too much money talk

heartandhomeDecember 4, 2009

My husband and in-laws talk about money a lot, and lately it's been getting to me when we all get together --which is quite frequent---and I'm stuck in the room hearing it for long periods of time. From discussing where you can get a block of cheese for $3.99 vs. $4.99 to the cost of a nice dinner, a sale that's currently going on at such and such clothing store, just seems like how much things COST is taking up too much focus in the conversations we have when we get together.

It's not just the economy either. Everyone has stable jobs and is quite "comfortable". I think they've just always been like this--personality wise--in regards to it being somewhat of a hobby/interest to bargain shop. I think what's happening is I'm just noticing it more and more, and since I didn't grow up with all this constant comparison/ discussion about expenses left and right, I'm having a hard time adapting.

I wish I could talk to my husband and point out that maybe some of the "money talk" is a bit excessive, but I think he's so in the habit of their conversations being like this that he wouldn't understand.

What's compounding the frustration is that we recently moved into a new house and have been purchasing some pieces of furniture, doing some upgrading, etc. And my mother in law and husband are always talking about how much this piece of furniture or that home improvement project ended up costing. Since some of these things have been fairly large purchases, I feel like some of that should be our business, not hers! It's one thing to talk money about low cost "regular" items like an item at the grocery store, but it feels too personal to talk about some of the house stuff. I get the impression a lot of times that had she been the one picking the piece of furniture out, she could have found better "a better deal." That's frustrating to me because #1 we usually do plenty of research and go with the best price/item that fits our budget best #2 I work full time, and occasionally I only have time to do a few comparisons (as in 3 to 5 stores)--not 10 or 15!!! Sometimes for times sake, I'm willing to pay a little bit more in order to have that convenience. It's a lot easier to bargain shop when you have the time....Regardless, I just feel like it's our business and we shouldn't have to discuss money all the time/justify our purchases. It's one thing to be money smart, but it's another to let it dominate the conversation.

Does anybody have any advice?

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Among strangers I've found this pretty easy to handle by simply refusing to engage or disclose. However, since you're talking about husband and in-laws this can be troublesome.

Going to key on the husband....and your reluctance to speak with him about it. Uncomfortable with your statement of your avoiding the topic with him because you think "....he wouldn't understand." I'm thinking that he, too, might be looking for a some way to avoid this but, being their son, doesn't quite know what to do either. the husband....does he blather about money-stuff in company other than your folks or does this seem to be only a family-thing? I, too, consider what you've described as being nosey and off-putting but, among family, lots of things are discussed that are not outside of family. If he, too, and like most normal folks, does not speak this way outside of the family, I suspect he's actually in sympathy with you. If he does, I would consider that something that deserves correction all by itself. Without knowing, I'm reluctant to suggest anything in particular.

Would be interested in what your husband's opinion of this would be. I don't see that it should be anything of such a delicate nature that you couldn't discuss it with him. Could be you'd find more understanding there than you're thinking right now. In any event, I think that would be the place to start.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 5:00PM
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Does your hubbie talk like this with you, generally ? Or is it just conversation that comes up with his family ?

How long have you been married ? Maybe, if its early days, things will change over time.

I think the main issue is that fact that you feel uncomfortable bringing this up with your DH. Choose your words and talk away. Perhaps something like " I feel uncomfortable discussing our purchases in detail with your mother..."

Or you could just introduce another topic in the conversation, when they endlessly talk about boring things. I can fully understand how you feel. Anything is more interesting than what they are talking about !

How was the wedding....did you get a good price !

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 9:48PM
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Thanks for your advice. To answer the first follow up, no my husband does not go on and on like that in front of friends. Just with family. And specifically his mom. That just seems to be one of the topics they like to talk about with each other. Like, instead of me calling my mom up and saying : Have you seen that new movie yet? It's soo good, you've got to go see it! ...He gets excited about saying...Publix is having a buy one get one free on canned chicken noodle soup!! Or...Macy's is offering half off on socks, you should pick some up for dad next time you're in there! .... That's what I mean by I just don't think he would understand. It's just what they talk about. UGHH! I could understand it more if an item that's usually a few hundred dollars is marked down to $50 or something, that's an awesome "deal," but some of these things that are $2 or $3 dollars savings just isn't worth spending hours talking about,in my opinion. It makes me cringe just thinking about. We spend a lot of family time together, I just am so tired of hearing these same conversations over and over again. I probably should try to talk to him about it though, and just see if he can make an effort to tone it down with her. He may not realize how often their conversation turns to being that nit picky. In response to the second post, you're right. We haven't been married very long. Still getting used to some of the quirks that are more noticeable/aggravating in marraige vs. dating. Usually, like you said, I try to change the subject or steer it away, but unfortunately somehow one of them always re-initiates it later in the get-together...!!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 9:33AM
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As the primary 'gatherer' in our family, I regard finding and securing a bargain as something of an achievement -- so by telling Sister about the chicken noodle soup sale at Publix, I'm providing her with the same opportunity I found. In a more primitive society, it would be like telling the other women that the berries on the west side of the clearing are ripe and to gather them quickly before the birds find them. A good deed of a sort.

Now I draw the line at big-ticket items that others may not be able to afford. So with Hubby's family, I might brag about the chicken soup, but I'd refrain from mentioning the $5.99/pound lobster. And while our $50,000 kitchen might be a huge bargain (considering the scope and quality), it's still a BIG chunk of change, and not something I'd discuss explicitly in polite company.

In my family of origin (old WASP), we didn't discuss money at all. It took some getting used to -- but I found my own personal balance point in the above.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 2:03PM
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I think you have 2 issues that probably should be separated. If hubby and MIL enjoy talking on the phone about sales on chicken soup and socks and you are not a part of the conversation, I think you need to just let that go. It's an interest they have in common and even though it's boring to you, they are obviously getting something out of it (whether its a feeling of kinship or $2 savings they wouldn't have otherwise known about). If they try to drag you into the conversation I would just tell them that it doesn't interest you. As long as it's a conversation between the two of them only, you should reserve judgement about the $ amount of savings and whether it's a worthwhile use of their time. It's their time.

On the flip side, while you are being a little bit judgmental about whether "buy one get one free" soup cans is something worthy a phone call between mother and son, it sounds like you are also worried about being judged by your MIL regarding your own big money purchases. I think you are entitled to ask DH for some privacy regarding how you spend your money on furniture, etc. If his mother asks how much something costed you, I would ask him to be evasive about dollar amounts, but honest.

Example: MIL - "Oh that new dining table must have cost a fortune! Did you check the price at XYZ Home Goods for it? They have the best-prices on furniture"

Hubby - "The dining room table was expensive, but we had enough money budgeted for it, and it was the one we liked the most, so we're very happy with our purchase."

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 2:09PM
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thanks for the additional posts! good tips! I'll give them a try.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 10:48AM
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And then there is the simple etiquette of NOT continuing with a topic that others in the company are clearly not interested in. That's just simple courtesy. I suspect its all mixed up together.

And, from what you've said, I suspect your husband is already on-board with that part of it.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 6:45PM
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Sweeby! $5.99 a pound lobster? Do tell!!! (I knew you kept the good deals to yourself~ ;)

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 2:58PM
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I think this is essentially the kind of connection your DH enjoys with his mom and you should leave it at that. For example, my MIL always asks me and my DH "what did you eat for dinner?" After that, "what did you eat yesterday?" etc. It did bother me initially because I felt I was being judged on what I cooked (I am the primary cook in the house) -- but much later I realized that that's the bond they share. She's his nurturer and he's her little boy. I am not exactly neutral when I say this -- because honestly it bugs me that a grown man can slip into that boyish mode -- but I think that's life and I've got to accept it for the sake of my marriage.

So - coming back to your DH, may be he knows your MIL truly enjoys that talk therefore he slips into that mode. Growing up, each time he bought something, I think she asked him lots of questions about how much, were there any other brands on sale etc. and he just got used to it. Also, I can bet that there is not much that they have in common to talk about like sports and work -- where she can relate to him -- and that's why money is the primary topic.

So my advice would be to just ignore it. If you cannot, then once such conversation begins, you can make a polite excuse and leave the room.

That said, I agree with a comment above that for your big money purchases you should request DH to keep them private and not discuss. If he does not agree, I'd stop sharing info with him.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 12:56AM
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Didn't mean to 'withhold' Silver!
The $5.99/pound lobster was the Grand Opening special at our newest Asian supermarket opening. (We got a 4 pounder!)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 12:47PM
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