Marriage, finances and the $4 Starbucks coffee

Katie Rosman wrote a great, candid piece for the WSJ yesterday, confessing her love of overpriced Starbucks cappuccinos and her husband’s protests of same:

The problem… is that cappuccino is not a line item in our family budget. We don’t make room for such things when deciding how to spread our dollars. Last year, Joe asked me if I wanted to add it, cautioning me that I’d need to cut out another cost.

“If you worked 50 weeks a year,” he explained, “and got a $4 coffee every workday, you’d need to subtract at least $1,000 from other discretionary spending on things like exercise or manicures.”

In the end, we learn that in Chez Rosman, husband Joe sets the budget (a rather strict one), they both try to keep to it, and that the issue here was the definition of a “spontaneous indulgence” – which both parties agree is allowed, while disagreeing about the Starbucks case. It’s the sort of issue that every couple deals with. My wife and I certainly do, and I can only but admire the budgetary discipline Rosman describes she and her husband aiming to adhere to.

But it seems some readers, ahem, didn’t like the column – on a feminist basis. Rosman tweeted out soon after its publication:

Look, every couple has their dynamic when it comes to money decisions and discussions. There are domains of expertise and protocols for discussion, times to question and times to sit quiet. When I read Rosman’s article I do not get the sense she’s a doormat (the term applied to her makes Rosman laugh).

I would think hard before confronting my wife on discretionary spending in the way Rosman’s husband did, but if I did raise an issue on something and my wife acknowledged I have a point, I wouldn’t consider her womanhood at all diminished as a result.

But of course, I’m a man…