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Spilling The Financial Beans

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I know this sounds funny but…

I’m a very private person. Stop laughing. I’m serious.

I don’t mind sharing things with all of you but when it comes to sharing things with family… my lips are sealed.

I haven’t exactly shared our financial situation with Chris’ grandparents. You know, the ones who told us not to get in debt?

They are lovely people but… I didn’t want them to look at me and nod their heads in shame – that or wish their beloved grandson hadn’t married this credit card addicted hoodlum.

I was lucky enough to dine with them recently and I talked about everything… except money of course.

‘Lovely weather lately huh?’

‘How are you feeling these days?’

I breathed a sigh of relief as we dropped them off at their home and started to say goodbye…

Until my husband sat down and started talking about…

M-O-N-E-Y.

I wanted to strangle him. It was as if he were telling my dog loving mother that we had a history of puppy killing.

I can’t necessarily blame him. He’s excited about our financial plan and he’s proud of our progress but…

I’m not going to lie, I considered jumping across the table to tackle him to silence.

I wanted to scream out and defend myself. I wanted to say, ‘I’m not a shoe or purse gal… I just like vacationing… and remodeled bathrooms… and buying your grandson TV’s… and the smell of new cars!’ But I realized…

It didn’t matter. I had still done exactly what they had told us not to do. It didn’t matter why.

There was a long uncomfortable silence before his grandpa asked about our plans and offered suggestions on how to pay things off faster.

I could feel his disappointment.

If nothing else, it reminded me of the importance of what we’re doing and ignited yet another fire under my butt to stretch myself more.

Tell someone about your financial situation. Tell someone you know will ask you about it. Tell someone… knowing full well it will annoy you. That annoyance may be the motivation you need.


What Role Does My Husband Have?

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There have been some comments lately about the role my husband plays in our relationship. I thought I have mentioned our roles before, but I could be wrong. Maybe it was in a comment or something. So this post is going to reply to some comments and explain why our situation is the way it is.

I just keep thinking that all of your amazing efforts would move TWICE as fast (think how quickly that credit AND student loan debt would be gone) if your husband could motivate his ass to go get some normal, hourly work of any variety.

There is no doubt that if my husband got a job flipping burgers he would be bringing more money into the house. He could have a schedule and be making minimum wage. Instead of doing that, though, he has worked temp jobs that make more than twice minimum wage. No, it’s not steady work (in fact, he hasn’t had any work for a while now – but it will kick up again). But it’s flexible work.

We’ve done the work opposite shifts thing before. That was so rough on us as a family. I do not want to do that again. The temp jobs were awesome because he could work them while my son was in school, yet, if my son was sick there was no scrambling to try to figure out who could watch my son. Although I work at home, it is not a job where I can watch my son while doing it.

Not only does he [husband] not have a job, this guy apparently does not participate in the financial decision making process in this family. With Tricia it’s always “I” did this or “I” decided that, never “we.”

I do have a difficult time with the pronouns. That is because I am in charge of the finances. With my personality, I’m not sure I could ever give them up. That works well for us because my husband has no interest in it. I’m analytical…he’s creative.

Don’t get me wrong – we do discuss some financial decisions. We don’t for the little ones, but we do for the big ones. More often than not, we are on the same page and a decision is reached quickly.

He also comes across as someone who is immature about work – going into debt to buy expensive toys to start a business, not being willing to do enough other work while he was looking for a career-type job, not being a true partner in terms of this get out of debt plan, etc.

The whole business thing was a disaster back then. Every purchase was made by me, and not my husband, because I controlled the money. I’m not sure how many times he said, “We don’t need that,” but I thought otherwise. It ended up being a very expensive lesson. As for getting out of debt, he is my partner. He provides the support that makes it possible for me to bring in additional income.

I think that we would make an awesome family for that wife swap show. Not only do we live a very simple life, the “traditional” role of husband and wife are reversed in our relationship. I make the majority of the money and manage the money. My husband does all of the housework and cooking. I couldn’t tell you the last time I did laundry or washed the dishes. He also takes care of our son. He gets our son ready for school and takes him to the doctors when he is sick. While I try my best to get off work for my son’s school events during the day, if we both can’t be there at least my husband is there for our son.

For our family, this arrangement works. For our finances, this arrangement works. Is there an even better arrangement out there? Yes. That’s why we still are working behind the scenes to try to improve things. More about that will be coming in the next few weeks.


Do You Know of Resources For Those Who Are At Odds With Their Spouse About Debt?

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Back in December, a writer for a national magaine asked if I would put a little announcement on my blog asking if anyone would like discuss problems that they have with their spouse about debt.

It turns out that quite a few people find my site when they are looking for help about their spouse. They have left comments on that posting from December and since it is an older article, I wanted to bring this up to the front for discussion. My husband and I have pretty much been partners in getting into our debt, so I cannot relate.

I’ve tried to do some searches for resources that can help people who are having problems in their marriage due to debt, but I can’t seem to find anything. Even a forum where people could gather would be beneficial, but again, I can’t seem to find anything.

So I am asking you if you know of any resources or websites that may be helpful to those who are at odds with their spouse about debt. I’ve reprinted a few of the comments below.

“I am a poster child for your subject. Over the 15 years my wife and I have been together (married for nine) she has gotten into deep credit card debt several times, with me bailing her out every time. I just found out last night that she has been hiding $10,000 in debt on another credit card. I have asked her several times to get financially educated and responsible with no action ever being taken. We are in a financial position where we can address this debt, but I don’t know if I can get over my pain and feelings of betrayal this time. Any suggestions or information would be greatly appreciated.”

“I have been married 3 years and my husband just found out I have racked up $1500 in credit card debt. I am an admitted shopaholic, I have given up all my credit card. My husband has one foot out the door as well. I am glad to read I am not the only woman who has lied, and I still think my debt is small…….”

“If anyone knows of any good resources for spouses of “shop-aholics”/”debt-aholics,” I’d be so grateful if you would post them. I’ve had very little success finding such resources. The closest I can find is that for spouses of alcoholics. I think shopping addiction is so much harder to be involved in because you can’t just never shop again (whereas you have at least some hope of never drinking again). I also wish I had better understood about enabling, etc. much earlier on.”

“I have only been married to my current husband for seven years. My first marriage was a 22 year one. We are both fifty years old and had to basically start over. Three years ago I found out that he had overdrawn our account. He had even drained our savings. It was all because the shaky company he was working for was not paying him and he didn’t want to tell me so he was playing the lottery! I was devastated. He swore to me he would never do that again. It has taken three years for me to trust him again. I only added his name to the new account I had to open about a year ago. Well, he is working now BUT I got our statement yesterday and one thousand dollars is gone!!”

“My wife has said she believes she is a shopaholic and now says she wants to get help. She also says she wants to get a second job now to pay the debt. I am totally at a loss as to what to do now, I am worried about possibly losing my home if God forbid, I have any change in my sales numbers at work. Right now I’m having a good year and still just barely starting to make an impact and that was before the additional $11,000 [that my wife charged]. I have never felt so alone in my life, as I feel like I cannot trust even my own wife and may never be able to again. I would really like to speak to others who have a similar situation if at all possible.”

I’m hoping that we can at least find a place where these people can get together and talk about their situations. Some sort of support group would be great as well. If you know of any good resources for those looking for help about their spouse in debt, please leave a comment below. Since you may be leaving links, my commenting program may think you are leaving spam. If you will be giving more than one link, please contact me with the info and I will add the links for you. Otherwise, my spam program may eat your comment.


My Response to Monday’s Comments

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My post on Monday brought about a few comments about my husband and the role he plays in our debt reduction plan. I was going to reply in the comments, but I ended up writing a bit so I thought I would devote a post to it.

My husband’s temporary job is actually a pretty good job and he makes as much per hour as I do with mine. He is supposed to have more work per his boss, but his boss is super busy and hasn’t handed off the next project. He is waiting for that project and there is even talk of possibly another one after or at the same time as the other one.

My husband also has another job lined up for next month. It will bring in around $1,000. Then there is a separate project that will bring in around $400.

I won’t lie. It’s rough to have feast or famine jobs, but these jobs are career-focused and the networking value is immense. It’s the right market to be in for what he wants to do with his career. From a future earnings standpoint, trying to secure these “gigs” is a much better thing to do than to work minimum wage jobs. My husband has been working near minimum wage jobs for some time now for me.

Yes, he did that for me. He’s worked those jobs so I could get my career going. I have something now that I like to do and he let me get to this point. He takes care of the house and our son and helps out so I can excel with my career. Now that I am settled and our son is in school, it is his turn to focus on his career. That’s what this income lull is letting him do. It gives him time to devote to that.

Marriages are complex, and mine is no exception. There are times I want to yell at my husband to go get a job…any job…but I bite my tongue. I sometimes have to remember how he let me work through the ranks to get where I am now. There was a period of time before I started this blog where I took a leap of faith and quit my job in pursuit of a better job. It took about four months of intense searching until I found it. All the time my husband was working full time and I was working whatever jobs I could find that allowed me to work at home (some tutoring and writing) and bring in a little bit of money.

Probably by the time we pay off our debt, you’ll have a better idea of how everything came together to bring about this blog. I think it’s a good idea to provide some tidbits about our past so the current picture is clearer so I plan on doing that. The first post should probably be the reason why we will not move to find better employment (that’s a common suggestion I receive). Some things are worth more than all of the money in the world.


Money and Marriage: Tightening of the Financial Belt to Fight Debt

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A reader asked me a question, “Your situation is similar to mine, in that my husband trusts me 100% to take care of our finances – and he supports me, but sometimes he rebels against the tightening of our financial belts in order to pay off debt – how do you combat that, or does it even happen in your house???”

Probably the hardest point for me with our debt reduction was when I told my husband he couldn’t spend any money for a while because we didn’t have money in our checking account (I was overly agressive with paying debt) and I actually had to put groceries on the credit card. He looked right at me, and said “How can we be so broke?” I could see that his spirit was breaking right there, and I knew I had to make some changes to what I was doing. For this to really work, we have to be on the same page.

The little argument that we had lead to some compromising. He, at the time, was quitting his job and we decided that he would keep working for a while longer. We also made a bigger purchase that my husband really wanted to make (our inflatable kayaks which have been a lot of fun). A little bit later, we also spent some money to buy a game that he really wanted as well as a bass guitar that I have been missing for some years.

It means we spent almost $500 on things we really didn’t need since starting our journey in February. Sure, it could have gone towards our debt. But if we did that, and lost our overall steam…it would have cost us a lot more in the long run.

I believe that much about debt reduction is about the psychological aspect of it. For us, having certain designated periods where we would technically “splurge” to buy things we really want helps to keep the feeling of not spending money to enjoy life at bay. I have found that these splurges are best when they are planned, you still budget for them and you pay with cash. Being able to pay for our splurges with cash (after so many years of just doing it with credit cards) felt pretty awesome.

Every relationship will be different, and it takes a bit of investigate work as well as trial and error to find the perfect balance needed to satisfy both partners. But, if you already have a common goal of getting out of debt, the rest may fall into place with a few heart-to-heart talks and some compromising.


Do You Trust Your Spouse?

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Makingourway has posed a very good question, Do You Trust Your Spouse?

For my husband and I, we have a great deal of trust. I take care of all of the finances and he trusts me to pay the bills and make sure we have money. If we don’t have any, he knows that I will let him know. I trust him because I know for any purchase over $35 he will talk to me about it.

We actually combined our money a few years before we were married. He had a car payment to make and I had a checking account. Instead of getting a money order, he gave me cash to write a check for him. Before long, we just had his check direct deposited into my account. I wouldn’t advise pre-marriage joint accounts for everyone. In our case, it worked because we are still together.

Sometimes, though, I think he trusts me too much. I could easily hoard money for myself and he wouldn’t suspect a thing. He never looks at our financial file and he rarely even looks at his own paychecks (he hands them over to me still in the envelope). I have tried to get him involved in things but it just doesn’t interest him. One of my biggest concerns is his financial health if something happened to me. But it’s hard to show someone when they show no interest.

One thing I’ve thought about doing is making a little “manual” of how I do our finances. In it, I will list monthly recurring bills (e.g. phone, gas, cable) as well as all of our debt payments and when they are due. I will also list all accounts. In a separate document I will have all of the login information and account numbers. I think having something like that would help put my mind at ease a little.


Money, Marriage and Compromising

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My husband and I get along fairly well, except for one little thing. We often do not communicate clearly with each other. He knows that I am really trying to pay down debt (I take care of all of the finances), but I didn’t make it really clear to him how aggressive I was being. And when I say aggressive, I mean that I am often leaving only a few dollars in our checking account. That action is what led to using the credit card this past weekend.

We did get in a little bit of an argument because my husband does not understand how we can be making more money but still be broke. My reasoning is that I’d rather be broke for a little bit longer now and pay as much as possible to the credit cards. Once they are paid off – they will be money for other things. He would like to use some of the money now to have fun and purchase things we could not purchase before.

And that is where compromise comes in. We still haven’t finished discussing all of the details, but part of our resolution is that my husband is not going to quit his job at the moment. He is, however, switching his hours so he will have time to work on his business as well as have the same days off as me (which we haven’t had in ages). We are also going to use some of his earnings for “fun” things this summer.

Just like most things, a marriage can be a lot of work. But the compromise thing can help a lot 😉


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