Evewoman : Confessions: My husband lives large yet we are drowning in debt, help!
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Confessions: My husband lives large yet we are drowning in debt, help!

We are maintaining a high standard of living but we have no investments (Photo: Shutterstock)

We are both 42 and live in a rented house in a nice neighbourhood. We studied together for both our bachelors' and masters' degrees. Now, we both have good jobs but most of our money is spent on paying rent and to maintain a standard of living that I feel is too high for us. We have no investments (not even a small plot) and we survive mostly on credit cards. Whenever I bring up the issue of investing in land or houses, he always has five reasons why it is the wrong time to buy anything. If I try to buy on my own, he says that I want to leave him and many other nasty things. He has not even built a house for himself at home and it is always very shameful having to sleep in his mother's house when we go visiting them. How can I get my husband to at least think about investing in the security of our family? He is obsessed with this lifestyle of big cars and living in nice apartments which only give him praise from his friends and colleagues.

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{Phyllis}

What the readers say:

Phyllis, it is a good thing that you are concerned for your family. Your man needs professional help as he doesn’t see life beyond today. Let him make all allegations but when reality falls on him, he will appreciate your help. It is you to save the family if it means banging sense into him. Consider investing secretly without his knowledge. It will be of benefit to you as a family should things get out of hand.

{Ouma Ragumo – Sifuyo}

Your future life and spending of your family should be shaped by you. Remember there is a lot of redundancy with retrenchments and downsizing so he needs to see the sense in starting to invest in family assets such as land or mortgages. Be independent minded and get him to see the reality of life today. Go ahead and start doing the right things and do not depend on him for he will come to see the reality later on.

{Onyango Outha}

You need to note several things. First, at 42, you’ve done most of your productive life and you remain with little of the same. Second, the ‘good job’ and ‘good pay’ have their days numbered and it’s just a matter of time. Third, you know the husband you have against what you want. Good homes have been credited to sharp women. Take the first step and maybe the next few steps and, with time, he will join you. He is living in utopia and needs someone and something to jolt him to reality.

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{Tasma Saka}

We have good jobs but we survive on credit cards (Photo: Shutterstock)

Boke says:

Dear Phyllis,

Financial compatibility is one area that potential spouses rarely consider before settling down in marriage. While individuals get overly interested in each other’s financial power, no attention is given to understanding each other’s attitude, views or value attached towards money.  This difference in perspectives is what is troubling you. While you are thinking investment, your husband is thinking expenditure. Money is so fluid, it can fit wherever you fix it. The same money you spend on designer suits, for example, would have bought you trucks of land if it were directed there.

The other thing about money is its ability to fill emotional voids and gaps. Spending is an empowering exercise, the reason some people find shopping to be therapeutic.

Therefore, it is possible for a person struggling with low self-esteem to get hooked to spending. Especially if they are spending on flashy things that are easily noticed by peers and the public. You husband seems to be caught up in this show off lifestyle. He gets validation and a feeling of accomplishment from the high life.

I would encourage you to cut down on some of your own spending so that you can save and scout for land or a house to buy, then involve him in the purchasing process. To take care of his insecurities, you could suggest to co-own it. Meanwhile, you could both enrol in a personal finance management class where you will not only get lessons but also meet and interact with individuals who are in a similar quest.

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In addition, I think that you need to get a new circle of friends who are not impressed by big cars and a lifestyle beyond one’s means. Gradually, he will be influenced accordingly.

Hilda Boke Mahare has a background in Counselling Psychology

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Simon says:

Money matters are like any form of cancer; initially they go undetected and everything feels OK but, after a while, one begins to experience some problems. If not checked, it continues eating you up to the point that, if detected at advanced stages, there is really nothing that can be done to rescue you. As you put it, you spend most of your money on maintaining a certain standard of living and survive mostly on credit cards. An essential indicator of financial distress is when you cannot make it to the next month without borrowing (credit cards included). What this does is that it reduces your income for the forthcoming month, thereby compelling you to borrow more in the coming month, a cycle that recurs and worsens month-on-month.

Other glaring signs of financial distress and/or turmoil include; one, having little or no money to save on a regular basis (preferably monthly); two, the absolute lack of an emergency security fund (savings that can last you at least six months); three, very little investments towards providing social and economic safety nets for the family e.g. land, a house, a farm etc.; four, absence of consensus on the primary financial goals and priorities of the family (consolidated in a periodical budget) and five, buying everything you want even when you cannot afford it which often leads you to putting it on your credit card.

He is enjoying the trappings of the upper middle class lifestyles by living in an expensive neighbourhood and having this financed on credit. If you don’t bring this matter to his urgent realization that family ship will sink and you will also go down with it. I am sure that even those friends of his who lavish him with praise do not live in such neighbourhoods and don’t finance their lifestyles on credit. Help him set goals even simple ones like putting up a simple structure at his home so his children get a place to stay when they go there. Get him to cut through his credit cards – this is many times the only way out of credit cards and help him see the future so you can both begin planning for it. You can inspire him to move in the right direction.

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The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke

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