Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Money Makes the World Go Around

And causes disagreements between Hubby and me. Money’s been an issue since before we got married, when I found out Hubby was in debt up to his eyeballs. After a loan from my parents paid everything off, I insisted we cancel our honeymoon and put that money plus all the cash wedding gifts towards our first house.

Fast forward twelve years. We’d moved to a bigger house with two kids and me pregnant with #3. Thanks to Hubby’s spending ways, we’ve got some credit card debt but are just making ends meet. Then Hubby has a mild heart attack and goes on long-term disability for six months. Whatever meager savings we had quickly went to keep on top of the bills.

Another six years go by. Still making ends meet, but I’ve given up my full-time job. I work mornings and Hubby works second shift, eliminating the need for daycare for the Baby. With less income, I’m watching our bottom line even more closely, always looking for ways to pay things off and get a little ahead. Then pennies from Heaven came, or, more appropriately, a good-sized inheritance from his brother (which brought a whole different set of issues with it). We were able to pay off some bills and do some much-needed home repairs. Then my parents gave us a monetary gift, some of which I paid everything else off with. But these funds have to be able to be accessed in the unlikely event that they need them, so we’re putting the rest on our mortgage and refinancing it to get a better rate.

So what’s the problem? Hubby’s back to spending without thinking, without asking, and without telling me. Last week I reconciled the January bank statements. Hubby’d withdrawn anywhere from $20 to $50 every three or four days… without letting me know (we only keep enough to cover the monthly bills in the checking account - spending $100 without me knowing could easily overdraw us). Then this morning, as I’m cleaning up the kitchen counter, I find two receipts thrown in his basket, one for $11 to a liquor store near his work and one for $75 for a restaurant in the same area. I knew he’d gone out with his group for a going-away celebration for one of the guys, but I didn’t know he paid for it. When I asked what they were for, I was told he lost a football bet (the liquor) and that folks had chipped in about $25 on the bill (which he never gave me to put on the bill).

We had words this morning. I asked what he'd spent the money on.  He couldn't answer me.  I told him to knock off the spending or I’d take away his credit cards and give him a monthly cash allowance. He glared at me like a spoiled little boy who was told he couldn’t have his way. I am at my wit’s end. We’ve done this dance before, and no matter how I approach it, it’s an issue. Asking sweetly, begging, threatening, crying, being a bitch… it doesn’t matter how I approach it, he doesn’t get it. Once, a good friend of his tried to explain that that’s how Hubby’s parents were, but I don’t want to always be “just getting by”. And Hubby’s parents had a second home in Florida not because they saved and scrimped and didn’t eat out like my parents - they didn’t pay for any of their kids to go to college or trade school.  In fact, the only one they encouraged to go to college was Hubby… on his own dime. He and I paid for all his college bills. Besides, we’ve now been together half our lives; at what point do you still get to blame your parents for not being an adult?

So, do you have a spender in your house? How do you handle it? Suggestions are welcomed, hugs are needed. I didn’t sign up for this crap.


Stacey said...

A big hug to is very frustrating to be the "responsible" one isn't it? Have you thought about asking your husband to take over paying the bills and balancing the checking account? That could really help open his eyes to your financial situation. Another alternative is to siphone off a set amount each month into a separate account that he can draw from. Better yet, get one for you too so you can indulge in something nice for yourself. Interestingly I've read a lot of articles about how married couples tend to have one saver and one spend thrift. I definitely spend more than my husband but we both talk about finances regularly (monthly) and have a savings and retirement goal that don't get sacrificed - vacations and lunches out do instead!

evenshine said...

First, hugs. You are NOT alone. Money is the #1 issue in MOST marriages.
Being the one with a tendency to spend, though certainly not to the extent you've described, I'd say that a separate account, or cash allowance monthly, would greatly set your mind at ease, as well as keep his spending in check. Sometimes we need this done, and we recognize somewhere, deep inside, that it's the only thing that will work. That, and lots and lots of conversations. Good luck!