John Gee Tze Chiang could do this because he had his wife's ATM card and would take all of her $3,000 monthly earnings, including overtime pay.
In return, he gave her only $50 every week or fortnight as pocket money.
But even this could not save him from falling into debt. By August 2012, he owed $40,000 to relatives, friends, credit companies and illegal moneylenders.
Most of the loans were taken in the name of his wife of eight years, Madam Koh Poh Lian, who worked as a warehouse assistant.
When all these became too much for him to cope, Gee decided to end his life, but not before deciding to kill his wife first.
On Aug 11, 2012, he stabbed her four times in their Clementi home before turning the knife on himself.
But both of them survived.
Yesterday, Gee, 38, was sentenced in the Supreme Court Gee to seven years' jail for attempting to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder. A separate charge of attempting to commit suicide was taken into consideration.
Justice Lee Seiu Kin described the case as a "tragedy" that affected not only Gee but also his wife and parents.
The court was told that Gee had gone to a casino on Aug 10 in a desperate attempt to recoup his gambling losses.
Instead, he lost more money and decided to end his life.
He went to Clementi Central and bought a knife from a hardware shop, ignoring calls and text messages from his wife and his mother asking where he was.
He later messaged Madam Koh to meet him at a karaoke outlet in Clementi Central. He wanted to spend his last few hours happily with her.
He lied to her that a friend was willing to help him pay off his debts and resolve their financial problems.
While they were at the KTV lounge, Madam Koh became worried after finding out that a creditor's letter of demand had been sent to her parents' home. Gee managed to calm her down.
After they got home, Gee's plan to kill himself failed when he fell asleep before his mother.
At about 8am the next day, he apologised to his wife for all the trouble he had caused her.
But she brought up the letter of demand as well as the text messages and calls she had been getting from creditors.
When she told him she could not take it any more, Gee decided to kill her before killing himself.
He took the knife from his shorts pocket and stabbed her twice in the chest and told her: "Is okay now."
She fell back on the bed, screaming in pain. She asked him what he was doing, but he held her down while holding the knife with the blade facing down.
Madam Koh tried to push his hand away and in the struggle, he stabbed her in the neck.
But then, his father, Mr Gee Say Teck, had woken up and heard the commotion.
As he knocked on the bedroom door, Madam Koh cried out feebly: "Father, jiu jiu wo." ("Father, save me" in Mandarin).
Mr Gee went down to a coffee shop to get his wife, Madam Teo Sia Kiang, who was working at a food stall, in the hope that she could persuade their son to open the door.
As Madam Koh struggled to get to the bedroom door, Gee stabbed her in the back. As he pulled her away from the door, she asked him: "Why?"
He told he was sorry and then stabbed himself in the chest.
When his parents got back, Madam Teo heard Madam Koh saying: "Mi, jiu jiu wo."
Mr Gee discovered the door was unlocked. The couple were on the floor, covered in their own blood.
Mr Gee called for an ambulance and Gee and Madam Koh were taken to National University Hospital, where Madam Koh's heart stopped and she had to be revived during emergency surgery. She was hospitalised for 39 days.