Marriage and Dealing with Money

Updated on March 22, 2008
M.K. asks from Somerset, WI
26 answers

Well-

I'm new to this site, but I can really see myself relating to so many of the questions and concerns that all of you have in so many areas. My biggest struggle right now is dealing with money and my husband's spending habits. He cannot seem to stay away from charing large purchases on credit cards. We ended up having to refinance our home a year ago, and got out of debt, only to be just hoovering around new debt again a little over a year later. We recently had a baby three months ago ... and with maternity leave right at Christmas time we got behind again. We have seperate checking accounts but try to split all household bills, mort., etc. 50/50. I still feel like he needs to be responsible with his money even though our accounts are seperate, after all, we are married. We cannot even have a conversation about money without him getting very angry and defensive and it never ends up with any resolve. I have tried to make a family budget plan, spending hours working on it, only for him to give it a single glance and dismiss it. Do you have any tips on dealing with this situation? How do I get through to him. I'm so afraid of getting into debt again. HELP!

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M.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

M.,

I'd suggest the book "For Richer Not Poorer" by Ruth Hayden. (They have it at the Hennepin County library.) She also does a class called Couples & Money (in St. Paul), which my husband and I have taken and would highly recommend. She's a financial advisor who focuses specifically on women and couples; she's often on MPR and Public Television as a money commentator.

Her website is http://www.ruthhayden.com/

Good luck!

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L.F.

answers from Lincoln on

Hi M.,
I would think a joint checking account would be a good start. But even better... DAVE RAMSEY!!! He has a class called Financial Peace University... please look on his website www.daveramsey.com, go to the left side and click on Financial Peace University. From here you can type in your zip code and find a class near you!! Dave Ramsey is WONDERFUL!! He is Christian based and teaches you how to get out of debt, make a working budget, USE CASH, and many, many other great things!
My husband and I had started going to a class in Jan 06 but only finished 5 classes due to daughter and grandfather health issues. It was working for us though!! We started another class in Sept 07 and attended each class and graduated! We are quickly climbing out of debt and it feels great!! There is another FPU starting now and we plan to go back to some classes for a refresher also! We love it that much!
When you sign up for the class you get a box of materials. On our box (old version, new one out this year!) it said the average family will eliminate $5,300 in debt AND save $2,700. I had a very, very hard time believing that. To my surprise, It was true for us!!!
Going by Dave's plan has just been HUGE for us!! We love Dave Ramsey!! He has totally changed our lives and our family! I have nothing but good things to say about his plan. Your money problems will honestly get better if you follow his steps!! www.daveramsey.com
Please, Please, Please check it out for yourself! It is Life Changing!! It does help the marriage too, and everything else for that matter! All of you reading this probably think I'm a crazy lady, I'm not. I have experienced what following Dave's plan can do!! And soon, I'll be debt free!
Good Luck M., and all others looking into Dave Ramsey! Email me if anyone wants more info!
L.

1 mom found this helpful
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D.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

use one checking account. allot an allowance for each of you to spend each week as you see fit. if an item is over, like $50, it needs to be approved by each of you. he should use only cash, not credit cards...too tempting.

1 mom found this helpful
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M.P.

answers from Omaha on

M.-

I know exactly what you are feeling, and although I do not have that much advice for you I would also like to vent with you. Why cant guys control themselves??? I mean did the women have to control all the money all the time? I thought back in the day the men worked and paid the bills and the women are the socializers. But is seems like almost every house hold the women are the money controllers. I wouldnt mind this and I was happy to take this job on for the family but it has cause so much stress on me. He spends and I have to figure a way to by baby food or diapers the next day. I am just so frusterated with being the mean one of the family and the stress of not having enough to make that week. If I even try to talk to him he gets mad and uses some excuse that he will have an anxiety attack if he knows how far we are in the hole.

I did recently consulted a financial counsler, Cambridge counsling service. (Which my husband doesnt even know about) But she was able to take all of our credit cards and debt to doctors and make it one payment and lower the interest rate between 0-6%, which makes a hug difference in the %29.99 we were paying. Did you know credit card companies like Chase can raise your rates even if you are not late, by just looking at you debt/income ratio and your relationship with other creditors! I was suprized to see how much our 2 credit cards hiked our rates.

My Credit counslor is sending me materials on how to get out of debt and what your credit score looks like and what it means. They go through your spending and bills and find a comfortable payment for you to make to pay off your debt. She is also checking in with me evey so often to make sure I am doing okay and said to call her whenever I feel overhelmed. She said you need to be saving 10% out of all paychecks you receive. And she is going to see to it that I do.

Good News is that we will be debt Free in 4 years!! Cars and all. Let me know if you want me info, I think she is going to save a marriage. Good Luck on the husband and let me know if you need someone to vent to. Us women need to stick together, we need someone to talk to since our husbands won't.

M.

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S.B.

answers from Sioux Falls on

Hi M.,

You might want to check out a guy named Dave Ramsey. He is a radio talk show host/author who deals with getting out of debt and changing your spending habits. Refinancing doesn't work because you're still spending the same way and then you get back into the same rut you were in before you refinanced. I listen to his talk show and MANY people call in with your exact situation. My husband and I have both read one of his books (Total Money Makeover) and we currently live by a budget every month. Anything that comes up that wasn't included in the budget has to be discussed and approved by both of us. We no longer have any credit cards - as others have said, it's just too easy to use them. He also talks about looking at each debt you have and paying off the smallest balance first and then the second smallest, and third and so on. He promotes this method (instead of paying off high interest rate balances first) so that you can feel empowered by paying something off and then moving on to the next and so on. Not sure if I'm explaining very well, but check him out. His method has changed our lives. Good luck!

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A.J.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi M., Thank you for your courage to ask for help in this area. It is something we all deal with on a regular basis. We had a similar situation and not just once. I will share this story that was a wake up call to me and putting priorities straight. We needed a new dishwasher for years. When I would bring it up with my husband it was always it costs money. Thinking about it we could have made a long list of home improvement items that should be on a budget list of updates and home improvement. So winter comes again and no plans on updating the dishwasher-now it is not working and not fixable. His brother stops over and mentions his other brother had a snowmobile for sale for $200.00. There was no hesitation. The rationale being he could pull the kids behind on a sled. Mind you we have a four wheeler to also do that. So here in lies the lesson and in so many words I relayed to my husband. We have no business buying a snowmobile when we can't afford the things we need to run a household and general repairs that need to be done. Wants vs. Needs. I believe this can be a difficult transition once married and beginning a family. Dynamics change and you have more responsiblilies so sometimes delayed gratification is more difficult. Our wants need to be put on a wish list and saved for in accordance to things that are truly needed....retirement, college funds, home repair, etc. A good rule of thumb is that if you are going to pay over $200 for something has to be agreed on by both parties. I believe this is a reasonable request.
Resources
Ron Ball-"Goal Setting" a great resource on setting goals that both partners can agree upon.
www.wife.org
Feed the Pig
Good Luck-this is an ever revolving challenge in our household. Financial Independence is a honorable goal. I wish you all the best on your quest. AJ

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J.C.

answers from Waterloo on

calmly write a letter or send an e-mail to your husband, letting him know how you feel about this issue. This way, you are being heard out without your husband getting angry in your face. You are not talking to him, so he cannot interrupt you.

Hope this works. :) keep hanging in there.

J. Carleston

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J.B.

answers from Fargo on

Have you thought about couples therapy. It can really be a big help. 2nd thing, let me tell you about my parents 26 years of marrage. My dad was just like, spent money without a thought. He also had a drinking problem so spent even more in the bar. For the greater part of their marrage my mother controled the checkbook. That helped keep them out of debt. She would give him money everyday but he didn't have access to drain them. Trust me. THAT DOESN'T WORK. You think you fight now. My dad hated it, but my mom didn't know any other way to make sure things were paid. All they ever fought about was money. It finally got to the point that my mom got sick of my dad's badgering about how he worked but couldn't buy anything with his money. So my mom took her money out and got her own account. THey split the bills and other household needs. My mom, the penny pincher, of course had a nice little pile of money saved up. For emergancies. My dad has now had his checkbook back for about 2 years or so and here's the thing, He STILL doesn't have that 4 wheeler and the money my mom had saved is gone. Moral of the story, Couples therapy. You two need to figure out what works, otherwise he isn't going to just change because you want him too.

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K.S.

answers from Milwaukee on

Hi M.,
As so many other women, I too have had major issues with this lately. It has taken some time to get through to my husband but I finally figured out that simply asking him to do it and be responsible doesn't help. I think he felt patronized so instead I moved into a couple different angles that have worked for me. One, I was worried about our credit score and pleaded with him to try to pay bills when we get them rather than in the grace period- especially our mortgage! I also just came clean and told him that it really stresses me out that we keep accruing debt. I think between caring about my well-being and stress level paired with the realization that our credit may suffer he has started to come around. I know you feel urgency on this but remember as with everything, men seem to mature in this a little slower. Hang in there, if he loves you and your daughters he'll start putting you guys first. I also remind him that we don't really need that, when he talks about buying things. Good luck!!!

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L.A.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi. I am a newly wed and found that the key is to be able to talk about everything. It is extremely important to talk. I believe that all decisions are to be made by "two" in a marriage. Dont give up talking about it with him.
I'd also like to add that I live in the area and work for a company that helps people with budgets and saving money. We teach about money and the importance of saving. Let me know if you'd like to get together. The first meeting is an overview of what we do, it takes about 30 minutes to sit down with you and your husband. If at the end of 30 minutes we dont seem to bring any value just give us the word and we will not bother you again.

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J.F.

answers from Green Bay on

Congrats on your new addition

I highly recommend reading any of Louise L.Hay books....

Enjoy

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B.J.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi M.- Kids and money- a big stresser on marriage when both have different prospectives. If it gets bad- I'd suggest a cousellor- outside ideas from a neutral party.
I have friends who split over this then resolved it by having a joint fund for all household bills. Each contributes their fair share based on % income bringing in and it's not a 50/50 split. All bills get paid from that account. They also have separate fun money accounts- which they can spend as they wish with no accountability. It gives them that sense of this is money I have and can spend. That only gets funded if the main bills are taken care of by the joint account.
I hope this helps.
If you're looking to earn some extra income- I also work and have 6yo twins in private school. I do a part time home business- last month I brought in over 2K. I am a busy medical professional and so is my hubby- so we don't often argue over money- but since I cut back part time now- with priv. school tuition and being older parents who want to retire on schedule- we're saving over 30% of our household income still so things are tight and this gives us the extra cash for living fun.
B. j
[email protected]____.com
http://www.success4us.org

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M.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

I think that in order for you to start to resolve your problem, both you and your husband have to agree that there is a problem. If you don’t you will continue to argue and your money issues will never be solved. A couple ways my husband and I handle our money is to have all money go to a joint account out of which all bills are paid. We each get weekly cash allowance of $80 each and that money is used for everything outside of our normal household bills which include groceries and gas. If I want a high priced item I just try not to spend all my money during the week and save up. Another rule we have is that both of us must agree upon any purchase over $300. If one does not agree, the item cannot be purchased. We are lucky in that we have the same philosophies about money and would prefer to live within our means in order to secure a long and comfortable retirement and to be able to help our kids when they go to college. I would also suggest that you use Quicken or some other money program to help track your spending. This helps you see really where your money is going and where you are able to cut back and save. Hope this helps.

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K.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

M.,
Close those credit cards! Maybe keep one hidden away for an emergency. But get those credit cards out of your husband's hands! Or call your creditors, have them lower your limits. If your husband is fond of a card, consider one of those prepaid cards. That way when his money runs out, that's the end.

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M.F.

answers from Bismarck on

Counseling. Believe me, rather than fight over this constantly and trying to get him to understand. Get him into counseling and insist that he go for your marriage.

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H.A.

answers from Waterloo on

I agree with Kami B. Get those cards away from him. Hide one for emergancies that only YOU know where it is. You may also want to look into some couples councelling. Money is the #1 argument in marriage, so you are not alone!

Also, we consolidated our debt with Consolidated Credit and have had nothing but a good experience with them =)

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A.C.

answers from Madison on

M. - Money is the #1 stresser in marriage. I teach personal finance at a credit union and have learned a lot over the years. The first step you can try is to itemize all spending for 1-2 weeks. Show income and expenses. Is more money spent than made? Find the receipts for credit cards and other expenses.

Set a time to sit down, after the kids go to bed, with a glass of wine/beer, and talk about choices. Don't judge, just talk. You're in this together and for life. The money choices made now are going to impact money choices 10 years from now. It is very hard not to live in the moment and temptation is hard to avoid.

Good luck, this issue is one we all face in various degrees and it takes work every day/week to achieve your financial goals.

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S.G.

answers from Rapid City on

First of all, you are dealing with a shopping addict. Credit cards are just the tool he has to fuel his addiction. You need to get him to agree not to have anymore credit cards except for one for emergancies. Until you get rid of the cards and the means of overspending, things will not change. After that, you may find the way to handle the bills and budgeting that works out best for you. Some have a joint account for joint bills in which you each put a percentage of what you make to cover them, then what is left over should be divided into savings and spending. Don't spend out of the savings, keep it for those times you are having short paychecks or if one would be off work, like for the maternity leave. If he wants a big ticket item, he should save it out of his spending money, the money he has left from his check after bills and savings.

I found that I like us having a joint account in which his checks go into to cover bills. We have a savings account which we put in $50 a week to cover things when we are short, another, harder to get to savings account that we put in 10 percent of wages taken right from the paycheck, so we don't miss it. This is for those times when we need extra money for unforseen things, like helping out my daughter when she broke her leg and couldn't work for 2 months. I use my pay for clothing, gifts, extras, household decorating, you know the things that you don't cover with usual household bills. That wouldn't work for those who need both checks just to get by.
Another way I have seen it done is by dividing up the bills by the percentage that a person makes. If the husband makes more then the wife, he takes that much more of the bills. Each are responsible for getting those bills paid each month, what is left over is theirs to do whatever with. These are just some different ideas on how to deal with money but first you need to get his addiction under control.

Good luck

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B.K.

answers from Green Bay on

Your husband needs help. If he doesnt want to listen to you he need to seek professional help. GOOD LUCK

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T.R.

answers from Fargo on

My husband and I just recently became debt free by using the Dave Ramsey program. He is Christian based and has many wonderful and useful ideas and tips. He has a radio talk show that airs M-F from 1:00 -4:00 in the afternoon in our area of South Dakota. He also has a website that you can go to to get help. It is daveramsey.com. He is based out of Tennessee I think. I hope this information is helpful. We paid off our debt in 16 months (about 37,000). It can be done.

T. R

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S.S.

answers from Lincoln on

My take, and I'm going to be direct. You are married. 100%, not 50%. Dividing everything "equally" is enabling your husband to spend as he desires, since only he sees his bills. I advise you have a single checking account and pay all the bills TOGETHER. This way, you are each held accountable by the other and there can be no financial surprises. Especially since you each have others to think of besides yourselves. Debt's terrible, so dealing with it as a couple is the only way. If your husband refuses to put your accounts together and pay the bills that way or continues to run up your credit card debt (yes, it's yours too, you're married), seek marital counseling-something bigger is going on.

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T.K.

answers from Milwaukee on

Hi M.,

I am in the EXACT same position as you, and I look forward to the suggestions of the other moms. I hate feeling like I am my husband's mother. I am his WIFE, not his mother, but I feel like if I don't take total control of our finances, we'll never get out of debt either. Good luck to you!

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M.I.

answers from Des Moines on

Hi M.,

I see other people have mentioned Dave Ramsey. My husband and I are currently using his system and it really works. As mentioned previously, you can find out when he's on the radio locally or listen to him on-line. I would also highly recommend his book "The Total Money Makeover". It has made all the difference in the world!

Good Luck!

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R.N.

answers from St. Cloud on

I found the separate accounts only make it harder because then you both have to be in control. For several generations my family have had one of the spouses (usually the women) control the family accounts, and the other spouse gets a spending money sum that can be used or saved as he sees fit.

First of all you husband has to see that controlling 2 checkbooks and multiple credit cards is part of the challenge. Then you need to agree on who is going to to take daily control of the accounts, while the other one only worries about the larger purchases/debts with you.

If you keep only 2 active credit cards that will help too. ! of those cards is your everyday- conveinece card. This gets paid off completely every month and is used for gas, internet and other purchases where a card is just plain nice to have. Your other card is for big expenses. This is not a card you should carry with you. In fact, put it in a bucket of ice in the freezer. Then when you have decided to buy that larger ticket item, you take the bucket of ice out of the freezer and thaw it. When it is thawed, if you still want to buy that item you can, but most of the time that buying impulse has worn off.

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T.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi M.
My advice to you is you need to see a finacial counsler.They can help you figure out what you spend vs what you make and how to get and stay out of debt. It worked wonders on our marriage and budget. Good Luck :) T.

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B.H.

answers from Omaha on

Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University saved us in this area. It forced my husband (the free spirit) to talk about money 17 minutes a month with me (the nerd). Those are Dave Ramsey's terms. We have also quit using credit cards altogether. Churches all over the country offer this course. I highly recommend it. It improves the communication about money in a marriage.

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