Reply
Established Contributor
CreditCrusader
Posts: 799
Registered: ‎09-27-2011
0

My wife is making my financial life miserable

Please allow me to preface this post by saying that I love my wife dearly. We all have flaws and hers are no worse than anyone else's...they just hit our family's finances...and HARD.

 

I am the bread-winner in our home per mutual decision for the past 12 years. My wife made the decision to stay home with the kids - a decision I applauded and resolved to support financially. She didn't finish high school and has no work/credit history, but she keeps a terrific home and the kids are better for having her there with them at home and engaging in activities at school. I put myself through school and am a step from a Ph.D., so my job prospects supporting a family of 5 seemed more positive.

 

However...

 

Her glaring flaw is that she is TERRIBLE with money. I have tried to bring her into the family finances because, quite frankly, working a full-time job and two part-time jobs is a difficult enough burden to bear without being responsible for deciding what needs to be paid and when. Plus, it would be good for her to understand basic household finances in case she ever had to assume the duties down the road.

 

My wife has repeatedly spent far more than our budget allows...run up credit cards...altered checks I have written to reflect a much larger amount (without telling me...credit union was thrilled, as you can imagine)...and simply refuses to manage money or credit in a responsible fashion. We have three children, so I am actually charged with supporting a total of 5 people without help...a task that is made more difficult by my wife's spending habits.

 

I have tried many things...including depositing money weekly so that she would only have a set amount to spend. She responded by trying to overdraw the account (we are opted out of OD, thank God...but CU called to notify me anyway) when she spent 90% of her weekly budget in the first day.

 

Now, I have been reduced to putting cash in her wallet so that she only has a day's worth of money to spend. She is hostile and resentful of this...coining the practice as "treating her like a 12 year old" or "being controlling". However, because I am feverishly trying to improve our credit so we can finally buy a house in 2012 and get our family budget in order, I feel as though I have been forced into this position so as to not bankrupt our home and once again dash our children's hope that we will own a home.

 

I would really like the advice of anyone who has either had to deal with an irresponsible spender or is a reformed irresponsible spender. I would also like to avoid the feminist empowerment lectures as well, if possible. This isn't an issue of control (which I would gladly sede to my wife if it didn't mean a one-way trip to the poor house) or empowerment (which mostly comes from within). It's about how I can address a glaring concern in our home relative to my inability to bring my wife on board the financial responsibility wagon.

I'm Spartacus!

hr>Starting Score: EQ 546, EX 547, TU 580
Current Scores (lender): EQ 725 , EX FICO 720, TU 737 FICO scores>
Goal Score: 750
Take the FICO Fitness Challenge
Valued Contributor
IOBA
Posts: 2,696
Registered: ‎08-13-2009
0

Re: My wife is making my financial life miserable

She might respond to having a prepaid card in her wallet.

 

If I was in this position, I would have all of the accounts in my name only.   Oh, wait, that did happen.

 

What I did (literally) was no joint accounts, no joint cc, no joint assets.

 

When the working person would come to demand, or beg, for money, I refused to bail him out.  Instead, I would sit down and try to help him understand where his paycheck went.

 

I also had to protect my ss# and my credit 24/7.   He quickly figured out that since he was being turned down for more credit, he should just open stuff up under my ss# (that's how he got 1k cell phones!), or he would open up cc's and loc's as joint and forge my signature. :smileymad:    Life was a constant battle trying to protect my identity and my credit.  I left.

 

Big difference here - you love your wife.   

 

1.  No joint anything.  No bank accounts.  No cc's.

2.  Consider having a prepaid cc for her to keep in her wallet.  It might help her pride/ego.

3.  You mentioned having kids.   Sit down as a family and talk about the weekly budget in terms of food money.   Include the kids and make them a part of the discussion.   It might help keep your wife on track, help her learn how to manage moneys.   You mentioned her being a great mom, so (in theory) she would want to teach her kids to be great money managers.   This way, your wife learns and saves face at the same time.   

4.  Make a family goal poster for saving to buy a house.

5.  Have a coin jar at home.   Once a week, take the kids and your wife to the bank to deposit loose change.

 

The kids don't need to know all the financial details, but it wouldn't hurt to learn a little.   Make it a game.  Depending on their ages, maybe include the utilities in the weekly budget game.

Valued Contributor
IOBA
Posts: 2,696
Registered: ‎08-13-2009
0

Re: My wife is making my financial life miserable

DH wasn't so much a spendthrift, as he was unaware of the big picture, when we dated.

 

It took a lot of time, a lot of patience, but he's now pretty good.

 

What I did with him...

 

1.   Made a spreadsheet that listed all of the debt, payments, and interest.  I posted it on the fridge.  EVERYONE could see it.  DH was shocked by how much was owed.

2.   On a calendar, I wrote down the day the bills were due and approximately how much the  bills were.  (ie - cc $500, student loan $250, 450, 521, etc).

3.   We started off with, each week, sitting down and saying "this is how much money is coming in this week, what do we need to pay?"   Bills were always paid first!   Whatever was left over could be used for food.   Eventually moved to having a food budget.

4.   Talked about what the goals were.  Updated the sheet on the fridge every two weeks.   Asked DH what WE should do with the leftover $5.61 from food money.  He use to say things like, ice cream, or something instant gratification.   Now he says, savings.  No question about it.

5.  I still keep financial goals posted in a public place.   I keep the budget on the computer.   And I update DH on thoughts, ideas, and suggestions and then we decide together.   There is no doubt that I manage the money, but I try to keep him involved in the process and the understanding.

 

Maybe your wife needs the instant gratification?  Maybe she feels she's too stupid to learn the finances, so since she's going to fail anyway, why bother?   Is there someone she can talk to, one on one, about this?

Senior Contributor
drkaje
Posts: 3,492
Registered: ‎07-25-2008
0

Re: My wife is making my financial life miserable

I really want to be helpful but can't think of a nice way to tell CreditCrusader he's probably in deep doo doo.

 

A buddy of mine went through a similar situation until literally getting his wife to join the army, LOL! She's spend everything in sight, send money to relatives in Nigeria and England, collect money for lunch from people at work, pay with a the CC and then Western Union money to relatives, shop until dropping, etc... Everything he did to control spending only cause increased creativity or OD fees, credit cards, Debit cards with money budgeted for certain periods of time, and watching her like a hawk didn't matter. No matter what he had to keep forking over cash because she'd spend the food budget and leaving the kid hungry wasn't an option. His second job became making sure she didn't spend them into the poor house.

 

He figures the entire military paycheck is going to her lazy relatives but doesn't care.


Starting Score: 675
Current Score: EX 753 FICO, EQ 737FICO, TU 738
Goal Score: 776 FICO


Take the FICO Fitness Challenge
Established Contributor
CreditCrusader
Posts: 799
Registered: ‎09-27-2011
0

Re: My wife is making my financial life miserable


IOBA wrote:

 

Maybe your wife needs the instant gratification?  Maybe she feels she's too stupid to learn the finances, so since she's going to fail anyway, why bother?   Is there someone she can talk to, one on one, about this?


I think if she spoke to her father, he'd set her straight on this subject since he has had to bail out her irresponsible sister when she spent herself bankrupt. However, I really don't know how to delicately pair them to talk on this issue without revealing that I have sought his consult on this matter (I literally knew no one else I could turn to). I think she would explode if she knew I spoke to him about her problems with money.

 

I really don't think this is an instant gratification issue. I think she just doesn't care about the big picture and spends in the moment without considering the overall consequences. I liken this to a gambler's addiction and the inability to understand just how much money is gone until the pocket is empty.

I'm Spartacus!

hr>Starting Score: EQ 546, EX 547, TU 580
Current Scores (lender): EQ 725 , EX FICO 720, TU 737 FICO scores>
Goal Score: 750
Take the FICO Fitness Challenge
Established Contributor
CreditCrusader
Posts: 799
Registered: ‎09-27-2011
0

Re: My wife is making my financial life miserable


drkaje wrote:

I really want to be helpful but can't think of a nice way to tell CreditCrusader he's probably in deep doo doo.

 

A buddy of mine went through a similar situation until literally getting his wife to join the army, LOL! She's spend everything in sight, send money to relatives in Nigeria and England, collect money for lunch from people at work, pay with a the CC and then Western Union money to relatives, shop until dropping, etc... Everything he did to control spending only cause increased creativity or OD fees, credit cards, Debit cards with money budgeted for certain periods of time, and watching her like a hawk didn't matter. No matter what he had to keep forking over cash because she'd spend the food budget and leaving the kid hungry wasn't an option. His second job became making sure she didn't spend them into the poor house.

 

He figures the entire military paycheck is going to her lazy relatives but doesn't care.


Believe me when I tell you, I will keep a tight grip on the finances and what you describe will NEVER happen in my home. Little mouths don't get fed if I let her spend.

 

This is more about how I can bring her around to being responsible with money since my marriage will suffer greatly if she continues to keep these habits and resent me for disallowing them where our family budget is concerned.

I'm Spartacus!

hr>Starting Score: EQ 546, EX 547, TU 580
Current Scores (lender): EQ 725 , EX FICO 720, TU 737 FICO scores>
Goal Score: 750
Take the FICO Fitness Challenge
Senior Contributor
drkaje
Posts: 3,492
Registered: ‎07-25-2008
0

Re: My wife is making my financial life miserable


CreditCrusader wrote:

drkaje wrote:

I really want to be helpful but can't think of a nice way to tell CreditCrusader he's probably in deep doo doo.

 

A buddy of mine went through a similar situation until literally getting his wife to join the army, LOL! She's spend everything in sight, send money to relatives in Nigeria and England, collect money for lunch from people at work, pay with a the CC and then Western Union money to relatives, shop until dropping, etc... Everything he did to control spending only cause increased creativity or OD fees, credit cards, Debit cards with money budgeted for certain periods of time, and watching her like a hawk didn't matter. No matter what he had to keep forking over cash because she'd spend the food budget and leaving the kid hungry wasn't an option. His second job became making sure she didn't spend them into the poor house.

 

He figures the entire military paycheck is going to her lazy relatives but doesn't care.


Believe me when I tell you, I will keep a tight grip on the finances and what you describe will NEVER happen in my home. Little mouths don't get fed if I let her spend.

 

This is more about how I can bring her around to being responsible with money since my marriage will suffer greatly if she continues to keep these habits and resent me for disallowing them where our family budget is concerned.


You can't rescue a fish from water, CC.

 

I'd bluntly ask if she really wants a house. You two may have totally different financial and familial long-term goals. Worse yet, she could be one of those who 'spends in anticipation of wealth' and simply figures you'll be able to afford the lifestyle in a few years anyways so it's no big deal. "Do you want a house? Or not?" isn't an easy place to start but unless she's unable to make the connection between these spending habits and ultimate home ownership there's no point.

 

Personally, keeping an eye on someone's daily spending habits doesn't sound like a fun job.  I'm too simple a dude for that and am not controlling by nature. Besides, there are plenty of places that will extend credit based upon household income. You could do everything right and still not manage to qualify as the mortgage may need both parties to have great credit.

 

It more or less reads like a disaster waiting to happen. Wish I was smart enough to write that in a way that read as helpful as my intent yet still honest. I've read, re-read it and keep thinking there has to be a better way. I just don't think anything but a job and being responsible for her own debts and financial decisions will cause growing up for anyone. You can't say "Grow the heck up! We'll never get a house if you keep spending this way!" and then keep bailing her out.

 

My buddy's mom has the kids... a lot! The wife is just too irresponsible with money to be trusted when he's deployed.

 

Have you considered marriage counseling? Maybe there's some resentment over things and spending is a way to get your attention.

 

Sadly, you won't get a lot of responses to this thread. This sub-forum isn't very busy and it's also possible many others are in similar circumstances on either side. I've read horror stories on other sites where people got goaded, nagged, or just plain fooled themselves into into buying way much more house, car, or whatever than they hoping it would make somebody happy.

 

My Ex was a huge fan of the cash advances, minimum payment method, LOL! I didn't even know until the bank sent a letter explaining authorized users could not request CLIs. Apparently her boyfriend needed bail money. :smileyhappy:


Starting Score: 675
Current Score: EX 753 FICO, EQ 737FICO, TU 738
Goal Score: 776 FICO


Take the FICO Fitness Challenge
Valued Contributor
IOBA
Posts: 2,696
Registered: ‎08-13-2009
0

Re: My wife is making my financial life miserable

drkaje - you did a great job expressing your thoughts.

 

cc - there is no easy answer.   Either she makes changes or she doesn't.   Either she can make changes or she can't.

 

This is a generic, blanket statement that may or may not apply to your situation --- the people I know who have had spending money issues have had emotional or mental disorders.   Some disorders are diagnosed, others have not been.

 

For example - the x I mentioned earlier - diagnosed with being Malignant Narcissistic.

For example - an old roomie not mentioned - depression, obsessive compulsive (OC).

For example - a friend - emotional issues that she was not loved, so she compensated by buying herself gifts.

For example - a friend - emotional issues from being abused, so she compensated by buying herself things because she was "entitled" to them and the world "owed" her

 

I am not in your home, I have not met your wife, and I have no idea what the underlying issues really are.   But there is always a reason for the things we do.   And finding the real reason is sometimes a painful struggle.

 

If her dad can set her straight, bring him onboard!  Let her be angry with him, or you, or God - whatever it takes so she doesn't financially ruin your lives!

 

You mentioned your wife did not finish high school.   That was important enough to you to mention and it's probably a factor in this situation.   Maybe your wife doesn't feel like she can accomplish the basics of being financially responsible.

 

I am a big advocate for making the finances a family affair.  I won't disclose all of the finances to the kids, but I did start educating them early on with pieces of the big picture.   As young as 6 yrs old, they were part of deciding if we were going to order a pizza or cook a pizza, go out to eat or rent a movie.   I would phrase it something like, "Ok, Molly suggested pizza for family night.   That would cost about $20 for a pizza to be delivered to the house.   That would use up all of the "family fun" money.  It also means we can not rent a movie at all this month.   What would you like to do?"    One of my favorite ones was this - "Ok, if we go out to eat, that will cost us about $60.   That is equal to about one month of cable or three nights of pizza delivery."   The kids usually made good decisions.  And they learned the if we did this, it affected that.

 

Bring her dad in.  See if he can help.

 

Ask your wife what her financial goals are too.

 

And if you can/will, bring the kids on board and make it a game.

 

And keep us posted!

Moderator Emerita
Community Leader
Epic Contributor
haulingthescoreup
Posts: 28,115
Registered: ‎04-01-2007
0

Re: My wife is making my financial life miserable

CC, tell her that you think that you two need marriage counseling.

 

That might shock her into understanding how deeply this worries you.

 

Of course, you'd then need to be willing to follow through with it. :smileywink:

 

You've got my sympathies. I have to admit, I would have no clue what to do if a partner simply blew off anything I said. In any relationship, one party can be expected to occasionally do something that irritates the fire out of the other, but this is way beyond that.

* Credit is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. * Who's the boss --you or your credit?
FICO's: EQ 781 - TU 793 - EX 779 (from PSECU) - Done credit hunting; having fun with credit gardening. - EQ 590 on 5/14/2007
Senior Contributor
drkaje
Posts: 3,492
Registered: ‎07-25-2008
0

Re: My wife is making my financial life miserable

^ Thanks, IOBA!

 

I just don't want to sound mean/unhelpful. I have only seen one instance where a situation like this worked out well.

 

In my buddy's case, it became a game of cat and mouse. Aside from not being too insightful, she has a very useless family and was raised to believe taking care of them is a daughter's responsibility. She's probably supporting a brother (who refuses to work) and father who can't find any work that isn't beneath him. My buddy doesn't care anymore but has all finances separated so unless she forges a signature or files bankruptcy in a state where he could also be sued, there's no issue. Last time I asked, she was doing it all through paychecks and hadn't discovered credit. He's paying off her college loans, though. When they met he promised to do so and wouldn't dream of reneging.


Starting Score: 675
Current Score: EX 753 FICO, EQ 737FICO, TU 738
Goal Score: 776 FICO


Take the FICO Fitness Challenge

myFICO is the consumer division of FICO. Since its introduction 20 years ago, the FICO® Score has become a global standard for measuring credit risk in the banking, mortgage, credit card, auto and retail industries. 90 of the top 100 largest U.S. financial institutions use the FICO Score to make consumer credit decisions.

>> About myFICO
FICO Score - The Score that matters
Click to Verify - This site chose VeriSign SSL for secure e-commerce and confidential communications.
Fair Isaac Corporation is a BBB Accredited Financial Service in San Rafael, CA
FOLLOW US Social Media Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google+
}