Working hard not to divorce! Please help.
One of my main purposes in life is to be able to decide what is important to me, and follow my own priorities. Freedom and abundance are mostly a matter of being able to spend my time on what matters most. So early on I decided I would save and invest, so that I would not live as my parents selling my time for money in a rat race towards achieving social status, leaving a broken family behind, enslaved by debt. So as I became an adult, having a wide and ample margin of savings and investments has been a permanent goal, which I have achieved up to a certain point by working hard to get money, then working hard not to spend it and working hard to invest it well. That is why I believe I dont need a budget. IDNNAB.
My wife on the other hand also came from a broken family where her mom was a stingy saver, who had all the time in the world for the family. She grew seeing how she never let her have all the cool things her friends could do and have, such as nice clothes, vacations, toys, etc.
Now that I am a father spending time with my Kids is priority. Not making money. My wife on the other hand is focused mostly on achieving status and wants to have a high level of spending. She is a partner at a very prestigious law firm. The problem is she is spending much more than her income, and is never taking into account her "true expenses". And wants to have a bigger car, nicer furniture, etc. So MWNAB, my wife needs a budget. But she wont do it. In fact if I try to do it for her, she will routinely hide her finances from me.
So this ends up in me taking money I had saved for our retirement savings and paying for "true expenses", paying for her loans or credit card, and making our capital decrease. This has reached a worrying limit.
I feel horribly because her goals are things like buying a bigger car, and buying a country house, and buying furniture, hiring more service to take care of the kids and our apartment. And my goals are to quit my current job as a business owner (hire a manager), spend more time with the kids and family and start another company. So I feel her goals are opposite to mine. I feel (and she has said this) she wants me to have a bigger salary so we can spend more. She wants to buy expensive clothes for the kids, take them on expensive vacations, and pay for expensive sports equipment for them. Also give expensive gifts to everybody, she is very generous, which I love about her.
She resents me not bringing a higher monthly revenue for home spending.
So what I am doing is to calculate our "to be budgeted" amount of money, and talk her into telling me where she wants to spend it (the macro things, so as not to make her feel managed or audited on small things) and hope this will help us start to have a common ground to plan for joint goals. This has not been the case though. So I am quite frustrated.
I would really appreciate your comments and suggestions.
Honest advice: you both should see a relationship counselor. You trying to just take control away from your wife because you don't agree with her goals is not a long term solution. You've already seen the result of that, she will just start hiding finances if she feels like you are trying to take her agency away, and probably start to become even more resentful and defensive about money. You have different goals, and the only way forward is through compromise.
I suggest a counselor because for both of you this is going to be a touchy subject. From what you describe your wife may need to rethink some priorities (especially since it is leading to overspending), but the same can probably be said for you too. Compromise is a two-way street, and my first impression is that you aren't too keen on shifting your goals any more than she is. A neutral third party can really help you both shed some of the ego and remind you that you are both supposed to be in this together.
Other than that, honest and open communication is really key, and the delivery of a message is sometimes more important than the message itself. Sit down and talk, and just listen. Set a specific time to have this conversation without distractions. Do not try to fix anything at first. Listen and understand where she is coming from, and speak honestly about what you want too so she can listen to you. Do not try to rocket forward with solutions and fixes until you can both decide on a path together.Reply
It sounds like you've got a challenge on your hands! I feel for you and sympathies in some regards as I am a complete YNAB geek and my wife to be couldn't care less. luckily, if she has £100, she will only spend £100.
One of the things I have found works for us is that we get paid monthly, so ALL the bills come out at the start of the month, whats left after this is money that can be spent elsewhere. but obviously we take into account rolling costs e.g. Fuel, Groceries.
I feel your wife wants her kids to have a better upbringing than she had. She may feel insecure on some level that she may have resemblances to her own mothers ways and is trying to steer clear of that. Where as you, likewise are trying to do similar yourself and spend more time with family.
Try and focus on the positive influences your parents left on you rather than the negative ones. But like already mentioned I'd see a relationship councilor to see if you can reconcile your ways :)
"You only get one life" "can't take money with you when you die" etc etc. you've both got to find a balance.Reply
Tan Yearling said:
That is why I believe I dont need a budget. IDNNAB.
Budgets aren't only for people who are in debt or are extreme spenders. A YNAB budget isn't a budget in a traditional sense. It's more of a spending plan. It is a visual representation of your values and priorities. I don't carry consumer debt, I save aggressively for retirement, and I live well below my means. YNAB helps me be mindful and think through my purchases. I rarely, if ever, go without, but I am better able to assess how much I want A relative to B (where A could be anything from dinner out because I don't feel like cooking to a new laptop and B could be a nice summer vacation to a bit more to my taxable investing). Everyone is constantly making decisions about their funds regardless of whether the funds are plentiful or scarce.Reply
Hi Tan Yearling !
I wanted to leave a link to our Join Forces Guide - there are a number of tips and suggestions on how to accommodate and consider each other when forming the budget. If a larger car is a priority for your wife, you can make a goal for it so that her wants are written into the financial plan.
It can be hard to get a partner on board but well worth it! I wish you the best of luck! :)Reply
This sounds like a priorities issue -- fixing your financial situation may not be possible unless you can both compromise on your goals to some extent. Obviously her constant spending won't work long-term, and neither will your trying to enforce a budget on her. I definitely second the counseling idea, especially discussions about how both of your upbringings have shaped how you spend and save money.
My wife doesn't really "get" YNAB (she grew up in a family that generally spent money based on account balances, and all the numbers make her eyes glaze over), and mostly trusts that I have our finances under control. I do like that when we make spending decisions, I don't have to play the bad guy and say "no" all the time. Instead, I can say "Sure, maybe we can do that. Our money is limited, so here are our current financial priorities and here is how we would have to change (cut savings, move money from other categories, etc.) in order to make this purchase." It immediately becomes a "what are our shared priorities and how would we we have to change" question rather than an immediate "no, we can't afford it" from me. Honestly, it sounds like you're already doing this and it hasn't really been helpful for you.
I've found a small monthly allowance for both of us is helpful to help manage "fun", unnecessary spending... but we think similarly in how we spend money and she thankfully isn't a big spender. A monthly allowance might not be helpful in your situation if she just chooses to ignore the limits.Reply
Why do you think this is not a problem? She is behaving according to the classic cycle of abuse. Do not let your children see this. They will grow up thinking this is an appropriate way to treat people, and what is worse, an acceptable way to be treated. And you have an absolute duty to your children to show them otherwise. And to protect them from abuse, which right now you are not doing. Do your job. Protect your children. Sorry to be so harsh, but I have my own reasons to be so blunt to you as the person who is not protecting your children from the abusive parent.
No, you can't control or be responsible for her part. All you have the power to do is remove yourself and your children from the situation.
I now advise against marriage counseling. When there is abuse, all it does is enable the abuser. Separate, and if it's important to her to save the marriage, she can do individual counseling to fix her problems and pay for you and your children to have individual counseling too. If she balks at that, she doesn't want to change. Right now the system is working for her, so change will upset that "equilibrium". But she no longer has the only say, and if her actions show you she doesn't want to change, she is telling you that you cannot save this marriage. Walk away with a full heart and children that will be reared to respect themselves and others.
TRUE TRUE TRUE. I am a mother who stayed in an emotionally abusive marriage for 25 years. At the time, I thought it would be more devastating to have the family break up. In retrospect (after many years of therapy), I now see what a terrible mistake I made and how I did a disservice not only to myself but to my children also. They have a warped view of marriage, of team work, and what a marriage can, and should be. Of how respect, or the lack thereof, factors into relationships. I can't change the past and I've (mostly) stopped beating myself up about it, as I know I did what I thought was best at the time. But now that I see what it did to them, I would never make the same decision again. And I would advise someone else in a similar position to get out, sooner rather than later. I do talk with my children about this fairly often, and all of us are in therapy, but it saddens me that I left them with the feelings that they have now. Just my $0.02.Reply