Fighting over Finances

by Kelly · 15 comments

in Thoughts On Frugality

My husband and I got into a fight over money yesterday. It wasn’t the first time. I highly doubt it will be the last.

One of the things my husband said is that as soon as we get a bit of money, I want to pay off debts. He feels that we’re going to spend the rest of our life paying off debts, and never get to enjoy our money. He would rather have put the €3600 into a bank account and slowly incorporate it into our budget than pay off the open line of credit.

I can’t help it. I’m trying to be objective as I write this, but instead, I feel myself getting angry all over again. I’m angry because I feel like he wants to squander our money rather than pay it off responsibly. I’m angry because I feel like he doesn’t trust the reasoning and knowledge behind the decision I would choose to make. I’m angry because I feel like he isn’t being logical when he would prefer to keep our debt at 20% interest instead of paying it off.

He was angry (and maybe still is) because he feels that we have nothing to show for our (his) hard work. He was angry because he feels like he works and works and works, but can never enjoy the fruits of his labors. He was angry because he feels like he’s going to spend years paying off debt and then he’ll be dead.

Like many couples, we have different styles of dealing with our financial situation. We have the same end goal in sight, being financial comfortable, but different ways of reaching said goal. I think my husband wants to slowly have life improve: a house that’s a little bit bigger, being able to buy CDs from time to time without needing to think about the budget, the luxury of going out to eat at a nicer restaurant than McDonalds. My dream of being financially comfortable involves the €900+ of extra income every month once we no longer have debts to pay.

We certainly haven’t resolved anything. The argument kind of petered out as we blew off steam. We both understand the other’s position intellectually if not emotionally. That doesn’t make it any easier to resolve or even find temporary patches, so for the moment, things are staying status quo.



1 Charity March 12, 2008

I wish I had some kind of advice for you, but I certainly feel your pain. :0) Sometimes, in this situation, it's helped to allow a small percentage for my hubby to do what he wants with, if he's willing to let me use the bulk for debt repayment. Sigh. I can completely relate to your frustration, it's like you're finally seeing the goal in sight, only to have it pulled away. Sigh.

2 Dawn March 12, 2008

Hi K –
Your post brings back memories of the early years of my marriage. Hang in there, please – because it will get better! The truth of the matter is you both make valid points. Respecting each other’s position and coming to a compromise is the only way to make it through money quarrels. Try to figure out a solution that incorporates a bit of what each of you want. Choose happiness through compromise – rather than “being right.”
I’m just curious – do you each have in the budget, a bit of non-accountability money, that you each can spend on whatever the heck you want – with no guilt? That can be such a help, when working through debt repayment. Hang in there, please! Always turn towards each other, when working through these things. That is the only way me and hubby have made it through 27 years of marriage, still liking & loving each other! God Bless you both!!!

3 FrugalMomLA March 12, 2008

Just to confirm that you live in France in the Alps but you tend to go to McDonald’s for the cheap dining option, just like I would do here in my LA suburb??? I’m amazed that MickyD’s has infiltrated even there–are there no sacred places left? And, BTW, we were were just at McDs on Sunday evening and it cost almost $20 for the 4 of us–two Happy Meals and 2 adult meals. So, not so cheap anymore–I could get two meals from the Chinese takeout for under $15 for the four of us and still have left-overs.

But, back to your issue–I feel for your husband and you both. It would be so nice to see the debt go down.

4 Crystal March 12, 2008

You are definitely not alone. Like Charity said it helps to give my husband a certain amount of discretionary fund that I don't have to think about. The problem I'm having, after three months of arguing over exactly how much discretionary fund I could have for similar unexamined freedom, is we can't afford it. We've agreed that I can take it, but every time I do the household budget comes up short and I end up spending my "fun money" on household needs. Life is seldom fair. I cling to the desperate faith that there will eventually be more money and less conflict in all of our relationships.

5 Shan March 12, 2008

Oh the same ugly argument has popped up here from time to time as well. I finally worked an "allowance" into the budget for him. So he can buy a coffee on the way to work or a CD or whatever without feeling guilty or deprived. Now the budget/debt repayment conversations go much smoother and my husband finds it easier to see the bigger picture.

6 Emily the Great and March 12, 2008

We are trying to pay off our new minivan as soon as possible, so I know how heavy a debt can feel. With me, it's more of an inner struggle as I want nicer things but know I need to put the money to better use than acquiring more stuff.Have you tried explaining the environmental side of this to your husband? My dh is so much more conservative with money when he thinks we're not buying out of ecological rather than economic reasons.

7 K March 12, 2008

We have 'our' money built into the budget. 40€ for me and 50€ for him. I've started withdrawing it in cash at the beginning of the month, now that we have a bit more room in the budget and don't have the monthly black hole. This way he has his money, and it doesn't get spent on 'household stuff'. I think he would like the security of seeing €X in the bank account, rather than just the absence of a monthly bill- instant gratification, if you will!And yes, we live in France, and still eat at McDonalds. Gross, huh?

8 K March 12, 2008

And I forgot to say, when we eat at McDos it costs €25, or $40! Not so cheap!My father in law, who's going with us to the US, said to me 'I hope that we don't just eat at McDo when we're in the US' and I said 'Are you kidding? There are so many better fast food places to eat!'

9 Mr. Debtbeater March 12, 2008

Boy do I ever feel your pain, and our roles are reversed. The biggest difference for us is that she's "agreed" to go along with "the plan", but still pipes in with "but I HAVE to get my haircut every 6 weeks and I HAVE to go to the same hairdresser every time" (which costs $50/per visit) so it ends up being kind of a weak plan.I'll save the rest of the ranting, but know that there's others out there with this same struggle! I simply have to hope that we can make enough progress to eventually get there even with a few "HAVE to" have luxuries along the way.

10 Southerner March 12, 2008

I promise you that it is worth a few months/years of sacrifice so that you can have the rest of your life without the weight tied around you. But, it looks like he doesn't feel the weight so you need to look at what are some ways to keep him on board by giving times of spending a certain amount so he does not feel totally against the plan. Like when you get money allow a certain amount for spending and then use the rest to pay off debt. I bet you will find it really doesn't take much to make him feel appreciated in his views and to satisfy his need for some more freedom.

11 Renae March 13, 2008

My husband and I had similar fights for years because I’m a saver and he’s a spender.
Two things made a big difference: I had my husband take over paying the bills and clearly outlined how much money we were losing to interest each month. He doesn’t like to live in financial reality, so was apalled at how much even 9% interest on a credit card adds up, and was surprised that we really didn’t have much money after the bills were paid. We also talked about the bills not in terms of paying them off, but in terms of how much extra discretionary income we’d have when we no longer had the bill, and how quickly our savings would accumulate if we put that money directly into savings. Sometimes seeing things in black and white really helps.

12 lynnae March 13, 2008

I feel your pain. We're going through the same discussion, now that we're expecting the economic stimulus check. I've been thinking we can use it to pay down debt. My husband thinks we should have a little fun and take a vacation, since we haven't been on vacation in over a year.

13 louise March 14, 2008

I know what you mean, we both have some 'fun' money budgeted, I just pay if off debt, my husband like his treats but is on board with the debt reduction, probably not so intense as me though.good luck, sometimes a compromise is the only way out.

14 Anonymous March 17, 2008

I agree with dawn, ""Respecting each other's position and coming to a compromise is the only way to make it through money quarrels""The trick to making the most of your money is to save some and spend some, having every avialble penny going towards debt, while being the money smart and rational thing to do is nice. You have to remember humans are not rational. Perhaps instead of paying the highest interest first, pay the smallest balance first… that way you can see your progress more clearly.

15 kentuckyliz March 20, 2008

“Having nothing to show for it”–you need to do net worth statements, it is the only way to have something to show for debt elimination.

I like my blow money.

20% interest?! Holy cow…that’s an emergency. How is 2-3% in a bank savings account supposed to beat 20% the banks are earning off your indebtedness?

The borrower is slave to the lender.

I’m debt free TODAY!!! And forever.

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