Should you pay your wife an allowance?

I get all sorts of email. I get emails about debt. I get emails about how to ask for a raise. I once even had a Nigerian prince offer to share his family fortune with me. Despite the fact that I opened an account and emailed him the account number, I never heard back from him. But I digress. My point? It takes quite a bit of craziness for an email to get my attention.

My eyes are wide open.

Dear Pete,

Hey. I love your podcast. It cracks me up. You said you take emails, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I’ve got a problem. My wife spends too much money. It might cost us our marriage…unless you can help. Hahaha. No pressure. I’m the only one that works. She stays at home with our two kids. I make really good money (nearly $120,000 in 2011). But we never can get ahead. Between us, we have over $85,000 in student loans, $30,000 in credit card debt, $40,000 debt on my M-Class Benz, and my wife has a major spending problem. It’s got to stop. She makes no money, but wants to spend all of my salary on clothes, and random stuff for the kids. She’s at Target like twice per week. Between the medication for our son, and the piano lessons for our daughter, she spends like $50 per week right there. If I was doing the buying at our house, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in now. We fight so much on the weekends, that I end up leaving the house and playing golf just so we don’t fight for 5 hours. What do you suggest I do? 

My buddy thinks that I should put her on an allowance system. I’m thinking about doing it. Have you ever heard of somethings like this? It sounds crazy, but I really think it could work. For instance, if she cooks five meals in the week, then I’d give her $100 to spend. If she vacuums and dusts, then I would give her another $50. I’m thinking she just needs to earn her keep more so that she’ll value money. What’s a fair price for chores? I figure it’s much cheaper than a divorce. Hahaha. Things are just nuts around here. My college buddies are going on a guy’s weekend, and I can’t even go because the cards are maxed out because of her stupid Target trips. Sorry, I’m just venting. Thanks, man. I’m interested to see what you have to say.


Jeff, thanks for your email. I’m afraid that I’m fresh out of candy-coating today. Therefore you are simply faced with the unadulterated truth.

I’m really worried about you. You’re pissed that your wife spends too much on your kid’s medication? I would sell all four of my limbs for my kid’s medication. I wouldn’t golf the rest of my life to pay for my kid’s medication. And your daughter’s piano lessons are a problem too? You’re not supposed to feel that way. I generally don’t make a practice of telling people how they should feel, but you shouldn’t resent your children’s medication and/or music lessons.

Anyone that would think/write the things that you thought/wrote clearly doesn’t have a strong grip on reality. I don’t know where you come from, but where I come from my buddies call me out for being an a-hole. They don’t tell me ways to be more of an a-hole. If you have the sort of friends that recommend that you put your wife on an allowance, then get new friends. Your wife isn’t the problem. Your attitude is the problem.

Here’s what I suggest you do. Take a week’s vacation. Given your salary of $120,000 per year, I figure you have the sort of job that allows you to take a paid vacation. Send your wife out of town to stay with a friend for the week, and then do her job for seven whole days. What you will find is that you are lucky that you currently aren’t divorced. My guess is that you will find that your wife doesn’t spend nearly as much as you think she does. She simply spends the money that it takes to run a household…without the (non-financial) support of her husband.

Jeff, I’m really concerned for you and your family. To be frank (as though I haven’t been), this is the worst situation I have ever seen. You need counseling. I highly recommend that you seek professional help. Dude, seriously? You care more about guy’s weekend than your kid’s medication. You have got to man up. You are going to ruin your kids’ lives. All they will ever know is dysfunction if you don’t get help. This is serious. I don’t have any financial advice for you at all. I’m just really sad. You don’t have any true friends that are pushing you to be a better person, and unless this email strikes a chord, then I’m afraid things will have to completely blow up before there is a resolution. Please change.


This post has caused quite the uproar. I’d like to clarify a few points. First, I didn’t address the financials in the question, because I don’t think the answers would actually help him. In my professional opinion, although he has significant financial problems, his primary issue has nothing to do with money. I chose to treat the problem, not the symptoms.  In addition, the advice is so obvious, that I didn’t think it was worth writing. Alas, here it is: Jeff shouldn’t be driving a $40k Mercedes. He should be driving something paid for or something with a very cheap payment. The payment on his Benz is most likely astronomical. If he were to do this, the savings should then be used to pay down his credit card debt. He and his wife should sit down and work out a budget together using Pete the Planner’s Ideal Household Budget. Any other financial advice would be purely speculative. I don’t know his credit card and student loan interest rates. I don’t know if he has an emergency fund, though I doubt he does. And I don’t know how much they spend per month on their mortgage. My educated guess is that it’s a significant part of their income.

I’m not above criticism. When I write advice or give advice that is poor, then please ask for clarification or correction. I will gladly admit when I am wrong. However, in my opinion Jeff was looking for help. He thought his problem dealt with money. I disagreed, and wanted him to see that his family was at risk. Keep calm and carry on.

65 thoughts on “Should you pay your wife an allowance?

  1. Im not saying that I’m perfect or have never been selfish myself, but they could build monuments to this guys selfishness (House MD reference). This guy has bought into the suburb sickness. Nice car, works a ton, cares very little about his wife, and “hahahhas” about it??!!? Dude, get engaged at home or you will have alimony on top of those debts. Holy selfish!

  2. Pete – I think you’re way off base with this one. Maybe it was the mood you were in when you read it, but I didn’t get any of the “attitude” you read into. I think Jeff’s *household* has some serious issues — issues that can be resolved and a marriage that can be saved by budgeting.

    Call it an “allowance” if you will, but both my wife and I get an “allowance” from our income. It is our money to do whatever we want with — manicures (for her), golf (for me), “stupid Target trips”, etc. These line items in the budget are COMPLETELY separate from the costs of running the household.

    He mentioned medication and piano lessons, but he’s just venting at the level of spending overall. Rather than play psychiatrist, I believe you should just stick to the financial facts that you know — $120K income, $85K student loan debt, $30K credit cards, and $40K on a Benz… I’d start with selling the Benz yesterday rather than telling him he’s going to ruin his kids lives.

  3. I considered that strongly, butI don’t think it was fake. I have seen several situations close to this. This was just the worst I’ve seen. And if it is fake, still something to be learned.

  4. Well said. I’m sorry, but I really don’t see how a few trips to Target could be the biggest contributor to $30,000 in credit card debt. Time to stop pointing the finger.

  5. Hey Jim,
    Thanks for taking the time to discuss. Obviously you and I disagree on this one, but no worries. I actually have no problem with an “allowance”, however tying it to making meals and cleaning a house is demeaning. I think it’s perfectly acceptable for couples to allocate personal expenditure funds.

    As far as me “play(ing) psychiatrist”, that’s just what I do. Whereas as my financial (numbers) advice is good, my ability to get people to think about money differently is where I’m able to set myself apart.

    Having seen several situations like this over the years, and having tried several different methods to resolve the issues, my course of action was what I believe to be his best chance of success. I shouldn’t have to tell this guy that he can’t afford a $40k car. I shouldn’t have to tell this guy that being mad about missing a guy’s weekend due to maxed out credit cards is bad. I shouldn’t have to tell him that he can’t afford to play golf on the weekends. All of those things are glaringly obvious. If he doesn’t realize that, then telling him the obvious isn’t going to help him. The best approach, as I have learned, is to deal with the root problem. He doesn’t suck at math. His root problem is that he’s got serious issues that require counseling.

  6. I don’t normally comment on these… but I might have something that will help him.

    I am a stay at home mom as well. My husband brings in well, not as much as this guy, but not far off either. I have a student loan, car payments and we do have a little credit card debt. I say little, because we don’t spend that much over what we can pay off…. maybe 1k over.

    We have often fought over the same things this guy and his family does. But what helped… Talking about it calmly. Talking about WHERE all the money is coming from and going out. Breaking down what the money is being spent on. Little things at Target add up sooo quickly, I didn’t even realize it until my husband pointed it out to me… but in a calm, respectful manner.

    I took it upon myself to take out $60/week and pay for all little things.. sometimes big, for me and the kids that we might need that week. I stopped using the credit card. When I ran out of that money, I would just wait until the Next week when I had it again. My husband didn’t know I did this… but it helped us get caught back up. Not too sure how you can suggest this, but if you do, do it sweetly and maybe show her this response.

    I’m sure this fella Loves his family and was only typing out of frustration… as he we can all do from time to time. 🙂

    Hope this helps him, and those out there, that may need a new idea on curbing your spending.

  7. I am in agreement that it MAY not be all his fault on the spending. But, by the way he is acting in his email, it seems that it might be mostly his fault. Goes without question he likes to spend money on himself (a car that should not have been bought unless you can comfortably pay for it outright, golfing is an expensive hobby). To even bring up paying for a kids medication is an ultimate low, I don’t care how much you’re joking or are mad. I would of been more concerned if he said she was going to the mall twice a week rather than Target. I am sure she might be overspending but maybe she’s trying to get his attention or compensate for a lack of respect. I would guess most of the Target money goes for the house and kids. She could be overspending on the kids too to make up for what is lacking at home. Either way, it’s totally disrespectful to mention paying for “chores”. Budgeting and counseling are what is needed. Not for her to be treated like an employee of his. She is supposed to be his partner.

  8. Wow!!! Best email I’ve ever read!! As a partial stay at home mom, I would have HUGE issues with an ‘allowance’ while he has debt for his car!!!! We have a strict budget and we each have cash we get to spend on whatever we want and it is perfect for us!!!!! Just WOW is my response to this email!

  9. I mostly agree with James. At best, you got trolled. At worst, this email is staged to generate some buzz (see: fetal credit card). Thought provoking and entertaining for sure. The end justifies the means, anyway, right?

  10. I know everybody finds different martial structures that work for them, but it always makes me a little queasy to imagine what it would be like if my wife and I weren’t equal partners in our financial life. I do the bookkeeping, but all strategic decisions about where we spend money are made together.

    If one of us had the unilateral authority to tell the other how much money to spend, I don’t think I would be nearly as happy in my marriage. We don’t think about my salary versus her salary. We earn money as a household and spend it as a household.

    Everybody’s tastes and needs for marriage are different, but what he’s describing sounds like it would be tough to be happy.

  11. Why would you drive a Mercedes when you have over $100,000 in debt, not including your mortgage? This fact alone is why I am seldom impressed by nice homes, nice cars and nice clothes. If only you could see their pocketbook too – it wouldn’t be nice.

  12. i was really hoping for more snark, pete. you should put your wife on an “input on my blog” allowance.

    also, dont waste your time trying to help someone that, if this is a real email, is more or less a lost cause. behaviors like overspending and literally running away from confrontation arent going to be changed with a blog.

  13. I just wanted to say that I doubt this is a fake email. I overheard a guy at work (a previous job, not my current one) once telling another person that his wife couldn’t have any spending money that week because she hadn’t “earned it”. I was so irate at that moment that it was hard for me to keep my comments to myself and just walk away. So, I know for a fact that there are men out there who think like this and this guy definitely sounds like one of those men.

  14. This guys needs a serious financial smackdown! Dude – you don’t make THAT much money. You can’t afford a $40k car if you can’t pay cash for it. Sell the car and get a used Toyota and start paying off that debt (and how are your savings?).

  15. When my husband was alive and we were both working, we earned a combined total income of over $125k year and had less than $6k in credit card debt. I drove an older, but paid for, Buick Riviera (gorgeous emerald green with every option known to mankind) which my husband kept in perfect condition, and my husband drove a late model Mazda 3. How many trips to Target does it take to spend $40k? I’m sure she bought mundane items such as TP, paper towels, cleaning products, etc. on those trip which were hardly a waste of money. Sounds to me like HE needs to get a grip and live within HIS means. We would have NEVER even THOUGHT about driving a Mercedes! I think you handled this reader perfectly. You know I call it as I see it!!!!

  16. I’m flabbergasted and so angry for this woman. “Earn her keep”, Seriously? Is this guy lost in time?

    “If I was doing the buying at our house, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in now.” No, you would be even worse off! Worst case scenario: your kids are taken because you failed to give needed medications, no food would be in the house because you were spending your money on a car you couldn’t afford and wouldn’t have the time to shop because you’d be golfing! Best case: your wife divorces your demeaning self! And all the “hahaha’s”…there is nothing funny about this. Obviously there is some money issues, but there are BIGGER underlying issues here. Issues that need professional help!

    Pete, you hit the nail on the head here.

  17. You’re manner of handling this was un-professional and off base.

    If their household income is $120,000, their credit cards should not be maxed out. You’re focusing on all the wrong things b/c you have an issue. You aren’t reading between the lines or trying to help, but simply blasting the guy for the issues he focused on in a “venting” email.

    Yes, the comment about medication and piano lessons was asinine, but the reality that his credit cards are maxed is an issue. Should he get rid of the Benz, probably; consider the cost of his trips, yes. But maybe that is what you should have focused on rather than telling him he has some psychological issue…

    Having worked in the consumer financial industry for years, I know that the issues they are having are common. My wife used to spend almost $400/mo on fast food and eating out before we looked at it. So yes, little trips to Target add up quickly when you don’t care about what you’re spending. My guess is, if you talked to her, she would talk about her marriage dissatisfaction and about how she relieves that by shopping. I’m guessing they are both selfish a-holes.

    They probably need marriage counseling, BUT THAT’S NOT YOUR JOB! Your supposed area of “expertise” is consumer finance. Not marriage counseling or psychology.

    If you’re going to be a professional financial “guru”, be a professional. Otherwise be a guy who knows a little about financial planning and a lot about getting attention via social media, and send people to professionals who knows how to actually solve people’s problems.

  18. Sounds like this couple needs a budget workshop. A month a writing down everything money is spent on. And not allowed to spend more than 20.00 without being together. If they did their shopping together at Target and the other places he would be able to veto any items he felt were not necessary. But it all boils down to the budget and where the money is spent. They don’t have a clue. Do they even know the difference between need and want?

  19. Pete-
    I think you should pursue this guy to get the wife’s side of the story! If both are at fault for having wildly out of control spending issues then use them as another case study to demonstrate that even those folks who are “clueless” can be saved. St. Pete…are you up for the challenge???

    I have faith you can work a miracle which is what they need or else they will end up filing bankruptcy which we all pay for in the end. Please teach them how to be good financial role models for their kids or else the cycle of being irresponsible will just continue.

  20. As someone who is on an ‘allowance’ (nothing to do with tasks accomplished, simply a matter of equalization/bill paying)…I think you were dead on, Pete, in that the serious trouble isn’t in the numbers, it’s in the attitude…hate it when my kid’s pesky medicine cuts into my imported sedan budget…

  21. Bob, thanks for taking the time to comment. Obviously, we disagree. That’s okay. I know that you feel my response was unprofessional, but in my opinion it was very professional. He said “I’m struggling.” I said “I agree, but not why you think.”

    My job IS to refer people to marriage counseling if they need it. I’m not some robotic slappy that only answers numbers questions. What good would that do anyone? I actually am a money and marriage expert. I have written two books that have thoroughly explored the topic.

    You can mockingly call me a “guru”, but those are your words, not mine. I stand by my body of work. Again, thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate the conversation.

  22. Where to begin with this one? The first chord that strikes me is a suprising lack of accountability on Jeff’s part. In debt $40,000 for a Mercedes? How much is his portion of the student debt? And the credit card debt? It takes TWO to tango as the old saying goes. If you are serious about “getting ahead” as you state, lets look where you can cut expenses. Time to downsize the car. Unless you own a Mercedes dealership there is no reason you need to be in debt $40,000 for a vehicle. The ultimate value of a vehicle is that it gets you from point A to point B. So what if the Jones’ have a Mercedes, they can afford it because they paid off their student loans. When you are at the point of squabbling over $50 for medication and piano lessons, you are past the point of being able to afford such a vehicle.

    Pete, you’re right to suggest counselling. There are clearly larger issues at work outside of spending habits that need to be addressed.

    And Jeff, about that guys trip…skip golfing for a month. Take the $50 in greens fees you pay weekly and SAVE money for the trip. You only have yourself to blame for not being able to go, not your wife or your kid’s medication.

  23. Pete,
    I strongly support the wake-up call you attempted to give this gentleman. He’s got a very self-centered focus that does not bode well.
    My ex-husband requested me to be a stay-at-home mom for our five children, but never valued my time or effort, AND when he chose to get a divorce he actually complained about the prospect of dividing the household finances in the divorce settlement because, he said, for the greater time of our marriage I had not worked and contributed to accumulating the family monetary wealth.
    I see this man heading in the same direction and hope your words cause him to think beyond his own navel.

  24. Great post, Pete! I think you are right about focusing on the real issue.

    My husband and I aren’t where we want to be financially, but we are working toward our goals TOGETHER. That’s why I’m confident that we will continue to improve – because we are working together.

    Finally, I LOVE your last line: “Keep calm and carry on.” Isn’t that some war quote???

  25. Pete,

    It seems to me this is a cry for help from ol’ Jeff. He’s probably just about to collapse under the crushing weight of his own debt. He’s feeling foolish for putting himself in that situation, he feels inferior to his faux-friends with whom he cannot discuss his problems, he’s distanced himself from his wife… I really feel bad for Jeff. Jeff needs a hug and a shoulder to cry on.

    Jeff’s idea of an “allowance” (for himself and his wife) may be an attempt to see the up-side of the $20 he might get to spend on himself at the end of the week if he budgets well. He’s on the right track asking for your budgeting advice.

    The wake-up call you’re trying to send ol’ Jeff would probably come around anyway. IMHO it might better involve a heart-to-heart breakdown confessional cry session in front of his wife, from whom he is doubtlessly hiding their catastrophic financial information. And after reading your response, hopefully that’s just what he’ll do.

    Haters, recognize that Jeff reached out. Beating him when he’s down will only crush what shred of self-respect he’s got left riding around in that Benz.

    Recognize also that Pete the Planner isn’t anyone else, he’s Pete the Planner. Take the financial advice and editorial flair or go read someone else’s blog. Pete is trying to start conversations that break down the walls that keep each of us from discussing our personal finances in public. Why are we all so ashamed to talk about money?

    Pete, keep on experimenting with your blogging style and damn the torpedoes. I can’t tell if you’re brave or foolish, but I’m enjoying reading either way.

  26. You are absolutely, completely, 100% dead on. This guy is delusional and when his wife leaves him (which she will) he will be shocked that she is entitled to have half of their assets even though she “doesn’t work.” I work from home, but for all intents and purposes am a stay at home mom. If someone told me that I didn’t work, I’d probably punch them in the face. And laugh.

  27. Excellent post. Hope there’s an update. Jeff sounds like a terrible person but it would be nice to know if your frank reply reached him. It was probably the first honest exchange he’s had in a while.

  28. Reminds me of a time a few years ago when my husband was suffering from some very serious medical problems and we were financially preparing for the scenario that something might happen to him, and I, as a stay at home mom, would need to support our family alone. We were focused on life insurance and estate planning preparing for that possible scenario and our attorney said to him, “you need to get some life insurance for your wife. If something happened to her right now, you would have to hire several people to do everything she does for the family and to run the household.” This was particularly true for us because of our particular case (he was quite ill), but is ultimately true for any couple where one works full time and one runs the house and takes care of the family.

  29. What you are calling a-hole behavior was actually standard operating procedure up through the 1960s. Calling the guy “lucky” that his wife doesn’t divorce makes you sound like some sort of white-knight mangina. How about the fact that SHE is lucky to hav someone who pays for her, her kids, etc without her having to WORK! Don’t feed me the Oprah-pablum that “being a stay at home mom is the toughest job in the world”. If so, why do so many women seek it so aggressively??

    The advice you should have given is: 1) Put your wife on a budget, if she doesn’t like it she can get a goddamn JOB, 2) put yourself on a budget while you’re at it.

  30. Wow… he actually wrote that. You realize it’s 2012, right “Jose”? Also, for the record, every day I spend chasing after my almost four year old I remember how LESS exhausting going to work is.

  31. Hello Pete, I must say this was a pretty good topic. I agree with you as well they do need to get to the root of the problem first! Jeff say that his friends suggested that he give his wife an allowance? REALLY…. If that is going to be the case then he should only get $10 for mowing the yard and $10 for doing yard work. $20 bucks seems to be the going rate for yard work! I’m sorry this guy needs to get his priorities in line. Also I have many friends that are stay at home moms. I know this maybe such a great job to be able to stay at home with your children. But in the back of my mind, anything could happen! If this guy chooses to divorce his wife, yeah she may get some alimony and/or child support but she is screwed. Should she ever have to be on Social Security benefits it would be based on if she has worked enough, that if she would need it? All these things play a factor in life. I have never been married, nor do I have children. However, if I did have children I would make sure that I would be ok as well as my children. I would at least be working a part time job and saving some money for just in case! Just case he does leave or just in case you wanted to take a mini vacation. Just a thought!
    Thanks Pete for the great blogs!

  32. Wow!! Pete, I don’t know anything about you (just came across this site accidentally) but I already like you 🙂 thanks for ripping “Jeff the Tool” a new one…I have rarely seen such blatant and deeply disillusioned SELFISHNESS in all my life.

  33. I don’t think enough men understand that “staying at home with two kids” is not “watching soap operas all day.” He thinks she doesn’t work? Does he know how much day care for two children would cost? Seriously? I’m guessing she’s resentful of the control he’s trying to lord over her. My solution would be that both of them have an allowance. That way he can go golfing and she can buy clothes. They should have a monthly budget that they stick to and work off on paying off those goals. But the man needs to realize that his wife is not a lazy person. She is a doing job that you would pay more than $1,000 a month for.

  34. I don’t like THIS man’s idea of giving his wife allowance… He is saying, “If you do this, I’ll pay you for it”… Hmm. Ok. She should be doing those things to begin with since she is a stay at home mom. Cleaning, cooking, taking care of the house and kids sort of come with the job. But I don’t see ANYTHING wrong with a husband giving the wife an allowance! It worked perfectly well back in the 50s and 60s… You know, when Men and Women BOTH had their place in a MARRIAGE??

  35. I have a very similar situation, I make 140K per year and my wife spends WAY too much money. not on meds of course!! that is a must. But she spends on eating out all the time, target, walmart, the mall, etc.. we have a very small car loan and relatively small mortgage. I try to get together as a family and make a solid budget but she wont respect it. I was thinking of paying her a salary of 70K per year and split the bills in half. What do you people think?

  36. This is probably some of the worst one sided advice I have heard. The guy was obviously just doing some venting about the medication and lessons. I’m sure he knows it’s important but the Target trips is another issues. Sure his friends gave him the wrong advice. However, if someone thinks that the other person is over spending that is a real underlying issue that has lead many to divorce.

    The answer is there should be a clear balance of spending that both parties will agree on. And both parties, regarding spending, should agree on what’s consider most important, what secondary and how much each should be allow to blow. For example if Jeff is spending $600 a month on a Benz that he primarily enjoys himself than the wife should have at least an equivalent amount where she’s allow to spend on how she see fit. The true is she probably is over spending somewhat because maybe she’s bored, the money is there or she never really learned to manage money well. On the other hand, maybe he is a little selfish, don’t put enough value in what his wife does or don’t see how the money helps his wife have a healthier emotional state.

    Either way it’s very seldom one sided and having a solid action plan about managing finances that both spouses agrees on may, just may, keep the couple out of divorce court.

    1. Maybe she doesn’t know how to manage money well, but still I think this guy is very self serving. Personally if I were going to go on a spending spree, it wouldn’t be at a Target. I would head to Saks or Neiman Marcus.

    2. Unfortunately, $120K per year is not a large amount, especially considering the huge amount of debt this couple has. With that in mind, this couple cannot afford one Benz, much less an equivalent amount being spent by the wife. Golf on a public course is at least $50/wk. There is a very simple reason they are not getting ahead – they are living above their means.

    3. I have seen this too many times. The husband “works”a nd the wife just “stays at home”. NOT!!
      Husbands sometimes treat the money as if it was soly theirs. He deserves the golfing with the buddies. I am sure a few beers. The nice Benz and suits for the office. She shops at Target. It’s Target. Don’t get me wrong, I love Target…. but its Target!
      I heard a grip about the kids meds and piano lessons, but not owing up to him paying for 5 hours of golf. I never heard him complain about her having meals ready for him each night.
      I am a stay at home mom. Raised 4 kid and home schooled. We make no where near 120K a year. I have been blessed with a husband who values what I do. The real work and effort put forth into raising a family!
      Have I ever spent stupid… you bet. Has my husband… Yep! Everyone has hair brain weeks.
      I so agree with the 1st response that Pete left. The problem isn’t going to be solved with a budget… but if a better household budget is what Jeff or any other person with this mentality wants, sell the Benz, stop playing expensive games (side note… walking out in a huff and playing expensive games never solved a thing), both parties adhere to a good budget.
      Allowance…. I am offended and it was not even directed to me!

  37. This guy is an idiot. If you have $105K in debt (yes, student loans count as debt), why the F*** do you ALSO have $40K in debt for your fancy car? Part of the problem with people who make $120K a year is that they think they’re entitled to drive around luxury vehicles even when they’re deeply in debt.

    Sell the car, pay down the credit card debt immediately, and get to work chipping away at the student loans. Buy a car that costs $10K or less that will work and hold its value reasonably.

    Also, Jeff: just because you EARN the money, doesn’t necessarily mean your wife has to “earn” allowance. Think of it this way: you both work for $120K per year. Her job is to raise the kids. You are not her boss; you are a team. Your letter is fraught with superiority and condescension (“She makes no money. I make really good money. I’m the only one that works”).

    If it makes you both feel better, decide what will be a joint purchase and what will not, and allocate fun money for *both* parties out of the household budget. Then you might see how frivolous you’re being as well. $50 at Target a week versus 5 of golf (plus the gear, plus the golf clothes)?

    1. “Think of it this way: you both work for $120K per year.” – this is the best advice I have ever heard on topics like this. A shift in perspective can make such a big difference in life.


    1. I have 2 grandchildren, my husband and myself to clean and cook for. I average washing 3 loads of clothes per day(total 21 +/- weekly) I figure it takes 1 1/2 hours to wash and dry each load. If I charge a minimal amount of $16.00 per hour for my time then just doing laundry is valued at $504.00 per week. This guy doesn’t think much of his wife does he?

  39. I think this guy is nuts. Get rid of the fancy car, drop the golf (it’s not a cheap sport). Maybe the wife spends more than absolutely necessary, but I bet Jeff doesn’t buy his suits at Walmart. He needs to take care of his children’s needs whether it’s medication or the arts. This guy needs to get over himself and grow up.

  40. I can relate on some level..I have the wife that is extremely dangerous when it comes to money management otherwise lack therof. So im sure this guy isnt telling the whole story. The problem in my case comes down to simple math. My wife doesnt bother to add up what shes spending in a week or day, in spite of trying to get her to stick to a budget it never happens and i feel like i have to constantly babysit her spending. The minute i let off and dont monitor it i get suprized by how much has been spent and we wind up in a pickle.

  41. I disagree. The woman is not accepting her responsibility to support the children financially as well, and as an adult, expects a man to pay her bills. I find it apalling that adult women expect men to pay their bills. They can go out, get a job, and work like everyone else. I don’t believe in the housewife notion. The man doesn’t resent his kid’s medication or daughter’s piano lessons. He resents being used as a provider with no regards for him as a human being. He is being seen as a sperm provider and ATM by an indifferent wife who is too good to work and overestimates her value ‘at home’ (not with kids who are in school) with older children who do not need round the clock care. He probably has little time to spend with his family and by the sounds of it, she does nothing around the house and does not work. This cannot be compared to a woman who works full-time and has to raise two or three kids by herself and take care of a house with little help financially, emotionally, or physically by the husband. He should seek a divorce from this woman.

    1. Hi Stephanie –

      I spent more time thinking about your reply than all the rest put together. It wasn’t just that your opinion was different – you make some valid points and the things you bring up ought to be seriously considered by anybody who wants to start a family – but something about it sounded “off” to me, and I wasn’t sure what it was.

      Then I found it. Here it is:

      “This cannot be compared to a woman who works full-time and has to raise two or three kids by herself and take care of a house with little help financially, physically, or emotionally by the husband.”

      You’re right. That is absolutely 100% true. It doesn’t compare at all.

      But — so what?

      The point of teaming up to form a family unit in the first place is to try to run a household and produce and rear children as comfortably and pleasantly as your circumstances allow. It’s not to have a contest to see who’s the biggest martyr.

      The fact that some people **have** to run a family under conditions of staggering debt, no money, and no help isn’t terrific and wonderful, it’s tragic and appalling. It’s not supposed to be that way. What we aim for is fewer people having to do that, not more people having to grind their lives away in misery and want in order to proudly display battle scars.

      It seems to me that poor Jeff (and possibly poor you) aren’t really talking about money at all. What you’re talking about is an imbalance of happiness.

      I think that if Jeff loved his job, he wouldn’t be representing his wife’s shopping trips (to Target forgodssakes! Target!! Geez!!) as mindless consumerism. What he’s really upset about is that he hates how he spends his days, and he thinks that his wife’s life is nicer than his.

      I agree completely that this couple ought to get a divorce. If you resent your spouse’s happiness, real or imagined, then you clearly don’t belong together.

    2. As a stay-at-home mom I find your response very disrespectful and insulting. Clearly, you’re not one of the women who should stay home with their children. It’s not for everyone, just as leaving children with others while one works isn’t for everyone. I’m not sure why you are so bitter(underlying issues), but demeaning another woman for choosing to stay home with her children should never be an option. You get to choose to work outside of the home, and it’s OK to let others choose what to do with their life. You should be nicer to other women

  42. What Jeff clearly doesn’t know is that his wife’s NON-PAYING job would net her around 138,000 in the business world. Oh wait! That’s more that Jeff makes at his incredible, high-faluting, HIGH-PAYING job!! What does that tell you Jeffrey. Perhaps you need a reality check, as was suggested, by doing your wife’s job for a week(you’d be begging to go back to work). And yes therapy…bless your heart!
    Southern SAHM

  43. You should setup a expense budget account with your wife and also note down all the expenses, and you and your wife can try to eliminate what can be eliminate to make sure there is some money to pay the credit card and saving. For example, if you have an expensive car, try to get ride of it and buy a used car that more reliable but cheap to maintain and cheap to insure. Try to save something like phone bill, move to a different provider and check whether you can save some. The same with the home internet, you can reduce to save it.

    Dont’ go and eat out, it is very expensive. You can save a lot of money by eating at home cook food and it is more healthy.

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