Relationships: couples need to be honest about money

Jo Lamble offers Ruth advice on her husband’s reluctance to discuss money.

Money hidden in a book

Ruth’s husband is incredibly secretive about their finances and she’s worried that he may be hiding something. Relationship expert Jo Lamble offers her advice.

Q. Ruth

My husband simply won’t talk to me about money. I have no real idea about the state of our finances, except the basics – that our mortgage is paid off and how much we pay on a car loan. Every time I suggest doing something to the house, going on holiday, or even going out to dinner, I’m told we can’t afford it. Yet he thinks nothing of updating his wardrobe twice each year. We both work and shouldn’t be struggling financially, what can I do?

A. Provided by Jo Lamble

It’s quite unfair for you to be kept in the dark about money because it’s important that couples work as a team when it comes to the family finances. One person is usually in charge of paying the bills, but both individuals need to know what money is coming in and going out in case anything happens and you’re on your own.

Perhaps you could suggest a joint meeting with your bank manager, accountant or financial adviser. Frame it in terms of needing to be educated for the future and wanting to budget for renovations or a holiday. If he flat out refuses, then you might need to talk to him about the issue of control, telling him that you respect the way he has always managed the family finances, but you don’t like being kept in the dark about something so important because you worry about the future.

Jo Lamble
www.jolamble.com.au

Do you have any suggestions for Ruth? Or perhaps you have a question to ask relationship expert Jo Lamble?





    COMMENTS

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    Jilly B
    25th May 2016
    10:17am
    I have some suggestions for Ruth. Is the family home in joint names and also other assets that have retained value? If they are NOT then her husband can borrow against them without her knowledge or consent. I have experienced this with my ex husband and the bank were arrogant when I tried to find out how much he was borrowing. I was promptly told my name was NOT on the documents and under the privacy act they did not have to speak to me. He even manged to change the account into his name only and I was not advised of this by the bank.
    Anonymous
    25th May 2016
    10:40am
    A couple who have purchased a home are best to have done as "tenants in common".
    Old Man
    25th May 2016
    11:45am
    In support of the banks Jilly B, they may have seemed arrogant to you but they were just doing their job of keeping a confidence between bank and customer. Should your husband have wanted to ask about your account details he would have been given the same answer.

    Jilly B, it seems that you are like 99% of the population in that you don't fully read a document that you sign or ask enough questions about the document. If you ask the bank for a copy of the joint account form which you signed, you will be able to see that either you or your husband had the right to deal with the account in any way chosen. As you have agreed to this, the bank does not have a responsibility to advise either party of any dealings.
    Old Man
    25th May 2016
    11:47am
    Fast Eddie, I would always suggest that properties are purchased as joint tenants. Tenants in common is quite rare and can present a number of problems in the event of a dispute.
    Anonymous
    25th May 2016
    12:11pm
    Old Man, not if the wills of the tenants in common are drawn up correctly and to each tenant's (owner's) satisfaction.
    Anonymous
    25th May 2016
    5:58pm
    Fast Eddie & Old Man

    The main differences between the two methods:

    Joint Tenants: If one dies the portion owned by the deceased automatically reverts to the other joint tenant and a share in a joint tenancy cannot be sold to another party... irrespective of any directive given in a Will.

    Tenants in Common: If one dies the portion owned by the deceased is transferred to the person named in their Will or if no will per the State PLUS during life, a share in a Tenants in Common can be sold to another independent party. Finding a buyer may be a tad difficult, unless it is your children, of course.

    IMPORTANT - Why I prefer Tenants In Common with separate mortgages, especially when both parties are working:
    Advantages:
    1. You both own your OWN portion of the property, as two separate entities which means you are capable of dealing with that portion of the property as you wish. Raise your own mortgage and increase or decrease it as you wish
    2. You can Will your portion of the property to your children or whoever you wish when you die - it does NOT automatically revert to the other owner of the property.

    This is important as I have seen so many times, property held as Joint Tenants and when the wife dies, the husband automatically becomes the sole owner of that property. He then finds a new (young) partner and has more kids and the new (young) partner and his new kids become the sole beneficiaries of the whole property and the children of his previous marriage, receive absolutely nothing.
    When leaving your portion of a Tenancy in Common property to your children, you can always arrange for the surviving spouse to 'live' in the property until he/she becomes deceased. Once that occurs the property can be sold and funds obtained therefrom to satisfy both deceased persons directions in their Wills.

    Disadvantage:
    1. Your partner may raise a mortgage on his/her portion of the property and if repayment is an issue the property may be placed in jeopardy. However, banks (without specific guarantees) may be the ones who will suffer the difficulties should separate mortgages be held, as they can't throw you out of your portion of the house and can really only sell the other person's portion which is, as stated previously, a bit difficult... although with young people not being able to own whole houses, this option may be an in for many young people. In an extreme situation, you may find yourself living with (young) strangers!
    Anonymous
    25th May 2016
    6:44pm
    Tendency in Common is especially important for couples with children from a previous marriage who would like these children to receive some benefit of their parent's labours after death.
    Doodlebug44
    25th May 2016
    11:07am
    If I were Ruth, I would open a bank account in my name only and have my salary paid directly into it. She is working too and is entitled to her own money.
    Anonymous
    25th May 2016
    5:59pm
    Doodlebug44

    Excellent recommendation!
    World Prophet
    25th May 2016
    11:07am
    I smell a rat...
    Anonymous
    25th May 2016
    5:59pm
    Yeah, me too!
    Miss Elizabeth
    25th May 2016
    11:14am
    I agree with JIlly and Fast Eddie. Have you heard of sexually transmitted debt?? Ruth you are working? Please don't put your earnings into a black hole (ie, any account which you don't have access to or control over). I suspect your earnings may be transferred directly into an account controlled by your husband. Sadly, this situation is, I believe, a symptom of the state your relationship is in and I strongly advise you to seek counselling.
    margie
    25th May 2016
    11:39am
    Definitely have your wages paid into your own bank account. This is not acceptable that any one has total control of the money in a relationship. If your husband is buying clothes etc for himself and you're not because 'money isn't available' then you my dear, have a big problem and I would suggest a visit to a lawyer. This man sounds very controlling and it needs to stop asap, and I agree with others on the site, I also smell a rat.
    rob101
    25th May 2016
    11:45am
    Ruth is experiencing a type of Domestic Violence.One good thing is that she is NOT responsible for any Debts her Husband may incur.If her name is not on the Title of their house she should at least have a Caveat placed on the Title,a quick search will soon tell her if there has been any dealings on the Title she is not aware of.
    Anonymous
    25th May 2016
    6:01pm
    rob101

    Title searches can be done online for about $30, so it is really easy to do.

    Good advice.
    Old Man
    25th May 2016
    11:51am
    What we are not told in this scenario is the relationship between Ruth and her husband. Apart from secretive financial dealings what is the rest of the relationship like? What nationality is the husband? There may well be a valid reason for the secrecy. Is the marriage the first for both and if not, was the husband "taken to the cleaners" by his first wife? Before I would offer an opinion, I would like to know a whole lot more.
    Anonymous
    25th May 2016
    6:05pm
    Old Man

    True they could hate each other and smouldering resentment from a different corner of the house every night but it doesn't alter the fact that as the wife is handing over ALL her OWN money, she is entitled to know where her money is going and what her financial standing is.
    Gammer
    25th May 2016
    11:59am
    Yes, Old Man, totally agree with the need to be 'joint tenants'... In the event of the death of one the other is legally the owner of the entire property.
    KSS
    25th May 2016
    12:30pm
    I think the first question to ask here is whether this is changed behaviour over say the last couple of years or whether this has always been the case in this relationship. The answer to that question may put a different perspective on things. If he has always been the same, then perhaps framing her questions more along the lines of needing to know in case something happens to her husband is the way to go. But if this is recent behaviour then she may need to look more deeply for the cause. Has her own access to funds changed, for example? Has her husband's behaviour changed in other ways?

    However, I do think that BOTH parties in a relationship should have an understanding of their financial situation even if one party handles the day to day running of their financial affairs.
    Tante Chrissie
    25th May 2016
    1:35pm
    Have your salary paid into your own personal account. Stop providing him with any benefits until he comes clean. No washing, cooking, cleaning, sex, etc until you can either share equally and/or divide equally. His attitude and behaviour are simply not acceptable.
    Anonymous
    25th May 2016
    6:08pm
    Tante Chrissie

    Well that comment made me laugh... you really know how to deal with us wayward men... one raised eyebrow but am still chuckling my head off.
    Sundays
    25th May 2016
    3:03pm
    If there is no mortgage, only a car loan and you both work then obviously they can afford a few luxuries including going out to dinner. There is no point in being naive about money. If the husband won't discuss money, then the wife needs to keep some of her pay for herself. There seem to be bigger problems here
    nukem
    25th May 2016
    3:40pm
    I would do the same as the others have suggested and get a Bank account of your own and put your money in it and wait and see how long it takes him to notice still using his account for the day to day money so you have some money to fall back on he could be building up money for a split ask the bank to a copy of the statement or better yet get the bank to give you a internet number to be on the net to check the account if your wages were going in then you have a right to an internet availability to your joint account and a statement while you are there as well I would also check if the house is still in both names and any mortgage owed on it. After you have all your facts then decide what to do next better not to show your hand till you have all your information. If you still have dependent children the above is all important as have been left with nothing before. I know another man who live as a loving husband 10yrs after he started an affair before he told his wife and ended it and they had everything in joint names and guess who got the money and left her to pay the house for a few more years then told her to sell and of course he got half and she nothing for what she paid on her own. Take care and find all the facts first and if true set yourself up first with money before you say anything.
    particolor
    26th May 2016
    11:36am
    That's no good ! :-( Barby got Kens House, Kens Car, and Kens Alimony !:-) :-)

    25th May 2016
    9:09pm
    Hi Ruth

    Let me tell you this, my x did the same thing to me (second Marriage for both of us) He controlled all the money and I worked my butt off. When we spilt up, I had no access to any money, I had nothing cause everything was in his name.. I ended up on sole Parent payment, and filed for bankruptcy, due to having some credit cards in my name that we would use for holidays overseas.. and he left me for another woman that had been around for a while. He's hiding something big time Ruth.. So sorry if this hurts, but you need to do something now and act now!
    Jan
    26th May 2016
    6:14am
    I had to open my own bank account when I found my husband had gambled away all our money. It didnt stop there, and I have paid off his gambling debts for years. It's a huge prolem, and online gambling has made it much worse. We should have been self funded retirees, instead of which we will remain accountable to Cenrelink for the rest of our lives. You need to take matters into your own hands Ruth, they can appear trustworthy but in reality canbe very manipukative.
    Pamiea
    26th May 2016
    10:01pm
    I trust no blokes. Bit of a shame really. I would not allow any man to control me after being a beaten wife.
    JJ
    28th May 2016
    10:39am
    You have a problem here with either a power/control, or sometime sneaky going on. Either way, it is quite unacceptable and must be addressed. You must create some financial independence with your own bank account, and also making sure your husband is contributing his fair share to domestic running costs. It sounds rather as though your overall relationship leaves much to be desired, so make sure you take good care of yourself and your own needs without deferring always to him. If he arcs up then tell him that he has had the option to share information in a friendly manner, but you have had enough of being the nice little woman and will do whatever is necessary to have some life for yourself. His attitudes hark back to the Victorian era of being the master of his little universe.
    Jilly B
    28th May 2016
    6:30pm
    Old Man !You are not correct at all. I had an account with a credit union in my name only for my wages. Whilst on maternity leave with a very small baby and he had the car at work he managed to open an account in his name only. When he went to the bank to take out a house loan he opened the account in his name as his pay was being used to pay the loan by Direct Debit. The credit union were well aware that he was married and we had 1 child at that time. I had another child a couple of years after that and I did not return to full time work. I always checked the statements to see that our house was being paid at the correct time of the month and other bills and I used my money to pay for food, pharmacy, doctors visits, clothes, special occasions etc. The bank when I brought up the topic of him having the loan in his name only stated that he could do that but they were well aware he had financial committments to me and the children. He forged his liabilities and assets statements by putting down a inflated value for our house and leaving out committments. The bank did not pick it up until he lost his job and then hell broke out. So you are not correct when you try to make out I signed the papers without reading them or they were in join names etc. I have always read everything I have signed much to some staff's annoyance. This is transmitted debit by marriage and when we separated I was made to pay 1/2 of all his debts by the family court. I went back to study and full time work but our children were still at school and were very badly damaged by it all. Today I have started again and my children both have corporate careers but none of us forget the heartache.


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