(HOW <— we’re starting a bunch of posts with this word to celebrate the launch of our tutorials page.)
A Christmas story, in August.
Last year, a few weeks before Christmas, A-Rob and I were sitting at the kitchen table eating our dinner. The kids, having already picked at at their plates and abandoned us, were off in the distance causing a raucous of one sort or another. A-Rob turned to me and asked, “would you be mad at me if I got you a big present this year?”
Normally, we don’t get each other presents for Christmas, or even birthdays for that matter. Maybe something small if one of us gets inspired, but since we share a bank account and our money seems to always be going to something else, we don’t worry too much about it.
“Ummm, I guess I wouldn’t mind,” I replied, thinking, would I mind? I think I might mind. We’re throwing all our extra money towards our debt right now. Him getting me a big gift would mean less money for the credit card bill. (Plus, I haven’t gotten anything for him.)
A-Rob and I have been married for 8 years now, which means I can pretty much read his mind. When he warned me of his “big present,” I immediately had a few ideas of what it might be.
Actually, I knew exactly what it would be.
You see, I have this netbook computer that I’m not too fond of. I got it a few years ago because it was cheap, and I wanted something simple for writing and internet surfing. But the netbook I purchased came with a lot of frustration. It was slow and buggy and clunky, and the screen was so small it made simple navigation really complicated. It got the job done, but I did my fair share of whining about it.
Then Apple released the iPad, and a little bit of drool started seeping out of the corner of my mouth. A-Rob and I used to kid each other about getting one. Like, “hey, pass the salt and buy me an iPad.”
But I knew having an iPad wasn’t even an option while we were working on paying down debt. It would be silly to own one right now. No, not silly, ludicrous. Then A-Rob starting asking me hypothetical questions, like “if you had an iPad, would you want the one with 3G?”
I bet you can tell where this is going…
Sure enough, as Christmas morning arrived, and A-Rob brought out that flat, rectangular box all wrapped up, my suspicions were confirmed.
He bought me a frickin’ iPad.
A lot of emotions hit me that day as I realized the gravity of this situation. First, I felt a little misunderstood. Doesn’t he know I’d be much happier if that $499 went to the credit card instead of to buying me this sexy gadget?
Then there was denial, evidenced by the fact that I didn’t open the box for two days.
Followed by embarrassment – will I get booed out of the personal finance world for having a $499 toy while blogging about paying off debt?
As the days followed I continued to exist in a state of emotional confusion over this gift. A-Rob, most likely sensing my tension, helped me see the big picture. He told me how excited he was to buy the iPad, how he’d been saving all of his gig money for the last several months for it. He told me he just wanted me to have a good piece of equipment that served my purposes well. He heard my grumblings and wanted to get me something to make me happy.
I’ll repeat that: He wanted to make me happy.
Eventually it hit me. I was being a super fool. Here, I had someone in my life who had given me an awesome gift – one that he saved for and bought with his hard-earned money, one that addressed my needs and my happiness, and I was angry at him for this?
And who am I to begrudge him the joy of giving it to me?
They say that opposites attract. That’s certainly the case with A-Rob and me. I’m a saver, I’ve been one as long as I can remember. And guess what, he’s a spender.
Yes, this caused much tension in the early years of our marriage.
But as time has progressed, I’ve slowly nudged him towards thinking more about what he buys, and saving for the future instead of spending on stuff for instant gratification.
He’s nudged me in a few ways too. He’s the one who suggests we go out for ice cream on the occasional weeknight. And though he’s often met with my protests, I occasionally give in. Without him, our kids would be in danger of a serious lack of fun (and ice cream) if it were all up to me. He reminds me to loosen up and live a little – even if that means spending money.
His spendy ways balance out my thrifty ones, and vice versa. Ultimately we’re turning each other into better humans by embracing our differences.
When I find myself getting frustrated about his spending, I try to remember this fact.
So, now I’m typing on my fancy gadget, and I’m no longer complaining. And since I no longer needed my netbook, I sold it to eBay instant sale for $63.
Would you be mad if you received an expensive gift? Are you in a spender/saver relationship too? How do you manage it?