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Financial abuse or luxury?

(187 Posts)
hopingforinsight Wed 08-May-13 13:17:31

N/c as some posters know my RL identity.

Before we had DC, DH and I both had well paid professional jobs, at about the same level. However, I have now been a sahm for many years whilst DH has significantly progressed his career. My earning power is currently negligible relative to his.

Fast forward to now: DH likes to know what I spend, so I pay for everything on a credit card for which DH has the password so he can view the transactions. He keeps a real time spreadsheet of my expenditure split into categories which he looks at most days. There is no way for me to spend without it appearing on the spreadsheet (other than cash, and DH doesn't like me to get out cash).

My credit card bill consists mainly of family expenditure: food, insurance, car costs, DC clothes, holidays, vet bills etc The annual total is in the tens of thousands but it is well within our budget, and has still enabled us to make significant savings for retirement. I generally feel too guilty to spend money directly on myself but that is probably my own perception rather than imposed by DH who often buys me generous presents - he likes to choose my clothes and my jewellery.

DH also has a credit card, the monthly spend coming out of the joint account. I have no way of telling how much of that is business expenditure and how much is personal - it could be 100% business or it could be 100% personal. It does not appear on the spreadsheet. I feel it is up to him what he does with the money he has earned so that doesn't bother me.

Anyway, should I feel uncomfortable that DH has such a close monitoring of my spend, which I find a little infantalising, or is it reasonable of him to want to know where the money is going?

In short, I have no financial privacy, but I'm not sure why I want it.

A friend of mine tells me this is financial abuse .... even though DH has NEVER criticised me for overspending, or attempted to limit the amount.

BTW my DH works such long hours that I hardly see him and we live pretty separate lives so I do feel like a paid housekeeper sometimes and maybe that is the heart of my problem....... (the spreadsheet makes me feel like an employee providing receipts tbh).

Sorry about the long post; to refocus, my question is whether I should be insisting on financial privacy or not? Is this accountability reasonable and normal, or is it a strange way to live? Or am I simply jolly lucky?

JojoMags Fri 10-May-13 13:56:42

I am a sahm - have been for 6 years and totally dependent on dh's earnings. However, it is regarded by him, as well as me, as family money and I manage our accounts. He does not check up on me and I would regard it as bullying and controlling if he did.

garlicyoni Fri 10-May-13 00:40:38

Secret bank accounts aren't secret. He could just do a credit check. If he is a controlling nutter, he will.

It used to be something of a tradition for the wives of controlling, wealthy men to have copies made of their jewellery. The jeweller would take ownership of the original, paying them the difference. I imagine this practice hasn't died out altogether - but you need very high-value jewellery, as good copies are expensive.

I recall threads on MN where rich men's wives have resorted to selling their stuff on ebay and at dress exchanges, in order to get an escape fund together. It doesn't sound as if OP will come to that - but at least it's better to have valuable things to sell than not!

Hoping - I'm hoping, too. I hope you've bought your laptop, organised a decent personal cash fund for yourself and are discussing a cleaner/housekeeper to free up your time.

How are things?

perfectstorm Fri 10-May-13 00:34:35


perfectstorm Fri 10-May-13 00:34:09

OrWellyAnn the savings are in her name, but he has all the passwords. Frankly if I were in her shoes I'd do as someone else has suggested and contact the financial provider to change them, if the savings are substantial. But the OP sounds a little more phased than that.

I agree calling Women's Aid for counselling is an excellent idea, OP. They'll say if they feel it isn't their area. And offer support if it is.

I'd missed the clothes part. To be honest, alongside the rest? That would be less a red flag and more a klaxon alarm. He has complete control over your life while allowing you no access whatsoever to his.

OrWellyAnn Thu 09-May-13 23:37:20

I think it would be a very good idea for you to have some sort of independent finance as a 'just in case'. If you have the discussion about cash and he refuses you still have lots of very expensive clothes, shoes and jewelry... would you get away with selling some of it on the sly and opening a bank account that he knows nothing about and squirrelling some away there?

whatnowpolonius Thu 09-May-13 23:35:27

Entertaining clients? Yeah right. Knocking off someone else, more like. If he was, would you ever find out? So you're not allowed to look at his bank account. Is he equally secretive about his phone and email?

I know someone who bought his mistress a house in Kensington. Yep. His wife had no idea (until the divorce) because she had no access to finances. Btw she had no claim over that house because it legally belonged to the mistress.

He could be hiding all sorts of secrets from you. Prostitutes, mistresses, dodgy deals... It's possible that, with a few wrong decisions from him, all that money you think he's got could just disappear leaving him with fuck all. And you with 50% of fuck all if you divorce him...

perfectstorm Thu 09-May-13 23:28:18

OP, how did you get on with buying that laptop/tablet?

Snazzynewyear Thu 09-May-13 23:13:35

musu maybe not - though I think the point stands that his checking behaviour isn't actually an efficient way to do things so there must be some other reason behind it.

musu Thu 09-May-13 22:55:56

The OP's dh may not actually have such an amazingly high salary. Many years ago I had a student job where I dealt with 'high net worth' individuals. It was surprising how many weren't actually as wealthy (in terms of having money/assets that actually belonged to them rather than the bank) as they liked to appear.

Snazzynewyear Thu 09-May-13 22:37:28

I'm surprised someone earning that much in that kind of high-powered job has the time to check personal spending records daily. It simply isn't a cost-effective way to spend your time - in fact it would be a lot more efficient, in terms of keeping the household running smoothly and in good financial shape, for you as the SAHM to do it, with just a regular discussion with him of any major trends, big purchases or issues you both need to be aware of. So whatever his reason for checking daily or almost daily, it simply does not make sense as a 'best way to run the household' approach.

ninjasquirrel Thu 09-May-13 22:25:07

If he asks you why you want a personal account, don't get tied up in justifying it, ask him why he doesn't want you to have one when it's a perfectly normal arrangement - is he implying that you are untrustworthy?

ChasedByBees Thu 09-May-13 22:24:11

Awful awful awful.

He doesn't want to keep track of 'what we spend' he wants to keep track of what you spend. You don't have the same right.

You are responsible for all household tasks and childcare, even if you have a full time job. He stood by while you worked so hard you developed a heart condition. Now you have been advised not to work full time but you're going to ignore that (and presumably continue to do 100% of all household tasks).

He wants you to be around to do all the household tasks but they are worthless, as in any money into the home is his alone - all your work counts (financially) for nothing even though you taking on that load allows him to achieve his success.

This is not just a problem with your perception. If it was, he would have willing corrected it for you. He would not insist on your passwords, he would not keep such close tabs (there is no reason for that frequency of checking your expenditure) and he would allow you privacy without even thinking about it.

My DH and I are moving from a situation where we both early the same and now our incomes have shifted, DH is a SAHD setting up a business. I'm very mindful of the fact that there could be an imbalance and we discuss how to address it and I encourage him to spend what he wants to. I certainly don't check what he's taken out of the bank - as long as we have enough money for bills and approximately equal 'fun/personal' money, that's all that counts.

musu Thu 09-May-13 22:23:47

I know plenty of people who use personal credit cards for their business expenses. I work with a lot of them. We have coroporate credit cards but can choose to use our personal ones and claim back (eg some people use their own to collect points, airmiles etc). Our company (financial services) doesn't mind at all. They are more focused on ensuring it was a properly incurred and documented business expense than which card has paid for it. Not this company but I've worked elsewhere where it is expected for the PA to do the expenses submission on behalf of his/her boss.

I've never not had my own income but I remember at a young age my (happily married until death of my father) mother instilling in me that I must always have access to my own money.

I couldn't live like the OP but I have known people who choose to because they don't want to give up the lifestyle they have. I was shocked the first time I came across that but it is unfortunately surprisingly common. The lifestyle is very attractive and the longer the relationship continues the greater the loss of self esteem and the harder it is to break away.

Wuldric Thu 09-May-13 21:39:57

In and around work today, I bought a pair of trainers for DD, recklessly splurged out on a latte at Costa and had a quick lunch at Waga with an old mucker. I did all of this spending without DH's knowledge or consent and I absolutely take this to be the norm.

How can you live like this?

Goldchilled7up Thu 09-May-13 20:47:55

Besides all the abuse I would seriously start questioning why he is so secretive with his own spending, and if its really clients that he's entertaining.

BeCool Thu 09-May-13 19:04:22

OP have you seen the guest blog on mn by Woman's Aid re financial abuse. Might be if interest to you.

MusieB Thu 09-May-13 18:56:16

I think a lot of people in "top" jobs would be categorised as "high control" by those management analysis tools which try to sort people into personality types and I'm sure OP's H would fall into that category. It may well be that he's acting as he does without realising the impact on OP and that he does not consciously think of her as some sort of skivvy or not his equal.

My DH is definitely a high control type (as TBH am I). He cannot bear waste (would far prefer to eat food I regard as dangerously out of date etc than throw it away), is naturally very frugal and has savings mania. He would love to control our finances. Unfortunately for him I earn rather more than he does so have unilaterally awarded myself casting vote on certain spending decisions. Otherwise we would never eat good food, wear nice clothes or go on anything but basic holidays (all of which we can comfortably afford) and a great deal more would be squirelled away in savings. If I didn't work I think I would have a struggle on my hands not to be in OP's position.

But I do not think OP should try to go back to work unless she wants to for the sake of actually working rather than earning her own money. Instead in her shoes I would stress that H and W in a marriage are a team, that all money is family money and she should be kept informed of their general financial position, that she enables him to focus on his high pressure job to the degree he needs to, that she finds his scrutiny of her spending overbearing and demeaning and that she needs access to some funds which she can spend as she pleases without such scrutiny. She might add (if she feels it to be the case) that she is not accusing him of being ungenerous.

KitchenandJumble Thu 09-May-13 18:00:23

I agree with the majority on this thread. It sounds like your H is financially abusive, controlling, and generally an arse. I think the word "abusive" is tossed around rather too often these days, but your husband's behaviour certainly fits my definition of abuse.

Your relationship is not based on equality. Your H doesn't seem to have any respect for you at all. The idea that if you are working full-time you would still be responsible for all childcare and housework is insane.

I could never live like this. Why do you allow him to control all the finances and check up on every single thing you buy, while simultaneously having no access to the records of what he spends? I'm of the school of thought that in a marriage, all money should be considered family money, both partners have a right to access their shared money at any time and make purchases when they want and need to.

I've also been musing about the arrangements of families in which one partner has a high-powered job and the other (almost invariably the woman) stays home with the children. The danger of massive shifts in power relations is very real, and it seems as though stories like the OP's are not isolated examples. I know that people often say that such an arrangement is a choice, often described as "the best choice for our family," but I wonder whether our choices are quite as free as we would like to think they are, given that we are all products of a particular culture with its own expectations, assumptions, etc. Why would anyone accept that her place in the family is that of a second-class citizen (as the OP seems to have done)?

I'm not in any way suggesting that the OP's situation is typical, but it is less unusual than it should be. I have no axe to grind, certainly have nothing against SAHMs. But I don't think it is coincidental that most people who find themselves in a financially abusive relationship are women.

LapsusLinguae Thu 09-May-13 17:51:14

Also do you get the child benefit?

If your husband has asked for it to be stopped there is no need. Get it reinstated and he can pay it back on his tax return.

Get it paid into an account only you can access.

LapsusLinguae Thu 09-May-13 17:48:54

OP have you seen this guest blog post from Women's Aid?

It describes your situation.sad

On a practical note if you can't get cashback with a credit card how about buying some gift voucher cards each time you shop?

Please don't tell us he wants the long till print out showing all the supermarket transactions?

With regard to the savings in your name contact the banks say you've forgotten the password and you want it reset. Then reset it. Then you will see how often your husband checks these accounts.

BlingLoving Thu 09-May-13 16:43:26

I completely agree with DocBrown. Go change the passwords on the savings and then have the discussion with him.

OP, I read these posts all the time and it breaks my heart. If you believe that he earns the money and therefore deserves to spend it, what do you believe you deserve for spending all this time doing childcare? I never understand why women think that their childcare duties don't count as work. DH is a SAHD. He works as hard, if not harder, than I do.

DocBrown Thu 09-May-13 16:29:44

Why should the OP be scrabbling around selling stuff on ebay and getting cash back to hide in a secret bank account when she has perfectly good money in savings? The only problem is that her DH has the passwords to the accounts (she has mentioned that the savings are in her name for tax reasons). Personally, I would be going to these providers and saying the security of the password has been compromised and re-set the passwords. Then, and only then, would I be broaching the subject of money, clothes, work with the DH as the OP would have some "ammunition" and a safety net should (and when) the SHTF. I think the DH will hit the roof when he finds out OP has taken some control back.

Sorry OP but it sounds like you live a single life as it is - except that you have to account to your DH for every penny that you spend and every minute of where you are and what you are doing. What would happen if the shoe was on the other foot?

paulapantsdown Thu 09-May-13 15:20:44

Sorry OP, but you are deluded if you cannot see this abuse.

Alligatorpie Thu 09-May-13 14:00:45

Ebaying stuff is a great way of making extra money. and your dh doesn't have to know.

I agree about the cashback - £20-50 every time you go shopping, will really add up. You can put it in your new bank account.

If you haven't already bought yourself a computer, I second an ipad. It's small, you can carry it with you - just don't tell him your password.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 09-May-13 13:45:27

We learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents; what did your parents teach you?. You've continued the relationship pattern that your parents showed you by marrying someone like your Dad with you now playing out your mother's role.

Would urge you not to let a third generation i.e your children learn these same lessons.

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