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AIBU about DH's debts?

(84 Posts)
KitKat1985 Mon 24-Nov-14 11:13:22


Me and DH have been together about 5 years (married a year and a half). He's never been great with money whereas I've always been very cautious (very much of the if I don't have the money I won't get it, and have never had a credit card). I have no debts with the exception of our joint mortgage which we have paid each month without fail since getting it nearly 4 years ago. DH has a credit card which he originally used to owe a few hundred on but over the past couple of years this has crept up to about £3000. On top of this 3 years ago he took out a 5 year finance deal on a second-hand car (I was never happy about it, but we were unmarried at the time and I didn't feel I had any right to tell him what to do). The car has been a bloody nightmare since the day he got it. It has cost untold hundreds, probably 2-3 thousand, in repair bills (indeed it's been responsible for a lot of the credit card debt) and after 3 years he wants to replace it and cut his losses (which I can see his point) but he still has 2 years worth of payments left on it worth just over £2600 and will only be able to afford a new car by me giving him a lot of my savings. So in total he already owes over £5500 without even getting another car yet. Every time I try and talk to him about these increasing debts he mutters 'oh it'll get sorted' and doesn't really do anything else about it. He's very blase about putting stuff on his credit card with no great thought about how he'll eventually pay it off. I don't want to tell him what to do with his money (we have always had a joint account for all bills, mortgage etc with agreement that our personal monies leftover after this we do with as we like). However now we are married I suspect he's debts are hitting both of our credit ratings hard and our chances of ever getting another mortgage to get a bigger house so we can eventually have room for another child (we have one beautiful 10 week old DD at the moment) are getting slimmer and slimmer. Neither of us are big earners and £5500 will take a long time to pay off. So my question is do I get a bit tough on him about it or is this being unreasonable and should I let him sort his own finances?

kinkyfuckery Mon 24-Nov-14 11:17:15

Is he making payments on the debt at all?

Why is he in debt whilst you have savings?

Yackity Mon 24-Nov-14 11:18:14

Yes to getting tough on him. His finances are now no longer just affecting him, they are also affecting you. Not to mention the fact that he wants you to use YOUR savings to bail him out!

The question is, how hard are you willing to get? What will be your line in the sand regarding irresponsible behaviour?

Are you willing to take total control of finances, eg taking his credit card away from him and not allowing any other credit cards, or would you want him to pull his own act together and support him but essentially he will be the one taking control of his own finances.

Not an easy situation at all.

TheAlias Mon 24-Nov-14 11:24:53

I think there are two separate issues here. The car and the credit card/his general attitude towards debt.

Does he really need a car? If so then there is a lot of merit in getting one that won't cost you so much in maintenance but that's only if you really can't manage without one. Car ownership costs far more than anyone who has one is ever willing to admit and you can have a lot of taxi rides in a year and hire one occasionally with the cost of running your own car. Personally, if you're going to have credit payments to make anyway, rather than buying another second hand one I'd look at some of the lease deals that are around for new cars and which would mean no unexpected bills.

Now the 2nd point. You're married and you have a lovely baby. His finances are very much your business (and yours his). I'm not sure if getting tough is the right expression because it would be better if you can work on it jointly but it does need sorting out. I am very much like you and Dh like your DH. It took a while but eventually DH saw that we would be much better off if I managed the money. 20 years on we are mortgage free in the house of our dreams which (DH admits) would never have happened if he'd carried on spending on "nothing" as he was.

It's old fashioned but I do think if you can't pay for it you can't afford it. There's nothing to be gained by having something on credit it now, it only means that you'll be able to afford even less next week/year.

stucknow Mon 24-Nov-14 11:25:09

I had this creeping debt situation with my ex. after 20 years he had remortgaged the house 3 times to consolidate the debt, blamed the debt on me, and then tried to claim all the equity in the house when we divorced. ( it didn't work)

He had a problem with managing his money, in fact he had an issue waiting for anything. delayed gratification were not words he ever understood.
I was terrified of not having enough money when he moved out as all the bills were horrendous ( things like £220 month for electricity).
but things are much much better now. AND I have savings :-)

I'm saying beware, because i think there has to be a change of mindset to take control of spending, especially if on paper there is enough, but in practise there isn't . Different story if things are just that tight anyway, but borrowing is never the answer for most people

KitKat1985 Mon 24-Nov-14 11:26:26

He makes the minimum payment normally on the credit card. I can't say he buys anything particularly excessive with it (as I say a lot of the money owed on it is from car repairs and the rest is usually where he gets short of cash towards payday). The car to be fair I do feel quite sorry for him for. He bought it from a reputable dealer but has been a disaster since he got it. I think my concern is that he doesn't seem that bothered by the increasing debt, whereas it really bugs me.

It's a tricky one as with regards to our finances we have always agreed to have a joint account to manage bills and things with the rest of our monies for our personal use. My savings are therefore my personal savings (although what I'm saving towards is some money towards being able to move in future). There is nowhere near enough in there though to clear his debts.

KitKat1985 Mon 24-Nov-14 11:28:27

Oh and yes I can't deny he needs a car. He has a 40 mile commute each way to work and no public transport available to where he goes to.

OnIlkleyMoorBahTwat Mon 24-Nov-14 11:33:05

It's the joint account and mortgage that causes your credit files to be linked, not marriage.

I'm in two minds about this. If you let him not sort himself out, he's likely to just get into an even bigger mess, where the interest bills each month will be crippling and any payments will not actually reduce the debt.

But if you pay it off for him, it's likely that you'll have to watch him like a hawk in the future, or he'll just end up overspending again. It's ingrained in a lot of people and very hard to change.

What is the car used for and who uses it? I would argue that if a car is mostly used to get to work and run errands, it is a household expense rather than a personal expense, but the car should be 'affordable' on the budget available. ie, if you can't afford an expensive car, you don't buy one.

Do you have your own car, or do you use other transport? Could he walk or cycle to work, or use public transport while you/he saves up for a new one?

In the past I've been anti-new cars on the grounds that they are very expensive and depreciate massively, but there are some very good PCP deals on city cars (eg Skoda Citigo) where the tax, insurance and fuel are very cheap and you don't have to worry about repairs or MOTs for three years. Even servicing is included. Would this be better than buying an old car that will use more fuel/cost more to tax etc?

Do you actually have 'enough' income to pay all your bills adn basic groceries etc and is it just a matter of him spending too much on luxuries?

Yackity Mon 24-Nov-14 11:33:16

Then what you will need to do is have a joint account for household expenses, a joint account for saving and debt reduction, then then REST gets split between both of you as free spending/personal saving.

And NO credit card for personal use as it should all have been taken into account within household expenses.

What does he need money for though? If all the essentials are paid for out of household budget, then if he runs out of personal spending money he should just be able to not spend. Travel money should be already budgeted for, there should be enough food in the house for him to take a packed lunch. He doesn't NEED new clothes if he doesn't have the money, he can save for them. Car expenses should really be taken out of household budget I feel. And if there are savings to deal with unexpected expenses he would never have got into this situation in the first place.

Or does your household budget not cover essentials?

TheAlias Mon 24-Nov-14 11:42:01

Yes, a car, needed for work is a household expense in the same way that childcare would be. If the debt is mostly due to the car then it should be being managed as a household expense.

KitKat1985 Mon 24-Nov-14 11:57:17

We both own a car as we both need cars to get to work. I work 20 miles from home and work shifts (as a nurse) when no public transport runs. As I say above DH also needs a car to get to work etc. We both need a car as obviously we both have to work on the same days sometimes and our work sites aren't near each other, and we don't work at the same time. We have always paid for our own cars and car maintenance as a personal expense.

Our joint account covers all mortgage and household bills, but not groceries, (which most of the time I pay for as I earn slightly more than he does).

TheAlias Mon 24-Nov-14 12:03:46

Ok but doing what you've always done gets the results you've always got....

If you make both cars and the associated debt household expenses then you get some of the control you want and DH will see it as a good deal for him, so won't object. You don't have to transfer the debt into joint names if you're worried about your credit rating but I do think the payments should be a joint expense.

MimiSunshine Mon 24-Nov-14 12:19:15

To be honest, while you are married and household expenditure should be joint. i'd be very reluctant to hand over savings to pay off car just so he can cut his loses with it.
Mainly because he doesn't seem to deal with having to pay things off, instead just pays the minimum and adds to it.

How likely is the current car going to need to be repaired again? If its likely to be unforeseen repairs then I'd be sitting down and looking at the household budget and seeing how much over payments can be increased to and get it paid off as quickly as possible in terms of months rather in one lump sum.

If its an on-going fault that wont go away (I had a car like this and I did cut my losses) then I would still be sitting down with him, looking at ingoing's / outgoings and seeing how quickly you can both save the money for it i.e. £1300 each and the car will be paid off in X months time but he has to have his £1300 to do it.

I don't think one spouse / long term partner should pay off the others credit card debt if its been racked up just because they are crap with money rather than say household necessities.

TheAlias Mon 24-Nov-14 12:22:09

I agree Mimi, I wouldn't hand over the savings. I'd make repayments part of the household expenses which would mean he'd have to hand over more of his "personal" money to the household pot.

CocktailQueen Mon 24-Nov-14 12:29:32

Kinky: Why is he in debt whilst you have savings?

Because it's HIS debt, no the OP's. Why should she pay his debts??

Boomtownsurprise Mon 24-Nov-14 12:32:53

Eh? Your married? Then pay the debt off. Any debt is joint. Your savings are illusory.

Not married? Then LTB. Sheesh. It's 3k not 30k. Here's a grip. Use it.

TheAlias Mon 24-Nov-14 12:36:15

That's not true Boom. Being married doesn't make you responsible for your OH's debts.

IMO the only way you can live successfully long term is with a what's yours is mine attitude but there nothing in law that says OP is responsible for his debts.

KitKat1985 Mon 24-Nov-14 12:51:59

Okay, so the general sense is that I should use my savings to pay off some of his debt? I'm not against the idea but I would be lying if I said I'd be happy about it. Mainly because I've lived very frugally the past couple of years to accumulate savings (and to be clear my savings won't be enough to clear his debts, but maybe reduce them by half), whereas DH does have, shall we say, more expensive tastes which has been part of the problem. So say if I needed a new top for work and I was short of cash I'd buy something for £5 from Primark, whereas he's buy a £60 shirt and put it on his credit card. As I say a lot of his credit card monies is from card repairs etc which I'm not denying, but there's definitely also a fair chunk of cash which has accumulated from him being a bit carefree with money. If I pay off a large chunk off his debts though I think it would be with the provision that he cuts up his credit card and we start from scratch, but then that makes me feel like I'm being quite controlling. Thoughts?!

KitKat1985 Mon 24-Nov-14 12:53:08

^ car repairs not card repairs!

TheAlias Mon 24-Nov-14 13:02:14

No, that's not what I'd do, it makes it too easy for him.

I'd leave the debt as it is but consider it a household debt, work out how quickly you'd like to clear it and add the monthly repayments to the household bills. I'd also transfer the expenses for both cars, including fuel to the household bills and while you're at it (if possible) I'd set up a household savings account which the household expenses contributes to.

Then you'd need to re-calculate the amount each of you pay to the expenses account which will leave each of you with less personal money but would mean the debt was reducing and that you have joint savings.

I don't think it's fair that he's been paying for the lemon of a car and the higher fuel costs associated with his longer commute from his personal spending money.

I'd then have a proper talk about whether he needs the credit card but it doesn't actually sound like he's been that irresponsible with it.

Actually, personally, I'd find it difficult to have separate spending money too but I know that works for lots of people.

Yackity Mon 24-Nov-14 13:04:17

I would flatly refuse to use any of my savings to pay off his debts unless he cut up the credit card - but I wouldn't even be doing that until he showed he could manage his spending.

Once debt is under control, he can perhaps get a card with a very small debt amount on it.

He needs to learn that if he doesn't have the money, then he economises. The only way he will do that is to live on a cash basis for awhile.

OliviaBenson Mon 24-Nov-14 13:09:45

You need to have a sit down together OP. You are on maternity leave? So your earnings will go down anyway- how are you going to continue with the joint expenditure and groceries?

I wouldn't pay off his debt, but you need to work together and sort out a plan to get rid of his. Paying for a faulty car is one thing, but buying £60 shirts is quite another.

KitKat1985 Mon 24-Nov-14 13:12:39

"It's 3k not 30k. Here's a grip. Use it".

No it's not, as I say in my original post, it's £5600 between car finance and credit card, plus whatever replacement car adds to the debt, making it closer to probably 8K in the next few weeks. I don't consider that a small amount of money anymore, and you're very lucky if you are in a financial situation that you do.

"I don't think it's fair that he's been paying for the lemon of a car and the higher fuel costs associated with his longer commute from his personal spending money".

When he got the car we weren't married. As far as I was concerned I didn't have a right to stop him from taking out the finance, although I was very clear I thought it was a bad idea. As for the further commute, because he pays out more in fuel each week for his longer commute since we moved here is why I pay for the groceries most weeks, so it works out pretty even (actually I suspect most weeks the groceries are more than the diesel).

TheAlias Mon 24-Nov-14 13:19:39

Re the car, I meant that for whatever reason he's got an unreliable car and therefore greater car expenses. It doesn't seem fair to me that he has to cover them from his spending money if you don't have an equivalent expense.

This is why trying to share the bills and keep your own money doesn't work for me.

Here, all the money goes in the joint account, the bills are paid and we decide jointly what happens to the rest. No-one worries about what's fair. Sometimes I have a night out and a new frock sometimes he gets to see loads of sport. When there's a big bill to pay we both go without. I can't see how it's possible to live as a partnership of one of you has more free cash than the other.

CleanLinesSharpEdges Mon 24-Nov-14 13:23:17

I think he'd have to prove he's a bit more responsible with money and be making an effort to find out how he can considerably reduce his debt before I'd be willing to hand over any hard earned savings.

Muttering "oh it'll get sorted" while continuing to whack £60 shirts on the credit card doesn't sound like someone I'd want to bail out financially.

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