Frustrated with the money conversation

November 17, 2009 at 8:26 am (sharing expenses) ()

Does anyone else feel like a bank for their significant other? Especially when you don’t choose to be one or even have the cash for it? I’ve been in a relationship for a year and a half now and it’s not equal, and it’s not by choice. Please keep in mind that I feel like a total ass for talking about this, but there’s no one else I can talk to in my real life, and I kinda need to vent a little. 

J makes less than I do ($3.50/hr less), and he works less than I do (he works a 4-day week, 32-35 hours while I typically work about 10 more than that, including some overtime). He’s not necessarily a big spender, but he does have projects he likes to do and he buys things for them all the time. He drinks a ton more booze than I do (which is not a cheap item). He also has a boat that he pays moorage fees for. This used to be his residence when I met him, and then he moved in with me. The boat is non-funtioning. It basically sits at dock so he can live there but he doesn’t currently, and it’s just a big money sink (in my mind). He has to spend quite a bit of  money to clean it up, scrape the hull and reseal it, and get the motor running, before it can even run. With all that, he is supposed to pay $300 in rent to me per month (only 1/3 – I pay $600). He originally told me it was all he could afford. We’re about to move to a new house, with the same rent, and he has committed to paying me $450/month in rent. Again, it’s all he can afford, and that doesn’t include any of the utilities that will be out of my pocket, or internet, which I will also be getting.

At this moment, he owes me $420 from the past 2 months. Anytime we go shopping, unless he’s there to pay half at the time, I rarely if ever get reimbursed for his share. I will say how much it costs, and ranging from hinting “it cost x” or asking him to pay me outright, I get no response, no “I can pay you next week,” no “let me give you a post-dated check,” nothing. He completely ignores it. I have tried bringing the subject up and it just shuts him up, makes him tense, angry, and defensive. Money is his most difficult issue to deal with. He’s always been bad with it and doesn’t seem at all interested in trying to change. Gosh, I’ve certainly tried! So I’m getting stuck with the short-end of the stick.

He’s 11 years older than I am (he’s 50), he has virtually no savings (if he does it’s around the $500 mark), has the same amount of debt, owns his own car that will shortly need to be put out to pasture, and owns no significant items of worth. He seems to have settled on the idea that he will always be on the lowest strata of the working class and doesn’t seem like he wants/deserves/cares to do better. He does have job prospects. He’s about 1-2 quarters from finishing paralegal studies, but he seems to be dragging his feet on the finish and it’s been about 9 months since he took his last class. He has been avoiding the resume portion of applying for his required internship (writing is another problem, and even offers of help have not resulted in much).

To balance all of this, he has a generous spirit and is not a pennypincher unless he’s completely broke. He works hard, and he’s a super nice guy. He has worked odd jobs and made extra money lots of times when he’s been in a pinch (he went through a period of unemployment over a year ago). I’m just tired of the money inequity. At the moment, I’m trying to live frugally so that I can pay off debt, and expect to be this way for at least 3-4 more years.

Tonight, I forgot my wallet and we had to go to downtown for a company meeting (we work together). We (and a friend) decided to go out for a drink and a nosh afterwards. I said that I couldn’t pay, since I had forgotten my wallet. Not a problem. He paid our portion. He also had to buy me lunch today (supermarket fixins for sandwiches) and so I got away with him buying some of that. This has been one of the few instances where he will pay and I won’t. About 80% of the time I pay and don’t get reimbursed.

I also have to admit that bringing up the subject is also difficult for me. I don’t like discussing things that I know cause tension. I tiptoe around it and won’t bring it up. I know I need to but just haven’t found a good time and I’ve basically been avoiding it myself. 

My latest strategy has actually benefitted my debt journey. Rather than just go and buy things that I think we need at the time, and have to pay for all of it myself, I’ve been avoiding shopping. If he can’t come, or doesn’t have the money at the time, then we just do without. We eat a lot out of the fridge. I eat a lot of things that I don’t otherwise want to, but it’s available, and here, and I don’t have to buy new stuff to make, so I make do (who cares that I wanted steak for dinner, we don’t have it!). I don’t offer to get him things and have him pay me back later, since I know he often won’t. This process has made me much more frugal, and I spend less because of it. We rarely go out to eat. I think we went to a movie like 6 months ago. We rarely go away, and never go for expensive entertainment. I guess that’s the silver lining – he’s a great partner while I’m living within/under my means.

I know all of you are going to urge me to have a conversation with him and I know I need to. I just needed to vent a little right now. Does anyone else have this problem? How do you deal with a money inequity in your relationship?



  1. Laura said,

    My husband and I have a joint checking account into which we put equal amounts of money for food each payday. Actually, it is directly deposited into the account, so we never have to worry. We both have debit cards, but you could easily fix it so that there is only one card since you are the one who does most of the shopping.

    My husband and I used to fight over money before we did this. Now, we never fight…at least, never fight about money! 🙂

  2. debtmaven said,


    That’s a fab idea! Initially I tried getting him to put cash into a kitty that we would pull money out to reimburse one of us if we spent money on our own. He didn’t want to do that, I think because he wouldn’t have control or say over what got purchased. He had said he didn’t want to pay for things he wasn’t ok with buying, which he can do if he’s with me at the time of purchase.

    I think it’s time to revisit that conversation and see if he won’t do a cash kitty, then having a joint checking account.

    Thanks for the idea!

  3. Laura said,

    I wish you luck!! Also, I really admire what you are doing. I’m two years into a debt repayment venture. I find your blog inspiring as I head into the third and (hopefully)final year.

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