Marriage is one of the most sanctified unions on earth and unfortunately not well practised and understood by men and women, especially the duties and roles they are supposed to play in this union as equal partners. Whether you and your spouse both work outside of the home, or one of you stays home with the children, it’s often easy for one person to feel left out of both the financial picture and life as a whole.
Its important in a marriage to feel and be seen as equal to your partner; you are meant to love and be loved, to care and be cared for, to support and be supported, to live in harmony with each other on ALL levels of the playing field. Even if sometimes you don’t feel stuck, it’s critical for couples to maintain continuous communication to be open and transparent about their financial situation and life in general, and try to work better together and not easily give in and give up when challenges emerge.
We are all aware that most marriages have their financial ups and downs. Finances can almost and always be a test of how stable your relationship is with your partner in dealing with the downs in particular. We also know that most divorces are a result of money problems which in most cases can be avoided if the couples are serious, genuinely want to understand, do care and fully participate in the well-being of their union.
Here are some helpful tips to guide you so you can deal with these situations in the quickest and calmest way possible.
Pick the Right Time.
Find a non-stress time to sit down and have a discussion with your partner. Go with your partner on evenings out because it will give both of you a chance to discuss important family matters in a stress-free environment where each of you will be able to speak your truth in a non-threatening way(calm and relaxed). If you must stay home, make sure the children are not around during the conversation.
Write down the issues you have been observing and thinking about beforehand to set the tone of the meeting so that you can stay on track during your discussion. It is wise to also take notes during the meeting so that it helps each of you to stay focussed and be able to clarify all the challenges that both of you have had an experience.
Don’t Get Emotional.
This may be a challenge for the women folk because they are emotional beings by nature especially as it relates to subjects that they are passionate or hurtful of, that personally and deeply affect their feelings. Avoid personal attacks directed towards your spouse. Use “I” instead of “you” when speaking. Don’t be argumentative just state the facts clearly and calmly of how you feel. Don’t point fingers and don’t start a fight.
Common courtesy dictates that this will go a long way to help both of you achieve your goals. Feeling equal to your partner will come with general respect and confidence between you and your partner. This will be evident in how you generally communicate with each other. Leave the ego at the door!
Make a Plan.
Discuss the current situation that is causing the conflict in your marriage and how to avoid it in the future and also paint a picture of the family’s future financial outlook with your spouse so that it is clear and visible for all to see and follow. Make sure you have a basic budget in place and discuss with your partner vital steps in handling both your current and future finances. Compile a money to-do list and check your progress as often as is possible, perhaps make it a monthly affair so as to keep track of the progress and milestones that you are achieving.
Remember to show the love and care you have for each other during the conversation, and listen with the intent to understand so as to be understood to save the marriage and also to what your partner has to say during the discussion. If the timing is off, as it sometimes happens, do talk about it, remember that there will be another opportunity to let your partner know how you feel. Let it go, and pick a better time in the future.
15 Practical ways to resolve and improve your finances starting in small steps
- Set your mindset to win and stop telling yourself that you bad at handling money. Being financially savvy is a skill like any other that can be learned and the first step is to change your Mindset, so stop the story lies that you have been told and what you continue telling and feeding yourself and start making the changes to improving your finances step by step.
- Continuously improve your financial knowledge the internet is filled with free resources to help you improve your financial skills and wisdom, so NO more excuses that you can’t afford to learn or cannot dedicate time to keep up to date with financial trends even if you don’t use it now. Be aware of them and their influence of the current economy and how it affects your life and never stop learning.
- Hang out with people who share the same financial goals as you, the one’s who will encourage you to make your life better, please do not misunderstand we’re not saying leave your friends, but choose wisely. However a friend who convinces you to buy unnecessary jeans and sweaters because you deserve them is mostly likely not going to help your finances improve in the long term, perhaps leave that friend at home when you go shopping next time and see how your finances can take a different shape and form.
- Live within your means and this might sound cliche` and huge but start off small you eat cereal every morning but you’re always buying the expensive sugar-coated poison and introduce it into your body, next time buy organic foods (perhaps think of starting your own home gardening) or eat oats instead not only is it healthier but it costs you a lot less just start small and you’ll see how it filters down to the bigger unnecessary expenses in your budget. Healthy mind wealthier pockets, so no leaks!
- To start with, get into the habit of checking your bank statement every time by tracing all the transactions taking place every month; by knowing exactly where your money goes you might know exactly where each cent is going every month but you’d be pleasantly surprised how many people struggling financially have no idea where their money goes.
Look out for those small hidden amounts that are debited each month with some “crafty misleading reference” but you tell yourself it’s only a small amount so you don’t bother following up, but small amounts add up to large amounts and by keeping an eye on where your small amounts are going, could save you a lot of money every year.
- Budget for your life, for some reason people get really defensive and offended when they hear the word budget they cringe like it’s something bad and they avoid it like a plague yet it is a very helpful tool. It is as if you’re “forced” to do or use it against your will, given your financial chaotic situation it is a neccessity but that cannot be further from the truth. Budgeting is a roadmap that that points you in the right direction financially and makes sure you can do everything you want Today and do it again tomorrow and the next week, next month, next year, next decade until you master it.
- I have coined in my book “Myths and Misconception about money from the African Sky: Tips, Tricks and secret to reaching your financial well being” which is available on Payhip store and Amazon. I detail that 40% household, 10% debt, 25% savings & investment, 25% financial services budget rule and it works pretty well for the vast majority of people.
The rule works like this, out of your total income take 40 percent for things that you need meaning household expenses such as shelter, food, transport, school fees, and other basic hygiene needs these are the things you need to be able to survive as well as going out, Netflix or vacations (please note, these must be saved for and not charged to the credit card and paid for later).
The rest is for 10% debt such as car, home mortgage, personal loans, credit cards; for future, 25% savings and investments where money works for you using compound interest, 15% financial services such as funeral policy, medical insurance for you and your family can go and enjoy in the future without worrying where the money will come from.
Pay for and buy everything you need at the beginning or end of the month of all your bills, groceries, other household items, and everything else you need for each month. In this way, it will help you to have a clearer picture of how much your basic monthly needs actually cost, take advantage of bulk buying it will save you money in the long run and ensure you’re covering your basic needs first(pay yourself first) before spending on extra(needs vs wants).
- Save with an end purpose in mind for the sake of saving money that will beat inflation(lesser buying power) and provide for emergency situations in the short term. Remember banks are not in the business of making you money and they do not like to keep your money that is why they pay you low interest rates. They make money on loans, credit cards, overdraft facilities. We advise getting familiar with financial tools for example, saving money for the long run or for retirement plan in a bank is a bad plan but that does mean that saving is a bad habit.
You need to save with a purpose, for example saving money for a couple of years to be able to provide a down payment for a house is a good plan and again for an emergency situation it is also a good plan, but always have a plan get into the habit of saving regardless of your income and if you can’t save 10% of your income you won’t be able to start saving at all. Start today.
- Appoint a financial advisor to map out your retirement plan, people are living longer these days especially women. Here’s the thing, there’s absolutely no way anyone is saving during 40 years of work to last another 20 to 30 years of retirement, besides no one these days is working for an organisation that will let you stay for 40 years, we live in a 21st century where it is never enough with all the taxes and inflation eating at your money’s worth(value) and again convincing yourself to rely on your government to provide for you is both a fallacy and a detrimental plan, so you need to have your own smart plan, so start getting educated about how people actually retire with enough money to live comfortably find what works for you and act on it. Start now.
- Understand the price and the quality ratio between premium and cheap(affordable) watch out for things that are worth going premium for, regardless of the brand as it is a trap that is used by retailers to mislead for you to part with your hard-earned money, for example, generic medication vs branded medication which all do the same thing but the price differential is absolutely crazy, so identify what items are worth going premium for and what you should buy on the cheap you’ll see a big difference in your monthly budget.
- Don’t always go for the “specials” you might have spent so much time surfing the internet looking for where all the great specials are in your local area, but by the time you are done, you have exhausted all the time, energy and effort and there is nothing special about that. Be aware, retailers use this trick to get rid of unwanted stock, so do not fall into the trap into thinking you are saving yourself money yet it can be an illusion. Use your time wisely and ask the question why is it on special?
- Use technology instead to help improve your finances by using apps that track your income and expenditure that can be downloaded on to smartphones that have become many financial coaches in the pockets and on-the-go such as mobile banking app that performs many functions and can alert users when they’re maxing out their cheque account/debit card and credit card limits or overdraft facility and it helps those who struggle to budget while at the same time making it easier for most people to make better financial decisions, so go out there and see what app suits your lifestyle best and take advantage of technology to help you improve financially.
- Beware of frugal fatigue which is sheer exhaustion and frustration from living frugally day after day, it might work for a short while but after a period of time it wanes you down as you continually deny yourself small pleasures which ultimately makes you an unhappy and unpleasant person. The problem with frugal fatigue is that it leads to large impulse purchases so grant yourself some small time pleasures they’re essential to living not only a healthy financial life but your emotional, mental and physical well-being depends on it. Perhaps this you can do in the beginning but as your finances improve, you can let it go.
- You know that life does not occur in linear (straight line) sometimes life throws you a curve ball and those unannounced moments can happen at any time when you least expect it, for instance, you geyser or water pipe goes burst, your car is involved in a collision, your house gets flooded you need to have a reserve of cash (emergency funds) at your disposal to act as a safety net for these kinds of situations. We recommend that atleast have R3000.00($1000) in a kitty as a start and later build on it. This is the first thing you need to do after you figure out your finances once everything is in place you’ll feel a whole lot better, calm and more financially stress free.
- Remember that money has an energy and carries a vibration, so give your money meaning right at the get-go, so what do we mean by this, let’s say you have a goal that by the end of next year you want to have saved enough money to take a vacation to head down to Brazil. The next minute you find yourself buying unnecessary or non-essential items that waste money that should have been channeled towards your vacation, so be disciplined and focussed with your money, as they say what you focus on, grows!
- Finally, please familiarize yourself with financial tools as they relate to how taxes work, how interest works, how capital works and so on even a basic understanding of these tools and how to negotiate them can make a huge difference for you in the long run and even if you’re not using them right now but be aware of how they’ll work to get your money work for you and put you in a better position to make better decisions down the line.
If you have enjoyed reading this piece, which of the practical ways did you find might work for you please leave your comment below, we will definitely engage with you, and be so kind to share if found useful. Thank you once again for gracing us with your presence until next time.