Finances are straining our marriage


#1

We are two months behind on our mortgage payment, late on numerous other bills. We just cant find common ground with our approach on how to resolve this mess we are in!

We are expecting baby # 2 in May. This means after the baby is born I will be a SAHM Mon - Fri & will work weekends to help with the bills. It wont be much, but it will help.

Weve been in our house for 3 years. When we bought the house our finances were in great shape, but over the course of three years weve managed to borrow money from family, take out a home equity loan & rack up some credit card debt.

Our financial future is looking pretty gloomy! We are stuggling right now & we are both putting in 40 hour week. I cant imagine how hard it will be when I stop working full time.

I want to sell the house & rent a cheap home or apartment. At least until we can get back on our feet. My husband blows his fuse everytime I bring this up & it has been a major cause of strain in our marriage. We are not on the same page at all! For him this is not the answer, he would rather borrow money from everyone than sell the house.

Im trying to be as open minded as I can & trust him when he says we will figure out a way to make this work, but to be honest I dont see things getting better financially?

Should I stop trying to convince my husband that selling the house will make things better? He seems to get really really angry when I suggest this.

Im not writing for financial advice, but to ask for advice on how to handle this strain in our marriage. I just dont know what to do.


#2

Katesmom,

First off, congratulations on that new baby on the way! :slight_smile:

I’m not married yet, so this won’t be coming from experience. However before my engagement, my fiance and I talked a lot about how we’d juggle our finances when we (hopefully) have children and I become a SAHM.

With most fiancial hot topics, I find it’s better if you stick to the facts. Maybe it’d be a good idea if you compared rent costs vs. the mortgage payments. How much would you be saving? A home is a great investment, so I can see your husband’s point in wanting to hold onto it. Also, cheap apartments or homes are not the best environment in which to be a SAHM, so that may also be a concern of his.

Maybe you could both make a list of things you’re willing to give up, and things that are very important to you to keep. Then list why it’s so important.

It could very well be that your husband feels that by giving up your home, he isn’t providing enough for you and his growing family. And if that’s the case, you need to find a way to support that dream if possible. You also might want to praise him for all he’s done to care for you.

I’ll keep you both in my prayers,

kevinsgirl


#3

Do not sell your house! If you do, you will lose the only asset you have managed to hold onto.

For the sake of your marriage, I would try to find a free financial counselor asap. If that is out of the question, try a book by Dave Ramsey. Also read the “Tightwad Gazette” by Any Daczyzn for some insights into how to think and spend when living on a limited decision.

Another good book is “The Automatic Millionaire.” It’s helpful to allow you to see money in the long term.

“Your Money or Your Life” by Joe – a great book about what money is really all about: which is trading your time and energy for stuff.

Please listen to your husband and hang on to that house. Make whatever sacrifices it takes to keep your home. If you sell it, it will take a very long time to buy another one. You will trade your hard-won equity for things that you may well be able to go without. You don’t want to rent. You and your husband are a team and you need to solve this problem together, with one mind and heart. You need to discern what exactly you’ve been doing that has created such financial chaos for your lives. Stop spending money on ANYTHING that you absolutely do not need to live on, like mortagage, food, utilities, gas, insurance, etc. Plan a very simple Christmas. You also need to talk to your mortgage company asap so you don’t lose your house. If your debt is huge, consider bankruptcy, but hang on to the house through all of it. God bless you.


#4

I would really suggest professional help on this one. It’s one thing to blow his fuse at you, but it’s another when an impartial professional lays it all out and shows him that the pie just isn’t big enough.

I would suggest you contact a credit counseling organization that is also certified to do mortgage delinquency/loss mitigation counseling for homeowners. Being two months behind on the mortgage is serious business.

I suggest www.moneymanagement.org which can do telephone counseling, or depending on where you live in-person as well.

Don’t delay on getting some good advice on what to do about your delinquent mortgage.


#5

I think you should try and stay in the house, too. Try and do whatever you can to get the mortgage situation rectified.

To make things less stressful in the home, I would try and make some nice dinners. I would stop spending money on what is not absolutely necessary. I would talk to your husband about how keeping the house is #1 priority, that should make him happy. I would also try to set aside an agreed upon time where you discuss the money situation. Then put it down try to focus on your relationship and have some fun together…watching tv , playing games, taking walks, bike rides, etc…

Remember, you had great finances in the past…you know how to do it, you just got sidetracked. You can fix this.


#6

I agree. It is fixable. I also agree to keep the house. I would really study where you are spending your money. Where can you trim back? Do you have cable that you can cancel? Newspaper subscriptions? Magazines? Can you have a garage sale? Can you sell some stuff on ebay? For Christmas-shop at your house and give gifts of things you already have sitting around the house…or if you have a cc that has rewards, redeem them for gifts or giftcards. Is your car and house insurance with the same company–if you consolidate you can usually save a few hundred a year. Raise deductibles on insurance (health, car and house). Look at what you are spending at the grocery-go generic as much as possible. Eat up those cans and dry food that have been sitting in the pantry forever. Say “no” to friends and family when they ask you to go out and spend money you don’t have right now. If you are embarrassed-make up excuses or if you really want a treat, invite them over-it is always cheper than going out and do pitch in. I could go on and on. My husband and I are working on our finances as well and we are making progress. These are some of the things we have done. Also-pay off the smallest balances first–it is easier to see your progress and then it snowballs. Best of Luck–if I can help further, let me know.


#7

As someone else has suggested, go to the library TODAY and pick up a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. Then, both of you read it. You need to get the mortgage caught up quickly. Being behind on it is one of the most damaging items to your credit history. In the book, he will outline a set of priorities for you to follow in developing a budget and getting things current, including which things need to be made current before the others.

Selling your house may be something that you’ll have to face. How much of your gross monthly income is your house payment? 25% is what is recommended, with 33% as a ceiling.

Another suggestion is to go over to MSN’s Your Money message board and post your question. If you post your income and expenses, folks will make suggestions on what to cut. But, fair warning, folks can get nasty over there.

First and foremost, you have to have a plan (aka budget, spending plan) and you have to follow the plan. The Dave Ramsey book will help you develop one.

Good luck.


#8

Without going into too much detail… why are you getting into such dire straights??? Lost job, low pay, or (not to put too fine a point on it) are you living beyond your means?

You said you guys were doing good only 3 years ago. “Doing Good” to me means you’re making your bills, AND banking/saving some every month.

DO NOT sell your house. If things totally go in the toilet let the creditors fight over it.

Here’s a fast way to generate $250+ a month, and not lose your house.

  1. Sell all the “Toys”. If you can’t make your mortgage you don’t NEED: ATV’s, Motorcycles, Boats, “collector” cars, etc. Once you’re back on your feet you can think about this stuff again.
  2. Cancel & Disconnect the Cable/Dish/Tivo TV.
  3. Cancel & Disconnect all but ONE cell phone. With you being home soon you don’t need one.
  4. Cancel & Disconnect the Hi-Speed internet - go back to dial-up
  5. Cancel newspapers
  6. Quit eating out - (Even McDonald’s for 4 is $15+) let alone anywhere else. That includes lunch too, pack a bag lunch - A loaf of bread & a sampler pack of lunchmeat is cheaper than $6 a day.
  7. Get rid of the new(er) car(s). Buy a dependable cheap used car(s) that’ll fit your NEEDS, not your ego.
  8. Keep ONE credit card - the one with the lowest balance - and CUT UP/DESTROY all the other ones. If they don’t exist you can’t use them! Get back to the mindset of “If I can’t pay cash, I can’t have it”.
    8b) Keep this one “emergency only” card in your sock drawer at home… NOT in your wallet. An “emergency” is defined as: furnace crapping out, car dies, medical, etc…
  9. Clip coupons & shop wisely. You don’t need “premium” brands. $3.99 for a bag of Doritos will buy a pound of apples.

This will hurt. You need to really tighten your belt and evaluate your priorities. When you get down to brass tacks you only NEED: a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food in your belly. Everything else is a luxury/convenience.

I was unemployed for 8 months (I’m a tradesman, and my wife is a stay-home-mom) last year. My shop closed its doors after 14 years (with 10 days notice to the employees). I lost all my acrued vacation/sick pay. Nobody in town was hiring at my “level”, or couldn’t “afford” me at my previous scale/pay rate. I hired out as a handyman doing cash jobs around the neighborhood for grocery money!

This nearly clobbered us. Going from “Steak & Lobster” to “Macaroni & Hot Dogs” was tough - but we didn’t lose our house.


#9

well …
**yuck.:wink: **


I don’t know if it would be wise to get out of the house or not. It is NOT always wise to keep the house and a house is not always an asset. An asset is an item that is worth more than you owe or generates income. I don’t know if after only 3 years in this home that applies to you or not. For some, their home is their largest source of debt and it is not an asset for them.


I also don’t know if this is fixable or not. You mention debt, but I don’t know how much or the income situation.


So I’ll stick to your request for no financial advice, but rather marital advice.


I have found that what I have to do is calmly and w/o rancor explain my situation to my dh and what I need from him. If you are the one calling the mortgage company, then have him do it. Explain to him that it is not reasonable to say he doesn’t want to listen to your concerns and opinions about the finances, but then expect you to fend off the creditors. This helped us greatly. Just hand dh the notices and the phone and let him do what he thinks best. Your dh probably has a good deal of self-worth and pride tied into providing you and his child with a home. So please be gentle with his ego and make it clear that YOU do not think of this situation as reflecting negatively on his value as a husband, father, or a man.


I can tell you this beyond a doubt:
**You will not gain financial stability unless you both can come to an agreed and realistic budget. Otherwise he will feel like less and less of a man and you will feel more and more like a shrew. And you will both be very unhappy.:frowning: **


#10

Try reading Little House on the Prairie. Sounds kind of like strange advise but read into it a bit.

Ma and the children have very little and always support Pa in his decisions. They are so happy with so little. Share the story with your husband. There is quite a bit in the book on how to be a great SAHM.


#11

Interesting advice, and worth a try. I’d start with Little House in the Big Woods and go through the whole series…they are really mind-altering in their outlook, even if you don’t agree with the Ingalls about everything. And hey, the library will almost certainly have them all.

On the purely practical side, whether to keep the house or not depends on some honest considerations about whether or not it is too much house for you as a family of four and growing. Were I pregnant, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to live in a house that’s on the market, and especially not the current market during the off-season for home sales. Realtors have to be paid, so trading homes costs money. Besides, that house may not move in 30 days. You have to come up with either a mortgage payment or first and last month’s rent, in any event.

Get some professional advice. Until them, take your credit cards and either put them in your safety deposit box or freeze them in an ice cube. Get ready for the advice to cut them up. Selling the house isn’t going to help you if you don’t change your spending habits. Save as if it were Lent. For you, it is. Make this a sacrifice of love for your children, and not just some privation that comes out of failure or without reason. If you have failed, it is in the past. The time has come to succeed in how you handle your money.

Finally…do keep in mind that men almost always have a high emotional stake in successfully providing for their families. Having to sell a house has a high symbolic value, and it isn’t a good one. Willingly learning to live within the means that he provides, that is another story. If he is emotional about this, be as understanding as you can. You’re pregnant, you can understand what that’s all about, and how much it means.


#12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.