Get Out of Debt Guy

My Husband Spends More Than I Make

Posted February 9, 2013

Question:

Dear Steve,

My husband and I have been together for 30 years. We have poor money management skills even though our combined income is about $105K we never seem to have enough money available to pay or living expenses in total each month.

I have always made more than my husband and have I've never been unemployed where he has lost his job or walked away from his job on three occasions, which I know has me me resentful, especially when things get really bad and creditors start calling or the letters for disconnection,of service start appearing in our mailbox.

I've started to not tell him about any extra money I make (I do some part time consulting) for fear that he will want to bye new furniture or other 'stuff'. I want to be totally open with my husband about money like I was when we first married but I'm resentful and afraid things will be even worse.

I have a $12,000 line of credit that we used when my husband wasn't working and I have not made payments on it in the last year. We both have credit cards that are $4000 in total. He has a high interest loan of $6000. We also have two cars, one leased at $325 per month , which comes due in 3 years and his car loan is owing $4300.

We have a 2nd mortgage to payout in June off $25,000 and we have tried to get consolidations for these debts but with our poor credit no one will touch us except loan sharks and their terms and interests would put us in even more debt.

I think we should sell, my husband doesn't want to loose our home. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks for the work you are doing. I read your book on how to get out of debt... You are saving lives, marriages and families, keep up he great work.

Anne

Answer:

Dear Anne,

Thanks for the question. I think the answers you are seeking are emotionally deep and profound soulfully. You see the issues here really have nothing to do with the debt or money. They are the symptoms of the underlying issues driving this situation. Sure, we need to address them but we first need contemplate the reason these problems exist.

People point at the debt as the problem but I'm confident that if you did an emotional autopsy of this situation you'd find I was pretty close in my initial reaction, that it's not.

For whatever reason, your husband is the less responsible person in this relationship. It's not uncommon for savers to attract spenders. Savers like the early unrestrictive fun and spenders like the stability savers might bring. But the real problem comes when the financial relationship become unbalanced.

Based on your description, his fiscal responsibility has been allowed to flourish. He probably pushed the limits early on and you caved, giving him a green light for continuing to push the limits again. Hey, it happens and I see it all the time.

You are not a bad person because you let him get away with it. In fact it is the typical reaction at first for many.

But these unhealthy debt excursions, either through spending or lack of income, become more frequent. They then begin to build resentment. The resentment causes stress and the stress fractures otherwise good relationships.

Assuming my premise here is correct, where does this leave you and where do we go?

From my point of view the most important issue to tackle first is the relationship and these underlying issues. Once we do that we will know exactly how to tackle the debt.

You see, after a well prepared and frank conversation the two of you will have you will begin to know if you are going to tackle this together or maybe your futures will take different roads.

As preparation for even beginning to think about having a conversation with him about this I'd like for you to read the online version of my book The Path to Happiness and Wealth. You can read it for free rather than have to buy it.

The book will help to put these issues into a greater life context and allow you to be better prepared to put everything into a larger context to deal with it.

Unless we deal with this situation in this order, it will only repeat again and again, just as it has.

After you finish the book, take a walk, sleep on it and ponder the life you most want to live, then come back and post an update in the comments. When you are ready I'll help you with the next step which will lead you to a happier financial future.

Deal?

Steve Rhode

Get Out of Debt Guy

2 Comments

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  • steverhode Feb 12, 10:57 a.m.

    Thank you for your feedback and comment. The issue I see so often are that not everyone is prepared for organization, structure, or sticking to a plan. Those that are think it is simple to do so. Those that aren't are lost on their ability to do it.

    I'd also suggest that the separate account strategy is not the best approach to overall transparency and cooperation.

    Cutting up the credit cards does not tackle the underlying problem. The credit card is the instrument, not the problem.

    There are a tremendous number of factors that drive spending. From self-esteem, self-worth, stress reduction, hyperbolic discounting, the demonstration effect, and a whole host of behavioral economic issues, spending for a large number of people is not about the money or math. Unmanageable debt is often the byproduct and symptom of other issues.

  • readme Feb 12, 8:42 a.m.

    I think what he meant to say is that you need to smack some sense into him or leave him. I have no respect for people that can't control their spending impulses and/or use math skils that they should have learned in eighth grade. This is grounds for divorce. At the very least get separate bank accounts and cut up the credit cards and split expenses. Start treating him like the baby he is.

About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.