My husband secretly made bad investments and lost $ 50,000

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    Dear Penny,

    My husband has social security contributions and I recently retired. He got into our savings without my knowledge and lost some of it to wrong investment decisions.

    We own our house and he now wants to take out a $ 50,000 mortgage to pay back his withdrawal. I think that’s a bad decision, but he says that’s what home equity is for. I just want to know what to do because now I am at the boiling point with this situation.

    -Be upset

    Dear angry one,

    No, you are not building home equity to raid a piggy bank when you lose money to bad investments you kept secret from your wife. When it comes to money, listen to your gut instinct, not your husband. He has shown that he does not make wise financial decisions.

    Your husband has already spent your money without your consent. The fact that you don’t want to take out a mortgage is reason enough for me to say no, don’t take out a mortgage. You are the one whose trust has been broken, so what you do in trying to heal this mistake is far more important than what your husband thinks.

    Even if you had told me that the two of you were equally responsible for the loss of that money, I would vote no on the mortgage. You are likely to live on a steady income, so paying a mortgage would force you to tighten your retirement budget. But I could also imagine that a new mortgage payment would make it even more difficult to move forward. Every month you received a bill reminding you of your husband’s bourgeois manner.


    Your problem here is twofold: you need to figure out how to rebuild your savings after your husband made you $ 50,000 poorer. But your husband broke your trust too. He has to earn it back.

    On the savings side, unless you have an urgent need for cash, consider a home equity line of credit (HELOC) instead of a mortgage. That way, you have access to your home equity when you need it, but you only pay interest on the money you actually borrow. Should you access it, you will pay a higher interest rate than you would on a mortgage. But at least you wouldn’t be paying interest on a $ 50,000 lump sum if you didn’t need the full amount.

    When you have extra cash in your monthly budget, work on rebuilding your savings. But your husband has to bear as much of the brunt as possible. If he’s making discretionary purchases, he should back down as much as possible to rebuild your coffers. If he has valuable possessions that could bring in additional money, he should try to sell them. This is a problem he created and he must do everything possible to ease your burden.

    Even if you think your husband has suffered a one-off judgment violation, you need to make sure that there are no other unwelcome surprises waiting to be discovered.

    You both need to check the balances for each investment account, bank account, and credit card together so that you can see exactly what you have and what you owe. Select a date each month to go through each account together.

    If you suspect that there may be other financial secrets, like debt, that you don’t know about, ask your husband to get a copy of his credit report on AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s free and only takes a few minutes. He should be happy to do so if it gives you peace of mind.

    You and your husband need to be clear about how you will make important financial decisions in the future. Creating a shared budget that includes a category to replenish your savings is key.

    But I also suggest setting a threshold where you commit to letting the other know whether you are withdrawing or spending more than a certain amount. For example, you could agree to not only be on your budget, but also to inform each other before withdrawing or charging more than $ 300. By reviewing each account together every month, you can mutually adhere to this agreement. It is much easier to make bad financial decisions if you think your spouse is not paying attention.

    Hopefully this is the first time your husband is hiding money secrets from you. But make it clear to him that this will be the last time. It is time for him to do the work to regain your confidence.

    Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].


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