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How to Squirrel Away Money When One of You is a Spender

Overview:This is a saving money tip you have probably never read about before — but it works! There are several examples so you can see how to do it yourself.

Listen. Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?  (And if you're a Beatles fan, you're chiming in with a woh-oo-wooooooh-oooooo about now…) Today I am going to tell you a secret about secrets.  This is an amazing tip for saving money for all sorts of things–a rainy day, your auto insurance payment, that trip to the Bahamas you dream about on your way to sleep—and yet it is not spoken of in polite company.

Here it is: don't tell your significant other (you know, the spendy one?) about the money you are setting aside for savings.

Yes, we are always told that having secrets of any kind from our spouse is a BAD idea.  With capital letters. And I would generally agree. But in my little life I have found that saving money (as in setting it aside for future use) is the exception to this rule. Let me elaborate by presenting a few examples of how one might put this saving money tip into practice.

This is a saving money tip you have probably never read about before -- but it works! There are several examples so you can see how to do it yourself.

An Effective Saving Money Tip in Action

Example 1: We are all familiar with the emergency fund cycle. It goes like this: 1) We scrimp and save and with a lot of effort set aside $1000 for an emergency fund. 2) The spendy spouse comes up with something he really NEEDS, y'all. His reasoning seems sound at the time. 3) We cave. And we are back to scrimping and saving again to build that “emergency” fund back up to its prior glory. 4) Later, we almost always find that he could have lived without whatever the supposed need was, at least for as long as it took to find the money some other way.

Here's the solution The Man and I came up with:  I finally asked him one day, after this had happened for the umpteenth time and we were BOTH sick of it, “Can I save up money and not tell you about it? Cuz we both know what happens when you are privy to the details of how much we have stashed away…” and he said YES.

Now when he has a “need,” I am in the amazing position of not having to volunteer the emergency fund to meet it. Because he TOLD ME it was ok to keep this secret from him. I can reserve the emergency fund for actual emergencies. What a concept.

Yes, this agreement has come in handy many times, and The Man has realized most of those times that I am holding out on him — but he knows that this is best for our financial stability. He grins and begins brainstorming other ways he can obtain whatever it is he's “needing.” And our emergency fund remains intact.

Related Reading: 6 Reasons You are in Debt even with a Good Income

Example 2: Certainly we can keep secrets about Christmas and birthdays, right? This we do all the time and don't think twice about it. Sometimes those gifts can cost more than just a little bit, and we need to save up to buy them. Are you gonna tell your spouse that you are saving up x amount for his gift and he is not to use that money? Can you say, “spoiler”?? Just save the money without a peep. Withdraw it and hide it in the back of your underwear drawer until you have enough set aside. And enjoy the look of REAL surprise on his face when he opens your totally non-frugal-just-because-I-love-you gift. :-)

Example 3: Friends of mine have a neat tradition: every year they go someplace different for their anniversary, and they alternate years as to which spouse does the planning. One year, the wife plans their trip; the next year, it is the husband's turn to plan — and in each case, the destination and details are always a surprise for the other. Doesn't that sound like fun?

And it's the surprise part that makes it, right? So do you want to spoil that by cluing your spouse in on how much you're gonna spend on the hotel, and what you've got saved up for activities, and the fact that you got a good deal on plane tickets? No, you do not. You just want to save up your money and keep your secrets and have a big reveal when you get to the airport.

Example 4: My pastor's wife kept a HUGE secret from her husband. They were using the cash envelope system; but often when they would decide to stop at the grocery store and pick up a few things, they didn't have their “food” envelope with them. So they would use their debit card. Did Mrs. Pastor voluntarily take the corresponding amount of cash out of the “food” envelope when they got home, to deposit into the account to cover that transaction? No, she did not, lol. She hung onto it and squirreled it away, and at Christmas she gave Mr. Pastor FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS IN CASH as an amazing gift.

(For all you old movie buffs, this is reminiscent of the scene in The Glen Miller Story (referral link) when June Allyson whips out a hunk of cash that she's been saving up from the household accounts without Jimmy Stewart (as Glen Miller) knowing about it — just the perfect amount to buy the band equipment he needs to really make his dream come true… She was totally using this saving money tip I am presenting to you today.  Smart woman. :-) )

So you see, not telling your spouse how much money you have in reserve, whether it be an emergency fund or cash for some other purpose, can be a very effective strategy for saving money that stays saved. For me it has reduced my feeling like we're on a hamster wheel and instead given hope that we might actually be getting somewhere in this struggle to get out of debt.

Related Reading: One Key Tip to Avoid Blowing the Family Budget

The fact that it is with The Man's full agreement is what makes the difference between me just being über-controlling and us working together, albeit in a non-traditional way.

Maybe you should give this saving money tip a try — you might be surprised by how well it works! :-)

This is a saving money tip you have probably never read about before -- but it works! One of the most effective ideas out there, so you can put aside what you need for a house, or college, or the budget -- fast! Several examples so you can see how to do it yourself.



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4 thoughts on “How to Squirrel Away Money When One of You is a Spender”

  1. Great article! My husband and I inadvertently do this, and I cannot tell you how many times I have been able to bless him by saying “Yes, we have the cash!”.

  2. I handle all the money. I’m just better at budgeting & more disciplined with money, which he acknowledges. I was saving money in a different account that he didn’t know about. One day, we needed money for something & I could tell he was already trying to figure out how he could get it. It was a joy to be able to tell him it’d be no problem. Now he teases me and asks how much I have in my “leaving Angelo fund”. Lol He knows I have it & usually knows how much I have, but has learned not to ask for it. Just like our girls, he tells me he wants something or there’s something he wants to do (fishing trip), I ask when he wants money for it & how much, and I save little by little for it. That way our savings stays pit.

    1. Yes, it really works, doesn’t it? They know we have it but they are truly in agreement with the bigger goals, so just that much of an obstacle means it stays put. :-) Thanks for commenting!

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