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Ask Dave

Budget together

Cheryl and her husband are having money issues, and Dave thinks it's because they're not working together. He has lots of good advice for becoming one with money in a marriage.

QUESTION: Cheryl calls in from Buffalo, NY, with a question about budgeting. She gives herself and her husband $150 a month each for blow money to be used on whatever they want. She’s upset because he spends all his eating out, then he buys other things he wants that he has no money for. Cheryl asks Dave if she’s being too stingy, but Dave thinks there are other problems in the mix.

ANSWER: Well, I think you guys are handling your money poorly. I think you’re acting like his mother instead of his wife, and he’s acting like a little boy instead of a man. You don’t want to give your husband an allowance and then not be happy when he spends money “he didn’t have” because he went over what you dictated to him. That’s a bad budget process.

The budget process, if you’re the nerd in the family, should start with you writing it all out. Then he sits down with you, looks at it and okays it with you. He needs to understand that this is you asking him to man-up and carry the decisions with you, so that you can both be in agreement as to what’s best for the family. Then, stick to it.

Do you see the difference? That’s a big deal right there. In one sense you’re not going to like it, because right now you’ve got control of things. But in another sense, you’re probably tired of carrying all the weight of the decision making and being the only adult in the household.

I don’t even want him to work on it much. I want you to lay it all out, but I do expect him to sit down and go over it all with you. You’re not asking him to be an accountant with a pocket protector, but you should ask him to make the decisions about your family with you and then you two — together — agree to stick to them. That’s a whole lot more fun!