Will Frugality Cost Me My Relationship?

Unhappy couple listing expensesMy internet router sucks. Every so often I’ll be checking my email or finishing up some really thoughtful comment on someone’s blog and the moment I hit “submit” everything disappears. “Error: no connection found.” I breathe a frustrated sigh and march into the living room to reset the router.

As much as it annoys me, I only consider my crappy router a minor inconvenience. My boyfriend on the other hand, can’t stand it. The inconsistency of the router infuriates him (and he’s not easily angered). He’s been politely suggesting I replace it for months now, but for me, resetting it every day or every other day has always seemed like a much more attractive option than spending $100 on a quality router- at least until I can’t find a more useful way to spend $100. So who really suffers as a result of my rationalizing? My boyfriend. But more importantly- our relationship.

This ridiculous piece of technology that I stubbornly refuse to replace because I don’t want to spend the money creates an ongoing problem. It seems small and stupid, but for the most part, those small and stupid points of contention are where big relationship problems form.

I’d like to say the router has been the only instance of my frugality creating tension in my relationships, but that’s simply not the case. Any time we go out to eat and don’t have a specific place in mind before leaving the house, it turns into a frustrating process. I want affordable, healthy, and vegetarian- a shockingly difficult combination- even in New York City. So we walk around, from menu to menu, as I try to find that perfect balance. Meanwhile, the boyfriend just wants to sit down and eat something (preferably meat), growing increasingly annoyed at my indecision.

I’ve always been an advocate for frugality, and on my own, I fully support my behavior above, but there are increasingly more ways to measure value when you involve more people in the process.

For example, in the case of the router, I have SO many more important projects to spend $100 on right now- the redesign of my website, new professional photos for work, marketing for my new book, etc.- so taking a couple minutes every day to reset that sucker when it goes down is a small sacrifice for keeping that cash available for other higher priority projects. However, the value I’ve failed to weigh in this assessment is that of my relationship and my boyfriend, both of which easily trump any of those aforementioned needs. And because frugality is about maximizing value- monetary and otherwise- replacing the router needs to top the list.

So while I’m all for frugality, I want to make sure I avoid it at the expense of others, because that’s when it becomes cheap. For me, that fine line between frugal and cheap has always been an important distinction. Admittedly there are times when I get so caught up in cutting costs, that I fail to maintain my perspective and teeter on the edge of losing the things I value altogether- like my relationships.

Luckily my boyfriend, though sometimes frustrated by my frugality, understands and respects my values. From date one I’ve been entirely transparent about my financial priorities, to the point that many of my values have rubbed off on him, mostly in a positive way. But when it comes to my darker moments, he’s also there, reminding me to keep things in perspective, making sure I remain frugal rather than regressing to cheap.

By making frugality a common goal from the start of our relationship, moments like the router or looking for dinner become a lesson rather than a threat to our relationship. We learn from one another and help each other grow. Then one day, you come home to a brand new router because there’s no better way to say, “I love you”.


Comments

Will Frugality Cost Me My Relationship? — 16 Comments

  1. I think I must just be a “you know what” because if it bothers him more than me, I’d suggest that he spend his $100 on it. I get annoyed when someone tells me how I should spend my money. But I know I’m probably in the minority on this one.

  2. Balance is the key but if I were you I’d replace that router. Just think how much time you end up “wasting” by having to retype or repost things online. But at the same time I see your points too.

  3. No one is alike and everyone is raised differently. It’s hard to merge anything together in a relationship: time, priorities, and especially finances. If you can overcome and work together on finances you create a pretty strong bond. It takes a life time to learn. Some can change, some compromise and sometimes you move on. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Resetting the router is a painful thing to do over and over again, I’m just wondering how you manage to deal with it. Anyway, I think you get used to it, but you can just save something until you reach the exact amount that you are going to use specifically for buying the new router. Also, your boyfriend loves you so much that he understand you being frugal.

  5. Not getting a consistent Internet connection is one of my biggest pet peeves but there are other things that I don’t mind skimping on that the wife does and vice versa. We just not to try to push each other’s buttons TOO much!

  6. I’ve totally been there with my bf! When it’s not just you anymore, you have to think of others and it can cause a rift. Sometimes my bf thinks I’m too frugal, but other times he helps me be more balanced. But you should improve your router situation — it will help your job! 🙂

  7. Glad to hear you’ve got a new router at long last! I grapple with this balance too. It’s easy for me to get too caught up in being as frugal as possible. Fortunately, Mr. FW reins me in and reminds me that sometimes, money should be spent :). It’s all about communication and balance. Sounds like you’ve got it down!

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