Money and me

My dad was in debt before my parents met.  When he died at age 47, he was still in debt, having never gotten out of debt.

Money was always tight when I was growing up.  My mom mostly stayed home with us 5 kids, but she did work some from home.  We almost never ate out.  We wore hand-me-downs and thrift store clothes.  They actually weren’t even from a thrift store; they were from a free store, a charity store operated by a church.

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I actually had an outfit that was bought at a store.  My mom sewed clothes for us.  And it was the hand-me-downs from my aunts, who were just a few years older than me.  And the charity clothes.

We had one car – an ancient station wagon.  One house we lived in was close enough to where my dad worked that he could walk to work, so he often did, to save money.

We always lived in rented houses.

I did go to a small private church school.  Actually a couple of them.  My parents figured that was worth the expense.  For 5th and 6th and 7th and 8th grades, I went to public schools.  Then one of the private church schools re-opened in time for me to go to high school.  My parents paid for the first couple of years, but then my dad told me that if I wanted to go to school there, I would need to pay for it.  So I worked summers and some after school to pay for my high school and to save money to go to college.

My family didn’t have the money that the other families at that school had, so my clothes were never as nice as the other kids clothes, which I’ve already told you about.  I didn’t get to go on ski outings and stuff like that that the other kids did.  Or go to the movies, unless friends took me.

Sometimes my dad would even borrow money from me.

In one way, I didn’t mind working to go to school.  But in another way, it really made me feel not taken care of, like someone who was supposed to provide for me, didn’t.

So I went to college for a couple of years, working to pay for college.  I met my husband.  He went to college for 4 years.  We got married at the beginning of his senior year.  I had actually paid of his college bill for his junior year, since I was working at the time, and I wanted to get married.  Looking back, I think that was a very stupid thing to do and it should have been a warning to me.  His senior year, our first year of marriage, he worked part time and I worked full time.  We didn’t have a car; we walked everywhere.  We lived in a studio apartment.

Then five months after we got married, my dad died.  He left life-insurance money to my mom.  She suggested to my husband and me that she use part of the life insurance money on a down payment on a piece of property with 2 houses on it and then we would share the mortgage.  Her thought was that it would help her to have us near.  I am the oldest and the rest of my siblings were still at home.  So we did that.

It worked for a few years.  But then she met a guy and decided that she wanted half of the down payment back!  As a young couple, with a baby now and me a stay-at-home mom, we did NOT have that kind of money.  She was going to take us to court to get it.   We split the property, refinanced to a mortgage we really couldn’t afford, used all of our savings.  And that ended my relationship with my mom for about 15 years.

In 2004, when we decided to move to this state, we sold our house for a ridiculous price, bought this property here outright and had a chunk of money left over.  I was thrilled!  At last we could have have savings!  At last, we could start saving for retirement.

Except….  my husband didn’t get a job when we moved here.  He kept telling me he would, but he didn’t.  I was home-schooling our daughters so I wasn’t working.  And I kept believing him that he would get a job.   He spent his time hanging out with his dad.  Then he got a part time job mowing at a golf course for a few months.  After that, it was part time at Wal-Mart.  Finally, he went to a trade show with his dad and bought a piece of equipment to start his own business.  He spent several thousand dollars on this equipment, but he didn’t talk with me first about buying it.  And even after he bought it, he didn’t tell me he bought it until a couple of days later.  Then he spent several more months modifying the piece of equipment with his dad.

So by the time his business was going enough for him to quit working at Wal-Mart, we had no more of that chunk of money left.

We still have no savings or retirement to speak of.

We don’t talk about money, except he’ll tell me I spend to much, but he won’t discuss with me priorities of money or create a budget with me or anything.

I started working so I wouldn’t have a tarp on the leaking roof for the rest of my life.  But honestly, I am more scared about not having any retirement money than having a leaking roof.

This house needs more work on it than I think he will EVER be able to afford.  He seems very content with his income.  He doesn’t have plans for expanding the business.  He doesn’t have any plans for fixing the major problems of the house.  He doesn’t have plans for how to afford retirement.

I guess I am repeating the pattern in my life:  my dad couldn’t provide well for me.  And my husband doesn’t provide well for me.

And, no, I am not a prima donna.

I’m working on spending more carefully.  Which is good for me.  It is discouraging, though, to think that it won’t actually have any effect on our ultimate financial situation.  He’ll find a way to spend whatever I manage to save.  But in trying to improve my personal spending/saving skills, it will help me in the future, if/when I get to be on my own.

I started taking some on-line certificate courses to improve my skills so I can get a better paying job.  I also am planning to take a local class designed for women who need to make enough money to support themselves to help them get back into the workforce.

But if my husband and I cannot work together on our finances, I’m not sure how all of this is going to work.  He seems to be very jealous of me working, jealous of what money I earn, however pitiful it may be.  I do keep it in my own accounts rather than giving it to him for a household account.  He doesn’t like this, even though what I spend out of what I earn goes to the house or for our daughters.  It’s not like I am buying myself furs and jewelry!!!!

I want to make enough to support myself.  To support myself well.  And to have money for retirement.  I don’t want the reason that I am married to be because I can’t afford to be single.

I like to listen to Dave Ramsey.  I find him to be very encouraging, not only about money, but about life in general.  I’d also like to change my view, my family history of money.  I don’t want to think of myself as poor.  Just because my parents were in debt, and their parents before them, even if they weren’t in debt, were at least very poor, doesn’t have to mean that I can’t be successful financially in my life.

And I don’t want to be destitute when I am old.

I’d also like to be able to do for people whatever I’d like to.  I get very frustrated sometimes when I know that somebody would like something and I can’t get it for them.  I’d like to change that.

I want money to be a positive thing in my life, not just one more frustration.

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7 Responses to Money and me

  1. I don’t understand why your husband wouldn’t want your living situation to improve. Is he suffering from depression? No one should be living in a home with a failing roof. Can you barter with someone in your city: roof repair services for tutoring/writing/editing services? In this economy, you may be surprised what can be negotiated.

    • No, he doesn’t suffer from depression. I think he just can’t be bothered to take the responsibility; I think it is part of his passive aggressive behavior. His dad replaced one of our bathtubs for him not too long after we moved in, and put in bathroom exhaust fans. My brother put in a suntube (like a skylight) for me that I bought. My brother-in-law put in a dishwasher for me that they gave me. I’ve painted the walls and shutters, but I haven’t finished those yet. I put in a drainage system around the front of the house so rain water wouldn’t run under the house. I closed up the crawl space and put in copycat Humidex system. My brother helped my put down plastic in the crawl space. I paid to have the air-ducts cleaned and sealed. He just doesn’t!!! His business is such that he could barter for almost any service, but he’s not interested. I have the money now to have the roof repaired, but I don’t know if I should go ahead and get it done since I am trying to decide to leave or not and I might need that money. The roof isn’t the only thing. The floor is sagging because it is rotting. And the septic system is failing. Anyhow, it is very frustrating to me!!! I don’t understand either why a man wouldn’t want to improve his living situation! :(

  2. 'G says:

    Given that the husband is passive-aggressive, it means he is passive first, and then has hidden anger mixed in.

    Passivity, as defined by John H. Lee, is “the compulsion to pursue the opposite of what we say we want.” It can “manifest itself as self-sabotage, settling for less, deferring dreams, or turning to denial or substitution.” John Lee says “I exercised my passivity by being a workaholic and telling myself that I was doing it for the benefit of others. I spread myself so thin that there was almost nothing left at the end of the day for me or for my loved one.” Passivity “is not to be confused with apathy, laziness, or procrastination.” Passivity “is what leaves many people feeling like they are giving up, defeated, settling underarchieving, or perpetually unsatisfied.”

    “Unfortunately, many people have developed a connection to loss and feeling less than; they settle for unfulfilling relationships or careers that never quite let them achieve their creative potential. Surviving rather than thriving has become the state that many of us are not only used to, but compelled to pursue.”

    “Passivity compels people to wait in a state of suspended animation until something or someone outside themselves ‘rescues’ them from their current circumstances; only then will they have the full life that has been eluding them. This knight in shining armor–whether a person, the world, society, etc.–is supposed to bring them something they feel they have lost or had taken from them. That something could be hope, energy, love, trust, or faith. It could mean a perfect job, an unconditional lover, winning the lottery, or good parents. It is a psychological, physical, emotional, and spiritual condition that plagues even the most educated and self-directed people, and therefore the whole person must be addressed.”

    Thus, the passive husband is accustomed to being rescued, and has learned that if he waits long enough, his dad (his knight in shining armor — or overalls), or wife (princess in Daisy Dukes) will step in to fix his circumstances. Already, just by being passive, he has gotten a new bathtub, exhaust fan, dishwasher (not that this really matters — he doesn’t wash the dishes anyway), crawlspace ventilation, drainage system, clean air ducts, and souped-up machinery. If he is passive a bit longer, his wife may even pay for a new roof — though he may take it out on her (passive-aggressively, of course) because on some level he resents that she is more capable than he is. But he is comfortable enough with his living condition, and has learned that if he plays his cards right and waits long enough, someone else will improve it for him. Not a bad gig, if you can get it, eh?

  3. Karen says:

    And, the PA just loves NOT doing what would make you happy.

    • I used to think it was just “co-incidence” that he would do the opposite of what I would like, that “circumstances” were limiting him. I finally realized that it wasn’t co-incidence, it wasn’t circumstances, it was HIM!

  4. Zoe says:

    “And, the PA just loves NOT doing what would make you happy.”
    Oh that is SOOOO true. So very true!

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