Who Handles the Bills?

Updated on August 06, 2006
D.W. asks from Frisco, TX
22 answers

My request is really a marriage question. But i'm so frustrated with the finances in our home I wanted reach out to see if others have gone through this or if I just need an attitude re-adjustment...so here is the situation:

My husband and I both work. When we got married we each maintained our own checking accounts, but also opened up a joint account for bills etc. At first we each were putting a designated amount of money to cover the bills into the joint account. That worked for a while however I had the responsiblitiy of opening the bills, determinining the total amount due and letting him know how much to put in. I felt resentment that the responsiblitly feel on me, but in our pre-marital counseling sessions, our pastor suggested that the person who has strengh in that area should handle it for a time. Then when the kids came along, I found it harder and harder to work outside of the house, be mommy, wife and run the household. So things were falling behind and I suggested that we split responsility of the bills. He agreed, but soon feel behind on what was to look after, so I ended up taking that over again. My husband is not responsible with money at all.He has run up several credit cards by wining and dinning potential clients, over and above what he actually gets reimbursed for. We end out paying hundreds of dollars from our pocket to cover the payments. Even though we make a good living, I feel broke all of the time, I worry about having enough money for the basics. He hates talking about money and our money talks end up in an arguement. He checks the mail and sees bills but brings them in without even opening them or seeing when they are due. I want him to partner with me and be more involved in what it takes to run our household both financially and from a time perspective. His is a happy go luck person and I feel like his mother when I have to go to him about money I need for the household. I would love to hear how money and bill paying is handled in your household and success you might have had in this area. I know this might be a personal question, but I was raised in a single parent household and really don't have any examples to follow.

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So What Happened?

Just wanted to thank everyone for their advice. It was comforting to know I'm not alone in this situation (or crazy). I feel actually empowered to take on this task for the betterment of our household. Thanks again and keep us in prayer. D.

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H.V.

answers from Dallas on

I really dont want to do the bills but i do.... I know if he did them it wouldnt get done right. I just try to let him know at the end of the 2 weeks if we are getting low or not.
It is really hard cause i want him to help, but i know if he does it will just be a fiasco (sp)

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M.S.

answers from Dallas on

I personally think he should be responsible for the bills for at least a couple of months just so he can see what all it takes to deal with them. I don't think one can truely appreciate the time it takes and how much bills can add up to be until they are the ones in the hot seat making sure everything gets paid. I don't know who is the better money person or the person who has more time they can dedicate to it, but both parties should know what is involved. In my home, we have only one checking account. When we first married, I was a stay at home mom to our son and I paid the bills since he was working. When my son turned two and I went back to work he took over paying the bills for a while, and of course after I quit working and stayed at home again I took them back. We both are very aware of our bills and what it takes to make sure they are paid so we can have discussions on spending and understand where the other is coming from. If he will do it for a couple of months, it will help you to discuss financial matters rather than argue out of lack of knowledge. he would probably then understand why his excessive wining and dining is a concern.

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A.R.

answers from Dallas on

Our situation is much the same except I'm the one who is bad with money and finances. We finally went to a financial advisor and it helped a great deal. It helps elminate any resentment your husband may feel because the advisor acts as a mediator. Plus, you can really get your finances in good order. It's like a financial workout. If he feels a vested interest and can see some growth maybe he'll participate better - at least it worked for me. Good luck.

T.L.

answers from Dallas on

Hello,
We did the same thing. We had our own accounts in the beginning. But when I started to stay home I was put on a budget/allowence he was/is not. He does the bills twice a month. I requested that he put all the info on a spreedsheet so that if anything were to happen I could refer to it and not be in the dark. Also he pays everything online that we possibly can. This makes it much easier to refer back to. This took over 3 yrs to iron out but we both had to learn to manage a home, marriage, baby and life. I dont open the bills either. The main purpose of that is I dont want if to get confused and think its paid because its opened.
My husband also over spends his when it comes to clients. They didn't have a card for that so he would use our card. Things would get forgotten or the office issued check would be a week late to cover the extra charges. Just think of all the finance charges. Finally they got them their own cards for this purpose.

So just a few things can help because you stay home;

1) you both are given an allowance in cash each week
2) you pay the bills (he can make dinner, take care of the kids, give them baths and put them to bed on bill-pay days)
3) try to do it online
4) keep a spreed sheet of all bills paid, the date and the amounts
5) don't forget the savings
6) get him a credit-card just for work stuff. Give him a seperate allowence, in cash on the day of, for the fun things he can't charge. He won't feel tied down and over spend to spite you.
7) get rid of the cards you dont need like Target or Best Buy
8) make a kid allowance too for things like birthday gifts, cloths, hair cuts, sick co-pays, fun stuff.
9) be flexable if you have to dip here and there. Just add extra to savings when you under spend.
10) have a spot where the bills go, unopened. Open it when you are ready to pay. Throw the envolope away and mark the invoice in big letters PAID $X on DAY ? and file it.
11) pay what ever you can in cash. We try to do this. We can say we are mostly dept free.
If we want a TV we do the no payments no interest thing and pay it off ASAP. We dont look at another thing untill it is paid.

I know 11 looks like alot, but you are probably already doing most or all these things.

Well good luck,
TLee

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S.B.

answers from Dallas on

D. -

I feel your pain! And the best advice I can give you came from my own mother - in a marriage (or any partnership, really), take on the responsibility of doing the things you are good at, and that's that. End of discussion. If your husband is not good at the money, then don't have him do, don't expect him to do it, and don't be mad when he doesn't do it. This holds true for all areas, and I tell you - once I actively started practicing this, and taught my husband the same ( so I don't do yardwork anymore), our relationship has really blossomed.

As for actual money advice - I felt I was drowning until I found Dave Ramsey - he's on talk radio 570 from 1-4, but I bought his book Total Money Makeover. It changed everything for me. I highly recommend it.

Good luck! S.

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J.S.

answers from Dallas on

I'm a SAHM, but my husband is better with money. I just get the bills organized...stamps, writing out addresses, etc. Then I put them in a small calendar in order they are due...I also put the bills in order that they are due. We use Microsoft Money on the computer, so that it links up to our account online. Every night, we get our receipts together and enter them into the computer. That way we're both responsible for it and can see what's coming up. My husband does the budgeting and saving. You could at least have him put his receipts in one location, so that you can collect them.

I say if you are better at it then you take over. Then give him a job that is completely his. I like the other woman's advice how she doesn't do yardwork. Hope you find something that works for you!!

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R.

answers from Dallas on

It's common knowledge that money issues is one of the number one reasons for divorce so it's good that you are tackling this because you definitely don't want resentment to build up, and the more you make him feel irresponsible, the more he'll resent you too.

My first marriage sounds a lot like what you're dealing with. I took away his credit cards it was so bad.... but then he stole mine and tried to deny using them! (We divorced not for monetary reasons though, not trying to freak you out!)We never really solved the problem, but we did go to an allowance system and i learned to hide my credit cards better. but, when you act like you're a man's mother, they treat you like their mother. if you don't hold him accountable (let his cell phone get cut off if he's not responsible enough to pay it. don't mother him and pay it for him) he'll always let you do it for him.

My current husband and I have been married for almost five years and NOT once have we EVER fought about money. However, we are both extremely responsible. But, what we do is treat the money like we're roommates. I am responsible for bills related to the kids (childcare, school, clothing..etc.) and he's responsible for house bills/maintence and groceries (he makes more than I do so he pays for more ( rent, utilities, car payments, insurance, etc). He also gives me and him a weekly allowance for gas and extras that come up. This is an amount that we both agreed that we can get by on. We do not have a joint account. I rarely have anything left over of my income at the end of the month, so we save a set amount of his paycheck every month. Because the bills are divided up, the ones he pays are in his name and mine are in my name. So we don't open each others mail. If it's addressed to me, it's my bill and my responsibility.

Also, I bought a budget notebook at offic Depot so that we can see where our money is going together. We review our budget together everytime a reoccurring payment is made. If I write something in, I tell him and he does the same. We write down when the income comes in and when we paid certain bills so we can keep track of it all and can see visually where it's going. So we know all the bills that need to be paid out of his first paycheck at the beginning of the month and we automatically deduct it and pretend it doesn't exist so that it's there when the bills come in. Grocery money we phyiscally take out and I keep in an envelope labled 'grocery'. We sit down every sunday and plan our meals and then write our grocery list so that we stay in the budget. If i see something at the store I didn't put on the list, but really want I write it down to put on the list for the following week. What ever is left after the first paycheck we save. Whatever is left after his second paycheck goes to various needs or things we're saving up for.

When my money comes in, I do the same thing. Every paycheck already is alloted for a paticular reoccuring expense. That way I know how much I should have leftover by the end of the month and I can spend it on any extras the kids need or that I need.

You're on the right track wanting to get him involved. If it doesn't work out, you may see about going to a counselor or a financial consultant.

Good luck,

R.

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T.T.

answers from Dallas on

My husband sounds like yours - he is not good w/money AT ALL. It took years of financial "pain" until we figured it out. We have all joint accounts and I am the "finance" person. When left to me - things are great, but if he were to try to take some control, it would be a disaster all over again. Finally, dh realized this as well....I do feel like I do about 90-95% of everything in the marriage (probably only 80% truly) but it just works. I've seen how it is when I try to force 50/50 - no thanks. Now we are all happy...and I'm just a tad tired :) but no biggie!! :)

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M.F.

answers from Dallas on

I had some of these same feelings early in our marriage -- that we should share the money responsibilities. However, when we sought the advice of a budget counsellor, she said something that makes sense: First, you BOTH need to be on board with the budget. Second, the person who spends the money is the person to manage it. You can't both do it. If you are the person who buys groceries and handles bills, than you're the money manager, end of story. This doesn't mean that your husband has to come to you, begging for money to take clients to dinner, or stop at Sonic for lunch. It means you sit down together and come up with realistic limits, then hold each other accountable to them. If he thinks he needs to go a little over the per diem on client meetings that's fine, but he could do it within limits. I have a form I was given when we first met with our budget counsellor that helped us put all of our expenses into perspective. Let me know if you'd like to take a look at it and I can email it to you. Also, some others have posted about Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. I believe our church will be hosting this class in the fall. I'll have to find out more details, but would be glad to let you know about it.

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T.L.

answers from Dallas on

Hi D.,
I too am a working (outside the home) mom. My husband and I have been married almost 4.5 years, but have been sharing the bills for almost 6. We don't believe in the his/her checking accounts, but rather one for the entire house. We feel since we're in this marriage together, what we make is OURS.

With that being said, I handle the majority of the bills. But it's pretty easy how I do it. I pay all of my utility bills online. They can send you email reminders and it sure limits the trash in the house. Secondly, all is takes is a few clicks and it's done. One thing we've done is have our phone, internet, & cable all in one bill. Instead of 3 bills, it's only 1. We also use Microsoft Money. It's VERY user friendly and we have it linked to our bank so I can download it daily if I want to. I'm kind of @nal in the fact that I need to know down to the cent how much money we have! For all of the other bills (childcare, car note, house etc), we mail or take in. (We're pretty fortunate that our car & house payment can be made at two banks right across the street from each other!) With the exception of the car insurance which is deducted monthly from our checking. Most companies will do that, but I feel only comfortable having one bill on 'auto-pay'.

Consilidating your credit cards to one major card is also a good thing. I come from the school of thought that credit cards are evil, but we did go from 3 cards to 1, so that eases up on the bills. Also, if you can get rid of the dept store cards first that will help. All stores take Visa & Mastercard so there really isn't a good reason to carry the store- specific cards. Most are a rip off anyway (at 19% interest or greater even!).
Anyway, I think by using some type of money management system like Microsoft Money it can help get your hubby involved. He probably has no clue where the money is going every month, OR how much he's really overspending on clients, OR how much it costs to run a household. By using that program, you can both see where every cent goes and manage it accordingly. My husband and I also hold each other accountable for our spending. <There is also a place in Money where you can attach a name to the transaction so you can see who is spending what as well as where> If we can't afford something one month, we look back a few weeks prior and see what we could have done differently.

I hope my two cents help. We're not perfect, and we do have our money 'tiffs' as well, but we learn from it and move on. Communication is the key. Good luck and feel free to email if you'd like me to elaborate more!

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S.G.

answers from Dallas on

My husband and I did the same thing for years. It was not pretty. I strongly recommend Dave Ramsey's Book Total Money makeover. It will improve your marriage and your finances. You can learn more at www.daveramsey.com.

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H.H.

answers from Dallas on

AMEN to Dave Ramsey. WE have been through it all and we now finally have control.

ONe thing that has helped us was the Dave Ramsey "envelope system" You budget for each pay period and place the CASH in an envelope designated for the budgeted expense.

When the money is gone, you don't buy anything!!!

The bill pay thing goes right along with the budget planning. You being the money "Geek" as Dave would call you(and me and himself) would create the budget with or without his input to the details. But you both have to negotiate and agree on a budget that you can both stick to. He recommends signing it and you can only change it with both of your agreement!

I hope this helps,
H.

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E.T.

answers from Dallas on

Definitely check out Dave Ramsey. I read Financial Peace and it's GREAT. The key is that BOTH of you need to read it and apply it. Not sure it will work if you read it, but he's still holding on to his old habits.

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K.P.

answers from Dallas on

D., I had some of the same problems you did. My husband can not pay the bills on time to save his life. I just finally accepted that I had to do it.

We did come up with another way to handle the money that works for us. Any by the way, I just had to sit him down and show him how much money we have coming in and how much is going out (and for what) for him to "get it" .

We setup 3 accounts at our bank. Our direct deposit from work is set up to put $200 in our "fun" accounts every paycheck and the rest goes to the Joint Bill Pay account. We have debit cards for each of our fun accounts and checks for a bill pay account. I actually use on-line bill pay for our bills and we use checks when we go to the grocery store or something like that. We know we have $200 to spend in two weeks on lunches, nails, hair, "fun" stuff. When its gone, its gone, so it teaches you how to watch your "spending money" I use the joint account to pay all bills and put some money aside for savings which is actually a fourth account. We can transfer money to any account, if needed.

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C.M.

answers from Dallas on

I've been married for 9 years, 10 years this October. Our first year of marriage my husband was responsible for paying all the bills and handling the money. That was until I realized that we were paying over $200 of overdraft fees. After that I took over. We have a joint account and we both feel like whatever we make is our money, we dont split it. So how I do it is I make a budget for the month, I take whatever he makes and whatever I make and deduct all our bills, EVERYTHING we pay or save is on the budget and we try to stick with it. Of course things happen and money has to be spent but for the most part the bills are paid first. We have done this for as long as we can remember and it's worked for us. I don't mind the responsibility, because if I left it to him nothing would get paid. He's the kind of person that says pay $50 on our electric bill when our bill came in at $100, and since I took over I make sure we pay the whole amount. I cannot count on him to pay anything and sound like your husband is the same. We don't believe in your money and my money, it's both our money. Good luck!

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L.B.

answers from Dallas on

Dear D. - I understand your situation because I have experienced or am experiencing many of the same things with my husband. The first problem that we both have is that there should be ONLY joint accounts. My husband has still not gotten to the point where he will relinquish his personal accounts and it causes a lot of headache, heartache and resentment.

I just recently have been listening to a radio talk show on (I think) 570-AM while I run errands (in the afternoons). It is the Dave Ramsey show and he is a Financial Guru, but more importantly a Godly man, husband, business man, etc. So, his insight is a combination of smarts and God's way of handling finances.

I believe Dave Ramsey also has a significant amount of literature and courses that you can take, but like me, it would be critical that our husbands took the course too and/or read the literature. His Godly advice gives me hope for a peaceful home and a peaceful way to manage our finances...as a partnership.

So, I will lift you and your household up in prayer as I do my own, watching in an expectant way for God to move my husband & myself closer to where He wants us to be in partnership.

I completely understand how you feel including the frustration, stress & resentment. I believe this happens more and more today than ever. I plan to purchase some of Dave Ramsey's literature and hope that my husband will read it in addition to myself. Many Blessings - L.

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M.

answers from Dallas on

i took over all the bills in our household when i saw all the late fees my husband was racking up by being late, lazy, forgetful, etc. i work and take care of the kiddo too but i'm just better at the finances. some thoughts...

1. get a separate credit card for his work expenses and cross off the charges that he was reimbursed for. that way you won't have to sort through things. if he goes over his budget and isn't reimbursed all that he spent you can very easily show him how much money he lost for your family and he may be more careful in the future.

2. pay bills online. i use compass bank and pay every bill i can that way. there aren't any fees for this service and it is so easy!! the initial setup is time consuming, but after you have all the accounts entered it's super fast. i can pay the bills in 15 minutes! it's also easier than going to each individual website for water, gas, phone, etc.

3. get quicken. you can import all of your accounts into one source and really keep track of what you are spending. you can also create budgets. i am NOT a financial whiz, but this software is extremely easy to use and very helpful.

4. have your husband take over household duties on bill paying night so you can concentrate on your bills and stay on top of it all.

good luck!!!

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L.D.

answers from Dallas on

I can relate!! First thing I did was give my worries up to God. Second, I had a friend tell me recently that she tells her husband that if he wants to be the head of the house then he needs to take control of the money and be the head. I thought that was brilliant! and I am trying that one out right now.

good luck. It will work out eventually.

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L.F.

answers from Dallas on

hi D.! i can understand your frustration! i handle all of our bills. for the most part our system has worked out for us. we have one account. i have an excel spreadsheet with ALL (including yard, housekeeper, anything that we pay for, except groceries) of our bills and how much the payment is. then in another column, i have what i actually paid (sometimes it's different). then i have it split up between our three paychecks (i get paid twice, he gets paid once) and what's gonna get paid when. i keep a total of how much needs to be paid, a total of how much we paid, how much our paychecks are, and the difference in the two, so i know how much money we will have left over.

i also do online banking. i hardly write checks for anything and we either use cash or our debit card for everything. so, i can log on at any time and see what the card has been used for. i keep up with our checkbook and try to balance every 2-3 days. if i see that it's getting low, then i let dh know this is how much we have left, and we really need to watch it.

it's worked out good for the most part. occasionally i'll get stressed out about it, and i'll bring everything home and make him look at it so he can stress with me!

but, if you make a spreadsheet and let him see this is how much you owe each month, maybe he'll curb his spending habits. seeing it on paper is an eye opener, and maybe that's what he needs!

good luck!

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S.

answers from Dallas on

Hi D.,
I had the same problem as you seem to be having and my advice, at least what worked for me and my husband, was to:
1. set up all my bills online so that my payments would be automatic every month. Almost every bill we had allowed us to do this online and it just takes a few minutes to get it set up.
2. we also split up our bills evenly, so we each had to keep an eye on a certain bill. For instance, I made sure the electric bill was paid every month, while my husband watched out for the cable bill. Just having to remember a couple bills made it sooooo much easier than trying to handle all of them myself. It also helped my husband who forgets EVERYTHING to just be responsible for two or three bills at a time.
3. We also had a joint account so we put all our money in the one account, so it was easier for us to know exactly how much money we had and it relieved my worries of overdrafting when the electronic bill payments would go through. Besides that, having too many bank accounts is a huge headache and can actually cost a lot of money in the long run, because of hidden fees.
4. As far as running up the credit cards and not managing money, my husband was in the same boat. I finally sat him down and showed how much he was spending and how much extra we were paying in finance charges, overlimit fees, and late payment charges. Needless to say it was a wakeup call for my husband and he said he would try to be more careful. It has been a rocky road trying to get him to change his spending habits, but he is working hard at it. We have one debit/credit card between the both of us and other than that, if we don't have the cash in our wallets to pay for something, we don't buy it. It is amazing how much money you will save when you cut up the cards and use only cash. It might be a little inconvenient when you're in a hurry or need something right now, but in the long run, you begin to appreciate how much more value you get out of your money.

I hope some of my tips work for you and your husband. Just be patient and realize that you can't change your financial situation over night. It will take time and will-power to make it work, but you will be so much less stressed out and able to enjoy your babies and your husband worry free. Good Luck!

Sincerely,
S. L.
[email protected]____.com

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N.B.

answers from Dallas on

I am a SAHM who handles the bills and the general running of the household. My husband brings home the "bacon" and what is done with it is my responsibility, which can sometimes feel like a full time job in itself.

I actually think my husband is better with money, but he is a small business owner, so he just does not have the time to really keep up with it. On "bill day", he can always expect a call or two from me to discuss what and how much to pay toward whatever, so I guess that is a shared responsibility, in a sense.

If you are better with money and can devote the time to it, I would suggest that you assume that responsibility and designate another job to your husband. You may also consider creating a budget and discuss ways to stick to it.

Hope this helps you!

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L.

answers from Dallas on

Hi D.,

My husband and I have been together for about six years. When we got together, he didn't have to be responsible with money because he was still living at home, while I had been out on my own a while... We had a few years of me and my credit having to accomodate for his lack thereof, to put it mildly. He worked hard and has done well with being a provider, but the handling of money has been a gradual issue.

But he did really want to be better. He had never even balanced his checkbook, which blew my mind. Since then we've had moments where money was better and moments where I've had to juggle bills creatively and sometimes rob Peter to pay Paul... At least until Peter got really mad about it. :-)

Now, he's on the road more with his job, so I do have to take care of them primarily, but when he's home or has been home more, I either let him pay them or at least give him some to pay. He says that he'll feel more confident about paying bills when we're not juggling things, but to me, you've got to know how to "play the game" when funds are more challenging before you can know better how to handle them when times are better.

The other side, that I firmly believe in, is that, God forbid, should anything ever happen to one of us, the other has to feel like the surviving spouse would be able to handle things. So, that's the approach I've taken with him. It has been slow, and he still wouldn't be up to handling the bills by himself, but he's more confident now, and I'm a little bit more so too.

But he still has a ways to go. Much of my husband's issues is learning to problem solve. He's gotten much better about the value of money since we'd taken such a hit on financial issues early in our marriage. I think his pride suffered a bit, so he's really tried in the last several years.

About the separate bank accounts... I grew up through several divorces of my parents and eventually saw more separate accounts than joint accounts within unions. My husband's parents had never divorced, so we did the joint thing (like his parents did), and I've gone along with that one since he considered it a trust issue, not really understanding the mindset behind two accounts. However, I think the fact that I do the bills is what gives me the satisfaction of knowing what's happening. I don't think I would ever give that up totally to any man, at least the knowledge of what's happening. He can sit down and write checks regardless.

The other issue though may be credit. We both sit down and go over our credit once a year. By keeping an eye on credit reports and the checking account situation, it's easier to keep an eye on things that you could have to suffer the consequences of each other's actions for.

Given that he's not as responsible as you, I wouldn't hand him the reins, but he can watch the kids while you organize what needs to get paid and then he can pay it. No matter what... I wouldn't let him escape this, your kids could be the ones to suffer for it should you ever get really sick or not be around.

It's about his own self-worth too. Managing money is also about managing your own value. Your work, talent, and skills translate to those dollar figures you take care of... And how it's spent or taken care of reflects the things you value, or don't value.

I'm also a stickler about documentation. I keep all documents from paid bills, noting the date, check no., and amount that was paid. We do this for tax purposes since I work from home.

No, you don't need an attitude adjustment. He needs to be the man you know he is. This isn't a fair thing to you or your kids, with regard to time or money. He sounds like a good guy, so maybe it's just a perspective change that he needs?

I hope that helped...

L.

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