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My SO and I have financial difficulties like a lot of marriages do. I am the main breadwinner (previously the sole until my SO started watching this little girl at our home weekly). I make just enough to get by each month with maybe $50 leftover. However, due to a car being totaled last year not covered under insurance and some other legal and health expenses, we have no savings and are over $20,000 in debt. With being current on all our bills, we still have that about $50 leftover. My SO and I talk about holiday spending. We spent over $100 on Halloween decorations. We've already spent over a couple hundred dollars on Christmas. I know we're going to spend a couple hundred more just on that. My SO wants to do Black Friday and Cyber Monday for our 3 kids and whatnot, but I'm kind of fed up with it. I told her earlier this year (I guess semi-joking, but definitely serious) that I would be okay if we got the kids just one large toy (under $200) and maybe each of them a couple tiny toys (no more than $50 in total each child). My SO, I suppose, took that information and just shoved it out her ears because even after she told the parents of the child she's watching that she'd need to be paid more for the work she's doing (only getting paid $130 to watch this 4 y/o girl over 50 hours a week!), I still haven't seen any of that money go towards any bill. Not a one. She says she's buying presents for extended family. I understand that she really wants to be in the spirit, but while she's getting in the spirit, I feel like I'm triaging our finances with tourniquets and hardly making progress.

I don't even really know what I'm asking for here. This is my first post, and I really needed to get that out. However, any and all advice or information- except the sarcastic and negative kind- is appreciated.
 

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I think that is plenty to spend on your children. Does your wife know your financial situation? I would sit down with her and show her the numbers. Tell her your plan and not joke about it. As for the other members in both of your families suggest drawing names so you can cut down on spending. You both cannot afford to spend a lot of money on the holidays and she needs to realize this.

Once the holidays are over you should be using the money she makes to start paying off your debt. Once the debt is paid off your can start saving money. She can earn more money but taking in more children. She should be charging a lot more to watch the children.
 

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You need a serious conversation with your wife that clarifies:

1. The serious financial situation you are in (you barely cover your bills and have no savings - which means you are one major incident away from bankruptcy).
2. Your expectation that she contribute meaningfully to the household finances on an ongoing basis (not just foregoing Christmas gifts).

It is not uncommon for a woman to think "the bills are a man's responsibility - my money is for me". I'm not saying that is your situation. But, by having the talk noted above you cover that possibility.
 

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In your situation, I believe I'd go lean on the Christmas presents and make the season memorable in other ways that don't cost much but are more significant. Bake cookies, go sledding, volunteer at a soup kitchen with the kids. Help them make gifts. Christmas is one day but paying bills is 365.
 

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Why doesn't she work outside the home? Until you guys get on solid financial footing (20K paid off, some money saved) she should. ($100 on Halloween decor? Really? That was fiscally irresponsible.)

Meanwhile, I'd sit down with her to make a list of people you want to give gifts to and what you'd like to give them and/or spend on them. Then look at debt and extra money (minimal) and see where you can cut. Neighbors/teachers/friends/extended family - baked goods are fine and the kids can help.

Although money can sometimes be saved for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, doesn't it seem like a good idea to teach the kids that holidays aren't all about money? I mean, Thanksgiving you are thinking of the things you are thankful for and then rush out the next day to buy stuff?
 
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