Sneaky wife teaches husband a money lesson he won’t forget

money lesson about cash and budgetsMY MONEY YOUR MONEY OUR MONEY


It’s unfortunate in relationships when both partners aren’t on the same page financially and extreme measures are taken to teach a money lesson.

It sounds a bit daft but to be honest when I read this fan question I felt sorry for her but I also applauded her for taking such a desperate step to teach her husband that money is a weighty issue.

Although I am completely on board when it comes to telling all of you to talk about finances BEFORE you are married I also understand that for some people it never happens.

In fact some couples assume the man is in charge of the money which seems a bit odd but that’s the way it goes. Most people I’ve ever chatted to it seems like the woman does all the money hugging and pays all the bills while the husband nods and takes it all in with a smile.

Let’s be honest here money management isn’t a fun job for lots of people especially when there isn’t cash to splash around. I’m pretty sure when debt is deep or when money is on the brain because creditors will come knocking the last job someone wants to jump up and take is captain of the budgeting team.

The problem is when one spouse does all the work the other isn’t learning why it’s important that they do what they do. As far as I’m concerned there is no ‘my money’, ‘your money’ in marriage it’s ‘our money’ and that means you should BOTH figure out what needs to be done with it, how it’s spent and how it’s saved.

Let’s see now how one CBB fan taught her husband a money lesson he won’t forget for a long time. I know I wouldn’t.

Dear Mr.CBB,

I wish I had a husband like you that cared about our family finances and wants to budget but sadly I don’t. My husband was laid off a few months ago and now that the snow is here he’s being lazy to look for work.

We’ve been married for 2 years now and we are in our late twenties with no kids yet and no retirement savings apart from programs through work.

We are on the brink of being broke as we have just about exhausted our emergency savings which I set aside on my own for times like this. We have a $200,000 mortgage and about $15,000 worth of debt that I want gone. Thankfully our vehicles are paid now but that was also looming over us while we were dating and into the first year of marriage.

I make $85,000 a year and he made $75,000 when he was working. My problem is he is depressed that he lost his job and has no ambition to find anything new because he wants his old position back. Honestly I think there are a million other things he could do and he’d be great at because he’s a smart guy.

In the meantime he has no problem eating out, going drinking and shopping with his friends and putting it all on credit card. He also takes cash from the bank account because he relies on me to do all the saving in the family. Money has always been easily available to him and he just takes what he needs and thinks it’s fine. It’s not fine and we’ve talked about it.

He swears that he wants to work on a budget with me but I’m not sure where to begin. I just started using your free budget that you have on the blog and it’s really opened my eyes about how much we have spent and not saving.

I was left with no alternative but to cut him off. That’s right, I took away his debit and credit cards and he’s upset with me now. In fact, I cut them up so the only way he will get them back is if he requests it from the bank. The only money he gets is a small allowance that our budget can handle and that’s it.

Putting my husband on a cash diet was the only way I could think of stopping him from spending too much money. I had to take his debit card away otherwise when I wasn’t looking he would take money from the bank account and not report it back to me.

He thought he could be sneaky but I see EVERYTHING! I didn’t want to become the couple who hides money from each other. I just want to have a normal financial relationship with my husband.

Any money we spend now we do it together and I hold the money power!! I know it’s not the ideal way to handle this but something has to be done. He’s now warming up to the allowance (thanks for that) but that’s not enough for me.

What do you suggest I do besides packing his bags and giving up on the relationship? I know it seems extreme but I don’t want to live the rest of our lives in debt and broke.


Dear MK,

First off, thanks for the compliment but honestly money has always been a no-brainer for the both of us especially when it came to understanding what we needed to do with it. Saying that though it didn’t come without work and an understanding of our finances.

You are certainly not the only couple who have money problems and you won’t be the last. The interesting part of some of the questions I get in the mail is that most of the people who are struggling have good jobs and make a decent income and have no reason to be struggling.

For the most part, we put ourselves in debt all by ourselves and there is no one to blame but the person behind the bank card.

Why is it happening then?

We put this money stress on ourselves when we believe that we earn enough to spend because it will easily be replenished. If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve talked to someone who say they earned shopping excursions, a spa day, golf outings or trips a few times a year but were swimming in debt.

It’s as if we take the money for granted because there is an endless pit which is waiting to be dug up. Not so much the case but tell that to thousands of Canadians who can’t get their money management skills right. When the going gets tough sometimes that means going to extremes to get someone to pay attention to their finances.

Your husband has gone from having money at his disposal to becoming his own money manager but with an allowance. Hey, I get an allowance and we don’t even have any debt but it really does work. He now has to spend his money wisely before he gets to the end of what’s left in his wallet. It will be a transition for him but clearly your finances need change.

MK below I’m sharing with you Money Lesson 1, 2 and 3 that I call TTF, Today, Tomorrow, Forever. My wife and I went through this process and although every couple is different I hope it inspires your relationship.


Money Lesson 1- Communicate Today


I know it may be the hardest part of the journey but until you both get on the same page NOTHING will work and if it does it’s only time before it breaks. You can take away his credit cards all you want but he still has access to the money whether you try to stop him or not. His name is on the bank account right?

What I would do is talk to him and see if he would be willing to set aside some time every week, even a half an hour to go over the budget spreadsheet with you. He doesn’t have to learn how to budget (unless he wants to) but he needs to see what you do and why it’s important for him to keep his receipts and report his expenses and income to you.

Sometimes when people start to see the numbers that really does light a fire under their butt. It’s easy to take, take, take but the numbers don’t lie. Since you’ve done all the money management he has no sense of responsibility towards the family finances and he needs to step up to the plate and join in the fun.

He needs to understand what your money is doing today.


Money Lesson 2- Communicate Tomorrow


Talk about what you plan to do moving forward with the budget and make sure that he has input and it’s not all you. Sometimes when people don’t understand how to budget they are intimidated by the spouse who seems to have their money facts altogether.

There is nothing wrong with reassuring him that his ideas are valid and that you will both explore them together. Living in the  moment is what he seems to be doing but at the end of today there is tomorrow and if the money doesn’t last today you have nothing to get you through to the next and so on.

Motivating your husband to find a new job and asking him how you can help him whether it be by looking at his resume, coaching him through the interview process or just reassuring him that you will be there for him no matter what job he finds.

I know from experience that when I moved to Canada and I wasn’t working that I felt I wasn’t contributing my weight to the relationship. It was hard but my wife pushed me to go back to school and even though I was older and hesitant it was the best decision I we ever made.

It was tough on the finances as we didn’t really use a budget back then but we made it by living a frugal life. You might learn that he wants to go back to school to do something new that he never dreamed he would do. Sometimes people just need to follow their passion (<<< a great read) to help bring out the best in themselves.

Sometimes we can get scared to ask for what we want and although we know women aren’t mind readers part of loving someone is not giving up it’s helping them become the best they can be.

All you can do is try.


Money Lesson 3- Communicate Forever


Where do you both want to be when you are ready to retire? Where will the money come from? Are you investing in your future retirement? Do you both understand what an RRSP or TFSA is? If not talk to a financial advisor.

Does your husband want to travel to Florida in the winter or does he want to have his mortgage paid and live a simple life with no debt stress. These are questions you both need answers to.

You might not have all the answers but you certainly need to start painting your picture of life together moving forward. One of the worst mistakes couples make is to wait until it’s too late then blame everything else about why they have debt in retirement or they say wished they had done something earlier.

Don’t be this couple because you are young still and have all the ammunition to make your retirement years the best they can be. Sometimes one of the best things you can do is going to your local coffee shop with your husband and hang out where the retired folk sit around and chat.

Whether you get involved in the conversation or not or just listen to what they have to say more often than not money will pop up. It’s amazing what you can learn from someone whose been there done that and can offer advice to those who are making the journey to the end.

I like to call this Coffee Shop Talk and a great way for the both of you to get out of the house, communicate and enjoy each others company. Just make sure to budget in something into the entertainment part of your budget!

I know I won’t have all the answers for you MK and I applaud the extreme measures you’ve gone to teach your husband a money lesson but that’s only a band-aid. I hope moving forward both of you can work on money lessons together in your marriage journey.


What other tips can you offer to this couple?

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  1. His current state of mind needs to be addressed, specifically his unwillingness to look for another financial means. As the supposed head of the family, he needs to get his off his butt and do what he’s supposed to do. Seeing a therapist for him and a marriage counselor for both of them might really help. He needs to understand the impact of the current lifestyle he’s leading on their finances and on their marriage and family.

  2. Communication is the key here. Less of it causes problems. So, we should at all times address issues. The earlier the better. Right? When we always communicate to our husband or wife, I personally tend to feel trusted and encouraged that we’re on the same page.

  3. Christine Weadick says:

    I find it encouraging that this girls hubby is OK with his cash allowance. Many men would not be for various reasons. There have been a number of good ideas floated here and I hope the couple take them to heart and work things through.
    They both need to realize that a budget is not always carved in stone and it does require adjusting on a regular basis. I think this is where people mess up using a budget. Things don’t balance one month and they give up thinking it’s too hard. It can be hitting a moving target the first while until you get the hang of the budgeting process…. They need to hang in there and work together until things get better. And they will….eventually if both are willing to work on communicating about a budget and everything else.

    • I have an allowance and it’s not that bad, keeps me on my toes! You are right Christine and good point to mention that budgets change and should be visited often. You nailed it why many people give up on the budget. Great motivation for them!! Thanks Christine!:)

  4. Wow! I’m so happy to have a husband that gets that we’re on a budget and for a reason!

    If I could give one suggestion it would be for her to go on a cash allowance too. Both parties should be equals with the finances, so it only seems fair to me. She can do all the bill payments and joing purchases with her cards though too.

    Losing half their income is a pretty big jolt and I can see why her husband would be depressed and how frustrating things could seem for her. It seems though that this will only be a temporary rough patch for them though, so it would be important to focus on improving things for the days to come together.

    Best of luck!

    • Very good point Cheap Mom! I can see resentment building up if one partner is stuck with cash and the other is free to do as they wish. I’ve lost my job a couple of times and I relied on that income and you are right, it’s depressing and we all work our way through it but some people it takes them a bit longer or they need a bit of motivation. I never in my wildest dreams I’d be where I am in my career if it weren’t for my wife pushing me to pursue what I wanted. Thanks for sharing your input as always!

  5. Angela Mainse says:

    I completely understand where this woman is coming from. Years ago, I had to put my husband (then boyfriend/fiancé) on a cash diet because we just couldn’t afford his hobbies and pay for our apartment and bills at the same time. He was upset with me, but got over it, he married me after all. It happened all of a sudden that he realized that we could save for the wedding that we wanted to have, house, kids, etc. Anything that was a long term goal, the money “all of a sudden” appeared. At that time, he realized that money slips through his fingers and budgeting isn’t his thing, money still slips through his fingers. Over the years I have attempted to get him involved with the budget, to know what is going on. I can’t say that has been successful, but I want to feel confident that if for some reason I couldn’t do the work (paying the bills, shifting the money to the appropriate places, etc.) it would get done. We aren’t there yet 15 years later.

    However, I understand what it’s like to lose a job. I went through this same thing just over a year ago. First, thing we had trouble with was adjusting our spending. We needed to relearn how to work with less money, thank goodness we had severance to help us bridge that learning gap. But, the big thing for me, I lost my self worth to the family. I used to provide 50% of the income and was providing nothing. Yes, I could have walked into any fast food place and gotten a job quickly, but that wouldn’t have helped me see the value of what I had to offer. I was mildy depressed about the situation. I needed to find a purpose.

    No, I am still not working. However, I did find my purpose. I went back to school and I am in my second semester of a two-year program to help me provide a better future for my family, rather than a minimum wage future. Yes, things are going to be tight, yes it won’t be easy, yes we may have to take on some more debt (yikes), but without school, I don’t think I would have found my drive to get where I need to go. I agree with Mr. CBB, going to school when older is scary, but it will be worth it in the long run. It already is. Even if I can’t find full-time employment when I’m finished (yet another scary thought), I finally feel like I can face it.

    Great article Mr. CBB!

    • Hi Angela,
      Thanks for sharing your story. Sometimes we have to take certain measures to help our partners to see or understand things in the relationship. My wife lost her job and that self worth you are talking about. It took lots of tears and motivation to get her to a better place but it’s important whatever route we take that we never give up on our partner. Good for you going back to school and I went back for the same reason. You know you are educating yourself and yes that might mean debt but it also may mean you are changing your life for the good. Keep the spirit we can’t go through life not taking a bit of risk. 🙂 Well done Angela I’m proud of you

  6. Hello Mr. CBB,

    Thank you for sharing MK’s story, it is quite sad but I am glad that she has reached out for help and took charge of the situation. I am rather curious as to why you called this woman “sneaky” for putting an end to the childish/foolish behavior of her unemployed husband?
    You may have thought of a catchy title for this post to lure readers, but I found it rather offensive that you would call a financial smart and strong woman “sneaky” for doing the right thing under the circumstance.

    • I don’t think I was thinking of it from the same perspective as you. I was thinking of it as sneaky as in a good way to help motivate him to get on board with their finances. 🙂

  7. So many good advices here, it’s hard to add up anything.
    I’d say: look for marriage counseling. Sometimes money may be seen as the problem, but there may be other issues underneath it. People are complex, and so are their problems.

  8. I’m happy the wife stepped in and took control of this situation. She has as much to lose, with a mortgage and everything, if he spends foolishly.
    If the husband is clinically depressed, maybe go see your family doctor. The doctor can help.
    Maybe the wife should take a look at their relationship..was the husband spending recklessly when he was employed? Maybe this just high lights it more.
    Good luck

    • I agree and sometimes we have to go above and beyond to help each other out and in this case although extreme I’m sure he will look back and be thankful that she was there to support them both. I do agree that they should both do the cash diet as one other reader suggested. Some partners are at their wits and although it may not be the route they want to take when it means possibly losing their home it’s time to take a hard look at options and consequences of not doing anything at all. Good point about the husband potentially spending recklessly only after he was unemployed. I’m sure she will be reading all of the comments today. Thanks Kathryn as always for sharing your thoughts.

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