[That would be my fellow reader’s husband, not my own. No one’s supposed to know about him, shh!]
Here’s the email I just got asking for some advice… sounds like every other guy I know ;)
My money situation with my husband is kind of tight. Right now, we have two car payments and a mortgage, plus have to repay my student loans soon. We also have an infant daughter.
He’s been working on losing weight, which I’m very proud of him for doing, but it’s driving me crazy in some ways. He pays $149 a month to attend a martial arts studio and $32 a month for a gym membership.
The problem? He never actually goes to the gym! He hasn’t been to it since at least last March, and we have the same discussion every month – I urge him to close the account, and he says, “I’m going to go!” Yet if he works out anywhere other than the studio (which he attends at least 2-3 days a week), it’s at the gym at his job (which is free for employees).
How do I convince him to close the membership? $32 isn’t a lot, but over the course of a year, it adds up and could go towards other expenses, like the car payments. Please help!
– Fitness Widow (not real name – obvs)
Well, dear Fitness Widow, I don’t think he’s going to change his mind on that gym membership anytime soon, I’m afraid. Us men can be stubborn like that. What you need to do, in my humble opinion, is figure out a way to make it *his decision*about it instead of yours. And that can be done a number of ways:
1. Set up a “do whatever you want with this money” fund for him
(And for you, if you don’t already have one in place. If you do, it’s time to tweak the numbers!)
You both sit down one night with a beer or glass of wine (very important), and figure out the total amount of discretionary income you guys have every month. Include all the *extra* stuff you’re already doing too when coming up with this number – like his martial arts class, gym membership, as well as anything YOU’RE doing already for yourself too. This should be fairly easy as it’s just a lot of adding up if you don’t already know these numbers.
Then, you both decide how you want to split it up (this is important – both of you need to agree 100% as it’ll be locked in for a while going forward!), and you create two new “do whatever” budgets to follow. Or, better yet, you literally create two new bank accounts to divert these funds into every month. And when it’s gone, it’s gone! You have to wait until the beginning of next month to get it filled back up again. This will:
- Leave ALL the decisions up to your husband because he can now, well, do whatever the hell he wants! Even if that means keeping the gym membership for another 8 pointless months… (though I bet you $10 bucks he cancels it within 30 days ;))
- Offload the stress and hassle to BOTH parties. It’ll be a-okay with you because all of this has already been budgeted in and accounted for, and it’ll be perfectly fine with him since he’ll be able to spend carefree without anyone harping on him! You no longer become a nag, yay!
It’s a win-win situation in my book.
2. Come up with more “fun” alternatives to this $32/mo
I don’t like this idea as much because it still doesn’t help your car goal there, BUT, it would at least make you feel better knowing the funds are being put to a more substantial use. Which is not hard to do in this case ;)
The thing about your husband is that he probably DOES know it’s a waste, but there’s something more to him wanting to keep it than just plain exercise – which he’s clearly getting elsewhere. Maybe it’s the “idea” of the gym he likes, or it makes him feel more responsible or something, or it’s simply a nice getaway for him shall he need one one day? Even if it’s all in his mind?
[Look at me – I’m such a psychologist!]
If any of that’s the case, it’s just a matter of substituting this gym “satisfaction” with a different type of satisfaction. Perhaps:
- A night out with the boys once a month for him?
- A date night for the two of you once a month?
- Upping the eating out/entertainment budget ea. month?
- Just giving him $32 to do whatever he wants as long as it’s *not* the gym? (Haha…)
- Splitting up the $32 to go half to him for “fun stuff” and half to you? Which you then throw against the car debt if it makes you feel better than increasing your lifestyle?
And I’m sure you could think of a billion other ideas as well. You can have a lot of fun on $32!! And again, I know it’s not the best alternative because it’s still not being applied to any *needs* like you prefer, but hell – it’s still a lot better than it just flying out the window! And I guarantee you’d be able to tweak/divert it a lot easier later if need be without “making a scene ” ;)
Those are my two ideas anyways – coming from a guy. Who’s very emotional, haha… The only other thing I could think of is to just flat out get naked or pull the sex card, but that’s reserved for more serious issues, of course ;) Gotta keep that one in your back pocket for when it’s REALLY needed!
What would you guys suggest? What would you do if this was going on in YOUR household? Drop your ideas in the comments below and let’s get poor Fitness Widow’s $32.00 on track!
[Star Wars Lego Gym by W_Minshull]
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!