The eighth lesson I learned from 5 years of marriage is one that dwells on one of the commonest reasons for divorce worldwide- Money!
So without further ado here it is;
8. Your finances require an ongoing balance for there to be peace and contentment. The saver versus spender principle!
To manage your finances properly you need to be Ying and Yang- not two Yings or two Yangs. You are allowed to swap roles as the occasion arises but always opposites.
When I got married, hubby and I had the after-wedding financial discussion which was a follow up of the before marriage talk on the same subject.
As a woman, I had two options. I could choose to make my money entirely mine and then his money would be ‘ours’ or I could choose to contribute towards the upkeep of the house as I saw fit (without forced compulsion or emotional blackmail).
I chose the latter. Why wouldn’t I? I grew up in a house where both parents didn’t hold back financially where meeting family needs were concerned and hubby grew up in similar settings. The next hurdle we had to cross however, was who would be the spender versus who would be the saver. It may sound like a no-brainer but it’s actually important. This ying yang theory like I like to call it, came about because I had heard stories of couples who spent everything they had from paycheck to paycheck and were always stranded during emergencies. I had also heard of couples who invested every thing they had in the name of being prudent and were still stranded during emergencies. So we needed to create a balance, not a rigid one- but one that could be modified as the need arose.
So I chose to be the saver. I’d always loved saving anyway and hubby believed more in investing than just keeping your money wallowing in the bank for meager profit. He would cover the running costs (spender) and I would save up so we had some money kept aside for projects and emergencies. It wasn’t absolute because neither of us was expected to put in our all into the saver versus spender agreement since it was only logical that we would also have individual personal needs, entertainment included.
There have been times when hubby was the saver and I was the spender but hardly a time when we were both on the same side of the divide. This has worked for us till date but this can only work when you understand and trust your partner and no one feels like they are being taken advantage of. It’s not a perfect arrangement but as long as you are willing to sit and talk things over when a hurdle arises, you and your monies will be just fine!
The way couples handle their finances vary from family to family and are a product of personal character and upbringing.
If you grew up in a home where your father did absolutely everything then you are more likely to lean towards that design however it is only fair that your husband knows that’s the deal before he signs up. One of my friends argues that men don’t want to be helped that it makes them lazy and bruises their egos so she is against giving unsolicited help. She has a point because we have seen women who gave their financial ‘all’ to their men and the men rather than appreciating it gave their extra to sidechicks and spent the rest on expensive clothing, toys and trips while the women couldn’t even afford a decent outfit and were worse for wear. There have also been women who by helping their men ended up spoiling them, so a once ambitious man after losing his source of income relegated his position as bread winner to his wife in favor of watching TV and playing video games. Every marriage is unique, you need to know the kind of man you married and therefore deduce the sort of help he would require. If giving your man your money will not make him a man you would respect in the long run then keep your money but save it towards something worthwhile and unselfish that you both would look at and smile.
You also need to make sure that as a working woman you have some money kept aside for your personal upkeep apart from the one you pool into the family expenses. Clothes, shoes, hair, entertainment, vacations etc. These are important to us women and women who have given their all and left nothing for themselves begun to feel drained, unappreciated and cheated in the long run #truestory. You even end up putting undue pressure on your man because you can’t buy the stuff you want even though women who earn less than you can easily afford them, because you are giving your all to your home and so you expect your hubby to fill in the gap and buy you those things but he figures that since you had the money to buy them and didn’t, you probably don’t need or want them and there you are secretly sighing with dissatisfaction. Abeg who send you message? He can’t read your mind. Communication is key! Make sacrifices but also be vocal about the things you want and need. You are a working woman and entitled to them. You may not get them immediately because of other pressing needs but the fact that you have mentioned them makes getting them a reality in the foreseeable future.
People always ask me about joint accounts and whether I believe in them. What I’ll say is do whatever works for you both. Hubby and I do not have a joint account but we are very open with our finances so it makes no difference. If a joint account will make it easier to save, by all means do so and if it isn’t an official joint account just one person’s account being used by both of you, let the person who doesn’t keep the ATM card be the one who gets the alerts on his/her phone so there’s accountability. I have heard stories of people emptying their joint accounts secretly to buy something frivolous only for the partner to find out a long time afterwards smack in the middle of a financial emergency.
Finally if you have doubts, concerns or issues about the way money is being handled in the family don’t stomach them. If you are not working and hence do not feel like you have a legitimate voice, find a tactful and gentle way to be heard or a clever way to save up if the issue has to do with spending habits (usually the most common issue). Finances often wreak havoc in a home but trust and openness are the only way to get money to work for you.
These three are key!
Be the ying to his yang…
Have a lovely afternoon chutzpah fam,