Marriage and money: How to manage finances

Poor planning can be the root cause of financial constraints.

Dennis Bahizi says his idea of nuptials withered only a few years into the marriage, because his wife was ‘an insincere person, especially when it came to money matters’.

Though she had a job, she wanted him to cater for all the expenses at home. She also lied about how much money she was earning and this, Bahizi says, put a strain on their marriage.

The deceit and constant arguments about who pays the bills, and accusations of reckless spending, almost led the couple into divorce.

Their situation is not rare for many couples; money can be one of the most difficult issues to handle.

Chris Arnold writes in his article ‘How to keep money from messing up your marriage’ that disagreements about money are one of the most difficult conflicts for people in relationships to resolve, for there’s little instruction on how to manage finances with a spouse or partner. And that if you do it wrong, it can mess everything up.

Counsellor Shadia Nansasi says that what mostly causes arguments over money is the difference in the spending habits of a couple.

She also explains that at times couples lack transparency and when this happens, it is hard to decide on who controls what, which causes a collision at the end of the day.

“At times, poor planning can be the root cause of financial constraints in a family. Many couples lack proper communication, yet it is through this that they can have a suitable discussion on how best to invest and save money,” she says.

Belinda Umurerwa, a mother and entrepreneur, believes that managing finances between couples varies.

There are couples that both work and don’t depend on each other, and there are those that depend on the other, say if one is not working, she says.

She also points out situations where one makes more money than the other, saying that these also cause so much trouble.

“In this case, some marriages have issues in managing their finances because the couple looks at what each brings in a home.”

Arnold notes that oftentimes, one spouse doesn’t realise how big an issue money is becoming for the other person, something that causes frustration.

He reveals that money can be one of the most difficult and damaging areas of conflict, mostly because it’s very difficult for couples to talk about money issues and resolve them.

“That’s because so much is wrapped up in money— who’s making more of it, who’s sacrificed their work life more to take care of the kids, feelings about our self-worth, how much we are contributing, how much we have accomplished,” Arnold writes.

Attaining financial transparency in marriage

Isaac Nkusi, a financial literacy expert and personal money management consultant, says it is very important for a couple to talk about what money means to them individually, what they believe money should be used for and how to use it.

This is a philosophical conversation about money that every couple should have long before marriage to have a clear foundation for what they expect to do with their finances when they get married. Because if they don’t and they have different ideas, hopes, habits, dreams and plans for their money, this will become a problem for them once married, he says.

Apart from having such discussions, Nkusi believes couples need to make short, middle and long term plans for their money and then start channelling their money into accounts and financial instruments that will help them reach their financial goals (slowly and steadily over time). This will get the couple on the right track towards financial freedom.

“Finally, I would say the couple will need to continually educate themselves on how to manage their money and what to do with it to progress. They also need to adjust their financial goals taking into consideration the realities in the world we live in that is so fast paced and dynamic,” Nkusi says.

“It can be of massive help to always add value to yourself by learning constantly and finding more efficient ways to grow your money and increase your income over time because our needs and wants also increase over time,” he adds.

Umurerwa shares her view saying that there should always be some mutual understanding between couples on this matter, whether one is paid more or less than the other.

“Whatever they earn should be put together to build their family. If they have decided to live as husband and wife, it means they are one and they have to manage whatever they have as one. I guess that’s what even the Bible says, if a man and a woman get married, they become one,” she says.

“Therefore, I don’t see why they should not even manage their finances together. This actually creates more peace and harmony in a home,” she adds.

Nansasi recommends that partners in a marriage be patient with each other as they adjust to the right money managing habits.

“Both the husband and the wife should be understanding enough such that whether it requires them to, for instance, cut back on their spending, they should be in position to adjust. People shouldn’t ignore the fact that disputes over finances in a marriage is one of the main causes of divorce,” she says.

The counsellor also commends that couples need to understand that marriage is a partnership and that one way to embrace this is to refrain from keeping separate accounts.

Keeping a joint account may be hard but marriage is all about compromise. Do your best to ensure that you are both on the same page on how much you make, how much you are to spend and save, she advises.

“Do not allow concerns of ‘who makes more’ come in between, remember you are on the same team. Create a vision that takes into account the needs of both parties, this will also help in finding a common ground,” she adds.


YOUR VOICE

Assoumpta Mukeshimana, TV presenter: The main cause of money matters in marriage is the issue of trust and difficulty in adjustment.

Because one is used to handling this alone while still single, it becomes hard when they get married, for at times, it’s hard to find a common point of interest as a couple.

The best way to deal with this is to talk about all those matters before getting married.

Also, there is need for honesty and setting of common financial goals.

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Doreen Kakuru, cashier: Handling finances in a marriage calls for both parties working together to have a common goal.

There is need to set clear priorities and then share responsibilities equally.

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Emmanuel Kigenyi, lawyer: There is need to create a plan that works for both of you as a couple.

Poor management of financial resources can be draining for a family, and worse, it can lead to its break up.

This is why it is very important for the husband and wife to be on the same page.

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Ferguson Wasswa, salesperson: A couple can decide to have a joint account where they keep money for shared expenses.

And on the other hand, they can also choose to have different accounts.

However, even then, there is need to have clear and honest communication about each other’s financial status.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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