I Hide Money From My Husband (And That Isn’t Going to Change)
Every relationship has a saver and a spender. In my marriage, I am the saver and my husband is the spender. And he’s not just a regular spender… he’s a compulsive spender. That’s why I hide money from my husband. And it’s the only thing that kept us from going broke.
Right after the birth of our second son in November 2013, I sent my husband out to get Chinese food for dinner. We figured that we’d do something special to celebrate our newest family member. While he was there getting the food for a hangry new mom, our card got declined. We had $0 in our account. Actually, we had – $3.06 in the bank. NEGATIVE $3.06.
Thank God for the caring heart of that cashier who paid for our dinner that night. When my husband came home and told me what had happened, I felt like I was going to be sick.
The general embarrassment of having a card declined was just multiplied by ten when it was followed by knowing that I had no money to pay for a $20 celebratory dinner with my husband after having a baby. I let us get to this terrible spot, I’d put my family’s future in danger because I couldn’t take control of our budget. It was in that moment that something shifted in my mind.
I knew that something needed to change.
I never wanted to have that happen again; I never wanted to have to have a card get declined because my bank account was empty. But most importantly, I never wanted to lose control of my money.
But most importantly, I never wanted to lose control of my money.
It was then that I knew that I needed to do something drastic to change our situation. After years and year (and years and years….) of trying everything to get my husband to conform to any possible way to save money, I had hit a point of desperation.
How do you get through to a spouse who just doesn’t see the problem in their spending issue?
My husband is a great man. A man of many talents and gifts. But he’s got a problem.
He’s a compulsive spender. In the span of a year, he ate through 3 savings accounts totaling close to $10,000. He single-handedly derailed budget after budget that I would try to put in place. Nothing that I did or said could get him to stop spending money.
It was then that I started to hide money from my husband. It wasn’t so that I could go out and buy new shoes every week. It was so that we could eventually get a bigger house, stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, and so that we could have a better life.
Someone out there is reading this saying “you horrible woman! How dare you! That’s not what marriage is about!”
But this is for the woman who is at her wit’s end with her spender husband. Who has tried everything to get through to him to get him to save money. The woman who has sat down every day with the agreed-upon budget with her husband only to have him spend $30 of money they don’t have on something dumb.
Girl, I get it. I want to give you a hug. I really do.
It wasn’t too long ago that I was right there with you. Actually, I still am to a certain extent. My husband still can’t control his spending. But this time, I’m prepared.
Here’s how I hide money from my husband:
First of all, get the bank accounts locked down.
1. Start another bank account (we have 6 bank accounts and it helps us to save a lot more money without trying).
2. Automatically withdrawal money after each paycheck to go directly into that account right after the paycheck hits the account. (To save money on auto-pilot, I use Acorns and Digit to do this for me. They save the spare change for you without you ever needing to know.)
3. Make this new account in a different bank if you need to.
4. Max out the amount for this. The less money in the primary checking account, the better.
5. Set up an account just for him. This will be his spending money. Once this is gone, it’s gone.
6. Get him a debit card for that special bank account.
Second, change the access to the family’s money.
1. Take away his debit card (I’ve made my husband have his own bank account with a very strict limit).
2. Put a daily spending limit on his card. No more than $50/ day is the lowest that I think it can go for most banks.
3. Change the overdraft protection for the card so that it can’t be used if there isn’t enough money in the account. This way he can’t make you get overdraft fees or exceed the weekly budget for his spending. This will also make sure that if you have overdraft protection from one of your other bank accounts, he can’t drain that account too.
4. Have him leave the debit card at home unless he needs to get gas or something else while he’s out of the house.
Third, watch your secret accounts grow.
Eventually, you should tell him about the accounts, but never where to find them. I told my husband about our accounts when I had a full 3-month emergency fund built in the span of 4 months. That’s the power of the spender in your marriage that you’re always broke.
He might get angry at first. I mean, in all fairness, I’d be a little ticked off too. But once you tell him about your savings accounts and the impact that his spending had on your finances, this might be the slap in the face that he needed to see just how out of control he was.
This is a process.
My husband still sometimes “forgets” to take his debit card out of his wallet before he goes to work and will then buy $10 worth of junk in a day. But it doesn’t kill our budget (it’s still annoying, though!) because I have a healthy savings account set up for emergencies.
If you’re at the end of your rope with your husband and still can’t get him to stop spending, this is how I hide money from my husband. After I showed him how much money we save when he can’t spend, he never once questioned where the money is. He and I both know that this is the best way for us as a family to handle our finances. We’re in complete agreement that this arrangement works for us.
My hope is that later on down the road, he’ll be able to control his spending. But in the meantime, I’ll just keep growing those savings accounts!
Who’s the spender in your family?
Brittany Ann says
I guess it depends how bad of a spender he is. If it’s just a matter of he spends more than you’d like, I’d disagree. Because then it’d be like saying that your opinion is the only one that counts. It’d be very patronizing and demeaning. You’re not his mom. He’s a grown man, allowed to make his own decisions, good or bad.
BUT if it’s a matter where he’s almost addicted to spending, THEN it would make sense. I mean, I’ve told my husband that if he buys cookies, he needs to just go hide them in the basement right away. Otherwise, I WILL eat them. If he started hiding cookies without me knowing, I wouldn’t be upset at all. I’d completely understand.
Men (and women) can’t learn unless you give them a chance to learn. And in most cases, you may be surprised at the progress you make when you bring him on board and work together. But, for a compulsive spender… you have to take care of your family. Hopefully, he’ll come around.
I absolutely agree, Brittany! If it were just an issue of a few pennies here and there, that would be uncalled for on my end and very much like a mom to him (a very unhealthy dynamic in a marriage, for sure). But when it’s an issue of derailing budgets, blowing through savings accounts, and driving a wedge deeper and deeper into a relationship, it’s detrimental.
I like your example of your husband and the cookies. That’s exactly what our relationship with money is currently like; he knows that I will keep the money safe and away from him, and he’s completely fine with it. It actually showed him that all of the times he thought “it’s just $1” here and there were really adding up into something much bigger.
He is slowly coming around and expressing a more proactive interest in saving money (little victories!), but he’s still only in charge of his $25/ week account (a mutually agreed upon amount of money).
I am with you: if my hubby would get access in all our money, we would might live under the bridge… I have always had an account, where my hubby have ni access, and there have been times it has been lifesaver.
I know what you mean!
How did you decide how much to save? How many saving accounts do you have?
I made sure that I had a $1,000 emergency fund built up for emergencies like car or home repairs, or medical emergencies. I also made sure to have at least 3 months of expenses into a savings account. This is in case my husband loses his job or there’s an emergency that makes him miss work for a period of time. Right now, I have 5 savings accounts: the $1,000 emergency fund, the 3-month expenses, a new down payment on a house fund, a vacation fund, and an account that my husband has in order to save up for things that he would like (his thing right now is his motorcycle).
Sarah Gray says
Thank you for this article. My husband is a compulsive gambler. Its an illness. Our agreement is all are paid to my account, i then ay all bills, give him his trainfare for work and money for tobacco (another addiction I’m hoping we an rid him of too), then save as much as possible.
On my strict budget we should be able to save up to 700 a month!
Problem is, the last 4 months he change payment details and has put ALL his wages into slot machines, so i now only have 100 in savings ?
He has also secretly been using my credit card for online gambling. I can’t put into words my anger and disappointment. But January is the start of a new month and new year. Time to take back control!
Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that, Sarah! I can’t even imagine the frustration you must be feeling. 🙁 Do you think he’d be willing to go to therapy for himself and then maybe also for marriage counseling? Having a third party to tell him to get help might really help him to see that a change needs to be made. I’ll definitely be praying for you!
Thank you SO much for this! I’m going to put it into place asap. I’m so glad I found this post!
I’m so glad to help, Alicia!
I completely agree with you! I have to hide money too in order to survive… It’s not fun when the other person doesn’t know how to or doesn’t want to save!
Grace Moser says
This isn’t judgmental at all, but have you guys thought about taking Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey’s class) together or getting counseling? I think this might be better than hiding money from your husband. Because when he finds out.. he’s probably going to feel betrayed and a rift will come between the two of you. Also, I know that Dave Ramsey talks about getting counseling when one is a compulsive spender – he says that it can help because a lot of the time there’s a root cause to the compulsive spending problem. I think this might be a healthier way to go.
Again, please DO NOT think I’m judging you, I just think this might be better in the long run. 🙂
I don’t think you’re judging at all! We’re currently in counseling (TMI, maybe? Oh well 🙂 ), but until he can figure out the root cause of his compulsive spending, this is a self-preservation method for us. I LOVE Dave Ramsey! And I’d love even more to have Dave Ramsey work his magic on my husband, but until he can figure out the cause for himself, this is what works for us. Trust me! I know it’s one of those “this CAN’T be healthy” kinds of things. But it’s a work in progress! 🙂
Candy J Weiford says
This is the best article I have stumbled across, ever. I want to hug you. I am much older than you. I am an only child, who grew up never having to worry about money. First marriage of 18 years, money was still not an issue and he took the responsibility of bill paying. Till he decided the grass was greener on the other side. He divorced his two teenage daughters as well as me. I had a lot to learn and quick. Fast forward to second marriage. He is the polar opposite of me. Spend, spend, spend! I have talked till I am blue in the face. Small example. He went to Walmart shopping with me, last Sunday. I have my coupons in hand, my price matches are written on my list. He says, “I’m going to get some cheese.” When I found him he was at the deli getting one and a half pounds of sliced aged baby swiss cheese. At a cost of almost $12.00. There are two of us in this household!
You have taught an old dog, a new trick.
Hi, Candy! I’m s glad to hear that I’m not alone! 🙂
It took us becoming homeless and close to divorce for my husband to finally realize how his spending habits affected us. We’re finally getting back on our feet and he’s given me almost complete control over our finances. I don’t think we would’ve made it without counseling.
I hear ya. I’ve been married for 32 years and while my husband isn’t quite as bad as yours in the spending department, he’s just doesn’t get it and never will. He thinks credit cards are just free money (and really, for him they are since I pay them) and any money that comes along is simply to be spent and never saved or used to pay bills or anything practical. Even though he’s 58, in this area he’s basically a 12 year old. Plus he earns like half of what I do, which puts a lot of responsibility on me. I have a very similar setup, although with full disclosure and agreement. Otherwise, we’d really be struggling. Ya have to do what you have to do.
I have an account my husband knows about, but doesn’t have access to and it has saved us multiple times! We have a small farm and any time a check comes in that is written to me or the “To” is left blank, I fill in my name and put it in my account. Since my husband knows about the account, I don’t have any problems shuffeling money to it.
My husband isn’t a big spender thank goodness (I do all the grocery shopping and pay the bills), so I don’t have a secret bank account. However, I do like to get cash back when I get groceries sometimes and put the cash away where he doesn’t know about it. He is the only one working now so we’re still tight on money. On more than one occasion he was relieved that I had some extra cash that wasn’t part of our bank account. If it was in the account, it would probably get spent on bills or whatever. So I guess it just depends on the situation!
It’s nice to know that I’m not alone with having a “soon to be” husband that cannot control his spending. I cannot count how many times I have asked him to keep receipts or tell me (preferably before) he buys anything. I recently opened a separate savings account but…..that’s empty now. I know its partly my fault that I say yes to transferring money out of the savings to put back in when he gets payed(when/if he gets payed) and to cover refunds for things that broke in the mail. I also am bad about transferring money to cover the overdraft and try to save getting charged the fee(currently is $20 but I had a bank charge us $28).
He tends to spend money on things before he has actually been payed(he is a lampworker and sells things he has made) or even made the item he sold someone. That is where I have a lot of problems, when he has sold something before he has made it or has taken a deposit for stuff and then it ends up breaking (glass art). He has been doing this full time for nearly a year and has gotten better about splitting what he makes on bills/home expenses and reordering supplies.
I’m really stressed out right now, trying to pay off debt(credit cards and car payments) and build a savings. We have $25 in savings currently because I auto deposit part of my check every time I get paid. I seriously don’t know what I’d do if something happened that we needed to replace something on a car/in the house or if one of us/our animal babies(3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 lizards, and 4 snakes…I know a zoo). I keep telling myself we will be alright because we can afford all of our bills and to feed us and the animals.
Girl, I feel ya, I had to do that with my husband too. I’m over here pinching pennies and he’s out spending money at every gas station he passes for snacks and energy drinks. Secret accounts are the only way to go!