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How Do I Convince My Husband We Don’t Need to Keep Up With the Joneses? – Keli

My husband and I have debts on our credit reports that are long outstanding. Plus we have a car loan and utilities that need to be paid now. We live payday to payday and shut off notice to shut off notice

I want to get these past debts paid in full and I want to cathc up on our car loan and utilities and keep them caught up. I believe my husband does too but he thinks he has to keep up with the Jones’ when it comes to material things. How do I convince him that he doesn’t need all the latest things and that we should put more money on the bills and debts? Like I said, I think he does want to but for some reason he just doesn’t. What can I do?

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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.


  • It sounds like he is spending money that is supposed to be going to the day-to-day things your family needs-car, utilities, etc.  Using money that is needed for true necessities is like stealing from his own family.  Perhaps him hearing it that way would sting at first, but he may see how serious his habit is if it was put that way.  I hope he comes to his senses!  It can be so tough to stop buying things when it is already a habit.  I hope he will soon see the value of not buying more things so that the truly important things can be taken care of.  Hope this works out for you soon!

  • ask the utility co. [gas/elec] if they have a monthly flat rate plan. then do you what you can to reduce your use of these utilities, you may get a rebate/credit @ the end of the year. try vonnage or magic jack to see if they work for you. if possible use company cell phone & get rid of personal phones. make a list of your debts from the least owed to most owed. pay off least owed first while making minimum payments on the others. when least owed is paid off add that payment to the next debt, when it is paid off add it again to the third payment, etc until all debts are paid off. you can use this process to pay off mtg as well. REMEMBER ALWAYS PAY YOURSELF FIRST. $10.00 A DAY IS $3650.00 A YEAR IN YOUR POCKET. good luck!

  • Take a drive through one of the high end developments around you and show him all the sheriff sales, for sale signs, empty houses in there.   I work for a company that does evictions, sales, etc.  You would not believe the amount of people that have huge homes that they bought and barely can pay for, so the rooms are empty with no furniture, furnishings, etc inside.  I personally live in a middle class neighborhood and wouldnt trade it for the world because I am able to have extra money for the family vacations, kid’s activities, etc that those in the mansions cant even do. 

  • Settle your debt first and then you will have extra financial surplus to enjoy the things you actually love and not the Jones 🙂 Good luck!

  • I agree that this is a very fundamental problem that can result in big problems for you in the long run. I wish you luck in getting this sorted out.

  • Just a note to say, We thought We had to do the same, but by sleepless nights, worry, and wondering how can We make that payment, or pay back My relatives, We have changed our tune!  We still have nice things, but We try to ask ourselves, “Do We really need that”? It has been a VERY HARD LESSON TO LEARN for Us! Hope it works out for You.

  • This is radical – but you may have to ‘cut yourselff off’ from the people you feel you have to compete with (if you can).  Avoid them as much as possible and you may find its easier to not compete.  Alternatively, try confiding in one about your money problems – chances are they’ll be sypathetic – once you’ve overcome doing it with one, it gets much easier.

  • I too was the same way, at one time.  My wife and I filed Chapter 13 in Sept. of 2010.  We decided to only have my check garnished, since I make the most money in the household. We were struggling to get by with most of my check being garnished.  But then, in December of 2011, things got real.  

    Basically, what I’m saying is, take 60% of your combined total income and put it in a savings account for 2 months.  Then pay your bills (minus the mortgage), on what’s left. 

    Trust me, it cant be done.  But this is the way you will live if you have to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and if he doesn’t change his ways……that’s where it sounds like ya’ll are headed

  • Ya’ll need to sit down and talk and you express how you feel about the situation. Tell him that you are tired and ready to get rid of debt. Then you come up with a strtegy to pay off bills one step at a time. Some say start with the smallest and pay that off first , or start with the most important .  and make sure you pay your self, meaning put some in a savings account even if its only 50 dollars that way you will have some rainy day money when you need it

  • I know it’s tough. My boyfriend can be the same way. He works hard and doesn’t want to live like he’s still in college. You can only control your behavior, not his. However, you have to be able to pay your basic bills, which I assume you share. I don’t know what the easy answer to this is, but I get the impression he isn’t using “the latest things” to their full potential… perhaps you can remind him of the stuff he already has and look into selling things that are no longer being used (gadgets, etc.). Once he sees how quickly things like electronics devalue, it might put things into perspective? That might be a first step. You both might want to work on setting some long term goals, and maybe even a few things to look forward to in the short and long term to give you both the motivation to focus on saving/paying things responsibly? Best of luck and hang in there.

  • Accidentally hit post, but maybe sit down together and go through your finances and make a plan on how to elliminate the debt. Temperarly live on the lower end and once the debt is gone, you can plan to live on the higher scale of life.  You may have to be firm to get the point across, it is your life as well. 

  • One approach I sometimes use is to explain to people that buying things on credit and carrying debt costs money. A $2,000 toy can end up costing $4,000 if it is paid for on a high interest credit card or home equity loan. That means you get half as much stuff than if you saved and paid cash.

    Perhaps you can explain that you have a lower standard of living than you would if you managed money better, but I wouldn’t be optimistic. This behavior reflects a deeply held and flawed value and a rational conversation doesn’t change that. Too often it takes a serious crash. I hope that crash isn’t too harmful but you may want to separate your finances to protect yourself and to let the crash come sooner.

    Good Luck!

  • Just like you can’t force someone to stop smoking, your husband has to want to live his life, that that of the Joneses.  I really think your marriage has or will have a lot more problems down the road with his belief.

    • I agree, these are more fundamental issues than just the byproduct of debt. I wrote a free ebook that might be of interest and addressed these issues. You can download the Beach Misses You at

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