Joint finances

flatbrokeJuly 19, 2011

My wife and I have been together just 2 years. Her income is between 4 or 5 times the amount of mine. My income is from a pension and disability, due to 3 back surgeries. Although we talked about household finances prior to marriage we never completed a formula. Her first idea was that both of us contribute the same amount to a joint household account. The amount was more than I bring home. I explained when we first started dating that I was poor. She didn't care. Now she cares. Besides her income, we are foster parents and she receives income for our 2 girls. At present I am contributing about 45% of my income towards the household. After I pay my personal bills, I am flat broke at the end of every mouth. I suggested a percentage formula, where we both pay the same percentage but's not acceptable to her. She would be contributing 4 or 5 time more money than me, but the same percentage. I can't continue with the current formula. Any ideas? I don't want to lose my wife because I'm poor. I do all the housework, light yard work, laundry and take care of her pets. HELP

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Why not just pool all the money and expenses. It has worked in my house for years, we don't have separate money or expenses.

Do you care for the children, if so, why is it her money?

Her pets? I think for your marriage to prosper you both need to think of yourself as one unit, not her stuff or my stuff, it should be both of yours.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 7:21PM
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Sounds like there are more problems than just finances in this marriage....

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 7:46PM
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I think you two need some marriage counseling to help you work through negotiating this issue.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 9:17PM
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There are many paths up the mountain, so you have to find one that works for both of you. A marriage counselor might help, but they aren't always great when it comes to the brass tacks of making a budget.

I suggest you make a date to talk about a family budget and family goals. Get someone to watch the girls so you won't have interruptions and you don't have to worry about censoring yourselves. Both of you should bring a list of your financial priorities - eg saving for college, retirement funds for each of you, annual vacations, etc. You'll also need a list of the bills because those will need to be paid before you can work on the priorities. Then, the two of you should decide on what your joint financial priorities are and lay out a plan to achieve them based on your current incomes.

Ultimately though, you are too young to think you are going to spend the rest of your life on disability for a back problem. You apparently are never going to be a brick mason, but you can obviously type at a computer and have enough mobility to do housework. You need to find something productive with the talents you have - and that probably is going to require some training to develop new skills that are more technical and less physical.

There is a big difference between being poor, but working to get ahead vs being poor and resigned to that status for the rest of your life. I have a feeling your wife will become a lot more flexible about a short term budget if she sees you are working on a way to improve both of your long term prospects.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 9:01AM
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Honestly haven't got much of a wife. She, OTOH, has a great one - you.

You both need counseling, because she has trust issues and you have self-confidence issues.

Why should she change? Everything is set up perfectly for her. If I were in her shoes I wouldn't want things to change, either.

If you live in a community property state I would think she is terrified you might file for divorce. She would have to pay you alimony - my sister had to pay her ex alimony for four years.

Lose your wife because you're poor? I don't think you ever 'had' her to begin with. Harsh, I know, but I've been married for 37 yrs and it takes a lot of hard work and effort to stay committed to one another, even when a couple are best friends like DH and me. I would never put up with an unfair arrangement, and I would think less of DH if he did.

Respect = treating people well. How can you have love without it? The answer is, you can't. One person doing all the compromising isn't much of a marriage.

All too often, money is power in a relationship. You've let her have all the power. Either take your fair share back, or prepare to leave.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 1:24AM
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"I do all the housework, light yard work, laundry and take care of her pets."

"Besides her income, we are foster parents and she receives income for our 2 girls."

"Her income is between 4 or 5 times the amount of mine."

Do you do ALL of the housework? What chores is she responsible for inside (or outside of) the house?

How much does foster care pay for each child? Is this put into the joint account? Do you care for the girls while she is at work? Are they both in school?

Not sure about putting in a percentage of one's income but the fact that she makes 4 or 5 times more, (and thinks you need to contribute almost half of your income) doesn't sound fair.

Do either of you have debt from this marriage or before?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 3:58PM
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This is a case of "tit for tat" in a marriage. Marriage involves give and take, but it never comes out even all the time. She stepped into the situation knowingly, but now wants to change the scenario. Sit down and create a monthly budget and determine who's doing what to contribute to the household. Not everything is dollars.

My sister was married to a guy for decades. She was the breadwinner with a job that involved lots of travel and he was the house-husband who worked part-time but accommodated his schedule to meet the kids needs. He was a great dad. She always held it against him that he didn't step up to the plate more. When the kids got old enough she expected him to miraculously step into a high-paying job (in a down economy) so she could work less. The resentment escalated, they divorced.

You're defining yourself as poor, but do you have any goals or ambitions to change that? A back injury can curtail some careers but it leaves open the door to many other high paying ones that don't have physical demands. I find it ironic the excuses people sometimes give. We have a guy in our community who has "back issues", walks guardedly with a back brace and isn't working but yet a friend of mine witnessed him riding his motorcycle around. How's that work?

I don't understand the comment..."we are foster parents" and "she receives income for the two girls". It's a joint venture. The suggestion of a date night is great. From that date forward begin discussing everything as ours. Joint decision making. No his or hers. It appears counseling would help in this transition.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 9:55AM
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You think she should contribute more and you won't leave her because you would be poor? Sounds like you deserve each other.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 6:26PM
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vala55, I read as "he does not want to lose his wife only because of he is being poor". The reason he is being poor is because he is on disability with a part time job, carries most of the household work and contributes unfair share of his income.

I don't agree he deserves being treat as he is.

I agree with jkom51, OP, you don't have much of a wife and a healthy marriage. You are owned by a bully, slave owner who takes advantage of you. You are only two years into this relationship, don't have kid with her. You should make your long term plan and preserve your own self-respect.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 4:17AM
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