Wife is in so much debt(180 Posts)
I've just found out, that via a number of credit cards and loans on items, my wife has nearly £40,000 of debt I didn't know about.
I was led to believe the cards were under control, paid off and generating cash back.
It turns out that after the money we share for joint expenses, everything each month goes to making the minimum payments and more is constantly being borrowed to do this - her monthly take home pay is less than what is needed to clear this.
I have inadvertently been paying for food and treats for both of us for weeks, which is how I I found out about this when she could not take it in turns or split costs. There is nothing in her current account and she has had to take built up cash (more than she contributed herself) from the account we pay our bills from to cover charges made by her bank.
I have some savings and she's talked about using these to pay things down so that the interest is not as high. Am I selfish not to want to do this? I can see it being swallowed up and if the spending continues, we will be worse off. I'll also need it, as it seems she has no income left and I'll be subsidising her living.
Oh dear OP, how awful. I know it's easier said than done but I would LTB.
I was in a similar situation except we weren't married. I found out he was in loads of debt but he said he sorted it all out. Years later found out he had not only never paid off the original debt but had secretly doubled it to £50000. The trust was completely gone and we split.
Every time they swipe that card, they are basically saying "fuck you DP". That's how I think of it anyway.
The problem with paying off the debts or even with moving them to a low interest loan or low/no interest credit card, is that it leaves the original cards free to spend on again. Plus they can also spend on the new card. You can monitor this. However they can apply for new cards secretly and gave them delivered at work or wherever.
The sick part is that as they haven't defaulted on payments (yet), they actually have an excellent credit rating due to their apparent great handling of so many cards! So they can easily apply for and get more.
Is she still charging things on the credit cards?
This would matter a lot to me. Is the situation getting worse (ie she’s still spending) or is it just not getting better? - because obviously it won’t /can’t if all she can afford is minimum payments.
And also what is her take on this? Is she taking responsibility? Other than asking for access to savings has she come up with any other ideas?
Sorry, I have not read all the threads.
Is voluntary bankruptcy an option or would your earnings and assets be considered in the bankruptcy proceedings? The CAB could advise or Step Change.
Whatever the case, your wife should consult with a debt advisory agency.
I'm so sorry OP, that's really hard! I think she has really broken your trust and that would be a deal breaker for me. Whilst my DP and I don't keep tabs on each other's spending there needs to be some sort of trust the other one isn't running up debt the other doesn't know about. I do wonder (since there is nothing to show for the spending) does she have a gambling addiction?
Since no kids are involved, if it were me I'd me looking to leave. It's a massive incompatibility issue that her attitude to money/debt doesn't coincide with yours. Please also take legal advice, if you had no part in running up this debt then should not have to clear it.
Oh and everyone saying cut up the cards - this means nothing to the spendaholic! They can tearfully show you the cut cards, but secretly have the card on their phone in apple pay. And even know the number off by heart for online purchases! Speaking from experience.
Did somebody really say the OP sounds cold toward his wife ?
Only on MN
He sounds angry but nowhere has he sounded cold towards her. It sounds like he loves her very much and has no intention of leaving , Opposite to cold in my book .
clearly she needs to accept that you need to take over all the household expenditure, and just give her a level of pocket money, and no credit cards.
Reduce spending, don't change cars, cut down on holidays, and it will start to go down.
It seems such a bizzare situation 8 can't imagine a situation where me and my DH don't share money (have separate savings and take it in turns to pay) I also can't imagine one of us having huge amounts of secret debt. I would hate to be in a marriage where I couldn't trust my spouse financially.
btw, you are a couple. It's not your money and her money. IMHO
If you want to work through it with her you have to accept that this debt is also yours and probably that she's not financially responsible and you need to take total control of finances Barr a small amount of spending money for her.
I'm not sure where you're getting that loving feeling, whentherabbitswentwi
You have no kids?
Run. Just run.
Someone that stupid won't change. Don't waste your life. Get legal advice and get out of there.
Why are people saying it's the OP's debt? It is absolutely NOT.
That's a fifty metre wide silver lining.
You have the option to getaway from someone who you thought you knew but it now turns out you don't. You've been living a lie for years.
I think they were referring to anything in joint names.
Without kids this is a much easier problem tbh.
@RomanyQueen1 ahh I see. I just can't see why anyone would suggest that he ploughs his money into paying off her debts. Yes, they are married, but she has kept this from her husband until it has spiralled out of control and now expects him to just step in and wipe it for her?
You sound a lot like my not so dear BIL with your insistence on not 'subsiding' your wife. Does this extend to your kids too?
My sister is in a lot of debt and can no longer afford to feed herself or her children. She got into debt by using credit cards to feed her four children and store credit to clothe them. He worked a bloody good job so they only received child tax credit. That and the £60 p/w wages from her small part time job were all she had to live on. As his wages went up, her CTC went down and he never made up the difference. I told her to call his bluff once and refuse to buy food. The kids ate bread and butter for breakfast and lunch and then got fed up and came to borrow a pizza from me for their dinner
I too would like to know exactly what your wife has been spending it on because if it's essentials you refuse to pay for I have little sympathy for you.
40k secret debt would have me getting a divorce.
You sound like you think my situation is exactly like the one you know of. It's not. No kids, no issues with earnings (hers higher than mine for most of relationship). This isn't to do with essentials, except it will be now that she can't afford them. I earn marginally more since new year. It'll be a stretch to support us both on one wage, which is what I meant by 'subsidising' ie that I will be the only one able to contribute because of this ridiculous mess. Not subsiding...
OP you sound much more reasonable and sensible than I would be in your situation (I'd have run so fast you'd all be hearing the sonic boom). Your original question - don't use your savings. This is not an emergency, and it's not your mess mop up. Help her get debt advice, help her phone creditors, but don't pay anything off.
I think this has probably shown that you are financially incompatible, whether or not you can work round this is up to you. No one would blame you for leaving.
Take it in turns to pay for nights out? You're married ffs
Projecting much Frequency ? From OP’s updates they don’t have DC and the wife earns a similar amount...
OP, I wouldn’t necessarily say leave but she needs to define how she plan on reimbursing the money:
- 2nd job (weekends, evenings)
- selling clothes, shoes, handbags, hobby equipement...
- no more hobby related expenses, no more gym membership, no more coffee shops or restaurants
I would say as she is now leaving you with all household expenses to pay she should be reponsible of making sure these are as low as possible, so spending time batch cooking from scratch, researching cheaper phone/utilities contracts etc
If you end up in a situation where you will be the only one who can contribute to all the spending of the house (that would be hell of a lot of repayment each month....) then whatever she is deciding to do re the debt is also your problem. Because it impacts on you.
Keep the savings, not the least because it’s a buffer that you might need in the future.
But I wouod advice some outside support. She clearly isn’t in the place where she has acknowledged yet how bad the situation is. Until she is taking full responsibility for the mess, it will be impossible to sort out. But like a lot of issues, receiving advice/suport from your partner isnt always the most suitable.
You BOTH need support from a debt management adviser to see what will be the best way to handle it. So it is ok for her to handle and has not too much impact of you. Some of decisions have to taken WITH you because if the impact it has in you (eg if it also means you will have to cut down on your own hobbies). Some need to be HERS and hers only. She needs to take the responsibility for it and ne in charge of it all. It will have to be with your support though, regardless of whether you want to ‘subsidise’ her or not.
I'm sorry to hear this OP and in your shoes in be livid - you sound far more composed than I would be!
Getting into debt buying essentials is one thing but this isn't what the OP's wife is doing. To me, it sounds like she is buying stuff that she doesn't really need and at a level that she can't afford. To top it all off, she has hidden it from her husband.
I think she needs to commit to cutting up the cards immediately and letting you take the lead with controlling finances for the household for a while. Contacting stepchange or another debt advice service would be a good idea as then you can hopefully work out a way forward to pay it off.
Our of interest (and sorry if I have missed this) what has your wife said about the situation? How is she proposing to sort this out? Yes, as her husband you can support but ultimately, she is an adult who has created this huge mess and she needs to take responsibility for fixing it.
Leave her. You deserve better. Her debts are not and should not be your problem.
The problem is that although being married doesnt in itself make you responsible for the other spouses debts, it's possible for them to be included in a divorce settlement and also they may be financially linked if eg they own a home together. So if you're in a position where your partner runs up a lot of debt, it can impact on you.
Are you certain there's no gambling OP?
If you think that she's stopped spending and wants to sort this out, and between you it's possible to pay at least the minimum payments on everything with a little extra, then look into snowballing the debt:
She has to be absolutely open about what debts there are, that the overspending stops and she has to be fully on-board with tackling this. It won't be fixed if she's not wholly committed to working at it.
To answer your AIBU, no you're not wrong to not want to use your savings. If you fix this mess for her then she won't learn that her recklessness has consequences. Not only that but you do need to protect yourself in case the full extent of the debt still hasn't been revealed to you or the marriage does break down at some point.
You sound quite vague as to where the money has gone, have you seen her bank statements, credit card statements and all correspondence from her debtors? Has she cut up the credit cards? I would insist on this happening immediately.
I would also be informing her that by decieving you she has lost the right to any privacy or autonomy regarding finances for the time being. I would insist on taking complete control of all household expenditure, having access to all accounts (since it sounds like you have seperate accounts?) and correspondence regarding her debt until this is all sorted and she has earned back the trust you've lost. If she couldn't accept that then I would leave.
Then together you need to make a list of anything she owns that she can sell to got towards paying off the debts. She needs to contact Step change for advice around consolidating her debts and whether this is the best course of action. Cut back on anything non-essential so that you don't get into more trouble.
I would also be making it clear that, money aside, on a personal level it's extremely hurtful that you've been kept in the dark about something so important that affects you both and that so far the only solution she can think of is for you to use your savings to fix it. I would be needing to see some genuine remorse or regret and if I didn't then it would make me seriously question the future of the marriage.
gambling addiction? because £40k can't otherwise evaporate without physical purchases
My word. Marriage is about sharing things. She's made a mistake, a big one, but it doesn't have to be end of a marriage.
It can affect the other partner, when my friend declared bankruptcy, they went after her half of the house. They had to put it on the market even though they had dependent children living there.
Does she seem to be taking responsibility for the debt? Is she talking with you about how to tackle it? For this amount of debt, I think you need to have a written down plan that you both agree with. The longer it's swept under the carpet or allowed to drift, the worse the debt will get.
Can she sell stuff?
Can she cut any of the interest rates?
Has she cut up the cards?
Has she stopped overspending?
Okay in practical terms you need to march her down citizens advice or stepchange. It’s possible she could do an IVA or DMP the former will be paid off in 5/6 years and could write off a great deal of debt but comes with big fees as an insolvency practitioner is needed. The latter most lender will freeze interest and charges whilst in a plan, you may even be able to negotiate token payments of £1 a month and focus on paying off one dent at a time eg she owes 2k to eon and 3k on a credit card and the minimum payments are £300 for both then give wom the token payment and pay £300 on the higher dent until paid off so on and so forth you can start from biggest dent to smallest or vice versa.
IVA and bankruptcy is problematic if you own property, they will expect you to remortgage to free up any equity for a lump sum settlement.
Emotionally she needs help clearly, those cards need cutting up ASAP and be wanting some answers! Did she never learn to manage money? You may even need relationship counselling to move past this if you even can.
Also sell what you can. Flog everything you can or return anything to pay off as much dent as poss.
Her attitude would be key for me. If she's stopped the spending, understands how she got into this mess and is prepared to generate extra income to help pay it off then it's worth salvaging.
If she feels hard done by that the cc Co has charged her so much interest, that you won't bail her out and doesn't want to really change then ime it's going to happen again until you finally walk away.
My ex felt hard done by, refused to consider getting a second job and resented not being able to spend. The lying and the resentment were what did for us.
Tbh, without kids I'd be gone pretty much. And I say that as the one most likely to be in your wife's position in our relationship.
YANBU to want to keep your savings.
Has your wife apologised or offered any explanation or solutions to her debt? You need to keep talking to her.
Personally, I would not be able to trust her after this but hopefully you can get past this.
I think my reaction would depend on two things. Does she seem genuinely sorry? Both for the spending and the lying.
And what are her plans to stop it happening again. Does she know why she felt like she had to do it? Are there any problems that spending recklessly felt like it was helping? Is she prepared to live a lot more frugally until it's under control? Is she happy for you to take control of the finances for now and give her minimal spending money so she doesn't lose control again? Is she prepared to do more to get in some extra money - selling things, overtime or tutoring or something? Will she get some help?
I think the answers to all these questions will help you decide whether you can get past it
If its unaffordable then you can contact each credit card company individually and make payment arrangements. Normally they default it on her credit file then freeze any further interest. Allowing reduced payments and you/her to clear capital.
Also this will preveng her being accepted for most further forms of credit til its cleared
Everyone saying ltb might be a bit harsh. It depends how important money is to you.
Im sure she has other qualities you love.
As a partner in marriage you can choose to get through this together. Id suggest you start to pool money into one bills account. Pay all outgoings inc bills food cars debt etc and split the remaining between you equally.
If this is a dealbreaker for you and your wife is going to be single, she will probably struggle to rent a home with this debt unless shes got a high income. Please go gently.iv worked in debt advice and it happens to many people and mounts up fast
I would encourage her to ring Step Change a debt charity that are just so amazing and non judgemental.
Debters Anonymous is a 12 step programme like AA that she could attend to help with her spending addiction.
I would encourage her to take responsibility for this herself though.
Could she have an IVA or go bankrupt?
Then she would have an appalling credit rating but she probably does anyway so nothing to lose except worry.
Oh and keep your savings, they'll be a drop in the ocean of her debt and she'll probably just be in the same position in the suture if you keep bailing her out.
So obviously she needs to get her shit together, get help from one of the charities out there, and get a plan to pay off her debts.
Please protect yourself as best you can. Don't let a loan be secured on any property you both own, for example. Don't lend her the money to pay it back yourself, don't give the money, or whatever. Know that this will likely have already affected your own credit score, perhaps even permanently. I'd take your own financial advice separately.
Does she understand how bad things are? Does she seem like she wants to sort it out?
I've been in your wife's shoes. I managed to build up almost 30k in loans and credit cards and reached the point where just covering minimum payments was leaving me having to do food shops on the credit card.
What started off as a small loan for carpets when we moved house snowballed into massive debts, we had no savings and every unexpected cost was put on a credit card.
I had a breakdown a few years ago and was off work sick, dp broke his arm and had time off sick etc and we were living off credit. Dps mental health became really bad and I felt I couldn't put the worry of the debt onto him so took out loans to try to consolidate. I was just digging us into a bigger hole.
I finally confessed a few months ago and we have now entered into an iva. I feel so ashamed and guilty that ive put us in this situation and for hiding it for so long. However, it wasn't something I did intentionally, or maliciously, i was just trying to take care of my family. I didn't spend money on new clothes or things for myself, it was purely trying to keep food in the cupboard and the car running etc which is why dp has stood by me and forgiven me
We still need to talk more about this, obviously, but she seems sorry to have let it get to this.
I've said I won't be paying off the debts with savings. I was worried I was being selfish by thinking this, but your replies have encouraged me. We're looking into the things that have been suggested, so thank you for the advice.
It doesn't seem to be gambling, but the statements say 'paypal', 'ebay', 'amazon,' Debenhams'etc, so not always easy to know.
She wants to help herself and has cancelled subscriptions and removed card details from her browser. I have the physical cards.
Turns out she applied for a further loan when she realised she couldn't manage this, but was rejected. No option of moving any on 0% balance transfers at the moment.
My gut is that I don't want to leave - apart from the obvious deceit, she's answered truthfully, if a bit vaguely. I've seen the info from the lenders. There's nothing against our house and my Experian score is still high (I've never borrowed). CAB appointment next week and she's receptive to the idea that I'll control the finances apart from taking her salary and handing it back in chunks, as that would empty her account further and cost her more interest when calculated. Struggling not to feel 'abusive' as one poster mentioned in not allowing spending, but I suppose that's what she needs me to do.
*If this was a woman saying her husband had ran up £40k of debt and lied about it leaving the wife to subsidise him everyone would be calling him all the bastards under the sun and asking “have you left him yet?” Etc*
I would leave her. I couldn’t get over the lies and deceit. 40k is massive amount of money and I couldn’t forgive that.
If she's being vague, then she isn't actually being truthful. Set clear boundaries and be comfortable with what you'll do when she lets you down. Because I'm sorry to say it, but if she's not being truthful now then she will let you down.
Also get her to look into selling the crap she's bought on ebay and facebook marketplace and using the money to pay down some of her debts. To spend tens of thousands, there must be a few thousand quid of stuff there.
Op no one spends that kind of money on bits and bobs. She may need professional help with a shopping addiction before you can both move on,
If she is paying it back in full without your help, then there is no reason for you to leave. I do fear that this is a huge undertaking for her.
Run for the hills. Or you could declare bankruptcy.
I would ask her to log in to all her accounts that you have mentioned (and there are probably more) and look at what she as been buying to see if there are any patterns to her spending ... ie shoes, cosmetics, even online drugs/prescriptions medicines.
Whilst she has been partially truthful, you also say she is somewhat vague about what it actually is that she has bought. Anything recent might also be able to be returned, ie within the last 30 days.
Looking at what she has bought might also help break the cycle...I know it won't turn the clock back but it might be a cathartic experience for her
Some of these replies are so unhelpful !
Your wife has buried her head in the sand and has hoped that the problem will go away. Facing a debt issue is very difficult and it's great that she has your support.
There is an organisation (non profit) called step change. Your wife needs to make an appointment with them and they will help her/ you both through the rest. It takes a long time but it's so worth it.
If you want your marriage to continue, and it sounds like you do, you staying needs to be in certain conditions.
- her selling everything that is worth something to try and pay back maybe 20% of the amount. No exceptions other than if is her grandmother's ring or whatever.
- she also starts going without the expensive hobbies, and things like gym membership and expensive nights out until it's paid off.
- getting debt management advice and sticking to it.
- handing over her salary to you and agreeing an allowance
- if you find out she's taken out another credit card or bought something extravagant then it's over
- personally I would also seek independent legal advice on how you can protect yourself financially, eg are you better off being tenants in common rather than joint tenants on your house. I think there's a reasonable liklihood she'll betray your trust again so you need to be sensible and realistic
@givemesteel grow up! The guy is asking for help and what you have written is laughable
That's madness, givemesteel - yes, she needs to take responsibility for her debt but making her his dependent, treating her like a naughty child and removing every pleasure is not sustainable and reduces their relationship to a dictatorship.
Givemesteel has written sensible advice. DW needs to understand she can’t afford stuff which of course means giving it all up. She needs minimal access to money if she can’t control her spending.
She’s jeapordising the roof over their heads, there’s no way OP should not take control of the finances, he has to !
I’ve seen someone build up £40k, get bailed out by family to avoid bankruptcy, then build up another £40k and go bankrupt anyway!
I can't even imagine debt on that scale...!!
We've cleared our debt over the past 12-18mths (£15k) that was a mixture of CC, OD home loans and car finance. God it was hard, will NEVER ever borrow ever again.
In your shoes I would think fuck vanity and go all out to clear it up. No Hols, No posh cars, No Labels. and plenty of beans on toast!!
The quicker the debt goes, the quicker you can both move on.
If this was a woman saying her husband had ran up £40k of debt and lied about it leaving the wife to subsidise him everyone would be calling him all the bastards under the sun and asking “have you left him yet?” Etc
Another one who agrees with this.
But fair play OP if you want to stick with her.
My partner and I are similarly positioned and fairly high earners (>£150k pa income) but this is terrifyingly large debt and I would probably leave.
The thing I find weird is she seemingly has nothing to show for it...Debenhams and eBay aren’t high value sites in that it would take a long time to rack up £40k
Pretty much everyone has said they would struggle to get past this. Especially with no kids involved
I would have posted exactly the same as I did
Everyone saying ltb might be a bit harsh. It depends how important money is to you.
No it isn't, it's about trust and good judgement. Trust is pretty much the basis of any marriage.
I'd much rather be in a relationship with someone who earns peanuts, but who is honest and lives within their means, than someone who earns a lot but spends it all and more on useless crap and lies about it.
Come on. 40K is probably a fraction of what the joint mortgage is.
The thing to decide is whether you, as a couple want to solve it.
I am pretty sure divorcing and starting again won't be hardly any easier than fixing it. I think you need to discuss it seriously, and find a way of working it through. If you are both working, it will be Ok.
It is very much about trust and betrayal when you are in the situation which is why OP and DW need to do everything to make sure it doesn’t happen again. OP can only do it if he has complete trust that DW wants to clear the debt and stay debt free.
My XH went bankrupt twice, once before I met him and again after he left me. It didn’t happen whilst with me as I wouldn’t spend money we didn’t have!
It’s hard to stay in a marriage when the trust has gone, for whatever reason. If OP wants to stay then DW needs to accept that.
For the people poo pooing givemesteel s suggestion, i had cousins in a similar scenario. One of them (A) had a ridiculous amount of debt and was in danger of losing his house. Another ( B) really helped him sort stuff out. B went through all his bank accounts and insurance policies and made sure he was not paying unneccessary insurances or tariffs, and got loans considated. Then B took control of As bank account and cards and gave him an allowance. A went on holiday but B had sanctioned a maximum amount he was allowed to spend. It took several years but A cleared all the debts and is up to date with a payments.
I'm surprised that I'm being told to 'grow up'. My dh and I have had a period of financial hardship and I gave up basically very nearly all fun stuff and spending as did dh, and neither of us had built up 40k of unnecessary debt.
It really isn't that difficult and I didn't say anything fun at all, just extravagant stuff, as the op said him/herself that the wife had expensive hobbies and had to have the best of everything.
Ultimately I think the op's wife is very lucky the op is willing to give her a second chance, so if it's going to work they have to know things are going to change and protect themselves.
I got myself into a lot of debt with credit cards/loans then vicious cycle of taking out more to pay off others before you know it you are out of control.
Best thing I ever did was contact StepChange to set up a Debt Managament Plan. You just pay them an amount each month you can afford and they pay your creditors.
I’ve paid off nearly 15k in 2 years. I wouldn’t have even touched the interest if I had carried on and probably would have had more debt.
Your wife needs to take some responsibility and face her debts!
I will say what would be massive for me is the deceit here. My husband has always known about my debt even though it is something I was so ashamed of.
If your wife isn’t willing to be totally honest and make some changes to start dealing with this I would be reconsidering my relationship.
Do not use your savings. And advice do not have any shared accounts/ joint account otherwise your credit rating can be effected or companies could see your savings as assets to be used to pay debts.
Flip givemesteels post on its head for a moment and assume OP and spouse needed to urgently save £40k to make a major lifestyle change, eg operation, get on the housing ladder, save their business;
- her selling everything that is worth something. No exceptions other than if is her grandmother's ring or whatever.
- give up the expensive hobbies, and things like gym membership and expensive nights out until you have hit your target.
- get financial advice and follow it.
- pay only the minimum salary into your current account to meet living bills and the rest goes into an ISA.
- if you find out she's taken money out of your savings and spent it or taken out another credit card or bought something extravagant then it's over
Doesn't sound such bad advice now, does it?
No, it sounds silly, because if it was something like that it would be joint effort to save, you'd hope.
The reason I think it's bad advice is because it puts the op into the position of being controlling. As with anything, change and motivation for change has to come from the person fucking up.
Op no one spends that kind of money on bits and bobs. She may need professional help with a shopping addiction before you can both move on,
This occurred to me as well, it's such a large sum of money. I don't know if she'll be able to stop buying without help.
Three months after our marriage i discovered my husband had £40k of secret debt. My mil paid it off but his attitude towards money / bills and not paying the. never changed.
Get solicitors advice and then walk away. Im ten years down the line. In fact, run.
op no one spends that kind of money on bits and bobs
They quite possibly could. Haven't read the whole thread so I don't know how long it's taken to build up, but if it's a few years, and loans have been taken out to pay off credit cards that have been built up again, a significant chunk could be interest, charges and possibly even PPI.
So it could literally be a few tens of pounds of overspending a week that's not in the budget - a bit extra shopping, a meal out, one item of clothing a week, like the OP suggests.
I haven't seen PPI mentioned - the OPs wife should see if she can reclaim PPI using the resolver tool on moneysaving expert. People have had thousands of pounds repaid, so could knock down a big amount.
Maybe counselling for shopping addiction as well as professional debt advice would be worthwhile?
She says she's receptive to the idea of only having access to the money she is 'allowed' to spend. That's a good idea if she needs help to not overspend - when it's gone, it's gone.
I can't see if you rent or own OP, but if you rent, bankruptcy might be an option to draw a line under the matter. Charges will stop accumulating and she will get a 3 year income payments order that will take most of her disposable income, but will still leave her with a little spending money. Or if she in theory does have enough disposable income to pay her debts, a debt manangement plan with frozen interest could be the way to go. CAB will look at all her finances and advise accordingly. Either way, she will be pretty much banned from new credit for the next 6 years, so will be an excellent opportunity to learn to stick to a budget.
Can she sell some of the excess things she's bought? Or maybe start a cheap hobby to take her mind off shopping?
I have a friend whose ex-husband did this (spent it on porn sites initially and then didn't manage the interest on the borrowing which I found unbelievable as its pretty easy to access porn for free but anyway). They borrowed from her brother to repay it and lived a very frugal life for about 6 years, kept their house etc and got back on top of it. However, he has clearly resented her being in control of the finances and they are currently getting a divorce, him accusing her of financial abuse (which is a bit rich really). I suppose my point here is that if you stay together you really need to be careful how you handle the "financial control" - at the moment of course she is eating humble pie and will do whatever you say but going forward no one likes to be treated like a child so its important at a later date you discuss in detail how this has made you feel and why you need to keep control of the finances going forward and perhaps she should explore what prompted her to behave like this in the first place.
My gut is that I don't want to leave - apart from the obvious deceit, she's answered truthfully, if a bit vaguely. I've seen the info from the lenders. There's nothing against our house and my Experian score is still high (I've never borrowed). CAB appointment next week and she's receptive to the idea that I'll control the finances apart from taking her salary and handing it back in chunks, as that would empty her account further and cost her more interest when calculated. Struggling not to feel 'abusive' as one poster mentioned in not allowing spending, but I suppose that's what she needs me to do.*
OP, I think that sounds sensible and not abusive at all. She will need to learn to manage money differently and that's easier when she has someone restricting the amount available to her and holding her accountable for what she does with it. I would try to get into a habit of monthly (or even weekly) family budget meetings where you BOTH share details of income and expenditure and make plans for larger purchases or debt repayments. As her financial situation gets back under control, you can continue to have the meetings but she gradually can take more responsibility back for her money.
I would be careful about handling her finances and just giving her allowance. It can turn on you in the end because she could play it as an economic abuse. They are now considering defining financial/economic abuse as a domestic violence in new legislation. That's a good news for many, but in this case it would be easy to twist what you are doing into that.
I think you've got the right idea OP. Esp with you taking charge of all monies until further notice.
After getting advice from CAB, oen thing that could help with debt payments is gamification, or making it a challenge. If you head over to the Debt Free Wannabe side of the MSE forum you'll see how others have managed to clear debts of 100,000 and above.
I don't think givemesteel needs to grow up at all. The advice is draconian, but it would work - however, it's something that the wife here would have to agree to. It also has the potential to infantilise the wife - but since she's already shown herself to be utterly incapable of handling her finances herself, she might be grateful for a period of respite regarding the financial responsibility!
I actually agree with most of givemesteel's post as well, possibly bar the "sell everything you can" - if they can afford to sort it out without selling everything, then they should; but if the OP's wife has a pile of stuff that she's never worn/used etc. then yes, try and recoup money on it.
I've seen people who are spendthrifts buy stuff because it makes them feel better, and then never wear/ use it, it just lies around in carrier bags. An ex of a friend had real issues with her weight and would buy clothes in her target size, which she would then not ever get to, so she had a whole wardrobe's worth of clothes that didn't fit her. Many of these were never worn, still in the bag.
But I don't agree with the "punishment" aspect of "sell everything" - because it does look like that, if it's stuff the OP's wife has attachment to, even if it's not of great standing such as an heirloom.
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