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Stingy husband


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I desperately need advice, please.

 

I love my husband dearly, and it feels like he loves me too. He's got a lot of good qualities.

 

However, he has got to be the stingiest b****** this world has ever seen. It’s as if he’s innately reluctant, almost physically and mentally incapable, of parting company with money.

 

We are married, have separate bank accounts, both work full time and earn about the same. We’re OK off; not excessively rich but certainly not poor.

My husband is very price aware, if not thrifty. While my husband does contribute, I feel I end up paying the lion’s share of our expenses, simply because he is so intuitively slow to stick his hand in his pocket. Household bills usually don’t get paid until I pay them. He’s usually not got any cash on him.

 

Sometimes his behaviour drives me crazy.

 

Such as now for instance.

 

We’ve got two cars and he normally takes the bigger one (as he commutes every day, whereas I work from home some days). However, this morning, I was surprised to discover that he’d taken the little car, leaving the big one to me. When I stepped inside and saw the petrol indicator, I understood why. It was running low on fuel, so basically, in his constant endeavour to avoid spending, he’d left me to fill it up. He hadn’t asked me, just left it with me.

It’s not the only example; it’s as if he just cannot bring himself to give out his pennies.

 

We’ve been together for a long time – over 20 years – but this part of his personality still drives me crazy now and then.

 

I’ve tried to raise it gently in the past, but he always denies it and makes me looking like the bad one who’s keeping track of who pays for what. Sometimes it ends up as an argument, so I’m very reluctant to raise it again.

 

What can I do to get him to more willingly stick his hand in his pocket?

 

On a good day, I don’t worry about it. At least we’ve got enough between us to have an OK life. And I think that if we were ever to get divorced (not that we’ve got any plans) or he died then at least I’d get my share of his savings (he must have a lot!)

 

Other days, I feel angry, hurt, and as if I’m being taken for a ride.

 

What shall I do?

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You don't know about his savings despite being married to him? Are you sure he has money on his accounts and isn't spending it somewhere else and so he never has money and so he leaves it to you to pay the bills? I'm not saying that's the case but I feel that there's lack of financial disclosure in your marriage by what you're telling.

 

Can't you two create a joint account where you both deposit a monthly value (same monthly value for both) and you take from there to pay bills?

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Thank you, Annia, for your thoughts. I much appreciate it. And I suppose in theory you could be right, but I just think he's too stingy to spend on anything. It's a great idea what you suggest, to have a joint account, and I have suggested this to him a couple of times in the past. However, he doesn't want to, and I think it may be because he doesn't like the feeling of not being in control of his expenses. It's quite obvious when he's in a taxi. He gets tense and agitated looking at the metre rolling, not knowing what it'll end on. So I think it's the lack of control he fears with a joint account, i.e. me spending it on spoiling the kids, which I am inclined to do more then he does. :). Many thanks for your reply.

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Well....I mean you've been living like this for 20 years and a quality about him you've accepted. He isn't going to change now and your marital dynamic won't change either. Despite that, you guy managed to have a good and comfortable life together, you obviously pay your bills as a couple and so on. Yes, these things can be frustrating and personally I couldn't manage to deal with a person like that, but clearly you can. So more power to you and I mean that as a compliment to you.

 

Still.....you are married, so there is no your money or his money, it's both of your money. The financial secrecy can be dangerous from a practical standpoint. Yes, hopefully you know your husband and he is just stingy and saving up a fortune. However, you might not know him well enough and he might be gambling every penny away, be neck deep in debt and you'll be jointly liable for whatever once the poo hits the fan. Unfortunately, I've seen the latter scenario happen in various forms more than once. You don't need to share accounts if that's how it is, but you are both accountable to each other about marital funds, assets, and liabilities. You need to know these things and that's not negotiable.

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Household bills usually don’t get paid until I pay them.

 

I was surprised to discover that he’d taken the little car, leaving the big one to me. When I stepped inside and saw the petrol indicator, I understood why. It was running low on fuel, so basically, in his constant endeavour to avoid spending, he’d left me to fill it up.

 

What shall I do?

 

In all fairness, the empty tank could have also been due to laziness to go to the petrol station. My dad does that to my mom sometimes because she keeps enabling him. LOL. Having said that, I fully sympathize with you to the point that I would not have entered a marriage under these terms. The thing is though that it sounds like you also allow yourself to be taken for a ride. It might be a good idea to stop that. It might sound petty but if you can't beat him you could join him i.e. a) you could stop filling up that car tank, only put the minimal amount needed to do your job and then return it to him the way he left it b)demand that the household bills are split as deemed fair and stick to it no-matter what. You let him take you for a ride and then resent him for it, yet it sounds like you keep enabling him. People treat you as bad as you allow them to. It sounds like you need to set up some kind of mutually agreed upon system when it comes to paying shared household expenses and then stop stepping in whenever he comes short no-matter what. Maybe arrange to give him half the money and ask him that he pays the bills? Imo, you can reinforce certain boundaries through actions without uttering a single word. You might end up with a late payment fine once or twice but imo in time he might get the message. At the very least, your husband needs some retraining. Can it be done after 20 years of enabling him? No idea. He certainly wouldn't like it but if this resentment is hurting your marriage, it might worth a try. At the end of the day, it's about cost-benefit.

Edited by Clio
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Thank you, Annia, for your thoughts. I much appreciate it. And I suppose in theory you could be right, but I just think he's too stingy to spend on anything. It's a great idea what you suggest, to have a joint account, and I have suggested this to him a couple of times in the past. However, he doesn't want to, and I think it may be because he doesn't like the feeling of not being in control of his expenses. It's quite obvious when he's in a taxi. He gets tense and agitated looking at the metre rolling, not knowing what it'll end on. So I think it's the lack of control he fears with a joint account, i.e. me spending it on spoiling the kids, which I am inclined to do more then he does. :). Many thanks for your reply.

 

That's weird because in a joint account where you both deposite the same amount of money, he has control of exactly how much money he's spending on your bills and that way you're both sure both are contributing.

 

If he really doesn't want it, you can give him half of the bill you have to pay and let him pay it. That way he's obligated to put half of his money in order to pay it.

 

But I'd suggest hiring a financial advisor that can look into both of you accounts and access plus debts to create a financial plan for both of you. That way, if he's issue is that he's stingy, he can relax because a professional is helping you both to save the maximum you can and ensuring money is spent effectively. It can also be discussed how much each one of you will save each month after receiving salary and paying debts. You could try to present him this idea in a constructive way reinforcing that it's for the good of your finances and so that both can save more money. If he is reluctant that you and/or a financial advisor gets to know how much money he has, then I'd be worried. You don't need to have access to his accounts, but a married couple needs to know each other's financial situation with transparency so that they can plan their future accordingly. He can't deny disclosure of this to his wife.

 

It might also be useful to get some therapy to get to the root of the issue of why he's so attached to money if that's the case here. And also explain to him that his way of dealing with money is affecting your relationship and building mutual resentment.

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It sounds like you have tried everything to get him to be the generous man you need. Almost.

 

Sometimes you have to use tough love. Threaten to leave him if he won't open a joint account and help more with the expenses. Let's see what he does with that!

 

And I don't mean just say it too him - I mean walk out and stay with friends or family or at a motel.

 

What he's doing is slacking in the romance department - and women need romance to stay in love.

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a) you could stop filling up that car tank, only put the minimal amount needed to do your job and then return it to him the way he left it b)demand that the household bills are split as deemed fair and stick to it no-matter what. You let him take you for a ride and then resent him for it, yet it sounds like you keep enabling him

 

Those were my thoughts too. Only put enough petrol in for where you're wanting to go. He needs to be a responsible man and share in costs.

No need to be aggressive, but each month gently tell him that his share of the electricity bill is such and such amount, same with all the other bills.

 

I don't know if you'd ever take it this far, but not paying on a bill and having the electricity go out, might startle him back to reality. Not suggesting that you do that, but he does sound like a hard case.

 

I've seen gamblers behave like this. I do wonder if he's being stingy for a reason. You never see his account, and he seems to be keeping his money to himself for some reason.

I would really be questioning that.

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It sounds like you have tried everything to get him to be the generous man you need. Almost.

 

Sometimes you have to use tough love. Threaten to leave him if he won't open a joint account and help more with the expenses. Let's see what he does with that!

 

And I don't mean just say it too him - I mean walk out and stay with friends or family or at a motel.

 

What he's doing is slacking in the romance department - and women need romance to stay in love.

 

EDit: an alternative to going away for awhile would be to cut off sex. When he asks you, "What's wrong?" - that's your cue to have a heart-to-heart conversation about him being cheap.

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You're fully being taken advantage of. I've never heard of people having only separate accounts after marrying for so long. A marriage is a TEAM dynamic and it's really unfair that you're paying more of the bills. What the hell? Other women are contributing less, nothing at all or at least a similar amount- YOU on the other hand financially keep the situation afloat.

 

I could never handle a stingy man. Stingy with money equals stingy with emotions. It's such a big issue, I'd think if he doesn't pull his weight and open up to you about necessary things, it's time to reconsider this marriage.

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Me and my husband have separate bank accounts too. I split the expenses 50/50. What I do is calculate what everything costs monthly...I propose a flat rate, and he puts it into my account every month, I pay the bills. This is something that would make things easier. Just show him the list of household expenses : heat, electricity, cable, internet, property taxes, mortgage, groceries, house insurance. Total it up, and cut it in half, tell him to transfer that amount into your account each month. Keep it short and sweet...tell him to do it or else he will be living on his own.

 

As for the car...take the keys away.

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My ex H was a debt-aholic. Seriously, money was like heroin to him. I took me years to realize I was part of the problem. I enabled him, grumbled about it, felt resentful and lost sleep over how I was going to manage all the debt and put out the fires.

 

What he was doing worked for him. There were no consequences. Until one day I literally and symbolically threw a stack of about a 12 bills, most of them delinquent all over the kitchen floor, at his feet. 17 years of trying to fix it, I told him I didn't break it.

I wasn't going to fix it any more.

That was pretty much the beginning of the end of our marriage.

 

And, when I wasn't looking he'd take my car too. I started hiding the keys.

 

To this day he's still the same. The money matrix attitude runs deep and I don't believe you can get that to change.

 

I do agree with a joint account. Of course he doesn't want it and it's basically been on his terms the entire time.

But there are two of you in this marriage. Not just him.

You just need to insist on a change. What you are doing isn't work and something needs to give.

 

You think it's rough now, try to divide assets in a divorce with someone like this.

Trust me, you'll be in for the ride of your life.

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Me and my husband have separate bank accounts too. I split the expenses 50/50. What I do is calculate what everything costs monthly...I propose a flat rate, and he puts it into my account every month, I pay the bills. This is something that would make things easier. Just show him the list of household expenses : heat, electricity, cable, internet, property taxes, mortgage, groceries, house insurance. Total it up, and cut it in half, tell him to transfer that amount into your account each month. Keep it short and sweet...tell him to do it or else he will be living on his own.

 

Same here. Well, similar. What usually happens is he pays up front for everything but the rent (like grocery shopping, utilities, restaurants, vacations, etc). We keep all of the receipts for all of these joint expenses. At least once a month, we sit down and go through everything. Then, we deduct my half of the expenses from his half of the rent. I write the rent check, and everything is reset to zero until the next month.

 

We've been doing it for as long as we've been living together, which is I guess about four years now. It's actually brought us closer together as a couple, just to be able to openly discuss our expenses. That, and cooking! Cooking together has also brought us closer. These things are like exercises that keep us in the practice of working together.

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Excellent suggestions. Simply make it fair and make it happen rather than talking, which of course he's learned to tune out as "nagging". No action on your part means no change on his part.

 

Miserly personalities are difficult to deal with. So are passive-aggressive procrastinators, etc. For those aspects of this scenario talk to a therapist privately and confidentially to learn how to best manage that. Often it's more than just about money. Keep in mind, money and attitudes toward it are symbolic of many other things

 

Stop talking and start doing things such as these suggestions as well as see a financial adviser and accountant on your own. Start you own accounts and credit cards in your own name. Stop subscribing to the "the man handles the finances" mentality and start doing things on your own.

Put everything on a spreadsheet.

 

Pay half of it.

 

Give him the spreadsheet - and tell him to pay the other half.

 

If he doesn't, start canceling things. Cable TV. The land line phone (does anyone have those any more?).

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If you create 3 accounts instead of just His and Hers by adding Ours as the account the meets your household budget for expenses and shared investments, then he needs to meet his share of the obligation to meet that monthly before putting any of his own money aside. Based contributions to the Ours account on percentages of salary.

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