'I'm worried about money... but my husband won't stop online shopping. What should I do?'

Our reader's husband is at risk of redundancy... but he won't stop shopping. She turns to The Midults for advice

How do I tell my husband to stop internet shopping - without sounding like a nag?
How do I tell my husband to stop internet shopping - without sounding like a nag? Credit: Martin Tognola

Dear A&E,

My husband was furloughed in March and may be made redundant. But ever since, he’s been constantly online shopping. Every day there’s another parcel arriving. I’m an impulse buyer too, so his shopping has never bothered me in the past, but given his job situation and the fact I’m freelance and most of my work has dried up, I’m really worried for our future. I’ve tried discussing it and he nods, but the next day more packages arrive. If the worst happens, I have no idea how we’ll pay our mortgage. Our recent wedding ate up our savings. How do I make him take this seriously without sounding naggy? — Worried

Dear Worried,

Money, hey? For some of us it is the source of all disquiet and terror. And at this time of uncertainty, money worries are front and centre, as livelihoods are lost, investments wiped out and futures derailed.

 But before we get to money, your husband needs to take your concerns seriously. Because that is marriage. It is also teamwork and friendship, and is essential. So – naggy or not – if you have raised heartfelt concerns and he has ignored them, then that’s a whole other problem.

But we don’t feel, from your letter, that you have really pleaded your case. You are too concerned about being a vibe-killer. Try showing him the situation in black and white: on paper. A spreadsheet. Remove any denial and mystery and everything should flow from there, whether it’s wiggle room or focused belt-tightening.  The problem is, websites like Amazon make it all too easy, like spending Monopoly money rather than a fast-dwindling resource. But there are excellent apps that track ‘harmless’ spending, such as Money Dashboard, as well as digital banks like Revolut, which show what you’ve spent the second you buy something – plus, you can’t get overdrawn.

It could be that your husband’s spending is an assertion of confidence in the future because even though his job may be at risk, he is not planning to be poorer. But he is unlikely to realise the extent of your panic unless you are explicit.  Also, without belittling the potential problem, do bear in mind that while sometimes money panic is about money, other times it is about spiralling anxiety or lack of communication. So consider that. And remember  that money isn’t an all-powerful deity, even though at times like this it feels that way.

Tell us what you think our reader should do in the comments section below.

Do you have a dilemma that you’re grappling with? Email Annabel and Emilie on [email protected] All questions are kept anonymous. They are unable to reply to emails personally.

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