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Help! My Husband Might Take Away My Debit Card!

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Guest blogger Michelle Kemper Brownlow: I spend too much money, and I suck at math. This is not good for my checkbook. I am married to a tightwad who checks every line of every bill, yet I probably spend $25 on late fees every month. I call 411 with my cell and cause overages that hubby wasn't expecting, and I eat out way too much. The trouble this has gotten me into makes for a very long list, including eleven overdraft fees.

debit card
I'm not sure what my problem is. Every two weeks, I get $400 direct-deposited into my checking account. This is to cover groceries, book orders, school pictures, etc. for those two weeks. I blame my money troubles on the fact that because we only have one checkbook, I have to transfer money from one account to another when I need to pay for something that isn't budgeted to come out of the grocery account. 

Not too long ago, I logged on to transfer money, but the bank's server was down so I couldn't. Two more days went by before I realized I still hadn't moved the money. When I went online, trying to be responsible, I found that I had been charged with eleven "insufficient funds" fees, at $35 a pop! I crawled into the bank and pled my case: "Your servers were down, and I was penalized." They refunded half of those fees, but my husband was still pissed. Funneling spending from various accounts through one account somehow screws me up every time. 

I also have a habit of using the "for emergency only" credit card to keep from having to transfer money. In my mind, it's only a couple times a month that I swipe that card. But when the bill comes, I gag at the balance and vomit when I realize they are ALL my charges and my husband will see them when he reaches for the mail. 

Each month, I promise I will balance my checkbook with EACH receipt I am handed before I leave the parking lot of that establishment. I swear I will only use the "emergency" credit card for gas. And I take an oath to not hit the drive-thru with the kids more than once or twice. I fail miserably every time. 

This month, my goal is to get to the mailbox before my husband and use my freelance checks to pay off everything I transferred, everything I bounced and everything I charged. This will, of course, leave me with the need to transfer more money from our joint account to cover the writing conference I usually pay for with my freelance income. 

Moms, what are your best budgeting tips?


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26 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jennifer October 7, 2010, 5:27 AM

Use cash.

In Iowa. October 7, 2010, 6:00 AM

I can see that you like to spend money even if you don’t have it. I also believe that you are looking for sympathy, which in my case you are someone irresponsible that likes to get your way. If I was your husband I wouldn’t give you any of my cards. What are you teaching your kids, to be like you. You would probably go into bankrupt if it wasn’t for your husband and it looks like you are trying to blame him for wanting to take your debit card away.Get some counceling.

MartiniMama October 7, 2010, 6:14 AM

If you are looking for sympathy, you definitely have come to the wrong place! But I do have some advice for you…it sounds to me like you are in a power struggle with your husband over money. I think this is just a symptom of deeper problems in your marriage. I sugges that you get some marriage counseling, take a basic family budgeting course, and stop trying to sabotage your family by overspending. Write down every penny you spend in a little notebook that you can carry around with you, so that you can see what you are really spending. STOP eating out, STOP calling 411 from your cell phone, STOP using the emergency credit card, and STOP buying things you don’t need. DO NOT spend money you don’t have. No one is that bad at math that they can’t balance a checkbook.

What kind of example are you setting for your children with this behavior? Think about them and do whatever you have to get it together! Your marriage, family life and self-esteem will be all the better for it.

truthbetold October 7, 2010, 7:13 AM

Honestly, it kind of sounds to me from your writing that you don’t really have a job, which means an income coming in other than the $400 for two weeks (unless I misunderstood what you were writing). Your husband sounds more like your father, really. I mean, you’re afraid he’s going to be “upset” because you spent your “allowance”. I think for this reason, earning your own money is part of being an adult. I think it’s part of adulthood, that separates us from children. Also, when it’s your “own” money you are spending, believe me when I say you will REMEMBER to pay things off before the late fines hit ya.

Anonymous October 7, 2010, 9:57 AM

1. Maybe you need more than $400/week for general expenses. Try making a budget where you include everything you really buy.
2. Make it a habit to go online every day and check your accounts. I don’t balance my checkbook, but with the Internet, it isn’t really necessary.
3. Instead of getting mad at yourself, figure out why you are hitting the drive-through. Are you overscheduled one day? Do you need to plan ahead and buy something to eat instead? I keep a frozen pizza in my fridge for the days when I am tempted to throw my hands up at cooking and order out.

Anonymous October 7, 2010, 10:00 AM

Whoa! Get marriage counseling, you’re a terrible mom, and you don’t have a real job. What is all that about?

Hollie October 7, 2010, 11:31 AM

I don’t appreciate this article at all. In an economy like this you want us to what? Feel Bad for you? Offer you advice? Sympathize? Get real. Don’t spend it if you don’t have it. If you are so infantile that your husband has to take your cards away then you are not mature enough to have them. Simple. These are not the days of Lucy and Ricky where she spends her allowance in hats and dresses without taking care of any of the responsibilities and only gets reprimanded. Get a job and earn your spending money. Don’t come to Mom-Logic boo hooing about your poor pitiful self. You will get crucified verbally by every hard working mom whether we are stay at home moms or workforce moms.

Anonymous October 7, 2010, 12:39 PM

First off, I’d start by use 1-800-FREE-411, which is (as the name implies) free. But I’d say that’s just the tip of the iceburg for your problems- go to a budgeting class or something. There is no reason in the world for you to get 11 overdraft fees in one month! Think about it- you nearly spent your entire two week budget on overdraft fees. Ridiculous!

Anonymous October 7, 2010, 2:06 PM

I’m curious. $200/week on groceries for a family of 4 sounds tight to me. It doesn’t seem like there would be enough left for field trips and lunch money or anything that came up. How much do other families spend on food in a week?

XXXX October 7, 2010, 3:55 PM

Maybe you should use cash. Then maybe you’ll think twice about spending it on useless stuff!

KS October 7, 2010, 5:07 PM

It sounds like you and your husband could benefit from some marriage counseling. There shouldn’t be this huge power struggle going on between you. You should respect your finances. It’s a huge part of your life.

Your husband shouldn’t be scolding you about purchases. Then again you shouldn’t be spending recklessly. It sounds like you need to grow a little bit and realize what this is actually doing to your marriage.

Putting yourself in the position to be scolded as if a child because you simply refuse to be responsible with the family finances will take a huge tole on your marriage. If you want to go down the road of marital destruction continue to behave irresponsibly and blame everyone except yourself.

Your husband should be able to trust you in all aspects and if he is seriously discussing taking away your debit card (which I don’t ever recommend) this has been an ongoing problem. You two also need to address his treatment of you but I’d imagine that will happen after you get your spending under control.

renee October 7, 2010, 5:26 PM

$200 for a weeks worth of groceries is more than enough,we spend 200-250 every 2 weeks. learn where and how to shop.and ur not getting any sympathy here, ur allowance is a little less than my paycheck…learn how to budget and stop feeding ur kids garbage food

Carol October 7, 2010, 8:56 PM

I don’t think they need marriage counseling. This is the blogger’s problem.
She wil be better serve seeing a counselor on why she continues to do this knowing the financial impact it has on her family. It’s really not that hard to balance a checkbook.
And she should look into getting a job, even part-time to pay for those things not covered by the $400 she wants.
Getting to the mailbox before her husband is just deceitful. And not going to help her marriage.

gigimama October 8, 2010, 12:53 PM

The fact you want to get to the mailbox first screams that you are desperate to cheat on your husband.

Not with another person. With a checkbook/credit card. You are having an affair with money. You sound like some icky man trying to take his wife and his mistress on dates the same evening, like some pathetic 1970s sitcom scenario.

“I’ll juggle this, transfer that, pay this with that, and hope he doesn’t catch me!”

You are cheating him out of his RIGHT to be fully informed of the household’s financial situation. You are cheating your children out of their right to security.

You need more than budgeting tips. That’s like trying to use Elmer’s school glue to repair a cracked bridge. I think you need counseling, both family and individual, to find out why you’d jeopardize your future and your relationships this way.

billie October 8, 2010, 11:49 PM

It is human nature to want it and want it now; it is also a sign of immaturity. Being willing to delay pleasure for a greater result is a sign of maturity. But, you are lazy. You lack discipline. You lack goals. Your priorities are out of whack.

Your biggest problem is not in your wallet or your bank account, it’s YOU!

Your poor husband. i’d tell him to RUN (and fast) before YOU put your family in financial ruins! He has every right to be over the top pissed at you. Shame on you!

michelle October 9, 2010, 9:40 PM

Everything everyone else said, with one more addition: OPT OUT OF YOUR BANK’S OVERDRAFT PROTECTION. Did you even know you can do this?? Are you one of those people who sees herself as a victim of the banks when you are actually sitting there letting them rob you? There is no reason the bank should be able to ever charge you an overdraft fee. Opt out, and then your card will just be declined if you don’t have the money in your account. And it sounds like you need your debit card to be declined in order to light a fire under your *ss.

michelle October 9, 2010, 9:47 PM

BUT…that said, I think the other commenters on here are throwing a few too many stones. You mean to tell me NO ONE ELSE ON THIS BOARD has had money trouble that is not at least partially her “fault” in some way? I find that VERY hard to believe. So how did America get into such huge trouble as a result of mortgage and consumer debt, if all the moms on here are perfect?

Tony October 12, 2010, 4:52 AM

I feel bad for the husband. He works hard and this bimbo blows the money. She should have all credit cards and her own checking account taken away. She should be left with one card. With a max of 500.00 or a 1000.00 on it for a month. If she runs out then she needs to go to hubby to see if he will ad any more to it for that given month.
Hubby should be the one to write checks for bills.
This wife is lucky her hubby does not beat the hell oit of her to get her attention to smarten up. I wish there was a picture of her with this story. I bet shes ugly and dog meat. Want to bet shes lorthless in bed to. Sounds like she has little value to a man. He needs to come down hard on her and if she can’t smarten up he needs to get rid of her.
Her example shows why couples need their own seperate checking acounts and charge cards.

Tony October 12, 2010, 4:53 AM

I feel bad for the husband. He works hard and this bimbo blows the money. She should have all credit cards and her own checking account taken away. She should be left with one card. With a max of 500.00 or a 1000.00 on it for a month. If she runs out then she needs to go to hubby to see if he will ad any more to it for that given month.
Hubby should be the one to write checks for bills.
This wife is lucky her hubby does not beat the hell oit of her to get her attention to smarten up. I wish there was a picture of her with this story. I bet shes ugly and dog meat. Want to bet shes lorthless in bed to. Sounds like she has little value to a man. He needs to come down hard on her and if she can’t smarten up he needs to get rid of her.
Her example shows why couples need their own seperate checking acounts and charge cards.

Sherry October 12, 2010, 5:37 AM

Wow, there are a lot of cold people here. I don’t see her as asking for sympathy, she’s asking for tips. Maybe she never had a good example from her parents about how to manage money; maybe she’s still young and hasn’t figured things out yet. At least she seems to want to try to figure this out instead of not caring.

I agree with the people who have suggested using cash. If you allocate X amount of dollars that you can use per week, then you’ll be able to see exactly what you have to budget with.

In the meantime, if your husband is better at managing the money and avoiding charges, make that his responsibility BUT make sure that you stay aware of what’s going on in your finances so that you aren’t blindsided by anything.


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