Make It Make Cents

How Can I Get My Boyfriend To Stop Making Annoying Comments About Money?

It’s gotten so bad that I got a Nespresso so that I wouldn’t have to deal with him picking on how many teaspoons of coffee I used.

Q: My partner says he is “not cheap,” but then routinely points out everything he pays for — especially dinners out. I know this is a “him” issue, but it has gotten so bad that I got a Nespresso so that I wouldn’t have to deal with him picking on how much coffee I used — “you only need a tablespoon.” It is one of the uglier things about him, but not a deal-breaker. His friends notice it, too. They are more exposed to him saying things like, “You have a house and two cars, you have plenty of money,” or “You make $380,000 a year,” and I just find it completely tacky. How do I address this with him?

A: I don’t know what you and your partner do for work or what your living situation looks like, but I think it’s safe to assume that he feels insecure about one or more of these things, or has different values when it comes to money. I doubt he means to bother you or his friends; his nitpicking likely stems from a different issue.

This should be addressed in a longer conversation where you can say your piece while also showing empathy by hearing him out. For this conversation to be productive, I’d encourage you to take a moment to think about how his comments and actions around spending money make you feel rather than thinking about how they sound. Be specific: “When you did X, I felt Y.”

It’s not fair for him to plan dinner dates, then make you feel like he resents that spending money, but maybe he feels he needs to splurge in order to make your quality time worthwhile. Tell him that when he complains about picking up the check, it tends to cancel out the romance of securing the hardest reservation in town. A gentle reminder that a date night at home can be equally intimate could make all the difference. A frozen pizza, a $15 bottle of cabernet, and a Netflix subscription can be the trifecta to a lovely night at home together.

As for his comments about the way you spend your money, there might be something else at play here. Do you have joint financial goals? If not, why does he think he has a say in what you spend? Is he judging your habits because you make significantly more or less than he does? If you ultimately want to build a life together, it’s worth sharing that you feel like your spending is constantly being monitored. This issue won’t go away unless you tackle it together.

Perhaps, though, he has an anxious relationship with money that has nothing to do with you or his friends. He could have a history of financial insecurity, and with the rising rate of inflation and high level of unemployment right now, those nerves are all the more understandable. For many people, even those doing really well financially, making purchases fills them with dread. Giving him the space to express this without judgment could help you recognize where he’s coming from. Once you explore the deeper insecurity or anxiety being veiled by “cheap” and “tacky” comments, you’ll be able to better support your partner while still enjoying your morning coffee.

Make It Make Cents appears regularly on Bustle. If you have a money etiquette question, fill out this form.