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To many this will sound stupid but for me its a milestone thats important

(66 Posts)
mirtzapine Thu 13-Feb-14 09:37:45

Money and mental health

DW got us into a major financial pickle - she created the problem, found she was unable to deal with it and basically gave it to me to sort out.

Since the start of our financial crisis, I cut up her cards and have been giving her pocket money.

This week she's been complaining about trust because i wouldn't let her have the bank card (we only have one) to take money out of the bank. She's complained to me about not trusting her. So yesterday evening I gave in and this morning she took the bank card.

On the way to work she rang me to say that she really fancied a McDonalds.

For me by tomorrow I'll have saved 550, presently we have 570 in the bank, I've budgeted £20, for today/tomorrow for bread, milk and a few other bits and bobs for the weekend.

My DW has real problems understanding money, my grandmother would say that cash burns a hole in her pocket.

Part of the way she got us into a financial mess was by the silly daily spend on lattes, Bottles of coke, McDonalds, a drink in a pub at lunchtime a magazine or two, a novel (she's a voracious reader and can get through a chick lit novel in a day). Over a day, from leaving home for work to going to bed somehow she would easily get through £20-£50.

I've worked really hard at getting us out of the financial mess, cutting back on stuff, being frugal. I've gone for several days not eating and drinking black tea, so I've got the food and money for the children and try to get some form of savings back.

For me Tomorrow will be a major milestone I'll have exceeded my savings target, and it will mark a sea change in our financial situation, and I'll be able to push a portion of that cash week on week forwards to grow our savings and rebuild a money safety-net.

So I'm feeling pretty fragile at the moment, her ringing up saying she wanted a McDonalds for breakfast, with the cashcard has messed with my head.

I asked nicely, that she took out only the £20 and that what I've described above is a major mile stone for me and us. She told me to stop turning it into an argument. Yesterday she was telling me how much I'd achieved by saving this money and managing out income.

I'm now feeling really worried and paranoid about her having the cashcard and what might happen. I'm trying to show trust in her by letting her have the card, but I'm going to be so messed up if she goes on a spending spree.

I've got about 8 hours tils she's back home and I'm feeling really panicky...

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 13-Feb-14 09:53:14

'Paranoia' is an irrational fear of everything. What you're describing is not paranoia but a perfectly reasonable and rational feeling of mistrust. She got you in the financial soup in the past by behaving this way and, just as things seem to be getting better, just as you trust her with the bank card again, she proves that she's back to her old tricks. She has no respect for you whatsoever.

If you're worried I think it's because you realise your choices are limited and unpleasant. Either you carry on 100% managing the family money and put up with her (unfair) complaints..... or you tippy-toe around her on eggshells not eating & trying to avoid arguments while she spends irresponsibly ....or you reject your DW and end the relationship. There isn't much middle ground.

mirtzapine Thu 13-Feb-14 12:14:52

Thanks cogito... I've given it a bit of thought... my choices are limited and unpleasant, if I choose to make it so. I'm trying a carrot on a stick at the moment. If she comes home without taking more than £20 leaving £550 for tomorrow morning, I will ensure that she has 18% of my family buffer, for herself. So it becomes in her interests to help me grow the buffer as week on week the buffer will grow, its a bit complicated, but I'm fortunate in having an analytical, mathematical brain.

18% of 550 is 99 ish, 451 plus tommorrows pay less a round of bill/family shop/travel payments should give me 600 by the end of next week... it means my budget plans will look like a sine graph.

Thing is is my 550 buffer probably looks very tempting for a shopping spree. Trouble is its difficult now-a-days to censure people for poor/bad behaviour.

Thebluedog Thu 13-Feb-14 12:28:13

Mirt, both myself and my DH were very much like your DW, which is why we are in quite serious amounts of debt hmm and slowly clambering out way out.

The way I would have reacted to your conversation about your buffer, would be to think 'woo hoo' I've got 500 quid to spend... Sad but true, the minute we had any spare cash we'd spend it.

Personally I'd have kept the 500 quid quiet, and just told her about anything over and above that. She really doesn't sound as though she sees money as cash (if that makes sense). I certainly didn't until we started putting all our money in envelopes for various things, that way I could see if I wanted a mcdonalds and a new book, I wouldn't be able to fill the car with petrol to get to work shock

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 13-Feb-14 12:35:09

All the analytical maths in the world, sadly, doesn't compensate for being with someone who doesn't share your commitment to keeping the family in the black. Of course you can censure a partner's behaviour but I think your 18% idea is going to fall on deaf ears. I'm really good with cash but even I don't understand how it's meant to work. hmm Fundamentally your DW's approach to money is impulsive enjoyment and yours (if you can go without food for days) is self-restraint and the need for security. She makes you anxious and upset wasting money on Egg McMuffins. You probably upset her by appearing to be penny-pinching and obsessional.

I don't want to lob 'LTB' in for nothing but sometimes two people are simply too incompatible in an important area to make a relationship work.

tribpot Thu 13-Feb-14 12:47:24

You sound like you're trying to control the behaviour of an addict. That will never work. I can well imagine her resenting your ban on Egg McMuffins to the point where she uses it as an excuse to go on a spree this afternoon.

I sincerely hope that doesn't happen, and I think you've done well not to phone the card in as lost to stop it from working! (Although I believe you shouldn't share cards with spouses anyway, it's your responsibility to ensure no-one else knows the PIN?)

But it sounds like you are fighting a losing battle with someone who has never understood the consequences of her inability to manage money responsibly. I'm not sure that getting her out of the hole last time was the kindest thing to do.

Your 18% plan sounds horrendously controlling and very much like a spouse counting the number of alcohol units up to an agreed limit of 10 or whatever. I totally get why you think it will work - but you have a fundamental problem, as Cog says. She has to accept that her behaviour is not reasonable.

mirtzapine Thu 13-Feb-14 13:31:47

Cogito, unfortunately, clambering out of the debt mess we were in needed someone as anally retentive as me to do it as quick as I have done. Today is about regaining a modicum of trust. She blows the money, then there will be no trust - and for all her faults she has a need to be trusted.

Everytime I've spoken to her since first thing... there have been red flags, oh this shop, oh that shop. I am phlegmatic about this. Since the beginning of our current debt crisis, Its dawned on me that someone needs the job of managing the income/expenditure flow. Accountants are employed by companies explicitly for the purpose of managing money.

The carrot for being trustworthy is a percentage of the family budget to fuck up to her hearts content... but it will be a siloed amount. 18% is a fabrication of the amount I can adjust for, but by being good that amount will increase. If she is bad today then the cards will be cut in half and all account passwords changed etc.

TheBlueDog... I tried the envelope technique with her, but it just ended up with envelopes being robbed all the time. keeping the £500 quiet well, she hid a lot of debt from me and it took quite a long time for her to understand financial transparency, so If I keep stuff hidden, then its justification for her to start hiding problems again.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 13-Feb-14 13:43:28

" If she is bad today then the cards will be cut in half and all account passwords changed etc."

But what kind of adult relationship is it really if one of you is constantly cast in the role of 'the grown-up', deciding if the other has been good enough to be given a bit of spends? Not a relationship of mutual responsibility and respect, that's for sure.

I was once in a relationship with a terrible spendthrift so I do sympathise. The marriage didn't last, in part, because there was too much resentment flying around on all sides. You need a partner that shares your attitudes... not one that sees you as the enemy

Rockchick1984 Thu 13-Feb-14 13:50:45

My DH used to be similar to your wife - the solution for us was to have a sole account each rather than a joint account. Each payday I transfer him an allowance, which has to do him for the month. If he wants to spend it all within 2 days that's fine, but he won't get any more. I then deal with all the bills etc and household expenses from what is left.

It has made a huge difference (although it's taken some time) and he now easily makes it last - simple things such as he likes to buy lunch at work on a Friday (I make him sandwiches the rest of the week) so he has to make sure he doesn't spend it all and can't afford to buy it. I would still make him lunch if he can't afford it but he prefers it as a treat. He's even started managing to save a bit of it for larger purchases such as a magazine subscription he wanted.

The only stipulation with us doing it this way has been that I'm not to interfere - it's his money and he gets to spend it how he likes, I won't criticise him if he spends it on things I consider to be wasteful!

MaryWestmacott Thu 13-Feb-14 13:52:48

Bigger picture OP, can you live like this for the rest of your life? It doesn't sound like she's really interested in learning her lesson from getting into debt, so she's not goingto change. You can't, long term, deny her access to her own money, so unless you have a separate bank account that only has the money in it she's allowed access too, you will have to live with this fear for hte rest of your life.

I couldn't live like this and if she isn't able to learn that she can't treat all family money as her personal spending money (spending bills/food money on herself - unbelievably selfish), then your relationship is doomed. I'd ask her to leave as well, she can't be trusted to make sure she can have the money to look after the DCs.

Does she realise how serious this is effecting you? Does she not give a shit about what she's done to you and the DCs?

mirtzapine Thu 13-Feb-14 13:58:54

tribpot - I do understand that it is controlling... believe me I do not want to be a control freak at all. But the needs of the many (me, her and the children) in this case, outweigh her needs. Anyway a bit of deferred gratification doesn't hurt.

Last week she argued for the card, I said she wasn't ready... following day she muttered something about missing a company drinking session.

I think its particularly ??? that there are a lot of people now-a-day who have difficulty exercising self restraint when it comes to money, booze or anything really that becomes harmful to themselves or their family members. DW's never really learnt self-restraint, but then she comes from a family who are exactly like her.

mirtzapine Thu 13-Feb-14 14:26:37

Oh dear It looks like I'm casting myself in the role of a control freak financial abuser. That isn't the case, she needs to learn the value of money, the benefits of saving and not to be a wastrel.

It would have been lovely if she'd learnt all this at school or from her parents growing up, I wish thee was an Adult Education course I could ask her to on (any one know of any in London)

I'm a SAHD, she's the primary breadwinner. I would hate it if the tables were turned.

But until all the debts are cleared, and I create a buffer of money to protect the family, then things can change.

Resentment, yes I did feel a lot of resentment at the start, but my day will come. I remember as a kid all of a sudden, my grandmother in her 50's suddenly went on painting holiday. Everyone in the family was gobsmaked, it turned out she'd been squireling away a little bit each week from the pittance my grandfather gave her to run the household.

I think what I'm trying to say is that she has to learn honesty, transparency and management and I have to regain trust. I think we're getting pretty much close to the first two. last one will take a bit of time, but I do believe she'll get there.

FarOverTheRainbow Thu 13-Feb-14 14:35:12

I hope she hasnt gone crazy with the card today OP

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 13-Feb-14 14:50:07

Is your SAHD status voluntary? Because if part of the problem is that your family's income is fundamentally too low for you to live normally (i.e. buying a few lattes wouldn't result in no food for the children) wouldn't it be an idea for you to both be out earning?

mirtzapine Thu 13-Feb-14 15:01:37

well if she does she does... we'll be back to square one and we start all over again

Bluecarrot Thu 13-Feb-14 16:03:20

I'm in similar situation with my DP except he spent and gambled away £7k redundancy money, rather than get in debt.

What about you both have personal spend accounts? Once her money is gone, it's gone.

MaryWestmacott Thu 13-Feb-14 16:23:45

I think less contril would work, how about 3 separate bank accounts, a joint one for bills and food (you can control that if need be), and a separate account each with agreed "pocket money" for the month. Agree the amount you can both afford, and transfer that amount monthly into each of your own accounts, if she blows it on crap, then she blows it on crap, her choice, but she gets no access to the bills/food money. If she wants to go to the company drinks from that, fine, if she's spent it on lattes, oh well, her problem. (I believe there are some accounts you can set up so the card can't go overdrawn, worth getting her one of those for her account)

but you have to get her buy in on the level its set at - sit her down with a clear spreadsheet - money coming in each month, money going out each month (and I'd be a little generous with what you actually currently spend on food, the floods might see price rises next year), including budgetting putting aside money towards Christmas, clothes for the DCs. from whats left, if your debts are now gone, I'd split it 3 ways, you get 1/3 each in your personal pocket money fund and 1/3 goes in savings for the future/expensive household items like new washing machine/holidays/DCs uni fund/whatever. If you are a natural saver, you might want to save more and think you should both cope on less, but thats not fair to her - and you need her buy in to this.

Treat her like a grown up, get her to agree the budgets even if you then keep control of the actual bill paying account.

Long term, you have to accept a relationship with someone who is like this will always be financially percarious, I do echo the others that looking for a job yourself is a good idea, even if childcare will eat all your wage now, longer term youll get payrises and the DCs won't need childcare forever, at which point your wage can be saved to create a better buffer, or if your relationship does break down you aren't reliant on someone finanically feckless for maintenance.

CouthyMow Thu 13-Feb-14 16:40:45

How old are your DC's? If they are school age, then my answer would be for you to go and get employment to supplement the family income. Maybe in this situation, she might be resentful at being the breadwinner when you could be out earning money?

However, if you have two or more preschoolers, and Childcare costs would swallow more than your income, I can then fully understand the need for a SAHP, AND a drastic lowering of outgoings on non-essentials.

It IS a good idea to have a financial buffer, if you can afford it, to cover a breakdown of a large kitchen appliance, say.

But saving for savings sake is pointless if you cannot enjoy day-to-day life.

I agree with the PP that suggested a 'bills' account, to cover all ESSENTIAL outgoings, then what is left, a SMALL amount, no larger than 1/3 of the money left over after essential spending, could be put into savings, and what is left after that split between you and your DW.

That way, you know that you are saving, and you and your DW have equal leisure spending.

If that means that you can only save £20 a month, and have £20 a month leisure spending, well, that's the way it is. You could CHOOSE to forgo some of YOUR leisure spends if you wish to save more, but you cannot expect or insist that your DW does the same, as she may have a different viewpoint on this.

If she wants to spend all £20, that would be up to her.

If you chose to save £10 of your leisure money, and only spend £10, that's up to you. Keep it in a sole account, then THOSE savings are separated from 'family' savings already taken out of the budget, and your DW has no access to them. But that is YOUR choice.

You can't insist that your DW saves all of her leisure spends because YOU value savings more, just as she can't insist that you SPEND all your leisure spends because she values spending more.

That way, you both feel more in control of the finances.

FIFIBEBE Thu 13-Feb-14 16:49:19

There are CAP Money courses available in London ( and everywhere else) CAP is a Christian Debt management charity which is highly regarded with a holistic approach. They are explicitly Christian but will help anybody and their services are free. CAP Money is a money management and budgeting course which takes place in small groups facilitated by a couple of coaches and is DVD based. The course is based over 3 weeks and each session is about 1.5 hours long. The course is in no way preachy. The teaching is based around using cash whenever possible, saving for future needs and prioritising. Would your wife consider something like this?

mirtzapine Thu 13-Feb-14 18:14:07

First off I'll say that spreadsheets are an absolute danger for someone who is financially illiterate, even for those skilled in money management, they are a dangerous tool. Its far too easy to read the bottom line without factoring in all the intangible costs of day to day living.

As an example, the TV License bill, DW believed she had paid it, she hadn't noticed that it had bounced because the day she paid it online, it then took several days to hit her account. By that point, she believed that it had been paid and had taken the money from her account.

That was not her fault, in this day and age we believe that the banks make instantaneous payments - they don't.

So the red final demand drops through the letterbox, three months later. I'm sure there were reminders between, but I never got to see them.

A spreadsheet would show that it had been paid, so now the spreadsheet is out of balance with the reality of the account.

This is reconciliation comes into play. Another example, because she has so mismanaged her two bank accounts, monthly she gets hit with excess charge fees. She does actually have a great deal of difficulty understanding a bank statement, or the use of debits and credits.

I'm not against spreadsheets, I use them all the time for forecasting and future planning. But we still have a significant amount debts to pay off, so I actually use a financial diary plus the online banking facilities. And reconcile daily, if I can pare back in one place to remove a debt earlier then I will ( I loath interest rates - especially the dangerous payday loan ones).

Another example, she was about to go on an all day business trip. A couple of days before she went I asked her to visualise her day, early morning taxi to tube station, pick up a latte at the station, plus a magazine a bottle of coke and a book or 2 for the travel. Arrive Taxi to location, lunch, taxi to station, latte or a glass of wine, another bottle of coke, taxi home.

Before she started the visualisation exercise I had asked how much the day out would cost, DW replied nothing as the train ticket has been paid for by work. Sheepishly after the visualisation exercise, she reckon she'd get through a tonne easily.

You see the trouble with short term debt especially payday loans and the fact that some of them have been defaulted on. We have to scrape together certain amount by certain periods to avoid excess fees etc.

With the TV license example above, I was sorely tempted not to pay it, as the cost at that moment would have reduced our weekly budget down to less than £50 - £30ish of which was for DW work travel. That was a tight week, but it would have been a false economy, cos of the £1k fine.

I've only recently become a SAHD mainly as the wrap around childcare costs of the last three months of the previous year swallowed all my pay. DW works zero day contracts, so if she doesn't go to work she doesn't get paid for that day. As she earns a lot more than me the common sense option is for me to do all the home work, and ensure that she has the travel money to work, breakfast lunch and dinner preped for her and not to worry about that telephone call cos one of the DC's has fallen sick at school or its a snow day or a flood.

Also its an hour from school to home (we are moving very soon to be closer to the school).

Thank you for the information about the CAP course... that is what I'm trying to teach her. We've (meaning me) have suffered from a lot of dishonesty and opacity, plus a lack of communication of delineated boundaries. When we were both working (each out of the house for 12 hours), we were both doing long days and the evenings with the DC's being a bit stroppy about bedtime. We're working towards honesty, transparency and firmly delineated boundaries. It doesn't mean I'm a skinflint scrooge and that I'm treating her like a child, What I'm trying to encourage is a questioning, thoughtful attitude to how we use money.

As an example, Saturday she wanted somekind of serum thingy, the one she used to buy was about £50 quid for a bottle that was the size of my thumb. She's then dropped to buying one at about £20 on Saturday, she compared two and bought the cheaper one... subsequently she's told me that using the forums here she's found that the Aldi one is better and significantly cheaper.

MaryWestmacott Thu 13-Feb-14 19:41:46

No op, you misunderstand what I meant by a spread sheet, you need to make one that is not "what's in our account right now", but one that is a very simple table, showing in one column all the income (wage, cb, any tax credits, the lot), then below all your monthly outgoings, plus a months worth of your none monthly outgoings that need to saved for (so even if you buy car tax 6 monthly, put it in as 1 6th, it needs factoring in monthly).

A "live" spreadsheet is far more confusing, this is a tool to basically help visualise away from looking at the bank account what comes in and has to be accounted for. Only what is left is disposable income or savings income, even if you have £100 extra left in the account, if that's actually money allocated for Christmas presents you're not going to buy for another 10 months, it's not "spare" money. You seem to do this automatically in your head, your wive doesn't.

Make up a "income vs expenditure" spreadsheet, do not put in details of what your current balance is, or confuse matters with things that are not monthly bills, similarly, don't miss those out.

Then putting her "fun money" and yours in separate accounts that are just for you, so she can use that up or not, but always be able to see the rest is not spare money, it is clearly allocated.

If she wants to learn to do this, make it easy for her. Don't just do what works for you, get the family budget set and show it to her. If it doesn't make sense, ask her how she would like it done. Ask how much does she want to budget for gifts, holidays etc, as that will require saving for through the year. Look at the total outgoings list, anything she'd like to change? (Like, would she like to budget more or less for things like sky or holidays, or get rid of a car etc)

It might be she just needs to see something like that with the bottom lines that are basically "family total income, £2,200, cost to run the family, including budget for Christmas and birthday presents and holidays, £1,900, £300 left over, we'll have £100 each for pocket money and save £100 for emergencies." Then put the £100 in cash in her hand or in a separate bank account, once it's gone it's gone, you never dip into the bills account for cash withdrawals. But as you said she struggles to picture all the expenditures on a day out other than the big one of a train fare, it could easily be she can picture all the small expenditures your household has, a full list (if not in a spreadsheet, table?) might help.

You can't expect her to think like you, so make it easier for her to not fuck up the household budget in ways that suit how she thinks - this is of course assuming she is a nice caring person who just struggles to think about what expenditure you have, not just what money, if she's a selfish cow who doesn't care she's fucking the family up rather than doesn't understand, this won't work.

MaryWestmacott Thu 13-Feb-14 19:47:11

I meant to say, you don't need to constantly do the spreadsheet but more as a one off when you set the budget and her personal spends one, from that personal allowance, if she wants a serum that's expensive, that's fine, but then her personal money is gone, by separating it out, it's easier to track and limits her damage on the family, but it does mean she doesn't have to ask you for hair serum, but she doesn't get cash for something else if she doesn't have enough left.

I would really look again at working too, you can't rely on your dw.

MsAspreyDiamonds Fri 14-Feb-14 04:12:34

Do you think her excessive spending is a rebellious act against your financially cautious nature? Your money habits appear to be really mismatched.

bubblebabeuk Fri 14-Feb-14 05:28:20

Open did she go mad with the card in the end? Any update?

bubblebabeuk Fri 14-Feb-14 05:28:32

Open did she go mad with the card in the end? Any update?

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