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Dear J – "Please help before money ruins our marriage!"

by J. Money on Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reader MailYikes – We got a live one here folks! A fellow reader (we’ll call her Lost in Louisiana) emailed over and needs our advice. Her husband started making quite a bit more money these days, and it seems like their priorities have now been shifted around – at least in her view.

I’ve already emailed her back, but I wanted to get some more thoughts on the matter as there’s never a right or wrong answer when it comes to this stuff… Here’s what she has to say:

My husband & I have been married a year and are already having problems with our finances. We both have the same goals (save for a new house & vehicle) but our spending habits are very different. I would love to get your opinion on what a good budget would be.

When Husband & I bought our home together three years ago we were engaged & broke. I was making $11.00 an hour and he was making $9.00 an hour. We were by no means wealthy, but we were so happy and we honestly never fought about money. Our bills were always paid on time but we didn’t have much extra. At the time my income covered the house payment & his covered all of the other home expenses. He paid for his truck & truck insurance & I paid for my college and car insurance.

Shortly before we got married my husband got a new job making double what he did before. He works overtime some weeks (we don’t know when it will be offered) and when he does, it adds $300-$565 extra on his pay check.

After he got the job we started going out every weekend, and eating out at least 3 times a week. I looked over our bank statement (for the first time in a long time) and we spent over $1,200 in food and going out in just one month!!! I was shocked and when I spoke to my husband about setting a stricter budget he got defensive, he said that he doesn’t want to work his life away and that when he works overtime he wants to be able to go out. He even threw the “it’s my money” card (I was not expecting that)

I’m more of a saver; I put money away for my school & for a new car. I rarely buy myself anything and I’m starting to get jealous of my husband’s spending habits. Please help! It was easier when we made close to the same amount of money, but since he’s gotten this job I don’t know what to do.

This is our income now and what we do with the money, any advice would be appreciated.

My paycheck: $788.00 bi –weekly
$332 – savings account toward a new vehicle
$25- our home savings account
$35- school account
$316-House payment
$80- my personal spending money including my gasoline
All automatically drafted into these separate accounts

My Husband: at least $544.00 a week (his last 4 paychecks added to $3174.60). He puts $200 a week into our house account, and the rest goes into his personal account. When we go out to a bar with friends he always pays for drinks and he pays for our deer hunting expenses (did I mention I live in (edited)). Occasionally he will give me money toward my car savings account.

I know there has to be a better way to divide our money, where we can both work towards our goals and have a comfortable amount of separate spending money. Please help before money ruins our marriage!

There it is! Open and honest for all the help she can get. She’s already checked out my ideas on managing your accounts while married, but she needs just a little more direction. As I stated in my email to her, I think this can be broken down in 2 parts. The first is to sit down with each other (possibly over coffee or a beer) and understand where exactly they’re coming from 100%. Once they can acknowledge there is a problem, they can work on resolving it TOGETHER.

The second thing I mentioned was to jot down all expenses (both house-related and personal) and decide afresh who should pay for what, and to possibly implement a % system. This will not only help re-distribute the wealth, but will allow flexibility down the road instead of just a “quick fix”. And I like the idea of keeping the separate “spend however I want” accounts open as well. It allows for some freedom and a little fun which Mr. Husband clearly finds important :) Another option would be for Mr. Husband to donate a little more into the “house account”, maybe $500 instead of $200? and then allow him to spend any overtime money himself – no questions asked.

Of course, that’s only my ideas and they’re pretty skewed ;) All I know is that it’s better to fix this now – and not just temporarily- before time continues and our friend Mr. Resentment comes into play. So whatcha got for our dear friend Lost in Louisiana?

——-
ps: “Legal” tells me that I have to add the following: I am not a professional, nor a psychiatrist.


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