Ask MP: Husband Is Clueless About Cost

by MP Dunleavey

Ask MP: Husband Is Clueless About Cost

What to do when your husband doesn’t understand the cost of things
My husband doesn’t really get how much things cost, so he thinks I over-spend. Then I lie about prices for the kids’ clothes or activities! Now what?

It’s easy to say that your husband is clueless about the cost of things (and he may be), but “I sense a fundamental disagreement about values,” says Amanda Clayman, a financial therapist based in New York City. He won’t give a thumbs-up for spending on Sally’s piano lessons or her supercute jeans if he doesn’t see the need for lessons or looking trendy. If you can explain your perspective, he may come around. It might be uncomfortable at first, but set up a short weekly meeting to discuss money; keep it to about 15 minutes and start with kid costs. Use practical phrases such as, “I’d like to discuss some of the kids’ upcoming expenses,” and have a list of the concrete prices handy. Then be prepared to hear his side and negotiate a compromise. You’re not the only mom who has fudged the truth, but remember: There’s nothing to be ashamed of in these purchases, so lying isn’t doing anybody any favors. Talking this out is an investment in your relationship.

MP Dunleavey also writes a personal-finance column for The New York Times. Send her your money questions at