Marriage and Money - need some advice


#1

My husband and I are in our middle 20s, this August will be our second anniv., we have a 1yo w/ another due at Christmas. We had what I consider our biggest fight so far about a week ago w/ regards to money. He is going back to school full time this fall on top of a full time job. I also work full time. We have a little credit card debt, paying off a computer, 2 fairly new vehicles, not a lot in savings and lots of home improvements I’ve been dying to tend to.

What started it all is when I got his credit card bill and I asked him what all of these charges were. Just after our son was born last summer, we took a chunk out of savings to pay off his card and get the interest rate lowered. We have pretty much put our cards ‘away’ with the understanding that if either of us felt compelled to spend, we’d talk to one another first and make sure we were both okay w/ it. Of course, I instigated this and he pretty much just went along w/ it. I do all our books, meaning I sit down and write out the bills and I am constantly budgetting ahead of time for extra expenses. Right now, my main concern is saving enough money to cover my next 6wk maternity leave since I will not have enough PTO. We don’t make a lot of money, and what he charged to his card (behind my back) constitutes a week’s wages for me. And it so happens that it was online gambling.

I used to go shopping a lot before we were married, constantly having to have new clothes. I would still love to go shopping, but since having my son and getting our first home, my perspective has changed quite a bit. I feel like I have been fasting for a year (financially speaking as far as getting things for myself), so I was infuriated when my husband blew this money and proceeded to go out of town the following weekend to see his buddies on what was our son’s first birthday. I will say, that he did come back in time to be w/ us for supper and go to the park, but it still irks me.

We just do not see eye to eye on this. I’d like to get our debt paid off which I had projected getting done by November (in time for Christmas and the new baby), but my husband feels like I am too much of a tightwad. I feel like the only way to get thru to him is for his middle brother to talk about money w/ us - he has a great deal of regard for him. But I do not want to go behind his back b/c he will not be able to hear his brother over his thoughts of betrayal from me.

My MO right now is for us to get into a habit of spending and saving that works for both of us - saving to where I am comfortable and spending on ourselves (dates and such) where he feels satisfied. I am constantly budgeting whatever spare money we have for things like birthdays and Christmas. My big beef is that we have 2 gift drawings for Christmas w/ his family - one w/ his parents and siblings, another for extended family, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Granted, each of us only has to buy for one person, but there is this unspoken rule that everyone buys for all the kids under 18. For years now, it has been up to me to try to find the ‘perfect’ gift for these people, meanwhile getting ‘stuff’ I neither want or need and my husband and I are left w/out enough money to buy anything for ourselves or our son. This I find esp insulting. I would just assume forego the pressure of shopping and keep my money for us. I have told my husband the last few years that we simply cannot afford Christmas and I want to sit it out this year, but in his family, this is just unheard of. And then he wonders why I’m such a stickler for saving! I don’t want to charge Christmas to my card and spnd the entire next year paying it off, with interest!!!

I am constantly praying for God to change ME, change MY heart, b/c I feel like I am always the problem and I shouldn’t expect othes to change, but I really feel like he needs to come my way some. I have even mentioned speaking w/ our priest whom we both love and trust, but my husband is very private about things like this and would never talk about it openly w/ others.

What to do? I have considered starting and auto-deduct of $25.00 or so each pay period which I know he wouldn’t mind, it’s just finding the discipline to do little things when I want to see big results.

Any advice (and prayers) would be helpful.
Thanks so much.
JLCecilia


#2

God bless you for wanting to take care of your family. Here’s a couple of things you can do.

  1. Budget, budget, and re-budget and both must agree to it. The budget can include some “play” money for him - but its got to be agreed upon before it is spent. You are both a team so work it together.

  2. Cut up the credit cards. Keep one in a locked drawer in the house for true “emergency” purposes only. gambling is not an emergency - let him use his “play” allowance for that.

  3. Gifts for family - agree no credit cards. Two suggestions - a)Dollar Tree or Everythings-a-dollar - you’d be surprised what kind of neat stuff they have and you can buy these throughout the year and just keep in the closet until December; and b) give coupons for free, or nearly free stuff for example, offer a picnic lunch, make some crafts by hand, offer to make a cake, offer a ride to some park, or some other way to spend time with them. It’s free and from the heart.

Good luck and God Bless you and your family and the little one on the way.


#3

For many years, our gifts to family were baskets of homemade goodies, cookies, fruit breads, flavored honey, flavored coffee, etc. Everyone loved them! And so did I! I love to bake, so it went really well. When all the kids were grown, we agreed to not exchange gifts, but to make a donation to a charity. Of course, we give gifts to our immediate family but not to extended family.

Peace,
Linda


#4

Why has no one addressed the core issue here? This guy charged a WEEK’S SALARY in online gambling behind his wife’s back!

Just cutting up the credit cards will not help. He probably has the numbers memorized. You need to close the accounts so he can’t do that again.

Second, he needs to get counseling NOW. If he is not a gambling addict already, he is well on his way. He is stealing money his family needs in order to feed this habit of his. You have got to get this under control now. If he refuses to get help for his gambling…I don’t know what to tell you then. You may have to separate your finances from his. You have to protect whatever financial resources you can for your children, so they will be cared for.


#5

This struck me, too, as well as the part about him leaving to go hang out with buddies on his child’s first birthday. :mad: I would be livid!

Cecilia, you can get more information on the gambling problem (or any future problem) through:

ncpgambling.org/

It deeply saddens me that a daddy would miss his little baby’s first birthday to hang out with friends. I’d be dragging us (or just myself, if necessary) to counseling for that one. Since my DH has a normal, 8-5 job, he wouldn’t have missed our little girl’s first birthday for the world! This kind of thing seems indicative, to me, of other serious issues.


#6

Lets not forget that the couple is/are:
20-somethings
Been married only 2 years
Have a child
Have another child on the way
Having some struggles with finances

I was married at 24. I was the 1st in my circle of guy-buddies to get married. Going from total freedom and un-accountability to being a husband & father in 24 months is a big load! I’m guessing he just felt a need to fall back a bit and regain a little of what he used to know and be comfortable with. Some guys just don’t settle into marriage as fast as women (or their wives) would like them to!

It deeply saddens me that a daddy would miss his little baby’s first birthday to hang out with friends. I’d be dragging us (or just myself, if necessary) to counseling for that one.

Well, according to the OP:

I will say, that he did come back in time to be w/ us for supper and go to the park, but it still irks me.

He didn’t “miss” his son’s 1st birthday - he was there for dinner and a trip to the park. Did he know that there were other plans? Was it implied that he be home the entire day? If all he knew was to be home for birthday dinner & an outing to the park he did nothing wrong.

(Now if this happens when the child turns 4, 5 & older, or when baby #2 turns one, a whack with a skillet is in order - but by this time I think he’ll wise up about family obligations)

I’m not going to write off the gambling thing - this was flat wrong - but without knowing any details this

Why has no one addressed the core issue here? This guy charged a WEEK’S SALARY in online gambling behind his wife’s back! Just cutting up the credit cards will not help. He probably has the numbers memorized. You need to close the accounts so he can’t do that again. Second, he needs to get counseling NOW. If he is not a gambling addict already, he is well on his way. He is stealing money his family needs in order to feed this habit of his.

seems to be going off the deep end. He screwed up… and you want to throw him into counseling, etc. and add to the stresses already in place?

Give these guys some time to sort things out themselves.


#7

#8

I will pray for you, you have a lot of things to work out but with God’s help you can do it.

Since you asked for advice here goes: I would not approach your brother-in-law…this is a bad idea for many reasons. Your husband (as you say) would be upset and he would have a right to be. Marital problems are very private and asking someone close to get involved would be out-of-line. If necessary you can seek a professional counselor but I would not ask family members, ever.

I suggest that you try and make Christmas work somehow. You can get inexpensive gifts or like others said home-made cookies. I know this is not what you want to do but it** IS** do-able. Trying to back out of the gift exchange will cause a lot of friction and family drama which you do not need at this point. Your husband has grown up in a family where this is the norm and now he is married and probably will feel humiliated in some way if he is not part of it. I am only suggesting to make it work because it sounds like there is tension in your marriage already, and “backing out” of Christmas gifts will probably cause your husband embarassment and anxiety and much family strife with your in-laws…please don’t do this, the damage to your marriage will not be worth whatever dollar amount that you save beleive me.

I think that your auto-deduct is a great idea. I am sorry that the financial responsibility in your marriage is primarily your burden. You probably feel tired and burned out and like your husband is your enemy, he is not. Satan uses finances to tear marriages apart all the time because it is easy to do. The lure of money and posessions is an easy trap for most of us. Talk to your husband about this on a spiritual level rather then taking out the checkbook. Talk to him about your life together and your marriage bond and that you need to be together in this in a spiritual way. Both of you need to pray and see how you are both contributing to this problem. God will give you the graces needed to make this work. I will pray for you. Hope this helps.


#9

When my husband and I first married 7 years ago at the age of 30 he definitely was not the man he is today. We went from two incomes, living pretty comfortably, to one income so I could stay home with our new baby. The first year of our marriage, he always had to have lots of spending money in his pocket. I would usually just let him have mine just to keep him happy. Spiritually, I wanted him to do things the way I did. His prayer life and outlook on life was minimal and on the negative side.

Today, he needs no extra money. He drives a truck with no air conditioner. He wakes up early every morning with me to spend quiet time in prayer with God. He is the most beautiful husband. God has truly changed his heart.

I learned very early in our marriage to speak kindly to my husband, to offer sacrifices, to honor him, and to pray for him. . I read a book once about how to change your husband. You can’t. It was all about looking at ourselves as wives and changing ourselves.

My advice: visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, attend Mass during the week if possible, and ask Jesus to change your husband’s heart. Also, look into Dave Ramsey on the interntet to help get out of debt. His Financial Peace University has helped us tremendously.

You will be in my prayers.


#10

Check out this quiz from Gamblers Anonymous. If 7 or more questions are a “yes” answer, your husband may be a compulsive gambler. If he is, it is just as bad as if he would be an alcoholic. By the way, on-line gambling is now illegal in the United States.


#11

Get your husband (and yourself) hooked up with the Dave Ramsey www.daveramsey.com right away! It sounds like you are really on the right track as far as budgeting goes, but your husband needs a reality check. Dave Ramsey has a way of setting people straight on finances and all from a Christian perspective. Check to see if there are Financial Peace University classes available in your area, or get the book “The Total Money Makeover”. It will change your life. You are young and in such a powerful position if you make good financial decisions NOW.

There are other issues here, as you mentioned, and I would second (and third and fourth) the counseling suggestion.

In Christ,
Kathy


#12

Thank you Jay2 . . .Those are some of the most comforting words to hear. Yes, my husband is the only one of his friends so far to marry and settle down. And I think your insight about men not ‘settling’ into marriage as quickly as women makes so much sense - what a simple concept to grasp!

In my husband’s defense about the gambling: it happened while my mother was here. It started out that she was only going to stay a week to watch our son while my sitter took vacation. She ended up having car problems and was unable to get home, so a week turned into nearly a month - a long month for all of us. My mother and I don’t get along so well, so I can’t blame my husband for holing up in his ‘game’ room to avoid my mother and our situation, although, yes, he could have handled the stress in a different way than gambling.

I think my husband and I are finally starting to come to an agreement about our finances and ‘loosening’ up about getting our debt paid off TOMORROW has helped me see his side of things. I will be more able to save for Christmas and do things for myself and our home that I’ve been neglecting and we can both have some ‘play’ money at the same time, slowly getting things paid off.

Finally, I can breath a sigh of relief. Thanks again Jay2, I think women (myself included) underestimate what a transition it is for a man to take on such an undertaking as 2 babies in 2 years of marriage and a full-time class and work schedule. It is nice to hear that it is okay to screw up and have set-backs. It is not the end of the world and we can both admit to our errors and find an understanding of the stress we are both feeling and helping each other to better deal w/ it.

With his birthday approaching this weekend, I find an all-new appreciation for my husband and the sacrifices and burdens he is taking on for the sake of our family. While these next few years are going to be challenging and it will be hard to always ‘feel’ this way and keep this thought in mind, I have no doubt that everything will work out.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.


#13

It is nice to hear that it is okay to screw up and have set-backs. It is not the end of the world and we can both admit to our errors and find an understanding of the stress we are both feeling and helping each other to better deal w/ it.

It sounds like you’ve got the primary obstacle covered - communication. It’ll be a sorry day when either of you can’t go to the other and say “Honey, I screwed up”…

With his birthday approaching this weekend, I find an all-new appreciation for my husband and the sacrifices and burdens he is taking on for the sake of our family.

My advise would be beg/borrow/plead for a sitter, and you two go out for a night… Not a night as “mommy/daddy/parents”, but a night out like you did when you were dating. Ignore your “mommy belly”, do yourself up, and take your man out for a date - beer & pizza, or Filet Mignon… just let him know that you are still his gal - mommy “stuff” or not.

(If your situation is anything like mine give it 5 or so years, when your husband’s buddies call at all hours complaining about the latest “psycho chick” they’ve dated - and “How in the **** did you find such a great woman?”… just look back at how really trivial these “set-backs” are in the big scope of things.)


#14

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Jay2 - yes, we plan on going to dinner and a movie for his birthday tomorrow sans baby. Gramma gets some granny time . . .it’s nice to have his parents close by . . .we’ll have to hit them up more often.

Thank you for your encouragement and insight. God Bless!!!


#15

Don’t cut up the credit cards, you’ll be damaging your credit record. The longer you keep a card, the better your credit score.

My wife and I are in our early 20’s and have been married for ~1 year:) . We don’t make a lot of money either. My wife works full-time and I am in grad school full time with a yearly stipend.

Before we got married, I read: “The money book for the young fabulous and the broke,” by Suze Orman. She’s a little eccentric, but her advice has been priceless. I manage all of our finances by the book…we have never had any credit card debit, never taken out a loan (since being married) and live what we consider a pretty comfortable life. However, most people would consider it a sacrifice.

My first advice to you would be to get rid of one or both of your fairly new vehicles, Selling one or both would get you out of debt. My wife and I drive a 15 year old Subaru with 190,000 miles on it. We have no car payments and are going to run it to the ground. Try purchasing an older reliable vehicle that you or your husband could drive to work/school. Check out consumer reports magazine for a list of good used car bets. Look at reviews on www.edmunds.com, and www.carpoint.msn.com

Next, consider buying used clothes. My wife and I buy used clothes all the time at thrift stores. Many are name brand and have only been worn for one season…you can’t beat $1 for a shirt or shorts. Seriously consider buying used clothing for you children, wash it before you wear it though.

If you can’t get passed wearing someone else’s clothes, consider bargain clothing stores: TJ Max, or try www.sierratradingpost.com.

About his gambling, try suggesting this agreeable alternative: you both open a savings account at a bank wherein the money is yours to spend on fun things: you can buy clothing, he can gamble online. This will change his tight-wad perspective of you. Speaking as a man, as long as he knows there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, he won’t feel like he has a wife that lets him have no fun. This is also an incentive for him to save money.

Stop going out to eat; it’s way too expensive. Consider cooking at home, freezing leftovers to bring to work or for meals later in the week. Have people over for a potluck.

Speaking from experience: if I were your husband I would consider quitting my full-time job or going to part-time. If he’s going into graduate school, there’s going to be a huge time commitment involved. It will put a strain on you and your family. If he works less, he’ll finish sooner and so will the stress your family will feel from his constantly having to study/work. Health insurance can complicate this suggestion, however. Try reading about individual and family health insurance plans in “The New Health Insurance Solution: How to Get Cheaper, Better Coverage Without a Traditional Employer Plan,” and decide if individual insurance will work for you; it works for most people who don’t have pre-existing conditions. Just a hint, if you are going to get an family health insurance plan, make sure you have a health insurance broker help you: most individual plans don’t cover maternity, you need a special rider with a 9-month waiting period. We have Assurant Health which my broker said had was the only individual/family insurance plan with a maternity rider.

Having to make sacrifices isn’t fun, especially when you’ve grown accostumed to a certain way of living. However, it’s what God calls us to do as Christians. You gotta do what you gotta do.


#16

Thank you for all of your suggestions. I will prayerfully consider them and pray that my husband will too. Thank you and God Bless.


#17

Wow, you work full time, have a baby, are pregnant, have to find your own way to afford to stay home six weeks with the new one, you pay all the bills, buy all the Christmas presents for his family that you don’t even think is in your own family’s best interest, and take on all the responsibility for getting the money somehow for it. To top it all off, he gambles a week’s salary. You do have serious problems! You need to get someone else involved! Because allowing him to keep “private” about his irresponsibility is only serving his irresponsibility.

Also taking off to be with buddies on your son’s first birthday was really, really bad. I guess you were left doing all the preparations, caring for your one year old meanwhile, after working fulltime all week and being pregnant. But he showed up to eat. Wow.

A counselor, your priest - someone needs to hear all this with him there so he can have some accountability for his actions. End the “privacy” now.


#18

Well, about 2 weeks ago, my husband got the kick in the pants that he needed, and I did too - from his employer. He was on a sort of verbal warning anyway for absenteeism, but when he called in sick this last time, he was given a written warning. His employer is very slack about when you come to work and taking long lunches, as long as you put your 40 hours in - even if it means coming in on Saturday. So I am not surprised when he abuses this time and time again. So he is on probation for about another month.

I have been fretting for some time about how to scrimp on the $$$ we’re spending on lunch - he eats out every day and I swipe my employee badge at our cafeteria downstairs about every day. Also, he smokes, so I am constantly having to write down receipts from that and eating out and it is really annoying when I have told him time and time again just to get cash from the ATM for the week.

So over the past week, I have made double batches of about 3 kinds of soup or chili and bought some pre-made sandwiches from the Wal-Mart deli. For less than $4, he can eat for 2 days and I have less assembling to do in the morning. I also tallied up and figured that buying a carton of cigarettes every 2 weeks costs about 1/2 of what we’re spending now, and I don’t have to write down all those pesky receipts!!!

These last 2 weeks have been pretty good as far as getting around every day - we have both taken our lunches practically every day and I haven’t had to ‘spot’ him on taking our son to the sitter - he has been holding up his end of that task since I do pick-up.

Praise the Lord and please God give us the grace to persist in our discipline! It has become a personal challenge of mine to see just how much I can bring home w/ my upcoming raise and not eating in the cafeteria every day. I am astonished at what I could be saving!!!


#19

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