Side Effect of Being More Frugal – Emotional Spending

Posted by idawrites on April 6, 2008 in Children, Decisions, Family |
On Saturday, I requested (threatened bodily harm unless I got) some alone time. My wonderful husband loaded up all four children, ages 10, 10, 12, and 15 IN 19 DAYS!!, and took them out for the afternoon. First, they tried bowling… no lanes open until 9:30 PM. So, they spent their allotted $10 in quarters at the video arcade and tried to figure out what to do with the rest of their night in exile.

I got a call from Mark just before they left the bowling alley. The new plan was dinner out at Taco Mac so he could watch the basketball game and hang out with the kids. πŸ™‚ This left me at least 2 hours to enjoy my alone time and do all the things I’d been putting off.

I cleaned my bedroom, washed laundry like a fiend, puttered and organized and straightened. I had the iTunes set to shuffle on Mark’s’ computer and the music was cranked. Not exactly the way I THOUGHT I’d enjoy spending a Saturday night, but I’ll take it.

Just as I was finishing my bedroom chores, I got a call from Mark. He and the children were on their way home and they had a surprise for me! πŸ™‚ I had a surprise for them too. Clean laundry and a clean bedroom. When they got home, three of the children grabbed me by the hand and took me to the kitchen, where I was presented with a spring bouquet of flowers and a bar of dark chocolate. I hugged the children and exclaimed that I have the best family ever!

Mark said “uh, you might want to rethink that in a minute.” That’s when I walked into the living room and saw the box… The flowers and chocolate were not a gift.. they were an apology! My family waited until I wasn’t there to say no and bought Rock Band! I’m very proud of myself. I didn’t rant, yell, or otherwise undermine Mark’s purchase. I did, however, pour myself a very large glass of wine and retire to my (now spotless) bedroom to play video games.

My 12 year old daughter, came into the room and her eyes were filled with tears. She is the one who suggested the purchase and felt guilty that it had upset me. I recovered pretty quickly and asked her how much it cost. When she said it was $170 dollars, I just smiled and said “That’s OK, it’s the family entertainment budget for the next month. Now … go play your game! Enjoy it and get all the use out of it you can because we’re not going out to do other things for a while.”

When she left, Mark came into the room. There was very little spoken. I understand what happened. He knew it was a purely emotional purchase. Sometimes, he just feels so badly for having to say no and be practical all the time that he makes large impulsive purchases. I feel that way sometimes myself, but I’m better about keeping a grip on it. I’m sure it’s a pretty common phenomenon in people who are making the move to more frugal living. We just resolve to do better next time and move on.

On the upside, it’s a FABULOUS game. The entire family gets to play at once. There is noise and laughter and real family time going on. They played until 1 AM. πŸ˜‰ Of course, nobody has beaten my score for vocals on Wanted, Dead or Alive!


  • mydailydollars says:

    Wow! I’m impressed by how you handled the situation. Explaining that this money will have to come out of the entertainment budget was a great way to hold your family accountable for the purchase. I know as I make the shift to a more frugal lifestyle, it’s important to find ways to turn the setbacks into something positive.

  • Pam at MoneyListens says:

    I’m also impressed at your patience. We have the rule that we don’t buy anything over $100 without the other’s consent. Do you do this, too, or did he just break the rule?

  • Momma says:


    We don’t have any rules like that. We may eventually need one, but luckily this is an exception and not the rule. We generally talk through any purchases like this before they happen. Maybe we’ll have to look at one moving forward though!

    Thanks for the read and the comment πŸ™‚

  • Momma says:


    Thanks for stopping by and the comment! It was definitely not easy to be so understanding, but when it comes down to it, I don’t ever want my kids feeling responsible for an adult spending decision. But it will hopefully make them consider the price tag of things they ask for in the future.

  • Monroe on a budget says:

    I’m glad the video game is something you can all enjoy and use!

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