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Posts tagged with: marriage

Coming out of the ‘Debt Closet’

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A reader recently e-mailed and asked how I told my family about my debt problem.

Here is a warning – you may not like my answer.

Let me explain…

I didn’t have a lot of debt when my husband and I married. He brought in some pretty large chunks of debt and collections that were ‘inherited’ from someone else. Since I had never dealt with lines of credit or collections, I sought the advice of my parents for a problem solving strategy.

They suggested I pay off the debt as quickly as possible, negotiate with the collections company, and move on with my life.

Being the mature, reasonable adult I was, I promptly ignored them. Then, wisely, since I was already drowning in debt, frustrated, and hurt, I bought a brand spanking new car and took several trips to Hawaii.

When you have lots of debt, you get to a point where you simply give up. To the reader who e-mailed me, I’ve been exactly where you are right now and I’m getting to the other side – alive and breathing.

When I finally came to my senses in late 2008 and started to make efforts to fix the problem, my parents already knew I was a financial idiot. I think they were just waiting for me to raise my hand and ask for help. They never got angry and never made me feel bad about myself. I’m very fortunate to have a great set of parents. In short, unless you are REALLY REALLY good, you parents and family probably already know.

As for the exact words I used? You read them with my parents. Yup, I ‘came out’ on this blog.

If you need help with ideas on how to fix more serious issues in finances, ask for it. Then, save the grief, listen, and take action.

Here’s the part you won’t like. Only ask for advice and support, don’t ask for money.

Dave Ramsey is right. When money exchanges hands in families, Thanksgiving dinner will never taste the same. I can tell you that from personal experience.

You made the mess. Clean it up.


His, Her, and Our Finances…

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I’ve been reading a lot of finance books lately and they all seem to agree that, in marriage, the management of finances must be shared equally between the husband and the wife. If the responsibility is left to one person alone, the stress level is increased on the money manager and the relationship suffers.

My husband hasn’t paid a bill since 2004.

Don’t get me wrong. Up until recently, my husband was involved in the decision making. I was simply responsible for organizing how bills were paid. We have always worked our finances together – especially after deciding to pay off debt.

In January, my husband started taking more units in school while still working a full time job with side jobs. In June, he signed up for 5 hour night classes and when he isn’t studying, he’s working. Understandably, actively participating in finances isn’t possible anymore.

I didn’t think it would bother me. I’m a nerd. I live for Excel spreadsheets and I balance my checkbook almost hourly for fun. Take over everything? Sounds fantastic!

It’s been 7 months of sole money management and I’m beginning to get a clear understanding of why this is bad.

He doesn’t have a clue about our money and I’m constantly stressed about making the right decisions. I feel like I’m making mistakes and hurting us financially. It’s not that I can’t handle the finances on my own; I hate the sole responsibility. I’d be closer to a breaking point but I’m coasting through knowing he’ll be out of school by next week to offer a reprieve.

I have a countdown marked on my calendar.

I don’t know how people do it alone. Financial stress seems to permeate every part of your life and the feeling that you alone are responsible for the financial success of two people is, at the very least, hugely uncomfortable. We made some great progress on our finances this month (update tomorrow) but the pessimist in me only focuses on what I could have done better.

I miss my financial partner.

Are you a sole money manager? Or do you share the responsibility? What works best for you?


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