Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I am at my wit’s end. I don’t know whom to turn to anymore. I am facing debtor’s prison and you are my last bastion of hope. My wife and my family seem not to care or even understand how dire our situation is.

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Let me explain.

Some eight years ago, our daughter was expecting and our son-in-law lost his job. We were doing well financially, so when my wife suggested we offer to carry their expenses until he found another job and got back on his feet, I readily agreed – even though we were already supporting our son, his wife and their six children living in Eretz Yisroel.

My wife, unfortunately, really has no sense of what $1.00 mean as she came from a wealthy home where money was never an issue – her parents never said no to her.

When this new baby came, my wife went shopping. She decorated the nursery with expensive furniture, shopped for baby clothes for days, and purchased the most expensive stroller and car seat. She also paid for a full-time nurse for three months. That was besides the personal trainer and new wardrobe for my daughter

And this was only the beginning.

A year later our son in California lost his business and called on us for assistance – just until he could “get out of the hole.” Well, his “hole” was now ours and included tuitions, camp fees, sports expenses and just about everything that comes with supporting a family of six.  Oh, did forget to mention mortgage payments, insurances of all kinds and vacations? They were used to a certain lifestyle, of course.

And there stood my wife, checkbook at the ready. After all, wasn’t that how things were done?

Three years ago, our youngest daughter got engaged – and the checks she was writing began bouncing.

My accountants had been warning me that my income and savings were badly depleted and could not sustain our expenditures.  Yet, even I had no understanding of how bad things were until I actually reviewed the bank and credit card statements. It was staggering and sobering.

I sat down with my wife and told her that we were almost broke and that she would have to stop what she was doing and find ways to cut corners. She looked at me as though I had just shot her – and over the past few weeks it has occurred to me that shooting her may be the only way to end her shopping.

You see, without my knowledge, my wife borrowed money from the bank against property I had put in her name. I found out when the bank called me for the first repayment. I had to sell off some of my holdings to get us out of this new debt.

Sadly, no matter how much I begged and pleaded, even though I took away the checkbook and some of her credit cards, she still found a way to accrue large debt – which only came to light when the collection letters arrived.

I myself made it clear to our children that I had to make drastic cuts in the support we give them. I will say that we do still give money to our son in Israel as we had promised him a certain amount each year if he continues learning. However, that it will have to change soon as well.

Mrs. Bluth, the biggest issue is my wife who just doesn’t seem to get it. We are, for all intense and purposes, penniless and deep in debt. I am just counting the days until they put a lien on our house begin repossessing our valuables. Honestly, at this juncture, prison would be a haven.

This letter is my last ditch effort to get my wife to understand that I am a broken man and that we are headed for the poor house!

 

Dear Friend,

There is so much misfortune in the world – inexplicable tragedies, unavoidable disasters and terminal health issues – and here you come with your troubles that have evolved from poor management and downright stupidity.  I am just in awe at the sheer extent of greed and gluttony that is presented in your letter, and while I don’t mean to further your angst and fears, your understanding of the situation comes way too late.

The way I see it, you married a spoiled, high-maintenance, spending machine with no concept of the value of a dollar.  That could be almost excusable – she doesn’t know any better. And I can even defend a woman who cares deeply for her children and grandchildren and wants to help them. However, where is her sensitivity to what her husband is experiencing? Where is her loyalty and consideration for the man she married, who supplied her with the lifestyle she was accustomed to and who generously allowed her to run her home as she wanted?

The picture that emerges of your wife is that of an addicted person – and if that is true, she will not seek help on her own. While I hate to suggest it, I wonder whether, threatened with divorce, she would agree to go for therapy. If all else fails, I would give this a try. What else have you got to lose?

As for the adult children and their families who have been living off you with seemingly no care for what this is causing you – stop the flow of money!  There is no greater motivator for seeking employment than the knowledge that the lottery has ended, the money is gone and it’s time to pound the pavement to support their own families.  I expect that the cries of opposition to this plan will be long and loud, but stand your ground no matter what. Sometimes, to be a good parent you have to refuse to give. Right now, you are enabling them to be dependent on you.  Break the pattern now!

As for yourself, I offer you my sympathies for your sad state of affairs, and hope for redemption to your monetary woes.  With good financial planning, advice and direction, you can pull yourself out of debt and, in time, with prudent changes in your lifestyle, you may regain your good name and credit stability.  It would be wonderful if your wife and your children would come on board and be of help toward that goal. Just remember that you are the captain of your ship, so navigate with care through the rough waters and, with G-d’s help and the support and encouragement of your family, you will arrive at the sunny shores of your destination.

 

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