Home Money I’m worried my spendthrift, pension-free husband will condemn me to retirement poverty: Money psychotherapist VICKY REYNAL replies

I’m worried my spendthrift, pension-free husband will condemn me to retirement poverty: Money psychotherapist VICKY REYNAL replies

by Elijah
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Vicky Reynal says it's crucial to focus on the sense of agency when talking about money issues

I am 47 years old and have been married for 18 years. My husband and I have very different approaches to money. I am more conservative, while money literally burns a hole in my husband’s pocket. He has no pension (he doesn’t believe in them) or insurance of any kind, and he spends money on vacations when we have to pay utility bills.

His casual attitude toward money has served him well in business. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff and it brings big rewards. And I like that side of him. In fact, I also like the way he made me live life instead of putting things on hold until we retire. He will simply go in search of adventure; I like that and he doesn’t bother me.

However, his business has taken a turn for the worse and he now craves some conventional monetary values ​​like a pension. I constantly worry about being able to cope with old age. I see that my grandparents need to spend thousands of pounds a month on care home fees and I wonder what will happen to me when I am no longer fit and capable.

I don’t work, so I depend on my husband. I have some savings and a small property that pays me a rental yield of £800 a month, but I fear my husband has his eyes on this and will try to force me to sell it for the sake of our family. And that will be my pension. I foresee big problems and conflicts ahead as our monetary situation becomes more strained and our attitude towards cash reaches a crisis level. Please help. Anonymous, via email

Vicky Reynal says it’s crucial to focus on the sense of agency when talking about money issues

Money psychotherapist Vicky Reynal responds: First of all, I want to congratulate you for doing something that not many people are capable of doing: recognizing the advantage of the monetary attitude of a partner who causes us problems.

You say the advantage of your “casual attitude toward money” is that it has served you well in business and has helped you “live life” in a way that your more cautious approach to spending would have limited. .

This is an important recognition and will help you enormously when, as a couple, you negotiate commitments.

But of course, every advantage has a disadvantage, and here you are faced with the fear that, with the business struggling, you will have to compromise your long-term security to survive in the short term.

It’s a very difficult place to be in and there’s no getting around the fact that some tough decisions will have to be made. I think the most important thing to focus on is your sense of agency in this.

First, there appears to be a power dynamic in the relationship that is based on the principle that the person who earns more money in a couple has more say in their finances. This is very common.

You are free to accept that, but it doesn’t sound like you are. In reality, it sounds like you feel like he has the power to make decisions when it comes to money related to the business, but also when it comes to assets he considers “yours” (i.e. his property).

It’s important to be aware of these basic assumptions and perhaps even question them: Why can’t the money you earn plus what you contribute to your total income and assets be considered “our money”?

In this way, big decisions can be made jointly that impact both the present and the future. By suggesting that you look at it this way, I invite you to change the way you approach and talk about this topic.

Instead of feeling like “he’ll choose” and “he’ll make you do it,” you suggest, “Why don’t we discuss our future finances and the difficult decisions we have to make because of business problems?”

You see, I find that women (and they tend to be women, but not always) often voluntarily delegate financial responsibilities to their partner. This is because they feel that their partner is “better” to them, or because the partner earns more and therefore has the “right” to have more of a say, or simply because that’s how they were growing up (dad made the financial decisions). and we have a tendency to repeat the family dynamics of our childhood.

But then, when we don’t like the decisions our partner makes or we have to suffer the consequences, we have to ask ourselves: why do we continue to be complicit in this dynamic?

Because giving up the power to make decisions may seem like a good price to pay for not having to do the hard work of being involved, being responsible, being part of the research and decisions that come with financial responsibility. You can choose the current approach or try to change it to have more say.

Another action you can take is to be explicit with your husband about how important you think it is to have a long-term plan. Talk to him about his concerns and explain that if he were to lose the property, those anxieties would get worse. Recognize how much you value his entrepreneurial spirit and his ability to enjoy money and take the necessary risks involved in building a business.

However, you see the difficulties ahead and want to feel that all options have been considered before selling the property is a possibility.

Then, invite him to explore options. From his email, it sounds like he thinks there might be other ways to deal with financial difficulties: why not sit down together and think about how to solve the problem that affects both of you?

Don’t be afraid to make concrete suggestions: “I’ve discovered that if we cut this or that expense, we could save £X each month.” This might get you thinking about what you might consider cutting from your personal or business expenses to avoid having to sell the rental property.

Finally, don’t be afraid to have this difficult talk about money: if you talk about things respectfully, with curiosity and empathy, you will be able to grow closer as a couple.

Don’t forget that you’ve been feeling the inevitable stress that comes with being the primary breadwinner in a family. Also leave space for his worries and anxieties: how does he feel about the situation? Has he ever been in a precarious financial situation? Do you have his family? If you’re in this together, you might find an approach that combines the best of your different approaches to money.

Do you have any questions for Vicky Reynal? Email vicky.reynal@dailymail.co.uk

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