Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

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HelpBitSpendy
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Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby HelpBitSpendy » Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:35 pm

Hello Everyone
I'm writing this under another name for obvious reasons - I'd love some advice.

I earn good money (I'd say amazing money compared to most but am aware we live in a bubble) and we have two children at private schools, nice house, great holidays etc. Far as I'm aware we've got no relationship issues except a problem around money.

My wife simply refuses to stop spending money and she won't listen when I suggest she could do with cutting back.

I'm not sure if she does this as a way of filling her time (she used to work before we had kids, not in an especially well paid job compared to mine but she certainly had a career of sorts) or if it's keeping up with the Joneses or something else but it's really really worrying me.

We've just had both bathrooms redone (since Christmas) and she claims that our car, which is only three years old is "needs to be changed" and that our kitchen (new when we moved in) is 'old and has to be replaced".

The difficulty is all of these things are portrayed as needs and must-haves as opposed to nice things we'd do if we had some spare money. I've tried suggesting that I give her a monthly budget to manage but that was just laughed at and I was told she was not my "f*cking employee".

To be blunt we just don't have the cash for all this stuff (not if I want to retire this side of a hundred years old) and I'm at the stage where I just don't know what to do.

I could simply refuse to pay but that isn't really getting at the root cause of the situation as I want her to understand why we need to budget and I'm seriously thinking about counselling which seems silly when I write it but I am at my wits end.

Any help would be really really appreciated.

Thank you everyone. 
Vhopeful
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby Vhopeful » Sun Jul 22, 2018 3:33 pm

Coming from a stay at home mum who used to have a career and was paid well.
It’s time to sit her down and ensure she understands the financials. Does she know exactly how much you earn Vs. The outgoings mortgage/school fees. Finances need to be an agreed thing in order for a household to work out, you both agree how much you should spend roughly on holidays, home improvements a year etc and maybe leave her to mange to the finer details.
robinm
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby robinm » Sun Jul 22, 2018 5:53 pm

How about going to see an accountant together? You can paint it as 'retirement planning' - say that 'everyone at work is doing it' or something. Ask the accountant to suggest what you'd both need to save for your desired pension per year. In this case perhaps go higher than you would've previously said in order to save more! Ensure you treat it as both of you saving.

As the previous poster has said - you can then start to budget for '1 home improvement project every other year', kids going to uni etc.
LP73
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby LP73 » Sun Jul 22, 2018 8:06 pm

I would sit your wife down and go through all of your finances so that she is aware of everything. Often this can be a big shock and may bring her down to earth with a crash.
If you feel that this may be too difficult to approach I’d like to recommend Andrew Brettell who has http://www.themoneymotco.co.uk and is AMAZING at going through everything and setting up spreadsheets and budgets etc.
He is very fair and looks at the big picture and only charges money on what he saves you as an individual or a family. If he doesn’t save you anything you don’t pay him. Around six of my friends have now used him and all have given positive feedback which is great to hear as we had a great experience.
By chatting through everything with someone not related or linked to you it will hopefully help the situation and save some money too.
I hope that your wife listens as she should do!
2009Kat
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby 2009Kat » Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:31 pm

Also sounds to me like she needs a reality check. Who does she socialise with? Other people who live in the “bubble”? It is easy to get caught up in lifestyle but does she think beyond eg perspective on worrying about replacing a 3 year old car when there are people who rely on food banks. Actually I would suggest selling the car and donating the cash to charity - plenty of buses round here.
petal
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby petal » Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:59 pm

Time for some honesty it seems!
If her demands keep coming despite your reluctance does she not take you seriously or have you been vague?
Being a stay at home mum is valuable job and she’s “not your employee”, equally however you are not her money tree either.
Grow some balls and put her straight.
I feel sorry for men who do long hours and are the sole providers and are just expected to deliver. I personally would hate to go to work and have my husband at home spending money ...
It’s very important that you both feel valued.
Make sure you make her feel valued as some women don’t feel their contribution is appreciated and underestimated. Perhaps she seeking something that missing via material gratification.
I also wonder if she needs something more positive to spend her energy on than the latest car or kitchen.
Has she got any hobbies?
I’m sorry but your short description makes her sound awfully shallow.
Sit her down, nicely tell her your concerns.
Back it up with some figures, black and white facts are better than waffle.
Finally, if she’s not on board perhaps suggest she gets a job to fund her extra funding needs.. I’m sure she’d soon put spending into perspective..! Ha
Good luck
szczepam
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby szczepam » Mon Jul 23, 2018 6:48 am

I agree with robinm. Take her to a financial planner who can walk through how much you need to save for a decent retirement for the both of you. I had a really good and free conversation with one a few months ago and it was very eye opening.
justanothermum
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby justanothermum » Mon Jul 23, 2018 8:10 am

Hello 
I agree with everyone on here that clear shared information about the finances is a good way forward.  
I wonder why you think it's silly to go to a councillor - if you've had the thought then it's really not silly, but it sounds like you might need to go together to look at your communication. You've already identified that there may be more to this than meets the eye.  Is there a reason you haven't already sat down together to share the budget decisions? 

Your wife's expression that she's 'not your employee' could be a clear indicator of how she is feeling - it is incredibly difficult to be reliant on someone else financially as an independent adult. The way you talk about your earnings and her previous career is maybe an indicator that you don't see each other's contributions as being equal in value.  Maybe look at this form a different angle other than just earnings? 

With 2 school age children, is there a possibility that your relationship has taken a back seat and might need some recalibration?  Relationships with the children are constantly changing as they grow and need less. This is difficult at times, so maybe she doesn't feel as valued, which if you think about it is an awful place to be. 

I also think you're right that the keeping up with the Joneses mentality is incredibly destructive and there is a lot of it around here in the SW bubble.  Lots of the parents I know, judge people's worth on their houses, which I think is bonkers but it does create tension and pressure if you buy into all that. Why not set aside some budget to get out of the bubble and travel the world to see how other people live and still be happy?

Like any problem communication is key and its great you are asking for opinions on here, but the only opinion or feedback you really need is yours and your wife's.  Good luck x  
 
Mum2Girlz
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby Mum2Girlz » Mon Jul 23, 2018 8:25 am

My husband would love to read this post and totally relate, so I won’t show him! But seriously, I can too. I’m a stay at home Mum who used to have a “big job” and still do contribute a lot to the family finances as a result of it, but I drive him mad with my constant home improvements ideas and, massive cringe, also recently suggested we need a new car as ours is diesel. He laughed and said no.
If I were pushing it I suspect he would be at his wits end too as he has his own money worries with work, and it’s definirely true that when your kids are in in private school everyone seems to have an endless supply of cash, interior designers on speed dial and a new basement/extension certainly gives you house envy and the sudden urge for a new bathroom/kitchen.
But I think the problem isn’t really that, it’s boredom. I would like to slap anyone who asks me what I do all day, with all my “free time” as being a stay at home Mum is the most demanding job in the world, and I had a very successful and rewarding one before that, but with little adult interaction or mental stimulation can also drive you pretty bonkers. I found these “projects” gave me a much needed distraction and something to really sink my teeth into, and with no “free time” for hobbies, sport or even a part time job in the early years, it can be the only mentally stimulating project to take on, so maybe talking about it is the right thing for you both. She may not even realise it herself, and certainly I would have reacted a lot better had my husband appreciated the strain of being at home with the children and suggested ways to give me a break to enjoy a new hobby rather than criticising me for constantly spending money I would like to think I’d have loved him all the more for it! Hopefully if all your kids are in school now she has more time to focus on things she enjoys doing and can rediscover what those are? Other than home improvements!!
NVNV
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby NVNV » Mon Jul 23, 2018 9:02 am

Justanothermum and Mum2Girlz speak a lot of wisdom.

Money is always a difficult topic and different couples both manage and view joint income differently. I think it’ll always be contentious and subjective.

With that in mind, from the way you explain the situation it doesn’t seem to me that money is the issue.

I have more questions than answers.

Did your wife want to give up her career? Which, in the most respectful way, you dismiss quite easily. The ways she’s spending money require effort and planning. I just replaced two bathrooms and they’re projects. I imagine a kitchen takes even more mental labour. Could she be bored and frustrated in her current activities and need more? Is there space in your lives for some form of additional education? Whether a night class or learning a new language on an app? Or some other new challenge like learning / progressing a sport?

I know generally, buying things can be a good way of feeling like you’ve achieved something. Again, it could indicate that some form of achievement is missing.

Which makes me wonder, the things being changed are the environment she spends her time in and could be a way of her controlling her world - ‘if I’m in this house / car all day I’ll make it the way I want it’. Could she be feeling powerless in her world and need more control over her life? I’d say autonomy comes pretty high in our human needs.

On that point, could you be a bit money obsessed too? You dismiss her career based on salary but not everyone defines their contribution by salary. Satisfaction and use of skill come into it too.

How do you view joint income? If she stays at home then your salary is it (assuming no other money sources). Do you see this as yours? You say, ‘give her a monthly budget’’, ‘I could simply refuse to pay’. That sounds to me that you class the money as yours for you to give to her as you choose. An assumption, but if so, how does she feel about it? It doesn’t sound very equal to me. Yet I’m assuming you agreed to her giving up work to raise the kids?

Finally, if it is just about the money, and there’s no deeper issue, as well as the suggestions of speaking to a financial advisor or counsellor, how about suggesting a part-time job? I’ve earned my own money from 11 years old, always had part-time jobs or full-time jobs, until I just didn’t go back after mat leave, and I’m doing an MA to transition to a new career. I’ve got to admit I’m very conscious my appreciation of money is dwindling as I’m not earning it. (Don’t get me wrong stay at home parenting is the hardest of all of the jobs I’ve had, and I couldn’t do it full-time forever. However, I am distanced from earning money vs spending it.)

One last point. I’ve felt quite uncomfortable throughout this talking about her / she when it comes to money. There’s a danger that she is minimised and treated like a child. It is harks back to the 1950s bulls*** about how to placate a little wife. That’s obviously not how it’s meant, you’ve come here asking for help clearly from a place of love and care. But if this was me, and strangers were suggesting to sit me down and put me straight I don’t think I’d feel loved and cared for, or respected. So clearly, again maybe reflected in you coming here first not speaking to your wife, tread carefully. Being made to feel powerless if you don’t earn money can have lasting affects on self-worth (ones I’ve just realised I’m working through myself).
 
NVNV
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby NVNV » Mon Jul 23, 2018 9:51 am

I’m sorry, I missed one crucial question: How does this make you feel?

Obviously stressed, pushed financially, but if I say it’s about more than money, does it make you feel as though she’s undervaluing the good life you feel you provide?

Maybe you both feel under appreciated in different ways?

However this situation makes you feel, your feelings are a good place to start discussions. No-one can argue with how something is making another person feel, when they’re only saying their emotional response to a situation. Plus, if you make yourself vulnerable to her she may respond more openly / honestly than if she’s feeling attacked / told off / being put back in her place.

I hope you sort it out. I’m sure you will as you’re clearly exploring the right way to address it, and looking for the underlying reasons, rather than jumping in angrily.
HAFgp
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby HAFgp » Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:59 am

Your wife is probably depressed and overspends to bring her temporary happiness. But just as some depressives comfort eat, or drink too much, this pleasure is not only short-lived but can exacerbate her depression, making her feel worthless and guilty. Any comment from you will unleash all her anger and resentment. You may wonder what she could possibly be depressed about given your lifestyle, but material goods do not guarantee happiness .There could be a number of reasons for her depression-feeling inadequate for not pursuing a career, worrying about her future role as wife and mother as the children grow older; Who knows.The difficulty is broaching the subject because she certainly won't thank you for it but on the other hand ,you might give her something to think about. If your wife does not accept that she could be depressed, then she can't be helped. Perhaps you can approach her closest friend or her gp. A good GP, particularly if they know your wife well, should be sympathetic and keep your disclosure confidential. Your wife could be invited for a routine medical review and then asked about her mood along with general health questions. Your wife needs sympathy and understanding, and so do you. You may benefit from couple counselling.Good luck
jtreliving
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby jtreliving » Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:20 pm

Many posters on here have suggested that you first appeal to her rationality and sense of prudence by breaking down, by the numbers, what these spending habits are doing and could do to the household finances. If the reality check works, then job done. So I agree that this is the best course of action to start with.

However as yet more posters have suggested, if there is an underlying emotional cause for her behaviour, this will probably not stop the spending compulsion. A frank and sensitive conversation is in order here, and uncomfortable truths need to be heard on both sides. If you can come to an arrangement here to break the habit, then this is a success.

If that doesn't work then, yes, it is most likely necessary to get a counselor involved. I know an excellent one, so if you require her contact details, please PM me.

I hope you work this out, truly.
Sheds
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby Sheds » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:42 am

Hi HelpBitSpendy

What a kind, warm and compassionate husband!

From the work I do and the understanding that I have, the money thing is a byproduct and yet it is so compelling to jump in with a bid to 'solve' that.  

Your nod to counselling indicates that deep down you are aware that there is something more than money going on for your wife which is why I recommend that you get a copy of 'Real' by Clare Dimond.  Read it for yourself, with yourself in mind. Then leave it hanging around in case your wife fancies taking a read too.

If you find that you have questions that come up I am more than happy to answer them.  Feel free to contact me.

Haven't written my own book on this yet, otherwise I would have been recommending that instead!
HelpBitSpendy
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Re: Wife refuses to stop spending so much - help

Postby HelpBitSpendy » Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:41 pm

Thank you for all your replies and kind comments, very very helpful.

I'll try to answer as many of the questions as I can as I feel that's only fair giving how much time you've all spent trying to help.

My wife wanted to give up work, it was her idea, and we initially had quite a bit of money saved. We've been chewing through that and now it's almost all gone which has triggered this stress. The firm I work for has had to cut bonuses this year which has also had an effect so it was a slow combination of factors as opposed to any one thing.

I would love for her to go back to work but she says it 'doesn't work' with the children being the age they are but at the same time it doesn't work in the current situation.

The way we've been operating our finances is that we have a joint account and then I transfer money in from our savings every month when the joint account gets too low and this week I "forgot" to do that.

It was a bit petty but it meant that she her debit card was bounced this week and although it was easy for me to fix, I just made a quick transfer, I think it made her realise I'm serious as I made a big song and dance about 'diverting money from our long term savings to pay for her shopping'.

I feel bad for being so passive aggressive about it but she could see there wasn't a bottomless pit and hopefully that means we can work on some of the other suggestions here.

I do think that she may be depressed/bored. It also doesn't help that a lot of the people she hangs around with only seem to go to the gym/ have lunch and I understand that this peer group makes it hard.

Thank you again.