Dave Says

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 2:16am

Dear Dave,

Does it matter whether it’s the husband or the wife who keeps the checkbook and pays the bills? Lots of people say that kind of thing is the man’s job, but I was curious about what you think.

— Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I don’t think it matters one bit, and here’s why.

In each family there’s a nerd and a free spirit. The nerd is good at keeping track of things and putting everything in its place. The free spirit is just the opposite. They are not detail-oriented. Now, this doesn’t make them irresponsible or mean that they don’t care. It’s just that they aren’t blessed with a gift for administration. They want things to be good and right just as much as the nerd, but they don’t get a rush when the checkbook balances out.

But just because the nerd keeps the checkbook doesn’t mean he or she gets to make all the financial decisions.

In a marriage, those decisions should be made together with input from both the husband and wife. Remember, God didn’t unite some kind of joint business venture. He made you as one — together. When you do a budget each month, you should both sit down and come to a mature, reasonable and respectful agreement on where the money’s going.

So when it comes down to the act of keeping the checkbook, I think whoever is the more organized of the two should handle this duty. But if you include these other principles you’ll experience more unity in your daily lives together AND have better communication in your marriage!

— Dave

Dear Dave,

I’ve been pretty rebellious for the last year, not listening to my parents and doing other dumb things. Now I’ve got $8,000 in debt from running up credit card bills and writing bad checks.

I also totaled my car the other day, and I lost my job, too. I’m going to lose my apartment from all this, also, and I’m only 19 years old. A friend said I could stay with her for a while, but my parents won’t help and say I need to clean up this mess on my own.

Do you have any advice?

— Stephanie

Dear Stephanie,

Rock bottom is a scary place to be, isn’t it? But here’s some good news. The fact that you’ve realized your mistakes and want to change means there’s hope. And that’s always a good thing.

The first thing you’re going to have to do is get another job — maybe two or three part-time jobs if you can’t find full-time work.

You also need to save up quick for a cheap little car to get you around. If you work this plan for about a year and a half, you’ll probably be able to pay off all the Stupid Tax you’ve accumulated.

I’m not picking on you, Stephanie. I’ve done stupid stuff, too, trust me. Stupid with lots more zeroes on the end than you’re talking about. But when you do dumb things, you have to pay the consequences. It’s all part of being an adult. And no matter what age you are, debt is a dumb thing.

It sounds like you realize that you left your integrity on the sidelines, too.

So doing the right thing really needs to be a priority from this point on. The cool thing about the issues you mentioned, like finding a permanent place to live, something to drive and paying off the debt, is that these things will all get better now that you’ve made the decision to get better.

I think finding a good church and having a talk with the pastor would be a big help, too. Any good minister would be willing and honored to have an opportunity to pray with you and for you as you get your life back on track.

— Dave

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By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Stephanie, pumpkin, don't you go to no church seeking financial advice. Churches are some of the most corrupt and money mongering institutions I know of.Baby listen, go back home and live with your parents and work your butt off for the next two years and get out of dept. Save Save Save while you are at home, but remember to give your parents some money towards the utility bills while you're there. Family is the number one support system. I don't care what anybody tells you. NOBODY is going to love you more than your mother and father. With that said, you are still young and if you take a step back now from the hustle and bustle of the real world, then you will be able to see the bigger picture and carry the knowledge that you have gain about how you got into the financial situation you are in now. Good luck sweetie

By: vejaneksela on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"A friend said I could stay with her for a while, but my parents won’t help and say I need to clean up this mess on my own." The parents say they won't help which would indicate she cannot move back in with her parents.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I interpreted her as saying her parents won't bail her out financially, which I don't blame them. She didn't say her parents said she couldn't move back home. If that is the case, then remind your parents that they WILL need you one day and let them know that you will not forget when you needed them and they said no.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Stephanie, girl, if you parents say you can't move back in with them, then leave them with this "I pray that you will never need me." and walk away with your head held up high and a smile on your face.

By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Maybe Stephanie has younger siblings and/or her parents' money is tight. We cannot glean too much from Stephanie's situation except she is a rebellious adult and signed up for the debt. Regardless, stupidity should be painful.

By: tthompson1362 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

NewYorker1, your concern is good, but your advice is unwise and here's why. You basically give Stephanie no hope when you start out by bashing churches. You then proceed to tell her that no one will love her more than her parents. After that you suggest that if her parents don't agree to help her on her terms that she should blackmail then into a guilt trip by telling them that she wouldn't help them someday if they needed her help. Those were the two options you gave her and then you wished her luck. Driving a further wedge between her and her parents and then walking away certainly won't solve Stephanie's problems. By suggesting she close the door on seeking advice from a church and turning her back on her family, I think you have made the problem worse by making her situation seem more hopeless. Stephanie has been humbled. That's good. We all experience that from time to time. Her parents don't trust her right now and that's understandable. I agree with Dave that a good Bible-believing Church could help her tremendously. A very similiar problem to Stephanie's is mentioned in the Bible through the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke15:11-32). In that illustration, Jesus spoke of a young man who asked his father for his inheritance early, moved away, blew it all, had to eat with pigs, and then came back home to see if he could just be a servant in his father's household. The Father rejoiced over his son's return and restored him to their previous relationship. Stephanie's parents might not restore her to their household right away. But I'm sure they love her and want her to do right. If she sought some third-party counseling at a good Church, developed a good written plan based on the principles mentioned in Dave's answer, and then presented her plan to her parents, I think that would be a good start. It might take her a while to prove herself to them and make them willing to help her. They might not ever completely trust her again. Who knows? All we about their relationship is what she told Dave in her letter. NewYorker1, I'm sorry that you have either had a bad experience in one or more churches or that you just decided to recite the popular mantra of many people by stating that churches are "corrupt and money mongering". I know from personal experience that many churches are not that way. In fact, many Christians are the most loving and generous people on this planet. Many of us Christians eagerly love and help people who can't reciprocate that love and help. We do it because Christ commanded us to do so, and because we want to. Are Christians perfect? Of course not! Noone is. But many of us are trying to do the right thing and become more Christ-like every day. It's a very difficult to do. And we will never completely succeed while we are breathing on this earth. Any one who has ever accepted Jesus as our Savior has had to humble ourselves. We had to see ourselves as the Prodigal Son did- At rock bottom spiritually and in need of our Father's love. And the beauty of God's love is that when we accept his Son Jesus' sacrifice, then we are restored to the Father's table and there is a great celebration in heaven. So Dave's advice is right on the money as far as Stephanie's need to make sure her spiritual house is in order first. That's what Jesus focused on during His earthly ministry. He healed many people physically, but His primary concern was always their spiritual healing. Once Stephanie sees things from a Biblical perspective, her problems will make more sense and she will know to seek Divine help to deal with them. Of course this problem might not ever go away completely. She might struggle with financial temptations her whole life. But I know from personal experience (almost 50 years worth of living) that God can help us deal with any problem that life can throw at us. NewYorker1, God Bless you and I hope you can find that Church in which you feel accepted and in which you can develop your relationship with God. Stephanie, I urge you to do the same.