Inside His Head: She’s a saver. Her husband’s a spender. They’re going into debt.

Dear Inside His Head,

I’m a saver and my husband is a spender. He always wants the newest phone etc. and buys stuff for his hobbies all the time. The problem is we both work but still have trouble paying our bills. I’m the one who pays them, so maybe that’s why he doesn’t really get that we’re going under over here. When I’ve talked to him, he says he agrees and that we’ll “buckle down” and quit spending so much, but it never seems to happen. I don’t want to add any more to our credit card debt.

Do you have any advice for me? I love my husband, but I hate having money problems. It’s definitely stressing our marriage, more than he realizes.

Anonymous panel of husbands answer questions from NWA momsMAVERICK: If your husband’s spending is causing your family undue financial strain you have to tell him about it directly and soon.  It’s clear you’re protecting him from your financial reality or he’s simply ignoring it. Neither situation is healthy.

Since you handle the finances he may be unaware of the full extent his spending is having on your situation. This is one of those situations where you can show someone directly how their actions are impacting the family – math doesn’t lie.

You: Hey Joe, I just figured I’d tell you we have about $30 bucks in the bank to last us till Friday and we have the car insurance due.

Him: Crap, why is that?

You: Well, we’d have been fine if you hadn’t bought those $200 Stranger Things commemorative plates.

But what you have to avoid is coming at this like you’re the adult and  he’s a child. This is a partnership. Approach this as an issue you both can work on to make things better and avoid stress.

First, get him involved in the finances. Looking at your bank balance  regularly should help he understand the financial realities you face.

You could have him pay certain bills while you do others. Or, you could simply start telling him on a weekly basis how much money you guys have in the bank and what bills are coming up soon and what sort of infusions of cash you expect.

To help him “buckle down” you could suggest he use cash for his incidental spending. If that’s not viable, how about a credit card that is set up to pay off the balance every month.

Financial issues can be a huge cause of stress in relationships. He needs to do his share and you need to make sure he has the facts understand your actual situation.

GRAY: It’s difficult to see the forest for the trees until you can pull back and really look at the scope of your surroundings. And I have to start out by saying it sounds like you’re keeping him from knowing a forest exists.

If he isn’t involved with the family finances and thinks you’re just magically taking care of things then to some extent you’re enabling his behavior. Unless you plan on taking his credit cards away and giving him a cash allowance you need to figure things out as a team.

Open his eyes and get him involved with deciding how much is needed each month instead of doing it for him. Ask the questions like “what happens if the car breaks?” or “what happens if I lose my job?” to drive home how stressful living from paycheck to paycheck can be. And there are other questions to ask him about when it comes to saving money, like “how old do you want to be before we can retire?”

Hobbies and impulse buys make it hard to see how a $20 a week seedling grows to a thousand dollar tree in just a year unless you’re tracking every expense every day, every week and every month so that both of you know where you stand at all times. Encourage making decisions together instead of one person spending and the other trying to pick up the pieces.

There are tons of ways to navigate your forest – even apps for our phones such as Clarity Money and Mint. And the internet has no shortage of tips and advice for creating a strategy that will work for you, but both of you have to be involved to make it happen.

One thing is sure: without a path to follow it’s easy to get lost.

Got a question for our anonymous panel of husbands? Send it to us! Just email your questions to mamas{at}nwamotherlode{dot}com

1 Comment

  1. We had trouble and decided on separate accounts and one joint account for bills. We calculated how much everything is per month (bills, gas, groceries etc) and divide that to figure out how much needs to be autodrafted each paycheck to that account. Anything leftover is in our individual accounts to do with as we please (within reason!). It helped stop arguments, I don’t feel like I’m nagging him all the time, it’s worked so well for us these past 8+ years.

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