After nearly three years of marriage, my wife and I had our first real lover’s quarrel over money.

We thought avoiding debt, saving a large portion of our income, and living well below our means meant we’d never have such a dispute, but we didn’t expect to encounter this particular issue.  Our disagreement might be uncommon because it was about not spending enough money.

A Little Backstory

After we got married and returned from our honeymoon, we moved into our first home together. Both of us had lived with our parents until we were married, so living on our own together was a big change for us – a big, fin, exciting adventure. When we moved, we needed something to stuff all the packing materials in. Someone gave us a juicer as a wedding gift, and it turned out that the box it came in was the perfect size to hold tall kitchen garbage bags – bonus!

The box was a great garbage can, and it served us well for a long time. When we moved into our second home together, we even brought it with us. What we didn’t know was that little moment of ingenuity set the stage for our dispute three years later.

Elegantly-simple, effective solution? Yes.

Borderline-pathological level of cheapskate-ism? Definitely!

Missed It

Turns out I had become so stubbornly attached to the “free” garbage can I’d invented, that I completely missed the boat when my wife mentioned she wanted a real one.

I ignored her comments about “still living like college students” or “wanting our home to look like adults lived here.”

I was oblivious to her embarrassment when guests would ask where our kitchen garbage was. I’d just beam, “it’s that cool box over there, just chuck your trash in it! Sweet, huh?” Subtext: Did I mention it was free? Have you heard how clever I am?

*Cue Marital Disagreement Music


Looking back, I can’t believe how bull-headed I was about getting rid of that old, battered, food-stained juicer box. I thought why pay good money for something that holds junk you throw out? I thought our money could be better spent on something we actually wanted, like furniture, or food.

Let me clue you in on something I was too proud to see at first – a little bit of husband-wisdom that your wife/girlfriend will love you for:

She didn’t want a garbage can. She wanted something deeper. She wanted order. A feeling of put-together-ness. A feeling that we could finally enjoy the fruits of our hard work. #Lightbulbmoment!

The reason I didn’t want to get a real garbage can was straight up pride – in classic curmudgeon fashion, I was certain I’d pulled a fast one on those crooked garbage can salesmen (as I snap my grumpy old man suspenders over my smug, grumpy sweater vest).

My economic arguments were weak at best, and were really just grasping at straws: If we invested that $14 we’d spend on a garbage can we’d be millionaires! – in only three thousand years!

There was no logical reason that we couldn’t go out and buy a freaking garbage can. We had 10 Grand in the bank for goodness’ sake!

So I resolved to buy us a nice garbage can that very week. I actually wrote on my grocery list “get garbage can – don’t be a psycho!”


Now we feel like we have a home – not just a place to live. A real garbage can makes our kitchen look a lot more put together and intentional. And guests don’t have to ask where to toss their trash anymore – bonus!

We don’t feel like we’re pinching pennies or trying too hard to take shortcuts. It was empowering to realize we had the means to start living like we wanted without compromising our financial security. And it was a small price to pay for the satisfaction of rewarding ourselves for being responsible. The garbage can itself is just a physical representation of our ability to say “we don’t have to live like college students anymore if we don’t want to.”

Simple, effective solution? Yes.

Borderline-pathological level of reckless spending? No Way!

Thomas Aquinas wrote that failing to accept joy from the blessings we’re given is called Acedia, and it sucks. When we don’t enjoy our blessings, it suppresses our willingness to perform acts of kindness and charity. By not embracing the joy that comes our way, it’s harder for us to spread the joy around by doing good things for other people.

The lesson here is that sometimes, pride gets in the way of practicality. Some solutions work at one time in your life, but not in others.

There’s no reason not to enjoy the benefits of earning money – that’s what it’s for! If we can’t relish the deeper benefits from being responsible with money, what good is it?

This week, I invite you to take a look at some of the items and attitudes you’re holding onto. Maybe they’re not producing the same benefits they once did. It might be time to let go of that stuff and start enjoying what you’ve earned.

What’s your “garbage can story” of discovering a deeper benefit of money? Let me know in the comments. Let’s help each other find solutions that work and let us feel like we’re making progress!

See you next time,
– Ben
*Do Brave Deeds and Endure!*

Are you ready to start mastering money and enjoying the rewards? Do you want to avoid the financial hangover that the holiday season can bring?

If you want to make 2018 your best financial year yet – the year you destroy debt, establish financial security, and use your money to do more of what you love, consider taking me along for the ride. I’ll be your personal financial coach as you discover the deeper benefits that strong financial habits can bring. Click the button below to learn what we can accomplish together!

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If you want to take the first step yourself, check out our free guide – the Ten Steps to Financial Awesomeness! It’s your one-page road map to becoming a financial legend.

Finally, I want to say thanks to all of you! You’ve helped make 2017 a super fun, productive, and meaningful year for Debt Freeks!
Merry CHRISTmas, and Happy New Year!

One comment on “So I Bought a Garbage Can

  • We just moved into a new apartment and due to circumstances don’t have a garbage can. I’m heavily leaning towards your DIY cardboard box trash can — we have a ridiculous amount left over from the move.

    Half of me wants a stainless steel garbage can (it looks so sleek! and I am a woman so I like pretty things), but it’s $60 bucks! I think I went to hard on learning to be frugal this year.

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