Healing the wounds—personal, financial
Recently, I discovered that my wife secretly kept and used credit cards over the last several years. I also found out there are two liens on our home from some of this debt. She was hiding the mail from me so I wouldn’t find out. I’m angry about the dishonesty, but I want us to get the debt cleaned up. What do you suggest?
Tom Dear Tom,
This debt and the liens are a symptom. What we’re looking at here is a repeated pattern of lying and deception. Anyone can become scared or ashamed and make a mistake, but this has happened several times. It’s called financial infidelity for a reason. Really, it’s the same kind of lying as sexual infidelity. It hurts and makes people angry on a lot of the same levels, and that’s because it’s a broken trust.
Assuming that you guys can talk things out and heal this rift in your marriage, you’re going to have to contact these credit card companies and try to settle the debts. You guys aren’t bringing home a lot, so you need to start scratching together every nickel and dime you can and make an offer to erase these debts. That will also remove the liens on your home. Many times creditors will settle a debt for pennies on the dollar. If you’re lucky, you may be able to get them to accept about 25 percent of the amount owed.
But I think you’ve got a much bigger problem here. You guys have some serious issues that need to be resolved. I’d advise going to your pastor, if you’re in a good church, or finding a reputable marriage counselor. Your wife needs to understand, loud and clear, that this kind of crap has to stop immediately!
Teaching, tough love
My husband and I need to update our will, but we’re not sure how to divide the money. All of our children are grown, including my three stepsons. The problem is that two of my stepsons are irresponsible with money and are drug users. Do you have any advice?
Colleen Dear Colleen,
Typically, if you give money to a drug user they’ll use it for one thing: drugs. Your goal as a parent is to love them and teach them to the best of your ability. Buying their drugs upon your death doesn’t fall into either of those categories. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you deciding not to leave them any money as long as they’re involved in this kind of activity.
If it were me, I’d have a reading of the will when the changes are made. Then, I’d sit down with the family members and explain why you’ve updated the will in this manner. Let them know you love them and want what’s best for them, but you and your husband have decided you’re not going to take a chance on funding any misbehavior on their part.
Make sure you let them know, too, that things can change if they change. They might be mad and fuss about it, but that’s okay. Let them be mad. It’s perfectly all right for you to attach stipulations to any inheritance they might receive, especially when it’s for their own good!
Dave Ramsey is a trusted voice on money and business. He’s a best-selling author and his radio show is on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.