Money Matters: Aldine and Alan

Married to Mr. Cheap
Dr. Phil talks to Alan and Aldine, who constantly argue over money.

Aldine says her husband Alan, "Embarrasses me all the time. He is the cheapest! He follows me around the grocery store with a calculator ... When we ordered pizza, he tipped 25 cents. The next time we ordered, I had a big long hair across my pizza!"

Aldine says that Alan questions every penny she spends, goes through her checkbook, and even calls the bank and credit card companies to see how much she's spent on any given day. While Alan holds Aldine accountable for every cent she spends, she says, "He goes out and buy's cars on the American Express Card! He'll buy them without telling me. He's had at least 10 cars in the last two years. It just doesn't seem fair."

Alan defends his penny-pinching ways: "I always take a calculator [when we go shopping] because if I don't, we'll end up spending $250." As for not telling his wife about the cars, Alan says: "I don't consult my wife about big purchases because I don't want to hear her mouth."

Dr. Phil begins, "I've done money shows before and I'm going to keep on doing them in the future because it's the number one thing that couples fight about. It's the number one reason for divorce. I've said it before and I'll say it again, 'Money problems are not solved with money.' Money problems usually don't have anything to do with money. They have to do with lifestyle, relationships, understanding and agreements."

Dr. Phil reviews their situation. "You cross examine you're wife about four bucks that she spent at 7-Eleven, but then you go out and buy a car and just pull up in it ... Does that seem like a double standard to you?"

Alan replies, "No, sir. Not really."

Dr. Phil asks, "What part of that seems to be escaping you? You say to your wife, 'If you spend four bucks, I want to know what you bought with it and why you need it.' But then ... you, her partner in marriage, where you two are pooling your resources and working toward a common goal, you go out and buy 10 or 20 cars!"

Alan explains, "I'll purchase a vehicle that I'm interested in and I'll drive it as my personal car. When I sell the car, I make some money."

Aldine interjects, "But he doesn't make money! He thinks he makes money, but he doesn't ... He loses money sometimes. He forgets what he spent for the car, and when he gets half of [the money] back, he's excited."

Dr. Phil points out that Aldine is a stay-at-home mom. "So, she has to come to you like, 'Daddy, can I have some money?'"

"If you want to say it like that, but that's not how it goes,' replies Alan. "When I get paid, I put money in her account. Things have gotten better over time. I will admit it was a little rougher a couple years back."

Aldine adds, "I used to have an allowance of seven dollars a day for lunch. And he wanted to know where I went to eat, who I went with ... He has to know absolutely everything that has to do with any money."

Dr. Phil points out, "This is why I often say that when we're talking about money problems, you have to ask yourself, 'Is it about money or is it about power, control, double standards, leverage and selfishness?'"

Dr. Phil asks Alan about sneaking money from his daughter's piggy bank. "I understand you turn on the water to cover up the sound so no one can hear you."

Alan fesses up. "Yes ... On occasion when I am running late in the morning and I need a few bucks to eat."

Dr. Phil runs down other techniques Alan uses to save a buck. "You'll have a pizza delivered and you'll tip 25 cents ... At fast-food restaurants you'll tell them that you don't have enough money so they'll give you a free drink ... You say that you will act real fake and friendly sometimes to get people to give you stuff ... and you talk your way through tollbooths."

Dr. Phil points out that what Alan is doing is manipulating the system. "There are a couple of things I want you to think about here. There's a difference between being cheap and being thrifty. Cheap is just getting by with the least amount you can spend. No concern about quality, value, character, manipulation and impact. Thrifty is 'I'm going to be wise and judicious with my money.'

"I think you're playing a power manipulation game with your wife," says Dr. Phil. "It's important that you understand that your wife has no other way to get money, and that you are being manipulative and controlling in doling out the money to her. She is going to resent you until the day she leaves. Nobody wants to have to stand there and defend four bucks that they spent at 7-Eleven. It is demeaning. This is a partnership, and in partnerships people pool resources. It is endemic on everyone to be responsible and giving. I don't think it is a bargain if your wife ends up resenting you."