spender at heart, I can agree with her. Early on in our marriage, a fun evening out was having a cup of coffee with friends or roller-blading in an empty parking lot for hours. If we ever bought a new CD or a bottle of cheap wine, it was Party Central.

At that time–15 years ago, to be exact–my husband and I ended up sitting in the office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

My husband hadn’t been allowed to work for the five months after our wedding while we waited for INS to process his paperwork. (If his plan was to marry a well-off American woman and spend his days watching “Cops,” he could have chosen a more well-heeled candidate; we ate a lot of salads and beans.)

The woman behind the desk was scrutinizing a printout of our checks; my husband and I sat holding hands and scrutinizing the cinderblock walls.

The vulnerability I experienced was akin to wearing a white paper gown at my annual physical exam, and in less well-appointed offices.

The INS lady held the papers out to us and turned them towards me. “Do you see that you have signed all of these checks except one?”

I giggled nervously and scanned the checks: rent, water bill, electrical bill, gas bill, internet bill, doctor co-pay… they were hardly evidence of out-of-control spending.

I looked at my husband, a much better-looking prospective green card holder than Gerard Depardieu.

“I guess I’m the one who pays the bills,” I said, and I felt the blush creeping up into my hairline.

She shook her head and took the papers back.

Good news: my husband got his green card.

Bad news: I still love to spend money on:

1. Boots

2. Trips

3. Fun trail mix

4. Pajamas with birds on them

5. Fluffy towels

6. Sweet tea

7. Door handles for my car

What about you? Is spending such a drag? Please, be honest.

And if you lie and say you hate spending money, please tell me which one thing makes you happy to spend money on.





44 thoughts on “Spenders and Savers: Can’t We Be Friends?

  1. strawberryquicksand says:

    I am like your friend – i hate to spend money. Well, I like to spend money but I hate to spend it at the same time. My new years resolution was to spend as little as possible. So far that has worked out really well! I really want to save money so rather than buying a little thing here and there, I can buy a big thing. Like a house or a holiday. Or even a new car for myself as my old one is just a piece of junk. By the way, what country is your husband from!? 🙂 xo

    • annewoodman says:

      My husband is from England, but we call him an honorary American now. ; )

      Well, I guess saving up to buy something is still eventually spending, so you get a pass. I like the challenge of saving up for something, but I think it makes the eventual spending that much sweeter.

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    My hubby and I started our marriage with very little and have built up to what we have now, but we’ve maintained our sensible ways. We don’t splurge much. That being said, we love traveling, so most of our splurging goes on trips. And given the memories they create, to me, it’s money well spent.

    • annewoodman says:

      I agree. Trips or celebratory things you do at home are worth every penny… even when things go wrong. At least you have collective things to laugh about for years. ; )

  3. Joyce says:

    I wasn’t lying!
    I love SAVING money. Why do you think it took us 8 years to paint any interior rooms in our house or why Cuong drives a 13-year-old SUV! That’s why I get so giddy when I score a freebie or land a big name product to test (Vitamix is on its way!) or snag things on clearance. THAT’s when I get excited. 😉
    Cuong and I were talking about this at lunch, where we SPLIT an entree and salad. I know, cheapo! We had gone into some expensive sunglasses shop and oooohed and ahhhhed over lenses from D&G, Prada, Coach, Ralph and Ray-Ban. We both chuckled at our cheap knockoffs. Then I made the mistake of putting a pair on and stepping outside. It was AMAZING! Crystal clear vision with just a hint of tint. We were blown away. As we put them back on the rack we both lamented that we’re too cheap to splurge beyond, gasp, $20 for shades. But I have to admit, we were seriously thinking about it!!
    You really do get what you pay for.
    Or not. 😉

    • annewoodman says:

      Mmmmhmmm. I drive a 12-year-old car, too, buddy. ; ) I’ll wait to see how long it takes you to get some expensive sunglasses. I won’t even try any on…. my $19 pair from Target are about as wild as I’ll get.

      But really, that’s just because I’d rather spend the money on something else. ; )

  4. I love spending money! I’m not very good at saving, I intend to, but whenever I have any spare money that I could potentially save, I suddenly remember lots of “necessities” that need to be bought (I don’t think I need to spell out the types of necessities I’m talking about). I’m quite happy to pay bills too when they’re the regular monthly bills that you know and expect. The only times really that I really begrudge spending money is when there is an unexpected cost, like a car repair or something, because that is using up money that I could be spending on “necessities”.

    • annewoodman says:

      Finally! Someone who’s honest. ; ) Yes, there are so many necessities! Ergh–the worst, absolute worst, is spending money on car issues or a dead water heater. Awful. All I can think about is the number of pairs of boots I could have bought with that money–I completely agree.

  5. Hey, I’m from New Jersey and I’m going to Disney this May! Come on along with us! I’ll buy everybody mouse ears!

    To be honest, I’m not a fan of spending money — even though Ellen (who handles the money in or house) tells me we’re doing just fine. Ellen is also an excellent investor. If our investments were left up to me, I would be a money-in-the-mattress kinda guy.

  6. thepoelog says:

    Excellent post! Also, this line slays me: “You hate to spend money on wasteful things, like food?” Actually, the whole concept of hating to spend money slays me. I mean, I guess I don’t like it, but I accept it and I love, love, love acquiring bright, shiny new things. And I can justify the price on just about anything. It never occurs to me that an item I really want is in the least overpriced. I tend to not even bat an eye at some of the most outrageously expensive things, like python cowboy boots. (I’m also one of those odd people who feel it’s my patriotic duty to pay increased taxes as I earn more money)

    None of this bodes well for my future retirement plans.

  7. E says:

    Hmmmm. Do I even need to reply to this blog??? I am happy to buy a pack of gum. Love, love, love hearing the swipe of the credit card, the smell of money, the rustling of shopping bags that hold all your goodies and even the slippery paper that receipts are printed on. Yep, I might have a problem.

  8. jmmcdowell says:

    I don’t mind spending it since we’re good about saving. As proof, we’ll be visiting an outlet mall tomorrow where we plan to spend some money on clothes. After all, spring’s just around the corner, right? 😉

  9. As long as I don’t stop to think about what I had to go through to make the money I’m spending. That used to make spending a frightful thing. It’s not so bad anymore.

    • annewoodman says:

      Oh, I know. We try to tell my son about this all the time…
      “It’s only $150, Mom!”
      “If you’re making $8 an hour, and they take out taxes, how long do you think it would take you to earn $150?”
      It’s very sobering.

  10. Bernie Brown says:

    Anne,I love the title to this blog. I don’t know if I love spending money, it’s just the means to the end of getting things I want. That I love! What I hate most to spend money on is insurance. Think about it. You don’t really buy anything, you just buy a feeling or an idea that if something bad happens that requires money, then SOME of it will be provided.

    • annewoodman says:

      Ergh. I agree, Bernie! Insurance. Bah, humbug.

      But yes, “the means to an end of getting things I want”… that is so true. And you have some great shoes as a result. ; )

  11. Daryl says:

    I love spending money when I have a creative idea. For example, gas valve here, venturi mixer there, several pounds of tempered glass, gas lines, sand, black gas pipe. Then I lay it all out, scratch my head and create something–in this case a gas fire pit. I never though twice about the money. Yeah, I spent $150, but it would have cost $1,500–and it’s cooler than the mass production thing. I could get in some serious trouble at Lowes Home Improvement.

    • annewoodman says:

      You COULD get in trouble at Lowe’s? Could? It’s a serious weakness, dude.

      A weakness that has netted us some serious home swag, so I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. ; )

  12. Amy Mak says:

    I think I like to spend money on all the things you like to spend money on. I also like to play games with myself to see how little I can spend. For instance, I have only spent $30 on groceries this month. My family is growing antsy with an anticipation for mom to please just go to the store already!

    • annewoodman says:

      Wow. You rock! I can spend $30 at the grocery store and get home without enough stuff to make a meal. ; )

      It is quite a rush to get a super-good deal on something.

  13. We have downsized our lives so much that I can afford the three things I most enjoy spending money on: books for my grandson, travel, and taking my wife out to eat whenever she doesn’t feel like cooking.

  14. I like spending money on holidays and shoes!

  15. stephanie says:

    I like spending money. I just wish I had more of it to spend!

  16. I love to spend, especially when things are on sale or fluffy or perfect for somebody I love.

    We’re in belt-tightening mode at the moment, but I love buying little things for the kids, anything lovely that’s locally made, yarn, books, coffee, cards to send to friends, just about anything to send to friends that fits neatly in a small padded envelope (especially if it’s made locally), brightly colored socks, more yarn (for projects that will fit neatly in small padded envelopes to send to friends) and thoughtful birthday or holiday gifts way in advance.

    • annewoodman says:

      You sound very thoughtful and organized, Laura. ; )

      We’re tightening the belt, too, so the main way for me to stay out of trouble is by avoiding the shops altogether. Because there is always something fluffy, shiny or pretty that I really want. ; )

      • I have been avoiding shopping, too, Anne. Ooh–shiny! I love making gifts, too, but with little ones around, it’s hard to find the time. I keep prioritizing for other things when I have a few free minutes.

        I did just find a windfall of old Target gift cards and am excited to buy some shiny things with that found money. Fun!

  17. steveandmo says:

    Oh, a post that I can relate to. I am the penny-pincher in this family. I rejoice in shopping at Goodwill and getting an Ann Taylor silk sweater in my size for $4. It feels like a victory! One of my favorite newlywed memories is finally having enough money in the change bottle to buy a pizza. Life was a lot simpler back then (37 years ago).
    P.S. I hate that when I go to the store for a gallon of milk, it ends up costing me $35. (There’s always something else that I need.)

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, I had a $48 trip to the grocery store when I went to buy two gallons of milk… I wanted to make sure I had enough for a few meals and incidentals for the weekend. My response at the cash register is always: $48 for two gallons of milk?? ; )

      I love finding a great deal, too. I’ve gotten better at it over the years… but I still wouldn’t call myself a penny pincher. There are way too many wonderful things out there in the world!

  18. 4amWriter says:

    I hate to spend money on gadgets that just sit in my kitchen drawers, Monster High dolls, knick-knacks, and Legos. But I will spend money happily on music lessons, microbrewery beer, brick-oven pizza, writing and art supplies, and Disney. 🙂

    Here in NH we get a lot of snowstorms, usually accompanied by power outages. Perishables are not something I would typically stock up on. I guess you must not lose power too often when you get 1/4″ of snow? 😉

    • annewoodman says:

      Your must-spend items are very worthy. ; )

      No, power outages and major snow/ice storms are fairly rare here. We still talk about major ones we had in 2000 (22″) and 2002 (ice storm that left people without power for over a week in frigid temperatures), which people from NH would probably find very funny.

  19. Melissa says:

    Selective spender here…boots/shoes, wine, books, good food (we have so much in common – hehe) and yarn/roving…you’d be amazed at how dangerous the yarn/roving can be, but there is this stuff called silk and cashmere…dangerous stuff. Other than that, my husband even admits that I’m pretty low maintenance.

    • annewoodman says:

      My hubbie and I always laugh about “low maintenance.” It’s one of those “what is low maintenance to someone else may be high maintenance for you.”

      Yes, you and I could do some serious damage in Anthropologie, girl!

  20. I think it’s all the travelling I’ve done that makes it hard for me to shop. after 18 months living an unbelievably simple existence in Mexico, when I came back to the UK adverts made me feel upset for saying: this is what you need to be happy! when I had discovered happiness in having very little. My one area where there is never any guilt is food – I love to cook and I love to make people happy by giving them healthy, yummy meals, and I love to bake presents for people.

    • annewoodman says:

      Yum. I will be your friend. ; )

      Yes, when I get rid of things and cleanse the house a bit, I have the realization (unfortunately, over and over) that we can get by with much less than we do.

  21. I hate to spend money, but I love buying things 😛 Some things which I give myself a green signal to spend on, even if they cost more than I can afford is running shoes, travelling, chocolates and gifts for my family 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head! That is my new mantra: I hate to spend money, but I love buying things. ; ) Can I copy you?

      Running shoes are an essential no-nonsense buy. I tell myself it’s because I’m preserving my knees and hips. But really, I like the pretty colors.

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