Author Topic: Help with a unmustachian wife  (Read 39189 times)

Illini1

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Help with a unmustachian wife
« on: December 18, 2014, 03:16:38 PM »
Hello all this is my first post. I am about 2 years into trying to live the mustachian life and have been loving every moment of it.  The problem with this is my wife of 3.5 years really wants nothing to do with it.  When we first married she was working full time and paying all of her bills (cell phone,car,other crap which neither of us needed). About a year ago she quit her full time job because of a anxiety disorder where she could no longer handle the two hour round trip commute. While I was all for her quitting I thought she would look for another full time job closer to home. Within the past few months she has found a part time 15 hours a week job making $10.50 per hour job with no benefits other than it is less than a mile from home.  Since I haven't been able to convince her on the mustachian life we have decided to keep our finances separate where I pay for everything except her cell phone.

The real issue which I just found out last night is in regards to her spending.  She is still spending like she is making $40k instead of the $10.50 per hour she is now at. For example I just found that she has run up $10k in credit card bills (after I payed off her $4k cc bill when we married) and also borrowed $1,500 from her 401k which is now due or we will take a big tax hit plus the penalty.

When I asked her where all the money was going she responded by she needed it to live (hard to believe since I pay all bills) and some went to her sisters family to help out. I have helped them out in the past but now refuse as they are irresponsible with their money and have no inclination to change.

I am 32 with my wife being 36 and we have a 3 year old son which will be our only child.  We currently have a net worth around $150k which in the last 2 years since I found MMM has more than tripled.

My real issue is I feel like I'm the only one really planning and putting in the hard work for our future but I can't do it alone and will never get to where I want to be if I have to keep bailing out my wife or helping her family with their self made financial problems.

I know this is long but I am desperate for some advice as to what my next move should be.

Thanks.

MooseOutFront

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2014, 03:33:53 PM »
That's a tough one.  I was honestly thinking "eject" until I read the part about having a 3 yr old son.  It's vital to your future together for her to come around.  Seems like now would be a good time to join finances and approach the monthly budget as a team.  I can see why that would scare you, but in my mind it's the only way to get on the same page with adult conversations about money.

Debt Free in Alabama

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2014, 03:34:38 PM »
I could go into a long story about how some folks live better when they keep their finances separated, etc. but I'll just cut to the point:
Married couples are meant to combine their lives, including (especially including!) finances.
This would be a shock in your family, so it will some preparation, but the benefits are that you have ONE budget, and you make decisions TOGETHER about how to spend/save.  You both have a vested interest in this game of life, and you'll only succeed as a couple financially if both of you are pulling the same direction.
Let me encourage you to get Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makevover" and work through it with your wife.  It's very Mustachian, and provides a blue print for a couple to walk, plus tips of getting a spouse involved.
Hope that helps!

mxt0133

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2014, 03:36:40 PM »
First are the credit cards joint accounts?  If you have any joint credit cards, cancel them, take the credit hit.  Then take her off any of your existing accounts where she is not a joint owner.  This will isolate your credit from being ruined when she can't pay off her bills.

Then I would have a heart to heart with her about what she wants for the future of your child and your marriage.  Don't talk just listen and go from there.

Future Lazy

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2014, 03:44:54 PM »
I also keep my finances separate from my DH for similar reasons.

My DH has worked for Home Depot for the better part of the year, and only brings in $9.50/hr part time. He pays his half of the bills, and for any extra goodies he needs. He constantly feels broke - because he is - and it's that pressure that has pushed him to find another, and better job. However, it's taken a couple of years of therapy and spotty joblessness or underemployment to help him tackle the obstacles holding him back in that hugely destructive Anxiety Zone.

In this situation, since it's your DW, it's up to you how much of an intervention you want to stage. However, if something doesn't change, it looks like you guys might be on the rocky road to divorce - not recommended unless it's really the only option.

Does your DW see a psychologist? If not, is she willing to? Chances are, if she had a breakdown due to an anxiety disorder, she may not have fully recovered. Have you considered trying to seek out a psychologist that not only works with anxiety and mood disorders, but also is a financial psychologist?
http://www.financialtherapyassociation.org/FTA_Network.html

Can you, or are you willing to take and destroy her credit cards? That's pretty dire, but not any different than staging and intervention on an alcoholic or a drug addict. Waiting it out while she heals is only going to be bearable as long as you feel the hole isn't being dug any deeper (or, that's how it's been in my situation,), but even if you destroy all her ability to spend more than she makes, she may very well still continue to try to get more credit. Although, after her credit score tanks due to past due bills... You get the idea.

From your story, it's true that you're the only one able to plan and work toward financial wellness, but it certainly sounds like your DW has bigger wellness fish to fry than financial ones. Having patience while she does this is going to be a struggle (from experience!). I got my DH to go to therapy by going myself, and sharing the experience with him if he wanted to hear about it. After about a year, he decided to start going as well. I still go, for some PTSD, but mostly for guidance on how to be patient with DH while he heals emotionally from his own abusive experiences. This year he paid off all his debt and kept a permenent job, and next year he'll be starting a new job making more money and learning more about how to manage himself.

If the DW isn't willing to look her demons in the face, though, and isn't willing to replace the obsessive spending bandaid with therapy tools and proper healing... I don't know what other advice to give, other than to take the money - and the kiddo - and run...

Kaptain

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2014, 03:56:54 PM »
What kind of treatment is she getting for the anxiety disorder?  Counseling?  Even if the long commute was a major part of it, and that is now gone, perhaps she is still struggling. 

I wonder if your wife's extra spending is at least partially a coping mechanism/stress relief/way to deal with her anxiety.  I know when I tune up my mental health, everything else gets better.   

Chranstronaut

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2014, 04:18:27 PM »
I'm sorry for the conflict in your marriage.  It sounds like both individual and couple's counseling might be a good fit for you guys, as this financial disagreement seems to be only one part of the equation.  There have been some other threads with folks in a similar position, and reading their stories might help give you some more ideas.

Some people on the forums here like to have "finance dates" where they sit down together, maybe with some food and wine, and have the TOUGH conversations for a set amount of time.  You know, those conversations you really don't want to have and make you feel nervous just thinking about.  I think this is a great idea, but will require learning to have civil and serious discourse, which might be helped by a professional therapist/councilor.  And always remember that the success of the conversation is not by YOU being heard, or for anyone to be "right', but that both people walking away with greater understanding of each other.

I'd also recommend that you both invest in understanding each others' differences by reading some good books together.  I liked 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and their discussion the difference between simply compromising and of working a problem from the same side of the table to achieve a "win-win."

BCBiker

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2014, 04:54:09 PM »
It sounds like your overall financial picture is pretty good so I don't think that talks of divorce is appropriate.  My suspicion is that extreme anxiety is driving her behavior and that unless you understand that, you will not be able to help her.

I am by no means an expert, but I deal with this in my life to a less extreme extent.  Make sure that you make it clear that you care more about her than you care about the money. Mustachianism is addictive but don't let it cloud the entire picture. She and your son are more important!

Only once you have established this can you have a positive impact on her. Once you force her into being defensive you will never get to the bottom of it. You showing frustration with her behaviour will make it worse. Talk to her about the symptoms of anxiety: fast heart rate, headaches, stomach symptoms, unexplained pains, fatigue.  Then talk to her about how she deals with these symptoms.  Most likely she will tell you that when she buys things, it helps relieve these symptoms temporarily but the symptoms come back.  Then you can help her understand that spending is not a good "treatment" for these symptoms; and in fact, spending only makes things worse. In most people's opinion, debt is stressful and anxiety provoking!

At this point you can explore ways to help her relieve stress that are less destructive than spending: massage, yoga, running. Medications are also available but I would try other things first. As others have alluded to, this is an addiction just like gambling, alcohol, drugs.  She will relapse but you just have to be understanding.

Find ways to reward her when she goes without spending, like special dinners or a vacation. Remember these things will be less expensive than the mindless spending she is likely doing right now. Also, you will also share in the reward. Even Mustachians like vacations!

I hope this helps and good luck! :)

TerriM

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2014, 05:29:24 PM »
Wow.  I'm so sorry you're going through this.

I think I'd go with Debt Free in Alabama's plan for a start--see if it would be possible to combine your accounts so that there's more openness about the spending.  In a way, having separate spending gives you the misimpression that you have separate finances, when you might not if you're actually responsible for her debt by state law. 

I would get rid of both your and her credit cards (only fair that you both do the same thing), only keeping one for household/grocerie, and convert to an allowance with bank account system for discretionary spending.  Transfer money in each month, but make sure you can't go below 0--no borrowing from the future.  That way she does have her own spending money, but she has to limit herself each month. My husband had us do the same thing, and it was the best thing we ever did.   Discretionary spending has a limit each month, and neither of us has to justify what we buy to the other.    Make sure you have a list of what comes out of the house budget and what comes out of discretionary.  For example, eating out was a problem for us, so it now comes out of discretionary.  But a new washer/dryer if the old ones broke, medical, and clothes (because we have no problem underspending on clothes) come out of household for us.

I don't know what to say regarding the in-laws.  You don't want her sneaking money off to them, but you don't want to give them a lot.  You'll have to have a real heart to heart talk about this. 

How are you guys dealing with baby care for the 3yo?  Would it be cheaper for her just to stay home or is he staying with the relatives during work hours?  If so, are you paying them?  Would she want to stay home if she still had some spending money?

Illini1

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2014, 05:39:40 PM »
What kind of treatment is she getting for the anxiety disorder?  Counseling?  Even if the long commute was a major part of it, and that is now gone, perhaps she is still struggling. 

I wonder if your wife's extra spending is at least partially a coping mechanism/stress relief/way to deal with her anxiety.  I know when I tune up my mental health, everything else gets better.

She has received counseling in the past with mixed results as it at least helped her get out of bed and off the coach. She has also been on medication since before we met.  It never really crossed my mind that maybe her spending is a coping device. 

The real issue I believe at hand is not her anxiety but rather her spend thrift sisters family who spend $500 to play in a hockey league or $800 on landscaping and when the bills come at the end of the months cry poor and ask for help from my wife who always gives in.  I have tried to convince her of the ridiculousness in all that and she told me she has told them she is no longer to help. Which I told them myself shortly after lending them $1000 over 2 years ago which I have never seen a cent repaid back.

I think my best bet is to cancel the credit card which is in my wife's name.
Keep a better eye on my wife's spending while also involving her in the family's finances so she can see what exactly it takes to run our household.
Try to convince her to pick up more part time work while also sitting down with her family and let them know of the hardship they are putting us in and seeing if they are ab,e to start repaying the loans that were given to them.

Thoughts or suggestions on this plan?

Illini1

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2014, 05:44:28 PM »
Wow.  I'm so sorry you're going through this.

I think I'd go with Debt Free in Alabama's plan for a start--see if it would be possible to combine your accounts so that there's more openness about the spending.  In a way, having separate spending gives you the misimpression that you have separate finances, when you might not if you're actually responsible for her debt by state law. 

I would get rid of both your and her credit cards (only fair that you both do the same thing), only keeping one for household/grocerie, and convert to an allowance with bank account system for discretionary spending.  Transfer money in each month, but make sure you can't go below 0--no borrowing from the future.  That way she does have her own spending money, but she has to limit herself each month. My husband had us do the same thing, and it was the best thing we ever did.   Discretionary spending has a limit each month, and neither of us has to justify what we buy to the other.    Make sure you have a list of what comes out of the house budget and what comes out of discretionary.  For example, eating out was a problem for us, so it now comes out of discretionary.  But a new washer/dryer if the old ones broke, medical, and clothes (because we have no problem underspending on clothes) come out of household for us.

I don't know what to say regarding the in-laws.  You don't want her sneaking money off to them, but you don't want to give them a lot.  You'll have to have a real heart to heart talk about this. 

How are you guys dealing with baby care for the 3yo?  Would it be cheaper for her just to stay home or is he staying with the relatives during work hours?  If so, are you paying them?  Would she want to stay home if she still had some spending money?

I like the allowance idea and will look into further.  We don't have any child care expense as our work schedules for the most part don't overlap and if they occasionally do then my mom watches my son free of charge.

former player

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2014, 05:45:33 PM »
It sounds as though your wife had a period of time when she was working full time, commuting two hours a day and looking after a two year old child, and it got too much for her.  I am not surprised.  I suspect that currently as well as working part-time she is currently doing most of the housework and doing most of the caring for a three year old child.  That is still a pretty heavy workload.

I am also a bit concerned that your interest in mustachianism may have come across to your wife in ways you probably didn't intend.  For instance, if she hasn't had a budget or access to money for personal spending, or spending on your child, which she feels is a need (or a want) then how else can she deal with that other than by putting the spending on credit cards?

I agree with mxt1033: you need to sit down and talk about your lives with your wife, about how things are currently working, and how you each want them to work in the future. You both need to practice active listening - when one of you says something, the other tells them what they have just said - which sounds silly and repetitive, but it ensures that what has been said has been heard and understood and that the person who has said it has the reassurance that it has been heard and understood.   For instance, if your wife says "I'm not happy doing all the housework" you then say "you are not happy doing all the housework".  The result is that you both understand the same thing, which means that you can then work on how you will deal with it.

Good luck

TerriM

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2014, 06:00:09 PM »
What kind of treatment is she getting for the anxiety disorder?  Counseling?  Even if the long commute was a major part of it, and that is now gone, perhaps she is still struggling. 

I wonder if your wife's extra spending is at least partially a coping mechanism/stress relief/way to deal with her anxiety.  I know when I tune up my mental health, everything else gets better.

She has received counseling in the past with mixed results as it at least helped her get out of bed and off the coach. She has also been on medication since before we met.  It never really crossed my mind that maybe her spending is a coping device. 

The real issue I believe at hand is not her anxiety but rather her spend thrift sisters family who spend $500 to play in a hockey league or $800 on landscaping and when the bills come at the end of the months cry poor and ask for help from my wife who always gives in.  I have tried to convince her of the ridiculousness in all that and she told me she has told them she is no longer to help. Which I told them myself shortly after lending them $1000 over 2 years ago which I have never seen a cent repaid back.

Go with the allowance system, and then tell her:  "You're free to help them out, but it comes out of your allowance.  If you think it's important that they have these things, it's your choice and you can allocate your allowance that way."

Just see how fast she stops lending them money when it's her pleasure vs. theirs. 

PS:  To be clear, one of the important things is that you can save allowance month-to-month--anything unspent is hers to keep for the future.  This teaches the "save" habit, not the "I better spend it all or I'll lose it" habit.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2014, 06:09:38 PM by TerriM »

TerriM

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2014, 06:39:51 PM »
I think my best bet is to cancel the credit card which is in my wife's name.
Keep a better eye on my wife's spending while also involving her in the family's finances so she can see what exactly it takes to run our household.
Try to convince her to pick up more part time work while also sitting down with her family and let them know of the hardship they are putting us in and seeing if they are ab,e to start repaying the loans that were given to them.

Thoughts or suggestions on this plan?

I don't think you should ask her to take on more work unless you really need the extra $$, and even then I'd wait until she offers.  One of the previous posters talked about it, but if she's doing all the housework and childcare and then staying up late working, she may be exhausted.  It could make  her anxiety issues worse.  I've had that experience myself, though it takes a nasty cold with no sleep for a couple of days to do it to me, but I was afraid that if I laid down to sleep, I'd stop breathing and die.   Very interesting experience I don't care to repeat.

Also, it may all pass.  I haven't had anxiety attacks since my last pregnancy.  But I do better about getting a lot of sleep.  Sometimes exercise helps people a lot too.  Getting enough sunlight has also helped my mood a lot.

mozar

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2014, 07:42:10 PM »
I recommend the 9 principles of marriage by Gottman. Money problems are just a symptom of bigger problems,  which are born of/ triggered by and interrelated with family issues. Has your wife tried cognitive behavioral therapy? I read Feeling Good, which helped.

KBecks2

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2014, 09:24:07 PM »
I agree with the team approach, and that you and she need to talk about your money as part of your life together, your shared goals and dreams and values.

One thing that has helped my husband and I is tracking in Mint, all of our accounts, so each of us can log in and see the spending and the income.  It has helped us have an easy thing to see and it has helped us have conversations about what we're doing.

Dave Ramsey is a great coach.  He also gives great advice about not lending money to family.  You may want to try listening to his podcast together, or looking at his books, or going to Financial Peace classes together.

Teamwork and communication are difficult, but it's worth working on it!   Be a team and work together.  It's important that you respect each other and treat each other as adults and that you don't place restrictions or treat her like a child.  You two make decisions together and agree on a plan.  Maybe you will both be inspired by goals like saving for your child's education, or planning a fun and low-cost vacation.  Or learning skills to improve your quality of life, like cooking or some home improvement project.

I would not expect the relatives to pay you back.  I think you may want to distance yourselves from these leeches, limit your availability to them, and have a plan of what to say if they ask for your money.  Just don't send it! 

Best wishes for your family!

TerriM

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2014, 10:56:10 PM »
I would not expect the relatives to pay you back.  I think you may want to distance yourselves from these leeches, limit your availability to them, and have a plan of what to say if they ask for your money.  Just don't send it! 

"I'm sorry.  We're broke.  We lent some people some money and never got paid back." :P

Part of her anxiety may be having no control or say in the house finances.   Perhaps by making her a partner in these decisions, she will feel less anxious and more in control.

Allie

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2014, 11:30:01 PM »
At first I thought, "that poor man, his wife is spending all of his money." 

Then I thought, wait a second.   

So, over the past two years since you tightened the belt, you have saved 100,000 and she spent 11,500 plus whatever she made at a poorly paying part time job?  WTF dude.

My husband makes the money.  All the money.  His job pays all the bills.  Even my cell phone!  Then I take the money he earns and go spend it on whatever we need.  I happen to be the more mustachian of the two of us, so this never caused a problems, but I can only imagine what I would tell him if he told me that I wasn't frugal enough, needed to care for our children and oh, by the way, if I want to have spending money I should go out and get a job.  Especially if I was struggling with crippling anxiety and mood issues.

You need to take the time to get on the same page as your wife about your spending priorities (this does not mean make her super mustachian like you are), set up some common goals, and find a compromise or you may end up paying her quite a bit more than 10% of your savings. 





TerriM

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2014, 10:25:21 AM »
+100 Allie.

My question is how much she wants to be a stay-at-home mom right now.  There's a reason she didn't pick up a full-time job closer.  Maybe she doesn't trust her mother with her son 40 hours a week?  Maybe she wants to be the mom and spend the time with him, not his grandmother.   If this were my situation, I'd be pretty resentful.   And that kind of resentment can cause extra spending.  It's her 401K, and she probably figured she'd saved it, so now she's going to spend it. 

There's a lot of issues that come with being a mom.  Aside from lack of sleep, and being point-man for kid-melt downs, there's a feeling of being second to everything and lack-of-control.  My husband's generally a nice guy, but I can't tell you how pissed it made me to have him tell me he didn't want to pay for life insurance because he'd get enough through his work policy if he died and I'd just get a job.  We have three kids, and he could leave me pregnant with a fourth.  And I'm going to just get a job?   (Plus he could end up out of work before he died, so where would that leave me then? "Well, you could ask my parents for help."  Oh man... no thanks)  What happened to "Don't worry honey, if something goes wrong, you'll be taken care of"?  But the biggest fear is trying to find a job that would pay even close to what he brings in if he died.  There's a big feeling of helplessness and anxiety there when you become responsible for a kid.    I do mental disaster management planning weekly--what if he dies, what would I do, where would I go, would I continue to rent or to buy? etc.  He doesn't get why I do these things, but I gotta have a plan just in case life spins out of control.

The only problem I see here is the giving money to the sisters.  But the anxiety is definitely valid.  I'm glad to see so many threads where the wives say "no way I'd quit.  What would happen to me if we get divorced???"  Yeah. I get it.

jo552006

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2014, 12:58:28 PM »
I have thought about this quite some bit since I read your post.  As with everything, nobody on this forum is in your shoes. I am trying to see both sides here.  Maybe your wife has always resented not having enough time at home with your son and this is her way of getting it.  Maybe she really can't handle the 40k/year job stress.  Maybe she feels like you control spending too tightly.  Maybe she's out of control.  I won't try to guess as to your specific situation, and only YOU can determine where the truth lies.  I will say the following:

1. Always be/strive to be Reasonable, Respectful and Responsible.  A marriage counselor told my wife and myself this.  Probably the worst counselor ever, but at least this much she had right.  If both parties are being/striving to be these 3 things, that is a good start.

2. You have done great saving 100k!  Keep this fact in mind, that you're already doing better than average.

3. Discuss what you wife WANTS in her life.  I believe this whole site is about seeking happiness, not necessarily retiring early.  If her fundamental wants in life don't line up with yours, then that needs to be addressed.  Maybe she doesn't value retiring early over spending time with your young child.  That in itself is not unreasonable (See #1 above)...

4. Even when finances are split, I do not believe racking up credit card debt without the other person knowing is not good. (CC debt is never good, but hiding it is worse...)  PERSONALLY, even though my wife and I have similar goals, we still sometimes have trouble with having our finances together.  I would not recommend combining finances until she is being reasonable, respectful and responsible.  There is a level of trust (responsible-ness) that must come with joint finances.  I don't believe there is ANY* way 401k withdrawals and credit cards debt unbeknownst to a husband is reasonable, respectful, or responsible. (*caveat: With the implied assumption this is a non-abusive relationship)

5. While you need to work out all the issues you have mentioned, not putting the 401k money back and paying not paying off her CC debt when you have the money may be biting your nose off to spite your face.

tweezers

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2014, 01:36:50 PM »
My husband stays at home with our 3 and 5 year old and I am the sole income earner, but if the situation was reversed and he proposed giving me an "allowance" from his earnings, I'm fairly certain I'd tell him to shove it.  Sit down with your wife and have a conversation about financial goals (not just yours) so that you are working together in a partnership rather than one as overseer/subordinate.  Destroying her credits cards isn't helpful to developing this kind of relationship.  Finally, caring for a child (especially a 3 year old) is a job, and one that can be very trying without existing anxiety issues. 

Static Void

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2014, 01:53:00 PM »
We currently have a net worth around $150k which in the last 2 years since I found MMM has more than tripled.

Lots of great personal advice above... aligning two spirits is never easy.

Just wanted to add in: Tripled your net worth in the last two years minus a 10k credit card accident?? You are doing great! Big picture.


TerriM

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2014, 02:06:12 PM »
My husband stays at home with our 3 and 5 year old and I am the sole income earner, but if the situation was reversed and he proposed giving me an "allowance" from his earnings, I'm fairly certain I'd tell him to shove it.  Sit down with your wife and have a conversation about financial goals (not just yours) so that you are working together in a partnership rather than one as overseer/subordinate.  Destroying her credits cards isn't helpful to developing this kind of relationship.  Finally, caring for a child (especially a 3 year old) is a job, and one that can be very trying without existing anxiety issues.

For us it's a mutual thing--Money comes in as a family, allowances are given out to the family.   That would be the same thing I'd propose to them.

Cassie

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2014, 03:25:56 PM »
In your wife's situation I thinking working p.t. is perfect.  she has enough on her plate without needing to do more. 

Chuck

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2014, 05:05:17 PM »
Do you still love her? If not, gather evidence of her irresponsibility, bring it to a lawyer, and then divorce her and sue for custody of your child. Move on with your life and find someone else who shares your values.

If you do love her, seek counseling and pray she doesn't divorce you and take your son and half the stache.

Bob W

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2014, 05:34:38 PM »
Google Willard Harleys book.   His needs her needs. a must read.   You are responsible for financially supporting your family.   Your wife can spend her income on anything she likes.

Chuck

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2014, 05:37:24 PM »
Google Willard Harleys book.   His needs her needs. a must read.   You are responsible for financially supporting your family.   Your wife can spend her income on anything she likes.
The issue seems to be that she isn't spending her income.

She's spending her income and accumulating 5 digits in credit card debt AND taking out loans against her 401k... all without his prior knowledge.

TerriM

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2014, 06:58:25 PM »
Google Willard Harleys book.   His needs her needs. a must read.   You are responsible for financially supporting your family.   Your wife can spend her income on anything she likes.
The issue seems to be that she isn't spending her income.

She's spending her income and accumulating 5 digits in credit card debt AND taking out loans against her 401k... all without his prior knowledge.

They had/have separate finances.  By accepting that, he agreed not to know.  Just sayin'....

Allie

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #28 on: December 19, 2014, 11:51:43 PM »
So, I've taken a breather and hope this will be helpful advice.

Your wife works for 20(?) hours per week at 10.50 per hour.  Do you know what she is bringing in net?  Maybe 8-10k? 

For that amount, you're missing out on 20 hours per week of time as a family, she's running from spending the day with a 3.5 year old (I have one and I know they can be difficult) to a part time job, which means she is "on" and working at least 60 hours of her week and so are you.

Is it really worth it?  Instead of cutting her cards and questioning your relationship, why not try a different tactic.  Sit down with her and budget out having her stay home full time with reasonable expectations for saving and spending.  Give it a trial run of a couple months and then, if she can stick to the budget while she is working, give her the green light to be a SAHM.  Take the time to explain that you want to save and adjust your lifestyle so you can go part time or stay at home too.  You may have to budget in "fun money" for both of you, but it would be a mutual decision that both of you would have to live by, not your decision for her.  (Hint, she should get more because she's not as frugal as you are and you need to keep the peace).

May I suggest you link everything up together, even if you don't actually combine finances, through mint or another similar tool, so you can both have a good read on the family finances as spending happens.  You need to work to strengthen your relationship and support of each other, not erode it. 

Finally, your presentation of your wife has been not altogether flattering.  I know posting can make it difficult to convey exactly what you want to, but your description of her giving to her sister, dealing with anxiety, and spending behind your back came across to me as you thinking she is lazy, weak willed, and devious.  It wasn't until I thought about her experiences commuting for hours, pregnant, post partum, anxious, and tired that I reevaluated.  Pregnancy and small children can make the sanest of us bat shit crazy.  You need to cut her a huge amount of slack.

LouLou

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #29 on: December 20, 2014, 05:22:56 PM »
I see major marriage issues here:
1. Serious lack of communication - Separate finances require more communication than combined. You two are not communicating at all.
2. Anxiety issues - You two need to address this together.
3. Serious lack of empathy - It doesn't seem like she appreciates how her financial choices are affecting you. It doesn't see like you appreciate how terrible her situation is.

You two are not a team, but you need to be. You need to have the same goals, which may require compromise on the separate, individual goals that you are pursuing. Marriage doesn't work any other way, in my opinion. If you continue on your current path, you will both be miserable, filled with resentment.

The specific financial steps will follow from your joint goals - is she going to work full time or be a SAHM? Do you want to retire early or later?

Another point - don't get her an "allowance." That is patronizing, even though she's made financial mistakes. You are both human, you will both make mistakes during the course of your marriage. You should definitely have a "fun money" amount though. My husband and I have a set amount (equal) that we know we can spend without affecting our budget. Family loans should come out of the fun money.

hunniebun

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #30 on: December 20, 2014, 07:36:36 PM »
I can somewhat relate to your post, as my husband is not mustachian either and trying to get his to see the light has been a slow process.  I think you should congratulate yourself that you have done so much on your own and if you could get her on board even half-way would help you make even more progress!  In the past few years in trying to address the disparity in spending I have learned a few things. One is that you cannot make do something they don't want to do.  Telling someone to stop spending money is like telling someone who is overweight that they are fat and expecting them to want to lose weight.  I have been trying to create a vision of what life could be like and motivating him that way.  Maybe instead of focusing on the money and spending, try focusing on what you want your lives to look like for you and your son.  Then work backwards together of how you can achieve that.  Does she have any dreams or goals?  Finding these out might be a process especially for someone who has a mental illness because fear and doubt likely put up mental road blocks.  Once you have a common vision, hopefully directing the spending on things that help you all reach the vision will be easier, because you both agreed. So when you see spending on something that isn't helping to achieve the goal, a gentle reminder of what you agreed to might be enough to help her stay on track (including lending to family!) Help and support her family in any way you can...except with cash handouts!    What ever you try I hope it works out!  Oh...and just my two cents on an allowance. I don't think this is the way to go unless you both have one because if she is the only one on an allowance it creates an inequality between you and focusing on a partnership to reach common goals is a better approach.

TerriM

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #31 on: December 20, 2014, 09:37:05 PM »
I'm sorry guys. I'm the one that suggested the allowance, and I'll say it again, we *all* have an allowance in our family.  I normally call it "My personal fund", but I figured everyone thought of it as an "allowance" so that's what I called it.

I also said in my post that both parties have to give up the credit card, not just her.  It's only fair.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #32 on: December 21, 2014, 05:11:33 AM »
I'm not a fan of separate finances, but even those who are still "make" each partner pay towards each bill, typically proportionally to their income. Running up cc debt, especially if you're in a community property state, is a huge no-no.

I've become a fan of finance dates. We run our budget monthly, so we sit down at the end of the month to "close" the budget. We have set rules about what percentage gets saved towards what, but I always let my wife have the choice to veto or adjust something. Sometimes I'm the one who needs to adjust something.

I'll respectfully disagree with the person who suggested active listening. Active listening is terrible. True empathic listening is much, much deeper. The whole book "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" is wonderful, but you can skip to the chapter 'seek first to understand, then be understood'.

Miss Prim

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #33 on: December 22, 2014, 06:11:34 AM »
I have to admit, I haven't read most of the responses to your post.  The one piece of advice, and I speak from experience, is please keep your wife working at least part-time.  If she has anxiety issues and she gives up working all together, she most likely will never work again. 

I had a bad bout of anxiety, depression issues in my 40's and was off work for 3 months.  I had no choice but to go back to work, but even thinking about it was very crippling!  I was a wreck my first day back, but then it got easier.  If I had quit work, I most likely would have never worked again, it was that frightening to me. 

For you sake and for her's, have her keep working.

CommonCents

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #34 on: December 22, 2014, 06:59:48 AM »
When you say you pay all of her bills except cell, is that actually true?  Look at her cc to see if she's spending on groceries, doctor visits and the like. Presumably, if she was spending a ton on clothes you'd have noticed, so start from the assumption that you maybe miscalculated the bills and some of your savings the past two years may have been from ignoring household bills. And tally up how much she's given family because it may surprise her and help her develop the willpower to say no - or at least "I will have to get back to you on your request. DH and I make our money decisions together."

MayDay

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #35 on: December 22, 2014, 09:37:05 AM »
As a SAHM who is just getting back into the workforce (at 10.20$ an hour no less!) I will agree with both the PP about staying in the workforce, and also the posters who said 40 hours a week of SAHM plus 20 hours of work at night is too much. 

Instead I would propose that she works at the same time as you, and you spend as much of her income as needed on childcare.  Getting out of the house and interacting with adults is a great feeling!  Not spending your entire day rotating between cleaning up messes, playing pretend, negotiating with terrorists (3 year olds), and then cleaning up more messes is an incredible feeling!  Who cares if all her income goes to childcare, you clearly make enough and then some given you've saved 150k in three years.  Focus on what would be good for the mental health and happiness of the family one term.  Her making 8-10k a year probably isn't it.  And in a couple years when your child is in free public school, anything your wife brings home will be a nice bonus. 

(Obviously you also need to do all other stuff around helping her get mental health care, and getting on the same page with finances). 

Forcus

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #36 on: December 22, 2014, 12:56:32 PM »
This is not about the money... controlling the money will be a fruitless effort. The money is a coping mechanism.

Of course no one can know the full details of the situation but it seems to me there is an obvious mental health issue. If you care about / love her, work on that first..

Illini1

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #37 on: March 01, 2015, 01:51:39 PM »
I just wanted to share the latest update and again get everyone's input and advice. Since my last post my wife's final credit card debt has now reached $15,000. For the first two months of trying to pay this down I was having her give me half of her $10.50 hr paycheck which was not even covering the minimum payments. I was then chipping in what i could....around $300-$400 per month. I then reduced my 401k contribution from 20% to 7% which is the minimum I can do and still receive the max match.  Also after looking into further I am in the process of doing a cash out refinance where I should be receiving around $13,000 shortly.

I feel like I am taking a huge step backwards in my life both financially and mentally.  And this was all before she told me that she abruptly quit her part time job without first consulting me.  While she was only making $10.50 an hr while working 15-20 hrs per week that was money that I was counting on to help pay off her debt. When I asked her how she could do that at such a time in our lives she replied by saying they weren't paying her enough for the amount of work they were expecting from her.  She has been looking for another job for the past month however I dont really see her worrying too much about it.  She spends roughly 3-4 hrs a week looking online.

A couple of weeks ago my mom offered to pay off my wife's credit card bill with the only requirement that she sit down with her and teach her about budgeting and finances. My moms motivation behind this was to ensure that after helping my wife would not be back in the same place in a couple of years. I was reluctant at first but when I brought the idea up to my wife she responded by saying that she would rather get hit by a train than to listen to someone else about how to spend her money. She also said that if her parents were to ever give us money (which they will never be able to) that they would never tell us how to spend it.

I feel like I'm in a no win position. How do I help someone who doesn't want to help themselves? This whole ordeal has affected me in numerous ways. Lack of sleep,constantly worrying, lack of appetite etc. we really didn't have the best of marriage before this ( I proposed after I found out she was pregnant).  We aren't really even talking much at home and I only try to put on a happy face around my three year old.

Does anyone have advise for me or do I alrady know the answer to this question?

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #38 on: March 01, 2015, 02:06:58 PM »
I really hate to give this kind of advice. I am the child of parents who could literally be you and your wife. I would run for the hills. Cut your losses. Find someone who is on the same page as you with the more important things in life. It sounds like neither one of you is happy, you have fundamentally different values, needs, and wants.

crispy

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #39 on: March 01, 2015, 02:07:37 PM »
You need marriage counseling.

kiwigirls

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #40 on: March 01, 2015, 02:10:47 PM »
MIL advice is a terrible idea if your marriage has problems.  I can see why your wife rejected the suggestion.  Realise that the money issue is just a symptom of your wider problems.  It may be the one you are focused on because it seems like an easy win - ie its just a debt repayment issue.  But you will only have another debt/401k withdrawal issue to deal with if you don't get the marriage back on track.  Get some marriage guidance and decide if you two want to make a go of it & then develop joint goals.  Her working & spending can then be worked out in line with those joint goals.  Divorce can be expensive & your NW automatically halves so if you have a marriage that is worth saving putting the time into it is a great financial investment!

kudy

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #41 on: March 01, 2015, 02:13:28 PM »
You need marriage counseling.

100% agree; find a good counselor that can help foster real, non-hostile communication about money. Maybe see if your mom would be willing to help pay for the counseling? I've had great success with this strategy; while my SO and I aren't on exactly the same page, we're miles closer than we were 1-2 years ago.

justajane

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #42 on: March 01, 2015, 02:20:38 PM »
Can you clarify what the credit card debt is from? Is it unnecessary expenses? Or is it groceries or other items for the family as a whole? The whole set-up you have sounds very paternalistic. Perhaps she deserves this treatment if she is blowing hundreds of dollars on handbags, shoes, or salon trips, but I would like to have a clearer picture of what the debt is from before I think about how I would advise you.

But, +1 to the idea that the mother-in-law is a terrible idea. In general, venting to your parents about your wife is probably a bad idea. Find a friend instead, or a place like this.

Illini1

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #43 on: March 01, 2015, 02:31:21 PM »
Justajane-from what I can gather maybe ten percent and I'm stretching that could be classified as household goods that we really needed (groceries,clothes for my son,gas). The rest was spent on clothes for her, bills for her spend thrit family and eating out or going out with a similar spend thrift friend.  I also don't usually vent to my mother about marital issues but she could see something was bothering me and I just crumbled and told her everything. She was supportive and told me she supports me in whatever choice I choose is best for my son and I.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #44 on: March 01, 2015, 02:35:57 PM »
You need marriage counseling.

+1000

If your wife refuses to stop spending to the point of running up serious debts, and refuses to listen to you or anyone else, you really don't have a working marriage because she is determined to have her own way even if it destroys everything else around her. She is being selfish and immature, and basically doesn't belong in a marriage if she's unwilling to see how destructive she is being to your relationship, your future and herself.

Get counseling now. Either with her, or without her to help you decide whether you want to stay in this marriage.

Oh, and she's not an unmustacian wife - she is in a self-destructive spiral and in denial that she is using money to reward/medicate herself - and getting defensive and hostile about being confronted by it. Unless she is willing to stop everything and get into serious counseling, you can't fix this on your own, and will be pulled under by her as well.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 02:38:23 PM by Frankies Girl »

justajane

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #45 on: March 01, 2015, 02:49:49 PM »
Ah, thanks. That is a serious problem. Why don't you do a March pledge to go entirely without plastic? Withdraw whatever you think is a reasonable amount for each of you, and put the credits cards on ice or whatever. If it is something that both of you do, it won't come across as something you are doing to her but rather a joint effort to get your spending under control.

But +1000 on the marriage counseling.

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #46 on: March 01, 2015, 02:50:13 PM »
Lots of good advice here.  When I had a young child I blessed daycare (the joys of adult company at work are true for moms too).  I wish I had had a cleaning service as well, I was exhausted for years.

One more thing.  I was at a wedding once where the priest, in his sermon, pointed out that "forsaking all others" means that your spouse comes first and your future children come second.  By extension, this means that parents and siblings are no longer high priority for a married couple the way they would be for a single person.  If your wife goes to church/temple/mosque, could this shift in priorities for her (and of course for you) be discussed with her by her minister/priest/rabbi/imam? Plus if you can get a planned joint financial future going with her, this insight as to her shift in priorities may give her a good way out of giving her family money.


wtjbatman

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #47 on: March 01, 2015, 05:13:17 PM »
You need marriage counseling.

The kind spelled d i v o r c e

caliq

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #48 on: March 01, 2015, 05:41:26 PM »
Holy crap, if my husband suggested I get a 'how to adult' lecture from my MIL I'd be screaming about divorce right then, even without any underlying issues. 

I don't know how many of the previous posters have personally dealt with anxiety or depression, but there are so many red flags in what you're describing about your wife's behavior.  You clamping down on her about finances and making insinuations at divorce (and trust me, if she knows you've discussed your marital problems with your mother, she's absolutely thinking that you're gearing up to leave her; and considering she has anxiety, she's probably way more freaked out about it than she'd ever let you see). 

She needs to be in individual therapy on a regular basis, you both need to be in couple's therapy on a regular basis, and you need to chill out a bit about your finances. 

What percentage of the credit card debt was spent on helping out her family? 

What percentage was spent on eating out with friends?

These things are important because it's very likely that if she's having serious anxiety/depression issues, she sees these things as her only way to maintain connections with people she cares about outside your home.  A social life is very important, and even more so for people with mental health issues. 

Honestly even the clothes shopping can be a coping mechanism. 

You really should have approached this from a mental health stand point, not a financial one. 

Edit: Whoops, I got so irate about the thought of my husband telling me to get financial counseling from my MIL that I totally missed that this was a shotgun wedding.  That kind of changes my position, in that I definitely think you have some more serious thinking to do about whether or not you should even be in this relationship in the first place.  I was previously operating under the assumption that you had at some point loved this woman enough to consciously choose to spend the rest of your life with her, and I was really confused as to why you were being so harsh and judge-y...but now I kinda get it. 
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 06:37:33 PM by caliq »

G-dog

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Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
« Reply #49 on: March 01, 2015, 05:54:14 PM »
I am sorry that this situation has not improved. Only you know what the right answer is for you and your son, but I hope you do get counseling for at least yourself. If she will go too, that is great, but you need some objective support no matter what.