April 24, 2012 at 7:31 AM ET
When it comes to spending money, some couples tell each other when they buy a bag of chips. Others don’t think to consult their spouse or partner until they’re eyeing a designer handbag.
As part of our online survey on financial infidelity, TODAY.com and SELF.com asked readers how much money they’d spend using a joint bank account or credit card before asking their spouse or partner.
For most readers, the bar is somewhere between the bag of chips and the handbag.
Of the nearly 22,000 people who answered the question, about 36 percent said they would feel comfortable spending $50 to $99 before consulting their spouse or partner. Another 22 percent said the bar is between $100 and $499.
About 28 percent of readers said they check in with their spouse about every single purchase, no matter how small. Only about 6 percent said they never tell their spouse how much they spend on anything.
The results were similar for men and women.
Experts say the threshold that couples set for spending money has a lot to do with how much money they are making. Still, it’s a good sign when a couple has a general idea of when to check in with one another.
“If you have a couple that’s fairly healthy about money, they each … tend to know when this is the kind of thing I shouldn’t do without my spouse knowing,” said Scott Stanley, a research professor at the University of Denver and co-author of the book “Fighting For Your Marriage.”
But Stanley said that kind of communication can go too far.
“I think it’s a bad idea for one person to feel like they have to account for every little impulse purchase,” he said.
Instead, he thinks couples should give each other the freedom to spend some amount of money on things they enjoy without asking permission – as long as it’s not for something like sex, drugs or gambling.
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