This is an angry rant and I am aware that I am dishing on my household in a way that I probably should not dish. But at the moment I am just that angry.
My brain has been all-consumed for the past 48 hours with setting up our budget. Jared discovered a method and software called YNAB (www.ynab.com) and we’ve embraced it wholeheartedly. We’re still doing Dave Ramsey’s class, but YNAB is a budgeting solution we feel we can stick with beyond 9 weeks. I have to admit, it’s not rocket science but it is pretty slick. We figure we’ll be to Rule Four fairly quickly if we follow our budget according to plan.
I’ve actually cheated a little bit using YNAB and done some yearly forecasting, something the system does not encourage but the software allows it. The trick is to follow Rule Three, which means adjusting as needed and not feeling guilty or getting bent out of shape because of the need to adjust.
It’s funny. I’ve gotten the vibe for a long time now that people in our family, people in our social circles assume that because I’ve had a spending habit for so long that Jared has to be the better one at managing money. It makes me feel inferior and stupid. Reality is that while I was sick, most bills just didn’t get paid. Mail didn’t get opened until I pitched fits about it. What’s worse is that said mail disappeared to Jared’s office so that I had no idea we’d even received it. Jared refused to ask for help with the logistics of running our household, which is what we needed at the time and I just wasn’t “with it” enough to be able to ask for help. There are times I begged him, in fact, to ask for help from family (not for money, for budgeting and logistical help) and he refused to do so, saying it was our problem. So the bills piled up, my spending habits got out of control, I was told and treated as though I couldn’t handle money, so it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I stopped looking at the bank account because I felt like my input was going to be ignored anyway, so I put all thoughts of responsibility aside and just said to myself, “Fine, Jared’s responsible for what happens.” Medical bills piled up with no set plans to pay for them other than to put them on credit cards. So we ended up in bankruptcy court and I swore under oath that I was taking responsibility for my portion of the yucky debt we piled on together. Our credit is now in shambles and it was not pretty and it’s a miracle we’re still married, but there are plenty of times the ugly “D” word has come up in arguments.
To be completely honest, I do blame Jared for a good portion of our money issues. I’ve looked at the accounts, including the old credit card accounts. Over three years, my spending only accounts for about $6,500. It’s a lot and it’s not excusable because that’s still money we didn’t have. But that amount does not equal the final balance on our credit cards, which was about 7 times that amount. All bills and living expenses went on the cards because we had no plan. Jared has been in the habit of just looking at the balance in the bank to make spending decisions for as long as I’ve known him. I still vividly remember the argument when I wanted to use Microsoft Money to keep up with our finances, probably in 2006. Jared didn’t think it was necessary to buy that kind of software. If we’d had help in budgeting during those times of duress since my episode in 2010, I firmly believe we would still be struggling but not to the extreme we’ve experienced.
Reality is that when I’m charged with the responsibility of managing our money together with Jared, that not only curbs the spending (unless I am psychotic, which has actually only happened 6 times under times in my lifetime and they were times of EXTREME situational stress primarily involving work or school issues), it gives me something to do and reminds me that I am, indeed, pretty darn smart. It was, after all, under my frugal watch that we paid Jared’s original student loan off three years early, within that first year of our marriage. We also managed to remodel the Grinnell house within our means before we sold it.
We’ve been dealt some pretty darn bad cards in our marriage together and we haven’t worked together as a team financially throughout most of our marriage. I solely handled our household finances by myself until February of 2010…I remember the Sunday before I got sick that February, it was in our budget for an anniversary getaway, something we’ll likely not be able to do for another 5 to 10 years. We’re both so fiercely independent that we have a hard time working together sometimes. And quite frankly, there are lingering communication issues.
We’ve sat down together and we’re on the same page about this budget thing. We just completed the first webinar from YNAB about how the software works. Starting over is terrible and I don’t recommend it for anyone. But I do feel like we can live within our means for the first time in a long, long time.
I feel stuck. We sleep in different rooms because I don’t even want him near me. It’s been that way for at least a year. My Jared is a good man and we love each other but I am angry, and I am angry at him. I feel like I can’t trust him to take care of me and the boys if I get sick. And that’s really a question of when I get sick, because it’s likely to happen again at some point in our lifetime.