Boyfriend spending money he shouldn't, what do I do?

My boyfriend just surprised me with tickets to the symphony here in Houston this weekend.

I don’t even know why I brought it up to him the other night that I wished we could go, but I thought I made it pretty clear when I did that the tickets were too expensive, and that later on in our lives, when we had more disposable income, we could afford to go out and do nice things like that.

But he saw how much I wanted to go, and he surprised me by buying the tickets AND brought them home today from work during his lunch break to give them to me. He’s awesome and super and the best and I totally don’t deserve him.

On the one hand, it’s his money and he can do with it whatever he wants. He and I both work, and we have our separate incomes and expenses, so there’s really nothing I can do. But a big part of me feels like I fucked up, bringing up the symphony and how I wanted to go, then telling him that we need to save money and not go.

I guess I should be more careful in the future about wishing aloud around him. Is there anything I can say or do to help convince him not to spend money on these sorts of splurges, and to deal with the financial stuff he has to deal with? He’s always talking about how stressed out he is with paying off his credit cards and loans, and then goes and spends his money on things like this.

Any and all advice is greatly appreciated.


Go and have fun. Don’t make an issue about the money.

Relax; Unless he has a history of making bad spur of the moment financial decisions, he’s probably just patting himself on the back and thinking “Go me! I finally figured out something awesome to surprise her with! Sure it’s a bit pricey, but it’s not like we’re doing this every week!” and you should enjoy it for what it is - him being willing to make a bit of a sacrifice to make you happy.

On the other hand, if he’s got a history of splurging on stupid stuff (Tickets, electronic gadgets that he then resells for a fraction of purchase price on eBay, random ‘stuff’ that he doesn’t need, etc.) then just get out now, because trying to teach most adults financial responsibility if they haven’t figured it out by now is just not going to happen. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m not sure I understand what the issue is. He’s trying to surprise you with something nice. He has debts. But those debts don’t really affect you. Will his buying the tickets prevent him from paying off his bills? How often does he splurge?

If I were you, I’d take it at face value, dress to the nines and go and enjoy myself.

You guys don’t share expenses at all? If not, then I think it’s all up to him what he wants to spend his money on. And I don’t think you need to be more careful about saying it would be nice if you could afford to do something. As long as there’s no way he’s interpreting it to mean “I wish you weren’t such a broke loser and could spend more money on me” (and I doubt that’s the case) then that’s just the kind of nothing comment everyone makes all the time.

Say what you said to us. But be clear that you appreciate what he did, and enjoy the symphony.

Cut off your hair and sell it, and use the money to buy a fob chain for his watch.

If you haven’t actually brought it up to him before, I would have ONE conversation with him pointing out the relationship between debt and overspending on luxuries. You’re in a relationship and part of that inter-dependence is gently pointing out to each other how you can do better for yourselves.

If you HAVE had this conversation before, don’t harp on it. He knows, he can change if he wants to, and ultimately:


That’s not your responsibility to take on. He’s a grown-up. Part of being a grown-up is being responsible with money, and making decisions about money in vs. money out. That’s his responsibility.

Speaking for most guys, we enjoy being able to make our significant others happy with gestures such as buying symphony tickets etc. Seeing the happiness in the other person’s face is what makes the cost of the tickets worthwhile. If you spoil the gesture by bringing up the cost, it is only going to create tons of animosity all around. The best thing to do is accept the gesture with lots of enthusiasm, and cut down spending on other things later on.

Bringing it up as a “concern” at this point would (in real terms) be shitting all over the gesture he is trying to make.

Men doing stupidly indulgent things for women they love or like is wired into the male genome. “Mentioning it” and picking it apart which is what you are quite obviously intending on doing is not the wisest course you could take at this point. Sometimes we just need to say “thanks” for the things other people do for us and shut up.

He may listen to your concerns politely, but it’s not going to do your relationship any good whatsoever. You’re not his wife or his accountant. You should be nothing but grateful.

Thanks for the advice all. I am very grateful of course.

One minor correction for those not in the know, I’m his boyfriend, not his girlfriend :slight_smile:

We have talked about finances before, I’ve “harped” on him about spending, so you’re right that he is aware of it and will change if he wants to.

I certainly won’t complain about him spending money on me, and am very happy that he loves me and treats me so well :slight_smile:

I will just try to gently bring up cost saving measures in the future, and keep trying to push him a little more to save money and pay off debt.

How much does either of you budget?

I ask, because I found that once DH and I did a proper budget, and set aside a set amount for personal & entertainment expenses, we could more easily afford bigger ticket items (like symphony tickets) by foregoing a lot of little expenses (a coffee here, a magazine there).

If I were you, I would go, enjoy the symphony, and later say “hey the symphony was really fun. I wonder if we could work out budgets to save for things like that more often”

I agree with the general consensus that it is not your problem, and you should accept the offer graciously. However, you may want to avoid creating a situation where he will spend more than he can afford on you on a continuing basis. Just be as gracious with less costly tokens and let him know it’s the thought that counts. Trouble is, a lot of guys just aren’t wired that way. We have a better time dealing with quantifiable things, more money makes a better present, faster makes a better car, etc. Good luck with that, enjoy the symphony.

I guess there is at least one of these types of responses in every relationship thread.

Yep, better dump the guy that wanted take you to the symphony. :rolleyes:

We both use budgeting software to set goals and maximum budgets on all sorts of things. We both are saving, and paying off debts. Neither of us are in collections for anything, or even close to financial ruin. I really like your suggestion about bringing up cost saving measures after the symphony some time, to encourage more stuff like that.

I guess I am just overreacting a bit, honestly. I think, at my core, I would feel happier if he spent 180 bucks paying down credit card debt, rather than paying for symphony tickets, just because I see how stressed out and upset he gets about his debt. But I’m also very lucky to have him and get treated so well :slight_smile:

Haha! :slight_smile: Thanks for the laugh, Omar.

If this is a one-off thing and not the latest in a series of poor decisions and if he doesn’t appear to be hurting financially for making the purchase, consider it a well-deserved pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with setting aside a little fun money if it won’t affect repayment negatively. There’s always going to be something that could have used that 180 dollars. Well, sometimes the something is your mental attitude or your relationship and it’s not fair to prioritize the quantifiable over the unquantifiable.

There is not nearly enough information in the thread to give proper advice. Being in debt doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life. It just means you need a plan. Is a night at the symphony every couple of months actually a major impact on his budget planning over the next few years? It is not necessarily inconsistent to spend a bit on things you like while still being stressed about debt issues.

So, how well do you know whether you should actually be worried about this?

Consider a numerical example. Say he’s stressed about owing $30k to The Man. Say he’s putting $830 a month toward his debts. So, he’ll be free in 36 months. Now, he could be miserable during those 36 months, or he could “waste” $200 a month (on average) on things he really likes. This might be $140 on concert tickets one month, then a couple of months on the cheap, then a $540 ski trip, etc., averaging to $200/mo. The result? Rather than being out of debt in 36 months he’s out in 47 months. That’s not that big a difference. However, he’s living an enjoyable life during those 47 months rather than sitting on his thumbs and miserable for 36 months.

Now, if the issue is that he is actually growing his debt over time rather than reducing it, then concert tickets aren’t the problem, and he needs to examine his plan more broadly to make sure he doesn’t need to make other changes (cheaper apartment, cheaper car, cheaper utilities, etc.) But if it’s just a matter of his finding a life balance, you should let him be.


There you go. Consider it a nice thing he did and leave it alone. Tell him "Thanks so much for spoiling me, this was really special. "

Maybe he called in a favor, or maybe he got the tickets free. Or maybe he paid full price. Maybe he figures that seeing you enjoy something is worth the cost.

Enjoy the concert, and don’t worry about it this time.