Home > People Who Aren't Frugal, Part IV (Final Installment)

People Who Aren't Frugal, Part IV (Final Installment)

April 30th, 2016 at 04:37 pm

This is the final installment featuring my friend H who is having such terrible money troubles.... I am so sad for him, and I can't really help that much.

He came over to my office on Wednesday. I am super busy and I didn't have a lot of time, but we figured out a couple of things.

1. He and his wife keep their finances pretty separate. (I am curious if any of you do this, too?). They even pay car insurance separately (which means, of course, no discount for two cars).

2. They are in the habit of wasting money because it's just easier (he has never gotten different quotes for insurance, for example, so even though he has access to USAA, they have never gotten a quote from them). He "thinks the comcast internet just went up" but he's not sure, and he hasn't called them to ask about promotions. Etc.

3. He pays for major things out of his paycheck (mortgage, etc) and her money (about a third of what they make) is mostly for "stuff." So about a third of their money is her discretionary money for clothes, toys for the kids, etc. He doesn't know at all how this money is spent, and last month she said she ran out of money and he gave her $430 from his account. They do not have a joint account at all. I said they need to have one account where they dump in their money and pay for joint things, and he said they tried that but his wife put the account in her own name, and he doesn't have access, so it was just her money and it didn't work as planned.

4. He had $500 for food last month and said that's about 1/3 of their food spending. So his wife spent about another $1000. That is $1500/month on food for a family of four. It's way more than double what we spend. He said there's a lot of eating out for convenience. Convenience seems to be a theme.

5. He had a new Honda Fit that his parents got him since his other car was so old, and when it was about 2 years old, the Honda dealer called him with a deal on a new Fit, and of course he went for it, so now he has a $300/month car payment for another two years.

6. Their biggest expense seems to be his wife's medical expenses. She doesn't have a major medical issue, but she does do massage and it means that her body is often sore. She has spent (he thinks) about $15,000 to $24,000 on medical expenses last year. I said I didn't think that the max. OOP was that high, and he said she likes alternative treatments and they aren't covered.

We came up with a little to-do list for him, but it will be a drop in the bucket compared to medical expenses and food.

I think he's really frustrated because his wife has most of the control over the money (since what he pays for is pretty much fixed). And he has no idea what she spends, and a lot of it is in cash.

Any ideas about what I can tell him that I haven't already?

11 Responses to “People Who Aren't Frugal, Part IV (Final Installment)”

  1. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Overwhelmingly, I just think they need to work together. Have common understanding, common striving, common goals, common SENSE!

  2. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    It sounds like they didn't have much of a money discussion before they got married ... I can't imagine doing our finances like that.

    Like Joan said - they need to work together. Get someone to watch the kids so they don't have any distractions, and maybe go away somewhere for a few days. Spend time going over the finances, discussing goals, and figuring out how to make things work to both of their satisfaction.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    Counseling is my first thought. Nothing can be changed if they don't have mutual goals.

    I hope you told him not to take any future offers for a new vehicle! Honda is definitely known for those, but as soon as you take it you have car payments. Get it paid off and drive it for a long while.

  4. Petunia 100 Says:

    I think separate finances are fine, but you still need joint goals. They should decide what their goals are, then decide how much each can contribute. And of course, they need a written budget.

    If money can be saved by having a single auto insurance policy, then they should do that. They can still split the cost, each paying a portion.

  5. creditcardfree Says:

    And he should definitely call USAA for insurance!

  6. tripods68 Says:

    That's just too sad. it reminds me of our first 5-6 years of marriage. We split the housing & expenses 50/50. But it didn't really work that well, we often argue about expenses, until we started listening to Dave Ramsey about sharing finances together. We combined our income into 1 checking account and savings. We started following a monthly budget zero based and we are communicating all every day, no secret. We are more happier than ever.

    I definitely a big proponent of combining asset and monthly budget. But I know it will take time.

  7. Buendia Says:

    You know - Dave Ramsey is exactly who they should listen to! One of my dreams is to call his show in a year and a half when our mortgage is paid off and scream that we're entirely, completely debt free!! One friend recommended Financially Ever After (a book she liked) about how to work out finances as a couple. Maybe he should lurk on SA for a while...

    And one more thing that I'm not sure I mentioned.... I dated H for about 6 years (20 years ago) and at the time I thought "He's not the kind of person you could ever SHARE a life with." So there you go... the sharing finances is hard for both of them because a shared life is hard for both of them. Aren't we all very glad that I didn't stay with him? (I know I am glad and so is D!!!!!)

  8. My English Castle Says:

    I echo what others say--communication! We've always combined finances, but I think separate can be ok if you talk through it. And I hate to say it because I like convenience a lot--but sometimes convenience is another word for laziness.

  9. Buendia Says:

    English Castle - I am going to quote you: "sometimes convenience is another word for laziness" - totally true!

  10. ceejay74 Says:

    Ouch. That's a lot of dysfunction. I suppose if he can't get his wife on board with sharing their discretionary money (their current arrangement seems super unfair), he should just work on getting those fixed expenses of his down. Although now that he's unemployed, won't she need to start covering those?

    My finances were pretty awful for many years, and they still aren't perfect, but being secretive about how much money I had with my partner was never part of it. So I wouldn't be sure how to advise someone who has kept them completely separate like that for so long.

    But it was nice of you to try and help!

  11. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    I'd go to counseling asap and tell wifey they will end up divorced and in the poor house asap. They will be the guy in the Atlantic secret shame post.

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