ReliaBalance Blog

Posted by: Trenton Wilde on Aug 14, 2012

The If, Then Problem

The "if, then" problem in financial management occurs when a purchase is made, and then another purchase is justified simply because the previous purchase was made.  A common example of this is with married couples.  Generally one spouse will make a questionable purchase; then the other spouse will make another questionable purchase using their spouses purchase as justification.

The major problem with this behavior is that it is emotionally- not numerically based.  As we mentioned in the "Lifestyle Budgeting" post, financial management is about numbers- not emotions.  Emotional justification for a purchase will not change the reality of the numbers.

The "if, then" problem is a compounded problem, because the second bad financial decision is the result of a previous bad financial decision.  It is the classic "two wrongs don't make a right" scenario.

This type of situation is very difficult on relationships, because if one person makes a questionable purchase, in order to keep the families finances in order, the other person will not only not be able to be equally frivolous but will likely have to go without other things to make up for the spouse's questionable purchase.

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