Re: My wife is making my financial life miserable
02-23-2012 08:37 PM
Well, your first order of business is to address the infidelity. Altering a check you wrote and signed is an unfaithful, disloyal act. Your second order of business is to show her a budget that pays the bills, feeds the kids, saves for the future, etc and explain to her if she wants a bigger budget she needs to go back to work. Period. Your wife isn't bad about money. She's bored and unfaithful, and passes time by spending money. Good luck.
We can be plainer than that. And I say that because...to IOBA's question of "what did you do?" The simple answer: I had to admit that what I was doing was wrong. Not because of being in debt or having creditors chase me or even nearly being homeless, no. It was wrong because I know deep down I'm way more intelligent than that.
So let's be plain. Altering a check is ILLEGAL. Nothing to do with faith, or loyalty. It's against the law. People go to jail all the time for that. Now, I don't suggest you lock your wife up. But I do recommend making sure she understands that what she does is against the law.
I also don't fully agree about showing a budget. In my mind, the and account separation IS the best way of dealing with the situation.
- Keep your money in your own account, secure your passwords.
- DO NOT write checks. Don't even own a checkbook if you can avoid it. If you have to, just get a bank check from the bank when you need to. But ultimately, your goal is to get it to where you're paying through your online banking. That way, the only way to get access to your money is (A) your ATM card which should be on your person the majority of the time, or (B) going to the bank, where you are the only one authorized. This seems to be an extreme measure, but you're dealing with an extreme situation.
- IF it were me, I would allow her to use only that money that she makes. If she's constantly running out of funds and whining that she can't get what she wants, simply say, "maybe if you were more frugal with your spending, you'd have money for nice things". Once you see she gets responsible with her own money then you can start to add a little at a time from your own pocket.
As for what I had to do, it wasn't nearly as easy, because it was all my own money. I had to get to the point of wage garnishment and the embarassment of my payroll department knowing I was in debt before I got a wakeup call. It was a job I didn't want to lose, so I made hard decisions. I did without. I went on Ramen for a while. I stopped buying things "just because". I mean I've bought video game systems that I played for three hours and then not play for years. I'm on my fourth stereo system. I would just buy things. I had to stop that and start scrutinizing whether I really needed stuff. But honestly I think it was when I got to the point of making tons of money and having absolutely nothing to show for it that really got me thinking: Is it the money that matters, or is it what I do with it that matters? If I run into a tough spot, am I okay? Will I survive? Am I going to last past the first month? The first year? Will I end up homeless?
After that I got extra friendly with Excel and just laid out all of my various monthly expenses and what each one was bleeding out of me if I paid the minimum. At that point I ignored interest rates because they really didn't matter in the grand scheme. Once I got a dollar figure, then it was deciding whether that was too much per month, and if so, what I could cut out. Simple things like turning lights off when Ieft rooms and not using tons of water made differences, but I also had to look at dumb things like my cable service: I watched three TV shows yet was paying $80/month for JUST cable/satellite service. All three of those shows are available online, free, two of them from Hulu, one from YouTube, and I only have to wait 24 hours at the most. So I cut it, and just pay for internet. The internet can be as low as $40/month if i choose, so I have control over that expense. Right now I have a surplus, so I pay for one of the faster tiers at $120/month. But for that money, I can work from home, watch TV, watch PPV, manage my home security system, manage my online files, and (soon) manage my online content system AND my personal web sites. IT pays for itself. Cable was a drain.
Then there's credit cards and making sure each card has a purpose.
- I have a gas card that doubles as a Visa card, but I use it 99% of the time for gas only.
- I have a credit union card that is my largest line, it handles certain larger purchases. Like travel.
- I have a Hooters card that is my oldest card, it manages my discretionary spending. Like food.
- I have an HSBC card that is my lowest limit, it handles one-off smaller expenses.
- I have a Discover card, it is my "non-Amazon online purchase" account since it has virtual card numbers.
- I have an Amazon Store Card that takes care of 99% of what I buy from Amazon. Every so often I'll pay cash though, if it's a larger purchase.
The HSBC card, for example, is really not necessary, but I keep it because it's my second oldest card at this point. If I ever got stuck in a financial rut, I could easily close all but the credit union card and make do.
But...none of that matters unless one thing rings true: You've got to want it. A person has to want to fix their situation. You can't fix things for them. They have to want to change. That's why I say that the only way you're going to spur that is to let them fail a bit. It's like some of the old schoolers who used to throw kids into the shallow end of the pool so that they would start swimming on their own...sometimes you have to do that with certain people who are afraid to grow up. My read of your wife is that she's afraid of growing up. It's sink or swim time...and you have to show her that life isn't an ATM.
| Cabrillo Credit Union MasterCard @ $3,000 | Chevron Visa @ $2,000 | Amazon Store Card @ $1,800 | HSBC 2% Rewards MasterCard @ $950 (redeemed themselves)