Does anyone in a couple budget alone?

I'm just wondering if there are other situations like mine out there.  I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I've used YNAB for 10 years to manage our finances.  My husband works.  We have 3 kids.  All of our accounts are joint.  Hubs doesn't even have the login to the checking account which I've had since before we were married.  Occasionally I've showed him the YNAB screen, but he just gives a quick glance.

There have been times where I've resented the entire burden falling on me, but for the  most part I've made peace with it.  I just refinanced our mortgage without even consulting him and just checked if his calendar was clear for the closing.  

I don't think he has the YNAB app on his phone, but he might.  I can't remember him ever entering a transaction, though.  Before direct import, and when we were living day-to-day I had him put all receipts on a spindle/spike thing and it was super helpful. I'd collect them every day and enter.  Now I just check for pending transactions online if I think he spent something, or ask for the Costco receipt immediately. And I have a receipt dropbox hanging of my office door too that he uses.

He grew up in a family with horrid money attitudes and habits, and in the first 5 years we were together I was totally unsuccessful in re-training him and we nearly broke up.  He has never been able to move on from his crippling psychological anxiety when it comes to finances, so the solution seemed to be to exclude him completely.  He DOES wash dishes, do laundry, cook dinner, so there's less resentment all around :).  It's just sad when I hear all the couples discuss their regular "budget meetings" and I can't even imagine what something like that even looks like.

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  • As a side note, my husband has NO CLUE how to pay any of the bills, or how to access most of the online accounts. I'm pregnant and due soon, so for the past couple months I have been trying to show him how to do it just in case. It is painful for me to teach him how to write checks or check the water meter. But at least he is trying. I will probably always handle our finances, but it is nice for him to know how in an emergency.

    He is not involved with YNAB at all but knows I budget. Neither of us are big spenders so it works for us. 

      • Technicolor Cheetah
      • Not sure when I became a cheetah...but I'll run with it
      • technicolor_cheetah
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      The Goat Queen 

      I do the majority of the budgeting and the bills.  My husband can access all of the accounts if he can get into my laptop, it's all in there.  I need to know things are paid and he used to sometimes forget when we didn't have a set system, so it works for us.  That was over a decade ago, he's a smart guy, he could figure out how to set reminders for himself if he needed to.  Now, if he had to do the shopping, it would take him a long, long time, and the grocery budget would go out of the window, I can pretty much guarantee it.  He's like, "Store A has the item I need, I will buy it,"  then pays 3x what I can get the item for at store B.  I kind of have this map of what I buy where since I can get some things cheaper at different stores.

      I'm a fan of communicating about our finances.  He may not know or care about the exact numbers, but we talk about bigger purchases and I regularly do State of the Union talks about finances and where we are.  He's happy to know that I'm happy with where we are and doesn't worry about the details unless he wants to.

      Like 3
  • I budget alone too. My husband has utterly crippling anxiety as relates to money, and devastatingly bad habits that have resulted in a great deal of debt. His strategy for dealing with this has mostly been terrified avoidance. When we got together (12+ years ago) I insisted on entirely separate finances as a result. He gives me the amount I ask for twice a month for our bills and joint savings goals, and I deal with it from there. (Whatever he has left is left his spending money--I ask no questions). I know this is not the YNAB way but it is 100% what we need to do, at least for now.

    I'm not exactly great with money, but I have an excellent credit score and no credit card debt, and let's just say that was not always the case for me either: I've worked hard to get to where I am. But it's a ways from where I want to be. We both have good incomes, so mostly we've papered over our bad habits by earning more. It's really, really bothered me that he's so avoidant, and it meant I slipped into bad habits too, e.g. I stopped budgeting years ago, just because any discussion caused a crisis. Awful. Again, we've mostly done OK thanks to living in an inexpensive area and making decent salaries, and I've saved aggressively for retirement (he has a pension). Still, in the weeds it's a mess, and in the classic way, like it always being a shock and a crisis when I have to get new tires or something. Really silly. Then add to that a series of ugly surprises--shocking vet bills, unexpected overdue tax bill, a major appliance that died, etc.--and our backs against the wall.

    I knew I couldn't avoid anymore, and that I needed a budget, and I also knew that I had to go it alone, at least in the initial phases. Thank God l I discovered YNAB in October. Frankly, it's changed my life already, although it certainly hasn't fixed the psychological issues. I had to make a some really major hard decisions (and lots of small ones) with pretty minimal input, including ultimately refinancing our house to get cash out to pay off that nasty tax bill. We got a lower interest rate and it won't hurt us in the long run, but the money we spent on the refi won't be recouped for four years, and let's face it: it's money that is spent and gone. It's money that could have been invested if we hadn't gotten to this place. For him, it was an invisible fix that verified we could keep ignoring things. But for me it was a major wake up call.

    In short, this terrible situation caused me to get my house in order--our house in order, by any means necessary. I no longer am willing to tiptoe around the avoidance. The budgeting WILL happen. I am, you won't be surprised to hear, doing the vast majority of the work here. There have been fights. It has been hard. And YET: as he sees the positive changes beginning to happen in just a couple of months, his panic is somewhat, just somewhat, receding. Honestly, I think he'd just given up hope of anything ever changing. I know and believe we can change. So I'm involving him in the tiniest ways for now. Mostly I'm just presenting on our progress from the "finance sub-committee" (keep it humorous) at a monthly check-in. Baby steps: I've got him giving me receipts. And he's no longer actively thwarting. He's saved his share of another thing we need to deal with, apart from the usual monthly monies he sends. It's tiny steps in the right direction. So I feel cautiously optimistic that as I show him, little by little, what is possible, it will free up some oxygen for him to join me more fully in the process. He trusts me and is willing to take the leap. I think this will be life-saving for our finances and our marriage, but boy, it is a process. And it means I have to do a great deal of the heavy lifting, which I have some resentment about, especially since most of the financial trouble we are dealing with was generated by his avoidance, debt (massive student loans, a credit card), collecting tendencies, etc. But I also realize (at my most patient) that I am changing the entire ecology of the marriage here, and I need to give the process time, and be patient with him too. It's really hard work for both of us. But I see hope in the future.

    Like 4
  • Yup. It's ALL me.

    I'm very much in a smiliar situatoin to Slate Blue Lion - my BF has pretty bad anxiety around money that causes him to pretend he's an ostrich and ignore everything AND spend more money when he's feeling down/depressed/anxious. Fun times.

    We've been together for 7 years now, and have had some major upheavals along the way. I found YNAB shortly before we got together, and it changed everything for me. My previous relationship the money was managed by my exBF and I had no control. I would find out after the fact that he had run up a bunch of bills, and we were late on things, and then he'd take a loan out against his 401k to pay off debt and we'd start the cycle over again. So when I split up from him I had no money at all and about $800 in debt. When my current BF and I got together I had the $800 in debt, plus he had about $9000 in debt. He had been out of a job for a bit, and had creditors calling all the time. We consolidated the debt together getting a loan only because at the time my credit score was stronger than his. Unfortunately, in that time frame we didn't keep the debt down, so when we paid the loan off after 5 years, we still had just about as much debt.

    He was very resistant to letting me have access to his accounts, so I really couldn't get a clear picture of what was going on except through credit card statements, which are always a little after the fact.

    FINALLY, after we'd been together for a few years he let me have access to his accounts so that I could at least keep track. In the beginning it was mostly keeping track of the ever growing debt. Since I had a small business that we were running together, he was getting fat tax returns, which were primarily all going towards debt. He would think we had money, though, and do a bunch of spending on random things, so we weren't able to actually DO anything productive with the money.

    Four + years into the relationship we were told that we had to move off of the farm we were renting where we were running the business. We had nothing saved, so no fall back plan, and were still carrying debt. Somehow, magically (seriously) we were able to buy a house with zero down. The biggest challenge with that was that we went from the business paying 2/3rds of the rent to the BF needing to pay 100% of the mortgage, and losing all of the business income. I was SCARED. The BF's spending habits had never truly changed, and while we had made some progress, he had never carried the entire load of the bills for us. I was working frantically to try to increase my income in other ways, but there was only so much I could do at the time. It was a really traumatic time for both of us, and I think that all in all we just pushed through and didn't think too closely about too much stuff because it was too difficult.

    That was 2 years ago now, and amazingly (magically, again, seriously), we have kept all the bills paid. And the tax returns have continued to be fat enough to pay down a significant portion of his debt. He is carrying less than $5000 now in debt, and it continues to sit in zero interest promotions with various credit cards, so he only has to pay less than $50 a month to keep up with it.

    We've had a few windfalls along the way that have helped to push us into better and better positions. We refinanced the house about 6 months after we bought it, and used the break in payments and the money we got back from escrow to pay our car insurance for the next 6 months, which saves us about $600/year. I was also able to stash an extra mortgage payment in the bank so that we have at least 1 ahead should something happen. There has been a tiny increase in the debt along the way, but over all we've been able to stay fairly well afloat. The struggle is that between the two of us we barely get paid enough to cover the bills, which leaves little extra to devote to our house which needs a lot of upgrades. I also had to purchase a new vehicle, and he is about to need to do that as well, so there will be an additional payment coming back into the budget again. We'll work it out like we always have.

    The biggest issue is that he gets panicky when we discuss money, especially bigger numbers. Every now and then he gets very upset that he still has the old debt hanging around, and claims it causes him a lot of stress. To which I reply that it's costing him NOTHING to sit there, and he only has to pay $50/month towards it to keep chipping away at it. When the promo runs out, we'll roll it over onto another promotion, and keep going that way until it's gone. I would rather chip away at it while it is "borrowed" for free than stress about trying to make higher payments and risk adding other debt when we suddenly NEED money for something immediate. The house needs so much work that I would rather have some creature comforts be a priority over paying down debt that's costing nothing to have.

    He has changed a lot since we got together, and he is aware of more of his patterns now than he has been before, so that is a huge help. It isn't where I want to be, but we are in a far better position than we have been before, so I consider that really good!

    One of the things that helped me/us a lot was not making him wrong for spending money. If he chose to spend it, the less upset I got about it the less likely he was to go spend more money. Talking rationally and not getting upset made a huge difference in his responses, so I've learned to just let things go. It's disappointing that he can't control it more, but he's getting better, and that is what matters to me.

    Sorry this turned out so long, but yall are totally  not alone for sure!!

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual it is hard when it seems like just treading water. Reading through your post I saw a lot of ourselves in it and I just want to make a couple of suggestions (not criticisms). 

      First, you mention you always get large tax refunds but at the same time are living on the edge of each paycheque. Is it possible to adjust your withholdings so each paycheque is more rather than a big refund? I’m Canadian so not sure what the rules are where you are or what is generating the refunds. 

      next (and this is going to sound critical but that’s not how I mean it) - you don’t need to get a car with a car payment. We went through this lesson the hard way when my low mileage paid for car was totalled and the insurance payout was less than $5000. Of course this happened right at the time that I drew a line and said “no new debt”. We were able to get a good enough car with that money and recently replaced it with another good enough car. We also replaced our SUV with a good enough replacement. In the 5 years since that accident we have not had a car payment. We saved enough to get those cars as we had money (as a true expense). Sure our repairs and maintenance has probably been higher than for a new car but still in total less than a car payment. And not having a payment allows for more “rolling with the punches” since I don’t HAVE to make a payment on a specific day each month. And to be honest, a big portion of the repairs has been tires (all season and winter) which would need to be replaced on a new car too. 


      the car we just replaced was a 2007 VW Passat. When we were looking at replacements we said no older than 2010. But then we got a sweet deal on a 2007 (yup same year) Infiniti G35 with less than 100,000 km for $6500. We were able to sell the Passat which had 200,000 km for $1500. And my coworker got in the Infiniti last week and said “oh an Infiniti “ not realizing its a 12 year old car. 

      it took a long time for us to get to this point and we still have a long way to go but not having car payments is great. 

      Like 1
    • MXMOM thanks for the suggestions. The tax refund is actually due to tax breaks that we get for having a mortgage, so it isn't something that we can adjust how much is deducted. I'm ok getting a fat check because it gives us an opportunity to work on things in a larger quantity right now. It won't be that way forever (hopefully the fat tax returns will, but not the need for the funds in this manner!), and we continue to make changes slowly over time that allow us to handle more and more.

      As for the car - you are right, but at the same time we have some pretty specific needs when it comes to vehicles. I work on farms, and the BF handles equipment. Smaller cars aren't as practical for us, even though I would appreciate the increase in gas mileage. I'm proud of the BF for waiting to purchase something so that he's in a better position, but more than likely a payment will make the most sense at the moment. That reminds me that I actually need to inquire with a friend who has a dealer's license and see if we can potentially buy something at auction and pay the auction price rather than going through a dealer and paying the mark up. That will save several thousand right there I'm sure! I just need to find out what is involved in that and then talk to the bank to figure out how that would work with getting a check cut.

      We're plugging away at making changes, and it's been a challenge for us finding the balance between keeping the budget too tight which derails us easily when a small stressful thing happens, and being more practical about it so that we can roll with the punches and make progress over time.

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