A Costly Financial Mistake All Because My Wife Ignored Me

weber performer grillBy nature I am quite a frugal person. I don’t splurge on purchases all that often especially when it comes to bigger ticket items. It sounds geeky and boring, but I get more excited about building up savings or working towards financial independence than I do about getting the latest and greatest gadget, car, or clothes. However, back in 2009, I did go on a bit of a spending spree (though it was probably pretty tame compared to most people’s shopping adventures). You see, we had just lost a great deal of our household items due to contamination from the mold infestation in our recently foreclosed upon home and needed to replace some stuff. Also, I had landed a better paying job after getting laid off the previous year. Despite still facing a huge battle against massive student loans, I was feeling a bit cheery at the time. Perhaps it was a form of therapy or release for me since I’d been dealing with so much stress. Nonetheless, I threw “caution to the wind” (I’ve put this in quotes because, as you read on, you’ll notice the irony of using this cliché) and opened up my wallet. My purchases included:

The grill was fantastic and was a great purchase. If you’re like me, you prefer the flavor of charcoal grilling but don’t like the hassle involved: lighting the briquettes and then waiting forever for them to heat up, having the charcoal not fully catch the flames and then go out, resorting to using lighter fluid which compromises taste, etc. This Weber grill allows you to fire it up via a normal propane connection which then fuels the charcoal until the briquettes are ready to go. It saves so much time and is quite convenient. I highly recommend it. Why I am going off on a tangent about a grill? Because we spent just under $400 on it and now it’s completely ruined – all because my wife just wouldn’t listen to me!

What the Heck Happened?

We live in a second floor unit and have a front patio and stairwell all to ourselves. There’s also a fairly small back patio which we had mostly used as storage space including for the Weber grill (we aren’t allowed to use it at our current complex). One day in late August, my wife shared her idea about clearing the back patio out and transforming it a cozy “deck” where we could enjoy an evening cocktail or a morning breakfast. My immediate response was, “That sounds like a great idea, but I don’t think there’s room to store the grill anywhere else especially in the garage. So, before you do anything, you must find space to store it.” She readily agreed and off she went to excitedly plan everything with her sister and friend. I came home the next day and, lo and behold, the back patio was cleared, cleaned, and looking very inviting with some comfortable chairs, bamboo siding to cover the rails, a little glass table, and some nice looking lights. I was impressed. Except, how did she find room for everything that had been stored there previously – particularly the grill? The front patio of course! I complimented my wife on a job well done, but firmly reminded her the grill could not stay on the front porch. I also re-voiced my concern about there not being sufficient storage space elsewhere. She passively said she’d take care of it. Nothing happened. This process repeated several times over the ensuing weeks. Then, as fortune would dictate, we had an extremely windy day here in northern California. It’s not uncommon for the winds to kick up around here, but such ferocious winds usually accompany a storm system. On this particular day, which was sunny and clear otherwise, gusts of over 50 mph were occurring. Crash, boom, bang. Yep, the gusts were strong enough to blow the grill about 3 feet forward (it was on wheels) and then down the stairs it went…plummeting all the way to its demise. As you can see from the picture it was a gruesome scene (people, please don’t let your bbq’s or grills look at the screen 😉 ).

financial mistakeNeedless to say, I was hopping mad. Without hesitation I cast all the blame on my wife. Why hadn’t she just listened to my repeated requests and warnings? Look what’s happened and it’s all her fault. What a stupid $400 mistake that was completely unnecessary and completely avoidable. Boy was I ready to give her an earful.

How to Handle Costly Financial Mistakes Made by Your Spouse

In retrospect, I did not handle this situation as cleanly as I could have. No, my wife and I didn’t have a blowout argument. However, I did send a few terse – perhaps unkind – words her way when she arrived home from work. It’s one thing to make an innocent blunder I thought at the time, but she purposefully ignored me and that’s what lead to the loss. Should she have been more responsible? Yes. However, I should have been more mature in how I reacted. So, how should I have handled the situation? After some reflection, I’ve realized how I could have approached things differently.

  • Don’t lash out – It’s so easy to react in the heat of the moment. When you let this happen, you usually end up regretting what you say or do. Understand that lashing out ultimately doesn’t make you feel any better and it usually only intensifies the problem instead of relieving it.
  • Deal with your emotions internally first – Yeah, you’re irate. Yes, it’s their fault. How could they have made such a ridiculous mistake? You’ll be better off if you sort through your feelings and emotions before approaching your partner. Try to make your thoughts match your emotions so you don’t convey the wrong messages.
  • Take some time to calm down – Cooler heads prevail. If you let some time pass you might be able to overcome initial, unnecessary negative emotions. Forcing yourself to take a cooling off period will help you to accomplish the first objective listed above in not lashing out. That said, don’t let things fester either. Pent up anger or frustration can have a detrimental impact too.
  • Don’t guilt or hold things against them – Holding grudges never works. Neither does rubbing their face in the mistake. Don’t constantly remind them of their error. They’re obviously aware and probably feel awful already.
  • Don’t try to even things up or keep a tally – This may sound ridiculous, but sometimes resentment can make us do foolish things. While you probably won’t be tempted to take purposeful revenge, you could find yourself being careless or lackadaisical in manners that could hurt your partner especially if you feel extremely slighted by their mistake. It’s just not worth it to keep a scorecard.
  • Rationally explain – Raised voices, yelling, cursing, incoherent rants…what does that accomplish? Nothing positive. Sure, you can still voice displeasure – that’s healthy. But do your best to explain your stance and feelings in a rational manner. Doing so will improve the chances of a solution to prevent future similar occurrences.
  • Shoulder some of the blame yourself – Hmm, are you partially culpable too? In my situation, while the onus was on my wife for taking care of the grill since the patio project was hers, I could have stepped in and tried to find storage space too. I didn’t. So, in a roundabout way, the grill’s destruction is partly my fault as well. Using this line of thinking might help to alleviate any anger you have towards your loved one.
  • If the mistakes are more serious then evaluate the need to get outside help – Ok, so I’m lamenting the loss of a grill that would cost close to $400 to replace. While it’s a blow to a family that’s trying to be as fiscally fit as possible to reach its financial goals, it’s not the end of the world. If the financial mistakes are of a more serious nature though and you’re unable to work through the issue, then you might want to consider seeking outside assistance whether that be financial or relationship counseling.
  • Learn to forgive – Finally, learn to forgive. You’re far from perfect and have faults too. You’ve made dumb financial moves before and will in the future. Once the problem is fully addressed, even if there is no perfect solution, then move on. “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Has your spouse or significant other ever made a financial mistake that’s infuriated you? Was the mistake something that could have been avoided had there been better communication or action on their part? How did you handle it? Do you agree with these tips? Do you have any to add?

28 Responses to A Costly Financial Mistake All Because My Wife Ignored Me

  1. E.M. December 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    That is a difficult situation to be in! I am sure a lot of us would be quick to get angry or annoyed, but as I was reading I was thinking about your point that you could have done something, too. Normally if I ask my boyfriend to do something numerous times, I’ll end up doing it because it gets tiring. These are all great tips, though.

    We have separate finances right now, but yes, my boyfriend has made some bad financial decisions in the past, and I’ve felt dismayed about it. In reality, he already felt bad enough, so me feeling bad didn’t help anything. That goes along with holding back from rubbing their face in the mistake.
    E.M. recently posted…November Budget ReviewMy Profile

    • Mr. Utopia December 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      Yes, kicking the other person while they’re down is never any good. To me, if a financial mistake results from trying your best or making an honest effort then it’s a learn and move on situation. However, if it results from carelessness or laziness – especially when someone else was advising you otherwise – then it’s different. Nonetheless, you’ve still got to keep things in perspective when reacting.

  2. Tie the Money Knot December 5, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    That’s a good story, and I was actually getting a bit annoyed on your behalf reading it 🙂 That being said, when I’ve gotten upset at such things, I always remember that I’ll probably make mistakes too in the future. During those times, you want her to be kind back…which puts into perspective why it’s fair to be understanding when she makes silly mistakes too. Seems like you’ve got the right idea by thinking about things the way you are – particularly the forgive and forget part.
    Tie the Money Knot recently posted…Can Being a Mother Set You Up for Poverty?My Profile

    • Mr. Utopia December 6, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

      Ha, thanks for getting annoyed for me. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes is always a good idea for just about any contentious situation. I can’t say that I always remember to do so, but it’s definitely something to aspire to.

  3. jp @cashsnail December 6, 2013 at 5:53 am #

    Another tip is to have a good friend to whom you can complain and that will explain you that it’s not the end of the world 🙂
    The money loss is usually not worth getting a sour relationship for a “stupid” fight…
    jp @cashsnail recently posted…Immigration or fountain of cash ?My Profile

    • Mr. Utopia December 6, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      Very true – having a confidant to vent to can be quite healthy.

  4. Emily @ evolvingPF December 6, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    Dude, are you serious? I think you need to shoulder the majority of the blame here as clearly you cared more than your wife about the grill. Why did you nag her for weeks to move it instead of just doing it yourself?? That’s a very minor part of the overall work that needed to be done for the back patio, which you are likely enjoying from time to time. When you saw that finding the storage space wasn’t a priority for her, you should have done it yourself. I don’t think you have a leg to stand on here in your complaining.

    I am sorry that your grill was destroyed, but I just think that if you care a lot about an item you won’t put the responsibility to take care of it onto someone else who cares much less.
    Emily @ evolvingPF recently posted…November 2013 Month in Review: MoneyMy Profile

    • Mr. Utopia December 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

      I guess a blog hasn’t “made it” until it gets it’s first official fully dissenting comment! Thanks, Emily! 😉

      I didn’t necessarily spell it out in the article, but my wife cared about the grill just as much as I did – maybe even more. She did a fair amount of grilling on it over the years too and prefers charcoal flavor probably more than I do. Technically, I bought it out of my funds back before we were married. But, our finances are almost completely pooled nowadays, so it was definitely a “team loss.” Plus, even if the grill was solely my “baby”, don’t you think that would have been just as, if not more, disrespectful on her part?

      The decision to transform the back patio was a joint one and my consent was conditional upon the grill being relocated to a new storage spot – a spot which I believed did not exist. In other words, my answer was “no” to the patio transformation unless storage space was found and it was moved. That condition was never met. My wife never asked me if I would do it. As I admitted in the article, I could have taken action afterward to find space elsewhere (although there was none) or to move it and, as a result, do shoulder some of the blame. But none of it ever would have happened had she adhered to the original stipulations.

      As I also stated, we are only out a $400 asset. The apocalypse is not upon us and I don’t believe I made it sound that way. It’s still something I wanted to share, though, because I’m sure many other couples out there encounter similar situations. I find it hard to believe you would be so nonchalant if someone ignored your up front requirement and the end result was a financial loss, but to each their own!

  5. Little House December 9, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    We have that exact grill and I have to say that Mr. LH doesn’t allow me to touch it – I don’t really cook in general, so it’s probably for the best. With that said, I think I have to agree with Emily, why didn’t you step in and find a place for the grill if it just sat their for weeks? When it comes to items you both care about, if one person is lazy about taking care of something, the other should step in – that’s how marriages work, dude. Sorry about your grill, I’m sure your wife is just as mad at herself.
    Little House recently posted…Sponsored Video: Using Credit Cards Responsibly During the HolidaysMy Profile

    • Mr. Utopia February 25, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

      Fair enough, Little House. As I mentioned in the article and in my response to Emily, I am “big enough” to shoulder some of the blame since I freely admit I had opportunities to move the grill (although, once again, there was no where to move it to!). That said, while I do agree that marriage requires each spouse to “have each others back” when required, I still feel validated in the ranges of emotions I experienced (including the blame, frustration, etc.) and the lessons learned from the situation.

  6. Money Beagle December 10, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    I sort of thought the same thing as another commenter, that if the grill was your baby, you could have been a tad more involved with finding it a new home, especially considering that your wife did what sounds like a great job on the back porch. It wasn’t like she just said that she was moving the grill and did nothing else, she actually did something pretty cool. So, I think you get at least 50% of the blame as your contribution to your wife’s hard work could have been to handle that one piece.

    With that said, I think you make some great points about how to handle the situation in a way that doesn’t hurt your marriage.
    Money Beagle recently posted…After Fourteen Years, It’s Time For GlassesMy Profile

    • Mr. Utopia February 25, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

      I definitely didn’t intend to belittle or take away from the patio transformation that my wife and friends did. It was a nice “upgrade.” And, yes, as I’ve indicated I could have been more proactive in relocating the grill. Still though, if you conditionally consent to something and then the condition isn’t honored, wouldn’t you be a tad bit irked if the end outcome was costly? But yes, I hope the points I offered can be helpful to others even if it doesn’t involve the loss of a grill!

  7. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply December 11, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    Hey look on the bright side, the grill didn’t crash into the BMW parked there. Great post and I loved the tips, probably need to follow them better. I don’t usually blow up, but I’m not the greatest communicator and I can be passive-aggressive when I’m unhappy about an expenditure. I need to work on that!
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…Save Money While Holiday ShoppingMy Profile

    • Mr. Utopia February 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

      Thanks, Andrew, for pointing out that the situation could have been much more costly! I didn’t even think about the grill crashing into a car even though it came really close. My renter’s insurance would have hopefully covered it, but I’m sure there would have been a deductible and perhaps future rate increases as a result. Thanks for the “glass half full” sentiments!

  8. Jen @ Frugal Rules December 14, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    After all that has been said and done, surely there’s a lesson learned in this story. Sadly, it had to happen to you and the missus but on a positive note, you and her will now know how not to be in the same situation or something similar again.
    Jen @ Frugal Rules recently posted…Shout Out Saturday #46My Profile

    • Mr. Utopia February 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

      Quite true. There are lessons to be learned in nearly every life experience. It’s just a matter of taking the time to reflect on them.

  9. Untemplater December 15, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    Oh man, what a bummer! I hate it when things break, especially when it could have been avoided. But things could have been much worse, so it’s good you didn’t blow up about it. It’s crazy how strong wind can be. We get that where I am too. I’ve had a porch umbrella fall over multiple times and now it’s broken, doh.
    Untemplater recently posted…How To Go From Mediocre To RemarkableMy Profile

    • Mr. Utopia February 25, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

      Batten down the hatches, right? I never would have thought non-storm winds like that in Northern Cali would be strong enough to move a pretty heavy grill. Don’t mess with mother nature 🙂

  10. MonicaOnMoney December 16, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    I have a feeling that you’ll remember this lesson for a long time! Thanks for sharing this, great article.
    MonicaOnMoney recently posted…How My PT Cruiser Saved Me $27,600My Profile

    • Mr. Utopia February 25, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

      Without a doubt, Monica.

  11. Elroy December 16, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    One thing that would get my wife up in arms is if I made a blog post titled “A Costly Financial Mistake All Because My Wife Ignored Me” I probably would have phrased it, “A costly Financial Mistake All Because I didn’t communicate well with my wife.” 🙂
    Elroy recently posted…Saving OutMy Profile

    • Mr. Utopia February 25, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      Yeah, I was going to go with the title you suggested, but it surpassed the character limit so I had to resort to the backup title option! Kidding aside, point taken.

      Fortunately, I don’t think my wife is an avid reader of my site 😉

  12. Jon@2-copper-coins.com January 8, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    I think what I’m hearing you say is “offer grace to your spouse.” This is super important in a financial conflict, like what you two found yourselves in. I think that one of the worst things I did early in my marriage was keep a tally of when each of us had made a financial mistake. I did that right up until I had to tell my wife that $2000 of my student loan debt was due to my mismanagement of a credit card I had in college. I learned the humbling lesson then that you shouldn’t ever keep track of fiscal mistakes. A short memory makes situations like smooth over much more quickly. Did your wife accept your apology?
    Jon@2-copper-coins.com recently posted…Can I Manage My Own Money?My Profile

    • Mr. Utopia February 25, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

      Yes, my wife and I “kissed and made up.” There really are no lingering feelings except the occasional lamenting that the grill is no longer with us to provide savory grilled foods.

      You’re absolutely right about not keeping tallies. That’s a recipe for disaster. In such a case, “winning” is really “losing” in the end.

  13. Marissa@Thirtysixmonths February 8, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    As a wife, consulting first your husband before purchasing any product is very important. This is not only to show respect but also to discuss things first and not wasting money. In doing so we maintain peace at home and save more money :).

    • Mr. Utopia February 25, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

      It’s definitely healthy to discuss all major purchases with your spouse before going through with any decision.

  14. Ryan @ Impersonal Finance February 27, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    I’ve learned to not lash out at my wife. She’s been known to make a finnancial mistake or two, but I’m not perfect either. Usually when something totally avoidable that I warned her about happens, she already feels awful, so there’s not much point in me piling on. As long as you use it as a learning experience, it’s all good.
    Ryan @ Impersonal Finance recently posted…study failure as you do successMy Profile

    • Mr. Utopia February 27, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

      You’re right, no one is perfect and I certainly don’t think I am or pretend to be. Dealing with your emotions when instances like this happen is still a real thing though and, because I am not perfect, it’s all to easy to have those angry/upset feelings arise! Lessons learned are important though…as with anything in life.

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