He Said, She Said: How to get help with the budget Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 January 2017
By Shaun and Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
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I want help.

I need you guys to give me ideas on how to win my husband over in dealing with a problem we are having. My husband is an NCO and I am a stay-at-home mom. To make a long story short, in November and December, I went a little crazy in buying Christmas gifts for the kids. I actually spent about $1,500 more than my husband had budgeted for. Now, it’s January, the bills are coming due, and we may not be able to pay some of them. When my husband found out I went overboard, he was very upset with me. I told him people spend too much all the time and I wanted to make sure our three kids had a great Christmas. I have proposed that he pursue getting financial help from the Army Emergency Relief program, as I am told they will help when you get behind on the bills.

We loved the smiles on the  children’s faces Christmas morning, but now we are worried. He is convinced seeking help will harm his career. I don’t buy it. How do I convince him that he should ask for the help?


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HE SAID:  Let me start by saying AER is not for failing to stay on budget, as is indicated by the title, it is for emergencies (not those created because you wanted to see a smile).

You need to go take the budgeting classes offered at Army Community Service and maybe get a part time job until your Family can recover. I also think you owe your husband several apologies — starting with your spending and ending with the attitude depicting him as unreasonable in your letter to us. He has every right to be upset that you unilaterally decided to hazard your Family’s welfare by not  being able to make your car payment.

You may also want to go seek some counseling.


SHE SAID:  You are not going to like what I have to say.  As a retired Soldier, nothing would make me angrier than to have someone who has extended themselves financially attempt to get the emergency relief fund to bail them out.  

I gave to that fund for many years with the understanding that it was for true emergencies. They help with emergency travel, small utility repair, food purchase, essential furniture, and the like, not to bail out someone who overextended himself or herself at Christmas.

I’m sure your husband was excited to see your children’s smiling faces on Christmas as I doubt he knew at that point that you had dug a financial hole the both of you would fall into.  

To blame him for being happy is ridiculous. The bottom line is, your kids may have been happy in the moment, but what lessons are you teaching them? Christmas is all about the presents? You should get whatever you want for Christmas?

It’s OK to live beyond your means as you can always get someone else (in this case AER) to take care of your debts?

Take a budgeting class and be transparent about how you’re spending the Family money and start a Christmas fund for next year now.  

 (Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 February 2017 )