Inside His Head: Boys and their toys


Time for another installment of  “Inside His Head”! This month’s question is about husbands, money and the toys they still enjoy.

If you’ve got a question for our anonymous panel of husbands, send it to and it could be answered in this monthly feature.

Q: In our relationship, I’d say that I’m the saver and my husband is the spender. He recently bought a new “toy” for himself that was pretty expensive and didn’t talk it over with me first. We normally talk about it if one of us is going to spend over about maybe $200. Would you consider it unreasonable if your wife expected you to talk to her first about buying gear/gadgets/toys for yourself?

greg1thumbnail.jpgGRAY: Like the dieter who longs for a cheeseburger while they spoon another bite of grapefruit from its rind, everyone ought to indulge a little from time to time. Rewarding ourselves is what makes life fun and makes shouldering the long-term goals less burdensome. OK, with that out of the way, let me share the accompanying rules:

The Real Price: If, like a college student racking up a credit card charges, buying the toy compromises your lifestyle it’s a poor choice. The price could be not reaching a savings goal you talked about or not
having enough in next week’s grocery budget, but if the real price exceeds the actual cost then you’ve crossed the line.

Recognize Rudeness: While being indulgent in moderation is a good thing, know the difference between indulgence and being inconsiderate. You might ask yourself when your partner last got rewarded for doing everything they do. If you continually go out and get toys for yourself, you might find they’re of little solace if that’s all you end up with. Always be truthful with yourself about how you’d feel if
the tables were turned and let it be your guide.

And don’t forget those hackneyed phrases like “good things come to those who wait,” because now that you’ve bought that toy, you’ve also eliminated an excellent birthday or holiday gift for someone to surprise you with. Sometimes it’s good to sit back and eat another grapefruit. Not only is it good for you, but it makes that cheeseburger taste even better when you get there.

johnthumbnail1.jpgMAVERICK: Generally speaking, yeah, it’s unreasonable.

What men hear when women expect them to justify their hobby expenses is simple: I don’t want you to have any fun.

Most guys have hobbies and hobbies cost money. If the hobby keeps him happy and engaged and he’s not putting your family in a financial bind with his spending, does it really matter that he doles out more money on stuff and toys than you do?

When you’re talking spending money for hobbies or other pursuits, neither spouse should have to justify choices to the other — as long as those costs aren’t cutting into family bills, perks like vacations or serious stuff like retirement. Just because one spouse doesn’t do anything, or has low cost hobbies, say, watching paint dry, it should not preclude the other spouse from spending some cash in search of fun.

And remember, men’s hobbies tend to focus on things that have tangible value, so the toys and gear become assets. A $500 rifle will be a $500 rifle forever, or maybe will go up in value.

In turn, lots of guys will sell old toys to pay for new ones. For example, if your husband buys a $2,000 set of golf clubs but he sells his old ones for $1,500, he’s only really spent $500.

Sure he laid out some cash for the clubs but if he uses them for years, and it keeps him off the couch and sane, they more than pay for themselves.

Ask yourself, does his spending the money bug you or is it that he won’t be at home with you on Saturday afternoon? Also, is the satisfaction of busting your husband’s chops over the purchase worth him thinking you’re a killjoy or better yet, his mom?

If so, by all means quibble. You may be technically right but it still isn’t reasonable.

marty3thumbnail.jpgMAX: “In the old days a man who saved money was a miser; nowadays he’s a wonder.”
~  Unknown

Since your husband’s toy purchase was apparently a one-time thing, I wouldn’t overly concern myself with it. You said you and your husband normally discuss big-ticket items so chalk this toy up to an impulse buy.

My wife and I have a similar rule but I trust her to buy whatever she thinks she or the family needs/wants. If that happens to be a trunkload of clothes and shoes that cost $300, then so be it.
These spur-of-the-moment purchases are only problematic if they are causing pressure on your family’s financial situation. That could lead to erosion of trust and bigger problems.

If that is what is happening here, i.e. the recent toy is just the latest in a long line of impulse buys in which your husband has bypassed you, then I agree it’s worth talking to him about.

To read more Inside His Head, click here.