Dear Penny: Did My Husband Betray Me by Giving Our Broke Daughter Our Car?
My husband and I had a four-wheel drive pickup. He bought this vehicle unseen in 2017. The car lot drove it to our house, all without my input. We had it for one year. In that time, our payments were $513 a month.
In that year he kept trying to get rid of his truck. Fast-forward to now. He made a deal to sell it to a car dealer without me. Then he bought a different car. Of course I wasn’t happy about it, but it did take our interest down and the payment to $230 per month.
Our daughter got a check for $1,400 and wanted him to help her find a car, but her credit wasn’t good enough to get one. She was upset and crying. So unbeknownst to me, he sold her our car for $500 down and had her take over payments.
We have been married for 48 years. I was LIVID that he didn’t have the guts to talk to me about it and told me on a phone call with everyone there. I am mad and hurt over this. I feel betrayed. My daughter just about ruined our credit because our names were on the title of her past vehicle. Now he does the same thing AGAIN!!
He trusted her to make payments that will end up being $430 with the other money she owes us. Am I right to be so hurt and betrayed?
Your husband made at least three big financial decisions without your consent. So the answer to your question is, yes, you have every reason to feel betrayed. But focusing on whether you have a right to feel a certain way doesn’t get you anywhere.
You need to focus on mitigating the damage from your husband’s latest decision. Your daughter clearly has a history of not making payments, so your husband has put your credit at risk again.
More importantly, you need to get it across to your husband that making big decisions unilaterally is not OK.
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The best way to protect your finances from your daughter is to have her make payments directly to you. Then, you can directly make the payment to the lender. At the very least, you need to have access to the account so you can confirm that your daughter is actually making payments.
Unfortunately, the reality of helping someone who isn’t creditworthy is that there’s a high likelihood you won’t get repaid. So you’ll need to budget with the assumption that you won’t get that $430 each month. If your names are still on the title, that’s actually a good thing because you can take back the car if your daughter fails to make payments.
The bigger challenge is communicating with your husband, particularly if he’s gotten used to being the sole decision maker in your 48 years of marriage. You need to have a frank discussion with him about how you handle money matters before he makes another big decision without involving you.
Tell your husband that you feel hurt and betrayed, and explain how his actions affect you. Ask him why he feels that he can’t talk over these matters with you. The key here is to be proactive and talk about this before he makes another big decision.
A couple of things in your letter — like the fact that he was swayed by your daughter’s tears into giving over the car keys and then told you by phone instead of in person — make me think that he may be the type who doesn’t like conflict. If you think that’s the case, make it clear that avoiding tough discussions is causing way more conflict. But if your husband doesn’t involve you out of arrogance, your problem will be a lot harder to solve.
The ideal solution would be for the two of you to agree that you won’t make a purchase above a certain amount without consulting each other. That way, you’re not nitpicking each other over minor spending, but you’re not making financial decisions that substantially affect the other spouse. Schedule a time to review your spending each month. You should also discuss any big expenses or purchases you have coming up.
This isn’t going to be an easy pattern to fix, particularly if it’s persisted throughout the past 48 years. But your husband needs an impetus to change. Otherwise, this cycle will continue and your feelings of hurt and betrayal will only compound.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected] or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community.
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