Why Women Lie About Shopping

This article is not a generalization. It represents my observations only.

One of my married friends always goes shopping alone. She always pays cash. Why? Because there will be no monthly credit card statements and no paper trail. There will be no questions from her husband about what she bought while shopping because she won’t show him her purchases that are tucked away in the trunk of her car.

Her husband will never know about the three pairs of shoes that will later be put into her closet. Or the new pair of jeans that she will wear when they go to the movies. Or the new skirt she will put on for a day at her office. He won’t know, he won’t ask questions and he won’t suspect how much was spent.

If we don’t point out to our husbands or boyfriends a new wardrobe piece that we are wearing, would they eventually notice? The majority of men don’t notice which also means that they don’t ask “Is that something new?” Even if they do ask us, those of us who don’t want to admit that a piece is new, indeed can always say “Oh no, I’ve had this forever.”

Even if we do show what we bought while shopping for new clothes, we still might omit or alter one very important fact such as … the price. We might tell a partial truth about an item that we have just purchased.

Why do some of us keep our wardrobe price tags a secret in spite of the fact that we work, earn money and want to look good?

Maybe because we are feeling guilty about spending money on ourselves when we can be spending on our kids, or paying off debt, or putting it into savings, or investing it into our future.

Maybe we think that we overpaid for a great looking dress. Sometimes we do overpay but we don’t want to admit it, even to ourselves.

Maybe we think that the price is irrelevant. Receipts are shredded, price tags are destroyed. We lie about it … well… because those damn shoes are worth it.

Maybe when we come back from a store, we don’t want to be interrogated: “Why did you buy it? How much did you spend? Couldn’t you get anything cheaper?” Or even better “How many shoes (skirts, bags, jeans) do you need?”

And the final Maybe:

Maybe being financially honest and having full disclosure means having similar goals, workable budgets, understanding and most importantly accepting each other’s spending habits.

22 thoughts on “Why Women Lie About Shopping

  1. First Gen American

    My husband and I don’t hide our purchases. He actually tells me that I don’t spend enough on clothes. I’m 5’10″ and it’s a bitch trying to find flattering clothes that fit, so I avoid it for as long as possible. I actually just bought a bunch of stuff online at Overstock.com. Let’s hope some of it fits.

    I think it’s healthy having fun money and I’ll say that I don’t usually regret making a quality clothing or shoe purchase because they do tend to last longer. My husband on an antique fishing lure binge on ebay at the moment. I believe he’s using proceeds from his ebay sales. Good for him. We both work and we should have our little indulgences.

    1. Aloysa

      I am 5’10 too and I feel your pain! I never shopped at Overstock. Maybe I should it out some day. Fun money is important because then you don’t feel like you are cutting into the budget.

  2. retirebyforty

    Ouch, I’m sorry to say this, but your friend should be open about spending with her husband. If her husband doesn’t know what she spends money on, does she know what he’s spending on? This is not the path to good financial planning.
    We each gets $100/week to spend on discretionary items and it is working out very well so far.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Aloysa

      Well… she doesn’t want him to know because she doesn’t tell him how much she makes. But this is a whole different story.

      1. Kellen

        So are you saying that their finances are separate?
        Does she only spend out of her own money?

        I would still feel awful having to hide purchases. Why must money be such an awkward topic for people to discuss?

        1. Aloysa

          Yes, their finances are seperate to a point that neither of them knows how much who makes. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

  3. Squirrelers

    I think the most important thing is to be open, honest, and in agreement on how finances should be handled. The agreement part might entail compromises from both husband and wife, but it should be valued. Sneaking purchases from a husband in the way your friend described is not conducive to a healthy marriage. Neither is berating a wife on how much she spent. Decide these things together, is my view on it.

    1. Aloysa

      Totally agree with you. But sometimes when you try to reach mutual understanding, huge problems come out in the relationship and people choose the easy way out: hiding things, not telling, not showing, having seperate accounts…

    2. Ken @ Spruce Up Your Finances

      I totally agree on Squirrelers on this one. Married people should be open and honest with each other and either spouse should not berate each other if one somehow overspend a little bit. I think the key here is that both spouse should have an agreement or budget on how much they would spend on certain things and as long as you are within that budget, it should be good.

  4. Robert @ The College Investor

    I fully trust my wife in what she spends, but I also expect her to be honest about it. The same goes for me. If I want to buy something, I should be fully comfortable telling my wife about it, but also be respectful enough to not buy something that she would be upset with.

  5. Jessica07

    You touched on a very valid point regarding women and guilt about spending. I think there is still such a great dose of “caregiver” in each of us (women, that is), that pampering ourselves seems selfish. In fact, even as I write that, it’s hard for me to qualify why it IS technically selfish. My husband and I have found a way around it by allotting 25% of what’s left from our paychecks each month (after monthly expenses have been budgeted out). We then have two separate accounts (apart from our mutual one) that we put the money into. That way we both know we have a “secret” account, but we don’t feel cheated, nor do we feel guilty for spending (or saving) what’s in it.

    1. Aloysa

      Interesting… the caregiver in women most of the time overtakes everything else. My friends with children sometime tell me something like this: “You can do it because you don’t have kids. Otherwise you would question if you should be doing this.” Pampering ourselves is not selfish. Every woman deserves it.

  6. Money Reasons

    Interesting! My wife is more frugal than I am, so I encourage her to go out and spend her money (she works 8 to 10 hours a week in an small business accounting position.

    Sometimes she’ll go with a friend and buy some stuff, but not much…

    Interesting to hear about a wife that hides her spending from her spouse… It doesn’t sound very healthy for the relationship… Hopefully she only does it on rare occasions.

    1. Aloysa

      Well… she does it when she spends a lot. It is on a rare occassion but it happens. Hopefully, one day it will end and she will come out of her shopping closet. Maybe even literally.

  7. Everyday Tips

    I definitely think you should be honest with your spouse about spending. However, some people are truly compulsive spenders, and I am sure it would be hard to disclose spending for the sake of spending.

    The way I see it, if you feel like you need to hide the purchase, then you shouldn’t buy it.

  8. Money Smarts

    I think hiding things from your significant other like this can be extremely unhealthy for the relationship. Since most relationships are in part built upon trust, when you’re deceiving each other like this it can only lead to bad things. marriages are supposed to be a partnership, not two individuals living together hiding things from each other.

    i have a story of one friend’s family that had a similar situation, but actually to another level. The wife was hiding her spending from her husband. It started getting a bit out of control and then she started gambling a bit to try and catch up on all the money she had spent. In the end she ended up losing a ton at the casino – and then embezzling from her workplace. While that situation is a bit more extreme and involves other things (gambling and shopping addictions), I think it does speak to the dark road you head down when trying to keep secrets.

    1. Aloysa

      This is a really dark story. What was she thinking when she turned to gambling? The house always wins, doesn’t it? I do agree that as soon as you start keeping secrets, you are opening the door to a possible disaster.

  9. Financial Samurai

    Interesting thoughts!

    I always notice when my lady has something new and ask her. She’s quite frugal in her spending and find Target to be her absolute favorite!

    Perhaps she feels guilty for not spending the money on me

  10. Realist

    Women lie because they want to. They think it is okay to lie about clothes. But lying is lying and women have stupidly been sucked into consumer culture and their own greed and then want to act as if it is the fault of their husband for not being enough. Call it what it is. Spoiled women who want their way and will do anything, including lying to get it bthen they make up all sorts of goofy victim stories to justify it. If a guy had a business partner who lied to his face and stole money from the corporate coffers it would end the business relationship and the guy woukd be called a crook. Women di the same thing regularly and think it is some type of rightful exercise of their feminiity. Women GROW UP.

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