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Husband Won't Stick To A Budget

Husband Won't Stick To A Budget


Dear Rachel,

I am very newly married and now that we are sharing a bank account, I see for the first time that my husband is really spending more money than he should be. He freelances so his income is certainly not consistent, but he buys things as if he has endless resources. I always thought he could afford his more lavish lifestyle but now I see that his credit card debt is mounting and I am worried that it could get out of control. He spends a lot of money on me which I neither want nor need but he always says he buys me things because he loves me and wants to make me happy. It is not that I don't like nice things, but with today's economic situation I just don't think it is practical to spend like this. He tells me I worry too much, yet I feel he is not being responsible. Any advice?

Concerned Newlywed

Dear Concerned Newlywed,

It sounds like there are a few different dynamics going on here. Leaving aside the current financial situation for a moment, it appears that for whatever reason he feels that spending money, both on himself and on you, is something he should be doing. Perhaps he is concerned that if he doesn't keep a certain standard that you will be angry or upset. Maybe he sees that his friends are always buying things for their wives and he either doesn't want you to be jealous or he is trying to keep up with them. Or perhaps this is simply the lifestyle that he enjoys. But if so, it doesn't sound like he can afford it!

Often people buy things to make themselves feel better. Shopping can give someone a feeling of control, of newness in their lives, of being able to create the kind of image that they want to have. If his shopping is related to insecurities, the best thing you can do is to try to reassure him and make him feel secure, so that he will not resort to shopping as an outlet. Try to be conscious of how you talk about material things. Sometimes we are not even aware of what we mention. Perhaps you talk about how beautiful a particular huge home is or what you would do for a certain pair of earrings or outfit. Often we make these comments with no real intention of ever having such things, but more as passing comments. But if your husband hears you talk about things he can't afford, he could be feeling pressured that he is not providing for you in the way that you would like.

If his money spending is not really unhealthy but more impractical in today's market, then think about ways you can help your overall spending lessen. Look at the things you do in your relationship and where the money is spent. One big money pit often is eating out. Going to a nice restaurant can be romantic, a little get away, relaxing…yet it can also be quite expensive. If you see that he spends a lot of money taking you to dinner, try to create another experience that is just as enjoyable and less expensive. Surprise him and cook a nice dinner for the two of you or make a picnic. Pack him great lunches (and for yourself as well) when you go out for the day so that you don't stop to pick up food. You can suggest taking turns making meals and trying new foods. This can be something both fun and financially wise. You will end up spending more time together (as it will include preparation and cleanup time as well as the time spent eating) and it will be both healthier and less expensive.

If you take a good look at the extravagances in your lives and where the money is being spent, there are often much less expensive alternatives. Instead of taking a week-long vacation go away for day trips. Instead of hotels, look into swapping homes or staying in places with kitchenettes so you can bring food along and even do some cooking.

You say you are recently married. More important than anything else, remind your husband both directly and indirectly that you didn't marry him for his money, and you do not love him for the things he buys you. While he may know this intellectually, emotionally he might feel that he has a standard he needs or wants to keep. He wants to take care of you and make you feel secure and maybe he feels that by providing for you materially he is accomplishing this. Remind him that what you need is for him to be healthy and happy, not for him to buy things for you.

If over time you see that there is no way for the two of you together to bring your (or his) spending under control, you may want to consider seeking the advice of a financial planner or even a therapist. Spending can unfortunately become an addiction, in which case professional help is needed to curb it.

There is a beautiful tradition that under the chupah, under the marriage canopy, that a man empties his pockets and a woman removes all her jewelry. The reason for this tradition is to show that the bride is not marrying this man for his material wealth, for anything that he has in his pockets. She is marrying him for who he is on the inside. And likewise, he is not marrying her for her jewels or her riches or anything external. He is marrying her for who she is, not what she wears. So make sure that this is a message that stays in your marriage and becomes your foundation.

May you be blessed in your marriage and lives to have an abundance of wealth, in the spiritual, emotional and material sense, and may you always know how to use it wisely!


"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Anonymous Texas September 27, 2012

Financial difficulties is one of the leading causes of divorce. I also grew up in a frugal household, but my husband didn't. When we first got married, we both worked and it wasn't as obvious. But when we started having children, I left my career, and he was the only one bringing in an income the problems began to mount. Hot checks, overdrawn account, missing payments on bills, etc. We have a big journal where we are supposed to write down everything we spend. He will do good for a while, then fall back into the habit of spending, and forgetting to write it down. His parents let him carry a credit card in their name, and they give him money for gas, and occasional Dr. appointments. I'm convinced that they are a big part of the problem. But after 11 years of pleading, talking, and arguing about the same old thing, there has still been no solution. If you work, use a seperate account. Sounds wrong, but what else can you do? Reply

David Aharon Lndzon Toronto, ON Canada February 8, 2012

husband overspending several suggestions...

a] set up 2 accounts for yourself
one where you put money from the Joint account into a savings accounrt that he cannot touch save 10% of all income earned. the other 90 % could be used by you to buy necessities only and then spent frugally.

if he needs to have debts you have to take control ...
get debt counselling....

one more thing; there is only debt that can be allowed that of a mortgage on a home .

Any debt other than that should be curtailed quickly,. Reply

Bob Los Angeles, CA/USA July 29, 2011

Happy wife happy life. I save about 2k each month over what I have put into my 457. My wife of 30 years saves and also has a 457. We each have lavish pensions and will be retiring in 2 years with over 100k per year income plus free life time PPO medical insurance. I love buying her jewelry and cool gifts. I send her flowers when she doesn't expect them and we take weekend trips. If you budget you will have money to play with and if you spend it right you can have a very happy partner. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI December 31, 2010

Husband Won't Stick To A Budget I was taught not to spend money I don't have - money doesn't grow on trees and money should be treated with respect!

Many people overspend money because they feel sad and deprived. Maybe your husband grew up poor or his parents were extremely strict and said no to everything.
Whatever the case, you have to discuss these possibilities with your husband. He needs counseling unless he trusts you enough to help him save money instead of throwing it away. Sometimes, when a husband is not good with money, the wife takes over. You might have to do that.

It's not enough to have just a joint bank account. You need to have your own bank accounts with your own money. Reply

Yehudis Louisville May 31, 2009

Debt-free plan The couple sounds similar to where we once were but we made some big changes and stayed married. Anyone who knows me knows how I always talk about our debt free plan and how my family is working together to become free of consumer debts. We sold our pricey NY condo and all the contents in 2006 and drove away with our family and what fit in our minivan to a new Jewish community in which we could afford a 15 year mortgage. After all, the debtor is slave to the lender, from the words of Shlomo HaMelech.
But in this case, I'm actually more appreciative of the husband's spending in this situation- and I think with his wife's support, love and loyalty-- and A LOT of her speaking up to be heard -- this relationship could be lavish in love, not materialism, generous in giving appreciation not gifts, excessive in affection not shopping, and could rack up huge amounts of understanding not bills.
It isn't easy to build a home, but I can honestly say it is worth it. Reply

Roz Pulaski, VA January 28, 2009

budget spending try telling your husband how it makes you feel when you see how much debt his spending is causing. He obviously associates spending money with love, or he wouldn't spend it on you. But if you tell him that you feel very insecure and worried about the spending instead of feeling loved, the light bulb may go on for him. Try "I love you but it makes me feel . . . when you spend money we don't have." Reply

Anonymous January 27, 2009

addiction? Another possibility is that he is addicted to spending. That isn't as out there as it sounds. A woman I knew took out mortgages on her houses and got huge lines of credit. Supposedly making $5000 per month but spending two or three times that. I saw the receipts. She purchased new clothing and shoes and spa days and..... And then she started hiring people to do stuff for her. Wash her dishes. Fold her laundry. Cook. She literally couldn't go a day without shopping. And all of this she managed to hide from her husband. Be careful. Get your husband whatever help he needs now before it causes problems with your credit too. Reply

Anonymous January 26, 2009

Be Very Careful I married a man many years ago who had very different spending habits from me. I believed that it was important to live within our means. If he did not have the money to make a purchase, his response was to pull-out the credit cards. The fact that he was later diagnosed as suffering from mental illness only contributed to the problems.

PLEASE BE VERY CAREFUL. My husband eventually reached the point that he was actually hiding his debts from me (it is amazing what one is actually capable of hiding).

My marriage is now over, a direct result of our differnt priorities and my husband's dishonesty. The only positive note is that I made the decision to protect myself and my children. Based upon my attorney's advice, my name was removed from all joint accounts and credit cards. I also established credit in my name.

Rachel has made some great points, but you must keep your eyes and ears open in order to ensure that a more serious problem is not hiding beneath the surface. Reply

Anonymous January 26, 2009

budget I discovered that also. After 2 divorces and another bad relationship where the women all took everything he had (and then some), he is buying things to make himself feel safer. Always in his name only. Every time we discuss a budget of any kind he gets deffensive and upset. Accuses me of treating him like a child. If talking and reassuring doesn't help, you might consider counseling together to find why he is shopping. I've been reassuring and supportive for 5 years. 2 full sets of speakers. More computers. Thousands of dollars worth of DVDs. Good luck. Sounds like he really does love you though. At least in his spending he thinks about you too. Reply

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