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My Husband and I Don’t Mix Our Money. I’m Having a Tough Time Making Ends Meet. – Chris

“Dear Steve,

I’m a 30 year school teacher, wife and mother of two. I have been juggling credit card debt since I graduated from college in 2003. Due to life circumstances I have accumulated more debt. Currently I have $9,000 in credit debt. I pay a mortgage, car, childcare, and the regular living expences. My husband and i help each other financially from time to time but we do not mix our money. We share the living and expenses for children equally. I pay for my vehicle, insurance and debt seperately and he does the same. I’m only able to live pay check to paycheck with nothing left to save or pay down debt.

how do I get out of this financial crunch? I have a good job, low maintenance vehicle, I grocery shop on a budget, but I just don’t have any extra money to help myself get out of debt. With two children, I cannot afford daycare for a second job. Imat a loss.

Chris”

Dear Chris,

I would suggest that you evaluate pooling your income to see if you have satisfactory money coming in each month to meet your joint obligations.

What is your joint monthly income?

What are your joint monthly obligations?

Granted, this is just my opinion, but what you describe sounds more like roommates splitting expenses than a marital partnership sharing family responsibility.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

Sincerly,
Steve

You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

8 Comments

  • Thanks Steve, and sorry about leaving out some things.  Our total combined expenses are anywhere from $2400 to $2600.  The children’s activities are included in there.  We may take an occasional weekend trip every six months to a  year, but vacations are out of the question.  When we do go out or take a weekend trip, we do share those expenses.  Because of his work schedule (which includes weekends regularly) I am not able to get a weekend job.  I will look into some of the ideas you offered Elle, and what is your website

    • So your combined in come is $4,200 and your combined expenses are $2,600. Interesting.

      A good place to start this process may be to talk to your spouse about doing a joint exercise of just tracking your joint spending for the next 30 days. Have the both of you write down, on the same piece of paper or notebook, what you spend money on that day.

      At the end of 30 days you can categorize what each item was for and have a better understanding where your joint money goes.

      At the very least any resistance by your partner to do this would be enlightening and the joint review and participation in such an exercise would give you plenty of opportunities to open a discussion about how to move forward together.

      Your individual debt situation is impacting your life and it seems to be creating a stress and strain for you. That’s something your husband should be concerned about and seek a solution that helps you to have a better life on mutually agreeable terms.

      Just keep this in mind, money problems are never about the money. They are about the underlying issues.

      Does this sound like a reasonable approach?

    • So your combined in come is $4,200 and your combined expenses are $2,600. Interesting.

      A good place to start this process may be to talk to your spouse about doing a joint exercise of just tracking your joint spending for the next 30 days. Have the both of you write down, on the same piece of paper or notebook, what you spend money on that day.

      At the end of 30 days you can categorize what each item was for and have a better understanding where your joint money goes.

      At the very least any resistance by your partner to do this would be enlightening and the joint review and participation in such an exercise would give you plenty of opportunities to open a discussion about how to move forward together.

      Your individual debt situation is impacting your life and it seems to be creating a stress and strain for you. That’s something your husband should be concerned about and seek a solution that helps you to have a better life on mutually agreeable terms.

      Just keep this in mind, money problems are never about the money. They are about the underlying issues.

      Does this sound like a reasonable approach?

      • Thanks Chris for the extra information. 

        I agree with Steve on both points -1. Money problems are usually not really about money 
        2. Tracking your expenses can be extremely helpful. We’ve done in the past and discovered ways to save money. 
        Is there a big difference between your incomes? Is my suggestion about proportional budgeting applicable to your situation? My site is couplemoney.com.

  • Chris you definitely have a huge hurdle ahead of you. Besides asking that you and your husband seriously think about having a joint account, I’ll offer another suggestion. 

    Have you considered switching to proportional budgeting for you two? If you two are not comfortable with having a joint account perhaps you should look at paying based on individual income. What that means is if your monthly take home is $4,200 and you make 1,800 then your portion for the joint bills is 42%. So looking at the joint family expenses, you contribute 42% of what’s needed and your husband covers the rest. That may allow you to have a bit of a buffer to help you pay down that debt. I would also look at cutting down certain expenses, such as shopping around for car insurance periodically to make sure you’re getting the best deal. I’m sorry if the numbers are off because your post didn’t include some of it, so I’m using guesstimates for examples. You didn’t mention this, but who pays for vacations and other extras with your budget? I’m curious to how the family budget actually works. Perhaps with more information, some better ideas may come out of it. 

    As regards to getting more income, I have another question (I know,but I do want to help if I can). When you say you can’t afford childcare if you get a 2nd, does that mean the your husband won’t help with watching the kids for a hours a week so you can get rid of the debt or it is a time schedule conflict issue? 

    If it’s the latter I would suggest perhaps finding opportunities to work from home, such as private tutoring or virtual assisting. Even if you only made $100 work a couple of hours, that money can be used to pay down debt. Plus as a bonus working from home means you don’t have to use your car and pay for gas. 

    I’m not trying to plug my site, but last month we had a 50/50 challenge where I shared tips on earning more and finding ways to spend less. Perhaps there is some information there that can help you. 

    Wish you the best Chris!

  • I agree.  Mixing our money is something that we as a couple have not matured at yet.  I also partly feel bad because all the debt is mine.  Plus I obtained most of it before marriage.  Together our monthly income is about $4,200.  We have the usual montly expenses mortgage, childcare, car, truck, auto insurance, food, utilities (water, electric, gas), home security.  Our childcare takes a lot $800 a month.

    • Life is a series of learning opportunities and then applying what we learn. Maybe this is just that opportunity for you.

      The one question you didn’t answer was what your combined household expenses are in total each month.

      In the end, getting this all out in the open will be healthy. Financial secrets don’t make a relationship stronger.

  • I agree.  Mixing our money is something that we as a couple have not matured at yet.  I also partly feel bad because all the debt is mine.  Plus I obtained most of it before marriage.  Together our monthly income is about $4,200.  We have the usual montly expenses mortgage, childcare, car, truck, auto insurance, food, utilities (water, electric, gas), home security.  Our childcare takes a lot $800 a month.

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