Giggly Giraffe said:
“No, we do not have good savings for immediate expenses: car, orthodontist, even carpet cleaning, landscaping, vacations, or date nights. My husbands solution (his whole life), “I’ll work more overtime” … Which takes him away from family, creates more time adjusting budget, more treasure given to charity, and still hard time with surprise expenses … Let alone saving for stuff like house painting/bathroom remodel/ vacation.”
Gah. That sounds terrible.
I know people like this (the “I’ll work harder” types) and it doesn’t work. As Dave Ramsey says, you can’t outearn your stupidity. (That’s probably not a quote you want to share with your husband, of course.)
It’s time for a personal finance class (together), marriage counseling and/or a talk with your pastor or a trained financial counselor. No actual professional is going to approve of your husband’s spending. In particular, I hate the fact that you seem to have so little say in your family’s finances. Your husband gets to be “the good guy” with this extravagant giving, while his own household goes without stuff that people who are poorer than you get to have.
But just as something you can do at home right now, start tracking your expenses. Schedule a budget meeting (maybe even with a sitter, so you can do it when you’re not tired). When your husband gets his next paycheck, sit down and make a budget for the following month. The key is, we spend the money we earned in April in May, rather than spending the money we’re going to have. We don’t spend any money until it’s in our hot little hands. And giving is going to be a reasonable percentage of what funds we actually have. Checking out Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover or a similar book would be a good idea.
“Sigh … But cutting the budget in charity for clean rugs, trips to the aquarium, and house painting makes me feel bad … And my husband feel like a bad provider. How can we reconcile these?”
Your husband is not a bad provider–he’s a great provider, a bad planner and a bad budgeter. And if he doesn’t watch it, he’s going to be a bad father and a bad husband.
It’s not wrong for you to spend money on your family. As St. Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:8, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Also, think about the kids–what are they going to think about this as they get bigger? Are they going to be inspired by their dad’s example, or is it going to sour them on generosity? “Dad could have taken us to the aquarium, but he was too busy working and impressing other people.” That’s not really what you want to hear from your kids 20 years from now.
You need a line in your budget for regular home maintenance and family outings.