Honesty is the best policy

Posted January 25th, 2006 by Penny Wise

Frugal school holidays or not, I still found doing the January bills somewhat painful! I had to chuckle when I read the latest Sad Sally story in the January newsletter. There really are people like that out there - I should know, I was a prime example not so long ago! I remember shortly after joining Simple Savings, I read something which implied couples would enjoy a happier relationship if they were not bogged down with financial worries. To be honest I was quite indignant - what on earth did money have to do with marital happiness? What about love and all the warm fuzzy stuff? Did that not come into it?

A year or so down the track, I know exactly what it means. When my Sad Sally phase was at its worst, I knew every trick in the book to cover up my spending. I hid credit card statements. Every time Noel questioned me about my purchases, the prices I had paid would miraculously drop by 50%. I was a master of subterfuge. I would actually lay awake at night worrying what would arrive in the mail on weekends when Noel was home - what if he got his hands on anything incriminating before I could grab it and snaffle it away? I was so adept at intercepting the mail that I actually convinced my poor husband that we no longer received bank statements now we had access to Internet banking, so terrified was I that he would discover the evidence of my uncontrollable spending printed in black and white.

Things came to a head shortly before starting my blog last year. We had spent a week at the beach and I had blissfully floated my way around the local craft shops and art galleries while Noel and the boys were at the beach. I bought anything and everything from hideously expensive giant seashells to candles, incense sticks, artwork, crystals, bath stuff and a big red vase. By the end of the week, I had managed to spend no less than $500 and I had a whole bunch of absolutely useless rubbish to show for it. I couldn't believe I had done it - there we were trying our best to save money and thanks to me we were now $500 worse off. I was eaten up with guilt over the weeks that followed. The bills were due and I was going to have to front up about how we came to be so short of money. In the end I could stand it no more and after a sleepless night, I woke Noel from his peaceful slumber to bawl noisily all over him. 'I've got something to tell you!' I wailed. 'What is it, can't it wait?' he mumbled. 'No - I have a confession to make. It's been building up for ages and I have to tell you right now!' I continued bravely in the dark.

Noel sat bolt upright. 'What is it? What have you done?' Heaven only knows what he thought I was going to come out with - I think he was expecting me to reveal I was having a sordid affair with the mailman or something, so he was rather taken aback when I blurted out, 'I spent $500 just on things all for myself when we were away at the beach and it was a load of crap and it was such a selfish thing to do and I'm so sorry and I'll never do it again!' 'Is that it?' replied Noel, incredulous. 'Did you have to pick three o'clock in the morning to tell me?' 'I'm sorry, I just couldn't hold it in any longer, I felt so guilty' I sniffled. 'For goodness sake you silly moo, I know you spent heaps, I'm not stupid! Just don't do it again or I won't be so understanding. Can I go back to sleep now?'

And that was it. Right there and then I vowed never to lie about my spending again and I have stuck to it. I'm still in charge of bill paying and book keeping, but these days I share everything with Noel, so we both know how much we have at all times and how much we need. The Bill Payment System shows us both where our money is going and mistakes are few and far between. Noel knows how hard I am trying and how seriously I take saving money now and nothing is hidden. Whoever wrote that stuff about money and relationships was right - it's like a huge weight is off my shoulders and I have nothing to feel guilty about. Consequently I'm happy and content, secure in the knowledge that I'm trying my best, and I think Noel and the boys would agree a stress free, guilt free wife and Mum is much nicer to live with. I still throw the bank statements away before Noel gets a chance to read them, but only because we don't need them any more - thanks to the Bill Payment System, we know everything in them already!

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