A Couple Fights Over the Back-to-School Budget Despite Having a $2+ Million Net Worth

The best marriages have difficulties, and many challenges often deal with financial situations that must be resolved.  Couples must have conversations about their money handling and deal with disputes when they occur to stay calm through years of potential misunderstanding.

Their Argument

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The OP (original poster) husband turned to an online forum with his frustrations about his fight with his wife over their significant differences in handling their budget for their kids’ back-to-school shopping. She is very frugal, while the OP as breadwinner, asserts they are financially comfortable enough to spend more. There is more to this story, as OP received some helpful but painful advice.   

The Budget Dispute

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 OP and his wife fought over the budget for the back-to-school shopping for their kids on the way to the local mall. While his wife insisted on a strict budget, her husband wanted to get whatever the kids needed or wanted. As a result of OP standing his ground,  his wife jumped out of the car and walked home while he went shopping with the kids for seven hours.

 Financially Comfortable Family

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OP is the breadwinner for their family, has a great job, and makes over $300,000 annually.  His wife is a few years older than him and is a stay-at-home mom.  Throughout their 15 years of marriage, OP says that his wife has been overbearing and feels he reports to her, though she denies it firmly. OP says she benefits from a power imbalance. They have a net worth of over $2 million.

His Wife’s Upbringing

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His wife grew up in a poor family and had difficulty spending money for herself or her family. According to the OP, she is very frugal, doesn’t like spending money herself, and shames and pressures her husband when he spends. OP admits that her frugality is not the worst problem to have in a spouse.

Family Drive To The Mall

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The family was heading to a large local mall with their kids to do school shopping. The budget was discussed in the car. His wife insisted that they should spend $100 for each kid. The OP suggested they be more flexible and get what the kids need and what they might want. OP asks, “Why am I working as hard as I do if I can’t spend the money on my kids from time to time?”

Back-to-School For Kids

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The kids get new things only for back-to-school shopping, and OP says they don’t spoil them. We do not overspend our kids; back-to-school is the only time we get new stuff for our kids.

Their Justifications Differ

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Their argument occurs in the car, in front of kids sitting in the back. Switching gears, OP’s wife says she does the laundry, and the kids already have enough clothes. She claims she would have to do “additional laundry if they buy new clothes.” Many commented that you don’t have more laundry, just different clothes, but her argument may hide other problems. 

As the breadwinner, OP believes he can spend it on their kids “how he sees fit.” He never tried to control or restrict his wife’s spending as she does.

His Wife Heads Home

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His wife snapped, saying, “Fine, you can just go with the kids then and spend to your heart’s content. I don’t want to have anything to do with it.” At the next stop sign, she exited the car, and OP “begged her to get back in.”  After asking her to get back in several times, she refused and walked six miles back home.

OP Shops For the Kids

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OP proceeded to the mall, where he spent seven hours shopping with the kids getting lots of great stuff for school. He insists he didn’t go overboard, but they focused on getting what the kids needed with healthy things they wanted. He asked the online forum for their advice.

A Mixed Verdict 

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Although commenters sided with OP on the budget for back-to-school spending, many thought there were deeper issues that OP needed to address with his wife.

Most agreed that spending just $100 per kid (OP never said how many kids or their ages) is unreasonable in today’s economy and may have needed to be more decades ago. People estimated that a reasonable amount would be in the $300 to $500 range, depending on whether it includes school uniforms, supplies, coats, backpacks, shoes, or computers.  

Overwhelmingly, Redditors thought this argument should have occurred away from the kids. They should have planned their budget ahead of time. The OP’s explanation that the kids were in the back with AC on high and couldn’t hear anything is probably false. Kids are very attuned to parents fighting and saw mom leave the vehicle.

There May Be Bigger Issues That Lurk

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Based on the OP’s account, it is evident that this couple should be on the same page regarding money. His wife’s poor upbringing may play a significant role in her inability to spend money easily for herself or her family. They must deal with this by discussing it more profoundly. She may need help, or they should try marriage counseling.

A few wondered why she was being so restrictive about money and whether she suffered from a traumatic experience about handling money that she could pass on to her kids. If OP was truthful about his income or net worth, they should be living more comfortably and enjoying life. 

A couple of commenters aimed at the OP, wondering what’s up with his language like, “I have always struggled with the feeling as I report to her,” and “I can spend it on their kids ‘how he sees fit.'” Others appeared to have no sympathy for his wife’s upbringing and believed she was “manipulative, controlling, and insufferable.”

What do you think about this story, and is the OP right in his assessment?


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