smart spending

Signs your spouse may be ripping you off

The petty thief and the big spender
2 of 7

The sneak: Wendy sneaks money from her husband, Rick, by writing checks for more than the purchase amount and buying goods on a credit card, then returning the items for cash. Rick has his own habit of buying big-ticket items he wants, such as outboard motors, without consulting Wendy.

The reason: Wendy's behavior fits an ancient tradition in which women pilfered money for security in a male-dominated society. "There's a Yiddish word, 'knipples,' which means little pots of money," says Hayden. "If a person pilfers, usually it's a female and I look into how powerless she feels."

Rick's behavior is classically male. "Men do it in larger amounts to show off to their buddies, to be the big man," Hayden says.

Wendy considers her knipples a "balancer" for what she views as Rick's excesses. Rick considers most of Wendy's spending wasteful or frivolous.

The fix: "If we can rebalance it and make everything transparent, it goes away," Hayden says. Wendy and Rick need to acknowledge their spending, respect each other's needs and work toward a yours-mine-and-ours approach to household finances. Communication without recrimination saved this marriage.




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