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Christian Living

Finance

Dave Says: Marriage and Money

Dave Says
Author Biography

Dear Dave,

My husband and I have been through your Financial Peace University class. I’ve always been the numbers nerd, although he’s catching on and doing pretty well. But he has a Harley-Davidson he bought a few years ago before we got married, and he still owes $7,000 on it. My common sense says we need to sell it, but he doesn’t want to even though we haven’t been riding in over a year. What should I do?

Gina

Dear Gina,

Well, it sounds like he’s making progress and we don’t want to ruin that. So here’s the question: if you win the Harley battle, do you lose relationship war? In other words, if you force him to give up the motorcycle, will it damage the marriage and the progress he’s made toward getting out of debt and learning how to handle money?

If I were you, Gina, I’d first sit down with him and tell him how proud I am for the way he’s trying to improve the financial situation in your home. Then, I’d suggest that the Harley is a stumbling block to your shared financial goals. Ask him what he’d be willing to do to get the motorcycle paid off more quickly. Would he pick up a part-time job, or maybe sacrifice something else he’s spending money on and get the Harley paid off in six months?

But let him know the motorcycle isn’t really the issue. The issue is that you guys need a plan to get this $7,000 debt out of your life. And who knows? Maybe when the debt is gone, you guys will feel good enough to saddle up and start riding again!

Dave

 

Dear Dave,
We have three kids and are under a mountain of debt. I keep talking to my husband about the problem, but he brushes it aside and keeps on spending whenever he likes. It’s almost like he gets high when he’s buying something. I try to budget and we get by, but I’m scared. I was wondering when it’s time to call it quits in a situation like this.
Ellen

Dear Ellen,
I don’t think it’s time to end the marriage unless he’s some kind of addict and the family is literally being destroyed by his obsessive-compulsive shopping. What you’ve got here is a spender who is immature.

You’re right about one thing: spenders DO get an emotional high when they make a purchase. This is registered physically as well as mentally. Their skin temperature changes, their pupils dilate and endorphins are released in the brain. In other words, they get excited.

Maybe the idea is to get him excited about other things. Ask him to sit down with you when it’s time to do the next budget, and show him on paper how his spending is affecting your financial future. Spenders are often so into the next toy or gadget that grabs their attention that they don’t realize how it all adds up. It’s like death by a thousand cuts!

Lay it out in front of him, and explain what it’s doing to your finances AND your marriage. Let him know you’re afraid, too, and how this overspending keeps you two from being able to do other things that are really important AND really fun.

“Stuffitis” is not an incurable disease. Most of the time it just takes a little education and growing up to get past it all.
- Dave

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