Both partners need to learn to budget

My wife and I have two children and own a home. I pay all the bills and my wife does all the shopping for the home. Every month she spends thousands of dollars more than I make. We have next to zero savings and are running deeper into debt. Where can I find someone who will teach her how to budget?

Presumably, you also don't know how to budget or you would teach her yourself. The solution is to attend classes together on budgeting or to hire a financial planner who can review your situation and offer suggestions. You can find free budgeting classes at your local Consumer Credit Counseling Service. You can locate a planner using the information at


Your wife may have no idea how far out of whack her spending has become. Because she's not handling the bills, it might be difficult for her to visualize how much money is going out the door.

Her overspending could be a symptom of other problems, of course. Olivia Mellan's book "Overcoming Overspending: A Winning Plan for Spenders and Their Partners" (Walker & Co., 1997) might be helpful.


My husband and I are permanent residents but not American citizens. We had a living trust created by an attorney in 1993 that's designed to create another trust when one of us dies. This second trust is supposed to save on estate taxes. Recently, we read on a probate-avoidance Web site that the IRS does not allow noncitizens to participate in these kinds of trusts. We consulted another attorney who said our estate plans were fine and that the information we got on the Internet was wrong.

You have two presumably knowledgeable attorneys who seem to have given you correct information and someone running a Web site who seems to be either aggressively ignorant or deliberately trying to mislead you.

It's true the rules of estate planning are different for noncitizens. You are allowed to leave a spouse who is a citizen an unlimited amount of money without paying estate taxes, because the assumption is that Uncle Sam will collect his due when the second spouse dies. The worry with noncitizen spouses is that they would take the money back to their home countries and the government wouldn't get to collect when they die.

But you can still pass money to a noncitizen spouse through what's called a qualified domestic trust, or QDOT. The estate tax that would otherwise be assessed is deferred until the noncitizen spouse dies.

QDOTs must be drafted correctly or estate taxes will be due on the first death. It's smart to seek out an attorney who is a certified estate planning specialist to draft these documents. If the attorneys you consulted weren't such specialists and you're still worried about the validity of your documents, you can contact your local bar association for a referral to someone who is.