Basic financial help

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arneb04
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Basic financial help

Post by arneb04 » 30 Apr 2017 12:09

Sorry everyone, I'm new here and I'm looking for really basic advice. But it might not be simple basic advice. I have a financial problem, and she is my wife. No she doesnt go on shopping sprees with my money or anything like that. Together we make about $85k(I'm about 60k she is 25k) a year. We have a son. I basically handle all the bills except our sons child care(he goes to the place where my wife works so it's discounted) which is still $95/week. And she wanted a new car which is about $300/month. Otherwise I handle the mortgage, auto insurance, electricity, internet/entertainment, my own car, garbage and the rest of the lot. Our accounts are separate. While I'm still able to save (when I want to) a pretty decent amount, she consistently runs her account to nothing and we get overdraft notices. She used to handle the electric, but I took it away to help her. But it didn't help. Her monthly take home is around 1600 ballpark. I can't for the life of me get her to realize that she should have plenty of money to save. I just don't get it. We have gone through this multiple times in our marriage, the first being when we had no kids or expenses. We were on a road trip and she paid for gas and her card was declined. I immediately told her to call the bank as I thought her account had been compromised. Nope. Just spent a bunch of money on stupid crap. Then she feels bad when I explain to her that this can't happen, our credit is at stake. And now it's happening more frequently. I just don't know what to do. Now it's to the point where she feels she has to hide her finances so I won't get mad. What, or where can we go for help on this? I want her to get some kind of financial advice from someone else but me, because I'm obviously not effective. Any guidance would be much appreciated.

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AltaRed
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Re: Basic financial help

Post by AltaRed » 30 Apr 2017 12:34

Welcome to the forum. Without knowing more, e.g. your wife's history as it relates to managing her money growing up pre-marriage, or witnessing her parents' management of money growing up, it is difficult (for me at least) to be very helpful. ISTM your wife may have some psychological issues that result in that behaviour....OR she has always had someone to bail her out.... OR has this behaviour only recently developed as a result of your relationship?

For the moment, it is obviously best NOT to commingle finances that would result in a potential household financial crisis. The best I can suggest is to persuade her to go to a non-profit credit counselling organization that will help her set up guidelines, budgets, discipline, etc about managing money. Not sure whether you should be participating in this or not, but perhaps it may be worthwhile (necessary) for both of you to go to such an organization together initially so that they can understand the chasm of thinking and perhaps understand relationship dynamics. The reward at the end of this journey would hopefully be a converging of views and the building of mutual trust in managing household finances.

If that does not work, then I would actually suggest both of you attend psychological counselling in an attempt to build something new together. For her, to firstly understand her own behaviour and what triggers it, and then to build something new out of that destructive behaviour. For you, to better understand her issues and what you can contribute to helping her out of that behaviour. You may also learn something about how you can change yourself to improve the situation, if indeed, much of this destructive behaviour developed during your relationship. It is rarely 'totally' a one sided affair.
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kcowan
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Re: Basic financial help

Post by kcowan » 30 Apr 2017 12:41

You will not sort this out yourself. You need professional help. THe only solution is that she gives up all credit cards and uses only her cash. But it is unlikely that you can convince her. This site provides a good starting point:
http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/
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Re: Basic financial help

Post by SQRT » 30 Apr 2017 12:48

Sorry to read this. She sounds just like my first wife. Would agree with advice from previous two posters. Good luck, you'll need it.

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Re: Basic financial help

Post by Spudd » 30 Apr 2017 12:52

After her bills itemized above it seems to me that your wife has about $888 left per month.

Who buys the groceries? Who pays for the kid's clothes/toys?

If these are both on her, then it seems that she would be spending let's say 500 on groceries and 100 on kid accessories, leaving her only $288 left over. It doesn't seem like an extremely high amount to be blowing through.

On the other hand, if you are buying the groceries/clothes/toys then I'd say she does indeed have a spending problem.

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Re: Basic financial help

Post by goleafsgo » 30 Apr 2017 14:53

+1 with AltaRed and kcowan.

WADR you and your wife have more than just a money problem. I hope both of you agree to immediate professional assistance.

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Re: Basic financial help

Post by 2 yen » 30 Apr 2017 18:25

It's time for serious marriage counseling. If she refuses to go, then I suggest you attempt to take complete control of the finances and give her an allowance that includes some of the basics for the kids. If she cannot handle even this, then it may be time to threaten to walk with the kids. Life is way too short to be in a corrupt relationship. That said, you should have known all this before marrying her. You obviously didn't do your homework on the finance part of marriage prep. But that's hindsight. It's time to man up and take control (this is not PC, but very necessary in your case). Best of luck with this and please feel free to use this forum as a way to vent. We will 'listen', encourage, and offer suggestions if you can ask specific questions.

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zeno
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Re: Basic financial help

Post by zeno » 30 Apr 2017 22:23

I'd agree with many of the people on this thread that this is not just a financial issue but a relationship issue. I've seen it with several friends and their spouses. It doesn't have to wreck your relationship, but will have to be careful how you handle it. You don't want to be dictating terms. A lot of people's issues with money come down to control. Some people feel like they are in control when they spend money, because they are making the decision. Some people feel like they are in control when they exercise restraint and put some money away. These control issues often happen when one spouse earns more than the other. The higher earning spouse may feel that they have more say. The lower earning spouse may feel less valuble. At the extremes this becomes unhealthy and obsessional, not unlike poor relationships with food. Now imagine if you told your wife how much she could eat and vetoed her food choices. That's not going to end well.
You need to approach this from the relationship perspective. You both agree that arguments about money are hurting your relationship. Can you work out an arrangement together to avoid those arguments? A professional can help, but likely it's going to come down to working on a budget together, figuring out ways to automate the saving and bill payments, and providing good feedback on how much discretionary funds are actually available. You're probably also going to have to live with the fact that she's going to occasionally buy things you wouldn't (and vis versa). You'll probably have to put up with a little of your own medicine too. If she has to leave her credit cards at home, you might have to as well. If her discretionary spending is limited, so will yours.
I wish you all the best. If you care about each other, you can make this work.

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kcowan
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Re: Basic financial help

Post by kcowan » 01 May 2017 10:22

zeno wrote:
30 Apr 2017 22:23
...You're probably also going to have to live with the fact that she's going to occasionally buy things you wouldn't (and vis versa). You'll probably have to put up with a little of your own medicine too. If she has to leave her credit cards at home, you might have to as well. If her discretionary spending is limited, so will yours.
Yes this is a good observation. It will certainly help your relationship.
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Pickles
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Re: Basic financial help

Post by Pickles » 01 May 2017 14:14

Arneb04, first, the best advice offered here thus far is by kcowan and Zeno.

Zeno is correct that taking control of all money, dictating what she buys or forcing her to get rid of credit cards would be a grave mistake. This would personalize a money-handling problem into a marital dispute which would affect your marriage even more than now. The money problem must be faced by you both as a team, on the same side, with no accusations or blame and with professional help, imho.

kcowan is bang on with recommending the approach of Gail Vaz-Oxade. She makes money visible and tangible and has good suggestions for building accountability for spending. Unfortunately, she does not offer private counselling. For that you have to look elsewhere. Here is a link that will help: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.ns ... 02193.html

I would suggest that you both seek help together, on the premise that you are making a new beginning in dealing with your joint finances. Together, you can lock up credit cards. Perhaps you might have a joint chequing account that requires both signatures for withdrawals or payments. That will help your wife to see where the money is going and what is left over for discretionary use or savings. Your counsellor can advise you on this or other suggestions.

Bailing her out is counterproductive; it frustrates you and it shields her from financial consequences. There are more serious consequences you are both experiencing: she is afraid to reveal her spending now and you are frustrated and alarmed by this chronic problem.

Left unattended, this problem could well lead to the end of your marriage. However, the route to take in trying to alleviate the problem should not begin with marriage counselling. That would send an unequivocal message to your wife that she is responsible, entirely, for screwing up and jeopardizing your relationship. And that would be wrong. You are both responsible. You have both made some mistakes and the point is to get on track together in a new, better way -- not to point fingers, give ultimatums or take control.

My advice is to find an available budget/money counsellor. Then approach your wife and share that you've been reflecting on how you have controlled and managed most financial decisions. Say you don't want this to have a negative effect on your marriage and understand that she may have some concerns about her role in family finances. Suggest that you both go to an expert who can help you develop a good method of money management you both can follow, together.

There is no guarantee that she will go or, if she does, that getting professional advice on managing money will work for her. But giving this a try is your best first step, imho.
Regards,
Pickles

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Re: Basic financial help

Post by 2 yen » 04 May 2017 18:50

The inability to plan for the future re finances is almost a clinical pathology in our society today. What is especially baffling about it is that we live in an age of so much information and resources to help with the planning process. When people make a conscious decision to not avail themselves of this insight, one has to ask why. The remedy to this is serious counseling that examines why the transgressor does not have the ability / desire to plan ahead. The gentle approach may work, but actual therapy may be in order. In the past, events like the Great Depression and war took care of this for us.

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Sensor83
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Re: Basic financial help

Post by Sensor83 » 11 Jul 2017 21:51

Going to professional financial counseling does make a lot of sense. And perhaps suggesting to her budgeting software like YNAB would help. YNAB allows the both of you to work together on finances. It's good b/c it demands that you to track your expenses, set goals and view your collective net worth overtime. You can sit together each month and set-up a budget that's satisfactory and reasonable. It might be rough during the beginning, but you can improve overtime as long as you are willing. There's also a nice community you can gain encouragement from. Finances can ruin a marriage so I hope every avenue is explored before calling it quits.

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Re: Basic financial help

Post by freedom_2008 » 12 Jul 2017 19:28

I would think it is very hard and very painful to change spending habit, especially to change someone else who is an adult.

Did you two talk about sharing financial responsibility before getting together? Or she assumed that (with small earning she has) she only needs to take care the child and herself, as the husband is to take care everything else?

It is disappointing that she can't save as you, but if that has been always the case, why does it bother you now more than before? She didn't change, did you change? That is a very personal issue that is deeper than money alone.

If you still love and care for her as before, a simple way to handle this, if you could to discuss future child education need together, is to set an account for your son that both of you contribute into it. You will be happy as she saves some now, and she will be happy that she can still spend leftover as she likes without hiding from you.

Personally, I wouldn't marry someone who has very different money value and spending habit. But if you did and want to keep the family and have peace, just to let her spend her own money on herself and be happy that she covers the childcare and her own payments.
"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony" -- Mahatma Gandhi

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated" - from a wise person

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Re: Basic financial help

Post by gsp_ » 12 Jul 2017 21:20

The OP was on this website for a grand total of 62 minutes back in April. :wink:

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