A constant source of frustration for me was that he often spent all our money and in order to spend on myself I needed his approval or risked getting into a fight. Everything seems fair and just from his perspective. He pays all of the bills with his check, so he should be able to spend on himself, he shouldn’t have to ask to spend his hard earned money (nor consult me for every little purchase), and I spend our money too – eating out, going to movies and concerts. Another point he likes to make is that I like those movies and concerts and that I don’t have to ask permission to spend my money. He also reminds of me of the few times he has agreed to budgeting terms but how we just couldn’t afford it and that wasn’t his fault. When all else fails, he makes sure to insist that I take equal blame for all bad budgeting and spending all our money.
Again, it all seems fair and just from his perspective. However when you look at it from my point of view, it’s not so fair to me. Let’s break it down.
1. He pays all the bills.
Let’s pretend that we each bring home $1000 a pay check, every two weeks, which is $2000 total (this isn’t our real finances, it’s just a demonstration). Let’s say that all our bills come up to $1000. Half of that is $500. If we both pay our half, we should each have $500 left over to spend on ourselves. Let’s say he pays all $1000 of bills with his full check and he has nothing left. I owe him $500 of my check, which should still leave me with $500 left over for myself. That doesn’t happen, so how is it fair that the vast majority, if not all of it, ends up being his?
Let’s pretend that he makes more than me (which he didn’t) – he brings home $1000 and I bring home $700. Again, if he pays all the bills and I owe him $500, that still leaves me with $200 free to spend on myself. I’d understand if I brought home only enough money to pay him back for my part of bills and that left nothing over for me.. but that’s not the way it was. I made more money than him. So why did all our money go to him?
Furthermore, as a married couple I was of the opinion that regardless of who made more money it was a pool to share. We pay all the bills and then split the leftovers. He agreed, but I figure that’s because I made more money and if we split it my way, he gets to spend more on himself. For example: Let’s say I bring home $1200 and he brings home $1000, which gives us a pool of $2200. He uses his whole check to pay $1000 in bills. My part is $500 which means I have $700 left to spend on myself and he has $500. If we do it my way, after he pays the $1000 in bills, we split the left over $1200 evenly and we each get $600 to spend on ourselves. Again, I ask, why did all our money go to him?
2. He shouldn’t have to ask to spend his hard earned money.
He’s right. It’s his money. He should be able to spend his hard earned money. He pays the bills and that sounds perfectly fair. However, he should have to ask to spend MY hard earned money. He has no right to spend MY money. Furthermore, if you are going to call it “our” money, then we should discuss how best to spend it.
In a marriage, it’s perfectly acceptable to discuss how and when to spend OUR money. Funny how it’s “our money” when it benefits him, but it’s “HIS money” when I try to budget anything. We were always broke and couldn’t save money unless it was for something he wanted. We were trying to get a house for years, because we couldn’t budget. He refused to actually sit down and create a plan of action. When I did manage to get him to agree to a plan of action, he simply wouldn’t follow through.
I wasn’t asking to have full control over “our” money nor did I ever want or ask for control of HIS money. I wanted to budget together as a couple, or at the very least have control of MY money.
3. He shouldn’t have to consult me for every little purchase.
Right, but I wasn’t trying to micromanage every cent and he’s not just spending a few bucks here and there. Sure, those nerdy shirts cost about $10 a piece, but when you buy 6 of them, it’s $60 not $10. Sure, you only spent $20 today, but you spent $60 yesterday. All those charges add up and the running total in this example is $140. Let’s be honest, his tastes are expensive and he often spends a lot more than that.
We’re not arguing about micromanaging a few bucks or $20 here and there. We are arguing about a LOT of spending here. We brought home enough money to pay our bills, each spend on ourselves, and save money too.
4. I spend our money eating out, going to movies and concerts.
Actually, we went to food places, movies, and concerts that HE wanted. Heck, when the three of us (Me, him, and our bestfriend) were trying to choose a place to eat, he would ask us where we want to eat and then shoot down every single suggestion. Often times, he’d get angry at our choices because it’s not where he wanted to go. So we started to tell him, NO – you pick a place! And, surprise, he’d be angry because we’re making him pick a place. Really, he wanted us to make the decision to go where he wanted to go. That way, we couldn’t argue that we always ate where he wanted to eat, because “we” picked it. This was pretty much how everything happened with him.
If we could only afford to see one movie per pay period, we would see what he wanted to see. Sure, he’ll argue that I picked the movie, but what he fails to mention is that he gives me the choices. We can see A, B, or C. If I say I want to go to see E, he’d say he doesn’t want to and it’s only fair that we see a movie we both like. Okay sure, that is fair. If we couldn’t agree on one we both liked, he’d get upset and we’d get into a fight and then he’d either go see it anyway, or make a deal that we’ll see what I want next time but then that never actually happens. The point is, I don’t get to pick what I want… I have to pick something he wants.
The last two times that I wanted to go to a concert that were bands I loved and he wasn’t interested in… I couldn’t go because we didn’t have money for it. Some how we manage to have money for his concerts but some how just can’t budget for the ones I want to go to. He feels really bad about it because he really wants me to be able to go to the concerts I like.
Furthermore, I don’t consider this spending on “me”. I was spending money on spending time with my husband eating at the places he wanted to eat at, seeing the movies he wanted to see, and going to the concerts he wanted to go to. Everything revolved around what he wanted, never what I wanted, and yet somehow he managed to convince himself that this was fair.
5. Another point he likes to make is that I like those movies and concerts.
I loved sharing in his hobbies and doing what he loves… I just wished he loved doing that for me too. I didn’t enjoy every movie and every concert, but I made the best of it and I had fun. I just felt like it was always about his fun and I had to conform to that. The only time I got to do or see something that I really loved, was if he loved it too (or it was a special occasion).
It’s just like the lesson he had to learn about buying me Christmas presents. I’d tell him what I wanted for Christmas, but then he wouldn’t get me anything that I wanted and instead would buy something like an Xbox and buy games he likes and then he’d be the one playing all the time. He was constantly buying things that he wanted and passing them off as gifts for me. He eventually figured this out and actually put some thought into his gift giving. However, this is only an example of how the truth is twisted.
I love cupcakes way more than donuts… but I do like donut. Does this mean that I should never get to have cupcakes because his favorite is donuts? Is it right to bully me into going to the donut shop every time we go out for desert and then when I complain that I never get to have cupcakes, his argument is that I like donuts too? That’s stupid! No this isn’t about cupcakes vs donuts, it’s just a way to visual my point of view.
He can argue that he hates cupcakes and it’s only fair that we go for donuts since we both like them, but it’s not as easy as that. If I don’t like donuts and that’s what he really wants, he’ll get mad and not be in the mood for anything. So either I give in to his temper tantrum or we get no desert at all. The whole point is that it’s always his way. The times that we did stuff that was uniquely for me, it was a special occasion, while it was common practice to do everything he loved.
6. He insists that I don’t have to ask permission to spend my money.
No, I don’t… but there are consequences if I do. First of all, there are plenty of times that I didn’t ask to spend my money but I was told “No.” I would put something in the cart or comment that I wanted something I was told “No.” He even liked to say “I won’t buy you that unless…” – referring to camera’s or other artist technology. I said I wanted it, not that you have to buy it for me or that I need your approval to do so. It’s comments like those that made me feel like he was in total control of our, or my, money. He didn’t want me to buy expensive things without justification to his liking, but he bought whatever expensive technology he wanted.
Is it wrong that he wanted me to take photography classes before getting an expensive camera? No, but the point is that he consistently dictated how I was permitted to spend our money while there was no restrictions on himself. Being told I don’t have to ask permission didn’t stop him from telling me no.
I got fed up and would just do what I wanted and if it was the last of our money or he couldn’t afford to do what he wanted to do, I guarantee you it was a huge argument and it was my fault. Any time I wanted to spend on myself, we couldn’t afford it. In fact, there have been many times when we “can’t afford” what I wanted, but then a day later he could afford to get or do what he wanted. When I confronted him, it was that we couldn’t afford than, but then there was a reason why we suddenly had money (miscalculation, found money in the coat pocket, a bill was discounted, etc). So then why did you spend it knowing I wanted something? I forgot. How convenient for you.
It’s one thing if it’s just an honest mistake, but it’s not. It happens far too often to be passed off as innocent. It’s selfish and manipulative. If he was honestly forgetting about my desires that often, then he honesty didn’t care about what I wanted over his own desires.
7. He also reminds of me of the few times he has agreed to budgeting terms but how we just couldn’t afford it and that wasn’t his fault.
Sure, he agreed… but he didn’t follow through. He used his arsenal of tactics to get his way. This included yelling at me that he doesn’t feel like talking about right now, and then proceeds to do or spend whatever he wants even if it’s in direct contradiction of the agreed upon plan. By the time he wants to talk about it, the money is gone… but he never gets to the point where he feels like talking about it.
We agreed to use tax refund money to save up for getting a house, in addition to taking out a certain amount from our checks after bills are paid. We agreed that we’d pay bills on pay day first thing in the morning and then we’d withdraw the agreed upon amount out of the bank and put it away for safe keeping. There was always an excuse preventing us from withdrawing money. As more and more money is nickel and dimed out of our account we would fight about it and eventually it’d all be gone.
Saying I could have just gone and pulled it out is just another manipulative way to pretend it’s not your fault. You help yourself to the money in my pockets and bag and if I hide the money it’s the biggest fight of the night. How dare I hide OUR money. There’s that convenient word again…. “our” money. He would very quickly throw it in my face that I’d be angry if he was withdrawing lots of money and/or hiding it from me. He’s right, I would be, because he’d be spending on himself which is the whole damned point! If he was withdrawing money and hiding to save up the money to get the house, then I’d have been very surprised and happy that we had the money to get the house. I wouldn’t have been angry at all in that situation!
Agreeing to the plan means nothing if you refuse to follow through, and that’s your fault.
8. When all else failed, he made sure to insist that I take equal blame for all bad budgeting and spending of all our money.
It’s not that I don’t make mistakes or like to spend. It’s not that I didn’t do things with our money that I shouldn’t have. However, I honestly don’t feel that I’m equally responsible, given that the majority of our money is spent by him and his way. I was constantly opting not to buy things in favor of saving up money, but when all the money I chose not to spend ended up spent on him, I got tired of it. So yes, I eventually got fed up and would spend on myself. For example, I’d buy fabric and stuff for the toys that I love to make. The funny thing here, is that I sell my toys! My hobby reimburses us over time.
I was constantly trying to make the right decision and negotiate how to budget, but all these fights and manipulative bullying was just too much. My choices were to do the right thing and watch him spend it all, or buy things for myself whether he liked it or not and expect an argument. There was no winning with him. There was no compromise. I refuse to take blame for his stubborn selfishness. I don’t like to put the full blame on him and because of this, I often accepted blame in effort to make things better, but the truth is I am not equally to blame.
Without him, I am doing all the things I’d been begging him to do. I budget like a pro. I have my bills planned out. I pay my bills the morning of pay day. I budget in groceries, savings, and play money. Then I withdraw the money I’m trying to save, put a post it note on it for what it’s for, then put it in the lock box. When my best friend lent me the deposit to hold the apartment I wanted, and I was able to pay him back. I currently have money set aside for a trip to Little Rock this weekend, for a convention next month, for the New Orleans fund for September, $40 in a sick fund, $30 in my work desk, $25 set aside for laundry day, gas money for the car, and then I bought my groceries and I have a little bit left over to last me until this friday’s pay day.
It feels really good to be able to budget, save, and spend on myself on what I really want to have and do. This experience has taught me three things:
1. My way was the right way.
2. He was wrong, controlling, and manipulative.
3. I’ll never allow someone to control my money again. I’m not opposed to trying the marital funds pool again, but only if it’s fair and equally managed.