Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Opposites Attract When it Comes to Money

My other half is a kind, considerate and generous person. I love him very much. But, my God, when it comes to keeping to a budget he drives me to total distraction. Our wildly conflicting ideas around the concept of budgeting were brought into sharp focus following a recent shopping trip he made to pick up the week's groceries. I drew up a list, I supplied him with a wad of coupons, I told him not to deviate from the list. I know I'm sounding patronising here, but I have the family food shop down to a fine art and do not relinquish control of this costly exercise easily. It's not that I particularly enjoy food shopping but I do take some small pleasure in knowing I've got a few quid off here and there and there's nothing like picking up a bunch of beautiful flowers at closing time for a quarter of the normal price. It feels like a small victory over the 'Man' (or CEO of Tesco), as it were.

My other half, however, takes a much more cavalier attitude to food shopping, clothes shopping, indeed any kind of shopping. On returning from the supermarket he blithely informed me he'd forgotten to use the coupons (including a whopping £5 off voucher)and had topped up the essentials I'd written on the list with some choice items from the 'Finest' range. No bog standard chocolate digestives for him, it's all about the Belgian double-choc cookie. Branded goods are his go-tos whereas I gravitate to the 'no frills' alternatives that I reckon do the job just fine. As more and more indulgent treats stacked up on the kitchen counter I was struck by just how different we are when it comes to spending money. It's not a deal-breaker for us, as when it comes to the 'big stuff' - pensions and savings, for example - we are more in step with each other. But when it comes to the more everyday expenses we couldn't be more different. 

Unusually for a man, my other half can find a shopping opportunity literally anywhere. Not content with coughing up for his twice-yearly dental appointment he'll merrily come back from the dentist with a selection of 'dental accessories' - toothbrushes, toothpastes and floss, purchased at twice the price of the supermarket. To be fair, perhaps this is his version of 'shopping local'. He can splurge in the unlikeliest of places, from the Post Office to Pets at Home. A trip to buy a packet of screws from the hardware shop might see him return with a full compliment of power tools. You couldn't call it wild extravagance, but it doesn't exactly aid any efforts to bring down the monthly overdraft.

Clothes shopping follows a similar pattern. Men just don't seem able to entertain the idea of shopping in a mid-market shop, say Topman or Next. For women there's no stigma in flaunting an amazing top bought for a tenner from New Look while most men I know seem reluctant to show off their cheap 'n' cheerful bargains. For me, a trawl around a charity shop holds the romantic possibility of unearthing some fabulous vintage gem, while my mystified husband views the activity as nothing more than poking about in someone else's unwanted tat. He usually buys things at full price, I rarely do. Opposites attract and all that.

In fact, that is exactly the point. He's the counterpoint to my sometimes austere self, encouraging me to live a little and splash out from time to time. I have to admit I can see his point that buying cheap is sometimes false economy, particularly when I'm consigning another cheap buy to to the charity shop pile after just a few wears. But I'd also like to think my bargain-hunting helps to keep the family coffers relatively healthy, making luxuries like holidays and weekends away a little more justifiable. 

And for all his laissez-faire attitude to household expenditure, there is one area where my husband is a money-saving powerhouse - white goods and technology. Only the other day he saved us over £100 by painstakingly fixing a broken iPhone and thanks to hours of research on the net has avoided costly plumber call-outs by doing a DIY fixing job when our washer-dryer has (frequently) given up the ghost. But I think, for the time being, I'd better stick to doing the food shopping and booking the holidays...

1 comment

  1. Just trying to do my bit for the economy...its for the greater good!


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