Sig: DAVE SAYS
My husband and I are in our twenties, we have $22,000 in debt and I’m five months pregnant and scared. We both have children from previous marriages who live with us part-time, and together we bring home about $2,000 a month. I think we earn enough to make this succeed, but I can’t get my husband motivated enough to work on it. He’s a spender, and I feel like I can’t tell him no. I’ve tried to make him aware of the problem, but he just shrugs and tells me stuff will get paid.
First of all, let me tell you that being afraid is normal when you’re five months pregnant and have a bunch of debt without a lot of income. But you guys have got a mess to clean up, and your husband needs to step up to the plate here!
I know you love him, but you’re not his mom, you’re his wife. You shouldn’t have to watch over him like a parent. But you do need to let him know that his behavior is hurting your team. You have a child on the way and bills to pay, and the fact is he’s being irresponsible. You might want to be a little more tactful than that, but that’s the basic message here.
Sit down with him tonight, and take his hands in yours. Look him in the eyes and tell him exactly how scared you are. Remind him about the baby that’s on the way, about all the bills and tell him that you don’t know how you’re going to make it without some kind of plan. Chances are, unless he’s a real jerk – and I’m guessing this isn’t the case – he’ll pay attention to what you’re saying. Your husband might be a little immature on some days and a little self-centered sometimes, but that just means he’s human. We’re all that way from time to time.
Most relationships have two personality types – the nerd and the free spirit. The nerd likes detail and wants to map out everything in advance. The free spirit isn’t as worried about the details. This doesn’t mean that deep down they don’t care, but they always believe things will work out in the end. Do I have to tell you which is which in your situation?
Now, if he agrees to this you need to put your natural nerd skills to work. Present the “budget committee” – that’s you and him – with a plan – a written budget where every dollar has a name and you spend everything on paper before the month begins. Once you’ve presented the written plan, you have to have an understanding that changes can be made, as long as you both agree on them. You’re not bringing some stone tablet that’s perfect and can’t be changed down from the mountaintop!
Work though it together taking care of the basic necessities – food, clothing, shelter, transportation and utilities – first. No one else gets paid until you take care of these.
Chances are, he’ll see how much this means to you. If he does I’ll bet he will come to the conclusion that he needs to straighten up and help out. And his doing a little part-time work on the side would be a great place to start!
I recently bought a new truck, and then I heard about your advice to stay out of debt and budget. I tried to un-do the deal but couldn’t. Are there any other options besides selling the truck to get out from under the payment? My wife and I have a household income of about $38,000 and a few other debts we’re trying to pay off.
If you’re not able to pay off the truck in 18 months, then you need to look into selling the thing. And with your household income, I don’t think 18 months is a realistic expectation. Sell the truck!
I’m not saying this because the truck is bad, or because you couldn’t pay it off in 36 months. I say it because I want you to get out of debt so you can free up your largest and most powerful wealth-building tool – your income. Car payments eat up your money like a hungry shark.
Bust out of those payments so you can kick the other debt, build some wealth and get yourself a really nice car later on with cash. But for now, sell the truck and buy yourself a cheap, ugly little Bondo buggy to drive while you guys clean up your mess!
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