A Financial Man-Child


Hi Scott,

We live beyond our means — especially my husband. We have been married two years; I earn $45,000 and he earns $70,000. I bought us a house three years ago, paying a deposit of $90,000 plus another $49,000 to clear his credit card debts. I now have a credit card debt of $15,000 and he has another of $40,000. We have separate finances with a joint account for bills. The house is worth $900,000 with a $680,000 mortgage. His solution is to get a small second mortgage to pay off our debts at low rates. No pre-nup. Unstable marriage. Should I agree?


Scott's Answer

Hi Tammy,

I’m going to be honest with you.

The first thing that came to my mind as I read your question is “No. No. No. No. No.”

Seriously, that’s what I kept saying as I read your question.

I see the problem you’re facing. On one hand, he’s your husband. On the other, he’s a financial man-child.

You bailed him out once. Now he’s coming back again. The third time he comes back — and there will almost certainly be a third time — he’ll take you to the cleaners. It may take five or ten years, but that’s where this is heading.

Now, consolidating your debts via a second mortgage will save you interest. Honestly, though, that is the financial equivalent of using a surgically clean syringe to inject your heroin each day. It’s not the interest that’s the problem, it’s your out-of-control spending.

Not to get too airy-fairy, guitar-strummy-strummy with you, but your financial problems are a symptom of what’s going on in your relationship. Before anything changes financially, you (both) need to. The problem is that changing is hard at the best of times, especially when you’re married to a little boy who can’t be trusted with a credit card.

Obviously it is totally up to you, but if you were my sister I’d suggest you go Gwyneth Paltrow and ‘consciously uncouple’ from your husband until he can start acting like a responsible adult — giving you space to focus on digging yourself out of this mess.