No. of Recommendations: 37
it has become apparent that my idea of careful and his idea of careful are two very different things

You have just described my entire married life. Oh, this hasn't gone on every minute of it, but it's been a problem all along. Actually started before we were married, but I didn't recognize it until later.

The good news is there's been a little bit of progress in the last year. So maybe I can help a little bit.

First of all, the two of you have to come to an agreement on what is the "right" thing to do about money. That means you gotta show him all of it - the grocery budget, the 401(k) contributions, the clothing allowance, the vacation savings, whatever you've got. And, much as we all agree that your way is the right way, he has as much say in the relationship as you do, and if he thinks it's OK to carry credit card debt to get what you want, you're going to have to either convince him, keep your money separate, or compromise a little. (I've tried all three, myself, at one time or another.)

Once you've agreed on what is going to be done money-wise, you gotta figure out how. At my house, this is the tricky one, since DH has zippo self-control. He doesn't carry a credit card, checks or our joint debit card. He can't even manage a debit card for a separate account, because he winds up using it when there's not enough money and when the charges come through it's equivalent to bouncing checks. Not good. We also tried the allowance route where his allowance included gas for his truck, school needs, and whatever else he wanted. That didn't work, because he invariably spent too much on "wants" and then either I had to buy his gas or he couldn't go to school or work. So now we have a new system where all his needs are included in our joint budget and his allowance is purely for wants. So if he runs out, it's too bad. If he needs something that is in our joint budget, I give him the debit card and he gives it back when he's done, along with the receipt for whatever he bought.

The other thing we did is make his allowance period shorter. Now he gets a set amount every 4 days. It's easier for him to manage that way. I sit down with him regularly and help him track his cash flow. I remind him of upcoming commitments ("You want to go play golf on Sunday, right? Better pull out some money to do that so you don't get caught without enough cash") I get the cash for his allowance every couple of weeks and just dole it out.

Is all this a major PITA? Absolutely. Is it ridiculous that I have to go through all this with a 30-year-old man? You betcha. But it's working for us so far and I'm hopeful that once he establishes some habits, we'll be able to go back to the "honor system" with regards to our checking account and credit card. I figure we're starting at the beginning. He's getting an 8-year-old allowance. Once he's had a chance to learn to handle that responsibly, he can get a 14-year-old allowance, where he also gets money for gas and new clothes. After that, we'll see about the adult allowance where he has real responsibilities with serious repercussions if they're not met.

One more thing. I know you're not truly going to kill your husband, but you're (rightfully) awfully p*ssed. It sucks to go through life that angry, especially at somebody you love, and even more especially at something you have very little control over. I've gotten royally ticked off, too, but it helps me to realize that this is a problem for him. I think it's a problem in the same sense that some people have a drinking problem and others (including me) have an eating problem. It doesn't mean you have to tolerate it, but it helps to understand it, I think.

In this specific instance, I'd make him face the consequences of his spending. Is the stuff he bought things he'd normally have to pay for out of his allowance? If so, I'd say leave it on the card for him to pay off. Then reduce his allowance by 1/3 or 1/2 and apply that money toward the card. Let him pay the finance charges, too, since you know how much they are. Once it's paid up, his allowance can go back to normal. I don't think you should have to go without because of this. And I know you've already sat down and figure out a solution together, but I think you could tell him that you thought about it and it didn't seem fair to you.

You guys haven't been married that long. Be smart and really get this thing addressed soon. Don't do like I did and wait 9 years to get a handle on it!

Sorry this was so long ... I've just been there and know how frustrating it is. Hope it helps a little. :)

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