~ archived since 2018 ~

Giving up control of the finances

June 6, 2019

I'm working through The Surrendered Wife in an effort to let go of my control of pretty much all aspects of our family life and encourage my Husband to step up instead.

The part that worries me most is our finances. I run everything. He doesn't know the internet banking log on, the date that he gets paid, his monthly salary figure, none of it.

We've been together 20 yrs this year and we've fallen into this method of financial management because time and time again in our early years he messed up. He'd forget to pay bills, he'd run up secret credit cards, I've lost two loads of savings due to cars he's smashed up. He couldn't get a decent bank account himself due to having run away from previous debts, couldn't get credit etc so over the years everything has always been in my name. His bank only gave him a debit card 5 years ago.

He works now but was a SAHD for 4 years. Money was really tight then and managing it all was so stressful. We bang all our wages in a shared bank account and he gets spending money I pay into his account. He still manages to go overdrawn and I get regular requests to top up because of something he forgot about. We've argued bitterly in the past about how he brings me problems rather than saves me them.

We are pretty comfortable these days though so I guess now is a good time to give him another opportunity to take the reins? He's older and wiser and more responsible. We have a buffer.

Anyone got any tips? Shall I hand over aspects gradually or just declare myself done with it and pass him the passwords?

Its scary!

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[–]thatbadlarry39 points40 points  (4 children) | Copy Link

Absolutely do not give him control. He has not proven himself responsible. Not every man is fit to be called Captain and his having a penis doesn’t mean he’s capable of handling this responsibility. I get it. You want to be red pill. Part of being RP is proper vetting and admitting when something doesn’t work. Letting an irresponsible person handle the finances isn’t RP, it’s foolish.

[–]carolinax10 points11 points  (2 children) | Copy Link

Beyond real.

My soon to be mother in law allowed for her husband to take care of their finances Becuase she didn't want to emasculate her husband. 40 years later she's hiding money in a private account and they're approaching their retirement age while worrying about how they're going to pay for daily living costs. She regrets not removing him from the accounts and taking control YEARS ago. He has a spending compulsion. You are SO right. Just because someone is male, doesn't mean they're a strong captain.

[–][deleted] 4 points5 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

And that is exactly where I don’t want to be. I’m already building a pension pot for two of us. I’ve worked hard to get here and I’m not prepared to lose it all.

[–]carolinax1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

Exactly. Keep firm your hold of those reins! If you can't trust him, be the example you wish you had.

[–][deleted] 12 points13 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

Well that’s all the excuse I need to keep hold then thank you!!!

[–]Tootenbacher 1 points [recovered]  (4 children) | Copy Link

You are not alone. I control my family's finances as well. My husband has gotten himself into debt in the past and has done the secret credit card thing as well. He is currently a stay at home dad, and I would like him to take over the financial reigns because I don't like feeling like his mother in this regard. I'm also tired of having all of the responsibility and worry.

Do you think your husband is capable of changing and learning? I do think my husband is, but I'm scared to let go.

I'm interested to hear the comments to your post, thank you for asking this question.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (3 children) | Copy Link

Thanks for sharing. It is scary, especially when you’ve worked hard to keep everything together. I’d like to think he is capable. He’s a lot more responsible since we had kids. He’s just not organised always wants to do stuff later and then forgets. Never has the time somehow... I don’t want to be his mother either. I don’t want to be the only grown up in the house. So I have to try. He’s a great husband in lots of other ways. I think I’m going to break the whole task into chunks and see how he does with them on their own. I just don’t know where to start. Everything is automated these days anyway and it’s easier for me to do admin and make calls from my office job than he can in his. He runs a forest school. He’s in the woods with kids all day. Practically it makes sense for me to continue. So I’m a bit stuck.. I’ll make a list of tasks and see what comes up. I like lists 😆 Maybe someone will have some pearls of wisdom for us hey?

[–]Tootenbacher 1 points [recovered]  (2 children) | Copy Link

That's funny, it's so much easier to make phone calls and do the budget entries, etc., from my job, too - I'm a bookkeeper, so I'm used to it. That's one of the reasons I haven't really pushed for him to take over yet. I also actually enjoy working with numbers. But like I said, I'm also tired of carrying the mental burden.

One of the reasons that my husband struggles with impulse shopping and had his secret credit cards was because he has ADHD. I have to say, your husband's behaviour sounds similar. Is it possible that there's some underlying issue like ADHD there? Even if there isn't, some of the coping mechanisms and tricks and tips for helping people with ADHD get organized may help.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy Link

Same situation then, we will get there... Just googled adult adhd. He does show some of the signs but so do I apparently so we’ve no hope! Forgetful, always losing his stuff. Really energetic, big personality. But really chilled out in his temperament. Patient, easy going. Doesn’t stress about anything. No problems with focus or listening etc.

[–]Tootenbacher1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

Yeah, I have signs as well, but different ones than my husband - I've read that it's common for people with disorders like ADHD to marry, I guess because they can relate to each other in many ways, and have more patience for each others' quirks. Who knows, just something to think about, and as I said, some of the organizational tips may help. Best of luck!

[–]g_e_m_anscombe2 points3 points  (5 children) | Copy Link

My husband has always been bad at keeping a budget. His old system was very stressful. We’ve decided for our own sanity that I am taking over the budget. We worked together to set a total number (including some fun money) and I am responsible for managing it. This is actually a quite traditional way of doing it.

Because I manage the kitchen, the house and the schedule, it makes sense that I am also managing the budget that ensures those things run smoothly. Last year we were having a lot of arguments over stupid stuff because we were sharing control over the budget, and we were trying to merge two incompatible ways of working things out. In the end, my husband is doing a fine job at providing financially and he needs to outsource the mental energy of budgeting to give himself more focus at work. I think the key to a good budget is good boundaries, and good boundaries require mature people with practice.

We paid for a financial planner as we sorted out some of our differences. My husband likes to talk investments and it has been good for him to have someone to discuss it with other than our fathers. I’m not convinced that the financial planner is really that worth it for most people long term, though it is probably worth it for many people for a season. Once you’ve figured out a reasonably good system for budgeting and managing investments, it runs itself with very little attention). I am convinced it is worth it for us because previously my husband’s father controlled all his investments and this is a way of us limiting that toxic relationship.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (4 children) | Copy Link

The point you make about two incompatible ways of working things out is quite true for us too. If he did things the way I did them I’d be more relaxed! But that’s my thing, I have to let go. Just getting more organised in general with the money will help. It should run itself if I do that better. Who wants to bicker about money anyway, doesn’t make it multiply does it 😃

[–]g_e_m_anscombe1 point2 points  (3 children) | Copy Link

Ultimately I think we are all trying to do the same thing: tame the chaos efficiently.

I’ve been reading the Empowered Wife again (read the Surrendered Wife first) and she talks about how sometimes she has to think about what she really desires when she wants to complain. I realized that most of our complaints about money were actually about other issues. I wanted to have control/authority to try different things (especially with some food allergies I developed). My husband wanted to save as much as possible. Because his desire to save was infinite, it was eating at my desire to have flexibility on certain things. In the end, when we made the whole budget together he was able to see that I wasn’t asking for us to save an absurdly low amount- I wanted a savings rate closer to 48% instead of 52%. He is OK with that. Before that we would argue about how we should get to a non-existent line my husband had - it was completely impossible. He wanted to spend more on eating out and a car, and I wanted to spend more on things that would make our home more beautiful and efficient for cleaning (for example, swapping the white cloth chairs for wooden ones now that we have a baby). In the end, when we were haggling over this undefined line of saving, we had to resort to trying to control one another’s spending in ways that were ultimately disrespectful and stressful.

Every financial decision is a trade off, and the mental energy to make those trade offs is immense. The key to a good budget is helping you to make the trade offs you want to make. We sat down, looked at where our money went and set less aggressive goals for this year with just the aim of staying “on budget.” For my husband, we have set a line for eating out that is 5x higher than what I would want, but that makes him feel like he has a reasonable freedom to eat out (so long as he saves the fancy steak for special occasions). For me, I have asked for a line for “home” that allows me a reasonable freedom to maximize my efficiency and time at home, whether that is swapping easily stained items or stocking up on necessities. We are both happier now that he has delegated authority over day-to-day management of the budget; doing this required him to recognize that his “essential” line items were also contributing to us not hitting an invisible savings goal, not just my stuff he deemed frivolous. In future years, the goal is to keep the budget close to the same while adding more children.

The French have a notion of cadre - it’s a frame or framework. The idea is that the boundaries are strict but there is total freedom within the boundaries. Setting up our budget this way means we both have some freedom and some boundaries. He gave me the boundary of the total, and I have freedom to invest in certain things that are more expensive upfront but efficient long term. I give him the freedom within the restaurant budget so long as he stays under the total for that line item.

As I write this, I realize how absurd it must sound. Plenty of people would love it if they had the freedom to debate over saving 48% or 52% as a family. The point is: it doesn’t matter how much you make, you will still find ways to argue over it. A good Captain will delegate some authority and control to his first mate and then not micromanage. Some mistakes may be made, but they should be addressed when they go outside the framework (total budget) not on a purchase by purchase basis. A good Captain will also delegate tasks he is bad at. My Captain is bad at living on a budget so he has delegated regular management to me. If he feels he needs something from the budget, he has the authority to ask me to make rearrangements but he also has given me the freedom to say no if his request seems impossible. He recently wanted to get a different car and asked for me to “find” $300 a month in the budget; now that we have a defined goal and a clearer budget I told him. “I cannot find $300 in the budget monthly for a car. When we set up the budget initially, we agreed that I would have these amounts. I need those amounts to function and to optimize. You can upgrade the car if you wish, but it means you will have to cut your savings rate. Is a nicer car worth you having to work an extra 6 months when you want to retire? If the answer is yes, I’m OK with that.” He decided that he wasn’t OK with that and has stopped talking about the car. But it’s important that it was HIS decision, and I was protecting the boundaries within the budget that I needed for myself.

I’m rambling now. This was long. I’m sorry. I don’t know if this helps.

If your husband seems unhappy with the budget, I would just try to probe deeper and figure out what his desires are. Maybe what he really wants is to feel free to spend $100 a month to go fishing or whatever. Most budgets could accommodate that reasonably. My husband wanted the freedom for his eating habits, but otherwise could cede things to me.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (2 children) | Copy Link

Thank you for the insight. Lots to think about there. It does make sense for us as a team to play to our strengths and for that responsibility to be delegated where it can be managed best. All the things there that you discuss there with your husband, I make those decisions alone and that’s the stressful part for me. .Total responsibility for the now and the future of all 4 of us. ‘Whatever you think babe, I trust you’ is what I get. I’ve bought the empowered wife also, will get to it next week I suspect. The car talk has reminded me he did choose my last car for me. I hate car shopping. My last car was a sexy convertible that was totally unreliable, cost a fortune in repairs and was always leaving me and the kids stranded. He replaced it with a car I hate but that was affordable without finance, cheap to maintain and would be reliable. Good decisions right. He did good but I hate that car. I hate getting in it. I hate driving it. I hate how sensible it is 😆 Just can’t win can he!

[–]g_e_m_anscombe1 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

Gotcha. We ran into a similar problem regarding cars, but with the roles switched. (I’m the practical one.)

One thing that’s helpful for larger financial decisions is to say “this is good enough for now.” My husband made a mistake in picking our current car. He loves watching videos about cars and is always thinking about what car would be better. But he was driving me completely bonkers about the damn car every time he wanted to discuss what would be “better.” Finally I told him I had a boundary: we couldn’t talk about the car anymore. We have about a year left on the lease for this car, so I told him we could revisit things in 8-9 months. Tell yourself “I may hate this car, but it will do for now.” Once you have mastered the rest of your budget, maybe your reward to yourself can be changing this car. Saying “I can handle this car for 2 years” may make you feel better - you give yourself some freedom to dream of a car that is reliable and “sexy” and in your budget, but you tell yourself that dream is a reward for accomplishing your goal of managing the budget better.

Managing a budget just takes practice. You might benefit from hiring a financial planner to help you with budgeting (or reading r/personalfinance or a Dave Ramsey book). In the end, it matters less whether your goal is saving 20% or 40% and more that YOU set the goal and stick to it. That’s what makes you have financial peace. My husband makes a shit ton and saves a bunch and is still constantly terrified about money because he has no idea where the money goes or why it goes there. I made 36k in a high COL area, saved 10% and am generally at peace about money because I knew where it all went. It’s about finding the right amount of freedom and responsibility for you and your family. DM me if you want to talk shop about any of this; we’re figuring out a new system for ourselves as well so I could use the moral support. lol

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

I like that. It will do for now. It’s got a good set of speakers. It’s saving us money we’d be paying in finance (or to the bank of mum and dad 😆 ) I am enjoying drama free driving too! So focus on the good... I don’t know about a financial planner. I hate paying people to do what I could do myself. I know (I think!) what we need to do for now anyway and it’s happening. Maybe in a few years when the kids are older and we are looking ahead to working less. We will need help then for sure. I am going to rearrange the banking so I can give him the fun budget. That is happening next month. I don’t see how it can hurt.

[–]artemis2862 points3 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

Honestly, not every man or captain wants to control the finances. My husband would rather die. We do share all bank accounts, and do weekly financial planning. So all financial decisions are made together, and he knows what the budget is and helps make it. But when it comes to paperwork, remembering to pay bills on time, and checking over the accounts to make sure everything is within the budget, I do all that.

The last thing he wants to do when he comes home from a long day at work is sit at the computer and sort through finances. So it's part of my homemaking. He gets the benefit of the cliff notes, so he's aware and involved, and again, all decisions are made together. And he knows bills are getting paid on time, money is getting into savings, and he knows what each of our "fun" budgets are. The idea of him having to manage all of that alone, while working, sounds horribly stressful to him. He loves that I manage it, and that we approach finances as a team at all times.

Ive read the book, and enjoy most of the advice given. But it's a toolbox, and you take what works for you in your marriage, not blind rules to follow in all circumstances! My husband would be miserable if I just dumped the finances on him one day 😂

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

Yes it has to work in the marriage definitely. Our situations do sound a little different. We both work full time and my job is the one that pays our bills. I’ve been completely miserable having them dumped on me, along with most of the domestic chores also. Ive resented not being able to be the one that bumbles through life being taken care of. I agree dumping everything on him is not the way forwards... But I need him to get involved.

[–]Ariel1251 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

My dad and husband are RP but my mom and I handle the finances because they told us to. (We also like it). The men ultimately make financial decisions but we are the bookkeepers.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

I do like the idea of us both being involved and knowing what is going on and where we are. That’s a model we could perhaps work to in time. He is capable of making good decisions about long term financial goals, is far less frivolous than I am in what he believes we need. Thank you...

[–]just_a_mum1 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

I would do it gradually. Tell him that keeping an eye on all of the finances is stressing you out and ask for his help. You can give him the passwords to the bank accounts and tell him it would be a big weight off your mind if he could take care of 'xy&z' this month.

As you said, you have a slight buffer. Give him plenty of notice and don't nag. Don't bring it up until it's done. Then remember till thank him for taking care of that for you and see if he offers till do it every month.

Don't forget till let him be your hero. Word it in such a way so that he is rescuing you from something that stresses you out.

[–][deleted] 4 points5 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

Thank you, I appreciate the encouragement to give him a chance.
I think I could reorganise the banking so we separate bills and spending money and ask him to manage the fun money. That way nothing major will be affected right? So how it goes... I reckon he’d be up for that too.

[–]unixygirl0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy Link

Why would anyone give up their say in the household finances? Holy crap this is the worst advice or goal I think I’ve ever seen on this sub...

It is absolutely critical that both you and your husband discuss money and discuss it frequently and understand where it’s going, where it’s at, what it’s going to do long term, and what are the short term priorities.

You can kill a man, but you can't kill an idea.

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