Thursday, 22 August 2013

Dealing with finances in relationships

Finance is an age-old phenomenom that can make or break relationships. Men and women keep fighting over money and on many occasions, marriages have been dissolved because spouse that otherwise love each other are unable to agree on how to  run their homes.

    Many are in huge depts and when the bill collector comes knocking on the door, usually one partner has been left in the dark about the real picture of the monetary problems ailing the family at that point in time.

  So, many couples have said to me, "Please tell me how to fix our finances, we never have enough to save and can hardly pay the bills.  In addition, my spouse  keeps spending and buying expensive toys that we can hardly afford. Please help, my kids are about to be thrown out of an expensive boarding school  and I am ashamed, and have been compelled to burrow money from friends and family."

   Let us begin by discussing briefly the institution of marriage. Some may consider it a spiritual connection, Some may consider a spiritual connection, a part of maturation, maybe even a cultural tradition.

Be it as it may, marriage stands as a financial deal. Two people dissolve their independent ways of living and decide to support - and in return rely on one another. Sadly, this deal deal only runs seamlessly in fairytales where they don't mention mortgage, college funds, health insurance, life insurance or investment funds, retirement  funds or any other expenses for that matter including vacation funds. Soon after saying "I do," reality settles in, and the reality there is bound to conflict when one partner realizes that the other partner in marriage is reckless with money. 

The question  that quickly arises : is who responsible for which bills? Who should work? Should spouses have joint accounts and therefore make joint decisions? Is my money still my money?

Or as in the Western culture, do we share everything on a 50-50 ratio or do we imbibe the African culture of the husband being the head of the household and therefore the kingpin who runs the empire solely on his decisions? I have heard countless discussions between couples about money regardless of which culture is relevant to their existence. 

In other words whether they live in Nigeria or United States of America, it is prudent that couples have a genuine and open discussion about money and finances. They must decide who is the better manager in the union and who can be trusted with the family financial planning. Typically, these are subject lines that I am queried about and though I do not know all the answers, I can at least provide some clearity on some of these issues so that we all can have some guidelines for a prescription towards a healthy discussion about marital financial problems.

Is he squandering our money on useless business ideas?

Many women and some men complain their partner is reckless about money and usually ventures into one noble business after another and nothing ever seems to work out as planned. My girlfriend Blessing and her husband Kingsley have traveled through this road many times and Kingsley in this regard is the aggrieved party. 

Kingsley complains that Blessing has tapped into their retirement funds, drained their life savings and has even gone to burrow money from the pension fund to support a business idea that she is floating for the umpteenth time. Kingsley has been supportive but can no longer continue on this dangerous path, what is he to do?

  I told Kingsley to have an open discussion with Blessing and to place limits on what she can or cannot do in terms of splurging their funds. Kingsley must insist on studying the business plan, handing it over to a business analyst and checking best practices to have professional guidance. 

    I also advised Kingsley that Blessing might have to seek and apply for a small loan to enable her start up the business. The loan and its repayment might provide a more serious presentation to Blessing's business and the possibility of "wasting" or "squandering" money might be further minimized. It is also important for Blessing to "stick with what she knows". In this way, if she loves to cook and entertain for instance, she may then go into the hospitality business such as catering, hotel management or the restaurant business. 

Kingsley was thankful and I pray that I can save their marriage before he commences on his threat to walk out of the marriage.

Does he have a gambling problem?

Gambling a to the addiction is a disease and it occurs when there is no limit spending of someone to the extent that the addiction can cause the person to sell all of his belongings and even to the point of encroaching on the belongings of friends and relatives. This condition causes someone's quality of life to suffer because of the incessant and uncontrollable urge to gamble.

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