What to Do If Your Spouse Is Poor With Money

Thank you all for sending your questions about family and finances this week. Conversations with spouses about their money habits, impulse containment and budgeting were common topics in all emails sent and comments posted. There is a lot to discuss and I will return for more in the coming weeks.

This question from Anonymous appears in many of the posts referenced in emails by other readers:

My biggest problems with my husband are mainly that we have two completely different thought processes when it comes to money. He is a squander to the detriment of himself (and us); I’m a lifeguard.

In the past, he hid very large debts from me (25,000, 10,000, 5,000 dollars – at different times), which I had to bail him out each time. Every attempt to persuade him to agree to a budget or negotiate money starts off well, but then fails rather quickly and persistently (he also has ADHD, and I went to him for years to talk to someone about this). I am also the only one to fund our daughter’s $ 529.

We have consulted on marriage issues, but I still have a constant feeling that I cannot enjoy the money that I have been saving for years, because “what if” I need to help us out again? A lot of the advice I get is that I should just be in control of everything, but one that makes me feel like the mother of a 40 year old man; and secondly, if I refuse, it will leave him and my daughter with a safety net that he burns through because he fundamentally does not understand the concept of living by means of means and saving.

I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place: I keep walking, straining myself and hope that one day he will “figure it out” or split up and have to deal with the financial consequences of divorce (will he get half of my hardships) earned pensions and savings?).

As with Money on Mondays , this is what individual experts usually say about an issue that affects each person differently – if you need personalized advice, you should see a financial planner.

Difficult to change

This is a difficult and unpleasant situation, Anonymous, but thank you for your initiative. It is clear that you love your husband and daughter and have tried various measures to help him build relationships. No one should be forced to take on all the financial difficulties and clean up after their spouse – you have partnerships for a specific reason.

And nobody should lie like you. However, this is a situation in which you are not alone: ​​About a third of people with over $ 6,000 in credit card debt hide their debt from a significant other “out of shame or fear of provoking controversy,” according to a new survey from Student Loan. Hero .

But that doesn’t make it any easier. “What you went through was financial infidelity, and like the sexual infidelity that we are all familiar with, it can be very damaging in the long term as it is inherently a breach of trust,” says Brynn Conroy. who writes about personal finance for her blog Femme Frugality .

He must work to restore your trust. This could mean working with a financial coach in addition to the therapist, Conroy said. But this most likely means that you will need to take action that seems paternalistic.

You said that other people told you to rule everything, and you would rather not, but when it comes to something as important as your financial life, you have to do what is right for you and your daughter – says Alaina Pehrson. financial writer fordoing blogs on Credit Repair andIdentity Theft Best Company. Your finances cannot be easily fixed if they are destroyed.

“Your husband seems to be immature with money, which requires you to be in control. While you don’t want financial responsibility falling on your shoulders, it may be necessary if you want to save your marriage and have a bright [and] stable financial future, ”she says.

Sarah Bird, Senior Welfare Advisor at Albion Financial Group , suggests sitting down with your husband again, but approaching the conversation in terms of his “money scenario.”

“Our money scenarios shape our perceptions of personal finance and are based on our life experiences with money, from early childhood to adulthood,” says Byrd. “Try starting a conversation with questions such as ‘tell me about your earliest memory of money’ or ‘when you were given money as a child, what did you do with it.’ Talking about money is potentially inconvenient, but most important. “

Byrd then suggests working a month to pay the bills together. After that, each of you must take turns paying the bills on your own. “This exercise will allow your husband to see where the family’s income is spent and to share responsibility for making financial decisions in the family,” she says. You can set up monthly cash checks and tell your husband that this is non-negotiable – it really matters to you.

If none of this works, you may need to take more extreme measures. This could mean giving him cash aid or setting up text alerts with your co-branded credit card so you can counter him if his spending starts spiraling out of control. You can also try taking a finance course together so you can work towards your goals. But it’s up to you, no one should treat their husband like a spoiled teenager to get them to accept some responsibility.

Take money out of the equation

You are absolutely right – you shouldn’t act like his mother, and giving him benefits or keeping track of his expenses is exactly what you need. It sucks that you have to go for this, with all the stress and anxiety, to come to terms with it when he seems to be driving by momentum, not caring about the money.

It can cause resentment, and frankly, it is overwhelming – and it shouldn’t be. If it doesn’t change, “legal separation may be an option,” Person says, “although I strongly recommend that you consult with a professional marriage professional before doing so.”

As you said, you don’t want to leave your daughter vulnerable if something happens. So think about what’s best for her; it may be a separate savings account that your husband does not know about, or you can meet with a financial advisor or your bank yourself to create some other type of agreement.

But while money seems to be at the heart of your problems, you will want to get rid of it by thinking about divorce. Think about your wants and needs and how his behavior affects these things. “Not all decisions have to be made financially. If you want to leave, allow yourself to do so, even if it’s a more expensive option, ”says Conroy. “If you cannot share a house with someone who has lied to you on numerous occasions, the most important decision lies in your heart, not in your wallet.”

And if you haven’t already, see a therapist yourself. “They can help you figure out what you want,” says Conroy. “Not what you two want together.” Your therapist can help you figure out what you need to stay with your husband if you want to, or how to deal with your daughter’s situation.

After all, it’s not up to you to decide whether your husband decides to take your finances seriously or not. We cannot change other people. Your husband needs to want to change and he has to work. If not, know that it is not your fault, Anonymous. You do your best and are a positive role model for your daughter. I hope your husband wants to be the same.


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