How to hide an iPhone Purchase From My Wife?



Update: Reader imajoebob has got a really funny response in the comments. Worth a read.

Trying to write this post on a Blackberry has taught me something, this thing’s web browser stinks. Now that the 3G iPhones will be on-sale in July, I’m gonna hafta break-down and get one. That said, only one-question remains: How to hide the purchase from my wife?

After the break, we’ll talk through my strategy, in the hopes that a fellow husband in a similar pickle might benefit from my experience, or maybe even able to help me devise a better strategy.

Initial Strategy: “It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”
No it isn’t. Repeat: No – it – is – not. “Missus Mac” is exactly the sort of black-hearted siren that’d march me back into the Apple store at Southlake and make me return it. The manager, Dave, would probably have pity on me, but the rest of them, especially those so-called geniuses, would be looking down on me like the looser I am.

Alternate Strategy: “Honesty” –œ Sell my old phone, buy the new one, totally above board.
Yeah, I could do that. This technique works real well for purchases that she’ll totally notice like a TV or new car or something. It even works pretty good when merged with the “Beg for forgiveness” approach, played something like this:

Leigh: “Oh yeah, Costco had the new one on sale for less than we paid for the old one, and I sold the old one to some guy for almost as much as we paid for it.“

The Wife is so used to these kinds of shenanigans, she just turns off the accountant side of her brain and utterly fails to ask probing questions about dollars and such, knowing instinctively that nothing I could say next would make her happy. She is right.

But, really… That sounds like a whole lot of work for just a new phone.

Final Strategy: “Buy it, and Hide it”

This strategy is a good one, very useful for small-ish purchases you want to slip under the radar. It however leaves essentially 2 problems to solve:

How to hide the New Handset
Now my wife could run a CSI unit dedicated to snooping out evidence of illicit purchases. She has learned that new toys come with new accessories, boxes and manuals and I am exactly the kind’a fella that likes to read the directions. I’ll hafta forego that –œstuffing the manuals in the bottom of a desk drawer to be read late some evening when she thinks I’m surfing porn.

The good news is that my wife is not really into technology, so much so that I could walk around talking into my shoe and she wouldn’t notice, so the appearance of a new handset replacing my trusty Blackberry is liable to coast right by her.

How to Hide the Transaction

Some fella’s worry about their wives abusing their credit cards. Conversely my wife lives in mortal fear of Macworld, WWDC, or even Costco coupons. She makes sure I don’t get away with anything. She is like an Indian tracker on my paper trail –and that ain’t easy, I travel an average of 2 trips a week. There’s a whole lot of perfectly legitimate business purchases on those cards. Nevertheless, she sticks her ear to the railroad tracks or whatever and can tell a $400 business dinner from a new phone purchase without hardly even looking at the bill.

Now some husbands get their own credit cards –a trick I tried. Yet with wanton disregard for federal law and postal regulations she just opens the bills anyway. So the credit cards are out.

The trick here is that I just have to go old school. Cash baby. See the wife doesn’t monitor the checking account. She knows I’d rather barter with chickens than try and pay for something with a check.

But the Apple store does not accept cash for iPhones.

And then a thought strikes me: The ATM card. If I could pay for the phone with the ATM card, and use my credit card to secure service, we’d have the perfect stealth purchase.

Now comes the hard part: waiting until July.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.

90 responses to “How to hide an iPhone Purchase From My Wife?”

  1. angus Shangus says:

    Leigh… is that an actual picture of you wife?!?!?! She’s hot!

  2. AAPLWatcher says:

    damn, those are all doomed to Fail. I’d try to help, but my wife a) bought me the 8G iPhone the day after it came out, just out of the blue, and b) was pissed to find out today the 2.0 iPhone wouldn’t be available for Father’s Day on Sunday.

  3. mn says:

    If you do any kind of business on your phone, just pay out of pocket and tell her it was purchased by the company. It works best if you preface it a week or two ahead of time. “Honey, the boss wants to test the new iPhone for company deployment and is getting me one of the first ones.” That way you get it on or near release day and she doesn’t get overly suspicious that you just want a new shiny-shiny.

  4. Nick says:

    I did a thing where I saved for a year. I nickeled and dimed my lunch money, gas money, whatever I could. Then on April 27th I went out and bought myself a brand-spanking new iPhone, dumped Verizon and was Oh-So-Happy!

    Now? They have a cheaper, better phone. I could kick someone’s ass.

  5. Craig Grannell says:

    My wife doesn’t want me to hide an iPhone purchase from her. Instead, her deal is that if I get one, it’s only fair that she gets one, too.

  6. Guest says:

    Cash buys you a prepaid visa… prepaid visa buys you iPhone.

  7. Thomas says:

    “But, really… That sounds like a whole lot of work for just a new phone.”

    Wow…hard work to keep a happy, healthy marriage…who would of thought?

    :P :P :P

    P.S. If you change “Buy it, and Hide it” to “Bury it, and Hide it” with the simple addition of a “r”, you can use some sweet insurance money to buy all the iPhones you could ever want or need.

    All joking aside : Just buy some fake jewelry for her, tell her it cost $300, and when she sees a mysterious bill, just say “oh, you caught me”.

    Or something.


  8. Jammer says:

    I seriously relate to this article. My wife being a type A micro manager when it comes to spending… I have to say from my own little version of “Our Town” that the argument is going to happen either in front of or behind the purchase. Since arguing before the purchase tends to be the most emasculating experience short of castration that I can imagine, I usually opt for the beg for forgiveness approach. Either way Love is Pain…


  9. Alan Christensen says:

    A series of small cash withdrawals between now and then. You remember cash, right?

  10. Lilly says:

    Quick question: any expectation that the iPod Touch will drop down in price as well? It seems silly that the lowest-end touch will cost $100 more than the freaking iPhone.

  11. -V says:

    Use cash to go buy one of the universal Visa gift (credit/debit) cards! Purchase problem… SOLVED!

  12. Greg says:

    I realize it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s really bad advice to all your young geek readers out there.

    Don’t be a jerk. How would you like it if she was lying to *you*? Relationships, especially marriage, are built on trust. She is supposed to be your partner.

    Talk to her about how you really want an iPhone. Make the case for how you’ll save enough money to buy it by cutting somewhere else. Set aside $50 a week until mid-July and you’ll have enough. Give her time to warm up to the idea. Come to an agreement.

    You might be surprised and find that she wants you to be happy and have the things you want.

    Lying to her will only lead to trouble. When she divorces your ass, a stupid telephone will seem pretty insignificant. And she’ll be right, too.

  13. Laura says:

    In response to GREG. Thank goodness for the voice of reason.

    Although I can understand the dilemma. I once purchased a computer for a business I was running, all up front and above board, and then was made to pay it back $20 a week (my “allowance” at the time) until it was paid off. To be made to act this way is dehumanizing, not just emasculating.

    I wonder, do you just spend willy nilly? if so, putting aside $20 bucks or so a week until you can get the phone might just make her feel proud that you handled it like a grown up.

    My husband can spend like that and it makes me paranoid. Then again, I am a major geek and am trying to figure out how to get the new iPhone for myself, plus a computer, plus any possible amount of geeky goodness I can lay my hands on…as long as it is from Apple.

  14. laurent says:

    Sorry but there is one option I haven’t seen: Don’t you and your wife have each a personal budget? Although not married, I live together with my girlfriend, sharing the expenses (when not providing 80/90% of our income) and besides the common costs (food, rent, etc…) we always allocate ourselves some personal budget, so if I want to buy some books, magazines, guitar or computer equipment, I am free to do so with my allocated budget. If she wants to buy clothes, books or whatever she fancies, she does it with her personal budget and this way we don’t have to distrust each other or hide ourselves. I guess it is better on the long run.

  15. shawk says:

    Buy two.
    Tell her that you have an idea to start developing for the iPhone and that you will need two for development. This only works if you actually develop something.
    Ask her how we, as a couple, can afford two of them.

  16. Jeff says:


    Buying the iPhone is easy. Maybe all you commentators can turn your big brains towards the $80-a-month phone bill.

    Yeah, I don’t see any answers for THAT little problem.

  17. fuzzy says:

    maybe if you asked your audience to pitch in one dollar each, then you could run off to the Apple store, just $1 from each reader of this fine blog uhmm, $3, errrrm, $6, ahh fuggit, just tell her you want one!!

  18. Jules says:

    Duh–convince your wife to buy your Iphone off you. (I just got a maybe, let me think about that when I suggested it. I couldn’t believe it!)

  19. Daniel says:

    Best strategy: planning. What’s bad is to just pop up one day and say “I’ve bought an iPhone” even if you quickly follow it up with how you sold your old one to cover the costs or how cheap it is or how much better it is. You’ve got at least one month before you can buy the thing, so make the most of it.

    Make it clear that a new iPhone is something you want, and are willing to save up for. Even as adults moderate to large purchases require saving. Come up with a plan for purchasing the iPhone without putting stress on your budget, or failing that some way of purchasing the iPhone without stressing her out.

    Trust me, if it worked for the original $600 iPhone for me, it can work for you. I think.

    Eh, who am I kidding, just do it the caveman way. Club her then drag yourself to the Apple/AT&T store.

  20. imajoebob says:

    This is simple. First, I have to assume you have friends, or at least an acquaintance that owe you a favour. Since the calling plan doesn’t seem to be the problem, all you need now is the cash. And here’s where it gets even better…

    Find a single friend with an AMEX card – or equivalent buyer protection credit card. Have him (I assume a “him” because a “her” would probably side with your wife) purchase the iPhone and generously present it as a gift. Well, shortly after you present him with a £99/$199 honorarium. Then you buy lunch.

    This works well for a few reasons:

    1) Cash is simple to hide. Take a few days to get the extra cash every time you go to the store. Who’s going to notice an extra £20 change back from shopping at the Tesco? Okay, £10 at Tesco, 20 at Waitrose. When you get those 12 flats of annuals from Home Depot slip an extra 30 bucks from the self-checkout. If she checks the Debit statement, all it will show is the store and the total transaction.

    2) You’ve laundered the purchase. Unless you married a forensic accountant with less of a life than me. Except for the box and receipt, there’s no way for her to find out about it. You need those, so stash them in the box from the LCD TV you bought three years ago. Yeah, the one still in the attic two years after the warranty expired. Science has shown that when stacked in a neat, discreet fashion, these boxes are actually invisible to the distaff gender.

    3) You doubled your warranty for free. You know you’ll want to replace it (again) in less than 12 months, so skip paying Apple for a warranty you won’t use, but get the security in case you actually keep it for two years. And you might even get breakage coverage for the first 3-6 months.

    Sleaze factor (higher is sleazier): 6 (assuming cheating on your wife is a 9. Cheating with her sister is a 10)

    As an alternative, you can start pissing and moaning about how you don’t want to give up your beloved Crack-berry, but with this new model iPhone you may have to get out front of the competition and start working on one SAP. A couple weeks of that and she’ll drag you in to see Dave herself.

    Sleaze factor: 2.5

    Drop your Blackberry. By itself that’s about a 4 on the SF, but you’re an idiot if you drop your Blackberry. Especially since somebody else already did it for you. Find a matching “As-Is” phone on ebay for about 20 bucks. Wait for the right moment, drop it on a hard surface, and start screaming like a little girl. Buy the iPhone. Sell the Blackberry on eBay.

    Sleaze factor is now 5. If you spend the ebay money oh her, it’s back to 4; on a Nichelle Nichols Signatureâ„¢ bluetooth earpiece and it’s up to a 6.

    Finally, there’s always the “Manolo” strategem. There must be something she bought that she slipped under your radar. And when you found it you just shut up and admired her deft skills. So when she finally asks if that’s a new phone, you just say, “No. It’s my new Jimmy Choo slingbacks” (substituting what she actually bought), and barely (just) smile. Your now better friends than ever. Or walking with a limp; it’s a toss-up.

  21. Mark says:

    Bargain. Women just LOVE to bargain. Give up something that she (thinks) you really want, and make her think that she’s winning. Remember, back in the days of the dinosaurs, we men were out chasing down wooly mammoth’s while the womenfolk were back bartering away our hard-earned meat.

    And for those who say it’s somehow wrong to game this particular system, we’re talking about the WIFE here. You’d only be taking this position if you’re not married.


  22. leigh says:

    @MacBooker and Craig: You guys suck. I had a friend once that was complaining to me that his wife made him waste a Saturday to go buy a new TV. I emphasize: Had a friend

    @Greg: Yes. This post is tagged humor because it’s supposed to be satirical, and not taken seriously. All my fellow geeklings out there are advised to love and cherish their significant others, and deal only in honestly and mutual respect.

    In real life, my wife and I have a relationship based on a partnership of trust and commitment, where I am always wrong, and must stop immediately anything I happen to be doing to tend to any slight request she might have.

    Our relationship has flourished under this formula for 10 years and will likely continue until I am dead, which lord grant me small graces, will be sometime soon.

  23. leigh says:

    @imajoebob, your comment was so funny I had to promote it’s mention to the main article. LOL.

  24. leigh says:

    @Jeff: the calling plan ain’t the issue… the plan for my blackberry is over 150/month. RIM invented expensive monthly plans for their phones.

  25. Jeff says:

    Well, geez, Leigh. You’ve got the hard part figured out already!

    I currently pay $60 a month for both my and my wife’s cell phones. Going from that to one-hundred-something dollars a month for 2 iPhones is a bit of a problem.

    The hardware isn’t an issue, it’s anything that competes with the mortgage that’s hard!

  26. Andrew DK says:

    This post and you people encouraging a deceitful marriage make me sick.

    Your wife gets on your case because you have budging problems and the first solution you come up with is to become a deceitful bastard… instead of making an actual, you know… BUDGET?!

    And 90% of you commenters are vetting the best web of lies for you to construct? What the hell is wrong with all of you?

    Here’s my strategy for you: Quit being a lying sack and work openly with your wife on your financial goals discussing REALISTICALLY both of your expected future purchases and how you two will afford them.

    I know this probably sounds CRAZY to all of you but let’s see what you get out of it:
    1) Your wife’ll be happy knowing you’re not going behind her back to purchase expensive shit all the time and start to trust you (imaging that).
    2) You’ll be happy cause you’ll be able to enjoy your new gadget without having to sneak around like a chump hiding your illicit purchases.
    3) You’ll both be happy knowing that you’re both working toward a stable, solvent financial future.

    It’s so crazy, it just might work…

  27. leigh says:

    //satire off//
    @Church … satire… dude… relax. You’re right of course, and you make good points. On #3 specifically. I own my house and cars, and live basically debt-free. (Credit for all of that is due to the diligent work of my lovely wife, policing yours truly).

    It is a lifestyle I would encourage ALL of our readers to pursue, as the “Big” issues that cause strife in a marriage go away when you’re not worried about bills and a mortgage.

    You will of course find other things to ping each other on, like me and gadgets (the woman won’t let me have a food processor (seriously), not because we can’t afford it, just because we lack cabinet space), or her obsession with– well she doesn’t really have any faults –other than constantly picking on me… which I suppose I probably deserve…

    //Satire back on//

  28. MD says:

    I can barely stomach reading this. Are you people serious? This is actually a negotiation? If you have to even think twice about buying yourself a $199 gadget you are in an unhappy marriage and you should get out fast.

    What the hell has happened to men in this country? You make me sick.

  29. Joe says:

    Go for the The Yin Yang approach
    Buy one for her and another for yourself.
    I do this all the time, she gets cross about the outlay, but the joy of her new phone overrides that.
    Becomes “Oh you are naughty… but… thanks x”

    Works every time


  30. C Ontiveros says:

    I’ve been begging my wife for this since the iPhone was announced. I told her I’d wait off until the 3G model. I told her about it, she could hear my girlish Harland Williams screams going on and asked the price. I told her about how the phone dropped to 200. She sighed and said “fine.”

    I’m planning on getting her a new MacBook and later an iPhone when her contract it up for upgrades. This will be her Mother’s Day present 2009.

  31. Ryan Ray says:


  32. gonzopancho says:

    Two words: Ashley Dupre. As in, remind her that you could be buying liquor and lapdances, and that she’s damn glad you’re not like .

  33. jim kr says:

    grow a dick faggot.

  34. Rick says:

    You can easily hide it, put it were your testicles used to be ;-)

  35. Nathan says:

    See, this is where being gay is totally brilliant. I’m gay (and coincidentally, so is my partner). We’re both geeks, we’re both gadget freaks. I’m under strict instructions to “BUY THE IPHONE FIRST CHANCE YOU GET”, no questions asked. No hiding, no problems.

    Eat my shorts, straight dudes.

  36. gadgetboy says:

    Love this post.

    My wife always gets my hand-me-down technology, so she doesn’t always mind when I purchase new gadgets. She’ll get my current iPhone after I activate my 3G.

    In the spirit of the original post, you might like this:





    John Federico

  37. Parker says:

    LOL. You should seriously look at your relationship.

  38. phil says:

    Be a man you pansy. Just buy it and learn to stand up for yourself. I can’t believe the crap you say you have to go through and the limp dick replies on here.

  39. leigh says:

    @JF: Loved your post. It was awesome!

  40. Art Gonzalez says:

    Easy…just buy her one too. She’ll be thrilled. My wife can’t wait for hers.

    Art Gonzalez
    Check my Squidoo Lens at: Quantum Knights

  41. Sumit says:

    Are you me (or, is your wife my wife)? This hits spookily close …

  42. scottkellyfa711 says:

    Leigh — this was marvelous — both I and my beloved bride about busted a gut laughing, especially the first graf under “How to Hide the Transaction.” (Lois is the tightwad in our house, so she handles the checkbook, so we both identified.)

    However, under the heading of “proof I have the bestest wife in the whole wide world,” she’s authorized the purchase of two 3G iPhones, one for each of us. In my case, because my 2G phone will be, like, so last year when the new one comes out, and in hers, because she wants a Bluetooth phone to pair with the car so she can talk hands-free while driving, and the only Bluetooth-ready phone she likes….is the iPhone.

    Damn, I love this woman…. ;)

  43. Frank says:

    You should be joking. If you can’t make a purchase of a few hundred dollars without anyone else’s approval, and are a legal adult, you require serious counseling, or perhaps, a wet nurse and pacifier.


  44. scottkellyfa711 says:

    @Frank — you might have a point, if it were only a single purchase. But how many people bury themselves in debt, a couple hundred (or couple thousand) dollars at a time? There’s even a catchphrase for it: the “$30,000 millionaire.” (http://www.associatedcontent.c… This is why we put the tightwad of the house in charge of the checkbook. Without that fiscal discipline, there’d be no opportunity to just walk into the Apple store in July and plop down for a pair of shiny new iPhones.

    Besides, this is a humorous post. What red-blooded and domesticated male can’t identify with this? ;)

  45. pg says:

    My plan is to buy the 3G for my wife ( a PC gal ) and give her my original iPhone. She’ll love me for it and it’ll come preloaded with her iTunes!! I don’t think she realizes I paid the $700 for the first one yet.