What To Do When a Couple Doesn’t Agree on a Large Purchase

wpid-2014-11-30-17.19.40.png.pngI have a financial confession. This weekend my husband went out and bought a new, over-the-top television. Did we need one? Nope. Did my husband really want one? Yup. Could we have used this money in other ways? Yup again. But we didn’t. While my frugal heart strings were pulled really tight as he rang the purchase up, I didn’t have much to say about the matter.

My husband, the main TV watcher in the family, has been pining for a new TV for about two years now, always (realistically) putting his desires aside so we could reach our financial goals. A few months ago when while visiting family, my husbands desire increased exponentially while playing with his grandfather’s new super-duper 60’’ TV (with me rolling my eyes at every praise he mentions). It took some time, but I accepted that he really wants this, probably as much as I want our debt paid off, so we needed to compromise.

Given the size of the purchase, we really needed to discuss the purchase. While we don’t consult on every purchase, anything more than about $50 we at least mention to the other person regardless of its ‘’importance’’. We have 100% combined finances and needless to say, I’d notice if he just went and dropped $1,000 on a television without talking to me. After I got over the initial stage of acceptance, we needed to come up with a plan to make us both happy.

There was no way I was going to allow our regularly budgeted funds to be used for such an unnecessary purchase, nor was my husband asking us to compromise any one thing or any goals. We wouldn’t be using budgeted Christmas funds or extra debt money for this purchase which left us with one option. We’d need to earn it over and above our regular funds and additional debt payments. I say we but I mean he.

Though our funds are combined, we have to agree on all family purchases and this was, and still is in my mind, an unnecessary purchase. But guess what? There is two of us in this marriage and just because we’re together doesn’t mean I get to make all the decisions. I could just as easily spend $1,000 on new stuff for the house like bedding and casserole dishes, things my husband couldn’t care at all about, it goes both ways. Our rule is that if we want something that we do not agree on as a couple, we have to earn it outside our regular family money or income, which he did.

My husband has been working a ton of overtime and travel, both of which he gets additional income for. Though we could have used this money for debt, we were still on track for our monthly target which keeps me happy. While I’d love to have put that money onto our debt as well it was his money and he could do what he wanted with it.

With a plan in place we were able to execute both additional debt payments (or in the case of this month, additional savings- more on that later) as well, he got his big ‘ol TV. While it’s ‘’his baby’’ I’d be lying if I didn’t say watching sports on it is pretty spectacular (Shhhh don’t tell him I said so!).

How do you manage purchases you and your spouse don’t agree on?

Enjoy Plunged in Debt?


Subscribe to get our latest content by email.

Powered by ConvertKit


  1. I think your solution was good. I totally do not watch tv and when we moved we did not get cable/dish or anything so the tv would be on. We both sit down at the beginning of the year and write a small list of 5 goals we want to reach, then we arrange them in order of importance. Finally we sit down together and compare our lists and agree (note that it takes agreement) on the top two we will aim for. Usually we end up with one from each of our lists. Since we are striving to pay off our home within 6 years and we pay cash for goals it simplifies the process for us.

  2. Hi Catherine,

    I applaud you for the way to addressed this situation. I definitely agree with your reasoning. Paying down your debts and increasing your savings are all very important but every once in a while I believe it’s ok to make a big ticket item and especially so if you know it is deserved.

    No one wants to be so constrained that they can’t purchase something from time to time that they really desire and are willing to put in the hard work to purchase. Since your husband has been working so much overtime and traveling, I am glad you took a step back and desired to come up with compromising solutions.

    I would hope he would do the same thing if you came to him and wanted all new kitchen appliances. He may not be interested, but as your husband he would hopefully realize “a happy wife makes for a happy life”,

    I have a 60″ also that I purchased last year at this very same time and it is really enjoying to watch sports on it. I am happy you took the time to share your story. I hope you enjoy watching your tv shows on it also.

  3. Easy – just settle it with a game of rock, paper, scissors! Maybe a best of 3 if you want to be sure!! 🙂

    Seriously, I think you tackled it perfectly. Marriage (both related to finances or not) is about compromise. As long as you can both agree before hand, then its not a bad thing to treat yourself to something that one of you REALLY wants.

    We both have our big “wants”, but we keep a 30-day list for anything over £50 and a 90 day list for anything over £100, which means that we can’t buy anything until we have wanted it for at least this amount of time. This helps ourselves (and each other) be sure that we really do want (need) to have these things.

  4. Fortunately for us, we tend to agree on the most large purchases; however, in the past my hubby was almost too agreeable and that led to us spending more than we should have. Now we are focused on paying for college for my son and financial freedom, so anything that gets in the way of that has to be pretty compelling for us to make the purchase. Having the joint goals definitely makes the money decisions easier.

  5. If it were us, I would have worked an amount into our budget for this big purchase. Sure, he would have had to wait a while to get it, but since you said he’s been pining for a new TV for 2 years now, that would have been plenty of time to save up for it. Big purchases are a part of life, and sometimes they’re way more important to one spouse than the other. But life is too boring if you only ever buy the things you need. It’s good to (plan for and) purchase some of those “wants” as well.

  6. We have a pretty similar method for purchasing individual wants. What is it about televisions though?! We have a really nice one and my husband still talks about upgrading! yeah, no!

  7. The good news is that you’re still on track. I believe while being on a tight budget it is so important to reward yourself sometimes. We know how men are so I’m sure your husband was ecstatic to drive that TV home, but rewarding yourself during the process will feel like a reward and in turn make you not feel constrained to Budget. Having a budget is wonderful, but having a budget with no reward is hell.

  8. That’s fantastic you were able to compromise like that! I have to agree with you – the only way I’d be comfortable with a large purchase like that is if we earned even more, and if our debt repayment goals weren’t pushed aside for it. I’m very thankful my fiance is pretty frugal, but when he won a new TV at a work event, he was super excited, whereas I didn’t see the need for it. At least it was free in that case, but I totally understand where you’re coming from!

  9. Jon @ Money Smart Guides says

    We have a system much like yours where we consult the other person if anything is over $100.

    As for your approach, I think it is a great one. Sometimes, in life and in marriage, you have to compromise. You might not get any joy out of the new TV, but your husband will and if he is a good man, he will thank you for compromising and understanding. In the future, when the roles are reverses, he can do the same for you.

  10. My husband still thinks he is a poor college kid so he rarely wants anything expensive. That helps. I don’t think there’s anything with splurging from time to time, though. As long as it doesn’t get out of hand! =)

  11. We’ll come to some sort of agreement, either that we don’t get it, or if we do, that maybe the next large purchase gets a bigger vote by the dissenting person. In the 7+ years we’ve been married, this has worked out well 99% of the time, and the other 1% have been learning experiences 🙂

  12. I and my wife have been to this situation. There are times that one of us get angry because of not being informed that the other one has purchased something costly. It’s really a problem, but we work so hard so we feel that we deserve it.

  13. This is an interesting topic. My wife and I think the same way about finances. It doesn’t mean we always agree…we just picked out a dining room table and I wanted one and my wife liked another…she won because honestly deep down I just don’t care that much…it’s a table after all. It’s funny because sometimes we call each other about a $10 purchase and ask if it’s okay. We hardly need to check with each other but it is just habit. Our main problem is gifts for each other when there is no consulting…I can go overboard and usually my wife says, “I like it, but don’t need it, you can take it back on your way to work today.” I’ve done that several times. Great topic and discussion. Can’t let items and stuff get in the way of more important things like our marriages and relationships.

  14. Sounds like you have a system that works. My wife and I generally talk to each other about any purchase, and ones that are large are either accounted for in the budget, or we adjust discretionary categories to make room, or we use “extra income” like you mention. But really all of our large purchases have been joint ones, even if one person wants it a bit more than the other. If we had a serious disagreement over a big purchase, we’d have to find some sort of compromise.


  1. […] for my husband and me to get on the exact same page. Heck we still don’t agree on everything, like the TV he decided to buy, but we have a system in place that works for our family and that’s the important […]

  2. […] What To Do When a Couple Doesn’t Agree on a Large Purchase from Plunged In Debt […]

Speak Your Mind