Dear Penny: I Buy $500/Month of Bitcoin. My Wife Hates It. Should I Care?

An illustration shows a couple standing next to a wallet holding bitcoins
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Dear Penny,

My wife and I have an agreement where we each are allowed to spend $500 a month however we choose. We have emergency savings, we both contribute to our retirement accounts and we have college savings plans for both of our kids.

I’ve recently started using my $500 to invest in bitcoin, and my wife is furious. She hates bitcoin because I lost money on it a couple years back. But I only jumped back into it in August, and already I’ve tripled my money. 

If we’re allowed to spend our money however we want, shouldn’t I be allowed to invest in bitcoin? She’s wasted money by buying too many clothes and doing DIY projects that would have been cheaper just to pay someone else to do. I’ve never complained because it’s her $500.

Should I keep investing, even though my wife hates it?

-Crypto Chris

Dear Crypto,

I’m torn. If you both agreed that you get to spend $500 each month however you choose, I guess that means you’re allowed to blow it all on bitcoin if you want. But I’m with your wife, because I really detest bitcoin.

I’ll spare you a long-winded rant, but what I will say is this: When you invest in a stock, you’re buying a stake in a company that hopefully produces something of value. That’s not the case with bitcoin.

Forget all the talk about it being the payment method of the future. Only about 2,300 businesses in the entire U.S. accept it. Its wild price swings make it useless as a currency. Just in the first 11 days of 2021, bitcoin soared to a record $30,000 on Jan. 2, then past $40,000 before tumbling by 25% in the next 48 hours. Imagine if the U.S. dollar lost 25% of its value in 48 hours. As longtime crypto critic Warren Buffett has said, “You can’t do anything with it except sell it to somebody else, but then that person has the problem.”

It’s fine if you disagree with me. You can even disagree with Warren. But I’d urge you not to go against your wife if she’s really against this.

Your problem is way bigger than bitcoin here. You say you’re each allowed to spend $500 however you choose. But you don’t really mean that, do you?

You’re fine with your wife’s decision to use her discretionary cash to buy clothes and DIY materials. It’s not how you would spend your money. Hopefully, these purchases bring her happiness, so it’s money well spent to you.

Now let’s imagine your wife opted to burn her cash each month just because it’s her money. Surely, you wouldn’t be OK with that. That’s money you’ve both earned. Spending it purposefully is a show of respect for each other.

I get it: That’s not what you’re doing here. You’re spending money on bitcoin because you think it will make you more money.

But your wife has already seen you make a losing bet on bitcoin once before. I wish I knew more about the circumstances there. Was the money you lost limited to your personal budget, or did you put a substantial amount of your family’s fortunes into this highly risky investment?

Regardless, I’m guessing watching your money evaporate a couple years ago was stressful. When we’re under pressure, we tend to radiate stress to those around us. So even if your losses were limited to your spending money, don’t try to pretend that your wife and kids weren’t affected when you made a losing bet.

Clearly, it’s time for you and your wife to set a few ground rules for how you each spend your $500. Try talking about what your goals were when you decided to allocate spending money for each of you. My guess is, it was to give each spouse permission to spend on something that brings them joy. If you’re truly passionate about bitcoin, I suppose you can make the case one more time to your wife. But I suspect that your main driver here is your desire to make a quick buck.

I do like that you’ve made a budget that includes personal spending money for each of you. What you need is a veto power. You each should avoid criticizing how the other spends their $500 in general. But if one of you wants to spend money in a way the other spouse finds truly objectionable, you’ll agree that it’s off limits.

Bitcoin returns are extremely fickle. But the cost of going against your wife’s wishes every month is both predictable and incredibly high. Remember the saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” You’re far better off investing your 500 bucks in a new hobby.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].