Our Budget Needs Help - Husband So Stubborn!

Updated on August 04, 2012
L.J. asks from Minneapolis, MN
10 answers

Help, we need to stick to our budget better! With each paycheck every 2 weeks, we always seem to be in red - no matter what. We are able to pay all of our utilites, mortgage, put some money in savings, and also contribute to our IRA's. Often, what gets us in the red is out-of-the-norm bills like medical/dental, occassional credit card purchases, home improvement items, etc. What our major disagreement has been is that he feels any leftover money there is to improve our home is more necessary than say me spending $$ on a tank of gas to go visit family once a month or so. He argues that home improvement shows permanance (meaning you can see it forever), vs. my trips to see family have nothing to show for (so, not true! Try we are making wonderful memories for our children!) We do have our own slush funds to spend what we want on whatever, but neither of these above items fall into that category.

As a SAHM, I pay the bills and present to him every 2 weeks what has been paid, what potential bills could be coming up, and what $$ are left over (if any) to get us through the next 2 weeks. We use Quicken, so all expenses are tracked. I guess what I need some advice on who's right or who's wrong? Both of us want feel passionate about these items, but if he feels I need to cut back on my trips, and I feel he needs to cut back on home improvement stuff. We could set aside a dollar limit for each of these, but he would say no way (for him) in a heartbeat. He is the breadwinner, so I know he deserves time to do things such as this (he loves working out in the garage), but can I have some enjoyment in life too?

I would love to have him consider Dave Ramsey's program, but he would never operate on cash alone. Maybe there is no answer to this dilemma since we both want our ways so to speak. Any advice or wisdom would be great. Thanks!

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answers from Houston on

What kind of home improvement projects are they to always have to be coming up? Is your house an older home that needs major repairs? If not, than you don't always need to be improving the house. You both need to have a discussion on "wants vs needs". You guys need to come up with a monthly budget on what can be put into home improvement and how much to put in gas for family visits. Also, how far is family? Ours is 6 hours away and frequent visits can get expensive. We only go up every 4 months or so. Also, stop the credit card purchases, and add more to an emergency savings fund.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Tell him that you are not a child and need some pocket money that is yours. You can buy 100 packs of bubble gum with it if you want. He does not get to know what it is used for or what you bought if anything at all. Nothing of the budget comes out of that money, not groceries, not back to school supplies or clothes, not your clothing, or hair care, nothing is designated for this money.

He hands it to you and it is gone from his knowledge base. He can never ask you what you did with it either. I think it should be 5%-10% of the pay but I guess if he makes $100K per year then that would give you too much money per month...lol.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

How far/how much gas are you using "once a month or so"? And what kind of home "improvement" items is he spending on?

You don't have to go to Dave Ramsey's class to recognize that you need to do some compromising. What is typically recommended in a budget like that is to have a list of priorities that you go down, as to how the "extra" money is spent.
So you have to sit down and write out your list. You and husband together.
What is on that list? Anything really, that isn't a regular monthly expense/bill (not groceries, car payment, etc).
saving to buy a new car
buying a new lawnmower
replacing the broken edger (or getting it repaired)
trip to visit extended family
new patio furniture
new dishwasher
new bedspread
bricks/mortar for a new landscape focal point
replacement American Flag for the faded one

You get the idea. And you "attack" that list with whatever "extra" money you have. If you have big ticket items you are saving for (like a car, for example) then you might list a dollar amount for that item that you would "apply" to that long term item out of the "extra". So... $400 not specifically allotted to any one budget item (extra), means (for example) $200 towards saving for a car, and $200 for ______.

You can always address changes to the priorities list. You will always have to find compromises. Maybe you BOTH need to cut back. You cut down to every OTHER month, and he cuts down on frequency of projects.

If your family is far enough away that it takes an entire tank of gas, does that mean it is an overnight/weekend stay each time? Because if it is, once a month does sound pretty frequent. If you both are fine with that, great, it isn't my business. But it doesn't sound like HE is fine with it. And I would probably tend to agree with that, unless there is something more special about these visits (serious illness, bridal showers/weddings/baby shower/birth of a new cousin, 50th wedding anniversary, etc).

Some compromise is in order. Both sides.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hubby and I have a "goals" list. We then create a budget from that. So there is X amount per year for gas, etc. Mostly I do the budget and hubby helps me decide on big ticket items. (i'm a SAHM, fully responsible for our finances).

Sounds to me like you guys need to discuss what needs to get done around the house, where the money should be spent, etc. together.

Left over money should be saved for an emergency account, unless some Home improvement is necessary. But you should have a home improvement limit for the year. It's about priorities and living life, not spending it all in one place.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

A typical man will always find some home improvement project, whether or not it is needed. My husband has been barking about a new roof for about 3 years. We have no leaks of any kind. Sure eventually it will need to be replaced, but we could desperately use new windows. Most times it's all about "HIS IDEA" as opposed to your idea. If he had the idea to visit family, then in his head.........that's a no brainer. Include the gas $$$ to visit family in your slush fund or your Fun Fund! There is a joke about how many men does it take to screw in a light bulb. The answer: No one knows, because instead of screwing in the light bulb, they decided to take out the light fixture, drop the ceiling and put in (unrequested) track lighting.

He should be glad that you are staying on top of the bills and managing the $$$.



answers from Detroit on

May I propose a husband swap? My husband will gladly put $$$ into a gas tank to go visit his family but will barely put in the minimum for house upkeep. Leaking, falling apart, pain peeling off of it? As long as it still works, or something. I have to push and pull, beg, and wait years for something to be replaced or fixed. The grass is always greener. And there is no right or wrong. It's about balance and you both taking turns so you can both get what you want.

Our library has the Dave Ramsey books to check out (so you may not need to invest the $$ in the books), and I've heard there is a phone app equivalent to the envelope method, maybe check that out? But it sounds like you should both back off a little bit so you can stop building up your emergency fund.

Good luck no matter you come up with.



answers from Rapid City on

How often do you see his parents? Sometimes the spouses forget that you love your parents as much as they do theirs. I guess this is the way I look at it. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Say there is a fire and you lose your house, you will go out and get a new one and you will be thankful because your family is in tact. If he cuts your time down that is spent with your family and heaven forbid something happened and you lose one of them, you can't go out and replace that person or make up for the time and memories lost. It would destroy your marriage, your family because he forced it on you. Cut back where you can, but budget in the gas money for you to go see your family. Things and homes can be replaced, people can't.

Something you can think about also is finding a way that you can earn some money from home. I don't know how old your children are but selling Avon or some other home business where you go to homes for parties in the evening when your husband is home to take care of the kids may be the answer to earning extra money and showing him that while he brings home the paycheck, you do your share in earning it by taking care of the house and children and that isn't a piece of cake.



answers from Springfield on

"He is the breadwinner, so I know he deserves time to do things such as this (he loves working out in the garage), but can I have some enjoyment in life too?" - That's ridiculous!!!

You are a married couple. You are partners in life. He may be the breadwinner, but the work you do is just as important and is absolutely crucial to the family. You are in no way less deserving than he is, so just get that idea out of your head!

Also, you can still follow Dave Ramsey's plan without using cash. That's his way, but his plan can be adapted.

One thing you might consider mentioning to him is the difference between "I deserve" and "We can afford." People can say, "I work so hard that I deserve a brand new BMW." That's nice, but if you can't afford it, you can't afford it.

It really does seem like the time is right to discuss a reasonable amount of money that each of you can have each month that is just for you to spend on whatever you want. But it must be the same or at least something you are both ok with!

Actually, in my case my husband spends way more than I do each month, but for some reason I just don't care. I do need to reign him in every once in awhile, but it's a system that we are both happy with.



answers from Minneapolis on

Have you asked him why he dosent want you to spend money to see your family. is it because he dosent want to go? or maybe he misses you if he stays home? also it seems to me his working in the garage is a stress reliver for him and you visiting family is a stress reliver for you EVERYONE needs something to relieve stress. Maybe you talk to him about how you know working in the garage makes him a better husband and father and if he seems to follow that then tell him visiting family makes you a better wife and mother. Good luck I hope you can both find a way to compermise



answers from Wausau on

You're both wrong. Operating in the red means that 'left over' money is not actually left over, it is just being poorly spent. There should never be left over money in a good budget. It should always be allocated somewhere.

Start over and draw up a new budget, and do it together.

Include all the bills.
Include regular necessary expenses like groceries and (non-travel) gas.
Include emergency savings.
Include planned savings for things like car repair, medical fund, clothing, school costs, etc.

If you still have money available after the important things are covered, allocate a specific amount for each of you towards your travel and his projects. If cutbacks are necessary, then both of you do so equally.

Another idea - invite your family to come visit you. That saves you a tank of gas and they get to see all the improvements your husband has made.

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