Not in trouble yet. Soon will be.

I have debts approaching £18,000, which is equivalent to my annual salary before tax. My wife earns approx. £25,000 pa.
So far we are still able to pay all our credit card and loan bills each month but I am concerned that we will not be able to do this for much longer if our debts keep spiralling.
I desperately want to draw up a budget for our expenditure to try and see exactly what we spend our money on and to get some control over our money. The problem is every time I try to discuss this with my wife we end up arguing. Often with me threatening to leave her if she refuses to help me sort out our problems.
Then, for a while, the whole subject is forgotten until my worry increases again to the stage where I have to say something, and the arguing starts all over again.
I desperately want to do something to stop this situation from spiralling to the point where we can no longer afford to pay the bills. My wife doesn't see that we have a problem as long as we can afford to pay them but the problem is that we do not save any money, so any unplanned bills, replacing our broken washing machine, car problems, for example, end up going on the credit card.
At the moment our monthly credit card and loan bills amount to £350. Just 4 months ago it was £300. I have tried asking my wife at what point she wants it stop, £400, £500 a month? And tried explaining that it while it will not be easy to put the brakes on our spending now, it will be considerably easier to do it now than to wait until we are serious trouble.
What can I do to make my wife see that we have a big problem brewing up here if we do not do something about it now? How can I avoid an argument without avoiding the issues?

Comments

  • elona
    elona Posts: 11,806 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
    You could watch programmes on t.v. showing problems with debt but do not make a big thing of it and let her think any concern is her idea!

    Mention "colleague" who is having health problems and could lose his house etc?

    Point out you could not afford to have a family or start own business? Whatever you think would hit home with her.
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  • meanmachine_2
    meanmachine_2 Posts: 2,624 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Dan, sorry to hear of your troubles.

    How did these debts accrue? As a result of making a large purchase, or by just generally exceeding your income each month?

    I'm a bit confused. You say that YOU have debts totalling £18,000. Are they your debts, or partly your wife's? Maybe she doesn't want to talk about the problem because she sees it as nothing to do with her?

    It's always hard when one partner earns more than the other. They probably think, even subconsciously, that they're contributing more to the marriage and therefore can spend more.

    Until you tell us the reason for your debts and who clocked them up, it's difficult to know why she would be so hostile to sorting them out.

    I have to say, your joint income isn't bad and, in normal circumstances you shouldn't be so much in the red. Has one of you had a gambling, spending addiction in the past perhaps?
  • steam_dan
    steam_dan Posts: 97 Forumite
    Thanks Elona.

    We watch these programs on the telly and my wife is often shocked at how much debt these people have but she doesn't seem to understand that we are heading that way. She is just burying her head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away on it's own.
    When we met, my wife had a number of debts on store cards etc for which she was not making the required payments and she was hounded by the card companies wanting their money. This upset her a lot and I ended up taking on her debt by transferring everything to my credit cards and her cards were all cancelled. A year later I was shocked when a Barclaycard that she had applied for landed on the doormat. I told her that after all the heartache she had been through the previous year I was surprised that she wanted another credit card. I know that she has spent on it up to her £1000 credit limit and has been charged a couple of times recently for exceeding her credit limit.

    When we bought our house together we had to get a very expensive mortgage because of her credit history. The three year penalty period finishes later this year, and I want us to get a cheaper mortgage and release some equity to pay off our debts. I have two concerns about this:

    1) Will we get a cheaper mortgage? My wife has one Default recorded against her for £400, this has been satisifed, she has no CCJs. My credit history is clean, although I have been turned down for a credit card recently.

    2) If we can get a cheaper mortgage and release enough equity to clear our debt, will we be in the same situation in 5 or ten years time? Clearing the debt in this way would be great but without a firm budget in place to control our expenditure in the future, it could so easily happen all over again.

    My concern is very real and my wife says that she can see why I am worried but refuses to take any action to deal with the problem.

    After our last row I told her that I wanted us to go to relationship counselling. I desperately want her to understand exactly how much this worries me and that we have to take action now to avoid a crisis in the future.
  • mountainofdebt
    mountainofdebt Posts: 7,795 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    with your wife? If you start the conversation with a tone that suggests you are blaming her (not saying you are) then she will become defensive and I'm not surprised that the whole conversation desends into an argument.

    Does your wife see you raising the issue of your debt problems as criticisim of her spending (I'm assuming that you are trying to curb spending on the credit cards)...does she feel that she has to spend to keep up with friends, work colleagues etc?

    I also think that unless the both of you start singing from the same hymn sheet then tackling your debt problems is going to be nigh on impossible. However having said that though you could do a little work of your own....for example why not analyise what is spent on your credit card...at least if you can present your wife with facts and figures rather than just a couple of credit card statements then perhaps you can have a more reasoned discussion.

    Also why not offer to do the grocery shopping? I find it helps to plan the weeks meals in advance and buy only what I need for those meals. Its amazing how much those impluse purchases add up!

    Another tact you could try is suggesting that the pair of you each has a monthly allowance. This allowance can be used in any way that each of you sees fit and this again may open your wife's eye to the price of things.

    What ever approach you decide to take I do think that tact and diplomacy will work far better than threats and arguements
    2014 Target;
    To overpay CC by £1,000.
    Overpayment to date : £310

    2nd Purse Challenge:
    £15.88 saved to date
  • mountainofdebt
    mountainofdebt Posts: 7,795 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Another tact that you could use (and I found that this worked with my hubby) was I pointed out to him the life we could have (on a modest income!) if we didn't have the credit card debt.
    2014 Target;
    To overpay CC by £1,000.
    Overpayment to date : £310

    2nd Purse Challenge:
    £15.88 saved to date
  • steam_dan
    steam_dan Posts: 97 Forumite
    I do not spend regularly on my credit cards, they are now only used in emergencies and I am up front with my wife when they are used. I do not know if my wife spends on her barclaycard regularly although I suspect that she does.
    Yes, I do blame her for a lot of our debt worries although I admit that I am responsible for the bulk of the debt. It is my wife's attitude to them that angers me more than anything, like they don't really matter. The debts came about when I was made redundant and we carried on living the same life as before, paying with the credit card, for the 6 months until I got another job. This accounts for about £8,000 and was three years ago. When I was made redundant I started a home study course in IT at a cost of £3,000. This was on a government Career Development Loan for three years. After the three years I paid the loan off with a credit card. Then we got married last year, another £5,000 on the credit card. Then I took out an £8,000 egg loan (over 7 years) to pay £8,000 off the cards, but I think the mistake I made here was that I took out insurance against redundancy which added a further £3,000 onto my debt. After paying the monthly payments each month we have not reduced our debt at all. The debt reduces for a while, then the car goes wrong, or the washing machine needs replacing, or something else happens, and we are back at square one again.
    Incidentally, as a result of the IT home study course I am now earning £8,000 pa more than I was before I was made redundant, so this is one expense I definitely do not regret.
  • meanmachine_2
    meanmachine_2 Posts: 2,624 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I wonder if you could balance transfer your debts onto one or two 0% cards, gving you an interest free window which will allow you to start eroding your debts.

    Presumably, since you have an Egg loan you're already aware of this facility?

    Have to say, morally you're in a bit of a quandary.

    You're asking your wife to cut down when it was your redundancy that lead to the greater part of your debt.

    Now you're in a better position career wise but are still nursing a debt hangover.

    Maybe you should lead by example? Go without ALL pleasures for a month to demonstrate that you are trying to cut down, andyour wife will have to follow suit. If you refuse to go out on a Friday night, then she'll be forced to do so on her own, or stay in with you.

    Sounds to me like YOU have to cut right back. If your wife doesn't eventually twig then, you've got another kind of problem, my friend.

    And yes, normally redundancy insurance or any kind of payment protection is a waste of money, if you ask me. Lenders normally find a way to wriggle out of it.
  • mountainofdebt
    mountainofdebt Posts: 7,795 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I think the tone of your last reply probably explains why any conversation with your wife ends up in arguements...no offence intended honestly.

    Ok your wife may be a little reckless and perhaps she's the sort of person who can't have a credit card simply becasue she can't control her spending - hey there again I would include myself as that sort of company as well!

    Seriously though I think you would be better off if you approached the problem from a different angle.

    Why don't you sit down and point out that £350 per month or £4200 a year is a bl@@dy good holiday that you both could be enjoying .....or work out how much earlier you could pay off your mortgage if you made the equivalent overpayments? By doing it this way you would be giving your wife an incentive to look at ways of reducing the debt in the shortest time.
    2014 Target;
    To overpay CC by £1,000.
    Overpayment to date : £310

    2nd Purse Challenge:
    £15.88 saved to date
  • margaretclare
    margaretclare Posts: 10,789 Forumite
    Well, you blame your wife for a lot of the debt (you say) but whose bright idea was it to spend £5K on a wedding only last year? It's possible to get married on a small fraction of that cost.

    The spending continued after you were made redundant - was that her decision, or yours? You seem to be blaming her for a lot, but you both speak the same language and could communicate, presumably?

    Experience teaches that in a relationship, whether married or not, the only way to make joint finances work is by communicating and working together!

    Aunty Margaret
    [FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Æ[/FONT]r ic wisdom funde, [FONT=Times New Roman, serif]æ[/FONT]r wear[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ð[/FONT] ic eald.
    Before I found wisdom, I became old.
  • steam_dan
    steam_dan Posts: 97 Forumite
    Yep. Just lately I have come to thinking that we are both equally to blame for the debt, but it is has been a hard bullet to swallow that I have to accept half of the responsibility too. Blaming my wife for the problem is just making it worse.
    The hardest bit has been not being able to talk to anybody about the full extent of the problem and the way that I feel. Being able to post here has enabled me to gather my thoughts and to see just how foolish I have been.
    Last night I apologised full-heartedly to my wife for blaming her for this situation and I hope that we can now start to make efforts to really reduce our debt.
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