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Financial Goals & Spouse
Old 08-13-2019, 09:31 AM   #1
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Financial Goals & Spouse

Hello all,

First of all let me preface this by saying I'm not entirely sure where this topic should go. If it would be better suited elsewhere please let me know or if this isn't even the place for this kind of question. That being said I'll begin.

My wife and I have been married for 1 year and together for 8. We bought our house 2 and a half years ago. I was always the more financially stable of the two of us. When we had an apartment, my now wife overdrafted several times due to clothes shopping, eating out, etc. She didn't keep track of her money. She didn't record anything. I understood how dangerous this was to our household and so I intervened. I explained how saving, investing, and living below our means would provide the best quality life for us. She agreed to let me manage all of our finances and since then money has never been a problem.

Fast forward to today. While she doesn't say it, I know my wife resents me to an extent since I have control of our finances and she does not. I personally spend very little and allocate fun/spending money to each of us after we have paid our bills, saved, and invested. It is not common for her to go through her portion in just the first few days of the month.

Now I certainly don't want my wife resenting me. Of course she makes money and provides for the household as well. I just invest and save on her behalf so that she doesn't spend it all. That being said, is that my responsibility? Would it be better if I just let her have whatever money she would have if I weren't managing her finances? I know that would make her happier, but I know that she is unlikely to invest or save much of it and that can impact me negatively since we're married.

Does anyone have any advice? Man this sounds like a relationship help question, but while I want her to be able to have fun and spend I think financial stability and planning for retirement have to come first. What should I do?
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:37 AM   #2
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I think your doing a great job helping her with the financials. Be sure to periodically show her the progress you guys are making on savings. Sounds like without your intervention she/you would be a train wreck financially. Over time she will get used to the new normal and will likely thank you. Jmho
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:39 AM   #3
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Compromise.

Happily going through and sharing life with my wife is more valuable than extra money in my account.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:42 AM   #4
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Uhg. Money arguments are one of the most likely issues in a marriage if both people are not on the same page. By taking over the finances you are treating they symptom not the cause.
I can make a couple of suggestions, but they may also be worth what you paid for them.
1) Communicate. What exactly does she resent about it? Why?
2) How about setting some goals. When we pay off X we can do Y. When we reach goal A we can do B.
Normally when people spend more than they have they can't see beyond today. By suggesting something in the future hopefully she can begin to see what saving does.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:44 AM   #5
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That's a tough issue. It sounds a lot like the issues my ex-wife and I had. We had other issues too. We divorced after 7 years of marriage. The finances were a factor, but probably not the major one.

Given that we never resolved the issue, I'm not sure I have any good advice for you. I would say don't let it fester so that either or both of you are resentful. Realize that it might not be her goal to save and save so that you can retire early. But not bouncing checks should be a no-brainer. It sounds like you have a reasonable plan to save some and allocate some for fun/extras. Maybe you need to seek counseling to make sure you're both on the same page and willing to follow it, which might mean you need to make adjustments as well as her.

If you both have good careers where you'll make more money as you progress, the problems may diminish if you're able to both save and spend, but there's always the danger that spending will increase as income grows.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:44 AM   #6
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I think your doing a great job helping her with the financials. Be sure to periodically show her the progress you guys are making on savings. Sounds like without your intervention she/you would be a train wreck financially. Over time she will get used to the new normal and will likely thank you. Jmho
I certainly hope so. I just want her to be happy, but I think we can all agree that finances can be a big stressor in a relationship, especially if you are broke. I'll try and find some kind of compromise. I just know that if I continue to give her more and more that she will spend it immediately and that means less for us to invest.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:46 AM   #7
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I think you might look into some couples counseling for finances. While your approach is practical, and "good for the books", you've created an imbalance in your partnership. And it's probably encroaching into all areas of your relationship.

She probably feels like you are controlling her, and don't consider her like an equal. It almost sounds like you are giving her an allowance....like a parent child relationship, not a married adult couple.

Yes, she might be a trainwreck, but it's better to teach her (and probably not you, but someone), than to just say "welp you can't be trusted so you don't get to decide".

Over time she won't get used to it, unless you dramatically change the approach here.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:47 AM   #8
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Have you brought this up to her at all? Maybe she has an idea of what might work well for her?

My DH and I have been married for almost a year, together for 4.5. He is the spendier of the two of us, but we share the same goals so we've found ways to stay focused. I've found that for us it's better that we budget the money together. Once a week we sit down and allocate all the money that has come in through YNAB to its budget categories, discussing it as needed. Then we reconcile all the transactions and discuss anything financial related that has come up or any adjustments we might want to make to the budget. It takes maybe 15 to 30 minutes, tops. We've set up all our accounts and cards to automatically import so that everything is tracked.

Every couple needs to find the groove that works for them. If I were in your shoes I'd be asking questions so the both of us can figure out together what arrangement she'd be enthusiastically happy with that wouldn't give me anxiety about our financial future. When both partners are seeking a solution together that works for both parties you can often find a solid option built on common ground. For some couples the arrangement you described works perfectly, without resentment. But it sounds like it's the wrong fit for you guys, so time to try something else.

Since I don't know her, I don't know what sorts of things might help, but some ideas:

- More spending money?
- More involvement in the budgeting process?
- A goal thermometer showing the increase in investments?
- Regular communication from you where all the money is going?
- Would she feel empowered by learning the ropes herself?
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:49 AM   #9
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It sounds like you need to have a discussion about your goals as a family, so you can both agree on what you want and how you want to get it. She may have agreed to this before, but maybe after having LBYM for a while she needs to rehash the discussion in order to rededicate herself towards saving for retirement.

Medicine has the concepts of implied consent and informed consent. The ideal is informed consent, where the patient always understands the risks and benefits of a procedure or treatment, and, having all the pertinent facts, explicitly agrees. But sometimes (usually emergency situations, or with patients who may have impaired judgement or cognition) a patient is treated without their explicit agreement -- most commonly when they're unconscious.

Do you think your wife fully understood and agreed with your plan, or just went along because she knew her way wasn't working that well? You may need to have a longer-term, deeper discussion about finances and life goals in order to obtain her "informed consent" on your finances.

Also, if she agrees with the goal but is having trouble with bad spending habits or impulses, it might be because she's hearing and thinking "no" a lot more than "yes". Not "here's what we can spend", but "here's what we can afford in retirement if we keep saving" or "here's when we can retire". I know the benefits of saving seem obvious to us, but it sounds like thinking that way isn't a habit she developed, so maybe you can help her develop that habit of remembering the goal rather than just the means. That's often a major tool in changing bad habits, whether they be health or fiscal.


Best of luck!
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:51 AM   #10
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I think you might look into some couples counseling for finances. While your approach is practical, and "good for the books", you've created an imbalance in your partnership. And it's probably encroaching into all areas of your relationship.

She probably feels like you are controlling her, and don't consider her like an equal. It almost sounds like you are giving her an allowance....like a parent child relationship, not a married adult couple.

Yes, she might be a trainwreck, but it's better to teach her (and probably not you, but someone), than to just say "welp you can't be trusted so you don't get to decide".

Over time she won't get used to it, unless you dramatically change the approach here.
See I think this is more of what I really worry about. The imbalance is definitely there. She doesn't seem to worry about finances at all since she knows I would take care of everything. If I disappeared tomorrow there would be complete chaos. I think she definitely feels as you have described. How would you change the approach? I'd appreciate any advice you can offer and thanks for your time.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:54 AM   #11
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My husband and I are on the same page financially. I haven't worked since my marriage 27 years ago. I handle the finances. I can't relate to having to spend money and buy stuff all the time to have fun.

The main problem I see with your idea of letting her spend all her money on "fun stuff" after her contributions to the bills, is that you would be solely responsible for saving for retirement and major purchases. That's not fair to you. She's being short-sighted here.

Where are you saving/investing on her behalf? In a retirement account? How much money is she going through in just a few days every month?
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:54 AM   #12
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This is not a long term solution, but it might help. Ask her how much money she thinks she should have to spend each month. Then see if there is any way you can accommodate that amount. It puts the responsibility back on her which is one thing that is needed here. From your point of view, it’s a better position to be in to say, you said $X and I gave you $X, what happened?

The long term solution is to communicate and get on the same page with your finances. If she’s not committed to the process, you’ll have issues throughout your marriage. Divorce worthy issues. Take a breath, take some time and work diligently on this issue. Even to the point of getting counseling if you don’t see progress after say six months to a year. Note, while your way may seem the best, don’t presuppose that it’s the only way. Compromise is two people sorting out their issues with money.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:56 AM   #13
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Have you brought this up to her at all? Maybe she has an idea of what might work well for her?

My DH and I have been married for almost a year, together for 4.5. He is the spendier of the two of us, but we share the same goals so we've found ways to stay focused. I've found that for us it's better that we budget the money together. Once a week we sit down and allocate all the money that has come in through YNAB to its budget categories, discussing it as needed. Then we reconcile all the transactions and discuss anything financial related that has come up or any adjustments we might want to make to the budget. It takes maybe 15 to 30 minutes, tops. We've set up all our accounts and cards to automatically import so that everything is tracked.

Every couple needs to find the groove that works for them. If I were in your shoes I'd be asking questions so the both of us can figure out together what arrangement she'd be enthusiastically happy with that wouldn't give me anxiety about our financial future. When both partners are seeking a solution together that works for both parties you can often find a solid option built on common ground. For some couples the arrangement you described works perfectly, without resentment. But it sounds like it's the wrong fit for you guys, so time to try something else.

Since I don't know her, I don't know what sorts of things might help, but some ideas:

- More spending money?
- More involvement in the budgeting process?
- A goal thermometer showing the increase in investments?
- Regular communication from you where all the money is going?
- Would she feel empowered by learning the ropes herself?
Thanks for your input. Currently I do show her our budget and where all the money goes. I let her know that she can always ask about the budget and I'm happy to discuss things with her. She doesn't ask about the budget though. She doesn't ask to see it and when I do show her she gives a quick approval but I don't think she actually looks at it much. I know what she wants is more money to spend. In order to give her more money to spend we have to dial back our savings and investments. We go through periodic times where she gets frustrated and wants more money to spend. Then we discuss our current plan and what our goals are. After we talk she thinks on it and as always come back to the current plan and says she doesn't need extra money because it's just spent on things she doesn't need. But then it always comes back up again.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:59 AM   #14
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You knew she was a spendthrift prior to getting married and you thought things were going to change?
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:59 AM   #15
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My husband and I are on the same page financially. I haven't worked since my marriage 27 years ago. I handle the finances. I can't relate to having to spend money and buy stuff all the time to have fun.

The main problem I see with your idea of letting her spend all her money on "fun stuff" after her contributions to the bills, is that you would be solely responsible for saving for retirement and major purchases. That's not fair to you. She's being short-sighted here.

Where are you saving/investing on her behalf? In a retirement account? How much money is she going through in just a few days every month?
I invest into a ROTH IRA for her and then I take an additional portion and invest in a brokerage account. The ROTH is for retirement and tax free growth and the brokerage is to live off of once we decide we want to retire early. Both of us get money invested from our checks at work along with a match from our employers. She normally will spend $100 or more within the first few days.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:59 AM   #16
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She earns money and you decide what to do with it (I am sure you as a couple are much better off financially as a result, but there is a huge imbalance there if she just went along with your taking this over vs wholeheartedly wanting you to do it). Is this true in other areas of your marriage? You might want to talk to a couples counselor to help you see if there is something going on here, as you seem to feel something is wrong.

Also, I hope you have fun together, regardless of money—really important in marriage imo.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:59 AM   #17
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See I think this is more of what I really worry about. The imbalance is definitely there. She doesn't seem to worry about finances at all since she knows I would take care of everything. If I disappeared tomorrow there would be complete chaos. I think she definitely feels as you have described. How would you change the approach? I'd appreciate any advice you can offer and thanks for your time.
I think you should start by acknowledging her feelings and the imbalance you've created, and that you can see this is not sustainable, and asking her what she would suggest. Sit down with her and listen. Don't try to explain WHY you've taken your approach, or justify or defend - that will be useless at this point.

And I think some couples counseling would be good for your both, a third party can guide you, this shouldn't take more than a few sessions. And I think you need to understand that this situation might otherwise re-occur in other areas even if you get the finances thing resolved.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:07 AM   #18
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She earns money and you decide what to do with it (I am sure you as a couple are much better off financially as a result, but there is a huge imbalance there if she just went along with your taking this over vs wholeheartedly wanting you to do it). Is this true in other areas of your marriage? You might want to talk to a couples counselor to help you see if there is something going on here, as you seem to feel something is wrong.

Also, I hope you have fun together, regardless of money—really important in marriage imo.
I think this is something we may look into. I'll admit that throughout our relationship it has often been the case that I will step up and take control and she will often fall into a more submissive or less involved role. I don't know if it's because she prefers not having the extra stress or responsibility or if she is just going along with it even though she would prefer something else.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:08 AM   #19
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First of all, it's early days of this arrangement. Things will probably be ever evolving.

I suggest you think about what you want to happen. Do you spend all of your fun money every month? If not you might alot of portion of yours to your spouse. Or you don't say if it's an even split of the fun money Add a few bucks to her pot and see if the situation improves.

It's also possible she sees your approach is the correct path to a good future and is just having trouble to adjusting her spending habits. Spending habits are notoriously difficult to change.

Also it appears you both work, is there a big difference is each paycheck? This could come into play if you earn much more or if she earns much more..as in not equal contributions to the family pot.

The red flag IMO is that you say your DW can spend all her money in the first few days of the month, Either her funds are not big enough or she can't/won't figure out how to make them last longer.

I see you state your DW can go through a 100 bucks in a few days. Is this all she gets? Does it need to cover lunch with her GF, haircuts, and stuff like that? If so, it's probably not enough money. Fun money can mean lots of different things.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:08 AM   #20
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See I think this is more of what I really worry about. The imbalance is definitely there. She doesn't seem to worry about finances at all since she knows I would take care of everything. If I disappeared tomorrow there would be complete chaos. I think she definitely feels as you have described. How would you change the approach? I'd appreciate any advice you can offer and thanks for your time.
When I started reading your post, this is what came to mind. There are traditions that have men handling the financials. The world has certainly changed and as both spouses earn, they are both justified in having a portion of the responsibility.

From previous posters I agree that financial issues are the #1 or #2 cause of marital discord. It's good that you're addressing it now. I'm totally on board with sitting down and talking about expectations and duties. Does she manage her own paycheck and give you a certain amount versus you giving her money back? Just a thought. I think you try to agree on tasks and boundaries and if that's difficult then counseling is absolutely in order.

This is a very manageable situation and the sooner you deal with it the better. My wife and I are widowers and when we joined financials it was one of the things we discussed early on. She does have a pension and it is her responsibility to manage that money and we agree on what budget items she funds (food). It was an interesting dynamic as she was the financial person in her family. So a bit uncomfortable for her but really I just get stuck paying the majority of the bills and work on the investment part.

The piece I need to improve on is the investment piece and explanations. However we do discuss global things but she's a person who needs things on paper and phone numbers, etc. So, I shall do that.
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