Working On A Bad System

Chris is calling because his wife likes to overpay on their debts. She often pays so much on the debt that there is nothing left to live on. Dave says they need a budget to get control of this.

QUESTION: Chris in Kansas is calling because his wife likes to overpay on their debts. She often pays so much on the debt that there is nothing left to live on. Dave says they need a budget to get control of this.

ANSWER: You need a budget. Why don’t you sit down together tonight and do a budget? Lay out what you’re making this month, you need this much for food, this much for lights and water, this much for the house payment, and that leaves this much to put on the debt.

You’ve got a bad system. Ask her for her help in figuring it out. We’re going to do a written monthly budget. We’re both going to be in agreement on it. She has a say, and you have a say. Every dollar has a name. That’s a contract. When it’s done, it’s a pinkie swear and spit shake we’re sticking to this. If you do anything else with money, I’m going to kill you. This is the deal. This is all we have right here. This is what we’re doing. If we’re going to change this, we both have to agree. You can’t just change it. Once you’ve got that done, money that can be squeezed out of the budget before you pay extra on the debt, the first thing you need to do is Baby Step 1 with $1,000 saved—a little baby emergency fund so if the tires blow out or little things happen, it doesn’t mess up your grocery money.

Once you’ve got that, the next thing is Baby Step 2 where you list your debts smallest to largest, pay minimum payments on everything but the little one, and every dollar you can squeeze out of the budget after your basics are met, you attack that smallest debt energetically like she wants to.

If you and your wife sit down and have a written game plan and you both agree to it and then she goes and does something else, you don’t have a financial problem. You’ve got a wife who’s a psychopath. She can’t keep her word. But that’s not what you’re doing. You’re not clearly communicating and coming into agreement. You’ve just kind of got your idea, she’s got her idea, and never the twain shall meet. A written budget before the month begins—we agree on it. That’ll solve your problem.

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