Amy: Husband's spending creates rift

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • Chicago Tribune
  • December 8, 2012 - 1:42 PM

Dear Amy: I am concerned that my husband of four years may have a psychological disorder related to spending.

He has two motorcycles, five trucks, three boats and two woodstoves. He now wants to buy a smart car (energy-efficient electric) on the basis that it is so much less expensive to operate. Every week I pick up three to five boxes of new purchases from the post office.

He works at a community college in information technology and has used this position to justify buying himself the latest-model laptops. But when we needed a freezer recently, he didn't have money to contribute. Whenever I try to talk to him about it, he uses rational-sounding arguments to justify the expense, especially when it comes to energy use.

I am drained and depressed by his actions, and I am considering moving out, in part so I can find somewhere to park. Any ideas?

Amy says: Your husband's arguments may sound rational, but the roundup of vehicles, toys and appliances in your household reveals the reality that he has a spending/buying problem. You don't reveal other sources of income for the two of you, but it is hard to imagine that he could afford these purchases on a typical college staff salary.

Even if he could afford this (wasteful) abundance, this is creating a problem in your marriage, so you two must sit down with a financial planning professional, lay every single bill on the table and negotiate a solution. If he has plunged himself into debt, you will be liable because you are married to him. So this is very much your business, as well as his.

Personal finance guru Suze Orman would give your husband a no-nonsense wake-up call. Orman's newest book is "The Money Class: How to Stand in Your Truth and Create the Future You Deserve" (2012, Spiegel & Grau).

'Bad breath' alert

Dear Amy: You asked for readers' stories about being "called out" for being odorous. One day many years ago, my boss stopped abruptly at my desk and blurted out, "Lady, I hate to say this, but you've got bad breath!"

I was embarrassed to the core of my being. I had no idea. My husband hadn't mentioned it. Nor had my friends. But I thanked my boss for the heads-up. It had been several years since I'd seen a dentist, and sure enough, there were some issues that needed tending to.

Amy says: Wow. Your boss could have been more judicious, but I'm happy this worked out for you.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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