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I am here because I don't know where else to turn. I will go over our story as brief but clearly as I can.

My husband and I are about $30,000 in debt, give or take. (Plus the mortgage, of course.) I am a mother to four going on five children. (I didn't plan on having another, I tried hard to prevent it and it still happened, although my husband wants more still.)

We have crazy monthly bills with a line of credit, credit cards, another huge loan with some lending company, retirement loans that come out of the work paycheck each month, etc. It comes down to this. I have begged my husband for pretty much our whole marriage to get rid of credit cards. He is finally reading Dave Ramsey's book and says he likes it but yet he still refuses to give up credit cards. I know him like the back of my hand (been together over a decade) and do not believe that he, nor most people for that matter can handle credit cards and get out of debt at the same time. I would have liked to have no credit cards from day one.

I am a very frugal mom, to the utmost extent I can be. I shop completely at thrift stores for my kids clothes, or garage sales (which are even cheaper). They get one gift for birthdays usually. Christmas is almost free because we do a community toy exchange for Christmas. We don't even get school pictures usually. This year we broke down and got some for my daughter as her first batch of school pictures in 2nd grade. We never get book order stuff or fundraisers or anything like that or book fairs.

It's not just the kids I'm frugal about. I have not bought a pair of shoes for myself in more than about three years. I just make do with what I have and I have been able to find $3-$5 shoes at Walmart at certain times of the year. They're not my favorite, but they are shoes. I never get my hair done like a lot of other ladies do. My hair is usually just long and plain. If I want a haircut, I do it myself. I do repairs around the house even by using the internet to help me learn how. I can't even go into the various ways I save because there are so many.

Now, on to my husband. He has always just bought things at top dollar. He has been a major spendaholic when it has come to books, (you should see our library) CD's, Sports clothing and shoes (you should see the shoe collection), DVD's, and anything else he wants. He has made many purchases without even asking me, even though I have made it VERY clear that I expect him to talk to me first. I'm talking big things like a van, an IPad, thousands of dollars worth of furniture, and even loaned someone tens of thousands of dollars in a loan without talking to me, as well as many other smaller loans to others over the years that I had no idea about until years later.

Well, obviously, we are drowning in debt. He is actually doing a lot better on spending right now than he used to be doing, but only out of necessity. Like I said, he has been reading Dave Ramsey's book, and *says* he has the gazelle intensity described. But I am of the opinion he only feels that way because he has to have that momentum right now or we drown. He refuses to ever give up credit cards. I think he is afraid to do it and a lot of his purchase have come out of anxiety. We do have some definite anxiety issues with us and our children have developed some too.

So the dilemma I am facing is this. He wants me to go back to work. But yet this will be an enormous sacrifice with me about to have a baby soon. Mostly I am concerned about the sacrifice on the kids at having me gone. They have already had to go through so much (and had to move so many times because of our up and down finances and job changes). It's definitely not that I am lazy or adverse to work. Any mom of four kids knows that!!! It would be a brake to work compared to what I do as a mom. I would be willing to do pretty much anything if I saw that much Gazelle momentum in him. But not if it means giving up being there for my kids for something that I do not believe will last. It's like I'm trying to bail him out of his irresponsible spending that we all have to suffer for (and have for years) to get out of debt when he's not willing to give up his debt-producing ways. I also think that even if we managed to get out of debt, it wouldn't stay. We were out of debt one time in our marriage a few years ago after we sold our house for a good profit, and paid off all debts. But guess how long it lasted? Not long. Because we still had the credit cards, and the debt has gradually gotten worse and worse as he's brought in more and more loans for not living within our means.

Anyway, we've been getting in a ton of arguments lately, so bad it's gotten to the point of me just wanting to leave the house when he is here because I don't want to argue in front of the kids. I'm tired of the arguing. I do see changes in him right now, but his trust with me right now is about zero, and not being willing to give up the credit cards definitely doesn't help my trust level at all. I just don't know where to turn and just feel like giving up. On top of it all, I get people who really don't know all of these details judging left and right about why we are in the situation we are in. I hardly ever tell people what is really going on because my husband is very sensitive to what people think about him, very reactive and it takes away any motivation he might have to change when he feels judged and he can usually tell when people are judging him. I don't know, it's just all so complicated and I'm just so down right now, not knowing if there is anyway to deal with all of this.
 

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You should record all income and spending in personal finance software or at least on a spreadsheet. Basic finance software is very cheap or even free (service of bank or whatever).

You can't solve your problem until you organize things and understand what money is going where. If he resists recording every last dollar, then agree an amount of 'mad money' that you both have per month (e.g. $100). You can spend this with no recording on things like coffee, movies, etc. Everyone else must be recorded and everything will be accounted for at the end of the month. You can create a spending/income report at the end of the month and discuss monthly 'performance' together each month. At first it will be difficult but you'll do much better as you go. Agree how you will buy certain categories of things. I suggest:

-every day stuff like coffee, etc with cash (see above) - this is taken out via ATM per week or month and not exceeded.
-bigger things like kids clothes, gas, etc on debit card
-if you can't get rid of CC, then don't walk around with it. only use it on things that you both agree with and keep it at home. it only should be used for planned purchases.

Recording all income and spending will help you to create a budget for items. This needs to be realistic.

You are pi**ing away money on interest payments so this needs to stop. Anyone with 5 kids and no savings (nevermind debt) is headed for disaster if you don't change. With 5 kids, and getting older, you are losing your ability to recover from this debt and lack of savings. You probably know all of this but he needs to understand and you need to be tough and show him what he's doing to you and your kids. You need to save for school, retirement and you need an emergency fund. From your post, i understand that you are probably way behind in all of these bare minimum savings requirements.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you, couple, for your response. I really do appreciate it. I like getting advice that is based on a fuller knowledge of the problem.

Your post has made me think a little deeper on this. We both have our strengths around money, but the problem is we haven't been working on the same page very much. I am really pushing to do this but it's a little overwhelming to know where to start. I do think you're right that there needs to be more accountability for him from month to month, reporting on progress, and I think he may start to make some changes.

He is actually really good at paying bills on time and number crunching, with the math side of finances. What he is not good at is the behavior side of self-control with the money and I think you are on the right track with the accountability thing. I guess the problem is that I am really good with the self-control but am not great with budgeting software and all of that budgeting stuff. What I do have is determination to learn anything I need to. I'm just not sure where to start. Someone did give us some Quicken software lately and I'll probably have to open it up and see if I can figure it out. I think if we can chart our progress so he can see the cold, hard facts of what is going on, it might give him a reality check, rather than me constantly feeling like a don't-spend-police.

I gues that's another reason I would like to get rid of the cards, is because I think it would eliminate all of the fog around this and make budgeting and financing simpler to track and understand. I don't know.

I like the idea of just leaving them at home although I don't think he'd even go for that idea right now. He sees the cards as a need. And here's the thing, he has this idea that debit cards are too risky. I personally feel that the risk of racking up debt is far higher for us than and security risks of using a debit card. But he doesn't feel that way.

Anyway, I'm going to look into that software and keep working on the problem the best I can.
 

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if he is an impulse shopper..and he can admit it..but yet does not want to give up his credit cards for fear he may NEED them at some point, I would suggest you do what my daughter does.

she has two credit cards that she used to run up often, now that they are paid she has both of them in a mason jar in the freezer..she filled it with water and now it is a giant icecube. She has told me that it has stopped her from making impulse buys. If she sees something she really wants, not having immediate access to her cards gives her time to really THINK if she NEEDS the item.

works for her
 

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With your family size, and how long you've been out of the workforce, does a cost analysis of you working even make sense for you to work? Gas, wardrobe, car repairs, daycare, after school care, increased regular budget items due to your lack of time (repairs, yardwork, groceries, housework), etc. We've got five kids and it would cost us more for me to work than I could reasonably expect to make.
What about having a separate account at a different bank/credit union just for him to use for a debit card account? Put his spending money into the account and he's got the card without the risk.
 

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Malibu -- your description of your husband's spending habits was SO familiar! My husband was the same way -- buying stuff with credit cards, stuff we didn't need. There I was, using coupons.... not buying stuff for myself -- and feeling guilty when I did buy anything at all! Some men just can't "grow up" financially when they get married. Gone are the single days where they can do whatever they want.

May I suggest filing for bankruptcy? I did earlier this year. It covered all MY credit card debt (which included a Discover Card he used) and both mortgages (which were in my name). The bank has the house and we've moved to a house my father-in-law purchased as an investment property (we pay the mortgage). So now my credit is ruined for 10 years, but his is not and that's the upside. Both car loans are in HIS name and we only have TWO credit cards (his, unfortunately.... but they are maxed out so he can't use them if he wanted).

Bankruptcy isn't a magic cure, but it helps. We still pretty much live paycheck to paycheck..... but we're not drowning. We're treading water, I guess. If you can learn to live without credit cards and devise a budget, that will help.
 

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I realize I'm a pessimist, but I think you better plan on going back to work so you can have your own savings...just in case. Depending on a man who has chronic money issues to support you and the children is risky.

Plus he may feel an unspoken sense of entitlement since he is the only one who brings in money.

Imagine what you could do with your frugal skills and your own income.
 
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