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Wife is in so much debt

(180 Posts)
DesperatSte Fri 22-Feb-19 10:29:37

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.

Mumoftwinsandanother Sat 23-Feb-19 10:13:10

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.

bridgetreilly Sat 23-Feb-19 10:27:56

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.

OftenHangry Sat 23-Feb-19 10:49:54

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.

strivingtosucceed Sat 23-Feb-19 14:59:06

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.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Sun 24-Feb-19 07:26:32

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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