Dear Dave: I’m going through a divorce that’s about to become final in two weeks. I moved in with my parents temporarily while I save up money to get my own place and start over. I make $30,000 a year, and it looks like I’ll have around $43,000 in debt when the divorce is finalized. Should I pause my debt snowball in order to financially get back on my feet again?
Dear Adam: Yeah, that’s what I would do. There are reasons to pause the debt snowball, and one of those can be going through a divorce. Not only are there expenses, but you may end up with payments you don’t even expect.
I think the motivation and the heart behind the debt snowball is that you gain momentum and traction, and you do it quickly when you’re in a positive emotional position. You may not have that right now, so I think pressing pause and building up for expenses that may come — plus getting your own place — is a good idea.
Just rent the cheapest spot you can as soon as possible. Then, once you get in there and get your life in operational mode again, you’ll be ready to rock on!
My husband is a recovering heroin addict. He’s been clean for two years, but I still feel we shouldn’t keep cash in the house or give him unsupervised access to a bank account. He agrees with these precautions, even though he does need a little pocket money from time to time. We’ve also started your plan to try and get control of our finances, so how would you suggest handling a situation like this?
First of all, congratulations on his being clean for two years. That’s awesome! The longer he stays clean, the more he’ll begin to normalize his mechanical activities with things like money.
I agree with not putting him in charge of large sums of money just yet. However, we work with addicts all the time at my company, and I don’t agree that you can’t have any money in the house when he has been clean for two years. You might not want a big pile of cash lying around, but there’s no reason you can’t run the envelope system out of your purse. I mean, at this point if you can’t trust him to stay out of your purse, then you’ve got other major issues in your marriage.
I think you need to be on a debit card and the envelope system. I also think you need to be controlling about 98 percent of the money for now. For what he’s doing, I’d work daily cash allowances and expand that to weekly when you’re comfortable with it. Also, ask for some accountability from him as to where the pocket money goes. Ask him to keep receipts, and turn them in as if he were working for a company and taking a petty cash withdrawal. That holds him accountable for spending it on what he said he was spending it on, and it’s healthy for someone who’s a recovering addict.
When someone’s fresh recovering from being an addict, and especially because heroin is so addicting, I probably wouldn’t let him legally have access to the household account for a while longer. He can look at it, and you two can make financial decisions together, but you are in control of it. I wouldn’t want it where he can just reach over and clean out the account if he has a relapse.
Obviously, this guy has gotten some healing and I’m very proud of you both. Heroin is a big deal and a hard habit to kick. The fact that he has done it this long is awesome!
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