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Is your money problem her shoes or his gadgets?

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Last week, we begantalking about the new iPhone and it was clear the guys were the mostenthusiastic. Many of the guys in the group were out to pick up theirs thatvery same day. One of the women began talking about how her husband spends somuch money. This statement caused a lively discussion with the men in thegroup. They mentioned the shoes, handbags, dresses, and other necessities women purchase. Theircomments became quite animated and it was clear that women believe men spendmore on big ticket items and women's purchases are small in comparison.

Market researchpoints to the fact that advertisers and retail outlets are wise to thedifference in men and women shoppers. For example, the guys' store doesn't haveto be pretty nor does it have to have nice sales people for a purchase tohappen. Men want easy parking, short lines, and they want the product in stock.Men are not there to enjoy shopping; they are there to buy the item and getout. Women on the other hand enjoy all the niceties.  Women want the nice sales clerk, the softmusic, and the luxuries of the atmosphere. Shopping is an "experience" to mostwomen, and they don't have to buy anything to have a wonderful time.

Women are shoppingfor family and fashion, men on the other hand are buying the big ticket itemssuch as cars, the biggest screen HDTV they can fit into their home, the newesttechnology, and boats. They may not enjoy shopping, but they do enjoy havingthe latest and the best gadget. This is somewhat individualistic depending onthe man's and woman's lifestyle, but if you talk to married couples you willfind this shopping difference is a form of conflict for many of them.

It doesn't matter ifyou are into the highest heel you can walk in, or the handbag with the greatestdesigner logo: if you buy enough of these items it isn't long before you willbe equal in spending a large sum of money. Frequent smaller scale spending addsup and although your man's expenditure of five thousand with only an hour spentshopping may seem extravagant, you can easily find yourself with two newhandbags and a couple pair of shoes coming close. It may have taken you farmore than an hour to spend your money, but if you make purchases such as thisfrequently throughout the year, you may outspend the five thousand he spent inone hour of shopping.

Financial problemsare one of the three main reasons for divorce (second only to communication andsex) so it is advised that you do have a budget with which you can both liveand work. Below are a few suggestions that will help you budget your shoppingand remain happily together.

  1. Financial experts have suggested thatone of the main ways to stay on track with your marital budget is to havemonthly budget meetings. Talking about what is coming up that must be paid andhaving a plan will help reduce the chance of being in debt. It also helps youshop guilt free if you know up front how much money you can spend.
  2. Make sure you have a separate savingsfor retirement. This should be discussed at least twice a year. This helps thecouple feel as though they are working on a future together and can be oneaspect of your marital vision.
  3. Appoint one of you as the head offinances. This person should be the one who has the greatest insight intomoney, finance and retirement. This helps keep files organized so in the eventthere was a crisis, both people would be able to find organized current filesregarding finances.
  4. If you feel that there are areas of yourbudgeting with which you are weak, then hire a professional. Smart peopleunderstand they cannot be good at everything. It's validating to know thatsomeone who was trained with finances is looking out for your success.
  5. You cannot have everything you want whenyou want it. That new handbag, shoes or TV are not entitlements. Your friendsmay have them, and they may have gone into huge debt to have them, but don'tlet that make you feel less if you don't. The greatest sense of satisfactioncomes from working toward something and earning it. A child should grow out of"I want that now" by the time they are six. It isn't cute to see it in a fortyyear old.

Shopping is an experience for women, andmany women don't have to spend money when they shop. The majority of guys don'tlike shopping, but they do like buying what they want quickly and easily. Aswith all things, the more you communicate with your spouse about why you want aparticular item, budget for it, and then purchase it, the more you both willenjoy it.

–Mary Jo Rapini

Addendum: When women tell their husbands that a particular item ofclothing will make them feel sexier, it is likely he will attempt to purchaseit for her. If you like a particular item, don't hint. Tell him exactly whatyou want; because there is a good chance you are going to get the cheaperversion of it if you don't.  Men shop differentlythan women.

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