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Ask Dave

Balance Rebuilding With Repaying

James and his wife are fighting through marriage problems, and have money issues to boot. Should he take an extra job to pay the debt or spend time at home?

QUESTION: James and his wife are on Baby Step 1. Over the last few months, they’ve started to rebuild their marriage. He didn’t know what their debts were until the last couple of weeks, and now he knows he’ll have to work extra jobs to pay on the $40,000 in debt. His wife wants him to stay at home to work on their marriage. What should he do?

ANSWER: I would defer to your counselor and your wife. The number one cause of divorce is money fights and money problems. The problem you guys had was you just didn’t deal with it at all. Dealing with it will create a lot of communication. What you do with money says a lot about who you are, and that really gives you the ability to communicate priorities through how you spend your money. You can then work together and attack your common problems together, and in this case that’s the money.

I think you’re going to be in this mess if you choose to never earn any extra income at any point during this process. Her concern about time together is a valid concern, but a year from now, you guys need to have moved on enough to where you can get an extra job. Maybe in this month, while you guys are in the freshness of rebuilding, maybe you put off the extra jobs for a month or two.